Ready to leave your neutral zone for a new beginning? Read on.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve shared ways to navigate life’s major transitions based on concepts in the book, “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges, PhD.
According to Bridges, every transition begins with an ending or an event. Then we enter the neutral zone, which is where we try to make sense of it and figure out how we can make the most of it.
The neutral zone is where we spend the most time. That makes sense because it’s time for reflection, it’s where we try to understand what just happened and contemplate where we’ll go from here.
One way you can do that is to find your Zone of Genius, where your innate talents and abilities intersect with your passion and purpose. To do that, you can reflect on your past experiences, identify your natural talents and abilities, discover your passions, determine your values and purpose, and then look for ways they connect.
This is important because you don’t move out of the neutral zone until you know what the new beginning is. A genuine new beginning starts from within you, and you must be ready to embrace it before you can move forward. A new beginning is the final phase of a transition, and according to Bridges, it’s the process of beginning anew after going through the neutral zone.
Bridges emphasizes that new beginnings can come in the form of external opportunities, but they must resonate with our internal desires and needs. He notes that when we are truly ready for a new beginning, we will find an opportunity that aligns with our values and aspirations. However, if we are not ready, we will remain in the neutral zone, unable to move forward.
If you do the work in the neutral zone, you’ll be ready to embrace the new beginning.
Once we have identified a genuine new beginning, Bridges recommends several strategies for making it a reality. Firstly, he suggests that we must stop preparing and start taking action. This involves committing to the new beginning and taking the necessary steps to make it a reality.
Secondly, he emphasizes the importance of identifying ourselves with the final result of the new beginning. This means visualizing the end goal and embracing it as part of our identity. By doing so, we can stay motivated and focused on the outcome. This is particularly important if you’re planning for retirement (or recently retired), you’ve left your career identity in the past, and you’re interested in finding your true, authentic self in a new chapter.
Thirdly, Bridges advises taking things step by step and resisting distractions that may lead us down other paths. This requires discipline and a willingness to stay on track, even when the journey may be challenging.
Finally, Bridges suggests shifting our focus from the goal to the process of reaching the goal. This means embracing the journey and finding joy in the process, rather than just focusing on the end result. By doing so, we can stay motivated and committed, even when the path may be difficult.
This one was especially difficult for me when I transitioned from my career to a new chapter until a wise coach and mentor encouraged me to fall in love with the process—the journey—rather than fixating all my thoughts on the end result or destination.
I was in a mastermind with about 10 other amazing women who were in various stages of uncovering their genius, building a business, or just reconnecting with their identity and authentic self. We were asked to share one success we’d had over the past couple of months and one challenge we were facing.
My success was easy. But my challenge seemed insurmountable. I was too old. I was going to run out of time and wouldn’t accomplish everything I wanted to do in this season of my life.
As I elaborated, my coach jumped up, turned the flip chart around and started writing. When she turned the flip chart back so everyone could see, there was a stick figure (me) on one side, a beach on the other, and a magical forest in between.
It was my journey.
She told me I was looking at my journey too linearly. I had this magical forest in front of me and I was missing all the awesomeness coming my way because I had my head down, thinking about and focusing only on my destination.
She was right. I was connected to the outcome, and focused on the end result. I was frustrated because “it” was taking too long and I was going to run out of time. But, I just needed to fall in love with the process so I could enjoy my steps—my journey through the magical forest. Following your dreams and having goals is important. But so is being more comfortable with living in the present moment.
So, if you’re in the thick of a transition, take time in the neutral zone to find your true, authentic self, explore new beginnings, identify yourself with the final result, stay focused, and find joy in the journey. If you can, you’ll emerge stronger and excited to embrace your new beginning and new chapter.
If you have a major life change or event on the horizon that will throw you into a neutral zone or you’re already there and need some help navigating the uncertainty, my Next Chapter Plan™ Academy may be just what you need to help you chart a new beginning and design a next chapter. Doors open soon. If you’re not on the waitlist, what’s holding you back? And, if you want to get started right away, grab my Amazon best-selling book, “Your Next Chapter. Dream It. Design It. Live It.”