Feeling icky? It could be the neutral zone blues

The Author

E. Alana James

E. Alana James

Dr E Alana James is reinventing herself again! Coming full circle to the first love of her life - art - and bringing back to her images all the lessons of her life as author, researcher, academic and wife. Concerned mostly with the idea of images as vehicles for expression of the truth of our inner and outer life experience.

Several authors have written on the transition process, but the one I like the best is William Bridges (2004 ), Transitions: how to make sense of life’s changes. His book points out that there are three stages to the transition process: first, we have to die to what was and morn its death; second, we have to go through the neutral zone (more about this later); and third, we move into our new life.

I highly recommend his book for anyone who is feeling blue or overwhelmed because they are trying to make changes in their lives. I found it first at a book sale during the conference. Have you ever had the experience where the book just seemed to leap out at you? That’s the way it was for me with this one and I have never regretted reading it, I come back to his ideas regularly.

It’s the neutral zone that is the idea I find most provocative and also comforting. Basically, this is when we feel awful, as though we were swimming in mud. Nothing during this stage seems to light our enthusiasm and it feels wonderful to know that this is just a normal part of the process.

Of course I continue by overlaying the action research steps of discovery, measurable action, and reflection over each portion of Bridges model. The merging of these steps form the basis for my blog this week.

Travel is always a rich time for reflection and discovery, and my trip to the United States for a wedding offered many chances for discussing my plans with others and receiving feedback. Here are the new ideas I am musing over:
for the past five years ideas conferences as a way to enrich my life through travel, and enrich my academic standing. However academic standing will mean less and less as I move forward and conferences are in and of themselves sort of boring.  As I move into web-based business I need to reevaluate those choices. That said, having more or less decided I was no longer going to attend ECER, I had such a good time there, but I committed to coming back next year to Berlin (laughter). This just goes to show that some habits are hard to break.

Still it makes sense to investigate new kinds of conferences, or other alternative learning situations, that demands travel. I do enjoy and want to continue the mix of travel with learning.

In discussing my business plans with other family members I discovered that they have advanced their standing in their industry through offering deals to those who already have a client base. I have heard of this with Internet marketing in affiliate programs. The suggestion was to consider offering some sort of deal to other professors students, perhaps access to videos as example, in order to both drive traffic to the site and encourage alternative sales. One question becomes how to contact professors on individual basis without going through the Universities, who might construe this as inappropriate business behavior?

Measurable Action
I  continue reading books, watching videos, taking notes, and letting my subconscious mind wrap itself around the new reality of web business. The measurable component of this is that I grow in confidence and maturity in my elevator pitch, or my explanation to others about what is I am doing.

I am moving towards article marketing, and have set up a spreadsheet to define how much writing goes on each week across six categories: my RL blog, my RL business blog, a chapter in the book, doctoral net articles, writings for the futures project, or e-mail responders.  I have purchased some software to help deseminate the articles and I have begun to use it, although no articles have been sent yet.

I also set up 30 days of a twitter campaign of three tweets a day for 30 days.  I will discuss the outcomes and analytics next week.

Using Bridges model as a stepping off point for my reflections, it feels as though I am moving out of the neutral zone at least at some level. There’s still some fog in my brain, but action seems more focused.

A while back I wrote on how much I like Mastery: The keys to Long-Term Success and Fulfillment by George Leonard. He paints a compelling picture of a master as someone who is stuck to something for a very long period of time. I’m contrasting in my mind today with entrepreneurship and its requirements for flexibility.  And I see several things in common between the two sets of ideas. Both require the ability to grow and continue refining our practice, a strong vision, and endurance. One requires staying in one place and doing something consistently, the other requires nimble feet as you dance through different realities as they present themselves. Are they really so different? Or am I just deluding myself because I don’t want to think that I am moving away from mastery just because I am reinventing my life yet again.

With all growth there comes discomfort. An ongoing test of strength is in facing the question yet again, “what do I want to do next in my life? How will I make it work?”