Life Is in the Transitions
My friend William retired from his position with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection just before the pandemic, no one yet knowing a shut-down of such long duration was coming. When the shut-down did occur, he was asked to return to the department part-time as a consultant to shepherd the new staff through a new job in the new format of everything being online. Now that the pandemic is easing and some business/offices are re-opening, he re-retired last week.
I thought Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age by Bruce Feiler would be an appropriate resource for navigating the new ups and downs. William, now 75, agreed. And in checking out the book myself, in truth it is an excellent road map.
Partly concepts emerging from his own extensive research into the actual experiences of people in transition in our times of accelerating transitions:
Farewell to the Linear Life
(the end of predictability)
Embracing the Nonlinear Life
(what it means to live life out of order)
(what happens when the big one hits)
(how we make meaning in times of change)
And partly the practical tools needed to navigate any change at any age:
(identify your emotions)
(ritualize the change)
(give up old mind-sets)
(try new things)
(seek wisdom from others)
(unveil your new self)
(compose a fresh story)
Feiler wrote Life Is in the Transitions before any whiffs of the looming pandemic; it was published during the pandemic; it’s more relevant than ever as we emerge from an overnight shutdown in March 2020 to the daily flux of new rules, no rules, contradictions and confusion.
Feiler is a master story-teller; the book reads like a compelling collection of inspiring short stories. You’re eased into learning a lot of life-changing concepts and practices without hardly trying.
Exercise: Shifting from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset
[I teach this exercise in all of my Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth workshops. Very relevant and timely in the context of mastering change at any age, in any age.]
1. Take a moment to reflect on many different situations where you faced a challenge, even something simply new or unknown. Reflect on your own thought process and your own behaviors. Discern times when you did hang back, hesitate, or refuse to attempt something you perceived a bit beyond your capacities. Discern times also when you approached a challenge as a learning opportunity, with interest, curiosity, and some confidence, at least willingness to give it a go. Most of us have experienced elements of both fixed mindset and growth mindsets.
2. For one of your times acting from a growth mindset, reflect on what made your decision to try and your perseverance in trying possible. Identify both internal and external resources.
3. For one of your times being caught in a fixed mindset, imagine how you could have behaved differently, finding your courage and encouragement from others to go ahead and try, engage, persevere, try again and again until you experienced some success, or at least a healthy pride in your effort.
4. Identify a new situation now where you could try coming from a growth mindset rather a fixed mindset. Choose a situation where you might realistically have a chance for success. Focus on shifting your mindset from fixed to growth.
Reflect on any difference this choice makes on your behavior.
For more of the science behind this exercise, see Linda’s post Cultivating a Resilience Mindset.