Begin with an Ending: Four Stages of Career Transition | Jobs In MD

Begin with an Ending: Four Stages of Career Transition

By: Susan Posluszny

Through the work of William Bridges, author of Transitions, we learn that the transition process begins with an ending. For the unemployed, this is often the loss of their job. Knowing that the transition process has predictable stages can help in dealing with - and moving beyond - this loss.

Four Stages

There are four different aspects of the natural ending experience. They do not occur in any specific order. They are as follows:

1. Disengagement: A separation from the familiar place in the social order (i.e. pilgrimage, divorce, death, job loss, and illness). These, and many lesser events, disengage us from the contexts in which we have known ourselves. They break up the old system that served to reinforce our roles and to pattern our behavior.

2. Dis-identification: Many in transition experience a loss of self-definition and wonder, "Who Am I?"

3. Disenchantment: Involves the discovery that, in some sense, one's world is no longer real. Separated from their old identity, a person floats in a state of limbo. Disenchantments come in many forms: relations that proved unfaithful, leaders who've been unethical and trusted organizations that have betrayed your trust. Moving forward involves recognizing that a shift in perspective is in order. You must realize that your old reality was in your head, not outside of you.

4. Disorientation: The old reality provided a sense of which way was up and which way was down, orienting and allowing us to move forward into the future. When the old reality is gone, a period of confusion and distress takes hold.

These aspects of transition are a natural part of career and life transitions. For many, just knowing that they are not alone in these experiences is comforting.

Endings Help You Move Forward

Endings are a challenge for us all. A current change or transition can trigger old hurts and losses. Endings may involve letting go of outlooks, attitudes, values, hopes, dreams, fears, beliefs, and/or perceptions of self and others. We all have different ways of coping with endings and working through the loss.

For some people, it helps to clear away clutter or clean out a closet. The physical act of removing unneeded or unwanted items sets the stage for letting go of self-limiting perceptions or beliefs. It's also important to remember that endings open the door to new opportunities. You know the saying... when one door closes, another one opens.