Change is hard enough when we intentionally decide on a career or life change. If you’d like to see my summary as a video click HERE. When change is forced on us – like losing a job or having to spend countless months on end working from home, it’s even tougher. The well-known Bridges Transition Model (below) developed by the researcher William Bridges explains the stages people go through with major life changes. Change usually happens fast, but recovering from a transition takes time. How annoying! While we may feel anger, shock, denial, frustration and ambivalence when major changes happen, we eventually enter a “neutral zone” where we can be confused, lack direction but also might begin to feel curious and receptive to what’s next. Finally, we accept the change and start to feel more confident and motivated to move forward.
With COVID, it took me many months to feel like I’ was moving out of the neutral, “blah” zone. Based on the model, I’ve needed to go through the shock and confusion before I could start moving to more productive grounds. Apparently, I’m not alone. Many friends tell me they’ve felt the same way. If you’re going through any kind of transition, here are a few tips:
- Be easy on yourself during times of change. Our brains need to time to move through the stages of transition.
- Take proactive steps to stay in good mental and physical health during the “healing” time.
- Listen to your heart and body and when it feels like the right time take steps to explore what’s next.
- Re-frame your brain. What’s another way to see the situation?
- Seek out opportunities and find what excites you as you gain confidence with the transition.
Career changes, becoming an empty nester or deciding you want to fully retire are the kinds of major life transitions I help people work through. I empower clients to see where they are on the transition curve, then help them move to what Bridges calls their “new beginning.”