William Bridges pointed out (Transitions: Making sense of life’s changes, 2004) that every transition begins with an ending and ends with a beginning - so simple, but really profound if you allow yourself to reflect and think on this concept. The length of the transition is the amount of time it takes you to get from the end to the new beginning, and it’s rarely easy. We are usually going from some routine or comfort into the creation of new behaviors and habits. A good analogy is a forest fire. While they can be devastating, they clear out the dead and decaying material, and what remains grows stronger and healthier. The key is to manage that ‘fire’ once started and get through the transition zone, or asBridges calls it, the neutral zone.
The first thing to affect a smooth transition is clear definition of the change. This sets the parameters to operate and provides the framework for assessing progress and addressing blockers. Spend time on this.Enlist family, friends, or a coach to help formulate the journey and identify areas where yo ur strengths can be utilized. Creating a safe space to measure progress and identifying an individual to help with accountability will enable a feedback mechanism that reinforces the creation of new habits.
Once the goals and path are defined, the next step is to put your plan into action. Create distance from the familiar; drop that which is not needed, or self-controlled; allow old identity to fade and create new.Recognize that as these phases are traversed, sometimes more than once, reality may be questioned. Remember the goal is to create distance from the ‘old’ and form the ‘new.’ Bridges indicates this will be an uncomfortable but growth-filled neutral zone. The time to go through this process will vary by individual and is dependent on the particular change and the level of support provided.
If your mind is racing, remember you’re not alone.Transitions happen to everyone. At any given point in time, someone close to you is most likely going through some form of transition. This can range from a life-changing event to their local market not carrying their favorite snack.Remember to focus on those things in your control; anxiety is created if you worry about things outside your influence. This article can help create personal focus. Once you are in a place to not look back, identify your priorities and those things important to you and begin building the foundation in the present to construct the road to the future.