Getting to the New Normal

When you are experiencing change, there is a place on the journey that William Bridges calls the Neutral Zone.  It’s the time and space somewhere between what you once knew and the new normal.  It’s a period of time that could last days or years, depending on the situation and your ability to get to the new normal.  An experienced coach I spoke to recently called it the hallway of hell – perhaps a more appropriate label for what can be a very difficult place, after leaving through one door and the next still to open.

In my journey to establish the OnNUp Coaching business, the early months felt like I was waiting for the next phase to fully evolve.  It didn’t often felt like a hallway of hell – maybe a little when the bank decided it wanted to close my company accounts because, it turns out, they had mislaid my documents.   The routines of my corporate job had gone away and I needed to find my new routines to allow me to function as productively as possible.

The Neutral zone is something that most of us will experience in some form or other – a LinkedIn post from Barbara Corcoran (of Shark Tank fame) advises that we should expect to be lonely when trying to reinvent ourselves – based on her experience after selling her Real Estate business.

In the same way that I do with my clients, I used my understanding of this experience to help myself simplify my transition.

  • Specifically
    • I looked at where I have managed changes before and been successful, and recalled how I managed the disruptive change that resulted in my new career 6 years ago – being positive, seeing possibilities and understanding my strengths.
    • Consciously trying to say goodbye to the past and to old routines – one action was to create a playlist of songs about endings and closure.  I used it to remind me that I needed to let some things go.
    • I wrote down a set of life goals that became my guide.  Even now, they are my reference when I look at how I am spending my time, but they were especially important when I didn’t have a ‘normal’ to fall back on.
    • Aware that I was easily distracted when unsure what your new day/week should look like, I created a weekly schedule with 2 or 3 must dos each day to create the sense of moving forward.  These activities moved me towards my bigger life goals, and I continue to use this approach to manage my time effectively.

Many of the people I have worked with have been able to navigate their changes more quickly because I have helped them realize what wasn’t changing in their lives – their skills, their friendships, and their families still remain even if a job goes away.

This ‘in between’ period can also be a period of great creativity.  Clients tell me that they are more open to new ideas, and to considering new opportunities.

So in my journey I am into the new normal.  I am able to describe clearly what I do, and I have established some new, effective routines.

I am the owner of On N Up Coaching, and I specialize in coaching people in transition, helping them find the path forward from the old to the new.  If you have an interest in moving through your changes more quickly and more happily, let’s talk. 

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