How to take transitions in stride

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Transitions are an unavoidable fact of life but with the right life coaching, they don’t have to be daunting.

The one constant in life is change, and we meet them with our own perspectives and baggage in tow.

There are different situations in which transitions are called for and can be trying to adjust to. For example, an unstable job market means many adults are returning to school or changing jobs, both circumstances that can lead to great insecurity. For example, there’s a seemingly trivial but important one for a sense of security: Where will I sit at lunch? Lasara Firefox Allen, a life coach and author in Mendocino County, CA, advises that new returnees find specific locations that offer a sense of safety, in order to feel relaxed and receptive to learning. So if the cafeteria delivers middle-school flashbacks, try the library or career center as a reminder of your larger purpose.

Social connections are also key. “It may sound funny as a grown person going back to school presumably with youths, but get involved with a club that has a theme that makes you feel welcomed.”

Relationships can bring about transitions as well and feel as changeable as the weather, but coming out of one often leaves one with a sense of hopelessness. The forward-looking nature of coaching can be especially helpful here. Allen combines coaching with neuro-linguistic programming, a practice that combines language and physical cues with tools from psychotherapy, and notes that among its benefits “[NLP] doesn’t rely on retraumatization. Massive healing can be created without reliving a traumatic event.”

For someone feeling unlucky in love, coaching can help redirect focus. “Create a list of attributes that you want in a partner. Better yet, make three lists! Needs, Wants, and Hard Limits.” Allen offers the example of someone buying a car and listing price range, extras, mileage and other qualifiers, then running heedlessly into a search for love with no preparation whatsoever.

Just like in school, a little homework pays off. “What if you could have anything you wanted? What would you want if that were the case?” Allen asks, “This is a valuable question because it is entirely possible that you can. But until you ask yourself what you would want if you could create it exactly in the way that would best serve you, you may be going after something you don’t even actually want.”

If work and love present us with challenges throughout our adult lives, loss shows up with more frequency as we age. How can the outcome-oriented nature of coaching help the recently bereaved? Sometimes what is needed in these settings is very pragmatic, beginning with listening without judgment and then helping a client reconnect with their coping strategies to chart a path forward. Other situations prove more complex. “With the death of a parent, a client may be staring early childhood fear, or pain, directly in the face. Coaching can help clients to sort out what parts need to be addressed right now, and then address them,” Allen says. Sifting for the places where a client is stuck rather than tackling the whole enchilada can set them on the path to feeling whole again more efficiently.

Life will never cease to surprise us and the ways we respond can mean the difference between happiness and discontent, but it requires a willingness to dig deep. Allen says, “I am a believer in doing what works. And I find that [coaching] works for most people who really want to create forward-facing change. You can use coaching to increase your productivity, heal trauma, and to create and meet business goals.”

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Heather Seggel

Heather Seggel is a writer based in Northern California. Her work appears in print and online media and covers books, food, housing and class issues.

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