5 Steps to Smoother Transitions in 2021

February 10, 2021

5 Steps to Smoother Transitions in 2021

May 29, 2023

2020 may have been a year of radical shocks, disruptions and dissonance. It was a year of endings. Much of our normal way of life ended. Our ability to travel, hug each other and feel safe being in public ended. The entire globe was thrown into a transition of massive proportions.

In so many ways, 2021 is going to be the year of transition. We will be returning to something new, and are not quite sure what that will be as of yet.

Imagine being a caterpillar happily munching on leaves and suddenly being shoved into a chrysalis to dissolve into goo with no idea when, where or how a new life will be formed. So we too had our normal lives, were shoved into an involuntary lockdown type of at-home-cocoon and have no idea what comes next.

2021 is a year of the “messy middle” as we call it at MEA. This will be a year of adapting to a new normal. We will slowly emerge out of our collective cocoons, but we are not sure when, how or what life after Covid will look like.

Hopefully two to five years from now, Covid will be in our collective rear view mirror. But, until then, let’s explore 5 steps to make your transitions in 2021 smoother.

#1: Understand the difference between change and transition.

Change is situational, transition is psychological. We had to change by wearing masks, and working from home, but we had to transition by reframing how we connect with the ones we love on Zoom vs. real life, and to find value all the same.

Change happens all the time. We are surrounded by it. While some people may say they don’t like change, that really is not the same as understanding the inner workings of transitioning from who you are now to who you want to become.

#2 Get a new roadmap

Many have heard of the extraordinary work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her stages of grief. It has helped millions understand the journey of managing the pain of loss. In many ways it is a roadmap to follow when losing someone you love to death, divorce or estrangement.

We also need a roadmap for managing transitions. Transitions start with an ending of some sort, a stage of the “messy middle” or “betwixt and between,” followed by a period of acclimation, adaptation and “new beginnings.” Where are you on the roadmap?

#3 Build your TQ: Transitional Intelligence

Now that you have a simple roadmap to navigate transitions, how can you elevate or accelerate your transitions to be more transformational instead of a constant struggle? We all understand the value of our “IQ” or Intelligence Quotient. Daniel Goleman pioneered the idea of “EQ” or our Emotional Intelligence.

Transitional Intelligence means understanding and embracing our “what’s next” as a source of curiosity, wonder and awe. We rely on our core strengths and inner values as a compass north, and a growth mindset to learn new skills.

#4 Transitions are meant to be shared.

It is very common to feel incredibly alone in the midst of a transition. Yet, while your inner experience may feel singular or overwhelming, we have found that wisdom is not taught, or discovered, it is shared.

Now more than ever, we need each other. The power of the internet and the devices in our pockets give us the opportunity to meet and connect with other people around the world.

#5 Be patient, but not passive.

Oh how we hate to wait. Imagine what that caterpillar feels like after the long darkness when the goo has started to turn into a butterfly. Probably feeling pretty impatient and cramped in there like we all are in our homes! Yet, if the cocoon were ripped open too early, the new creature would die.

Transitions take time. Often longer than we think. Just like the impatient butterfly, returning our collective society back to “normal” too soon is not wise right now. We have to be patient, yet certainly not passive. How can you get curious about who you are going to become?

How MEA is evolving to address the transitions faced by our community.

If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into transitional intelligence and receiving tools to develop a roadmap to navigating transitions, (without having to travel), MEA Online’s new 8-week program is inspired by the successful midlife programs offered at the Modern Elder Academy, with proprietary transition tools created solely for a digital environment.

In this new era of distance learning, MEA Online offers Digital Intimacy principles that create the conditions for meaningful connection. Our blended model integrates four live sessions, weekly partner dyads, and structured self-study into a transformative 8-week experience. You’ll be guided by Chip Conley, MEA core faculty and leading midlife transition experts on aging, career, health, relationships.

Have you been looking for a way to reframe your Saturdays, prioritize you, and create a new community to support you on this journey?

Class begins February 27th and runs until the end of April.

Click here to learn more about navigating transitions.


Kari Henley is a social entrepreneur, writer and developer of “digital intimacy” tools that build meaningful connections and global communities. Originally a Modern Elder Academy alumni, Kari has since spearheaded the development of MEA Online.

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