From Old to New: Making the Most of Life’s Transitions

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2013 could easily be known as the Year of Change for me. I got married, became a step-mom, moved to a new town, attended a new church, lost a parent, and began working from home. In other words, transition marked every area of my life.

Our family also experienced all of the normal changes that happen in a year. Each new season brought new activities as others ended. School ended; school began. We planned vacations; we prepared for Christmas. Baseball, basketball, soccer, choir, youth group: each began and ended in its time.

And as we moved from one activity, from one event, from one life-altering moment to the next, it wasn’t just the change itself that was significant, but what the change was accomplishing in us, how we transitioned from old to new.

“Change is the stuff of life. But transitioning well is the art of life,” writes Karen Swallow Prior in her essay for The High Calling called, “In Life as in Writing: Transitions Bring Cohesion to the Whole.”

Prior’s essay is just one of a collection exploring this theme of transitioning from old to new, a timely topic as we turn the pages of our calendars and anticipate what’s next.

Some changes are ones we seek, like moving to a new town or taking on a new job. The most important element to making a successful transition is connecting the old and new together, Prior says: “The key is putting what has already transpired into proper relationship with the new demands as part of a coherent whole.”

Other changes are ones we make. In an interview with pastor, author, business leader, humanitarian, and filmmaker T.D. Jakes, Nancy Lovell explores his life and work, his recent book, and the idea of pushing for transitions the world needs, the ones only we can make.

“What motivated me to write [Instinct],” Jakes says in “Blurring the Lines: Talking Life and Work with T.D. Jakes, “is that while I reference my own life, I’ve been privileged to be around people who shattered ceilings and broke barriers. Regardless of background, or culture or ideology, they followed their instinct. They didn’t allow the rules to incarcerate them to what could be done.”

But how does a person of faith balance humility with the power needed to be so disruptive? Lovell asked.

“It’s possible to have the power to affect change and still be humble that you’re allowed to have it,” Jakes responded. “My illustration of power and humility cohabitating is Jesus Christ himself. You can’t find anyone with more influence and power than Christ and you find him at the feet of his disciples washing feet. He didn’t have to forsake one to produce the other, and neither do we.”

Finally, in Laura Brown’s essay, “Unwanted Transitions: Finding Normal after Loss,” we explore the painful process of accepting difficult change that no one would ever choose. “What I am noticing so far, in this grief that is still new, in this world without Dad,” she writes, “is the loss of what he knew. All the things about which there’s no one to ask.”

We aren’t the only ones thinking about change, either. Outside The High Calling, several other articles address this important idea of thriving in transition.

In the December 24, 2013, Bloomberg Business Week article “Forget Resolutions: Make Real Changes for You and Your Career in 2014,” author Karen Cates says making real change begins with asking the right questions. “Instead of asking, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ try this: ‘Who do I want to be? How do I want to feel when I wake up in the morning?’” she writes. “By shifting the focus onto being instead of getting, you multiply the potential paths you can take to get there.”

When it comes to implementing change that affects others, giving them as much control as possible within the transition will help them thrive. That’s the message of the December 1, 2013, article in the The Washington Post called, “How to Create Change in the Workplace” by Joyce E.A. Russell.

“Employees may actually be positive to a change, but if the change is imposed on them, their reaction is often more obstinate,” she writes. “Leaders have to help employees feel a sense of ownership in the change process and outcomes.”

For young professionals attempting to thrive in the transition from school to the workplace, Justin Louie’s June 10, 2013, article on offers some great advice. “The absolute worst thing you can do after graduation is nothing,” he writes in “3 Steps to Transition From School To The Workplace.”

Not graduating until Spring? “In order to increase your chances of having a job upon graduation, you should start looking for work at least four months before your graduation date, since it can sometimes take this long to find work and get through the application process,” Louis suggests.

Finally, Mark Roberts’ daily reflection, “God Don't Never Change” reminds us that through all the transitions we encounter, there is one certainty. His name is God. Subscribe today to receive the daily reflections in your inbox each day, including Saturday’s wrap-up to our theme. And to read more from our High Calling community about what it means to thrive in transition, visit us on Friday, January 10, 2014, for a summary of the best in community posts.

Charity Singleton Craig is a content editor for The High Calling and a contributing writer for Tweetspeak Poetry. She grew up on an Indiana farm and now lives with her husband and step-sons across the street from another Hoosier corn field.

Image by Jordan Richmond. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.