Pain or Gain? 7 Steps To Making Transitions Positive

This week I had the opportunity to do lunch with a ‘transition guru’ in Ottawa. Glenn Taylor has been helping people and organizations navigate the turbulent waters of vocational transition longer than I have been alive! He knows that stress, periods of questioning and a sense of loss often accompanies a period of change.

When Glenn speaks- you listen. What I love about his approach is that he pushed me to move beyond ‘feel good’ comments about change to making the tough decision to go to the hard places and learn all that I can. Transitions are happening more rapidly than ever before as people make career changes up to ten times in their career, and you may also be facing other such changes as transitions in relationships, ministry roles, or places of residence… so you have to know how to best navigate and leverage that change!

Sit at Glenn’s feet and learn these points of wisdom that can turn the painful experience of change into a profitable experience (taken from Glenn’s book “Pastors in Transition: Navigating the Turbulence of Change”):

  1. View transition as a creative opportunity to clarify and renew your call and commitment- A healthy debriefing experience can result in a cleansing time that affirms your giftedness and brings greater focus to what your greatest life contributions will be. This is a tremendous opportunity to re-tool, identify new directions and leave behind old patterns.
  2. Accept that ‘necessary endings’ are sometimes necessary to the fulfillment of God’s purpose- Some situations will not change even after the best of efforts is given to them. Other situations are positive but need to be left in the past to pursue a better opportunity. That is OK. We can cling to or curse the pain of the past OR design and create the future we desire.
  3. Focus on what has been accomplished in the previous season and celebrate positive experiences- This helps mitigate against the natural sense of loss that comes from moving on.  Unravel the experience and reknit it with meaning and significance that comes from taking a reflective pause. Fill your mind with those experiences of God that nurture your confidence in his goodness and provision.
  4. Realize that anxiety over ‘starting over’ is normal- It helps to know that each transition has predictable stages that you go through practically and emotionally, namely: the leaving, the in-between time, entering a new role and belonging again. Honour the emotions that come naturally in times of upheaval. Confidence placed in the sovereignty and goodness of God will stabilize your soul.
  5. Explore the residual impact of the previous position that you will carry forward- Organizations and individuals tend to repeat their patterns and experiences when they enter a new season UNLESS the cycle is intentionally broken.  Readiness to create a new future is very dependent upon having effectively learned from the past and letting it go so that we are free to create a changed future. Forgiveness is an antidote to accumulated resentment from the past. Drain the cup of the past and all that it can teach you, then empty the dregs that remain by committing the rest to God’s sovereign justice.
  6. Assess your need for rest, recuperation and renewal- Put together a replenishment plan that will help refill your tank again. This can include many elements, such as: reading, time off, time with family and friends, events, courses, retreats, taking up a hobby, etc.
  7. Seek people who can help you through the transition period- You want supportive people around you who will actually be helpful and not just offer platitudes- whether it is an informal relationship or a more formal coaching relationship.

You’ve got this!

Do let me know if I can help with personal or organizational transitions/renewal at robparkman [at] live [dot] ca.


Photo credit: SomeDriftwood / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.