How to Manage the Transition ‘UNs’

How to Manage the Transition ‘UNs’
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Despite the best planning and preparation – which are essential to success – donning the “right” mindset is perhaps the most important aspect to thriving in transition and beyond!


No matter how comprehensive your plan, the road will not always be smooth. Plan on encountering these three “un’s” throughout your journey:

  • The Unknown: How will I know what is ‘right’ when it comes to making career decisions?
  • The Unexpected: How will I handle unwelcome surprises in my professional or personal journey?
  • The Uncertain: How will I react to questions, opportunities, or challenges I did not anticipate?

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So, now what?


Face the Unknown with Curiosity. Consider this approach to the unknowns of transition rather than skepticism or assuming a defensive posture. Why? When we are curious, we are more open to learning and trying things out. When we are defensive or skeptical, we tend to turn inward and disconnect.


It is exhausting to resist and/or feel like a victim throughout transition. So, do yourself a favor and put on curiosity each day. This attitude will protect you from victimhood and mitigate toxic, unproductive thoughts.


Face the Unexpected with Flexibility. Imagine a glitch in retirement pay, an unwelcome medical diagnosis, or not getting the job you were confident you were going to get. Understandably you might feel upset, frustrated, sad, etc. How do you show up when things do not go your way?


Don’t shove those emotions away – they will pop up like a beachball underwater. Allow them, but don’t wallow in them for too long or you might miss an even better opportunity that is just around the corner!


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Face the Uncertain with Agility. Only death and taxes are certain in life, which means we already manage uncertainty (to a certain degree) on a daily basis. But how well are we doing that? Do you respond, or react, to life? Do you tend to feel like life is happening to you, or for you?


Being agile in transition allows room for discovery and growth in ways that are unique and productive for you. Consider tossing the elusive ideal transition guide out and pave your own path to success!


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About the Author

Cmdr. Erin Cardinal, USN (Ret), ACC, CPC
Cmdr. Erin Cardinal, USN (Ret), ACC, CPC

Cardinal is MOAA's Program Director, Transition Services & Family Programs. She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and has extensive experience in coaching servicemembers through their transition from active duty to the civilian sector.