Most of us are aware that we go through many different stages as we progress through life. In my work with clients and my own life, I have learned that rather than experiencing these stages just once, we actually experience them again and again.
Being able to identify which of these five stages we are in (in each area of our lives) is extremely important because then, we can avoid a mistake many people make—trying to skip the most important, challenging ones (like #1 and #2).
By understanding these stages and our journey through them, we learn how to give ourselves what we really need when we need it.
Life Stage #1: Exploration
The first stage in the life cycle of anything is Exploration. This stage is all about learning, being open, and making new discoveries that we will need later.
In addition to being about starting something new, the Exploration Stage can also be a time of recovery after a transition or loss.
Just the way a newborn baby is open and curious, when we are in the Exploration Stage in any area of our lives, it is important to be open to inspiration, insight, and information that comes from unexpected sources.
If we rush the Exploration Stage, we can miss receiving important information or the opportunity to attain clarity and wisdom we need later and as a result, our future creations may lack depth or staying power.
Suggestions for Support
If you are in the Exploration Stage in some area of your life, it’s important to pay attention, listen, get curious, and give yourself plenty of space and time to learn and explore.
It can help to keep a journal or a log to help you remember what you are learning, so you can access it later.
This stage requires a lot of self-care, acceptance, and compassion.
You might feel led to take a course, study, read self-help books, or listen to podcasts. You may also benefit from professional help, such as that of a teacher, coach, specialist, expert, mentor, support group, physician, or therapist.
During the Exploration Stage, it can be important to request understanding from loved ones, and to be willing to learn from those with more experience than yourself.
The key is learning. Take the time you need to expose yourself to new ideas and a wide variety of perspectives. Study, soak up information, and get inspired.
Life Stage #2: Integration
After we have received information, we may start to feel a sense of closing down, just a bit. This is often what people describe as limbo or the chrysalis stage.
The Integration Stage is a progression from one thing to the next. Old patterns are breaking apart and new ones are being created. We are in-between things.
We may have completed one level of education but are not yet an expert. We may have birthed our first child but are still figuring out our own parenting style.
When we are in an Integration Stage in some area of our lives, we may feel more tired than usual. We might misjudge ourselves as being stuck or lazy, not realizing how much work we are doing under the surface.
It can help to remember that Integration is a very powerful process in the art of transformation. When we fully integrate our ideas, we become a powerhouse, strong, and ready for what comes our way.
When we skip this step, we are often not grounded or resilient in the way we need to be to truly succeed.
Suggestions for Support
If you are in the Integration Stage in some area of your life, it is important to strengthen yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and acknowledge how much you achieved in the previous stage of Exploration.
Strengthening activities can include self-care basics like drinking water, resting, exercising, meditating, and spending time relaxing with family members and friends.
You also might benefit from joining a program or a group where you can safely practice skills learned and process your new ideas. Integration requires being humble enough to acknowledge what you don’t yet know, and the courage to experiment with what you have recently learned.
Life Stage #3: Creation
After we have integrated new ideas through practice and experimentation, our energy starts to pick up again. We are ready for action.
The Creation Stage requires a huge output of energy, which usually happens privately.
In a relationship, this is the “in-love” stage when a couple often can’t get enough of each other. They don’t socialize much with others but instead are building the foundation of their relationship and defining who they are as a couple.
In our personal or professional lives, we may have a huge outpouring of energy or an urge to declutter, redecorate, write, make art, create something new, or redesign an aspect of our business, life, or home.
In the area of health, we may experience lots of motivation, suddenly feeling able to start and stick to a new diet or exercise program. We start to get really excited about making something new happen. We are energized and aligned.
When we give our creative process the space and respect it deserves, it can feel as if it is happening through us rather than something we need to work hard to make happen.
Suggestions for Support
Creation is so much fun that the tendency is to skip steps #1 and #2 and rush into it, pretending we are in a Creation Stage when we are not. It is important to be honest with ourselves about whether or not we are truly ready to devote our full energy to producing something new.
On the other hand, if you are truly in a Creative Stage, it’s important to make space for it. The huge rush and outpour of a true full-on Creation Stage doesn’t last forever and is often all-consuming.
It is a very important, precious, and sacred time. Your creations are vulnerable right now and need time and space to become whatever it is they are becoming.
Now is not time to launch publicly or share what is happening to you too broadly. Protect yourself against self-doubt and self-criticism, or anyone who is jealous or may not have your best interests at heart.
Negativity can drain your all-important energy and damage the Creative process. If you do share, share only with those whom you truly trust.
The Creative Stage usually requires lots of time, attention, focus, and energy. It’s almost impossible to be in a Creation Stage of all areas of our lives. Creation takes so much energy, different areas of our lives need to take turns.
When you are in this stage, it can help to make a plan so nothing too important falls through the cracks in other areas of your life. Ask for understanding from loved ones.
Lower your standards and simplify. Let go of things that aren’t important. Make sure things that are essential like self-care, paying bills, caring for children, health, and core relationships can be done in a way that also allows you space to create.
You might want to delegate, outsource, or pause things that detract from your creative flow. Consider scheduling smaller, focused time slots for quality time with your partner, kids, or activities that are important but to which you can’t currently give as much energy to as you would like to or typically do.
Make space for creative output while also making sure the rest of your life remains healthy and safely intact.
Life Stage #4: Sharing
The Sharing Stage is when we come out of the chrysalis and begin sharing our creations.
In relationships, this stage is when couples start going on double dates or bring the partner home to meet the family. Or, they commit in some larger way like moving in together, getting engaged, or getting married. The relationship is strong enough to share more publicly.
In the area of health, perhaps after months of losing weight, running privately, or working out with a small group, we may are ready to compete, run a race, or post our workouts on social media.
With creative pursuits or a business, we may share products with a small group of people at first, have a small art show, or publish our book. We may launch our business or new product.
When the time is right to share, it happens easily and effortlessly. It feels right. It is as if there is an open flow between us and whoever is ready to receive the gift of our creation.
Suggestions for Support
New creations are vulnerable. It can be helpful to view the relationship, course, book, business, or new home as an entity unto itself.
Is it ready to emerge in some outer way or is it still incubating? Sharing too early can cause something that could have succeeded to crumble because it’s just not ready for the public scrutiny.
On the other hand, sometimes we delay sharing out of fear or worry that our creation is not good enough. It’s important to go slowly, use discernment, and remember that sharing is about keeping your own flow going.
Sharing is all about being generous to yourself and others. It is about letting the positive energy of your good health, business, home, family, relationship, or product benefit others in some way.
As you begin sharing and emerging in the outer world, pace yourself and stay in tune with your energy. Go slow, find your pace, take a day off when you need it. Protect yourself emotionally and practically.
Remember, we can never please everyone. As you start to share, accept any defeat, negative feedback, or closed doors as increasing the possibility that other doors will open, so your true tribe (or audience, partner, customer, friend, reader, etc.) can find you.
And have fun! The Sharing Stage is when we give back to benefit others, and that always feels good.
Life Stage #5: Letting Go (or Auto-Pilot)
In everything we create and experience, there is a moment when we let go.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that whatever it is we are letting go of is ending. It may simply mean that certain aspects of our lives need to go on autopilot, or it is time for them to evolve into another form.
Letting go is a natural phase in life. If we don’t let go of something when it is time to do so, we can experience a drain on our energy and resources that impedeS our growth. On the other hand, if we let go too soon, we may experience new crises that take extra time and energy to repair.
Letting go is often about automation. We no longer have to be hypervigilant to make sure things go perfectly. We don’t have to direct our creation as much as we once did.
This stage can also be about releasing something like a habit, pattern, or commitment that served a purpose in our lives for some time, but is no longer in our best interest.
The Letting Go Stage is often a time of loss or cleaning out. As we let go of what no longer serves us, we make space for new, positive energies that are more aligned with what we really need.
Letting go also happens when something has gone through its life cycle and needs to come to a natural end.
Suggestions for Support
Letting go is a time for extreme self-care. Consider getting professional support to help you delegate roles and automate functions, perhaps a professional organizer, clutter coach, or technology.
Now may also be the time to get help from a therapist, life coach, healer, recovery program, or support group to help you grieve, heal, emotionally detach, release control, and let go.
Most of all, be gentle and compassionate with yourself.
Letting go is as natural as is creation. The more we let go, the more we can open to whatever is next.
Moving through the five core life phases in the many different areas of our lives is a dance. The most important thing is to know where you are in the process so you can give yourself all the support, care, and understanding you need for your well-being and the best possible outcome.
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Featured photo credit: Jonas Kaiser via unsplash.com