16 Tips to mentally prepare for a major transition

It seems everywhere I look these days people are being called on to make major changes in their lives.

It can feel like crossing a crocodile infested river. What you want more than anything is on the other side. You know the only viable solution is to take a gigantic leap of faith, but your instincts are screaming “just look at the size of those teeth!”

Crocodiles with open mouth in the water.

Sometimes change is fast tracked in a dramatic way by circumstances beyond your control. Sometimes the need for major change creeps up on you. You know it’s there, because making headway becomes increasingly frustrating, like trying to walk against a gale force wind.

Instead of your environment supporting your current priorities, it is now actively working against them.

These major shifts may be in your closest relationships, your health, the company you’re employed by, sudden shifts in market trends, or the policies that govern your country.

I’ve been going through it too – complete with sleepless nights and unsettling dreams.

Scary? You bet!

A test of self trust? Oh yes!

Doubting I have what it takes? Frequently!

But at least I know why I’m reacting the way I am; and I know how to counteract the debilitating effects. That’s why I’m sharing this post with you.

If you’re facing a major transition, these tips will help you navigate this process with minimum stress.

Why is the thought of major change so scary? Because our brains are wired to seek pleasurable rewards and avoid pain, fear and discomfort. This is why the brain protects us by resisting change; by being healthily suspicious of dramatic upheavals—and the danger or turmoil it might entail. It’s a survival mechanism.

So you need to understand the boundaries of your unique comfort zone; the safety stop that protects you from venturing past your panic point.

How do you tell where this panic point is?

When your mind urges you to:

• Put off making a commitment – indefinitely
• Avoid the change at all costs
• Panic – fight, freeze or flee
• Obsess about the risk and negative implications
• Find justifications for not taking action
• Distract yourself with something familiar and safe
• Ignore the fact that what you’re doing isn’t working
• Get angry and blame someone or something
• Deny the evidence
• Isolate yourself

The potential consequences of failure can be so frightening, that a host of self protective strategies kick in.

All of them instinctive.

All of them counterproductive.

So how do you override your brain’s instinctive responses to change?

1. Do whatever works to restore a feeling of safety. Breathe! Relax! Meditate! Unplug and be still! This stops stress hijacking the very part of your brain you’re depending on to insure this transition is successful.

2. When your rational brain is in control again, do a risk assessment.

3. Identify your core values.

4. Formulate a new strategy to suit a new set of circumstances.

5. Identify and leverage your unique strengths.

6. Embrace skills, roles and experiences outside your comfort zone.

7. Focus on what is of primary importance to you right now, and what is likely to achieve this.

8. When the pressure’s on practice extreme self care. If you don’t, the risk of failure increases.

9. Make friends with the “failure monster”. Play the “what’s the worst that could happen” game.

10. Celebrate past transitions—if you’ve triumphed before, what’s stopping you doing so again?

11. Immerse yourself in positive affirmations and visualizations of your future reality.

12. Surround yourself with positive, like minded supporters who reinforce this.

13. Know that if a self sabotaging habit tries to derail you, it is just trying to protect you.

14. Find out what’s really driving your fear; reassure yourself—and then stretch those fear fences just a little bit further. Keep doing this.

15. Stop looking in the rear view mirror. Focus on where you’re going and how compelling the outcome will be.

16. Get a mentor to be your midwife through this birthing process. In fact, get a whole team of mentors and coaches if you can.

If you implement these strategies consistently, they take a lot of the fear out of a major transition.

And here’s something you will notice. Once you’re committed to a new direction, the crocodiles disappear, bridges you couldn’t see appear, and unexpected opportunities and key people often pop up from nowhere. This is the state in which miracles can manifest.

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