The Often-Overlooked Opportunities in Change and Transitions.
I've been Cocooning as of late, still working and experiencing two of my adult childrens' weddings (all in the last 12 weeks) but setting tighter boundaries so I could fully feel the joy without distraction. I still feel the chaos and change in and around me but have placed myself in a protective virtual shell by reducing my digital connections, getting enough rest, and keeping my head clear.
Cocooning, defined as being surrounded in a comforting way, has meant I've taken any discretionary time to catch my breath, renew, and reflect. This idea of cocooning is essential to personal transformation in action. And it's part of what we will be experiencing and exploring during the upcoming MEA Mastery Week: The Consciously Curated Life.
I know I am not the same person coming out of 2021. But, to show up as my best self, in thought and deed, to be the human I want to be, I need to make conscious choices about using my time, energy, and resources. And you are no different. A foundational piece of curating your life has to do with a deeply resonant understanding of how you both understand and experience change and transitions.
Ups and Downs and In-betweens
The nature of change is that it feels chaotic and unpredictable, but ironically, there is a predictable pattern to the disruption we experience and to change itself. Change is almost always part of a continuum, or cycle, of more active uptimes (dreams, plans, accomplishments) and less active downtimes (low energy, existential thinking, being stuck).
Another way to envision this cycle is to think of personal growth and change as a two-part journey: an outer journey of external systems, doing/busy-ness, results and evaluation, and an inner journey of feeling, thinking, being renewed. We tend to think of these stages as unrelated, even compartmentalized, and counterproductive. The uptime is typically considered positive, joyful and, if we ‘do’ everything right, it’s where we think we belong.
In contrast, the downtime, the more challenging journey, is viewed more negatively and seen as anxiety-inducing and even unproductive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of our greatest thinkers and artists describe their struggles as fuel for their creativity and growth. How have your downtimes worked to fuel you?
Change is a Predictable Cycle
Understanding how change works can help unlock the fear that gets you stuck and create a strategy that works. Suppose you could step back and look more holistically at change itself? What if you could recognize that the gifts of downtime fuel and energize and clarify plans to fuel the uptime? Understanding the predictable components of the change cycle is the very basis of Frederic Hudson's Cycle of Renewal.
An unforgettable teacher, Frederic taught that change itself has four predictable components. Understand the cycle, and you will better understand yourself and others. I have been using this tool for over 25 years, and I've found that it enables individuals and teams to identify where they are on this cycle and, therefore, determine their next best steps.
Work With Not Against Change
When the change called for presents a clear shift from a year or even a decades-long pattern, it is often called a crisis. The midlife crisis, for example, is frightening because so many of us feel like it's too late to make the changes that will bring us closer to living our truth. It creates tremendous and understandable fear. But, if you know that significant change is what you need, know this: fear is not a strategy. So please put on your oxygen mask first, make the journey to our MEA oasis, experience the power and mystery of nature as you watch whales breach and become better prepared to show up and lead with resilience and empathy during periods of both tumult and opportunity.
In February, I have the honor of again co-leading an MEA Mastery Week with co-founder Jeff Hamaoui, addressing the art and science of Consciously Curating Your Life. An essential aspect of this profound process is to examine your relationship with change to unearth the often-overlooked opportunities within transitions. This week will set the stage for the profound transformation that culminates with you embracing the authorship of your next chapter, quite possibly your best opus yet. I hope you will join us.
Barbara Waxman is a veteran guest faculty member for MEA and is a leading life stage expert, leadership coach, and gerontologist. She is part expert coach, caring truth-teller, strategic thought partner, and an accountability advocate, buoying her approach with compassion, honesty, research-based expertise, and a light heart. Barbara will be co-leading the popular Mastery Week, The Consciously Curated Life, with MEA co-founder Jeff Hamaoui, February 14th - 19th, 2022.