Transitions: Divide to Conquer

The Great Divide

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Excerpted from an upcoming book; all rights reserved
CLICK HERE to begin at the beginning

We start small

We begin with the tedium of to-dos – because the lessons learned will generalize to the bigger changes and transitions that we all must face.

Meanwhile, we must all learn the ways in which we, uniquely, “chop wood, carry water.” ~ mgh

Come, Stay or Go?

The time has come to take a slightly deeper look at Troubles with Transitions.

You can’t begin to figure out how to work with your transition traumas until you make yourself aware of how and where you struggle.

The next article in the Transition Series will focus on The Gap  — that supposedly brief period between Transitioning Out of and Transitioning Into.

But don’t skip this one

Almost all of us can be helped by understanding whether we’re having troubles coming or going, and figuring out exactly how each plays out in our very own lives.  Awareness is step ONE on the road to change.

Working through – moving on

Your first step is to develop a list of transitions that are particularly difficult for you – that “List of Dreadfuls” described at the end of Transitional Modes (You are playing along, aren’t you?  It only works if you work it.)

Now we are going to look at whether the biggest problem comes from moving out of your current activity or moving into the next item on your list.

Take a careful look, because what you will need to DO to navigate the transition successfully depends upon the transitional mode with which you need the most help.  We can only work successfully with one mode at a time.

Dividing YOUR Transition List

Transitioning Out of and Transitioning Into struggles may look the same from a results perspective.  Problems created by either one might even look like time-management problems, or be thrown onto the “procrastination” compost heap.

Attempting to use the same techniques to “solve” problems that result will almost always end in failure and frustration.

  • You can’t rely on the advice that works for “everybody” else – if you could make it work for you, don’t you think you’d know by now?
  • You can’t look to anybody else’s functioning to help you here.
  • You must Sherlock your own experience and reflect it
    as accurately as you can.  The dance is in the details.

Don’t EVEN expect your own examples to reflect how you function across the board.  You will probably find that each of the modes – including the Gap – is the crux of the difficulty for various different kinds of circumstances and activities.

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TOTALLY your way

Be sure to investigate thoroughly.  Don’t be content with the first thing that pops into your mind.  You may find a couple of surprises when you take a closer look at all of the clues.

For example, changing clothes is a no-brainer for me, as long as I know what I am planning to put on my body and know where it is.  That is, it’s a no-brainer once I can make myself leave whatever I am currently doing to begin the process.

However, I often leave myself so little time to change that it might seem as if transitioning into that activity were more of a problem than it actually is, as I rush around like a crazy lady.

In the haze of haste, my brain doesn’t tell me what my eyes are seeing, so I turn everything to tossed salad.

I can’t find the shoes to work with the outfit I’ve chosen, so I change.  I can’t locate the belt that makes the outfit work, so I change again.  I trip over the shoes I was looking for initially, so I change back.

Preparing to transition into the task of dressing for a new activity early enough to be able to proceed calmly is my stopper — a transitioning out of challenge.

“Transitioning Into” Trouble

My own biggest struggles frequently come from the transitioning out of phase. I generally find it difficult to leave whatever I am doing — even if I don’t particularly like what I’m doing at the time and love what I’m supposed to be doing next.

Milo Vanderlinden

Milo Vanderlinden

But not ALWAYS.

I noted a very interesting exception when I was living in New York City, getting about using their excellent public transportation system.

At one particular period I was spending several days a week on-site, at the office of one of my corporate clients. I got there and back on the Number Seven Bus.

There was a bus stop right across the street from my apartment on the Upper West Side, and another right in front of my client’s midtown Manhattan office. It seemed my best choice – sort-of like a slow taxi, and quite a bit cheaper.

  • I seldom felt the slightest tug to stay on the bus beyond my stop, even when I was talking with a fascinating stranger.
  • I rarely became so engrossed in the process of reading or writing – or whatever I was doing to pass the time – that I failed to notice that my stop was approaching.
  • I was always eager to get off that bus – so transitioning out of wasn’t the problem.
  • Getting to the door to get off the bus and onto the sidewalk was an entirely different matter.

Gathering my things so that I could get off the bus always seemed to scramble my brain – even when the only thing I was gathering was a purse already slung across my shoulder on a strap!

I was having problems transitioning into moving off the bus and onto the street, after which I’d continue to the door of the office building, zip inside and into the elevator.

It got to the point where I was actually considering traveling by taxi “to avoid the hassle.”

It was only after I really looked at what was going on that I focused on the fact that my fight-or-flight adrenalin response always seems to get stuck on freeze whenever I hear the “Hurry – you’re about to be late and somebody’s gonna’ be angry” music on my own private soundtrack of life.  

Like a great many ADDers, I don’t rush well!
Man-oh-man has that realization been helpful!!

So I began to gather my things in preparation two blocks earlier – at the stop before mine – which calmed my agita considerable.  It saved me $10.00 a day too!

Alice through the Parking Lot

Now that I live in drive-around city, I have to have a car.  Boy did THAT force a lot of transitions to conscious awareness!



You have no idea what living on a public-trans island for 20 years does to your ability to handle what most grown-ups do to get around.

Not only do your GPS and your mechanic become your new best friends, from the moment you leave your abode, ordinary life activities become an adventure mired in in-order-to-s.  It turned my coming and going transitions upside down.

Instead of leaving my apartment with a purse and a tote, walking miles of blocks mostly every day, I had a the responsibility of driving my own little transportation pod everywhere I wanted to go, along with everything that entailed (including the obligatory weight gain!)

I’ll spare you most of the details, but I do want to illustrate the difference it made to my exiting/entering transitions.

Exiting and Entering

Getting out of my car once it is parked seems to pose no difficulty for me. It does take me a bit longer than the average bear to gather everything I need, to make sure I put my keys on the hook inside my purse, and to memorize the car’s location so I can find the darned thing again.  But, under my own steam, I can do it without a problem.

Getting into the store became my new problem.  I shop for many things online but, for me, groceries must be bought “live and in person,” and more often than I’d like.  So that’s where I first noticed the problem.

I always seemed to find myself focusing on some item or twelve that postponed entering my fairly local Krogers and getting on with what I went there to do.

Now that I am aware of it, when time is short I almost always have to remind myself not to “shop” the cars I walk past, not to stop at the soft drink machine outside the store, not to window shop at the store next door, or to gaze at the sky above — or any one of a gazillion things that seem to delay me once I have gotten out of my car.

Sometimes I actually have to SAY to myself (under my breath):
The Name of the Game is ‘get into the store,’
The Name of the Game is ‘get into the store’ . . .

It sounds crazy – it might even look crazy, but it works.  Otherwise, time becomes elastic and foraging for food takes a lot longer (I’m still working on getting out of the store!)

Like Cinderella — after the ball

Have you found yourself, on more than a couple of occasions, racing to beat the time you need to be home before your carriage turns into a pumpkin?  Me too.

Like me, you may start out thinking that the “transitioning out of” phase is the problem with your transition – until you really think about what makes you run late.

You may find leaving the party, for example, relatively easy to do, yet you always seem to be distracted by some activity that delays your arrival at the next place you are supposed to be.

  • Perhaps getting into your car and driving away is the challenge that makes you get to your next place later than you said you would arrive?
  • Or maybe you have a bad case of the “while I’m out-s,” almost compelled to pick up some little something or other on your way, no matter how early you leave the party in an attempt to keep yourself out of hot water.

Perhaps something else “always” makes you late, but if you think about what you do, you will be able to decide which activity is the true source of the transition trouble.  Then you will know which side of the list it belongs on.

Like me, you will discover things that have their source in any one of the three transitional modes — provided you take the time to look.

How is it for YOU?

Think about times when the activities that make up your days take longer than logic would dictate, even if you don’t experience them as particularly “difficult.”

Here’s what you’re looking for:

Did the increased time result from additional time spent on the task immediately before the transition, or was it a function of something you did in the process of transitioning into the new activity?

Go down your List of Dreadfuls, one at a time, and list them on one side of your Transitional Modes List or the other.

Transitional Modes Example List

Coming Out of
(leaving/stopping what you’re doing)

Going Into
(beginning/becoming engaged in the new thing)

  Waking to sleeping Sleeping to waking
  Leaving my house (or a party) Getting off the bus
  Getting dressed Walking from my car into the Krogers
  Preparing for bed Putting away clean dishes
  Getting off the phone Returning a phone call
       — etc. —        — etc. —

After we spend some time considering the Gap, we’re going to tackle a few exercises to help you tame a few of your transitions – but you can’t make the lists you will need for those exercises unless you have made the one above.

AND, you are a lot more likely to begin with the exercise above if you made the List of Dreadfuls suggested in the earlier article.  By the way, I hope you took my advice to keep your lists in a Tranistions Notebook – you certainly don’t want to have to do this twice, simply because you are unable to locate your original lists.

As long as you do what you always do, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
If what you’ve always gotten is not enough for you, read, review and make those lists!

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.  There’s a lot more to come.  You really don’t want to miss the next TransitionTamer™ — Beware the Gap!

Watch for a TTTT Announcement: Keep an eye out for news of an upcoming beta version of a TeleClass where we’ll work through troublesome transitions in a group format: The Transition Tamer TeleClass, Coaching Groups aren’t free, but they ARE a cost-effective way to get more coaching than you might be able to afford one-on-one – and the first time I offer a class is ALWAYS the best deal.

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Transitions Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), scroll down to the Brain-based Coaching Link below, with a contact form at the bottom, or click the E-me link <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page).

Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need.  I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

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