As a Life Coach with a passion to enable mums to thrive I accompany my clients through change. Change is uncomfortable. Whenever we try to bring about change in our lives we often experience an emotional roller coaster. Psychologists Don Kelly and Daryl Connor describe this phenomenon in a paper called “The Emotional Cycle of Change”. Regardless of the change you choose to make, you will experience this cycle to varying degrees. They specify five stages of emotional experience:
1 Uninformed Optimism
2 Informed Pessimism
3 Valley of Despair
4 Informed Optimism
5 Success and fulfilment
Uninformed Optimism, the first stage of change is most often exciting. We imagine all the benefits and have not yet experienced any of the costs. Our positive emotions are driven by our Uninformed Optimism. You are brainstorming ideas and strategizing how to create the new level of results you desire.
Unfortunately, Uninformed Optimism does not last long. The second stage of change is Uninformed Pessimism. As you learn more about the reality of what it takes to bring about change, positive emotions can quickly sour. At this point, the benefits do not seem as important or immediate and you become aware of the costs of the change. You start to question if the change is really worth the effort and begin to look for reasons to abandon the effort. If that’s not bad enough, things get worse!
The third stage is the Valley of Despair. This is when most people give up. All the pain of change is felt and the benefits seem far away or less important. There is a fast and easy way to end the discomfort = going back to the way you used to do things. After all, you rationalise that it wasn’t so bad before! If you quit on pursuing your desired change when you are in the valley of despair, you go back to Uninformed Optimism, which is a whole lot more fun than being in the valley!
It is precisely at this stage – the Valley of Despair – that having a compelling vision is critical.
The fourth stage is Informed Optimism. At this stage, your likelihood of success is much higher. The benefits of your actions are starting to bear fruit and the costs of change are lessened because your new thoughts and actions are becoming more routine. The key at this stage is not to stop!
The final stage is Success and Fulfilment. At this final stage of change, the benefits of your new behaviours are fully experienced and the costs of change are virtually gone. The actions, which at the beginning were difficult and uncomfortable, have now become routine. Every time you complete the cycle you build, not only your capacity, but also your confidence.
Having worked with a wide variety of mums, I have had the privilege of accompanying them to move through the different emotions of the cycle and achieve success and fulfilment. Having an accountability buddy can help you to remain committed to your intentions and actions. Working with a Life Coach can empower you to take ownership of your cycle of change, providing you support when you’ve in the Informed Pessimism and Valley of Despair stages. They can encourage you to see that it is possible to work through these difficult stages and be your champion along the way.