Transitions are never easy. We’re often faced with them after a season of stability and apparent ‘safety’, and this means the idea of rolling the dice on a new adventure, relationship or experience, is terrifying.
Transitions provide us with three options: stay where we are, leap into a new experience, or run away. If you’re a self-doubter like me, you may even sway between two or three of these options, unsure what the next step is. You may doubt your motives, your readiness, or be in complete denial about what the next step in your life should be.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer in transition. Each of us will respond differently when they arise, and the best and healthiest course of action will vary. Often, the answer lies in our ability to recognise whether we are running away from a situation or if we’re naturally moving on to something new.
Are you in a period of transition? I sure am, and these are eight questions I’ve asked myself to assess my best course of action for my future.
1. Am I afraid of the future?
Sometimes, the fear of the unknown and what may go wrong (or right) keep us from moving into a new phase of life. We can all take steps to prepare for the future, but there comes a time when we need to take a risk and move forward. Don’t let fear hold you back.
2. Am I afraid of staying still?
Perpetual transition and the inability to put down roots is the trademark of someone who is afraid to stay still in life. If you’re afraid of what life could be like if you stopped and invested in relationships, a community or a business, then it may be time to stop running and plant yourself for a season.
3. Am I afraid for the safety of my loved ones or myself?
One of the most common transitions comes when we step out of a relationship. In any long-term or marriage relationship, it’s important you see a counsellor (preferably with your partner) as it’s always preferential that you save a relationship rather than break up.
BUT if you fear for your safety and the emotional wellbeing of yourself and your family, it is time for you to leave. Call it running away or moving on—it makes no difference when your wellbeing is involved.
If you’re experiencing domestic abuse or violence, call 1800-RESPECT.
4. Do I have commitment issues?
If you’re scared of being in a long-term relationship, you’ll consistently run away from anyone that threatens your independence. Sometimes this happens before a relationship can evolve, and other times you’ll casually date or hook up before the other person asks for a commitment and you run for the hills. Don’t be in denial about it. You are allowed to live a single, happy independent life, but if you’re living it out of fear of committing to a single person it’s time to do some work on yourself.
5. What are my responsibilities?
Whether you’re moving on or running away from responsibility—and whether you should—will largely depend on what they are. Responsibility for your loved ones, especially children, will always come first. Sacred responsibilities like this should never be run from, just nurtured so you feel supported in the process.
However, if your responsibilities are work related, or are tied to unhealthy family or relationship attachments, then a different course of action may be required. Unrealistic expectations that negatively infringe on your health, happiness and the people around you shouldn’t be adhered to.
You need to move on from these responsibilities, either by seeking new employment, gaining external support through a counsellor, or changing your routine so you live a healthier and happier lifestyle.
6. Am I prepared?
Are you prepared to stand still and fight for your relationship? Are you willing to take a leap of faith and make a new life for yourself with a new job, relationship or community? Are you ready to leave the pain of the past behind?
Preparation isn’t just physical; it’s emotional too. If you’re willing to make an emotional commitment to the next (or current) phase in your life, you’re ready to take the next step.
7. Who am I doing this for?
Irrespective of whether you stay, run or move on, the people you do it for will determine how healthy the transition is. Committing to a relationship or working on a current one are both risks worth your time—they are about your happiness, and the happiness of the people around you.
However, if you’re basing your next life transition on the unhealthy expectations of others or unrequited love, believing you will be more ‘whole’ if you take this step, you need to stop and reassess. Who you are is enough, and transition is about becoming more ‘you’, not proving yourself to others.
8. What do I want?
What do you want for your life? Do you want safety, security and a place to belong? Or maybe you want to live an adventurous and exhilarating life, full of unexpected moments and people. How you answer this question will help you determine if you need to stay, take a leap of faith or move on to something new.