Let me apologise up front if this post firmly lodges the melodic sound of Elton John into your brain for the rest of the day. As moving as the “Circle of Life” was in The Lion King, I have realised there’s a phenomenon far more influential – it’s the Cycle of Life.
This is the best time of the year to see where you are in the cycle. Unlike the many theories about the stages of life, the Faulkner Cycle of Life is inescapable. You don’t really leave one stage for another. Importantly, the Cycle of Life is evident in all of us, regardless of age.
You keep looping through the cycle forever.
As it’s a continuum, and transition from one stage to the other is often barely noticeable until you’re in the thick of it. These stages are:
1. Life satisfaction (for the moment). Generally, things are going well in your life. You feel comfortable and happy with your space. Even the little niggly problems aren’t too challenging during this stage.
2. Surprise set-backs. Normality is questioned when faced with the unexpected. Unlike small challenges, set-backs (financial pressures, relationship troubles, career questions) unhinge our understanding of ourselves. It’s a confusing time often flagged by anxiety, depression or isolation. I know people who have been stuck in this stage for years.
3. Exploration. This stage is about defining a new you. It’s about learning how to move on from the set-backs, and accepting how life will be different as a result of them. Eventually decisions are made, changes are finalised and different behaviours emerge. Once comfortable, it’s easy to slip once again into stage one.
The New Year period is an ideal time to identify where you are in the Cycle of Life.
If you’re in Stage One, you may well be happy with the status-quo and plan on more of the same for the coming year (good luck with that!). It you’re in Stage Two, you may feel it’s pointless setting goals for the new year because you simply need to get through the current confusion you’re feeling. Finally, if you’re in Stage Three you may have a number of goals you want to establish for the coming year because you’re ready to move on. All three stages are completly normal, and none of them are time bound.
For me, this is the first time since 2011 that I have been interested in thinking about some serious personal New Year’s resolutions. For the past few years I just haven’t been able to really face them, and now I realise it was because I have been out exploring. I’ve re-established who I am after hitting some major road blocks, and now I am ready to move forward. It took a long time to get here and I cannot wait for midnight to arrive on the 31st December 2014.
If you’re not setting any resolutions for the New Year, that’s ok. Take some time to identify where you are on the Cycle of Life and check in with yourself that you’re happy to be there. As I’ve mentioned, there’s no time limit on each stage but knowing there is hope to move through each of the stages can sometimes help to overcome inertia if desired. If you’re out with friends and ask about their goals for the year, take notice where they may be on the Cycle of Life…it may help you connect with them a little better.
Above all remember that all three stages in the Cycle of Life are bound by love. Love for self and love for each other is what keeps the cycle moving, even when it feels like one stage will never end. Keep the love there and a new stage will emerge. I guarantee it.
Sending my love to everyone for a great New Year xxxx