Life is short.
Insight and dreams are not enough.
We all yearn for and deserve to embody our full potential
and to have it echo throughout our lives.
Change and Transition Exploration Is An Inside Job
I view life through the lens of change and transition. Most changes happen without our awareness: our planet rotates around the sun, the cells in our bodies divide, we wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. Change is a natural process and it is occurring continuously. Every age and phase of life brings change — sometimes we actively choose it and sometimes it arrives unexpectedly. Sometimes, the change comes from an external event and sometimes from an internal yearning for more authenticity or meaning. Either way, change is frequently accompanied by concerns, fears, and questions:
- How do I know if making this change will make me happy?
- How do I stay balanced in the face of uncertainty?
- How do I know if I am making the right decision?
- I feel restless and agitated and I know my life needs to change but where do I start?
- I know what I want but how do I get there?
- How do I get past my own internal obstacles, which prevent me from manifesting myself in the world?
- Is it possible to experience change and have it be less stressful?
- I feel like I lost myself; how can I get back on track?
Most of us have not been taught how to navigate the more difficult transitions in our lives. We may become anxious or make impulsive decisions or sometimes we simply come to a crashing halt; we become stuck in a transition or have lost a sense of direction or meaning. Sometimes, when we achieve our goals, overwhelm may still occur; change by its nature may be destabilizing whether the change is perceived as positive or negative. Additionally, sometimes we have a nice life and have met our goals but there is still a vague unease inside. Any issue that involves a change in our identity or in how we invest our time or energy may become a challenge.
Life Balance Institute
Life Balance Institute was founded and is directed by Phillip Moffitt. This institute evolved out of his own experience. Moffitt was a successful media entrepreneur, editor, and writer for the first 20 years of his professional life. At age 33, he bought Esquire Magazine and became the CEO and editor-and-chief. He led the turn-around of the magazine, which was extremely newsworthy at the time. Sensing his own life was out of balance, at age 40, he left everything he had created to pursue his interest in meditation and the inner life. He subsequently attended many professional trainings to gain knowledge and understanding about the human body and mind. Because of the very public nature of Moffitt’s change and transition after Esquire, people began to come to him to ask his advice about their lives. Eventually, the head of a large nonprofit organization suggested to Moffitt that he formalize his process of working with groups and individuals. This was the inspiration that led to the creation of Life Balance Institute where Moffitt furthered his study and knowledge of changes and transitions. The purpose of this institute is to assist individuals and groups to strategically navigate the changes and transitions in their lives.
To great benefit, I have worked with Phillip Moffitt in order to shift my own professional life as well as find my way through some difficult personal transitions. I found this work to be profoundly valuable in clarifying my goals as well as restoring and sustaining my general well-being. Under his tutelage, my experience of changing my life was remarkably stress free. Currently, I am in Moffitt’s intensive training program to become a Certified Change and Transition Strategist.
Many aspects of myself and my life come together in this work; my first career as a Special Education teacher, the honor of working in depth with people as a licensed psychotherapist and internationally certified EMDR consultant and therapist for 30 years, my experiences as an adjunct professor in graduate school as well as my role as founder and director of Creative Explorations; I created and implemented psycho-educational programs designed to develop personal authenticity through art. Additionally, I facilitated and taught in residential personal growth retreats for over a decade. I have great satisfaction in drawing from both my artistic and intuitive nature while being of service to people in a manner that is results based.
What You Might Expect as a Change and Transition Client
Change and Transition Consultation is a values based exploration. Being in alignment with our core values is a fundamental element of well-being and a wise foundation for making life decisions. This values inquiry is an important component of understanding the questions we hold regarding our personal and professional choices. The process of discerning core values is facilitated by developing one’s personal compass, i.e., sensing how we know what we know; hearing our inner voice and understanding our own unique way of discerning our truth. Knowing our authentic needs and desires, our likes and dislikes helps us to more confidently chart the course of our lives and manifest our yearnings and dreams.
Timothy was offered a promotion that would have resulted in significantly more power, prestige and money. It seemed like an easy question: why wouldn’t a person invested in his career jump at this? This was the position his friends and colleagues took. For Timothy, however, it wasn’t so simple; he was experiencing a lot of anxiety and conflict because this job required some travel and he didn’t want to be away from his wife and young children. He felt stuck between two competing and compelling possibilities; either way, he could see great merit. In order to get underneath this conflict, we did some work around how Timothy discerned his truth. Developing a felt sense of his internal compass was an important tool, which facilitated his decision making as well as invited awareness of his core values, i.e., what is most important. It became clear that being present for his young children and his family was a higher value than all the perks the new job offered. Much to the dismay of many in his world, he turned the promotion down. Timothy has not had a moment of regretting his decision. His increased ability to listen to himself in a deeper way and to align his feelings and thoughts with his values resulted in clarity and confidence about his decision.
Another aspect of Change and Transition Consultation is engaging in an inquiry to clarify the questions and issues that surround the desired change. In the words of John Dewey, an educational pioneer, “A problem well defined is half solved.” Often in the process of looking at the presenting question, bigger and more important questions emerge. Once these underlying questions have been expressed, sometimes it is as if a light bulb has been turned on and the path toward manifesting the desired change becomes clearer. In some cases, holding the larger question or issue results in a change of focus or direction.
Marjory realized that her desire to go back to school and retool for a new career was not based on wanting this change but, in fact, was based on an old and ingrained habit of avoiding conflict. There was no question that she had a difficult boss – but what she hadn’t realized was that her unrest was less about her boss then it was about the reality that she was bound by two obstacles: (1) several old self-limiting beliefs that supported and resulted in her avoidance of conflict and, (2) the fact that she lacked the skills to negotiate a better working environment – she simply had fallen into a disempowered state and wanted to escape the situation by changing her career. Identifying these underlying issues paved the way for her to unravel the ways in which her past had limited her ability to see clearly. She was then able to move toward acquiring the necessary negotiation tools to redefine her role in the company. Marjory successfully improved her working environment. The experience of learning how to act on her own behalf in harmony with her core truth, resulted in an overall increase in her self-confidence, which has positively impacted many aspects of her life.
This strategic examination of the changes we seek lead to a step by step action plan which includes homework and periodic reports to support the process of change. This plan is designed with two things in mind — achieving one’s goals as well as maintaining the balance in one’s life. This notion of maintaining balance sometimes emerges as the central issue.
Steve had a good life. He was retired from a successful career as a college professor. He was stable financially and was able to invest some of his time volunteering at a local organization as well as pursue his love of tennis. He joined a tennis club and was able to play several times a week. His father became ill and without a moment of hesitation, he decided to become his care-taker. For the first few years, his father’s needs were minimal and Steve took great pleasure in being able to be of assistance. His father’s disease progressed, however, and he needed more and more care. The balance of Steve’s life became skewed. He gave up his tennis and reduced his volunteer hours. He felt caught in what he perceived had become an unresolvable situation. He became depressed and the thought of pulling back on his father’s care made him feel guilty.
Change and transition work for Steve included an examination of two of his core values: being responsible and being compassionate. What became apparent to him was that he held these values in relationship to others and not himself. He rarely considered what it meant to be responsible to himself and his own needs. His perception of his father’s needs eclipsed his own and consequently, the balance of his life was thrown out of kilter. He realized that to continue as he had been doing was not sustainable and, in the end, would not benefit anyone. Steve’s action plan included hiring a part-time caretaker for his father so he could resume his volunteer work and play tennis again. Because these actions were grounded in a mindful strategic exploration and based on genuine values, they were guilt free. What he had not anticipated was that once he was able to begin to restore of his own life balance, an additional benefit emerged. Relieved of his own overwhelm, he could see how proud his father was and how difficult it had been for him to accept all the time Steve had devoted to him. Steve’s Life Balance work resulted in a win-win situation for them both.
The Outcome of Change and Transition Work
Change and Transition Consultation offers tools, practices, and principles that can support you through the process of your desired change. This work provides the opportunity to: 1) assess primary areas of importance in your life, 2) determine whether change is needed, 3) develop options, 4) clarify what conflicts or obstacles are at play, and 5) begin to identify priorities and tasks. The work emphasizes making wise choices through clarification of your values.
In individual sessions, class series or in a workshop format, topics for exploration include: 1) effectiveness and fulfillment in work, 2) starting or ending careers, 3) empty nest, 4) intimate relationships, 5) self-esteem, 6) money, 7) doubts and insecurities, 8) life stage challenges and, 9) life balance. The process includes presentation, self-assessment, discussion, personal inquiry, and participatory exercises. The self-assessments are designed to allow clarity about where you are presently in life and to create an anthentic vision for yourself.
We will specifically focus on looking within versus dwelling on external circumstances. The goal is to offer tools and mindfulness techniques that will help you build skill sets that will empower you to navigate your changes and transitions more skillfully. This ultimately brings about improved well-being, life balance and sustainability all of which are essential for effectiveness in one’s professional and personal life. Expect an experience designed to support self-exploration, self inquiry and ultimately self knowing.
The outcome of this work may be external as in finally embarking on the journey toward that dream career, retiring, starting a family or moving to another part of the country. It may be internal as in developing an aspect of ourselves or navigating emotionally laden experiences such as the death of loved ones, health problems or divorce. Sometimes the outcome may be shifting one’s attitude or moving beyond self limiting behaviors and beliefs. Most changes, when more fully examined, involve both internal and external elements.
Annabel had been an engaged student in the field of psychology for 4 years in college and an additional two years in graduate school. With graduation only a few months away she was experiencing a growing anxiety about what direction to take her career. On one hand, she loved the research end of the field – – working with ideas and the conceptual frontiers of psychology. During her academic life, she published two studies that were well received and a local University was interested in hiring her to continue her research. On the other hand, she liked the direct contact with patients and the intimacy of the one-on-one relationship. Both options appealed to different parts of her and she felt stuck trying to decide between them. For Annabel, the external elements of her dilemma were not ultimately the central issue; through our work together she became articulate and aware of the relative assets and liabilities of each direction. During an exploration of her core values, however, she became aware of some internal issues that were skewing her decision-making process. Annabel’s mother was a college professor and her father was an engineer. Both valued intelligence and intellectual pursuits. There was an unspoken value in the family that these pursuits brought respect and a life of full of meaning. Our work revealed that unlike her parents, she valued the world of people over the world of ideas. Until she was conscious of this, she was unable to break away from her family’s values and chart her own course. Ironically, when she let her parents know that she was going to turn down the university offer and explained why and how she had come to this conclusion, they celebrated her decision; they too had been bound by unexplored family values and had not realized they had not fully supported her in finding her own inner truth.
Sometimes, circumstances may dictate not being able to move toward the change we desire. Wise action may be concluding that we choose to stay in a less than perfect job or marriage. In this case our exploration becomes how to develop a new and more satisfying relationship to reality just as it is. As with Steve and hiring a caretaker, the outcome is often a common sense solution. As Annabel expressed with amusement, “The answer isn’t complicated; its not rocket science!” When one has not engaged in a strategic analysis, which includes developing a felt-sense of one’s internal compass, articulating core values and more deeply exploring the question at hand, simple solutions may become obscured or feel out of reach.
Change and Transition Consultation is not Psychotherapy
Frequently, the issues that come into play in a Change and Transition session would be traditionally considered psychological. These might include: anxiety, doubt, low self-esteem, blocking beliefs, procrastination, relationship struggles, unresolved early life experiences, or loss of meaning. What is different, however, is that we work with these issues through a time efficient results based lens. In psychotherapy, there is typically much attention given to the past in terms of understanding where an issue or pattern originated and how it functions in our psyche. In Change and Transition Consultation, however, we focus on the present and future and how to pragmatically negotiate limiting patterns, beliefs and dynamics in order to achieve the changes we seek. We discern goals and create structure to support accountability and movement. As an approach to problem solving, Change and Transition Consultation is very consistent with much of the more recent research on the brain and the neurobiology of change.
Change and Transition Consultation is not Traditional Coaching
In recent years, life coaching has emerged as a very popular and successful means of supporting individuals through personal and professional transitions. Change and Transition Consultation is not different from life coaching in this regard. What is different, however, is that this work is an inside job. We focus on looking within as a means of impacting external circumstances. Becoming aware of what one really wants and how to get there is the result of learning how to listen more deeply to oneself how to claim one’s core values and truth. Through exploration into the questions themselves, often new information and direction emerge. The goal is to develop tools and mindfulness techniques that will help build skill sets that will empower navigation through changes and transitions with less stress and more clarity. Change and Transition work is at its heart about learning how to live one’s life with more authenticity and equanimity. It is an integration of traditional coaching techniques with personal inquiry. This inquiry is informed by my interests in expressive arts, transpersonal and somatic psychology, Jungian archetypes and Buddhist principles.
Change and Transition Consultation Offerings
I am currently offering Individual sessions in person and remotely as well as Changes and Transition workshops. These workshops are in four different formats: (1) Weekend – Friday night through Sunday, (2) Weekly classes held over a 6 week period, or, (3) One day workshops on selected topics, and 4) A five day residential in depth exploration held in a retreat setting.
In each of these formats, every participant will have the opportunity to explore desired professional and/or personal life transitions as well as begin to create an action plan for manifesting these changes. Both individual and group offerings include personal inquiry, guided exercises, homework and follow-up conference calls or emails
FOR UPCOMING WORKSHOPS AND CLASSES,
SEE WORKSHOP PAGE
If you have any questions about what I am offering or how it might apply to your life, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please email or call.
It will be my pleasure to speak with you.
“Working with Alison has fundamentally and notably improved my relationships with myself and the world.
Alison takes into consideration all that I express with the wisdom to sort what is important from the incidental.
She seeks, identifies, and develops my own resources, tailoring this work to me and leveraging my strengths.
Through her language and presence, Alison demonstrates that it’s possible for me
to be different and effect my changes.”