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The Ins and Outs of Life Transitions

Life Transition

By Peter Shepherd

Change: friend or foe?

Life is always changing, growing and evolving. This means everyone experiences transitions in their life. And in modern life, change and growth are happening more quickly, and are often forced upon us, so that each of us will face many transitions in the course of a lifetime.

Change is the fundamental nature of Life. If you don’t adapt to change, or if you don't instigate necessary or desired change, you may be left in a confused and unfulfilled state. Then there is a danger that you will become a person who is fearful, cynical and resigned to things as they are.

Is this something that you really want? If it this happened could you live with yourself? Permanently?

It's far better to take the initiative, to become master of the transitions in your life.

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” ~ John Maxwell

What it feels like to experience a life transition

The way you are experiencing your own particular transition will, to some extent, depend on whether it has been forced on you (for example by a sudden medical emergency) or whether it is a transition you have chosen (for example giving birth to your first child). Either way, you will feel different - new thoughts, worries, emotions, hopes and fears.

Plus there's another kind of transition: one that you're not experiencing yet because it's being suppressed, neglected or put on hold. It's a change in your life that you would like or that's necessary - perhaps a new job or living in a different location - but you resist because you feel unclear how to go about it, or perhaps you feel you lack needed skills, experience or courage to go ahead. Or perhaps the transition reminds you of bad experiences in the past you don't want to repeat.


It's usually easier to deal with transitions you have chosen because you feel more in control, like the birth of a longed for baby. For example, the birth of a first child into a loving marriage will undoubtedly create strains on the parents' relationship and for a period they may feel overwhelmed, unconfident and fearful in ways that are new to them. The parents may experience exhaustion, difficulty coping, insecure, under the weight of other people's expectations, alone, unprepared. The change in routine may have an impact on friendships and family relationships. Fortunately these stresses and strains are tempered by the joy the couple experience in their shared new adventure of parenthood and in the powerful love they experience as they bond with their own child for the first time.

Whereas transitions that have been forced upon you, especially suddenly and unexpectedly - for example an unexpected heart attack - are usually much more challenging to accept into your life. The shock may provoke feelings of fear, helplessness, resentment about loss of your life plans, and other challenging emotions that arrive unexpectedly. You may feel scared, hopeless, angry, overwhelmed, violated, alone. Or if you became in debt, you may feel like you're drowning, stuck, or helpless. You may feel unprepared to deal with what you are being forced to experience.

These are all completely natural and common reactions. And there are many different kinds of life transition that can provoke these and other strong emotional responses, as the challenges of life get triggered. Transitions are at the center of human experience - but their significance is rarely understood.

Transitions give rise to life challenges

As you are faced with a transition, like getting engaged or being made redundant, this activates life challenges. This is a natural process and not to be feared or resisted. The art of living is to face up to each transition, acquire the necessary insights and skills, and move through the transition with ease.

Here are some common transitions that you are likely to experience in your journey through life... Which ones apply to you today?

  • Acquiring new skills
  • Breaking habit or addiction
  • Coping with a major loss
  • Diagnosis and illness recovery
  • Getting over guilt
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Implementing new insight
  • Learning to forgive
  • Letting go of anger
  • Overcoming fears
  • Spiritual path
  • Self-directed learning
  • Traumatic accident recovery
  • Becoming a parent or carer
  • Being victimized
  • Child leaving home
  • Developing social skills
  • Establishing boundaries
  • Getting engaged
  • Leaving home
  • Marriage
  • Pregnancy
  • Relocation and moving home
  • Resolving conflict
  • Separation and divorce
  • Starting a romance
  • Achieving a goal
  • Apply for/start a new job
  • College or university
  • Establishing life purpose
  • Financial crisis or change
  • Leading a team
  • Learning new skills at work
  • Losing job
  • New boss
  • New creative project
  • Promotion at work
  • Retirement
  • Starting a business
  • Commercial changes
  • Economic changes
  • Fashion changes
  • Freedom and rights
  • Political changes
  • Social changes
Click on underlined transitions for a brief description, including typical life challenges that facing this transition tends to activate.
See these selected resources for specific life challenges:
ArticleseBooksVideosCoaching Q&AsInspiring Quotes.

To summarize:

  1. Transition is moving from your current situation to the new situation
  2. Challenges (stress/difficulty) are experienced as you attempt the change
  3. Personal development insights and skills provide the solution you need.

Instead of a traumatic experience, the transition can become the vehicle for a positive and transformative experience, with the help of personal development training and coaching. Personal development empowers you to make successful transitions in your life.

We need to start by focusing on the specific life challenges that are preventing necessary or desired life transitions. All the personal development resources on this website will help you.

Peter Shepherd
Peter Shepherd
Peter Shepherd is the founder and producer of this website. A transformational psychologist by background, he is author of ‘Transforming the Mind.’ Learn more about Peter's life experience and his views on many subjects at his Biography Page. Read More Articles by Peter Shepherd.
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