What is a Transition?

Over the years, I had heard a lot about change and as the quotes “there is nothing permanent except change” ~ Heraclitus of Ephesus indicates having undergone many changes myself. However, I hadn’t really heard about transitions or been aware of transitions (even though I had undergone many) until a few years back and started investigating further.


What is a Transition?

According to William Bridges in his book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, transitions are psychological and have a 3 phase process (see below), whereas change is situational. In his books Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes and Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, he talks about the process of transition having three phases –

  1. an ending (letting go of a situation);
  2. a neutral zone (the confusing or distressing area of in-betweenness)
  3. a new beginning (launching in to a new situation).


What are Some Examples of Transitions?

There are many transitions in life and some of them can be bigger transitions than others. However, it also depends on how we look at them. For example – leaving a job can be more challenging than driving home each day from work (which is also a transition), however even this example can depend on a variety of variables.

Following are some examples of what could be perceived as bigger transitions that occur in life, however please remember many activities in life can be a transition –

  • leaving a job,
  • getting retrenched,
  • starting a new course,
  • being separated or divorced,
  • getting married,
  • a child leaving school (or if you are a student – leaving school),
  • leaving university,
  • starting a new job or position,
  • having a child,
  • retiring from your job,
  • getting a promotion at work,
  • going to university,
  • living on your own for the first time, and
  • retiring from a sport.


Reflection Questions –

What are the Transitions You have Experienced in your Life?

  1. Think back on all of the transitions you have had in your life.
  2. What type of transitions have you experienced? Have you experienced changes in your relationships (family, friends and others), your body, interests, sports, hobbies, places (i.e. that you have lived and even visited), jobs, finances and responsibilities.


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