Transitions are a natural part of life. They occur at every major juncture of our lives. Often starting with a feeling of discontent and ending with a feeling of contentment, it is no wonder the Latin root of the word transition is “a going across.”
It starts with you knowing something is not quite right. You know something needs to change, but you may not know what or how. Being in a state of transition is confusing and uncomfortable, and even more so if the transition itself lacks meaning.
According to William Bridges, author of “Transitions – Making Sense of Life’s Changes, transitions have three stages, (1) an ending, (2) a neutral zone, and (3) a new beginning.
Every transition begins with an ending because it is the ending that makes the new beginning possible.
Endings always come first in a transition, and the first task is letting go. Letting go of how things were to make room for how things will come to be. Letting go is difficult for many reasons, namely because of the interlacing of identify with the circumstances of life.
I began to unlace this tightly woven pattern in my own life when I stopped answering the question, “What do you do?” with, “I am a recareer specialist,” and started answering with, “I help women in their 40s and 50s recareer.” This actually answers the original question and keeps a healthy distance between me and my circumstances.
You are more than your circumstances, and a way to realize this is to reflect on the endings you have already experienced in life and recall the feelings and thoughts you had then.
The second stage is an interim period of not knowing called the “neutral zone.”
People will often try to fight this stage, but by doing so only prolong their time in this stage of the unknown.
While it might not seem like a lot is happening in the neutral zone, there is plenty going on. Unless you interrupt the process by trying to rush through this zone, you are slowly being shaped into the person you need to be within your new beginning.
It’s also tempting to try to limit your time in the neutral zone by shifting to an area where you can begin anew, but the effects of such a change could be short-lived if it is not meant to be.
The neutral zone is a prime place for important insight, but you have to be able to recognize it. The neutral zone is where you are starting to work through your discontent and reconnect with the real you. You may find yourself feeling curious and optimistic at this stage. This is is a great time to record the passage of your journey in a journal. When you record your experiences in the privacy of a journal you slow down and force yourself to put things into perspective. It is here that you witness where you have been so that you can recognize where you are going.
When something new and viable emerges from the neutral zone you know the beginning of the end is near.
Genuine new beginnings depend more on your inmost alignment than on external changeover because it is when you are in alignment with your true self and can stand alone from the circumstances of your life that you become powerfully motivated. You may feel energized, passionate and full of potential, or just quietly content in your new direction.
Remember, you know more than what you think you know. The answers are all inside and ready to guide you through the stages of transition, no matter what type of transition it is.
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