Newsletter 617 – Transition Fatigue: Handling Waves of Change

waves 3It crept up on me, not even noticed at the beginning. Unusual fatigue. A surprising lack of motivation and enthusiasm. Low drive in a guy who normally exudes boundless energy. Blood tests revealed nothing but a close friend was on to something when he mentioned the waves of change that have engulfed me in recent months. We’ve had three major moves, a change in residence, lifestyle, career direction, and transition into a new stage in life. Transition fatigue like this hits almost everybody at times, especially if it comes unexpectedly and calls for difficult changes. Coaches and counselors deal with it frequently in their clients but also in themselves.

But it’s even more widespread. A local church clearly is dysfunctional and dying even as the congregation refuses to make any changes. There are colleges like this (including lots of professors), organizations, businesses, and even whole professions. And consider politicians and government bureaucracies. Thriving and growing in a fast-changing world demands that individuals and groups both change. Do nothing and down goes energy, enthusiasm, effectiveness and even life. But there are ways to move forward.

  • Acknowledge what might be going on, including the start of a new season of life. This often involves loss and grief despite what’s ahead.
  • Admit the negatives in your situation but don’t dwell on these, rehearse them in your mind, or share them with everyone you meet. This can lead to self-pity, depression, cynicism or bitterness.
  • Look for what’s positive without denying what’s realistic. Expect positive outcomes instead of dwelling on worst-case scenarios.
  • Use verbal reframes. Example: “This is a retirement community, not an old peoples’ home.” The language you use can change your whole attitude and perspective.
  • Spend time with people and activities that lift your spirits, encourage and move you in directions where you want to go. Remember that negative people often pull us down.
  • Get extra rest, time away, and opportunities for uplifting diversions.
  • Cut out what you can cut. Set lower expectations for yourself at least temporarily. No one person can or is called to do everything.
  • Write down your observations and thoughts. Journaling lets you set new narratives for your life. Take steps to make these a reality.
  • Never forget the power of prayer and of divine guidance.

This is an off-the-top-of-my-head list that I’ve been applying to myself. Perhaps like me, you or your clients have had these transition times before and come out stronger in the end. What would you add to the list? Please comment.


  1. This is “just what the doctor ordered” for me (and my wife & family) today and for this summer season. Your suggested “ways to move forward” are so very needful, helpful, practical. Thank you!


  2. love this list. My husband and I are moving to a new home in a month. Our transition comes knowing that we are just around the corner to being empty nesters. Your list is going to come in handy. Thank you for sharing your experience and learning from it.


  3. The top-of-your-head lists are always life savers for me. Thank you for sharing it. My wife and I are also entering a new stage and, even though it is exciting, it is taking its toll in my energy. I appreciate your honesty sharing these circumstances and suggestions.


  4. Thanks once again. At present I know dozens of missionaries, literally, who have or are undergoing multiple transitions. Most of us are involved in member care. We have the principles to deal with it but sometimes just don’t recognize it when it is happening to ourselves. Your timely post more than welcome.


  5. Or try gratitude: two things a day for which you are grateful.
    Write them down so you can remember and review.
    Vary them–don’t get stuck on two that keep on happening; add others.
    At times share them with someone else.


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