Transition: How to Handle the Toughest Part of Change
Change is part of life. Some people thrive upon it, finding it invigorating and refreshing. Others dread it, finding it intimidating and painful. Regardless of which category fits you, we all experience change. Change occurs in stages. The seminal preliminary planning to the final completion is often a long hard road. There’s lots of steps in-between that aren’t always clearly marked. Yet the most difficult of them all is that period called transition.
Transition is when the actual change begins to occur, and it’s the most difficult part of the entire process. Transition is defined by the ‘morphing’ of our lives from one thing or place to the next. Transition is often characterized by enormous stress, seemingly insurmountable obligations, and tight itineraries.
Transition is never easy, regardless of how great the prospects. It’s hard. This aspect of change is where things get tight. Stresses mount, schedules overlap, resources are spread thin, and obligations increase. This is precisely why people despise change. It’s not fun. Transition demands a blend of focus, stamina, and organization that requires great strategy and skill to effectively pull off. Otherwise things default to a tangled mess. Unless you’re a gifted individual who can master and tame these areas, transition can seem like an insurmountable beast.
Yet it can be done. You can walk through the season of transition mastering these skills with some divine techniques. Let’s talk about how to make it happen by taking a lesson from our Creator. God has established a well-oiled machine where everything orbits precisely according to His appointed time within a circulation of constant change. Creation is constantly changing. There is life, growth, and death. Stars fall and new ones are born. Arctic ice melts, seas swell, rocks split, lava flows and landscapes change. When we stop to consider who He is and how He does things, we would do well to follow His example. Someday there’s going to be a new heaven and a new earth. Our God who never changes rules the world that does. He created ‘earth’ (see Genesis 1:1-31) that is in a state of constant change, yet exhibits a stability that is calculated and precise. He is miraculous.
Through His creation God reveals a way to plan, act, and gracefully establish a flow during transition that can ultimately accomplish your vision, and I’m going to share it with you.
Write the Vision
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, (Genesis 1:1, KJV).
Some of us are really poor planners. We get in knots just thinking about it. It literally turns us inside out. Others of us excel at this, and we are motivated by it. Change is a huge motivator and stimulator of intrinsic and extrinsic energies. People like us plan everything. It’s like breathing.
As it turns out, God is the supreme planner. He plans everything He does. Nothing is happenstance. Nothing occurs accidentally. He is very strategic, and for everything He plans He also designates an appointed time. As the Beginning and the End, nothing takes Him by surprise. He sees and knows absolutely everything before it occurs. And while this aspect of God’s omniscience may seem mind-blowing and even contradictory to our free will, it doesn’t stop us from going against His. God knows all things – even those things He hasn’t willed or purposed.
Whenever there was going to be forthcoming change, God would enlist his prophets to write it down, because change always demands an allotted time for necessary preparation and transition. We see this transition in childbirth, the four seasons, and in various stages of life and death. He would speak to them say, “Write…” This writing established an order; and it cemented His word into the minds and hearts of those who heard it. Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Paul, John, and many others were all commanded to write His word as it was spoken to them. The entire bible is written by those whom God commanded to inscribe it as they were inspired by His Spirit. As a result we have numerous prophetic books wherein God’s words are meticulously recorded for us. Many of those words of knowledge, wisdom, and prophecy have yet to come to pass. Because God is eternal, He reserves the right to speak something far prior to its fulfillment. Many times we erroneously assume that because God speaks something forth it will transpire rapidly (like tomorrow). Nothing could be further from the truth. God teaches us His eternal nature versus our finite and mortal one, as well as our need for patience, through the prophetic words He gives. We also learn that for many of those things He’s appointed, they require an enormous amount of time to adequately prepare.
God cannot lie and He watches over His word to perform it. When we fully understand who He is, we can cooperate with Him according to His plan. Yet God knows that we easily forget. Therefore, He doesn’t speak carelessly. As a loving Father who is the very best of parents, He wants us to remember, and because so much of what He says is spoken for generations yet to come, He tells us to write it down so that a record may be established for those who haven’t heard the word for themselves.
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry, (Habakkuk 2:2-3, KJV).
Determine the Appointed Time
Everything God has purposed and established has an appointed time – from His Son’s birth to the orbiting planets.
God is a God of meticulous order.
Part of that order includes strategic and appointed timing.
The word “tarry” is used twice here in Habakkuk, yet the context is different each time. These two words are different in the Hebrew. The first word “tarry” is mahahh and it means, ‘to linger, tarry, wait, delay’. Its implication is reluctance, hesitance, or to be stayed. The second use of the word “tarry” is achar, which means to cause one to delay, hesitate, tarry, defer, or remain behind. The first is implicit. The second is explicit. It is used in connection with loitering, procrastination, and slackness.
When you write the vision you need to define the appointed time as it relates to your goal. In doing so, you avoid unnecessary delays or hindrances that would otherwise cause slackness. Your vision (goal or purpose) for this strategic time of transition in your life needs to be clarified and outlined. Some things cannot afford delay. Delays often equal missed opportunities.
Transition is when things begin to shift and move.
We see the changes occur, and we become catalysts for that change.
This is a tight place.
Transition can cause confusion due to the enormous stress and numerous obligations it brings. You’re beyond the planning stage at this point. Things are beginning to shift and move. Sometimes we can be so wrapped up in the moment that we lose sight of what we’re actually trying to achieve. We can become tired, distracted, and even delayed. Because things overlap during times of transition, it’s often hard to pin a specific time for anything. I caution you not to allow that to happen. Take the necessary time to sit down and precisely pen your vision with regard to appointed times, otherwise known as an itinerary or schedule for events.
When you can clearly establish your vision, your likelihood of meeting it with success is much greater. You will stay sharp, focused, and anything that diverts you from that core goal is going to be easier to identify, recognize, or prioritize appropriately. As a result you will be able to define and assign any task or intermediate event that might otherwise interrupt progress. Everything you do as it relates to that vision will begin to fall into place once you learn to maintain your focus. Put your vision on a “table” or tablet where you will see it, read it, and be empowered to run with it. That may be your fridge, your bathroom mirror, your wallet, your dashboard, your computer, etc.
Where there is no vision, the people perish…, (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).
Let it be further understood that all of this should be done in an attitude of prayer and submission to God. When we are fully surrendered to Him, we are blessed. When our plans are fully submitted to His, they are guaranteed to succeed.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way, (Psalm 37:23, KJV).
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps, (Proverbs 16:9, KJV).
Establishing the Order
This is where it gets tricky – and for several reasons. Not only are there a plethora of things to accomplish within a given amount of time, but it’s usually coordinated among the efforts of numerous people with whom you will need to establish a firm schedule. All of this has to gel if things are going to flow smoothly. Life, by default, is often chaotic unless we establish a defined order and learn to set a schedule. Yet timing is only one part of establishing order. It also involves prioritization. You can map a schedule, but if your priorities are wrong, then it’s going to be a mess.
There are three main things you’ll need to prioritize, which are all inter-related:
1.) The obligations at hand.
2.) people or organizations with whom you do business.
3.) The tasks required for each obligation.
I’ve known people who have entered into the time of transition with a completely absent mind. They are utterly overwhelmed because they can’t see the forest for the trees. This why the vision needs to be clearly defined. Due to their lack of focus they have no idea where to start, and so they just jump in. As a result of this haphazard approach an even greater disorder ensues. Things become a mess. And instead of being a wise steward of time and resources – they’re wasting them.
Time is the one resource above all others that cannot afford to be wasted.
Once spent, you can never recover it.
There is no greater waste than the waste of time. Time is our most valuable resource, precisely because it cannot be recovered. We need to be excellent stewards of our own time – and that of others. When someone gives you their time, they are lending you a portion of their life. Respect it and thank them. If you are scheduled with someone – be there. They deserve 100% of your undivided attention. Be prompt and fully present. Have integrity and follow through with the plans you make. If for some reason there are circumstances beyond your control, release them from that obligation as soon as you’re in the know. Don’t ever disrespect someone’s time. There is perhaps no greater insult. This applies to all relationships – both personal and professional.
Determining a logical progression can be challenging when things begin to overlap. What is the solution for this overlapping? There isn’t one. The only way you’ll know what to put first is by determining your priorities. Something has to take a back seat. What you put first will shuffle everything and everyone else in a cascading order.
Random order is no order at all. It’s complete chaos.
Never let the chips fall where they may. There is nothing more dangerous than leaving things to chance.
Everything God created was established within a defined and meticulous order. He joined and divided the land from the sea, the light from darkness, the day from the night, and much more; each within a given day (His appointed time). As a result great changes were occurring.
However, much of what we accomplish revolves around other people. No one is an island unto themselves. Unlike God, we require help. Regardless of the obligation or task at hand, more than likely you will be soliciting someone, or find yourself collaborating with others to accomplish a given task or goal. Therefore, prioritizing and organizing your appointments with people are essential to success. Yet the differences in schedules also makes them challenging.
Flexibility is measured with regard to the time(s) you have open and available, and therefore flexibility is rendered by presenting your options to others. If someone else comes along whom you regard as a priority or preference, simply let them know you have a prior obligation and show them your availability.
In such cases where there is a foreseen priority, make that known to the individual you are planning with by setting the date tentatively, which should be confirmed within 24-48 hours. A tentative date should never be extended by more than two days. Tentative dates are difficult on others because people lock in with you in good faith. That time in their schedule is now allocated to you despite your inability to confirm. Therefore, no one should be left hanging indefinitely. By all social standards, if two days pass and you cannot determine the date, kindly do them the respect of calling, and release them from the obligation.
Appropriately prioritizing your obligations
as well as those with whom you meet are essential life skills.
Implementing the Plan
Many people never come to this point where they can actually implement the plan effectively. They have a vision, yet they struggle continually in bringing the necessary order that is required to see a finished result. Or they spend an inordinate amount of time in do-overs that were entirely unnecessary, having wasted months or years in a futile process. This is horribly sad and wasteful. Embracing times of transition with confidence is determined by your ability to implement the plan. And it has to be a plan established with order. Plans established with order are the only ones that work. Where most people go wrong is they begin to implement things they’ve never planned and the whole process is foiled from the start.
When we follow God’s creative order we will see order in our lives as well.
God never implemented a plan that was not first defined by His vision, set with an appointed time, and established with a determined order.
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions… counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I might cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was, (Proverbs 8:12, 14-15, 20-23, KJV).
Understanding God’s ways allows us to establish our own with His help and guidance.
When you can master these life skills according to the LORD’s ways you’ll be enabled to successfully handle the many changes life brings, and you’ll very likely succeed in your lifelong goals. Write the vision, determine the appointed time, establish an order, and implement the plan. This doesn’t ensure that the transition that comes with change is easy, but it is doable.
While you’re in transition amidst so much change, take comfort in knowing God is consistent. He never changes. He’s always the same – yesterday, today and forever. With His help you’ll arrive safely and on time. He’s already there.
Cheers & Shalom,