Transition versus change

Sunday Blog 16, 19 December 2021

Peering at me through the screen was my counsellor who lives some 400 kilometres away. Thanks to the wonder of modern science she is available to support me. I called on her to pick up the pieces after my experience, detailed last week, when a 2018 journal entry sucker-punched me into understanding that it was time to leave my job. Begin to untangle the threads of what is me and what is my day job.

Seven years ago I took on the role of Executive Director at the Health Consumers’ Council in Western Australia. Almost immediately I began thinking about how long was the right time to have a role like that. Five to seven years was a common marker I referred to. As this metaphorical deadline approached, the internal whisper for change had become a roar.

“Have you heard of William Bridges Transitions?my counsellor asked. I hadn’t. I ordered it immediately and like a miracle, the hard copy arrived the next day. Drowning in the waves of turmoil, I had already downloaded the kindle and audible version just to be sure. I was clinging to this liferaft, still at the stage of wondering whether I just needed a lot of day naps or whether my time was really truly up. His book was a lighthouse that illuminated that the stuckness I was feeling is a key sign that transition is in the wings.

“Every transition begins with an ending,” Bridges told me. He encouraged me to think back on transitions in my life, and how I have handled endings. It’s fair to say that hurtling headlong into the next adventure and failing to understand the importance of a transition would sum up my approach.

This time I am protected by the reality that you can’t walk away from a leadership role like this in five minutes, or even a month. I have a plan. I am transitioning into the Acting Deputy Director role in the second week of January, and then off the permanent payroll by 31st March. After then I will likely contract back to the organisation, tackling the many fee-for-service projects we are constantly approached about. Between and now there will be loss, sadness, joy, excitement often in the same hour. I’ll consciously begin with the ending. I’ll sit with the messy middle of the transition and the (consciously, slowly) allow the next stage to unfold. Unless of course something really bright and shiny comes along and I revert to type and hightail after it!

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