As mentioned in the previous blog, any major life change can be broken down into three primary phases:
So you've made a Decision and you've gone through various Transitions in relation to that Decision. Things are starting to settle down in many ways. You have the opportunity to enter the Equilibrium stage. This is the phase in which you must remember to remain vigilant. It's easy to coast, but if you do, a lot of your hard work during the Transition phase may be lost. Many find themselves facing another Decision, much sooner than they expected!
The concept of “hedonic adaptation” a/k/a the “hedonistic treadmill” is a phenomenon that basically means that once you create a new experience or environment (no matter how extravagant to your former self or outside observers), that becomes your “New Normal.” After not much time, your New Normal quickly becomes relatively boring. In order to feel the same level of gratification you have to continue to seek more/bigger/better/faster. Humans are amazing in our ability to adapt to situations… good AND bad. We can be incredibly resourceful in adapting to unpleasant or adverse circumstances in order to stay afloat, but we also absorb that environment and become acclimated to it, whatever it may be.
For example, let's say you came through a divorce in what you consider to be a successful way. You live in a new house that you like, your kids are happy and adjusted, and you're even on relatively amicable terms with your ex. Everything seems awesome – and indeed, you should celebrate how far you have come and how your hard work during the Transition phase has paid off! However, now that you're entering the Equilibrium phase, there may be a little voice inside your head that says, “Is that it?”
It's sort of like training for a marathon and putting all that hard work in then on race day finally finishing the race and getting the medal. You feel good and accomplished for a little while, but in a sense it's kind of a let-down. Some runners' response is to sign up for another marathon – or an ultra, or an IronMan, or something else bigger/faster/harder. More “goals”!
There is another way to go with this, however.
The Equilibrium phase is your gift. This is in a sense like that magical “rainy day” in which you can finally get that closet organized. Equilibrium is when things are relatively even keel, so you're not in a state of active conflict. In that place, you have the opportunity to work on yourself, toward what some people call “self-actualization.”
This is not a time where change, or growth, stop. That never happens. Change is one constant for all of us. The difference in achieving a practice of Equilibrium is that you are the agent (or at least and agent) of that change. You are not living your life by the whims of fate, but directing your life toward what you decide.
This can and should involve several phases, and bears repeating on a regular basis. The more you grow, the more you will know about yourself, and what you want in your life. Some of the important stages to establishing Equilibrium are:
- Minor curation – decluttering and curating in small ways
- Major curation – getting rid of all the rest of the “crap” in your life
- White space / listening
- Solidify your vision
- Bring your vision to life
As you do this, you will never get bored, I can assure you – there's always more to do (in a good way). Meanwhile, life Decisions or conflicts may crop up and bring you out of Equilibrium again…. That's ok, too. You know how to handle them better now. And then when you get back to the Equilibrium phase, you may realize that you learned something new about yourself from the more recent conflict that causes you to not just pick up where you left off but instead to adjust or pivot to a place you never imagined.
Getting started, and maintaining, an Equilibrium practice can be challenging. Fortunately, New Leaf Family holds small, intimate Equilibrium workshops for you. We recommend that you establish a practice of reviewing and renewing your Vision and your plan to bring it to life twice per year. If you'd like to work with us on your Equilibrium practice, in a small group setting, we'd love to have you.
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