4 tips for getting through life transitions

I’ve experienced many important personal and professional life transitions: I lived and worked in 4 different countries and cultures, spent 7 years working for a big corporation in London and Paris and then became a social entrepreneur in México, moved from a city of 20 million, to a town of 500. I’ve also launched 4 social companies that have all experienced big changes…

In general, passing through any transition, personal or professional, intentional or not, can cause fear, stress and anxiety. Every life change causes uncertainty. What will my new team be like? Will I like my boss? Can I make friends in this new city? How will I adapt to a new life? With each transition, comes plenty of questions.

What does “transition” mean?

It ‘s the action or effect of going from one system or method to another. Often, a gradual process with a certain time extension.”

A transition is a change of state that’s deep and takes time. It’s not an immediate or superficial change. Getting a new car or deciding to go to the gym instead of playing football, are not transitions. A transition is a change that has real consequences on your life. Changing your job, taking on a new project, starting a new relationship, moving to another country or city, starting a family… These are changes that impact anyone experiencing them.

The 5 key stages of a transition

Every individual experiences transitions differently and in their own time. The next graphic shows the Realization of the situation, this stage generates stress, fear and anxiety, the faster we get through it, the better the transition will be. This stage is critical because it creates the transformation that enables us to carry on.

When I moved to Mexico to get my social entrepreneurship acceleration programme started, I arrived with lots of energy, excited to start the new adventure. A few weeks later, I became fully aware of the situation. I had left a secure banking job, in a 200,000 employee company in France. Now, I was far from friends and family, in an unknown country and without 100% of the language, I was completely alone with my project.

I had to: understand the expectations of the investors, find a house, improve my Spanish, develop the skills and professional competences needed, grow my network, make friends, take part in some activities, etc. Although I have an adventurous personality and love risks, I must confess this transition was not easy for me. I was constantly anxious and wasn’t sure how or where to find solutions. I had an enormous mountain to climb and no summit in sight or path to follow. Does this sound familiar?

4 things that helped me during my transition


For me, preparation is the key to a successful transition. It’s always possible to anticipate some of the things that might happen, Here are some of the things that I wish I’d known before:

1. Establish priorities: Having new opportunities is liberating and energizing, But sometimes the volume of new data and options will overwhelm you. It’s time to ask yourself: What’s most important for me: to excel at my new job as soon as possible, to find a house, to make more friends?

What are your main priorities and objectives? Once you’ve defined them, you’ll be able to deliberate opportunities depending on if they will help you to reach your goals and not feel overwhelmed by so many options. In a new context, a lot of solutions and experiences which don’t fully align with your goals will appear, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss them all. They might help you to see new horizons. Satisfaction can arrive in unexpected ways.

2. Immerse yourself in your new situation: In general, we’re afraid of the unknown, and we constantly imagine the worst that could happen. Exploring a new city, visiting your new workplace, hanging out with your new peers and bosses will help you to get a better understanding of the dynamics in your new professional or personal environment. This will help decrease your level of anxiety and face the transition with more confidence.

 3. Learn: Sounds obvious. Personally I like to learn through new experiences. But if I had taken some courses before starting a new job, my performance would’ve been better. There are literally thousands of free online courses that can help you be more prepared. Do an introspection: which areas are your weakest? Do you need to know more about a specific topic? Is there a skill you should develop?  If that’s the case, you’ll surely find something online, a book or a podcast about the topic that worries you.

4. Project yourself: Some high end athletes do projection sessions to visualize themselves going through what they want to achieve. Skiers project themselves going down the slope, their speed, the wind in their faces, where they will turn, etc. Formula 1 racers imagine the curves, accelerations, the start of the race, etc.

You can do this visualization with your new job, the reception, your first meeting. What will it be like when your new baby is born… It’s like meditating: to decrease the uncertainty, you only need a few minutes a day, visualizing the new situation and naming any emotions you feel.

In the end, preparing ourselves elevates our own being. This part of the cause and effect of going from one state to another. Transitioning implies being prepared. We all do it, one way or another and we need to learn to prepare ourselves for relaxed transitions.

How about you? What’s helped you to prepare for a transition?

Nicolas Demeilliers

Nicolas Demeilliers

Coach of Entrepreneurial Leaders

Nicolas is a coach of entrepreneurial leaders and a social entrepreneur. He is a co-founder at Connovo  the first impact venture builder in Latin America, which built three high impact companies impacting over 19,000 low-income and vulnerable people in Latin America. Nicolas fell in love with Mexico and a Mexicana and is now the happy father of two girls. He also loves capoeira, sailing and playing flamenco guitar.