(originally published June 20, 2005)
The Life Cycle:
I love The Life Cycle — often used in business regarding products — because it is a universal principle that applies to so many life issues.
I’m going to illustrate how The Life Cycle affects our happiness and accomplishments in life:
Note: A “crisis” section underneath each phase is written to state the “challenging” aspects of the phase moving forward.
The INTRODUCTION phase is about the newness of the thing. In relationships, that can be first meetings and in work, the first weeks. It’s about discovery and possibilities.
Crisis If one is always looking for the new, then nothing can grow and that deep intimate knowledge can never happen. A lot of superficiality can occur.
The GROWTH phase is about making things “happen”. In relationships, this can mean moving towards getting a place together, vacationing, and blossoming the relationship with “truths” and healing each other’s “pasts”. In work, this can mean being in charge of a project that has a great effect on the work place.
Crisis If people get stuck in the growth stage it will be difficult to make something “worthwhile” happen!
The MATURITY phase is about standardizing and stabilizing. In relationships, this can mean getting married, having babies, getting a house, etc. etc… In work, this can mean setting standards, creating documentations, policies and procedures.
Crisis If you don’t allow innovation and the intro, growth cycle to re-occur — the road leads to decline and that means having to scramble to re-new the situation. Good planning allows for change.
The DECLINE phase is about staleness. The relationship might undergo a divorce, separation, or an affair. In work situations, a lay-off, wanting to quit, or huge dissatisfaction might occur.
Crisis If this stage comes to the surface, it’s hard to dig oneself out of the situation. A lot of people run and cut their losses but it doesn’t have to be that way.
We all have a “place” or two that we love to hover over. For me it’s the “Maturity and then back to Growth stage”. In my case, when it comes to work, this means that I love to put together plans, document processes and procedures, and help stabilize; however, I DO NOT want to be stuck in what I created or be forced by upper management or clients to succumb to my own designs. I want the option of re-visiting, updating, and innovating. Certifications, plans, processes, and programs are just “guides” or “tools” for a smoother ride but it doesn’t make or break anything.
But if I don’t have the option of growth, I usually quickly have a DECLINE crisis and might choose to terminate the relationship.
Some may enjoy the DECLINE stage. For example, people who buy foreclosed homes, or feel want to retire.
Why is any of this important?
Because once you understand which area of the cycle you like to be in, you can either a) advise the people you live and work with or b) do things that allow you to stay in the cycle that’s most comfortable and that can be done in a healthy way.
Finally Revolve the Cycle. This can be achieved by:
- understanding which state you are likely to hover over;
- communicating that to the people that need to know (including yourself);
- doing something that allows you to stay in that state for as long as possible while cycling out to maintain balance.