Raise your hand if you've ever noticed timeline patterns appearing in your life? Patterns of big change that start appearing after similar intervals of time.
That time when you left college and got a job...and then 18 months later, took up running and devoted yourself to monthly marathons and becoming a pantheon of health and fitness. And then 18 months later, took a sabbatical from said job to travel halfway across the world for three months. And then 18 months later, after coming back to said corporate life, picked up and moved to Montana and started a business. And then 18 months, switched focus of said business to another business that took off. And then 18 months later...well that's this month, so we're not quite sure how this one is going to go.
Point is, my cycles of great life change and shift are 18 months.
But no matter how LONG your cycles are, they often follow a similar pattern of being.
For example, leaving my college home in DC and moving to NYC and taking a miserable job was a big low point in my very first memorable Year of Unrest. I had just graduated from a big name college, knew I was capable of more, yet hated said job. I felt stuck and alone and knew I needed to make a BIG life change.
What followed were five years of failing, falling, getting back up, trying again, only to fall again.
Fast forward to 2012: I left NYC to get to Bozeman for "just a summer" and felt that familiar restlessness...so I started a business. And the cycle began all over again.
Below are the different steps in the cycle with some explanations around each year. I challenge you to:
a. Think about how long your periods of growth are (mine are anywhere from 6 months to 18 months, but usually hover just around 10 - 12 months).
b. Try to decipher which "year" you're currently in (I think I'm in a Year of Mastery, which is AWESOME but also disheartening because it means that soon I'm going to have to go through that restless phase again and that scares me!).
(Shout out to Molly Mahar, a client and dear friend who brought my attention to these different cyclical steps).
Year of Unrest
You're on the verge of knowing you need to make a change but you're not quite at your breaking point yet. You often feel stressed, anxious, and know that you want WAY MORE for your life than what you currently have (which is awesome. More please!).
Year of Tearing Down
Sometimes known as the "Come to Jesus" moment, you've decided that you can no longer continue doing what you're doing and expect different results. You know that you need to make a change, so you start, but it's uncertain, tentative, scary, and you're putting a lot of energy into questioning yourself, your decisions, and your actions (sidenote: this is by FAR the worst year in my opinion, so if you're here, keep going. Even if it's just to count down the months since you entered the Year of Tearing Down).
Year of Rebuilding
Lots of learning happens in this phase, as you've gotten over your initial self-doubt and uncertainty. You start being able to streamline decision making, and perhaps things start feeling more hopeful and vast than it did just a few short months ago. It's still not an easy year, but you alternate between feelings of panic and feelings of "this might actually be okay" (hint: it will be okay, sis).
Year of Growth
You may not have all the answers but things are coming easily for you and you can hardly remember how difficult it all was just a few short years ago. You're still a little unsure of the long term vision of the path you're going down, but things feel a lot more effortless, and you're getting more used to the routine of your new life.
Year of Mastery
By far the biggest reward year, this is when you feel like you've got a handle on this thing they call life. You feel successful, proud, blissful. Maybe your business is operating like a greased wheel, or you can finally take a regular vacation. This is a great year, however it can be fraught with a little unrest, since when everything is going well, our natural tendency as humans is to wish for perfection (hint: this is why the Year of Unrest often comes after a Year of Mastery, because otherwise, we wouldn't have any growth).