How and WHY You Should Pay Attention to Transitions
I recently took a trip with my daughter to Colorado. On this getaway, we were doing an activity that she loved and absolutely terrified me, when I encountered six words that have had a huge impact on me — not just in that moment, but in the days since.
These words have really re-shaped the way I think about the millions and millions of transitions we make throughout each day — especially as moms and women.
But before we get straight to these powerful words, I want to give you a little backstory. Then, I promise to share this truly incredible new phrase you can add to your toolkit to help you on your path to work-life harmony.
Where I Was Before the Trip
For several months leading up to this mother-daughter trip, I noticed that while things were generally going well for me and I was taking the time I needed for myself, I was regularly experiencing a low-grade level of irritability.
Now, in these moments when I was getting frustrated and irritated, I could always look at the situation and find a cause for it. I could justify why I was feeling that way and point to external factors.
I also found myself falling into the trap of thinking it was just a stage or a season I was going through, and that was why I was so easily irritated. But as I teach in my TOP Program, everything’s a stage, and the truth is there will always be another stage right around the corner.
Long story short, whatever the cause, this irritability was there, and it factored into where I was going on a one-on-one vacation with my daughter.
Our Colorado Vacation
The getaway my daughter and I went on was amazing, but it was far from a relaxing vacation. We stayed at this beautiful camp and did all of the outdoor activities and adventures Colorado has to offer.
One afternoon, our activity was a ropes course — something that is 100% my daughter’s jam and something that is definitely not mine.
Before we went onto the course, we did a lot of safety and protocol trainings. One of these protocols involved a clip that is attached to your harness and has to be moved from one obstacle to another.
Basically, anytime you are transitioning from one section of the course to another, there’s a protocol that involves a staff member and this clip.
6 Words That Re-framed My Transitions
In the last step of this protocol, before transitioning to the next part of the course, the staff member asks, “How do you wish to proceed?” Or sometimes, “How will you proceed?”
My response the first time I was asked this question was, “Terrified.” And the response I got was, “Okay. You may proceed terrified.” And honestly, the wave of validation that flowed through me was amazing.
At that moment, I realized I was allowed to say, “I’m terrified of what’s next,” and just being able to have this acknowledged aloud did so much to ease the terror of that transition.
Someone validated that I was terrified and still allowed me to keep going.
As the day went on, my answers changed, but what I really loved was hearing what all the other people on the ropes course were saying. There were answers such as “with speed”, “with joy”, and “with courage”.
Witnessing how each person approached their transitions really stuck with me.
Creating Purposeful Transitions
Following my experience with the ropes course, I really got to thinking about the number of transitions we encounter each day and how little thought we give to most of them.
This isn’t true with all of our transitions. For instance, I put a lot of thought into my transition from being asleep to starting my day with my morning routine, so that I can be fully present and ready to mentally shift gears. But I had never thought about the dozens of other transitions that happen throughout the day.
In my weekly planning, I tend to pack a lot of shifts or transitions from task to task into my day, so I can maximize my productivity. However, I’d never given a thought to how I would make those transitions from task to task.
That’s when I started to realize that the low-grade irritability I had been feeling consistently was coming from my lack of acknowledging all of these little transitions throughout my day. I wasn’t present enough in those moments to think, “How will I proceed? How do I wish to proceed?”
Since returning from this vacation with my daughter, I’ve started bringing this question into my daily practice as I transition from one task to the next.
Now, as I wrap up one thing and move on to the next, I take a quick second and ask myself, “How do I wish to proceed?”, instead of just going through the motions of “what’s next.”
This way, even when I am proceeding to something that I really don’t want to do like chores (or a ropes course), I am at least acknowledging my feelings as I move forward and continue to be productive.
Productivity as a Part of Work-Life Harmony
We all deserve to have work-life harmony, and productivity is a key component of that. In fact, the “P” in my TOP Program framework is Productivity.
Work-life harmony consists of three P's: present, proactive, and purposeful. And this idea of thinking about your transitions really highlights the word “purposeful.”
By examining “How do you wish to proceed?”, you bring a whole new level of awareness, intention, and purpose to all your transitions as you go through the day.
And since I have been practicing these purposeful transitions, my low-grade irritability hasn’t been creeping up!