If change is the only constant then we are always in a period of transition. How equipped are you to handle life transitions?
This week we talk about the difference between change and transitions. Changes are situational. They are events. You bought a house. You got a divorce. Your last child moved out. You won the lottery. These are examples of events that create a change in your life.
Transitions are psychological. On Sandy's website she puts it this way: "Transitions are a call to transformation." They are an opportunity to Reframe Your Life.
William Bridges (the link will be below - don't get sidetracked!) has influenced our thinking on transitions and his model is very useful in understanding what is happening. He says there are three stages in transitions: endings, neutral zone and beginnings. Here is how that looks in your life:
ENDINGS - When a change event happens, something ends. If you get married, you are no longer single. If you quit your job you are no longer employed. Often it is a status that changes and this can be very difficult. You may even be referred to differently to clearly illuminate the change. You are now "a widow, ex-wife, unemployed, patient, student or homeowner." It is important to recognize that something has ended.
NEUTRAL ZONE - The Neutral Zone is that place between an ending and a new beginning. It can be brief or it can be a extended time. It lasts as long as it lasts. It can be a creative time and a chaotic time. The Neutral Zone is a time to reflect and think about where you are now (your current reality) and where you want to go or what you want to create in your life. It is an uncomfortable time and can be difficult to explain to people. Many of us want to move through it quickly and are in danger of rushing into the next phase prematurely. (Could explain that guy you dated after your long term relationship ended!)
BEGINNINGS - New Beginnings can be a lot of fun. We've done the grieving and reframing work and now we are ready to step into something new. They are shiny and sparkly. And they make for great conversations and Facebook posts. They can be the reward for digging deep and doing the hard work of ending well and exploring the neutral zone.
Our best advice for getting through the transitions for everyone who wants to lead and live well:
1. Treat the past with respect. You can't stay in the past and you need to let go of it but that does't mean you can't honour it. Reflect on what has ended and what you have lost. Even if you chose to end something you still me be experiencing a loss.
2. Recognize that when you are in the neutral zone you will not feel comfortable. Find ways to live in the tension. Be realistic. Pay close attention to the things that you are drawn towards right now. Think about what you want to create in your work and life. This is a great time to work with a coach or lean into relationships that are supportive. If you are grieving a significant loss this will be a tumultuous time. Be kind to yourself.
3. Celebrate your new beginnings. Enjoy the place you find yourself in and embrace the start of something new.
If you want to check out William Bridge's work on Transitions click here. We are in a world experiencing a major transition. We hope that understanding and thinking about how transitions happen can help ease the angst you might be feeling regardless of where you are politically. The transition time is valid.