The Five Phases of Creating Change

Lisa Crilley Mallis, Capacity Coach COC, Impactive Strategies

Creating change can be tough!!! I recently saw this graph in The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P Moran and Michael Lennington.
What I found interesting about this graph is the authors took into account the emotional piece of creating change.

A quick overview of the Emotional Cycle of Change

The premise of psychologist Don Kelley and Daryl Connor (as explained by authors Moran and Lennington and now me!) is that during the first stage of change, Phase I, you are super excited and can only see the benefits. You don’t know what you don’t know, so you are filled with possibilities. Change seems possible and immediate, hence the name Uninformed Optimism.

Then, you quickly move to Phase II: Informed Pessimism. Here you start to become aware of the reality of what it will take to change. An emotional shift occurs as the cost seems to be larger than the benefits and you wonder, “Is it worth it?”

Next, Phase III: Valley of Despair. Emotionally, this is the lowest point in the cycle – and if you can move through it you will be able to create the change. The pain associated with making the change seems much larger than the pain of staying where you are. “It isn’t really that bad, is it?” You’ll start to question your reasons behind making the change here. Typically this is the place where most people give up.

When you stick with it through the Valley of Despair, you’ll enter Phase IV: Informed Optimism. Unlike Phase I (Uninformed Optimism) you really DO know what it takes to make the change, and you recognize that you are capable, willing, and able to make the change. Your efforts are starting to pay dividends and habits are starting to form.
Finally, Phase V: Success and Fulfillment! You did it!!!! The benefits far out way any lingering costs. Your confidence is high and each action adds to this confidence. This is a great time to start to create another new change, as your emotional state is high!

This process starts in the “you don’t know what you don’t know” phase and end with success. The tricky part is how to get through the middle! I think the key is twofold: 1) having a super clear vision of what will be gained by creating this new skill, something you can fall back on when the going gets tough, and 2) having a strong support system that you can tap when you need some extra “oomph” to keep going.

What do you think is the key to making it through the Valley of Despair? What tools have you used to lift yourself up when the going seems too rough? Drop me an email and let me know!

Lisa Crilley Mallis is a certified coach, author, and speaker. She works with focused, successful business owners who are overcommitted and still want to achieve more. For over 15 years, Lisa has provided customized, real solutions to everyday time management challenges, allowing her clients to accomplish more in less time, without giving up their nights and weekends.