Monday, May 3, 2010

Endings: I HATE Them

In the 1970’s William Bridges wrote a monumental book entitled Transitions, which focused on its three phases – ending, neutral zone, and beginning.  As I read the book, I found myself uncovering many of my own tendencies and struggles with transitions.  Since that time I have wrote and taught on the subject in order to help others deal with their own transitions.  What I find is that I still battle with certain aspects, but knowing my tendencies helps me to navigate the process in a more purposeful way.

Transitions begin with endings.  I hate endings.  I really mean it – I HATE them.  I’m a nostalgic sucker at heart, which is aided by a weird knack at remembering details about events which normal people would gloss over.  I think that’s one of the reasons I like Disney World in a sick way.  As a child we used to go during off peak times, which also meant missing school. I still feel bad about that…yeah, not really.  I remember much of those trips, and guess what?  I hated leaving.  Each year we finish at my business is bitter sweet because I don’t want it to end…most of the time.  Our extended families live in Michigan and each time they head back after a visit with us the house seems oddly quiet and guess what?  I’m not a fan.

Now let’s be clear.  Change and transition are two different things.  I love change – the excitement, the possibilities, the potential, the newness.  Changes are driven to reach a goal.  Transitions, however, start with letting go of what no longer fits or is adequate to your life stage.  When my first girlfriend dumped me she was saying that we no longer fit together.  Guess what?  I hated that too.

Focusing on the past prohibits you from moving forward.  You have to let go of something internal because it is the inner ending which initiates the transition.  The hardest part for me is embracing the ending to move forward.  I don’t like moving on, but also don’t want to be a depressing curmudgeon who continuously spouts, “Well it was better before because…” I fully recognize that in order to truly transition I must be willing to accept the ending and MOVE FORWARD.

Recognize your tendencies and manage them in order to propel yourself forward.  What are you still hanging on to?