How to Thrive During a Transition Phase
Transition phases are those points in your life when you’re stuck between two states of equilibrium; maybe you’ve just graduated and looking for a job, maybe you’ve been let go from your previous job and looking for another, maybe you’ve quit your job and working on a new business.
It’s nice to read all those headlines about the lawyer who quit his job and became an aerobics instructor, or the CEO who quit to write a book, but these stories fail to give a realistic expectation of what really went on; the fear and anxiety that haunts a budding business owner, or having to ask someone that you need to sleep in their cupboard, or the humiliation of going to your sibling and asking for money.
So here’s a few things I’ve learned:
- Have a checklist of things that need to be done if you ever lose your job. This is something you do even if you’re in a safe position, because if something like that happens (God forbid), it’s hard to have the presence of mind to think things through. To come up with a checklist, ask friends who were in a similar situation. For example, if you’re going to move to a new country and disconnect your current phone, then remember to remove your phone from all the two-step verification on websites such as gmail and twitter. I know someone who lost access to their account because of this.
- Get some runway. Again, this is something that needs to be done while you’re still in a job. Lower your expenses and save money for rainy days. You really don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you don’t know where your next meal is going to come from.
- Be practical. If you’re in a transition phase and have no financial runway, then hustle to get a job — any job — to survive. Because most of my circle is middle class, the thing that I hear most is, “I’m not going to take that job because it’s not located in XYZ, or the pay is too low, or it’s way beneath me.” Of course, the people who say things like that are usually comfortable because their parents bear the brunt of their transition phase. But even if the situation is not ideal — location/moneywise- taking the job means you’ll be in the job market and you’ll have a chance to connect with more people from your field. Also, pay that’s too low is much better than zero pay.
- Don’t go at it alone. It’s easy to isolate yourself because you feel like a failure when you’re in such a situation especially when all your friends are settled in good jobs. But just because you failed at something doesn’t make you a failure. This is definitely not the time to isolate yourself. Reach out to people, and let them know what you’re looking for.
- Build more relationships. The biggest gift that a transition state usually gives you is time. Use the time to build more relationships by adding value to other people’s lives. Propose to do things for free, run errands, help them in any way, teach their kids. Build skills and freelance. But of course, don’t get into it with any expectations because that’s a sure way to get disappointed.
- Read The Obstacle Is the Way on how to build the mental fortitude because you really need it at this stage. Managing your emotions and expectations is huge here, and as much as I would love to summarize it here, Ryan Holiday did a pretty good job there.
- Work. There’s a definition of work I heard once that I liked; work is anything where you add value to. The minimum entry is so low, anything you do qualifies. This could be you publishing a blog post, or recording a podcast. It could mean having a conversation with someone and trying to add value to their life, or sharing a book with someone you’re sure they’ll love. By that definition, I find myself working full-time despite not having a salary at the end of the month, and that’s okay, because my time hasn’t been wasted.
- The Daily Practice. This idea was propagated by James Altucher, author of Choose yourself and Reinvent Yourself. The idea of the daily practice is simple; improving yourself in four areas, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The whole post is here.
Finally, remember to wake up and smell the roses. Use your newly given freedom and space to do something interesting with your life. If you’ve always been upset that you never found your passion in life, then start by following your curiosities, take an online course on Udemy, or start a blog on hostgator and see where your creativity takes you.