Have you ever felt “transition fatigue?” Most likely you have had to juggle two, three, or more transitions at the same time. You get a new job that requires moving shortly after you get married. You and your spouse both retire from long careers. An elderly relative needs your constant care just as you decide to move closer to your grown children. You return from a long military duty abroad and must reconnect with family and the civilian world. You are affected by a physical change in yourself while you also seek a new spiritual identity. Do any of these sound familiar?
These are what I call “pinging transitions.” They ping off each other, demanding your time, thought, and energy. The result can be major emotional and physical fatigue as you race from one transition to the next. Ping, ping, ping. The truth is that you simply can’t juggle all these transitions with the same energy at the same time. You need to prioritize your transitions.
Start by listing all your transitions. Then look for the one that requires the most energy and thought, maybe waking you up at night. This doesn’t necessarily coincide with chronological time. For example, you may start a new job in a month, but you are struggling hard with a recent divorce. One of my clients had recently been widowed, only to find out that her husband had left her bankrupt. She moved in with her older parents and had to find a job. And yet, as we sorted through her pinging transitions, the most important transition to her was “regaining my lost self-confidence.”
It isn’t just the unhappy transitions that you juggle. It is also the positive ones: the new career, building a new dream home, or retirement. When one spouse retires and the other spouse still works, expectations and roles are going to shift. The retired spouse may have a hard time crafting this new chapter. Each is adjusting to the other, and so the pinging begins.
After a bit of reflection, you’ll see the most significant transition. Ask yourself, “Where can I find my support and resources?” and, “Do I have some plan for managing this transition?” You gain leverage once you see that you don’t need to control everything. Actually, that sort of control is an illusion—an exhausting one. Of course, you will deal with the other transitions when you have to, but you will put the big chunk of your energy into what matters most.
As you get focused, your strength will surge. You will find support. You will get clearer. And then, in some almost magical way, the other transitions begin to realign around the big transition. For example, my client who worked first on her self-confidence was then ready to rebuild her finances and interview for a job.
Right now you may be juggling a whole lot of pinging transitions. One of those is bound to be bigger, bolder, and more meaningful. And the others? Some will come will evolve naturally, and others will line up around the big transition.
Knowing these steps can help reduce the fatigue of juggling so many transitions.