New Beginnings (or: another way to describe “change”)

While my lead article this month chronicles my feelings toward changing my feelings concerning loss, and things that end, this one addresses things that start.

“New beginnings” sounds like a positive marketing spin on starting over or trying again. It’s upbeat phraseology to help me get over a loss or failure. Sometimes new beginnings are formulated and executed by me, and sometimes they are thrust upon me.

This month, for example, I’ve started two new executive groups in Corporate CoDriver Coaching. Doing this was my choice, so it produced very positive feelings.

I’m also starting a new phase of life without two people who were quite close to me. Not my choice. (Funerals are too-common rites of passage for septuagenarians.)

William Bridges, in his book The Way of Transition, wrote, “We resist transition not because we can’t accept the change, but because we can’t accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up when and because the situation has changed.”

There’s that “letting go” idea again. Can I truly experience a “new beginning” if I haven’t let go of the “old ending”?

I’m cycling out of actually sitting in rally cars—to either drive or co-drive—and returning to my organizer roots, volunteering as staff for new rallies just now getting launched. My choice.

Bridges posits that there are three distinct phases of a transition (or getting to the “new beginning” part):

  1. The End or Saying Goodbye [which is, again, sometimes voluntary, sometimes inescapable]
  2. The Neutral Zone [which I’ve also heard described as “chaos”]
  3. The New Beginning

Every transition conduit to a new beginning, according to Bridges, passes through these checkpoints.

“Maybe I’ll just resign my job and start a new career.” If all goes well, the time between stage A and stage C could be very short—days, maybe. Or maybe the neutral zone drags on longer than expected and I can’t wait for a new beginning. I’ve exited jobs in my life where I never looked back—where stage A was virtually instantaneous. Lots of things we seek new beginnings for can end gracefully and quickly and painlessly. For some reason, many can’t. My observation is that our Knower/Judger expectations of things like relationships, careers, neighborhoods, friends, etc. leave us hurt when stage A hits us. And even though not by choice we’re booked onto the transition train and have to ride it out.

But sometimes we get to launch new beginnings just because we want to—our choice. New hobby. New sport. New car. New house. New relationship. New music. New stuff that makes us happy. It may happen that in order to engage this newness, I might have to give up some resource-consuming activity. Meeting dates may collide. Money may not spread that thin. Bingo! There you are on the transition train again, but this time it’s your decision.

My life is joyfully full of new beginnings right now. Growing into the role of “Pop” (my grandfather name). Phasing out of competition and into managing rally events. Learning to effectively use my Weber Grill (with education from the Weber’s Restaurant here in St. Louis). And finding new places to travel and new adventures in places I’ve never seen… all made possible by beginning to say goodbye to fully pursuing my businesses.

I’m certainly on that transition train. But am I ever really off it? Have I ever really been off it? Are any of us?

I think I’ve been on it for about 50 years. Change is inevitable. New beginnings are going to happen whether I organize them or they find me. I’ve been known to resist them, thus extending a troublesome “neutral zone.” And I’ve learned that I can shorten the trek to new beginnings, not because I’ve been artificially enthused by the marketing buzz phrase but as a fact of my life, and one I look forward to dealing with.

Where and when is your next new beginning? How will you face it? And how will you feel about it?

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