It happens to just about everyone. We start a new chapter in life–whether it is a new job, buying a house, or starting a new hobby–and we are filled with a sense of drive and purpose. As time moves on though, it seems that our motivation does the same. What was exciting and shiny now just appears pedestrian and commonplace. Even if we reach a goal, it fails to hold our attention as it did at the beginning of the journey. Sometimes it can be so discouraging we wonder why we even bother at all. If you reach that point and feel a bit lost, the good news is there is a road map to help you find your direction and fire on all cylinders again.
In 1999, Frederic Hudson of The Hudson Institute, created a model to help us understand and benefit from the different phases in adult life. He called this model the Cycle of Renewal, and it holds just as much truth today as it did in 1999. Understanding the different phases can be very helpful, especially when we hit the time often called the mid-life crisis. Understanding what is happening during this period (or any period of change) can help us make beneficial choices during such transitions. If we try to navigate blindly, we could very easily make choices with long-term detrimental effects.
Phase One–Go For It: This is the positive period when we enter a new phase in life. Most of us experience this when we start a new job, or perhaps get a promotion, or start a new relationship. Possibility seems to surround us and we are filled with motivation and drive. It is very easy to stay on track, focusing on concrete goals and not-so-concrete dreams we would like to achieve. We can enter this phase at any time. It may not have anything to do with career. Any new opportunity or challenge can usher in a period of growth and excitement where we stay motivated until we reach the next phase.
Phase Two–The Doldrums: The doldrums consist of the time when we begin to question our choices. The new job isn’t so exciting anymore, or the decision to get back in shape seems more like a weight around our neck than a shining beacon of health. In many cases, we even regret decisions we made, but we hang on to them anyway. It leaves us with a feeling of boredom or desperation. When our achievements no longer fulfill us, we begin to search out ways to reinvigorate our days. It is not uncommon to experience job burnout during this period–the feeling that you will scream if you have to spend one more day at that office and deal with those people, doing the same thing day in and day out.
In this phase, many people try to make changes by creating a mini-transition. They hang on to what was best about Phase One–keeping the main themes of life intact–but look for ways to make significant changes. It can be as dramatic as changing careers or as simple as taking classes to improve their skill sets. Sometimes starting a new hobby can reignite the joy that now seems to be missing. A mini-transition can be a great thing, if it is well constructed. It can also be a very bad thing if it is ill-conceived.
The danger during The Doldrums lies in making changes that are not well-explored or thought out. For example, this is a time when many people have an affair, or even divorce because they are simply looking for more excitement. They don’t recognize the best parts of Phase One, and end up making very harmful long-term choices.
Phase Three–Cocooning: During this phase, we take time to reflect and discover new areas of interest and possibility. This can lead to a sense of renewal and revitalization. It is often during a period of cocooning that boomers decide on a way to reinvent themselves. Cocooning can take as long as necessary to explore all the options. Some people take a sabbatical if possible. Others may take Fridays off. Sometimes the only thing necessary is a period of time spent meditating or journaling.
Phase Four–Getting Ready: This is a testing period where we decide if our choices allow us to live in harmony with our values and priorities. We explore all the possible outcomes of our choices, and begin to move our ideas from the theoretical to the concrete realms. With so many options available, it can be a very difficult period. Working with a coach or other trusted advisor keeps the choices focused in reality and the process moving forward.
Once you have worked through the phases, you will be ready to start a new a new chapter in life. Understanding how the cycle works can help you keep the best of what you have already created while allowing you to reach for the best that is yet to be. You will be motivated and excited once more. It is also a good way to insure that you won’t stay in the doldrums for too long.
Need help figuring out your next move? Contact me for a free 30 minute consultation and learn how to get back on track.