The Change Cycle Overview

When you look at the model below, it's a circle, and it represents the true cyclical nature of each change we experience. On the outside ring are the six sequential and predictable stages of change. The names of the stages: Loss, Doubt, Discomfort, Discovery, Understanding & Integration, indicate the primary experience of that stage. The inside pie pieces list the thoughts, feelings and behaviors most associated with that stage. The Change Cycle™uses the colors of a traffic light to signal that the stages mirror the actions we often take at traffic lights. We know, when confronted with change, everyone goes from stage to stage in order. The Change Cycle™model is a map that depicts our human experience of each stage of change – all changes, big or small.

The Change Cycle
See Details by Clicking on the Down Arrows

Stage 1: Loss to Safety

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In Stage 1, the primary experience is Loss. This creates feelings of fear, thoughts that are cautious, and behavior that is paralyzed. The brain uses fear as a way of alerting you that you need to look after your most basic needs. The key to moving through Stage 1 is to create a sense of personal security and safety – the ability to discern between the real losses and fears, and the nightmares that are the sabotaging products of your imagination. Ask, “What’s the worst that can happen? Can I live with it?” Answer ‘yes’ and move to Stage 2.

Stage 2: Doubt to Reality

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Here, the primary experience is Doubt. This doubt often creates defensive behavior as a way of maintaining control. This creates feelings of resentment, thoughts that are skeptical and behavior that is resistant. This should be a time of gathering accurate, valid information about the change in order to get as clear a picture of your reality as possible. Unfortunately, people often just get angry, blame others and fight to prove that their way, or the old way is still better. To move through Stage 2, you need to deal with reality, rather than self-serving information.

Stage 3: Discomfort to Motivation

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In Stage 3, Discomfort, you know what’s going on, yet you are stuck while the brain works to organize, categorize and put language on your change experience. This leads to feelings of anxiety, thoughts that are confused, and behavior that is unproductive. It is easy to become overwhelmed. It is difficult to get things done and lethargy often rules. To move through Stage 3 you need to focus on the present and be deliberate about motivating yourself to take the next best action steps.

Stage 4: Discovery to Perspective

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In Stage 4 you experience feelings of anticipation, thoughts that are resourceful and behavior that is energized! Your perception of the change situation has shifted – you have perspective and insight – you see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are now ready and able to create options and make decisions. The challenge of this stage is to make the necessary choices and as important, act on them.

Stage 5: Understanding to Awareness

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Stage 5 is about a deeper level of Understanding. You’ll feel confident and competent, thoughts are pragmatic, and productivity increases significantly. Finally, you’ll be able to apply or implement what you have learned about the change – whether you like it or not. In order to move to Stage 6, you must distinguish between the features of the change, which are generally externally driven and short-term gains, versus the benefits, which are internally driven and the sustaining long-term aspects of the change.

Stage 6: Integration to Flexibility

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In the final stage, Stage 6, Integration, the change no longer seems different or unfamiliar. You will experience a sense of satisfaction, thoughts are more focused and behavior is generous. It is important to avoid becoming complacent or arrogant. Integrating a change will create a wonderful sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction.

Won’t it be a great relief to get to the point where you can move through change situations because you know how you feel, what you want, what to expect from yourself, and what actions to take? By understanding The Change Cycle™, you can learn to better manage your life by managing the changes.