Transition is how people respond to change. Transition is not change and change is not transition. Transition starts with acknowledging an end and grieving its losses, while change means something new is starting and something old is ending.

Even good changes oftentimes result to loss of something. People in transition move from an end to a neutral zone before the new beginning.

This neutral zone, also known as the middle time, is when you work out who you are and who you are not, what to hold on to and what to let go of, what you have to learn and what you have to unlearn to be ready to start something new.

Change is situational; it could be a new job, promotion, new assignment, new business, new policy or any other thing.

Transition is the psychological process that people go through to come to terms with new situation. Change is external, transition is internal. Change can also be a shift in circumstances, when something starts or stops, the outcome of an event, a wave, or disruption of your plans.

Change is external. Transition is the inner process; a psychological process we go through as we come to terms with the new change.

Both transition and change involves three stages, namely;

  • The end stage
  • The neutral stage, and
  • The new beginning stage

The End Stage:

While transition starts with an end, situational changes hinges on new things. Psychological transition depends on letting go of the old reality you had before the change took place.

You must think through who or what you have to let go of when change occurs. In all changes, there are endings and losses. People don’t like endings; but before you can begin a new thing, there must be an end. New beginning depends on an end.

Endings are difficult because some part of us still wants to hold on to what or whom we used to be.

The Neutral stage:

After letting go, there is the neutral stage; or you may call it the middle time. This is when the old way is gone or almost gone and the new doesn’t feel comfortable yet.

The neutral stage is a time of reflection, you can’t rush through it, you must expect it and understand why it’s there. It is a tough time that doesn’t last for too long, it is the best chance for creativity, renewal and development. It is both a dangerous and opportune place, it is the very core of the transition process.

It was Anais Nin that said “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially, we are relative. We are mature in one realm and childish in another. The past, present and future mingle and pull us backward, forward or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

The neutral stage is chaotic, lacking in clear systems, structure and signals about what to do. A lack of clarity within creative opportunity. Creative solutions emerge in the gap between the old and the new.

During the neutral stage:

  • Anxiety rises and motivation falls
  • People in the neutral stage miss more workdays than at other time
  • Old weaknesses, long patched over or compensated for, re-emerge in full flower.
  • Personnel are overloaded, signals are often mixed and systems are in flux and therefore unreliable.

The New Beginning Stage:

There is a difference between a start and a new beginning. Often, change creates a start, yet transition is still underway and people are still in the neutral stage feeling lost, confused and uncertain.

A beginning only takes place after they have come through the wilderness and are ready to make the emotional commitment to do things the new way and see themselves as new people.

A start could be carefully designed, like an object. A beginning should be nurtured, like a plant. A start takes place on a schedule as a result of decisions while a beginning is the final phase of the organic process called transition.

The business world is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. You must learn how to leverage on change by riding on the waves of change.

“When the rate of change outside a business is higher than the rate of change inside the business, the end of that business is near”. ~Jack Welch


Culled from my newly released book- Startupreneur

Are you a startup founder or an employee that has passion for entrepreneurship and you want to know more about how to manage transition, business model, online presence and many more?

You can order for my newly released book titled Startupreneur. It will open your eyes to what you need to know as a business owner. Visit to order.

The print version is available on Amazon.


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