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4 Phases of Life & Leadership Transitions

Posted on: June 26th, 2012 by Dr. Angela Bisignano


Are you feeling restless these days? Chances are you may be in a life or leadership transition. Life is full of them. We all experience transitions. Navigating them well is important. Transitions can be opportunities for refining and shaping; as well as a time for gaining insight, clarity, and perspective.

The problem many face is that they get stuck or paralyzed when experiencing life and leadership transitions. They may not know what to do or how to proceed. Perhaps not recognizing that they are in a transition at all. Transitions can be challenging; yet they can also be great opportunities for growth.

Some years back, I went through a life transition. I began feeling restless; uncertainty swept over me. During this period as I began sorting through my life and contemplating the next stage. I felt I needed some guidance and sought out a life consultant to guide me through this transition. The process was invaluable and helped propel me to the next stage in my personal and professional development.

A transition by definition is a, “passage from one state or stage to another” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). A transition represents a period of time in someone’s life that marks the end of one stage of development or season and entrance into another phase or stage. It is the “in-between” time. Both major and minor life and leadership transitions exist.

Understanding life and leadership transitions are important for many reasons. They can:

  • be indicators of a new stage in a person’s development
  • opportunities for self-discovery and self-identification
  • represent a new life or leadership season
  • be defining moments in life
  • opportunities for breaking old or unproductive habits
  • cause forward momentum in life direction
  • bring clarification to life calling and/or contribution

Four phases of a transition:

Phase 1: Awareness

In this phase a person will become aware that things are not quite right. They may feel confused, isolated, disillusioned, or disgruntled with the status quo. Feelings of uncertainty, restlessness, discomfort, or self-doubt may also be present. A person will sense a need for change or something new; however, they may not know what it looks like or how to achieve it.

Phase 2: Appraisal

During this phase a person will begin to assess what is going on in their life in a more intentional way. They will desire greater clarity and insight. They will look at the past and try and make sense of life experiences. They have a need to gain greater clarity, understanding and direction.

Phase 3: Alignment

During this phase a person will begin acknowledging specific areas of their life that are not working well, areas they would like to change, or obstacles that they would like to overcome. People become more open to changing, more flexible in their approach to life. They may acknowledge inadequacies or areas of needed growth and development. They become aligned with the knowledge that things are changing. This is where breakthrough happens.

Phase 4: Action

During this phase a person gains a greater sense of their future and/or destiny. They begin to see the possibilities. They feel more optimistic and hopeful. They have a new or renewed sense of direction. This is the phase where individuals will take action and move into the next stage or season of life and leadership.

Are you currently in a life or leadership transition? If so, how is it going for you?