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I recently watched a repeat of “The Princess Diaries” on the Disney Channel. You may know the story – A rather plain 15-year old girl named Mia suddenly discovers she is a princess; the sole heir to the kingdom of a small European country. She is immediately thrust into a world she doesn’t understand and undergoes an Eliza Doolittle-type transformation.

Transitions. Like it or not, they are part of life. Your transition may not be as dramatic as Princess Mia’s. It can be deliberately chosen or a complete surprise, pleasant or unpleasant. Relationship changes, death or illness, jobs or retirement, having a new baby, pop culture terms like “empty nest,” “mid-life crisis”, “downsizing.”

In his book Transitions, William Bridges discusses three phases of transition:


First we begin to disengage from the old ways, and identify ourselves less with the role we saw ourselves playing. Bridges shares that in many cultures a “right of passage” was carefully structured to provide times of disenchantment
and disorientation in order to prepare for the new.

The Neutral Zone

“Now what do I do?”

It is absolutely necessary to spend time in solitude to avoid jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. The quiet places us in a place of receptivity. Bridges suggests taking the opportunity to discover what you really want and reorient toward the future. “Sometimes it is only in seeing where you have been that you can tell where you are headed . . recollection is likely to turn up some useful information about other transitions in your past,” he says.

The New Beginning

Everyone feels anxious or confused, starting something new. What is it within us that can undermine our resolve and cast doubts on our plans?

Take action.
Vividly visualize yourself with the final result.
Take things step by step, not getting too preoccupied with results.

“Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis.”

-Martha Beck, O Magazine, Growing Wings, January 2004

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