Managing Transitions by William Bridges was a book I was required to read for a recent conference I went to and I was absolutely delighted to read it once I got about a chapter in. (I admit I was somewhat reluctant to do my prerequisite reading before I actually started them.) Written for a corporate audience, Bridges’ Transitions Theory is still an amazing thing and totally applicable to personal life and anywhere people gather together in community. Ostensibly I was taking this continuing education for my work in a parish, but as I always do whenever I read or learn something, I was also constantly updating my own assumptions for my own life, and applying absolutely everything I was learning to the characters I was writing.
I sometimes think that the main point of me getting advanced degrees is being able to write characters and plots better. And you know, that might actually be true.
Having said that, I recommend it for anyone who has to deal with change in their lives. So, you know, that might be you. Bridges’ main point (fleshed out in gorgeous and useful detail) is that the mechanical changes we make in our lives and our organizations aren’t as simple as we sometimes want to imagine they are. Change is only one side of the coin, and on the other side is transition, which Bridges defines as the emotional component to the mechanical change. And if we expect change to be a simple thing and ignore the existence of the emotional transition, our change is going to be at best very rocky with only mixed results, and at worse, a tragic failure.
An example. You’re moving house from New York to San Francisco. It’s a great change for you and you’re super excited about it. This is the mechanical change. The emotional component, the transition, is having to say goodbye to New York, to all the habits and comforts, to your friends and your colleagues, and helping your family to do the same, then going through the utter chaos of moving, packing and unpacking, living in a different timezone, not knowing the best place for coffee, or dry cleaning, or thai food. And then there are all of the new beginnings – finding new doctors and specialists, settling into your new home, finding a yoga class you like, your spouse finding a new job, your children making new friends, everyone finding new routines and habits that make life easy, finding new joys and new possibilities without being stuck in the grief of leaving New York.
Change. And transition.
And Bridges tells you how to do it well.