Learning from and For Life Transitions

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It remains a challenge to explain how individuals transition from one goal cycle to the other [1]. But this is a relevant question in lifespan development. Life course theory conceptualizes series of events respectively transitions in life [2]. While there are many terms to describe life transitions (e.g., turning points, momentous events, etc.), there seems to be agreement that transitions are about major life changes [3].

Life changes can be school transitions, life events such as parenthood, migration [4], or retirement [9]. These normative events mostly are experienced positively; there are also unexpected and involuntary events that are perceived more negatively though [3]. In other words, transitional phases potentially present opportunities and uncertainties [4]. It is difficult to disengage from prior goals and commit to new ones, as goals stand for a hoped future and consequently also support psychological well-being [5]. Cultural and societal changes can trigger change, but there is also increasing variability in developmental journeys within societies and generations as people exercise agency, i.e., taking conscious decisions to initiate and go through life course transitions, be it as an adjustment to the current social environment or not [6].

Learning helps to cope with stress from life transitions [7] while going through transitions conceptualized as experiencing disequilibrium and stability adds to psychological resilience [8]. Seen it that way, transitions naturally involve chance, choice, and change, all interlinked to trigger, enable, and result in personal development and growth.

Photo credit: LaughingRaven (pixabay.com)

References

[1] Heckhausen, J., Wrosch, C., & Schulz, R. (2010). A motivational theory of life-span development. Psychological Review, 117 (1), 32–60.

[2] Alwin, D. F. (2012). Integrating Varieties of Life Course Concepts. Journals Of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences And Social Sciences, 67(2), 206-220.

[3] Svob, C., Brown, N., Reddon, J., Uzer, T., & Lee, P. (2014). The transitional impact scale: Assessing the material and psychological impact of life transitions. Behavior Research Methods, 46(2), 448-455. doi:10.3758/s13428-013-0378-2

[4] Syed, M. (2017). Identity integration across cultural transitions: Bridging individual and societal change. Journal Of Psychology In Africa, 27(2), 105-114. doi:10.1080/14330237.2017.1301675

[5] King, L. A., & Hicks, J. A. (2007). Lost and Found Possible Selves: Goals, Development, and Well-Being. New Directions For Adult And Continuing Education, (114), 27-37.

[6] Flaherty, M. G. (2013). Age and agency: Time work across the life course. Time & Society, 22(2), 237-253. doi:10.1177/0961463X12455598

[7] Carragher, L., & Golding, B. (2015). Older Men as Learners: Irish Men’s Sheds as an Intervention. Adult Education Quarterly, 65(2), 152-168. doi:10.1177/0741713615570894

[8] Henning, P. B. (2011). Disequilibrium, Development and Resilience Through Adult Life. Systems Research & Behavioral Science, 28(5), 443-454. doi:10.1002/sres.1108

[9] Merriam, S. B. (2005). How adult life transitions foster learning and development. New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, 2005(108), 3.

About mathias sager

Thinking and writing for happiness, painting colorfully, and enabling personal growth for all. Fostering co-operative and humanitarian principles, economic and social equality, as well as environmental sustainability. Using broad international experience and progressive, egalitarian and global outlook to promote care for the next generation.
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