Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes

ISBN: 073820904X
ISBN 13: 9780738209043
By: William Bridges

Check Price Now


Business Career Currently Reading Non Fiction Nonfiction Personal Development Psychology Self Help Self Improvement To Read

About this book

Whether it is chosen or thrust upon you, change brings both opportunities and turmoil. Since first published 25 years ago, Transitions has helped hundreds of thousands of readers cope with these issues by providing an elegantly simple yet profoundly insightful roadmap of the transition process. With the understanding born of both personal and professional experience, William Bridges takes readers step by step through the three stages of any transition: The Ending, The Neutral Zone, and, in time, The New Beginning. Bridges explains how each stage can be understood and embraced, leading to meaningful and productive movement into a hopeful future. With a new introduction highlighting how the advice in the book continues to apply and is perhaps even more relevant today, and a new chapter devoted to change in the workplace, Transitions will remain the essential guide for coping with the one constant in life: change.

Reader's Thoughts


As a man blindly careering toward a midlife crisis, I was interested to read a book that sought to explain how people transition from one life phase to another.I was particularly intrigued to learn how to do so in a healthy and reasonably normal way (not that I ever aspire to normality, but as I'm talking about territory that is personally uncharted, I'm happy to hold hands with someone who knows the best way through).I wasn't disappointed.At least not initially.Bridges (an apt name) talks about a "transition" being different from a "change".A change, in his definition, is about behaviours: doing things differently. A transition is about a deeper thing, a state of being, it's about being someone else.Changes can lead to transition and transition can lead to changes, but they're not quite the same thing.The transition phase is then made up of three stages: ending, the neutral zone, and lastly a new beginning. This is the crux of the whole book: you have to end the previous phase, go through the emptiness and confusion of the neutral zone before emerging ready for the new beginning.At first I was glued to it. The opening chapters, explaining the above process, were real learning experiences for me that I eagerly devoured, but as the book wore on, it became a bit circular and repetitive, the illustrative stories feeling a little simplistic and the points rather laboured.I would have preferred a longer book with more depth (referencing other sources) that would have felt a lot more substantial. It whets the appetite rather than giving you a satisfying feed, so that even after reading what is a readable and interesting book, I didn't feel I had a deep-enough understanding of its central thesis.


This book can provide a lifeline to any individual encountering a significant life change, positive or negative. I recommend it to people undergoing voluntary or involuntary career changes, but it’s just as valuable for first-time parents or people considering retirement. It can serve as a tremendous foundation for working with change efforts within organizations, but first you have to experience it on a personal, individual level. Bridges describes how an external change is part of a larger, mostly hidden underlying process he refers to as “transition.” Transition is composed of three stages: endings, the neutral zone, and new beginnings. It is the neutral zone, that combination of terror and exhilaration, exhaustion and energy, in which we confront our deepest fears, and experience our greatest growth. In addition to describing each phase, Bridges offers suggestions for experiencing the lessons of each phase most fully. One of the books I recommend the most to others.

Bill Donhiser

I pick up this book as part of the required reading I was to complete during a management class. I ran short of time and did not tackle it when I should have. It is well written and has some good points but I rely did not gain much from the reading. Hope it is more helpful for you

Mona Akmal

Excellent read, especially if you're going through a career change, life stage change or breakup

Jennifer Miller

This book is an incredible support for anyone going through a major life change -- whether viewed as negative or positive (and typically it's some of both). Transitions can be a major stress on an individual which impacts the entire family. This helps an individual understand the process of transition and provides ways of dealing with it that alleviate same of the strain and ease the change process. We gave a copy of this to an entire teaching staff at a school that was being closed because of a lack of funding and they appreciated it.


Pretty good book so far...


I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it's very sexist and outdated regarding gender roles, to a laughable extent, at times. On the other hand, I found certain passages very moving, articulate and insightful. Sift through the 1950s caveman mentality and keep the gems. I got some good ones from the chapters about work life transitions and endings, neutral zone, beginnings. The difference between 'change' and 'transition' was eloquently defined.


Excellent and helpful read. My friend Sue gave me a copy as I began my current job search, and I have found it helpful and reassuring.Highly recommended!

Emily Green

I do not usually read books that might fall under the category if self-help. I will read fiction and poetry and reflect on how it relates to my life, but I do not turn to non-fiction for help. However, I am very appreciative that a friend lent me Transitions in order to help me through my big move to Princeton. Transitions reflects on the three stages of big life changes and offers advice to help the reader with these changes. Bridges identifies the three stages as ending, neutral zone, and beginning. He discusses the three periods in terms of the emotional experience and compares today's lives with the old rites of passage. By putting transitions into a different context and providing example from a discussion group Bridges hosted, he is able to provide not just advice, but also a bit of objectivity. The result for the reader is not easy answers, because there are no easy answers during periods of great upheaval. Instead, Bridges provides the more important elements of comfort and hope.


This book was written so long ago -25 years- that it has a self explanatory title, I like it! I am not much of a self help book reader, but a dear friend took the time to buy and mail this book to me, how could I not read it? It is insightful and I think I will go back and reread it and journal about it. I highly recommend it. we are all going through transitions, sometimes we treat them as change (outside actions and reactions) but until we recognize and understand the internal transitions even change we choose does not satisfy or relieve.


Transitions are inevitable...and often unsettling, frightening, or confusing--even when the transition is overall a positive one. I retired a few months ago, and someone helping me transition from busy teacher to retiree suggested that this book might be helpful. It was. I had looked forward to many good things with retirement, but to my surprise despite my anticipation, not everything was rosy. Through Bridges' book I realized that I was not nuts; many others struggled with the same loss that I was going through. Transitions may be the obvious one like loss of a loved one, losing a job, moving away from a home and friends. They also include job promotions, birth of a baby, losing weight and more. This book discusses the stages of endings, the neutral zone, and finally the new beginning. This is a helpful road map for successfully navigating change and moving into successful new activities. If you are someone you care about is going through change, tell them about Transitions--Making Sense of Life's Changes.

Doug Dale

I picked this book up because they referenced in (and the author's model for transitions) in an orientation class for parents at my son's university. They gave some very good advice about the transition of sending your child to college, so I thought the book might be helpful. While I think the basic model for transitions is good, the book seemed to take some of the ideas to extremes and I didn't find it as helpful as I had hoped.


Worth reading if you are going through any of life's transitions. A reference and mentor recommended it to me as I was encountering "a time in between" with my career. It kept the focus on the long-term and was very enriching and uplifting.


I found this book tremendously helpful as I moved away from a long career in corporate. I actually bought this book after a manager workshop many years ago, but never read it. Recently it literally dropped at my feet while I was searching the attic for something else. I picked it up and could not put it down. It spoke to me about this stage of my life and career. Bridges' view of transition is that it begins with an "ending" and ends with a "beginning". The emotions that one experiences while in this state are dramatic and not to be ignored. In fact, they're to be explored and even celebrated. Amazing how the author presents these important events and how easily one can personalize it all and have it give meaning to your own life.

Johnny Stork

I have likely read well over a thousand books to date, maybe more. I have read hundreds in the categories of spirituality, comparative religion, mythology, psychology, self-development and Buddhism. Many of the hundreds stand out for various reasons. I now have a new one that I can HIGHLY recommend to everyone from young to old, satisfied or unsatisfied with their life. I can also HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone facing the stress, the uncertainty, the fear associate with transitions in their life. Moving away from your family home for the first time, changing jobs/careers, ending a relationship, facing retirement - life is filled with transitions and most of us fall into a predictable pattern of dealing with these transitions - not all of which are healthy or productive. I can’t recall the last time I read a book which had so many directly applicable insights into my own life – RIGHT NOW!I am not just impressed by this book I am BLOWN AWAY! I can’t imagine anyone NOT getting something meaningful, directly applicable, personal and illuminating, out of this exceptional book.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *