New Beginning – Phase 3 of Transitions

Finally (after FAR TOO LONG in the neutral zone!), a new beginning emerges. It can be a “Eureka!” moment, or so slow that you don’t even detect it until it’s underway and you look back and see the pattern. Or it can be somewhere between those two extremes. This process is equally true for groups as well as individuals.

A new beginning is the third and final phase of a transition, which is the emotional adjustment to an external change. The first phase is letting go of the old; the second phase is the “neutral zone” (these are explained in greater detail in prior blogs). One very important point to remember: these 3 phases are NOT through sequential, one pass through and you’re done. They overlap and can iterate. A person can have twinges of letting go even after they have discovered their new beginning, or they can doubt that the new beginning is right for them (neutral zone).

If you have done the difficult work of the neutral zone, a new beginning is just that. It is a new way of being, a new way of doing, a new identity. When I was promoted from programmer/analyst to manager of programmer/analysts, it took me a while to get used to being a manager – to the expectations, the rhythm of the new position. Turns out I really enjoyed managing more than programming. I tried programming again a few years later just to see if I still could. I could, but I no longer enjoyed it.

One hallmark of a new beginning is the way it “just feels right.” Typical comments include, “This was just meant to be,” and “It is so obvious! Why didn’t we see this before?” A new beginning creates new energy and excitement. A new beginning opens up new possibilities, new ways of accomplishing things. It can reflect new values, a new understanding about how the world works. A profound new beginning is a life-changing experience – a person or group does not want to return to the old way ever again!

Sometimes one new beginning is the stepping stone to others, a first step on a pathway of continued growth and contribution, of being more authentic to who you are being called to be.

However, if you have not done the necessary work in the neutral zone, if you have not had the courage and patience to endure the uncertainty and lack of productivity that characterizes the neutral zone, the new beginning might be a dead end, or the old situation with a new face. The neutral zone is the price to be paid for a good new beginning.

What has been your experience with new beginnings?

Gary Langenwalter

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