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Three Steps Of Managing Change: How To Create Positive Endings & Powerful Beginnings



The recent changes in the UK monarchy have made me think about beginnings and endings; particularly the importance of ending well.


It brings to mind William Bridges ‘Managing Transitions’ model (as shown below) which has long been used by organisations to help them manage changes and transitions. It provides a great visualisation of the struggle for change over time and how it can impact performance, but also wellbeing.



Of course it isn’t the only change model out there. The Kübler-Ross Change Curve provides an overview of the pathway our thoughts, emotions and actions may take when faced with change (especially loss or grief), and Jeff Hiatt’s ADKAR change management model sets goals around Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability & Reinforcement.


But I like Bridge’s model because of its simplicity and it provided an effective backdrop to some training I delivered to a school earlier in the year. The managing transitions model comprises three distinct phases: Ending, Transition and New Beginnings.




Endings:

Paradoxically, transition starts with an ending. As tempting as it is to jump straight to transition and new beginnings, it is really important to spend some time in the first step of Endings, which really asks us to ‘end well’.


This phase is usually about coming to terms with what you are losing and learning how to manage these losses. It’s about letting go and accepting that some of the things you used to value, love and appreciate are gone forever, and it is time to say goodbye; but it’s also about deciding what you want to keep as you move forward.


For some people, this process comes easily – in their view what existed before wasn’t working, and it needed to change.


There are many others, though, who aren’t all that happy with being propelled through change and this can manifest as denial, anger, frustration, fear, grief, confusion and longing. This denial or refusal to change is often strongly felt, as you may be required to ‘lose’ or let go of your old values and beliefs, your view of reality & your attitude, or your hopes, fears, and dreams; all of which form part of your identity and self-image.


Recognising this for yourself and for others can be a really helpful step in ending well, and getting ready for the future.


My advice - don’t underestimate the value of spending some time working on this step.


Here are some questions/activities to help your current changes ‘end well’:


  • What is changing?

  • What will actually be different because of the change?

  • What might you lose?

  • How do you feel about the change and what questions do you have?

  • What thoughts do you keep returning to?

  • What can you learn from your life before the change that you could take with you into transition and new beginnings?

  • What achievements are you proud of / happy memories will you cherish?




Transition:

You may have accepted the loss and now be in the Transition zone, where you’re often feeling impatient to get back to ‘normal’ or create a ‘new normal’.


As part of this journey you may also note yourself feeling sceptical about recent changes and plans, or worrying about what the future might look and how you will fit in this new world.


At the same time, you may experience a rise in creativity and find yourself accepting that the past is in the past and you are now free to create a new future. This dichotomy of thoughts and feelings may lead to internal conflict where you feel worried and impatient, even as you start to think creatively about, and plan for, the future.


I believe that taking time to pause and reflect on the new possibilities is helpful here, so spend some time re-aligning your thoughts & feelings and re-assessing your values. Think of it as a path forward to the next phase of your life.


Here are some questions/activities to help you ‘transition’:

  • What do you feel anxious about?

  • Are you falling into any common thought traps that keep you going round in circles? (Download my guide to identifying negative thought traps here)

  • What have you learned about yourself because of this change?

  • What are your core personal values and beliefs? (Download my guide to finding your values here)

  • Who are you now? What does your 'current me' look like, feel like, think about, dream about, wish for?

  • What would you like to stop doing, continue doing or start doing as you begin to think about moving towards new beginnings?



New Beginnings:


This phase is all about moving forward into your ‘new normal’. At the point where you feel as though you’ve taken that first step into your future you are likely to experience a mixture of emotions.


You may feel anxious about what moving forward might mean, hope that the changes will bring stability and positivity, enthusiasm for the positive changes you have experienced or look forward to and a burst of energy, because this new start brings excitement and optimism.


It involves new understanding, new values and new attitudes which come together to create a fresh identity and new meaning and outlook on life. Embrace this new sense of possibility and purpose.


Here are some questions/activities to help your ‘new beginning’:

  • Thinking about your core values, how could you prioritise them in your daily and weekly activities?

  • What does your 'future me' look like, feel like, think about and do?

  • Thinking about your stop, continue and start list what small positive habits or actions could you make part of your daily routine?

  • Thinking about your core values and current me vs future me, what 3 goals could you set yourself?

  • Write down 10 steps you need to take to achieve each goal and start one of them now.

  • Use my 'Free Your Thoughts' E-book to help you identify negative thought traps and improve your self-awareness, which will help reduce anxiety.

A final thought about change:


Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

- Lao Tzu



 

Author: Tamara Judge

Bio: Tamara is a positive psychology consultant, coach and the founder of Keystone Coaching. She is an accredited coach at Senior Practitioner Level with the EMCC, holds an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology & Coaching Psychology from the University of East London and is a qualified Mindfulness & Meditation Teacher.


She uses her expert knowledge in multidimensional positive psychology and education, to help educational and business organisations; improve wellbeing and reduce burnout; create a more positive culture; develop inspirational leaders & stronger teams; and improve engagement & performance. Tamara is passionate about raising the profile of wellbeing and empowering individuals & leaders to actively engage in & value opportunities for self-care.

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