Mary Ann Bailey, MC
Much of my coaching is spent helping people in
transition make decisions regarding the next phase
of their lives. Some of them are looking for their
next professional path. Some are trying to figure
out relationship issues, and others are wondering
if they could achieve a long-held dream.
The decisions my clients make around these issues
are obviously important ones, yet making decisions
in the middle of a life transition can sometimes
be complicated. These tips will help you understand
and navigate the process of transition.
I compare going through a life transition to
setting sail on a foggy sea. As you begin your
transition, you can still see the shoreline. At
this point, you may not even realize you are in
a transition. You are very excited about the possibilities
of changing a part of your life; and you can hardly
wait to set sail and explore the distant shores.
Yet, as you sail further out to sea, or further
into your transition, you lose sight of the familiar
shoreline. The fog begins to settle in around
you. You can't make out where you are going, and
you can no longer see where you came from.
This feeling of drifting at sea with no port
in sight can be very unnerving for many of us.
We live in a culture that wants fast and definitive
answers to our questions. We want quick solutions
to our problems. And we want fast and easy ways
out of the fog of transition.
The Discomfort of Uncertainty
When we find ourselves in the middle of this
kind of uncertainty, it can be very easy to give
in to the discomfort of not knowing exactly where
we are going or what we need to do next. We hear
critical voices telling us that we have made a
mistake, or that we don't really have what it
takes to find our way through the fog.
We begin to feel anxious and notice that our
resolve to making the change is slowly slipping
away. It is at this point when it can be easy
to decide to quit the journey and return to the
comfort of our old and familiar shoreline.
But if we let the voices of fear and doubt override
what we know to be true in our heart, we could
make decisions about our future that may not serve
us well in the long run.
One of my clients, Anne, had always had an interest
in graphic design. She recently left her corporate
job to pursue her life-long dream of starting
her own graphics business.
In the beginning she was very motivated. She
talked to people, gathered information, and started
planning what she needed to do. Yet, as time went
by and she found herself running into little snags,
she began to question her initial decision.
She had made the choice to leave a comfortable,
if somewhat stifling, world behind her, to set
sail for a distant shore that she could only see
in her heart. For her, that was very frightening.
Anne found being "betwixt and between"
extremely uncomfortable and very anxiety-producing.
She began to question her ability to succeed,
her commitment to her dream, and her overall desire
to start a graphics business.
Although she was being encouraged to stay the
course by me, as well as by many friends, she
also was being pressured by other friends and
family members to return to the security of the
corporate world. In the end she made the decision
to go back to her old job.
The Timing of Decisions
Whether this decision was the right one or not
isn't really important. What is important is the
timing of Anne's decision. She chose to go back
to her old job when she was feeling the most scared
and vulnerable. And ironically, it is at this
very point, when we are at our lowest, that we
need to put our full trust in the transition process.
We need to believe that if we keep ourselves
open to the experience, and if we continue to
move slowly towards our goal, we will eventually
sail out of the fog and find ourselves in a new
and wonderful place.
But this is a hard leap of faith for some people
to make. Anne's decision was not really about
her life plan. It was about relieving the discomfort
she felt at that time. She was trading in her
long-held dream for instant relief from a transitory
Staying one's course in the midst of confusion
and doubt can be extremely difficult, but there
are things that one can do to successfully navigate
Tips for Successful Transitions
First, before you set sail make sure that you
have a strong support network in place. This network
can consist of friends, colleagues, a spouse,
a mentor, or a coach. Just make sure that they
understand what you want and that they are willing
and able to truly support you in your journey.
Second, familiarize yourself with the process
of transition. The more you know what to expect,
the better able you will be to withstand the times
of uncertainty. Read books and articles on the
Third, remember that slow and steady wins the
race. Listen to the voice in your heart, not the
gremlins in your head. Use your support system
when you start to waver.
And finally, always keep your dream in front
of you as a constant beacon guiding you through
Mary Ann Bailey, MC, is a life
coach who specializes in helping professionals
successfully navigate the challenges of career
and life transitions. Visit her website at www.baileycoaching.com
to read more of her articles and to receive a
free copy of "How to Make the Changes that
Will Move Your Life Forward."