I’ve just started reading Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.
He tells us life is full of change. No surprises there.
I learnt early in life that you can’t stop things changing, no matter how hard you try. Sometimes it really is outside your control.
As a boy, I had to cope with being uprooted and transplanted from one place to another every few years, as my father made his way up the ladder from being a teacher in a one room schoolhouse to a Class 1 Principal – as far as you could go without leaving the schoolyard for the big glass office in Adelaide.
I learnt to let go and move on. I learnt you could start over and make new friends.
A lot of us struggle with change. I certainly witnessed a lot of my colleagues resisting changes I was championing in the various workplaces I played in over the years.
According to Bridges, change itself isn’t the problem. It’s our failure to embrace the transition process required to weather the changes we experience.
He describes that transition process as being one of three phases: an ending, a neutral zone, and a new beginning.
From what I’ve read so far, it appears we experience difficulties with change when we don’t process the ending, ignore or get stuck in the neutral phase, and either rush into or resist a new beginning.
I’ve recently undertaken a big change. I retired from my day job after 40 years in the workplace. I thought I had it all worked out. I was certainly looking forward to not going into the city to work everyday, and I had something new to go to: full-time writing.
Then it happened. All that regimentation, associated with getting up and going to work, and then coming home and spending a couple of hours writing every night, evaporated. I found myself in no-man’s land – that dreaded neutral zone. I had to reinvent my day. I had to work out what being a full-time writer actually meant, now that I’d decided to be one.
I’m still working on the finer points, but I’ve discovered that four hours is about the limit for creative writing. That leaves me with plenty of time to do all those other things I promised myself I’d do when I retired. I’ve even spent some time in the garden, but I won’t be firing the gardener anytime soon.
Maybe I should be thanking my wife for suggesting I read the book.