“How do I know I am ready for all of this?” asked a woman who attended a talk I gave on Tuesday evening at our local independently owned bookstore. Picture folding chairs tucked in and around narrowly arranged aisles of books. Her question was an honest one. Transition seems like a big undertaking. Full of risk. Is it for everyone?
The quick answer to her question is no. Transition is not for everyone.
That evening – as I tried to generate a cogent response – two people instantly popped into my head; Sofia and Susan.
Sofia, an energetic well-put-together mid-fifties women, was incredibly unglued at the time I interviewed her. “It feels like being an old dog tossed to the curb,” she said of a down-sizing that eliminated her job at a company where she worked for more than two decades. “I was compensated very highly and that was important to me for a lot of reasons. And also I feel, not that my work is the only thing that has defined me, but my career and accomplishments are a large part of how I see myself and the success I’ve had in life.”
She was a single parent of three grown children. She was divorced. She was soon to be a grandmother.
Was Sofia ready for transition?
The decision to transition is ours alone to make. Transition requires us to re-examine our assumptions about identity, capacity and values. Very often a trigger, like a job loss, serves as a catalyst for that examination. But for transition to occur there needs to be a shift in what holds value and meaning to each of us. Jobs can be replaced. A shift in values or identity is tougher to ignore.
Could transition be right for you?
The other person who popped into my head as I was crafting my response was Susan Duffy, Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College. Susan served as an expert resource to me during my research for my book, Women & Transition.
In Susan’s mind transition is possible only after a baseline truth exists. The truth? That ‘living the lives we imagine‘ isn’t just for ‘other‘ people. For Susan believing that this path could be possible was a necessary prerequisite…
I am not sure my answer the other night was all that eloquent. These two ladies really taught me a lot about one’s readiness for transition. First and foremost there needs to be a belief that something more is possible.
Second, you need to look honestly at transition. What does that mean? You need to think about how you define yourself:
- your identity;
- your capacity – or how you think about what you could or should do; and
- your values – your belief systems
Here’s the real news. These three elements are pliable even though we don’t often think of them as such.
Is transition for me?
For me I changed jobs five years before my transition started. I probably could have benefited from transition at that time. The problem? I didn’t know about it much less understand it.
What I later learned was that the five years that it took to find transition only amplified the misalignment I felt. I was long overdue for re-examination.
Just like my earlier job change Sofia found herself another job shortly after we spoke. She sashayed right by transition. In her mind she succeeded. She replicated the job she had just departed. Case closed?
Transition can enlivening and empowering and positive. It can also be downright scary. Very often we choose change to avoid transition.
Here’s what I hope: That you make the choice between change and transition with a solid knowledge of what transition is and how it manifests itself in your life. We talk a lot about women’s choices. To me, this is the real one.
If you have two more minutes please take a moment to read the reviews about Women & Transition on Amazon. Thank you to those who have contributed there. My new favorite:
“Move over Gloria Steinem and Helen Gurley Brown. Linda Rossetti has written a book for all women who want to give voice to their dreams and take action in transitioning in a thoughtful and personally meaningful manner. Rossetti offers the reader vocabulary for transition with humor and candor.”
Copyright © 2015 NovoFemina.com. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.