Stage 1: Late Status Quo

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Stage 1: Late Status-Quo

Here you are in the (mostly) uneventful present, and the skies are (mostly) clear. But this stage is called late status quo because—though you don't yet know it—something is about to come along and...

Stage 2: Foreign Element

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Stage 2: A Foreign Element

...Bam! An unexpected event occurs. You get a call from your doctor or called into your boss's office; you're hit with a lawsuit or you hit the jackpot. Whatever it is, the foreign element tells you, instantly and urgently, that everything has changed.

Stage 3: Chaos

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Stage 3: Chaos

Your life has been turned upside down. What you thought you knew cries out for reexamination. What you'd hoped for, planned for, or predicted may no longer be possible or even relevant. You may have to recalibrate your very understanding of yourself. Little about this process is pleasant—but it does get you somewhere important. The chaos phase works as a kind of incubator, a laboratory where suffering and confusion can lead to something valuable.

Stage 4: Transforming Idea

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Stage 4: A Transforming Idea

You have an epiphany, a stroke of inspiration brought about by all that disorder. Something clicks into place, clarifies. You perceive a way forward—or at least the possibility of one. And you begin to ponder ways to put that revolutionary idea into motion.

Stage 5: Integration and Practice

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Stage 5: Integration and Practice

This is the period when you test-drive that transformative concept, investigating its merits and pitfalls, determining whether it can sustain you in the long term. You may find that you backslide once, twice, multiple times into chaos—you may generate and discard several transforming ideas before you find the one that fits. But don't be discouraged. Trial and error are exactly what the integration and practice phase is for.

Stage 6: New Status Quo

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Stage 6: A New Status-Quo

As you acclimate to a new approach or outlook, you ease back into relative peace. The storm clouds dissipate; the skies begin to lighten. You're relieved to be here—but also proud to still be standing. Pat yourself on the back: You've made it to the other side.