Stages of Transitions

Identify where you are now

William Bridges introduced another transition theory. His theory consists of transitional stages and states that adulthood encompasses a lifetime of transitions that generally take place in three stages.

Stage 1: The first stage begins with an ending or loss. An identity is lost, and a new one has not yet been developed. Disenchantment may set in. Before the person in transition can move on, the ending must be confronted and resolved.

Example: This description could apply to AmeriCorps or VISTA members who either have left their placements early or have begun to lose their AmeriCorps focus. During this stage, members may be sad or angry about the loss of affiliation with AmeriCorps. Ensuring that your project is left in good hands will help smooth your transition. Plan enough time to say good-bye and formally mark the end of service to help close this chapter of your life.

Stage 2: The next stage involves severing connections and letting go. You may have feelings of emptiness, a neutral zone that often includes confusion.

Example: Some AmeriCorps or VISTA members may feel confused and unsure about their new direction. People in this stage are "in the middle of a road," on their way to the other side. Take small steps toward the future. For example, if thinking about long-term goals seems too overwhelming, decide what you will do next week. Then do it. Action is the best tonic for the distress of the neutral zone. If, however, you find yourself stuck or immobilized in the neutral zone, ask for help.

Stage 3: In this, the final stage of transition, a new beginning is found. In this stage, you will fare better if you take action and concentrate on your goals. According to Bridges, the transition ends when the action and goal setting are underway, not when everything is "wrapped up." Former AmeriCorps or VISTA members who are actively working on their next steps are at the end of their transition.

Do our self assessment to clarify your place on this transition continuum.

Journal #1: Present Stage of Transitions?

Here is your first What's Next journaling activity. You can keep track of your responses online through a blog or in a paper notebook.

Before you begin, keep in mind the three stages of transition:

Stage 1. An ending or loss
Stage 2. Severing connections and letting go
Stage 3. A new beginning is found

Please respond in your journal to this writing prompt:
What stage best describes where you are right now? Why?

(Be sure to date your entry to you can return to it later to reflect upon your progress!)

Would you like to see a sample of how someone else responded to this journaling activity? You can take a look at what Heather wrote. (pdf)

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