Chez Soi

Adventures of a Year Abroad


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We’ve been saying “this transition” will end “soon”, and yet the “transition” seems elusive.

Then I started to think about all the different transitions we’re actually doing.

Kiddo learning French is going to take longer than a few months. As does getting used to a new school, a new country, and making new friends takes time. Cultures are not things you pick up on in a day or a week or a month.

Curt, too, has been going thru mega change. He has been in a big job transition with work travel taking up at least 50% of his time. He didn’t mean to pick up a new job while moving countries, that just got tacked along. (Oh by the way…) He has a new boss, and new demands, and also new work context. All while existing demands didn’t exactly die down.

And, I signed up to write a new (my third) book right before coming, a project I’ve wanted to put off for fear of doing it badly. It nearly killed me to do the book proposal because I never knew what was going to count as “done”. I kept getting told “you’re nearly there” but in reality that meant months and months more work. I couldn’t manage my pace, my expectations and to know how to manage my own energy. In the middle of the move, it felt too much and I know my frustration showed. But the “funny part” is that because I had let go of some corporate board roles before all this transition, I thought I had taken into account “enough” buffer for the transition.

And now as we’re here… we’re starting to realize there were a bunch of “unnamed” goals —  things that were largely unaccounted for. We wanted to be more present to one another. Maybe have more fun. Travel a little. While I hadn’t originally wanted to be fluent in French, that’s now on the list and any day short of complete success feels like an abysmal failure. We’re juggling a lot of things, lottsa notions of ourselves, and who “we are”, and who we will be.

it feels as if we’re stuck “in the middle”, some kind of purgatory spot. I was reading a management professor’s book (who also happens to be a Paris friend) for some research, and she writes about the word “transition”. Ibarra writes: at the root of transition is “in transit”, a voyage from one place to the other — a neither here nor there that William Bridges , the transitions guru says is one reason why people don’t want to make change. We lose touch with the ground.

And THIS explains so much how we feel in Paris.

Author: nilofermerchant

Strategist. Passionate about igniting cultures of innovation. HBR Writer, O'Reilly Author (published January 2010) of The New How, and former CEO of Rubicon.

One thought on “Transitions

  1. Rough. 😦 I think one of the first steps is recognizing all your unspoken desires and assumptions about what you’re doing — just acknowledging them first, then figuring out what is realistic and what isn’t. Give names to the unnamed and then forgive yourself for maybe not accomplishing all of them. And give names to the things you have accomplished that WEREN’T goals — give yourself credit for what’s been hard that you didn’t have in mind to do. Such growth in the transition, but as this post points out, it’s understandably messy.

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