The Transition--Reinvention Cycle
One of the wonders of childhood is discovering how the lowly caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Tiny little eggs become hungry, munching, caterpillars that later snuggle into a chrysalis, hiding their eventual, beautiful form. Out of these weird shells emerge the fluttering, magical creatures that have fascinated humans for hundreds of years.
The butterfly, and many other animals, alternate between quiet stages like eggs and pupa, and the active stages of growth we can see from the outside like caterpillars, tadpoles, or nauplius (the larva of crustaceans like prawns). Our own transitions and reinventions pass through similar stages, and we can repeat the process again and again.
1. Egg (The first quiet phase). This is a time for us to rest and regroup, and also to do a reality check about where we are in our lives. Though others may not see it, this is the time we are thinking about past mistakes and future options and perhaps talking to a mentor, coach, or trusted friend.
2. Caterpillar (A bit of action). At this point we ramp up our networking, double-check our resources (including emergency savings), and clean up our physical and mental environment. Just like the caterpillar who is eating and storing up energy, we need to make sure we’ve got the fuel for the next steps.
3. Cocoon (Some planning and strategy and maybe some more quiet time). Once we’ve got handle on our current situation, and we’ve mustered our current resources, it’s time to decide what we want or need to do next. Again, planning may not look like work to the casual observer, but it’s essential to have some goals and to break them into manageable steps.
4. Butterfly (Time to risk and launch). This is when we go to the job interview, launch the new website, or display that first showing of art.
The beauty of human transition is that it’s always happening, and we are constantly being presented with chances to reinvent and start the process over.