Time for a new chapter? …………Part One

What comes to mind as the season of Spring approaches. Is it time to take stock and ‘tinker’ or take stock and start a completely new chapter?

As the new season approaches, I find it comes with a surge of energy and new possibilities. So with all this in mind, I’d like to share with you, a model that I have used extensively with groups and individual clients for some years now:

The Hudson Renewal Cycle ………….

Renewal and change

A model, I believe to be highly effective in helping people to take stock of where they are when thinking about their career and life in general.

Something that people seem to grasp straight away and ‘hang their coat’ on. It makes immediate sense to them as they remember those times when they have been operating at their best and in a non-threatening way recognise and accept those times when they have not.

The Renewal Cycle model as conceived by Frederic Hudson describes our lives in terms of chapters each with four phases:

  • Heroic: or ‘go for it’
  •  Disillusioned or ‘stuck in the doldrums’
  • Reflective or ‘looking inward’
  •  Revitalised or ‘taking on/moving forward‘

It can relate to any aspect of our lives, but I use it primarily in relation to careers and how we move through each phase and onto a new chapter will be different for every single one of us.

Heroic Phase

Phase one, or Heroic phase is a great place to be. In this phase we feel positive about our situation we feel that we are exactly in the right place at the right time. This is our moment. We have the energy we need to meet whatever challenges we face and we seek out new opportunities and new avenues to explore.

This is a phase where we are proactive and energized, focused and clear about where we are and where we want to be. We are likely to feel confident about our abilities and confident in what the future holds.

It may be that we find ourselves in Heroic, after settling into a new job or gaining a new promotion. Or we have made a complete career change to something that we have always dreamt of doing. Indeed we may find ourselves in Heroic after leaving work and deciding to live our lives in a completely different way.

So, what can happen to move us from ‘Heroic’ to Disillusioned?

Well sometimes we can become complacent, we become too comfortable, stop stretching and pushing ourselves – we might even over a period time just become bored.

Or perhaps in our enthusiasm we start taking on too much and almost without realising it we move towards ‘overload’.

There may also be external changes that impact on how we see our careers, such as a change in management or organisational culture. Or even a small change in our role might be enough to shift us across to Disillusioned.

Disillusioned Phase

The Disillusioned phase is clearly not such a great place to be. Here we are likely to feel unhappy and negative about our career and feel that there is little we can do to change it for the better.

This phase is typically characterised by us as individuals knowing what we don’t want, but not being able to clearly articulate what we do want. This phase can be very much about ‘holding on’ and not wanting to let anything go, even the unhelpful stuff.

However I do get the odd wry smile from clients and participants when I point out that this phase can be curiously ‘comfortable’ as it’ is a known entity, something familiar even if it’s not great.

Disillusioned is a reactive, holding on phase, we are certainly not pushing forward, we are likely ‘huddled up’, waiting for it all to go away.

Luckily most of us will reach a point where even we get tired of living in this phase. We will have grown weary of hearing ourselves constantly repeating the same litany of negatives again and again.

So we start to make a series of small improvements. Things like changes to our working hours, routes to work, we might even take on new hobbies and training courses and in the short term we find that we zip back to ‘Heroic’ at least for a while. This is what Hudson refers to as a ‘mini transition’.

This approach may work for quite some time with individuals ‘zipping’ back and forth, between Heroic and Disillusioned after each adjustment. But at some point, we may again start to notice a pattern and start to realise that perhaps a more fundamental and long lasting change is needed.

At this point we may then start to look ‘inward’ and start asking themselves, ‘what do I really want and what really matters to me at this time?’ We then move into the third stage of Reflective.

Which is where I will pick up next time………………………………….

Janice Taylor