It’s interesting to watch experienced designers and educators like Bill Burnett and Dave Evans grapple with the Life Design process in real time. When the COVID-19 lockdowns first started many of us (myself included), attempted to reframe the situation to emphasize the potential of the moment. “Take up a hobby! Connect with old friends and mentors! Spend more time with family! Isaac Newton discovered Calculus during a quarantine!” Bill and Dave expertly reframed the situation to suggest that there is no better time to design your life!
In reality, even for those of us who are relatively safe and secure in our homes and jobs, the pandemic is taking an emotional toll. In their latest video, Bill and Dave acknowledge these challenges and use the work of William Bridges to argue that we are in a period of transition in which are coming to terms with the end of our old life but still haven’t fully reached our new beginning . Getting to this new beginning isn’t simply about waiting – “just holding your breath” – but by accepting that you are in a new place – what Bridges calls the “Neutral Zone”.
“I’m living in transition – navigating the Neutral Zone. And every choice I make is good enough for now, because that’s the only thing I have agency over.”
Thinking through how to design within this Neutral Zone will be the subject of future videos, but their conception of it as an actual space aligns with my own thinking around the need to empathize with both your current (Neutral Zone) and your pre-COVID life (the life that ended) in order to design your way to new beginnings.