Tao of Inner Peace Newsletter
Diane Dreher Coaching & Consulting, LLC
Seasonal Newsletter: Summer 2020
Are You Experiencing a Major Change in Life?
Powerful Keys for Dealing with Life's Transitions
Lots of us become confused in times of transition—completing a big project, ending a relationship, changing careers, retiring, or just living in these uncertain times. If you’ve been feeling this way, you’re not alone. Many of us are facing major life changes in the wake of the  COVID-19  pandemic, which has affected our careers, our relationships, our incomes, our home life, and our personal plans. But research offers keys to navigating our transitions, enabling us to emerge with a stronger sense of ourselves and a clearer vision of where we’re going.

Author and consultant William Bridges found that when we face external changes we also need to navigate an internal transition. “Change,” he said, “is situational,” while transition. . . is psychological.” A transition is a rite of passage, requiring us to reflect and gain new understandings as we integrate major changes into our lives (Bridges, 1992, p. xii).

Bridges himself made such a transition, leaving his career as a college professor to become a personal development consultant. He wrote Managing Transitions, which became a best-selling book, supporting others in making major changes in their lives from dealing with job loss, career change, and retirement to  divorce , loss of a loved one, and economic upheaval, changes that many of us are facing now.

According to Bridges (1992), life’s transitions involve three stages:

1) Ending . Whether we’re navigating uncertain times, job loss, the end of a relationship, or another major change, this is a period of letting go, sorting through old possessions and old feelings as we begin releasing the past. 

2) Neutral Zone . We’re no longer in the old  identity  but not yet in the new. So who are we now? This can be a time of confusion and disorientation. It may feel like wandering in the wilderness without a map or GPS. This stage calls us to go within so we can understand ourselves more deeply and connect with our highest values.
3) New Beginning . With the new understandings gained in the neutral zone, we can venture forward toward making more mindful choices, taking action to flourish in this new season of life.

Drawing insights from positive psychology and the Renaissance, a period when creativity flourished in Western Europe, I have focused my research on how people navigate through uncertainty to discover their callings in life. Studies have shown that a sense of calling can bring us greater meaning, helping us become happier, healthier, and more successful (Dreher, Holloway, and Schoenfelder, 2007; Seligman, 2002).

My research has found that feeling restless and confused could be the beginning of a 4-step process of finding your calling (Dreher, 2008; 2012).

1) Discovery:  The first step is discovering your strengths, recognizing what you are good at, what you love to do. You can spend some time in reflection, recalling what you loved to do as a child. Or remember the last time you felt joyfully and authentically yourself—Where were you? What were you doing? What strengths were you using? (Dreher, 2008).You can take the free 10-minute VIA strengths survey on  www.viacharacter.org  to discover your top character strengths or “signature strengths.” Research has shown that when people use these strengths on a regular basis, they are healthier, happier, and more successful (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005).

2) Detachment:  The second step is to eliminate all the distractions and mindless activities that keep you from using your strengths to advantage. Some ways to do this are to: 
  • Eliminate mindless distractions—aimless shopping, excess TV or social media,
  • Stop measuring yourself by others’ standards,
  • Stop doing things you’ve outgrown,
  • Stop rushing from one thing to the next,
  • Eliminate energy drains—people and situations that exhaust you and drag you away from what you care about (Dreher, 2008).

3) Discernment:  The third step is to discern the guiding values that bring meaning and purpose to your life. What do you care about and why? Take time to listen to your heart, to get back in touch with what inspires you. Think of the people you most admire—their lives will reveal your own highest values (Dreher, 2008). Research has shown that connecting with our values enables us to flourish (Schueller, & Seligman, 2010) and that even thinking about our values can strengthen our immune systems (Cresswell, Welch, Taylor, Sherman, Gruenewald, & Mann, 2005).

4) Direction:  The fourth step is to set a goal that engages your strengths and reflects your guiding values. Set a meaningful, realistic goal and write it on a piece of paper. Then chart your path, writing down three steps to reach your goal. Beneath each step write a backup step in case your initial step doesn’t work out. Build your  motivation  with positive  self-talk , recalling a past success and telling yourself, “I did that then and I can do this now.” Close your eyes and visualize yourself taking each step, facing each obstacle, then taking each back-up step. Notice the emotions you feel as you keep moving forward and reach your goal. Smile as you open your eyes (Feldman & Dreher, 2012; Snyder, 1994).
The path from your old life to the new is a journey of discovery. I wish you joy on the path.


Bridges, W. (1992) Managing transitions: Making the most of change. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.

Cresswell, J. D., Welch, W. T., Taylor, S. E., Sherman, D.K., Gruenewald, T., & Mann, T. (2005). Affirmation of personal values buffers neuroendocrine and psychological stress responses. Psychological Science, 16, 846-851.

Dreher, D. E. (2008). Your personal renaissance: 12 steps to finding your life’s true calling. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo.

Dreher, D. E. (2012). The gifts of vocation: Finding joy and meaning in our work. In T. G.Plante (Ed.). Religion and positive psychology: Understanding the psychological fruits of faith (pp. 127-142). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Dreher, D.E., Holloway, K., & Schoenfelder, E. (2007). The Vocation Identity Questionnaire: Measuring the sense of calling, RSSSR, 18, 99-120.

Feldman, D. B. and Dreher, D. E. (2012). Can hope be changed in 90 minutes? Testing the efficacy of a single-session goal-pursuit intervention for college students.  Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 745-759.

Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N, & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness . New York, NY: Free Press.

Snyder, C. R. (1994). The psychology of hope. New York, NY: Free Press.  
Free Coaching Available

Are you looking for the light of greater possibility this season? I’m offering two free positive psychology coaching sessions to the first person who contacts me at this link .
About Diane
I am a positive psychology coach, researcher, and best-selling author. My books include  The Tao of Inner Peace The Tao of Personal Leadership The Tao of Womanhood Inner Gardening:   A Seasonal Path to Inner Peace , and  Your Personal Renaissance: 12 Steps to Finding Your Life’s   True Calling .

My coaching uses the latest research in positive psychology, mindful listening, powerful questions, and other creative techniques to help people like you overcome roadblocks, achieve your goals, and discover greater joy and meaning in life.   
I am an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and a member of the  International Coaching Federation  (ICF) a leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals. 
I am also a Certified MentorCoach (CMC) with the internationally recognized coach training community  MentorCoach LLC.
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Diane Dreher, PhD, MA, ACC, CMC
Diane Dreher Coaching & Consulting, LLC
© Diane Dreher 2020