Transitions are a natural and inevitable part of life—when we leave something old and familiar and eventually find something new and unfamiliar. Most transitions are small and pass by almost unnoticed. Some, however, involve major disruptions in routines and force us to reexamine our values and lifestyle.
Transitions commonly involve the stages outlined below.
Letting go of old, familiar ground
This is a time of endings, a time to break old patterns. At this stage we say goodbye to familiar people, places and routines. Most of us try to avoid endings—and this may be surprising since endings happen throughout the entire life cycle. We may feel sad, anxious, fearful, or angry. This is an uncomfortable but necessary part of transition. Allow the feelings of loss to surface. And above all, be gentle with yourself. Things are going to get easier.
Nothing seems to be happening
It’s time to go within. We may feel lost, confused, and disoriented, and may even seek treatment for depression. At this stage we often aren’t connected yet to the new and aren’t yet disconnected from the past. The neutral zone is a period of personal re-orientation. Learn more about yourself. Spend time alone. Go for walks, read, and write. Allow yourself to experience what you feel. Keep searching. Look for external signs to guide you into a new beginning.
Exploring new interests
Things are beginning to shift. We may feel curious, optimistic, and ready to try something new. We start looking for new experiences. We tentatively experiment. We encounter new paths, new people, and new environments. Support your hunches and interests—consider traveling, taking a class, and reading up on new interests. New directions start emerging in your life. Follow your intuition.
Embracing unfamiliar ground
Here we have a clear direction. It’s time to take action. We have identified the new course and see the process through step by step. Things may change pretty quickly. The past becomes our resource into the future. We now feel energized, passionate, and full of potential. We are using our creative powers to bring about a new reality.
Transition is a cycle, and we pass through these stages over and over again. The best thing we can do is acknowledging the stage we may find ourselves in and take care of ourselves accordingly. Therapy and self-reflection can be effective ways to make the most of our transitions.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.