Transition begins with letting go of something. William Bridges (http://www.wmbridges.com/about/who-bill.html) believes that too often we forget this axiom, believing that the transition begins with the third stage—New Beginnings. What may be most disconcerting is that endings are being thrust upon us as a result of circumstances beyond our control such as a crisis. Many of us find ourselves increasingly anxious because of our apparent lack of control over circumstances. Acknowledging reality, even if it seems harsh, is the only way to gain control over the circumstances. During the ending stage, we must consciously identify what is ending and then choose to let go.
- Identifying what is being lost
- Accepting the reality and importance of the losses
- Acknowledging and accepting the losses
- Expecting and accepting signs of grieving, anger and other negative emotions
- Compensating for the losses
- Seeking information and doing it again and again
- Defining what’s over and what isn’t
- Marking the ending
- Treating the past with respect
- Obtaining a memento of the losses
- Accepting that endings ensure continuity of what really matters
2. Neutral Zone
In the neutral zone, we may feel as if we are between two worlds. We have let go of some of our beliefs and behaviours but have yet to form the new beliefs and habits that can provide reassurance and guidance. As a result, Bridges notes, some of us try to quickly fast-forward through the neutral zone, while others try to retreat into the past. This in-between state is so full of uncertainty and confusion that simply coping with it takes most of people’s energy. We should try to attain a feeling of control over our futures. We need to find explanations that will enable us to understand why we are feeling what we are feeling. We need to do anything possible to give ourselves a new sense of purpose to replace the old purposes.
Managing the Neutral Zone requires:
- Creation of a temporary state of being for ourselves particularly lowering our expectations of what we are able to achieve
- Review of and reflection on ourselves and others/circumstances surrounding us
- Setting SMART* short term goals
- Rewarding ourselves for each and every attainment
- Rebuilding our confidence and self-esteem
3. New Beginnings
The final stage, new beginnings, asks us to commit to new beliefs and behaviours. The prospect of acting in a new way will challenge our sense of competency and security. To counteract this, we should reassure and reinforce to ourselves that we have made the right decision and appreciate and reward ourselves for our new behaviours.
Launching a New Beginning requires:
- Establishing the timing of the beginning
- Being clear about the purpose
- Visualising the outcomes
- Creating a broad long-term plan
- Striving for quick successes
- Celebrating each and every success however small
* SMART Definition
- Specific in the context of developing objectives means that an observable action, behavior or achievement is described which is also linked to a rate, number, percentage or frequency. This latter point is extremely important – let me illustrate. ‘Answer the phone quickly’ can be said to be a precise description of behavior, you can clearly see whether someone answers the phone or not, but there is no rate, number, percentage or frequency linked to it. So, if I state; ‘Answer the phone within 3 rings’ a rate has been added and the behavior is now much more specific.
- Summary: Is there a description of a precise or specific behavior / outcome which is linked to a rate, number, percentage or frequency?
- A system, method or procedure has to exist which allows the tracking and recording of the behavior or action upon which the objective is focused. Setting an objective that requires phone calls to be answered in three rings is fine, provided there is the existence of a system that measures whether this is actually being achieved.
- Summary: Is there a reliable system in place to measure progress towards the achievement of the objective?
- The objectives that we set ourselves need to be capable of being reached. Put most basically, there is a likelihood of success but that does not mean easy or simple. The objectives need to be stretching but not daunting. Setting targets that are plainly ridiculous does not motivate us; it merely serves to lower our confidence and self-esteem.
- Summary: With a reasonable amount of effort and application can the objective be achieved?
- This means that the goal or target we set is something that can actually impact upon or change circumstances concerning us.
- Summary: Does the objective impact or change our circumstances? Do we have the necessary knowledge and skill?
- In the objective somewhere there has to be a date (Day/Month/Year) or time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) for when the task has to be started (if it’s ongoing) and/or completed (if it’s short term or project related). Simply: No date/time = No good.
- Summary: Is there a finish and/or a start date/time clearly stated or defined?
Stay strong and serene.