This time of years brings many changes – end of school, high school and college graduation, home sales increase, vacations, temperature, how we dress, activities we do together, etc. One of the great things about Utah is the four seasons – we get a “change” about four times a year. As I think about the seasonal change it draws my thoughts to how we think about, approach and go forward when change occurs in our lives.
Much like life, nature doesn’t give us a choice in change, it happens whether we are ready or not! Watching the mountains change with the seasons made me think how the mountains don’t necessarily change but the seasons themselves change the look of mountains. Much like us, who we are generally stays the same, how we approach the “seasons of life” are what changes and grows.
William Bridges, author and expert on change leadership makes a distinction between change and transition. According to Bridges, “change is external and tied to a certain situation, transition is the internal, emotional process of how you respond and come to terms with that change.” The understanding between change and transition is key to working with change and helping others navigate change successfully. William Bridges following perspective:
- The Ending (Change Occurs)
- Neutral Zone (Evaluation Time)
- New Beginning (New Normal)
Whether good, bad or indifferent, driven by us or happened upon us, change requires a new pattern of doing, thinking and behaving.
The Ending (Change Occurs) – most of us know when we are here, it happens – we move, change jobs, have kids, get married, get divorced, lose our job, start a job….the list goes on. The change that occurs is really just the beginning, it is where the journey starts. We know we are here because the future likely scares us, we have very little control or idea of what will happen next, we likely are experiencing anxiety, anger, confusion, excitement and stress. Whether the change is positive or negative, the above will likely show up in some way. Consider the following questions:
- What scares you most about the change?
- What excites you most about the change?
- What is the worst that will happen?
- What is the best that will happen?
- How can you gain back some control?
- If this were happening to a someone else, what advice would you give them?
- What’s the bigger game here?
- Whose support do you need right now?
Neutral Zone (Evaluation Time) – This is the space where growth begins; it is where we get to consider our options and it is also a place of great uncertainty. The change has occurred and often a new path forward has yet to emerge. Spending time here is critical, it helps us adjust to and consider our options. Many times we don’t view this space as valuable and desire to move through it as fast as possible. We need to remember is it is here that learning, discovery and awareness occur. Consider the following questions:
- What are key considerations as I look toward my new normal?
- Ideally, what does my new normal look like?
- Given what I know today, what do I want to ensure occurs in my new normal?
- How do I want to show up?
- What will be required differently of me in my new normal?
- What are the most important first steps I can take?
- Whose support do I need right now?
- What are obstacles I need to consider as I move forward?
New Beginnings (New Normal) – This is where you end up – your new normal – which will eventually work itself into your normal. Ideally, your new normal will be a combination of your circumstances and your choices. A key component of what this space looks like is directly related to what occurred in the evaluation part of the change process. The new normal isn’t a static place but instead it should encourage continued learning, which leads to necessary adjustments and modifications. Consider the following questions:
- How is my new normal serving me?
- What adjustments should I consider?’
- What kind of support do I need?
- What is working? What is not working?
- What surprises have occurred?
- What behavior is serving me well?
- What behavior is not serving me well?
- What do I still need to release?
As you enjoy the “change of seasons” remember how we approach change strongly impacts how change shows up in our life. We can either experience an out of control, wild ride with no end in sight or a wild, fun and crazy ride that has an end in sight. When change occurs for you, think about the questions you need to ask yourself to arrive at your new normal with success!