Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Transitions: Letting go of the old, embracing the new

My husband and I are in the midst of moving. We’re moving from a 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 3-porch apartment in the city that we’ve been renting for close to 29 years—to a one-bedroom loft apartment in the same neighborhood. While we’ve dreamed about the change and new experience, and are psyched about purging our unused “stuff”, we’re overwhelmed with the work it takes to get there, and sentimental about what, in some ways, is the end of an era. There are a great deal of emotions that go along with letting go of the old and embracing the new.

At work, as an external professional, I’ve observed and experienced workplace and organizational change from a bit of a distance. Yet, I’ve served as a confidant to so many who are in the center of organizational change and experiencing varied levels of emotion and professional goodbyes. I can assure you that what author William Bridges states in his 1991 book “Managing Transitions” still holds true:

“Change may happen very quickly, yet transition may take a while, and not everyone goes through it at the same pace.”

Bridges’ model highlights these three stages of transition that people go through when they experience change. I’ve found these stages inevitable whether the change is desired or unwanted:
1. Ending, Losing, and Letting Go—People need to let go of the past before they can embrace the new.
2. The Neutral Zone—People begin to explore their comfort with the new change.
3. The New Beginning—People begin to embrace the new change.

If you’re experiencing change—who isn’t, right?—or leading others through change, I encourage you to explore Bridges’ model further. Our ability to effectively understand and manage ourselves and/or those we lead through change is not only an art, it’s crucial to success in today’s work environment.

Some say that when possible, it’s a great idea to have a ritual of some kind to provide closure and help people move on from the first or second stage of transition. I read a case study once about a credit card company who was closing down a whole division and location because a particular type of credit card was no longer being offered by the company. Right before the division was closed, the leadership team held a meeting to thank their employees for their hard work over the years. As a momento, they also had key rings made for everyone with a miniature of the discontinued credit card attached. I thought that was a great idea.

Our home has always been a kind of hub for our family. My son suggested a family sleepover for our children and their families to celebrate our memories there and say goodbye to our old digs. We’re hoping to make that happen. Wait! I think we’re moving into the neutral zone! Next stop…..New Beginnings.



  Jennifer Miller wrote @

Good luck in your transition! We are in a similar situation (moving), but with oh-so-different back story. Lots of good tips in here to help with the transition process.

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Hi Jennifer! I was just perusing my blog and came across your comment here. Looks like I somehow missed it. Sorry about that! The transition you mention here is well behind you now, but I hope it went well and that you’re enjoying this next chapter.

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