A wordle including many different translations of the word Transition in various languages.

Are you in Transition?

Terrafuggia's "The Transition" opening it's wings at an airport
Terrafuggia’s “The Transition”

On March 23, 2012, Terrafuggia took its latest prototype car to an airport in New York, drove it on to a runway, and for the first time, a car took flight. This idea has been around at least since 1968, when the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” debuted in the UK. Terrafuggia’s car is aptly called The Transition. The name alludes to the fact that it is neither a traditional car nor airplane, but something in between.

Like this vehicle, there are times when our lives are neither what it once was, nor what it will be, but something in between. At times, our lives are in transition.

Like this vehicle, there are times when our lives are neither what it once was, nor what it will be, but something in between. Click To Tweet

 

Definition

According to Merriam-webster.com, a transition is:

a :  passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another :  change

b :  a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another

To be clear, the transition is not the former state, nor is it the latter state, but it is the place in the middle, between the two states. At times, there is a line between the two states, but most often, there is no such line.

Etymology

Etymonline.com’s entry for transition states that the word comes from a 15th century Latin word meaning “going across or over.” An appropriate image might be that of a bridge. The transition period is after the traveler leaves one side of the river or stream, but before she arrives on the other side of it. The transition is the period during which the traveler is firmly on the bridge.

Example

A contemporary example of transition is the scheduled reality docu-series starring former Olympian Bruce Jenner. Despite the controversy surrounding documenting a person’s journey from one gender to another, there is little doubt that this will be a very public example of personal transition. Examples of transition abound however, throughout the news. The Top trending search on Google at this moment is about KickassTorrents and their transition from a viable and popular domain for file sharing (and, unfortunately, piracy) to an all-but-defunct relic of the recent past. Transition stories are popular in movies. Audiences love stories like “The Pursuit of Happyness” from the outside. No one, however, likes to be the subject of such poignant transitions. Transitions are particularly uncomfortable to deal with, partly because those entering them often are unaware that they have done so. It helps to discuss the elements of a transition so that one can recognize one’s transition state.

Transitions are particularly uncomfortable to deal with, partly because those entering them often are unaware that they have done so. Click To Tweet

Elements of a Transition

There is no transition without change. From the definition stated above, a transition requires a former state, a latter state, and motion from one to the other. Even if humans could refuse to do anything, time impels each mortal being from life to death. In Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain (1987), Isaac Asimov wrote: “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” Each of us must engage in transition.

Former State

Of the three elements of a transition, the former state is, deceptively, the easiest to identify. This starting point is observable, comfortable, and predictable. It requires little active mental engagement, because many of the skill sets needed to navigate it have become habit. In this state, people find themselves un-challenged and bored, because they believe that they can predict what will occur, and are confident in their ability deal with it.

Though it is an observable state, many neglect to observe it carefully enough because of its familiarity. People do many of the tasks required without examining them. Lacking self-awareness, one can fail to be sufficiently aware of this state. When we are inattentive to the details and characteristics of our current state we are most vulnerable to distress during transition because this is often when transition is foist upon us without our knowledge or assent.

In this state, it is helpful to have a coach. A coach can help us to reflect carefully on our current circumstances and evaluate our strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments. A coach can help us to determine our goals and plot our course at this stage. During this stage, proactively pursuing transition is the greatest tool to preëmpt distress during unexpected transition. Check back next week Wednesday for the second state: the latter state.

Questions for reflection:

One. What stage of transition are you in at this moment?

Two. How are you handling the stage of transition in which you find yourself? How could you be handling it more effectively?

Three. Are you prepared for the next stage? If not what could you be doing now to prepare yourself?

Lester Deane, M. Div.

Lester Deane is the founder and primary life transition coach with Dunamis Coaching and Consulting. He enjoys learning how to be a husband to his wife Kimberly and a father figure to her son. He’s a self confessed coffee snob who loves to learn and educate others about coffee. He’s passionate about building people and life giving relationships.