How to Deal With Major Life Changes
Phase 2: Imagining
Here's the Deal
For those of us who have just a few tiny control issues, Phase 2 is as welcome as rain after drought. This is when the part of you that knows your destiny, the imago in your psyche, will begin giving you instructions about how to reorganize the remnants of your old identity into something altogether different.
The word imago is the root of the word image. You'll know you're beginning Phase 2 when your mind's eye starts seeing images of the life you are about to create. These can't be forced—like dissolving, they happen to you—and they are never what you expected. You're becoming a new person, and you'll develop traits and interests your old self didn't have. You may feel compelled to change your hairstyle or wardrobe, or redecorate your living space. The old order simply seems wrong, and you'll begin reordering your outer situation to reflect your inner rebirth.
What to Do
Here are some ways you may want to respond when you begin spontaneously imagining the future:
Cut Out Magazine Pictures You Find Appealing or Interesting
Glue them onto a piece of butcher paper. The resulting collage will be an illustration of the life you're trying to create.
Let Yourself Daydream
Your job is to try out imaginary scenarios until you have a clear picture of your goals and desires. You'll save a lot of time, effort, and grief by giving yourself time to do this in your head before you attempt it in the real world.
Phase 2 is all about images: making them up, making them clear, making them possible. Moving through this stage, you'll start to feel an impulse to go from dreaming (imagining possibilities) to scheming (planning to bring your vision to fruition). Write down both dreams and schemes, then gather information about how you might create them.
Phase 3: Re-forming
Here's the Deal
As your dreams become schemes, you'll begin itching to make them come true. This signals Phase 3, the implementation stage of the change process. Phase 3is when you stop fantasizing about selling your art and start submitting work to galleries, or go beyond ogling a friend's brother to having her set you up on a date. You'll feel motivated to do real, physical things to build a new life. And then...(drum roll, please)...you'll fail. Repeatedly.
I've gone through Phase 3many times and watched hundreds of clients do the same. I've never seen a significant scheme succeed on the first try. Re-forming your life, like anything new, complex, and important, inevitably brings up problems you didn't expect. That's why, in contrast to the starry eyes that are so useful in Phase 2, Phase 3demands the ingenuity of Thomas Edison and the tenacity of a pit bull.
What to Do
Expect Things To Go Wrong
Many of my clients have an early failure and consider this a sign that "it just wasn't meant to be." This is a useful philosophy if you want to spend your life as person soup. To become all that you can be, you must keep working toward your dreams even when your initial efforts are unsuccessful.
Be Willing to Start Over
Every time your plans fail, you'll briefly return to Phase 1, feeling lost and confused. This is an opportunity to release some of the illusions that created hitches in your plan.
Revisit Phase 2
Adjusting your dreams and schemes to include the truths you've learned from your experimentation.
Keep debugging and reimplementing your new-and-improved plans until they work. If you've followed all the steps above, they eventually will.
Phase 4: Flying