We have all experienced transitions in our lives. According to William Bridges, transitions are an integral part of our existence and occur internally as part of our natural cycle of growth and transformation. The transition process always begins with an ending, followed by a neutral zone, and finally a new beginning where identity has been transformed. Whether it’s an end of a career, relationship, or activity, understanding transitions helps individuals reinvent themselves and move forward in their lives.
Bridges emphasizes that development is not a gradual, linear process; instead, there are long periods when nothing happens, followed by periods of accelerated activity and growth. An individual may have the same work identity for many years, then the work ends, and he or she is launched into a neutral zone of uncertainty and reinvention before the new identity emerges. Bridges agrees that events are influenced by developmental stages. For instance, the same event may be experienced differently by a young adult versus someone in mid-life. However, the process of transition- ending, neutral zone, and new beginning- always remains the same.
The neutral zone is a time to reflect on what has occurred; it is essential for a new beginning to emerge. In the neutral zone, individuals let go of their old ideas, hopes, and dreams. Losing a job, ending a relationship, relocating, and leaving a previous role to become a student, are all examples of major transitions. Allowing time to reflect, adjust, and let go helps reduce the anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion associated with major life transitions.
Transitions is a book about inner development and growth. In today’s rapidly changing world and workplace, Bridges’ book helps readers successfully move through the neutral zone to evolve into their new selves. In difficult times, this book offers hope and inspiration for job seekers, career changers, and individuals working within rapidly changing organizations and environments.
Written by Career Services Advisor Dina Bergren