Do Failed Transitions Actually Exist?

failed transitionsHave you ever had a transition that failed? A period in your life that you were convinced was going in one way but ended up going somewhere else and it was not at all what you wanted? We've all had times like that when something didn't work out, a project sputtered or a relationship ended. But does that mean that the transition failed?

I argue no.

Transitions are necessary, but their purpose is often misunderstood. People think that a transition is supposed to get us from here to there (wherever here and there might be). But transitions are all about an internal change, an adjustment of the heart, mind and soul so that regardless of where you end up you can handle what is happening around you with a clear head and with grace.

We think that if our goals don't work out like we expected them to, then the whole experiment was for nothing.

Sorry to pull out a cliché quote but Thomas Edison summed it up beautifully:

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

The first time I heard this was when I was in high school and a boyfriend and I had just broken up. I was upset about the whole situation and I was talking to my dad about it who patiently listened. When I was done with whatever teenage rant I had embarked on, he smiled and told me the quote from Edison then said, "See? You didn't fail at this. You just successfully found that he wasn't the right guy for you."

This time last year I thought I had a good grip on where I was going. I was going to get remarried, move to a new city and set up a life that was going to be incredible. Instead, that relationship ended and I had to move again in this new city where to be totally honest I don't feel like I belong and start again. With three kids in tow. I was in that critical phase of a transition where things are settling down and I was getting into a routine and finally, FINALLY, starting to feel like I was adjusting and BAM.

Time to transition again.

Does that make those months (years, really) a waste? Absolutely not. I learned so much about me, about love and life, family and courage, what I want and don't want. It was painful and it was bumpy but I've grown and matured and changed. I successfully found that the life I was working toward wasn't the ultimate life for me.

So, I'm on the hunt again. And things are good. So the transition itself didn't fail. The transition made me who I am today. Because of that transition I am braver today than I was. I'm taking chances with some major decisions in my life. Scared? You bet. But they don't call it courage if you're not afraid. It's courage when you're scared and you do it anyway.

Have you had an experience like this? Share it with us in the comments below.