How to Transform Your Transitions – Part One

To become something else, you have to stop being what you are now; to start doing things a new way, you have to end the way you are doing them now; and to develop a new attitude or outlook, you have to let go of the old one you have now. Even though it sounds backwards, endings always come first.

The first task is to let go.

-William Bridges-

The difference between change and transition is like the difference between rearranging the furniture in a room and remodeling the room. Change happens all the time. You change your clothes, your hairstyle, your place of work, your school, your home base, and so on. It’s an external thing. Nothing much internal shifts when you rearrange the external things of your life. Change is situational.

Transition, on the other hand, is something you go through and that goes through you. You leave your parents home and lose their financial support. You get married, divorced,  and have children. You radically alter your diet and start meditating. Your company goes bankrupt. You lose your health, get cancer, have a heart attack, fight in a war, care for a dying friend or relative, suffer a mid-life crisis. Transition is psychological. It’s not about the events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that one has to go through to incorporate the significant changes in life.

In nineteen eighty, when William Bridges wrote the first edition of Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, the distinction between change and transition was not clearly understood. Over thirty years and many more books later, it’s still not understood in a way that prepares most people for the inevitable transitions that occur in life. For the most part, we are a people with little to no idea of life’s natural seasons. We don’t recognize the necessity of letting go of our outlived life patterns to find new one that are waiting to replace them. We seem to miss the larger picture of the many endings and beginnings that we naturally go through from birth to death and new life.

Transition is a natural process of personal development and self renewal. There are key times in our lives when an end of a life cycle comes that leads us into another place, unknown, where we have to stay for a while until the next cycle begins. It cannot be rushed, manipulated, gone around, or eliminated until the time is ripe to move on. The first task is to let go. Endings come first. After that, you encounter the in between place I call the Xaler Zone; that place that appears empty and disconnected, where you don’t quite know who you are, how you’re to behave, or where you’re going. It’s a very important time because inside, under the surface of your external life, a transformation is taking place. You’re being given clues, signals about what you’re to become in the next stage of your life’s work. It’s a time of reorientation that leads to new beginnings.

In the next few blogs we’ll be discussing some practical ‘how to’s of transition. We’ll demonstrate the pause, reset, and play buttons: how to stop, look, listen, and follow and  you’ll learn how to do a life cycle review. Can you really turn anxiety into abundance?

by Rick on January 17, 2013 ·

Ken Plattner

Ok… Ready, set, let go.


Jane Schreiner

Oh yes. This is lovely to read. Guided, reassuring, wonderful reminder to be, notice, trust and transition with grace.

Thank you Rick. Looking forward to more. Namaste…



This is the perfect thing for me to read right now as I transition into the next cycle of my life. Endings do come first, hence my decision to resign from my current position in conventional psychiatry. I am letting go of a job that I have held for ten years and jumping into the unknown. Although this is very confronting, I am trusting the universe and staying open to receive clues and signals pointing me towards the next stage in my life’s work. Peace.


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