Recently, at dinner with friends, a friend engaged our group in a check-in. A check-in is a process of self-evaluation and reflection in a group setting. You may think this an odd thing to do at a dinner party, and that is okay. My friends are my friends and I am going to keep them. Participants engage by sharing exactly what they need and want to share in that moment. Check-ins just really allow people to be where they are amongst their peers. Well, for us, transition had reared its, we’ll call it pretty, head since we had last gathered. We shared, we laughed, we resisted, we cried, there was deep conversation, and some just on the surface. We did not let the elephant in the room remain undiscussed, but instead challenged it with courage and questioning. Transition, like check-ins, comes in many shapes and sizes. For me, it is a move. It is leaving a community that has become a family over the course of a decade. It also means redirecting my career and moving my family to a new place. For others, it is a birth, a death, a shift in relationship status, or something else really cool that only happens to cool people. The point is, no one gets a hall pass on change, so we all must be equipped to move forward—especially when we really don’t feel like it! Author Nancy Evan wrote, “Honor the space between no longer and not yet.” Our check-in helped us do just that. The evening was uncomfortable, unexpected, and perfect. It was all the things that transition requires of us. So, here are a few take aways from our conversation:
1. There will be change.
Change is the essence of life. The first step is to acknowledge that this is actually happening. No one can hide from or out run change. And when it finally has you in its clutches, you have to be as ready as you can be. The tricky thing is transition is unpredictable. No matter how much time you prepare for it, you truly never know how it is going to show up in your life. This means your principles need to be sound. Your values will be what guides your leadership and your vision during this time. For me, my framework is relationship and opportunity driven. Priorities quickly became quality time with loved ones and how can we maximize this next move. The work beforehand—time devoted to reflection, time evaluating priorities—made adjusting to the change that much better.
2. There will be crying and other outbursts.
Transition is emotional. Organizational transition specialist, William Bridges, once said, “It is when we are in transition that we are the most completely alive.” When we enter the space of transition, a multitude of feelings enter with us. My companions have been anger, sadness, excitement, fear, and selfishness—not a pretty picture! It has been important for me to be present in each of those emotions in order to recognize what is needed of me to move forward. You have to face them head on because when the changing gets tough, the tough get changing. Sometimes just telling myself that it is okay just to be okay was what I needed to hear.
3. There will always a place for gratitude.
Throughout transition, gratitude must remain the center and centering thought. It is easy to let stress override the notion of opportunity, but staying rooted in thankfulness is a powerful weapon. Be thankful that you have transition, that you are not experiencing it alone, that you get to share and receive perspectives that you otherwise would not. Gratitude is your foundation and with mindful practice, a grounding exercise. It is impossible to be complaining and be grateful at the same time. Give it a try.
4. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Transition comes with an ending. A season of life will come to a close, a baby will be born, a deadline will pass, the movers will come, you will finally walk down that aisle, and the committee will make their decision. With every ending comes a new beginning, and so perhaps, transition just transitions into more transition. Or it transitions into stability and routine. Wherever your transition lands you, you will land—hopefully as a better person or in a better place than where your change began. You have to allow the change to work within you because without the opportunity for change, everything would just stay the same. So, check-in when and with whom it is necessary during your process.
There are many tools for self-evaluation and reflection to assist you through a period of life. Check-ins are on important example. When used intentionally, reflection ultimately leads to a higher level of self-awareness and a higher level of self-awareness makes you a better whatever you are or want to be. It allows you to focus on what is really in front of you and simply ignore the things that don’t matter. My check-in allowed me to focus on the opportunity rather than the loss associated with the transition. It allowed me to value the people who have molded me. It allowed me to say good-bye. It allowed me to know that this last decade has equipped me for the next. It allowed me to say thank you, Gainesville.