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The Three Stages of Change

The fall says CHANGE to me and I love it! It’s a time to move away from summer and welcome in the fall – its changing colors, the changing light as the days so obviously become shorter. I start to notice an inner call for greater focus on the state of my life and work.

This happens every year for me – partly due to my many years in school or working for universities and partly, as a response to the natural rhythms of the changing season.

Did you know that change has its own stages? I learned this from reading William Bridges’s book called, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change. He taught me that change (or transition) has three primary stages:

1. The End – something that may have been precious to you at one time has ended (i.e., you’ve moved to a new location)

2. The Neutral Zone – the stage where you’ve said good-bye to something, but you’re not yet ready to move into the New Beginning (you haven’t made friends in your new location yet, so you still rely almost exclusively on your friends from your previous location)

3. The New Beginning – You’ve fully stepped into your new transition (i.e., you may still maintain your past friendships and you rely on local friends for most of your day-to-day connections and comraderie)

In each stage, our internal and external growth and development may be enhanced when we understand the meaning and purpose of these stages. For me this has been true.

Knowing this doesn’t change the truth that change can be challenging, yet it does help me to relax into it a bit more. And, it helps me remember that even when it seems murky and impenetrable, I will make it through to The New Beginning!

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