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What You Need To Know About The Change Cycle: Stage 4 (Full Flight)

{In previous posts I provided an overview of the cycle of change and looked at the first stage, the second stage and the third stage. Today we are diving into the FOURTH STAGE of the change cycle.}


After making your way through confusion and loss, dreaming and scheming, trial and error… it happens. Success! The dreams that began in the meltdown of stage one come true and show staying power.

Congratulations! At last, you can ease up and relax.

Wait. Relax? Ease up??

This might be a little disconcerting at first. After all the effort and perseverance it took to reach this point, it can feel uncomfortable to slow down. But that’s exactly what you want to do here. Stage four is the time for you to enjoy your accomplishments.

Step back a little and give your success some space. The idea is to stay in stage four as long as you can. What you want to do here is optimize for what works and drop the things that are more effort than they are worth. If something drains you without contributing to your success, let it go.

This is a time for small adjustments, not big moves. Look at refining and improving what you created. Tweak things to make them more smooth and efficient.

Just watch out that you don’t get too comfortable. After all it took for you to get here, it’s understandable to want (or expect) your life to stay exactly the way it is, forever. But change happens, and you will face transition again.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of stage four:

  • Enjoy this time! You navigated a major transformation. Acknowledge the growth and resilience you developed in the process. Celebrate your success.

  • Make minor adjustments. Find ways to keep making improvements. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  • Balance your success and enjoyment with the understanding that change will come again

  • Martha Beck created a mantra for stage 4: Everything is changing and that’s OK. Say it out loud. Repeat it often.

You never know how long stage four will last before you are knocked back into the change cycle again. Understanding the process of change is the key to coping with the challenges you’ll encounter.

"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change." – John A. Simone, Sr.

Here are few points to keep in mind about the change cycle:

  • You can be in different stages for different areas of your life. For example, your relationship with your partner is solid and harmonious (stage 4) while you are looking for a new job (stage 3) and creating pinterest boards for your dream home (stage 2).

  • The boundary between stages isn’t solid. It’s not like you cross an invisible line and instantly you are through with the previous stage. When you move from one stage to the next, it’s more of a gradual process where the signature characteristics of one stage lessen and blend into the features of the next one.

  • There are patterns within the cycle:

  • Stages 1 and 2 take place in the “ideal world” (meaning: this is your inner work)

  • Stages 3 and 4 take place in the “real world” (you are taking action)

  • Stages 1 and 4 are where you make “small moves” (no big changes)

  • Stages 2 and 3 are where you make “big moves” (go for it!)

  • You can’t rush your way through the change cycle or try to skip stages. While you may desperately want to jump ahead to the comfort of stage four, you won’t truly arrive there without the transformation you achieve through the other stages.

The next time you find your life turned upside down by a fabulous opportunity or an unexpected hit, you’ll know the path that’s ahead of you. It may be a wild ride, but you’ll understand what to expect and you can trust your ability to navigate it each time – all the way to the next full flight of your life.

"Our only security is our ability to change" – John Lilly

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