As I reflect on the past year, the number of changes I’ve gone through blows me away. But that’s life, right? As I head into this New Year, things are changing once again! My husband just started a new job and my daughter will be getting her driver’s license later this week.
The William Bridges Transition Model is a great tool to describe the journey each of us goes on when dealing with changes in our lives. Bridges identified 3 unique phases; Ending, Neutral Zone, and Beginning. I hope you can begin applying the model to your upcoming changes.
Ending: What was is now irrevocably different.
Something changes. Whether you’ve chosen it or it’s been forced upon you, there’s an element of shock, confusion and frustration. This occurs because we’re out of our comfort zone. You may be excited about what’s to come, but at this point you’re not 100% sure of the outcome.
Your goal during this phase is to: just keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that growth is a good thing and that it will get better. But as the model depicts, it gets worse before better.
Neutral Zone: Feeling as if one is sinking in the new reality rather than floating.
Once you’re in the thick of things and trying to figure out how to make this new reality a part of everyday life, disorientation, self-doubt and confusion commonly occur. It takes a lot of work to do something different. We may think the “old way” wasn’t that bad and long to go back to it. If the change was forced on us, we may find ourselves really angry because going back isn’t an option and life feels out of control.
It’s important to realize: It is only in wrestling with your internal questions & doubts, and continuing to move forward that things get better.
Beginning: Acceptance of the change & hope about the future.
This is the point where you re-commit to the change. You see the light at the end of the tunnel! It doesn’t mean everything’s perfect, but you’re willing to embrace this as your new reality. You may still have doubts, but you’ve wrestled your way through them and are focused on the future.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to “jump over” the tumult brought by the first 2 phases and land here. It’s only in going through the process that one comes out the other side.
Change is a natural evolution for all of us. The Bridge’s model helps us normalize what can feel like craziness & uncertainty. It’s normal to be sad about leaving something known. It’s normal to be frustrated, uncertain and not too happy in the middle of the change when it’s all new. But if we just hold on, we get our footing. The new becomes the norm and we’re off and running again.
Your Vibrantly Live Challenge:
Think about a change you’ve gone through. (marriage, birth of a child, job change, move, divorce) How do you see each of these phases applying during that change? Now that you see the model at work in your life in the past, how can you better prepare yourself for future changes? Be sure to share your ideas below.