Book Review: ‘Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes’

One of the most stressful elements of life is the necessity of undergoing transitions. Whether it be a job loss, childbirth, marriage, partner loss, death of a loved one, career change, leaving or entering school, or divorce, transitions can really take their toll on one’s psychological well-being.

In his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, Bridges wants to help the everyday man and woman navigate and handle life’s sudden and unexpected changes and transitions with poise and elegance. For Bridges, there are numerous stages to any intense transitional stage or life change. His goal is to help the reader understand how essential a component of life it is understanding these stages and to know how to deal with them in order to live a maximally productive life.    

For example, it is common for individuals undergoing transitions to experience a sense of disorientation. Disengaging from old ways of living or having to accommodate oneself to new ways of living can leave people dazed and confused. Bridges notes that individuals undergoing transitional stages may also become disenchanted. Perhaps the individual was anticipating a transition into a new stage of life, but it was not all it was cracked up to be. Perhaps the birth of a new child or marriage to a spouse was not nearly as exciting as the individual had anticipated, or perhaps it was more difficult than expected. In other words, the individual may become disenchanted with the new stage in his life.   

Upon transitioning into a new period in one’s life, the individual may likewise undergo a profound identity shift. He may have previously identified like a bachelor and lived as one without any pangs of conscience until a child entered the picture and the newly minted father must come to terms with the fact that he is a “dad” now.  

Written simply, yet in a profoundly engaging manner, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges remains an essential addition to the library of any enthusiast of self-help literature over two decades after its initial publication. Indeed, far from being outdated, it is more relevant than ever in an increasingly fast-paced, confusing and chaotic world, ruled by continual flux and change.