This is a time in your life when major changes are taking place and your life is adjusting as a result. Changes may be related to the relationships in your life, to your surroundings, to your work life, or to your health - physical, mental and emotional.

Some common life changes that lead you into a time of transition are separation from a life partner through divorce or death, relocation, a change in your job or new health issues.

Changes happen in our life both as the result of choice and as the result of circumstance. Sometimes you're in charge of making the change (e.g. leaving your job to start your own business) and sometimes the change happens to you (e.g. being downsized or fired from your job).

Transitions are usually easier when we feel that we're in control of them – that we've chosen them. But any type of change will evoke some or all of these feelings of anxiety, excitement, fear, foreboding and uncertainty.

When we're in transition, it helps to know that the period of uncertainty will pass and we WILL feel our feet on solid ground again. What was new will become familiar. In order to get to that stage of familiarity, each time we go through a transition we need to experience it fully, which means passing through the three distinct phases of the transition cycle.

There's no set timetable for how long this will take, and there's no "skipping" through a phase, each must be experienced fully in order for you to pass through to the next.

Phase One – Catalyst

In phase one, you're actually experiencing the change. Something has happened to you or you have made a decision and put it into action.

In the catalyst phase, you may feel lost and worried about something that happened. If it's a change that you've instigated, you may feel confused about whether you made the right decision. You may question everything from your identity to your purpose in life.

The most important thing to do during this phase is to find safe ways to express your thoughts and feelings. One helpful exercise is to write a letter to the person or institution that you think is responsible for this change. Vent your feelings until they've all been expressed and released. And then tear up the letter.

Phase Two – Cocooning

Phase two is a "time out" – a seemingly unproductive phase that nevertheless has a very important role in the cycle.

This is time for you to process what's happened and reflect on your life; for you to let go of and grieve for the past, get grounded and centered in the present and plan for the future.

The most important thing to do during this phase is to allow yourself to retreat – either a formal getaway or simply a period of time that you leave free and unscheduled.

Self-care is also really important in this phase. Be very kind to yourself, letting go of any tendency to self-criticize or place unrealistic demands on yourself. Nourish your mind, body and soul with pleasurable activities that feel good and are enjoyable to you.

Phase Three – Commencement

The last phase, commencement, is really a new beginning. It's time for you to embrace new things, embark on new ventures and live life anew.

You'll know when you've hit this phase because ideas and possibilities will start flowing through your mind. Your biggest challenge is choosing ONE action to start with. .

The most important thing to do during this phase is to build and make use of a strong support network. The right support structure can provide you with positive role models and gentle accountability to stay on track. Most importantly, make sure you have someone to celebrate with. .

Transitions are rarely wrapped neatly up in individual packages. Often life is a series of transitions, and just as we've entered the commencement phase of one transition, we're facing a life change in another area of our life. .

The best news is that once you're familiar with the transition cycle, you'll be able to recognize just where you are and just what you need to do in order to successfully navigate through the transition.

Author's Bio: 

Marcia Merrill is a Life Transitions/Career Coach with 18+ years experience. She holds two Masters Degrees (Counseling Psychology & Education) and completed coaching training at the Adult Development Network. She is also credentialed as a Certified Career Management Coach by the Career Coach Academy. Visit to learn about your own "Transition Position" and to book your FREE 25-minute consultation with Marcia to discuss the changes happening in your own life. Marcia has been involved in various aspects of Education: She taught English, Spanish Composition, and English as a Second Language at all levels--elementary, middle and high school. br>
Marcia holds two Masters degrees in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and Instructional Systems Development (Objective-Based Learning) from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her second degree is in Counseling Psychology from Loyola College in Maryland. She also has certificates in Employee Assistance Programs and Career Management Coaching, as well as being a Job & Career Transition Coach & a Certified Career Management Coach.