The transition factor

At some point all successful professionals will transition to something new.

This could be a transition to a different role within their business, a move to a portfolio career of multiple interests, leaving to start their own business or at some point retirement from the professional world altogether.

Managing transitions effectively is a key factor for anyone looking to live a rich and fulfilling life. Transitions are hard and professionals often don’t get the help they need to navigate them well.

In the context of retirement from your main professional career, it’s often said that you need to retire to something not away from something.

This is generally true of any transition. But at the same time the mind can play tricks on you. What seems attractive from where you are today may be underwhelming once you get there. We’re all familiar with the phenomenon that the grass is greener on the other side.

This is why experimentation is so important in preparing for transitions. In the transition factor I encourage people to think about how they can bring forward into their lives today factors that they want to give greater weight to in the future.

Getting actively involved in the networks and activities that you want to play a bigger role in your future is an important test of whether it’s something that you really want to do and some of the challenges that you may face. This is why part-time working coupled with experimentation in different external roles can be such an important component of a successful transition out of your main professional career.

“Why shouldn’t we start today to live the life we want to lead?”

As well as active experimentation, living with a period of uncertainty is a necessary part of the successful transition. People used to occupations of high status can find it difficult to say that they don’t know what they’re going to do next. But the period of uncertainty gives the space for reflection and serendipity to throw opportunities in your way by chance.

A final and very important component is to recognise that transitions can cause a sense of loss, which can trigger a grieving process. Part of that sense of loss can arise from changes to the sense of self-worth, the feeling of being needed and can arise from the fact that many professionals allow work to fulfil too big a role in their social interactions.

Preparing for this loss and taking steps to build other activities that will compensate can take several years and it’s something that should be actively prepared for as part of any transition.

Transition is a continuous process. Rather than carrying on as normal today while promising ourselves a big change in the future, we should try making small changes today to shift our life towards our future vision of ourselves.

At the same time, this helps us to refine that future vision and get a more reliable fix on how we really want to lead our lives. Why shouldn’t we start today to live the life we want to lead?

Questions to start

How can I bring forward into my life today aspects of what I hope for in the future?

How will I build networks and experiment in the run up to any life transition?

What will I lose through transition and how can I act now to replace it?

Start a conversation

If you like what you see, do get in touch to ask a question, share some thoughts or fix a time to chat. I’ll do what I can to help.