In the book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, 2009, Dr. Bridges identifies three distinct phases of transition. It is during these phases that the work of figuring out the new world and how to be in it happens. For more on Phase 1 see: Change and Transition Part 1 – Endings.
The Neutral Zone
In the neutral zone, the old reality is gone but the new reality isn’t functional yet. It is the phase of transformation – making meaning of the new, learning how to function, within it, figure out what you bring from your past that is still valuable and relevant and what is not. What you now need to learn. It often may be a time which includes a lot of activity. This may also be an empty time in which not much seems to be happening.
It is a phase during which the future is not clear but the past is clearly gone, not literally – the same people may still be around, much of the surroundings and support systems may be in place, yet the these elements may have radically changed. It’s often a very uncomfortable one to manage, especially for those who like clear parameters, expectations, measures. In response, many people try to put structures in place as quickly as possible, even though they may not be ready. The structures aren’t necessarily the answer – the transition may be more emotionally oriented.
In my next blog we’ll take a closer look at New Beginnings.