I am in the middle of the transition to my new role. For me, the middle is the least comfortable part of any transition. I think this is because I want to be constantly moving forward and instead of being in limbo, want to move quickly to decision and action.
In his book, Transitions, William Bridges outlines three steps of transition that every individual go through when change happens. The first is an ending, the second is a neutral zone, between the old and the new, and finally, the third step is a new beginning. He argues that every successful transition has all of these phases that need to be fully experienced and that most of us are not comfortable making transitions even though we are constantly changing.
One piece of advice that Bridges gives is to not try to rush the neutral zone, but to take time to be alone in order to make the mental and emotional transition from the old to the new. This includes understanding what you want to leave behind and what you want to create and who you want to be as you move forward.
I thought I was following that advice when I scheduled almost a month between my old and new job. However, in retrospect, I filled that time with many activities and didn’t really take much time to be alone and introspect.
My final full week in Ann Arbor has been a time for connections with several walks with dear friends through the Arboretum and cherished meals with wonderful colleagues. I have been busy packing and sorting getting ready for my new life in Philadelphia. I also have been sick all week with a summer cold.
I have noticed that often when I am in transition, I get sick. The first time I noticed this was at the end of each semester in college, when I would literally collapse into bed after completing my last final. And, often after completing a major project, I would come down with something after all of the stress had dissipated. This week as I have been forced to slow down to let my body heal, I have come to the conclusion that this is a mechanism that I personally use to slow down and give myself space away from activity and time to recover.
I am excited and curious about this next step in my transition to a leader at Temple University and recognize that this transition feels better than previous job changes. I am not anxious and have continued to use the tools that I have learned to stay at peace. Understanding that I don’t need to have all the answers, I haven’t made a 90-day plan of things I want to make sure will happen as I start my new job. Instead, I have written a positive intention to listen, understand, and work collaboratively with my new colleagues to create a shared culture and vision. I am eager to see what we create together.
My challenge to you this week is to notice where you are in the transitions in your life and give yourself the time, space, and permission to experience all of the different steps in your own personal transitions.