The Trouble With Transitions

Life is one big transition.” ~ Willie Stargell

Who is Willie Stargell, you might ask? He was a Major League Baseball player in the 1960s and 1970s, who spent his entire 21-year playing career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you’re interested, you can learn more about Stargell from the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia.

OK, on to our regular programming: 

Transitions Are The Path to Our Goals

A number of folks have recently reached out about their desire to change careers. Some of them had an idea of what they wanted to do, but most were at a loss — not only of what they wanted to do next, but how to get there. 

The trouble with transitions is that they take time and they often distract from our goals.  Transitions are the path to the goals, so they’re tough to avoid.  The trick is to see them as the path and not necessarily the destination.

The trouble with transitions emerged for Camille and me as we’ve settled into our new lives in Ajijic, Mexico. During all the time we’ve planned this move, we focused on why we were moving: a more enjoyable climate (year-round Spring), a lower cost of living, a lifestyle to prepare us for retirement as we figured out what we wanted to do in the last chapter of our lives.

The “figuring out” was seen as a transition we could look forward to.  It was itself, a goal of sorts.

What we didn’t count on was that if “figuring it out” was a goal, then there was a transition to that goal.  We were so focused on congratulating ourselves on the cool aspect of our new and improved life that we forgot about the path that would get us there; and we were especially challenged with a new culture and unfamiliar language.  

Our transition included all the little, pain-in-the-butt details, like new phones that we could use to make calls in Mexico and to the U.S.; how to get drinking water delivered to our house on a regular basis; who to call (phones again) to fill our propane tank; which of the many little neighborhood markets carried the necessities (like Half-and-Half for Camille’s coffee); and how we could obtain the necessary visas to live here.

Needless to say, our self-congratulatory and sunny dispositions suffered as we dealt with these transitional details.  We tended to be less than understanding of each other’s attitudes, we were impatient, we snapped at each other — you get the picture; you’ve been there yourself.  We got sidetracked with all the what and the how, and we let the why get lost.

Transitions = How; Goals = Why

Fortunately, we were able to regroup and ask ourselves “what was happening here?”.  As we reviewed our behavior, we realized that in our excitement of finally being in Ajijic to set our lives on a new course, we had focused on the end point, the goal, and not the path — the transition — to that goal.  We let the how distract us from the why.  

The lesson learned was that we needed to keep focused on the why, but we also needed to realize that the how is  crucial to getting there.  How is the path to the why. It’s a necessary transition to why and it requires time and energy. However, we can’t focus just on how. We need to understand the role transitions play in getting us to our goals, but we can’t let them undermine our ability to achieve those goals. 

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

The trouble with transitions is that we need to keep our eye on the ball; realize we’re engaged in a journey, not an event.

Whether you’re moving house — across town or to a new country — or shifting careers, you need to keep focused on why you’re making this change; and at the same time, understand how that needs to happen.

You can’t reach your goal without a process in place that moves you forward. If your goal is to change careers or simply acquire a new job within your current career, you need an algorithm — a process — that guides you. That algorithm (or algorithms) are the transitions you need to embrace in order to achieve your goal. 

How Are Your Transitions Going?

Have you been able to keep focused on your goals and not get distracted by transitions?  

Have you been able to understand and appreciate the transition as a necessary path to your goal?  

Have you learned any lessons from your transitions? What have they been?

Email me at I want to hear what you’ve got to say.

Image copyright: memedozaslan

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If you’re struggling with how to achieve your career goals let’s chat about how I can help. You can use this link to my calendar to schedule the best time to talk.

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