Managing Change by Managing Transitions—The Neutral Zone

According to William Bridges, Managing Transitions, organizations and individuals go through three transitional phases when lasting change occurs:
1. Endings (losing, letting go)
2. The neutral zone
3. New beginnings

Last week, we studied the first phase, endings. This week we’ll explore the second phase, the neutral zone.

Bridges describes the neutral zone as the suffering that occurs through the confusing nowhere between two somewheres. Ambiguity is strong in this phase and the tendency to retreat to the known past is seductive. People can be fearful and burdened with low morale.

The neutral zone, though, can provide a natural process of reorientation and an opportunity for a deepened sense of purpose. It is in this stage that you are being transformed into who you need to be for your new beginning.

To support yourself in the neutral zone, find a regular time and place to be alone to provide sanctuary for yourself. Journal neutral zone experiences. Put your thoughts into words to make sense of the “shapes” that are starting to emerge. In this time, you are discovering what you really want and who you need to become for the next stage.

Next week…new beginnings!