There is no question, we’ve been through a lot lately, massive transformation on so many levels. Our lives have abruptly been turned upside down and we’ve been forced to adapt in ways we never knew we could. But we are and we continue to grow in the process. We tested our agility and challenged our ability to change. It’s not always easy when change shows up unexpectedly. It is certainly more manageable when we are in control of the changing circumstance but that wasn’t the case as 2020 was kicked off with an unexpected call to “shelter in place”. If there’s one thing we can all gain from this pandemic experience is the realization that change will continue to happen, either by choice or by chance, and how we respond to it will have a direct impact on our quality of life.
So, as we are being called to get “back to normal” where we can once again socialize at our leisure, sip coffee on the patio of our favorite coffee shop and embrace our loved ones like we once did, now comes with a sense of caution and uncertainty. The sensation of fear as we begin to go about our daily life is anything but normal. Now we have to move forward somehow, get back to life as we knew it while taking these extreme precautionary measures and pretending to do the things we always have. Whether we are aware of it or not, this experience has not only transformed our world from this point forward, it has made an imprint of fear-based emotions, altered our perspectives, has us questioning our level of trust and asking, “What exactly does this “new normal” looks like?”.
If there is anything good that has come out of sheltering in place, it’s that we’ve all had some time to be with ourselves, explore our thoughts about life, and observe our own emotional response to change. The distractions that kept us from dealing with our internal conflicts were ripped out from under our feet. We are now facing the issues we basically swept under that carpet, be it your relationships, addictions, procrastinations, and everyday avoidances because we have nowhere to run and hide. If we are honest with ourselves and shine the light on these dark, self-sabotaging patterns of behavior that didn’t serve us well in our “old normal”, then we can transcend them into a new paradigm. But how? How do we practice such transparency when in the past we could just go to work, or go shopping, or go to school and not have to deal with it?
Change is our greatest teacher but if we don’t get the lesson then what is the point? In order for us to adapt to a positive new normal and evolve into a greater version of ourselves, it helps to understand the Six Stages of Transformation, a simple framework of the cycle we all experience during times like these and whenever change is afoot. Here are the Six Stages of Transformation and a snippet of where we are and where we are heading as it relates to transforming normalcy:
The first stage of transformation is Realize. Nothing can be transformed without first having awareness. We’ve all been thrown into this stage when COVID19 became our reality and we’ve been left with dealing with our own emotions, our own fears and concerns of these unprecedented times. As we navigate through the chaos, we have to realize with truth, and “real eyes”, what specific changes that are occurring in our lives. When we see past the denial and destructiveness that changes like these can sometimes expose, we need to realize, bring into reality, a more desirable outcome. Stephen Covey said it best, “Begin with the end in mind.” It may seem too easy, but so many of us go through this cycle of transformation without even knowing it. Once we admit things are shifting, see the light at the end of the tunnel, the easier it will become.
The second stage of transformation is Release. Transformation cannot occur without first letting go of something. It is essential for us to create ample space for the elements of our new normal to fill. With the case of this pandemic, much was released without our permission. Our freedom to be, do and have whatever we wanted was stripped from our lives. We all felt the void inside us, the emptiness that was once our daily routine and the feeling of “missing something” became a daily activity. Whenever we decide to change an aspect of our lives, we automatically release what’s not working. In this case, those things are being released for us, some good and some may not be so good, either way, we have to deal with the circumstances and get comfortable with this awkward hollow feeling. As uncomfortable as it may be, the hard truth is, this is what transformation feels like.
The third stage of transformation is Rebound. This stage is much like rebounding in basketball, which we all sadly missed out on this past March, when we need to take the ball where it bounces and bring it back to our end of the court. For some, this may be to sit in sadness or silence while the ball comes our way and for others it means taking action, jumping for the ball, protecting it from the opposition and running with it. Whatever your experience has been is okay. There is no right or wrong way to rebound from change. What we need to be aware of in this stage is to acknowledge the grieving period whenever something in our lives has been lost. To allow ourselves to feel whatever it is we are feeling and to nurture ourselves through the process. This is a natural part of transitioning into our new normal. Sure, we can white-knuckle through it and ignore those emotional reactions, but it will serve us better when we allow time to recover, rejuvenate and refresh our mind, body and spirit. Our well-being has been tampered with however, with some self-discipline and self-nurturing we can gain control of our life, set ourselves up to take the game-winning shot that propels us toward a more beneficial version of normal. Allow yourself time to rebound in healthy ways.
The fourth stage of transformation is Reinvent. On the map of the world, there is a little icon saying, “you are here”. A new version of yourself is unavoidable at this point. Being your best self may have been a challenge under the circumstances…until now. What will you create for yourself now? In this exciting phase of recreating your life, we get to choose what is next for us. We know things have changed, we’ve let go of some aspects that we can’t take with us and we’ve recovered from the shock of it all. Now we slip our feet into the shoes of the unknown, take that first step and see how it fits. This is the time to put into action our new beliefs and behaviors whether it’s a greater appreciation for family time, managing time while working remotely or using your time more wisely. You get to choose who to become now and how to best spend the most valuable commodity we have, our time. Life has given us the flexibility to make these choices now and we’ve all been given the freedom to reinvent our lives. Remember that grand vision in the realize stage? It’s time to live it. This is the practice field for our new normal where we find balance in what was and what is. Our new normal is right around the corner as we boldly step onto the path of empowerment.
The fifth stage of transformation is Resurrect. Once you’ve put into practice your new, improved life, bounced back from the massive turn of events and are able to look back on these times with a new perspective, then you have truly resurrected, risen from the ashes of fear and uncertainty, into that highest version of yourself and what has become your new life. This phase may take some time for us to fully feel like we have our lives back in order but one thing is for sure, you know what you want, you know what you don’t want and at this point in the game, you are not settling for anything less. Understanding how the natural cycle of transformation works, it is encouraging to know this day is in the not too distant future for us all. Our economy is going through its own version of transformation. Rest assured, this glorious stage is upon us, much like anticipating the changing seasons. Those who reach this stage of transformation first will become role-models for us all.
The sixth and final stage of transformation is Respond. Mastering transformation is an art, life is the canvas and we all have a paintbrush in our hands. With the success of navigating change comes with a great responsibility. And that is responding to the needs of others who may still be struggling through the process. I mean, what is the point of going through all this and making it to this point if we can’t share our personal experience to inspire someone else? This is the stage where true leaders are born and without hesitance, they step up to the plate to make a positive impact within their circle of influence. People become the priority over everything else and offering a helping hand for others becomes second nature. Whether at work or at home, having the awareness of the internal suffering of those around us will open opportunities for compassion and healing. Let us all be aware of the needs of our youth during this time, whether you’re a parent or not, we can all take a leadership role to empower our young people with kindness and words of encouragement. They too are experiencing the pain of transformation and these memories of their childhood are something none of us have ever had to look back on. This is not a normal childhood experience and it’s important that we remember this when conversing with our children. This final stage is a courageous call to action. You are the stone being thrown into the waters, creating the ripple effect of humankind for generations to come. Use your power wisely and often.
In closing, I will say this, the transformation process isn’t always easy, but I don’t think anyone can argue that it is always worthwhile especially when we can make a positive impact when all is said and done. May this message come with the reassurance that we will all resurrect from this with the vision of transforming into a greater version of humanity. We have all witnessed so many blessings during this sacred, historical time. Be sure to keep those in your pocket as you travel on your journey to normalcy. And whether you’re on the first lap or approaching the finish line, I’d like to be the first to congratulate you in discovering your “new normal”. I applaud you for your dedication and commitment toward creating a better world for the human race, starting with your own. Life is what we make of it. We’ve got this. Believe in yourself. Believe in each other. Believe you can.
Angel Carlton is the author of Dedicated to Destiny and Staying Afloat During Tides of Change, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host of Leading the Way Today, Transformational Leadership Coach, Founder of Power Up People! Inc. and Co-Founder of Leadership America.
The Six Stages of Transformation is intellectual property and cannot be published or produced elsewhere without the written consent of Angel Carlton and/or Power Up People! Inc.