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TRANSITIONS: Process and Pointers for Successful Change

You’ve been through it.  We all have.  It’s when the winds of change start blowing.  Transition is coming.  It may be in your personal life or in your professional life.  These times are upon me now.  Our daughter Annie is heading off to college.  How could 18 years go by so fast?  I am filled with memories, thoughts, dreams, and intense feelings… There is enjoying every moment we still have left in the ending – packing, driving to college, and helping her move into that dorm room.  There is the sadness of leaving behind the life we have had together and experiencing emptiness.  There is joy and anticipation for her and my new beginning. 


I recall leaving for college.  I was excited to leave home, spread my wings to fly, and embark on the next BIG phase of my life.  The sky was the limit.  I was ‘Born Ready’ for this new beginning.  My mom was not. I recall the sad look on my mom’s face as I was leaving.  My daughter is ready.  I am getting ready.  What about you? How do you react to these life transitions?


What is Transition? defines ‘transition’ as a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another.  Change.  A movement, development, or evolution.


What Major Transitions Stand Out for You?


Transitions, big and small, are part of both our personal and professional lives.  Think back on your life – what transitions have you experienced?    Leaving home to go to the next phase of your life, starting a first long-term job, getting married, losing a job, ending a relationship, death of a loved one, moving to another part of the country, getting pregnant,  bringing a child into this world, starting a new company, and so many more.  What have you learned from these times in your life?


Process for Transitions.


In his seminal book Transitions, William Bridges, explains that there is a three-phase process:

  1. Every transition begins with an Ending
  2. Next we move into the Neutral Zone.  This time is meant to be a moratorium from the conventional activity of our everyday existence.  In the Pursuit of Passionate Purpose terminology, I call this going in-between and becoming an In-between’er. 
  3. Then we make a New Beginning.


Practical Pointers for Successful Transitions.


1.  Recognize this is a process.  It is okay to take time and allow. Be kind and patient.


2.  Learn from Endings.  It is important to let ourselves or others in transition react to endings.  Our endings are often brought about by the very acts and words that we believed would keep things going. 


3.  Surrender to Renewal.  In the neutral-zone, give in to the emptiness and stop struggling to escape it.   The process of transformation is essentially a death and rebirth process.  The gap between the old and new life is a source of renewal.  Bridges makes recommendations for finding meaning in the Neutral Zone: 

  • Find a regular time and place to be alone.
  • Begin a log of neutral zone experiences.
  • Take this pause in the action of your life to write an autobiography
  • Take this opportunity to discover what you really want.  Here, as explained in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose,  is the ‘Know and Nurture the Person’ work that helps you find your passion.
  • Think of what would be unlived in your life if it ended today.
  • Take a few days to go on your own version of a passion journey. “The more you leave behind, the more room you have to find something new.”


4.  Make a New Beginning.  Bridges makes these recommendations:

  • When we are ready to make a beginning, you will shortly find an opportunity.  Settle for inner signals – a faint intimation of something different from your inner wiser self, a hint from some comment that you can not forget, a dream.
  • Stop getting ready and act.  Be courageous.
  • Begin to identify yourself with the final result of the new beginning.  Visualize it.  Feel it.  Hear the crowds roar!
  • Take things step by step (Use the Persistence Strategy’s divide-and-conquer approach). 




Transitions are a part of life.  The process includes ending, going in-between into the neutral zone, and then making a new beginning.  Finally you will be ready, then act!


Theresa Szczurek (;;