“…endings, middles and beginnings…”

Change happens to us,” says William Bridges.  How we react, adjust and engage change is what successful transitions are all about.  Bridges tells us that there are three stages in transitions—Endings, Middles and Beginnings, each with its own emotions and tasks to accomplish.


As work ends, we need to grieve the loss as in a death.  Addressing the emotions of a lost job is critical before moving on.  How we do this is up to us.  Certainly, putting words to feelings with someone we trust is a way to begin.


Middles are difficult, as my colleague Darrell used to say with a theatrical twang, “We ain’t where we want to be, but at least we ain’t where we was.”  Bridges assures us that even in the anxiety and uncertainty,  “seeds of hope are growing.”


Bridges was the first to use “reinventing yourself” which of course is what happens when beginnings emerge.  But as everything (bosses, colleagues, tasks, evaluations, processes, procedures, organizational culture) are new (and unknown), resolve to go slowly, and listen more than you speak.

I cherish poet Marie Ranier Rilke’s message that when meaningful accomplishments from previous work can be folded into new work, we find joy in the full circle.

“There is nothing more joyous than being able to truly make use of oneself again, whether in the service of plans or memories; and what is most beautiful is the moment when plans and memories coincide and produce desired freedom to continue the one, in the other.”


Question yourself–How can your successes from previous work join together with new ideas and plans to form your vision for new work?

Consider reflecting on a previous job change and your emotions during each of Bridge’s three stages. If you’re presently in a work transition, where might you need support in managing the emotions and the tasks you need to accomplish?

Thomas Bachhuber, Ed.D., President of the Board and Executive DirectorThomas Bachhuber, Ed.D.
President of the Board and Executive Director for The Center for Life Transitions. Tom is responsible for overall Center leadership and strategy. His individual coaching/counseling as well as workshops and retreats focus on integrating leading career development ideas with spiritual exploration. Read more.