This last month was hard for me. It was a season of confusion and discouragement, to say the least. I had some questions for God about my usefulness and direction, and then some heavy family stuff came right in and mixed up with it. I was literally not able to string words together into clear thoughts about the pursuits that had been “my whole world” up to this point! Maybe you can relate.
As it turns out, this is a normal part of transition. We all go through seasons of accomplishing and being creative and getting things done as well as seasons of struggle, reflection, and uncertainty. It is my hope that in reading about this today you can understand transitions and cycles even better and also help the people around you recognize them too.
First I want to clarify that transitions come in all sizes and colors. Job promotions and unemployment, buying a bigger house or downsizing, sending a kid off to the next school or welcoming a new baby (or foster child!), gaining a few extra pounds or finally starting at a new gym, creating a new hobby or giving up the extra serve role at church. In addition to some changes being stereotypically positive or negative, some changes are voluntary and some are involuntary. I chose not to take the side gig of teaching a class, but it was not my choice to have our rent go up. Whether you chose it or not (or had a say at least) impacts your transition process. I know for me as a (recovering) control freak, changes that make me feel helpless to add a special layer of yuck for me.
Collins has an awesome chart of Hudson’s Four Phases of Change in the transitions chapter of Christian Coaching. This is an adaptation of that chart:
Phase 1—The Go For It Phase: Dreaming, Planning, Plateauing
This is a period of success and stability, creativity and energy. This is when people feel invigorated and launch projects. This season ends when they lose their momentum or hit a plateau.
Phase 2—The Doldrums Phase: Being Out of Sync
In this period, people get stuck, bored, disappointed, without purpose. Often they can feel trapped and sense a decline, but they may be resisting change. The phase ends when people either reevaluate their dreams and return to Phase 1 with new enthusiasm and commitment, or have a necessary ending and move on.
Phase 3—The Cocooning Phase: Finding New Passion and Purpose
This is a time of withdrawal for reflection, strategic planning, and life evaluation. People feel sad, lonely, angry, grieving, disillusioned, sometimes betrayed. They come to terms with their identity, freed from the roles that dominated or defined them. This is a time-out, psychologically speaking, to do soul searching. A resilient-self rises out of this time, with core values identified and inner peace in place…challenged by new purpose and passion. The phase ends when people set new directions of hobbies, jobs, more spiritual, take courses, etc. Often there is a shift from doing to being.
Phase 4—The Getting Ready Phase: Starting a New Chapter
People feel hopeful, trusting, creative, a “lightness of being,” excitement. Reengaging involves creating new ideas, experimenting, networking with new types of people, and prioritizing by setting new goals and values. The phase ends as soon as people return to the Go For It phase. Often they feel fulfilled, confident, self-motivated, focused, and unstoppable.
Reading this transition information again when we came to this point of our Life Coach Certification Program was an “aha moment!” Yes, I have been in the cocoon stage. And the grief and trauma I was experiencing at the same time was almost too much to bear (Jesus sustains me!) I took the time to be sad – I journaled and cried and recording messages to my friends in the Voxer app. I ate too much cookie dough and questioned my existence. I cried out to God and surrendered every single thing I cared about to HIM who knows better than I do. I was willing to give it all up and look under every rock for my purpose and identity. It was a challenging time, but completely normal. And now, I am in the Getting Ready phase… and writing this! And making plans for a coffee date with a new friend about a new partnership.
How about you? What phase are you in right now? How can you get comfortable and let this play out naturally? Tell me how you are using this and be sure to share it with others you meet with. Here’s to the only thing we know to stay the same—life is always changing.