This morning, I woke up remembering that I am in a transition. A big one. And the reality is that we all are in a transition of some kind, coming out of COVID, and transitions – even positive ones – aren’t always easy.
That’s why I wanted to share a powerful, insightful, and practical book that changed my thinking about transitions. It’s called Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.
What I loved about the book is that it gave me permission to feel the transitions in my life, something that I had never really allowed myself to do before. In today’s world, we always seem to be pushed to move forward, do more, put the past aside, and jump right into the new.
But jumping right into the new skips an important part of the transition and transformation process.
It’s the second step in Bridges’ transition process:
“After that, you encounter the neutral zone – that apparently empty in-between time when under the surface of the organizational situation or invisibly inside you, the transformation is going on.” 1
The neutral zone. Have you ever felt like you were in one? Where you don’t know quite who you are or where you’re going, but you want to?
That’s exactly how I feel right now. In a neutral zone, as I transition from being a caretaker for my parents to being a more active coach and writer.
But this transition process also occurs when you start a new job, go into retirement, have a baby, and so on.
It’s not only “bad” changes that cause transitions, it’s also good ones.
Yet my training, our culture, has taught me to move forward, push on, start on a new path … and I’ve started to do that.
But it doesn’t always feel right.
Here’s how Bridges describes it:
“Everything feels as though it is up for grabs and you don’t quite know who you are or how you’re supposed to behave, so this feels like a meaningless time. But it’s actually a very important time. During your time in the neutral zone, you are receiving signals and cues – if only you could decipher them! – as to what you need to become for the next stage of your work [or personal] life. And unless you disrupt it by trying to rush through the neutral zone quickly, you are slowly being transformed into the person you need to be to move forward in your life.”1 (emphasis mine).
Unless you disrupt it … hmmm, how often do we disrupt that neutral zone by rushing through it?
I know I want to rush through mine right now. I just want to get to that new place so I can be comfortable and moving forward. But it doesn’t happen right away, and Bridges warns us that we might not even get there if we try to hurry it along.
Sigh. Are you as impatient with all of this as I am?
But I’m trying. I’m taking steps to move forward and giving myself time to breathe when I need it (like yesterday). More importantly, I’m listening to my Higher Self for guidance, and that’s unfolding in very interesting ways that I’m sure you’ll hear more about in the future. 😊
What kind of transition are you in? Do you need a neutral zone? Are you letting yourself take one?
I hope you take one if you need it. Life doesn’t always have to be rushed.
With love and light,
1Bridges, William, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, 2nd Edition. DeCapo Press, Cambridge, MA. Pages 80-81. (Note: There’s a newer edition available that was released in 2020 for the book’s 40th anniversary.)