Steps to Successful Change

June 30, 2020

Life can change in an instant. But adjusting to change often takes awhile. The process of change—or transition—requires us to pass through three stages. These stages can be emotionally challenging and sometimes even downright painful. Extra doses of patience and energy are usually required. The good news is that a stronger, more resilient “you” emerges through the journey of adapting to change.

The Stages of Transition

Stage one: An ending: It’s ironic but the first stage of any change is when something ends. Even when a change is positive, it still signals some type of ending.

As a result, change can create a sense of loss. So, for example, when you have your first child, you may be ecstatic. At the same time, you may feel saddened by the loss of your more carefree, pre-parent lifestyle.

Stage two: Limbo: This is the hardest stage of change because you are sandwiched between what was and what is to be. At this point, it’s still hard to tell how things are going to turn out. This period can be marked by doubt and confusion about the future, and even depression.

The goal during this stage is to remain strong and optimistic. If needed, reach out for support from family, friends, a support group or professional counselor.

Stage three: A new start: When the future begins to take shape, you are in the last stage of transition. As the “new” begins, feelings of doubt are replaced by hopefulness and excitement. You may still have a bit of anxiety about what’s ahead—and some remaining sadness about what’s been left behind. But by and large, there is a sense that you’ve turned a corner – and are ready for what lies ahead.

Like all things human, everyone’s feelings and experiences along the road to adjustment are unique. Be kind to yourself as you make the journey. And, at the end, celebrate your success!1

Adapted from Transitions: Making the Most of Change, William Bridges and Susan Bridges, September 2009.

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