July 12, 2005

Tools for Transition

Welcome Change

When I'm comfortable with my life, I don't welcome change. When I'm bored, tired, hungry or uncomfortable, I welcome change. But change happens when it's expected or unexpected. We seem to adjust to expected changes, whether we like them or not, better than we adjust to unexpected changes. It's far too easy to get angry and anxious over unexpected changes.

When changes create imbalance and discomfort, it is the American way to want to "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" and handle things ourselves. We may expect others to do the same. But building relationships by giving to friends, family, and community projects, will build a network of support for times of transition or crisis. In the process of living, though, it is sometimes difficult to build up a network.

In times of crisis and transition, we may need to look for professionals and resources in the community. Part of having tools for transition is using resources available now, and then giving and planning for the future. By taking charge of the situation, asking questions, and being honest about current needs, it is possible to think of challenges as learning experiences and opportunities for change.

Focus on Your Vision

Make a list of your strengths and skills. Use one of the worksheets in the Resources Toolbox. Write down something that you've done well and acknowledge your skills and abilities. Then imagine something that you've dreamed about doing. What would it take to do that? Where could you get the skills and experience to do it? As you experience the process, your dream may change, but you will be building the skills that you value.

Think of Yourself as a Business

View every situation whether at a paid job, volunteering, managing yourself or your family as an opportunity to build personal and career skills. Think of every work situation as a marketplace for your skills.


Think of every person you meet as part of your network. If you remember what Jesus said and love everyone as you would yourself, in other words treat everyone kindly and fairly no matter what the situation is, you will begin building a network. Tell people you know and meet what your skills and interests are. You may find an opportunity to help another person, to build meaningful relationships, or to find work that you like.

Keep Learning

Look for opportunities at work and in your community to add to your skills. If you are not finding opportunities, check your local community college or skills center to upgrade your skills.

Get Information

Talk to friends and family about what they do and what skills they use. Most people like to talk about their work. Let them know about your skills and what you want to do. Go to a One Stop Career Center, library, or check the internet to research occupations and job openings.

Develop a Portfolio

Describe your strengths, skills, experience and education. You can use the Master Resume format to make an advertisement of all of the wonderful things about you.

  • Include samples of art work, collages, music you've written, websites you've created, and photography.
  • Include interviews with family members describing family strengths, values, struggles, and culture.
  • Give examples of your decision-making and problem-solving process.
  • Journal your progress
Have a Plan of Action
  1. Decide what you want to do.
  2. What resources you will need.
  3. When you want to start
  4. What you will need to get started.

  5. Adapted from the Real Game by Bill Barry