Author of the book The Third Space, Dr Adam Fraser, talks about life's transitions to find balance and happiness.
Author of the book The Third Space, Dr Adam Fraser, talks about life's transitions to find balance and happiness. Contributed

Third Space could change your life

WE all need space from time to time.

Who would have thought that our happiness and balance could lie in a realm called The Third Space.

Most wouldn't even know they had a third space, let alone how to use it to improve their lives.

But Dr Adam Fraser, one of Australia's leading educators and researchers in the area of human performance, has recently released a new book called 'The Third Space'.

The book explores how people effectively transition between the different roles and environments that make up our life.

Dr Fraser dedicated five years to his study, speaking with hundreds of people across many disciplines, from surgeons to palliative care nurses, salespeople to comedians, asking them how they cope with the stress, sadness and not take the circumstances of a day home from work.

Dr Fraser recognised a common thread, which he coined The Third Space.

People who successfully transitioned from one scenario to another, used the transitional space in between to get over the previous scenario and not carry that baggage into the next one.

His research shows that it's not what you do; it's what you do in between what you do that matters.

To test the theory, he conducted a study with Deakin University.

It showed that when 250 small business owners who were lacking work-life balance, practised the principles of The Third Space in between work and home, they saw a remarkable 41% improvement in their behaviour at home.

Dr Fraser said using The Third Space in daily transitions improved productivity and performance, particularly in the workplace.

"It also enables people to develop resilience, allowing them to be motivated and productive following a setback," he said.

The book explores countless case studies that demonstrate The Third Space is critical for happiness and balance.

"It is important to develop a third space for two main reasons; number one so you don't carry the baggage from that previous interaction into the second one.

"I was a consultant in a call centre for a while, where (if) you had a bad call it would follow into the next one.

"How do I shut the first space down, learn from it and don't carry the

baggage with me into the next space?"

Dr Fraser said people rush through that transitional period from environments, where they didn't show up to their next role with clarity of purpose.

"People are in such a rush, they're not self aware, they didn't even know what they wanted to achieve.

In his book he states rates of depression have risen by a factor of ten in the last 50 years.

"...one of the reasons for this bad news is that many people feel their life is out of control as though they are handcuffed to a rollercoaster stuck on repeat," he said.

"For decades we have been talking about, researching and striving for stress management and work-life balance.

"All the while our stress levels are skyrocketing and balance is being ripped out from under us."

Dr Fraser said the first space is whatever we were doing now, the second space is what we were about to go into and the third space was the transitional space in between.

"In our research what we found was that transitional gap, that third space was really, really important for performance.

He said once he started to boil down all his research and what people did differently, there were three patterns during these spaces; reflect, rest and reset.

It was these patterns that helped them move to the third space.

"Reflect is the ability to get over, or explain what has just happened to you in a healthy way; whether that is a presentation that goes badly, or a meeting that goes wrong, it is how we explain that to ourselves.

"What we have found in the reflection phase was to look at what you have achieved and what you do well in that space.

"The rest phase is that ability to pause and come back to the present moment, that ability to calm yourself and get your head focused.

"The third phase was reset. Which is the ability to get clear what is your intention for the next phase and what are the behaviours you want to exhibit."

Dr Fraser said some of these transitions were incredibly fast, where you might just do an element of it.

"You may transition between meetings, and you do those three phases but you have to do them in about 45 seconds.

"For me, because I do a lot of presenting, I always use it before I transition onto stage.

"I always use it between sales meetings, and I use it before I interact with my team as a leader.

"One of the biggest places I use it is between work and home.

"So when I finish work I make sure I finish those three steps before I come into the home environment to make sure I have my head right.

"What we found when people did those three steps, in the transition between work and home, they felt more balanced, they were in a better mood, they felt more in control, and they were more relaxed.

"The reason why we want balance is to have better relationships.

"So if you come home in a better state of mind, that's more important than how much time you spend at home," he said.

Dr Fraser said The Third Space was a great tool for those in Mackay who worked in the mining industry whether they were FIFO or DIDO.

"One of the big thing for miners is the environments they are transitioning from are incredibly different. They go from sharing a room with a bunch of sweaty dudes and then they have to come home and pick up their laundry.

"That is why the transition between FIFO is so important

"It is a fascinating concept, the deeper we dig on it, the more interesting it becomes," he said.

The Third Space is available nationwide for $29.95. Visit thethirdspace.com.au.

 

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