Bridges' Guide to Transitions

I recently released my first book on finding purpose in transition. William Bridges' Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes and The Way Of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments were two resources that were a major influence in writing In Flux

Here's what Bridges has to say about change: 

In other words, change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t “take".

Check out the following figure to help you visualize the movement of transitions. The chart reads from left to right. I find it to be extremely helpful! 

(Figure 1) Excerpt from: Bridges, William. "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes." Da Capo Press,  2004. 

Being in a state of flux is never easy but here are some helpful ways of understanding how you might feel depending on which stage you're in. 

Stage 1: Ending, Losing, and Letting Go

In this stage you may experience these emotions:

  • Disorientation
  • Frustration
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Uncertainty
  • A sense of loss

Stage 2: The Neutral Zone

I like to call this place the "uncertain middle" or "the in-between". During this stage you might experience:

  • Anxiety about your role, status or identity
  • Resentment towards the change initiative
  • Low morale and lower levels of productivity
  • Skepticism about the new initiative

Keep in mind that it is in this stage (a "state of flux") that people are often most creative/innovative. Don't miss the moment! 


Stage 3: The New Beginning

When you get to the new beginning you are likely to experience:

  • High energy
  • Openness to learning
  • Renewed commitment to the group or your role

Bridges says in The Way of Transition

We resist transition not because we can't accept the change, but because we can't accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up when and because the situation has changed.

I think Bridges is absolutely right. We have a hard time moving through the Neutral Zone because we hold on to what "Point A" meant to us. 

What stage are you in right now? Do you know that you're even in transition? If you think you might be in a season of transition and you found this article to be helpful, check out these two great resources!

Click on the images below to purchase these must-have resources: