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The Clocklike Regularity of Major Life Changes

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Clocklike Regularity of Major Life Changes

The Clocklike Regularity of Major Life Changes

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/09/major-life-changes-happen-clocklike-regularity/616243/

theatlantic.com

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Key Ideas

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great."

Transition is difficult

Transition, even the completely voluntary, can be a source of intense suffering because it involves adapting to new situations and changing your self-conception.

If we understand transitions, we can control our tendency to fight against them. We can turn major life changes into a source of meaning and transcendence.

Transition, as an in-between state

Transition is also called liminality by psychologists - a state where you are neither in the state you left nor entirely in your new state. This in-between state creates an identity crisis, even in good transitions.

But they are really a predictable and integral part of life and happen regularly. Author Bruce Feiler interviewed hundreds of people and found that a major life change happens, on average, every 12 to 18 months. Even huge collective transitions such as the pandemic occur with regularity.

In retrospect, most transitions are seen as positive

In hindsight, even the unwanted transitions are usually seen to have been a success.

Research shows that we tend to see past events as net positives over time. Even the most challenging transitions have some positive fruit. It may just take some time to see it.

Accepting and leaning into transitions

When we don't resist challenging transitions, we learn how to cope with subsequent life changes. We gain a sense of meaning that makes the rest of life seem more stable.

Those who benefit and learn the most from them are those who accept them and lean into them.

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Bruce Feiler

“Perhaps the most important thing I learned in more than a thousand hours of interviews is that a life transition..."

Bruce Feiler
Lifequakes

They are the transitions and moments of disruption that offer unique opportunities for insight and wisdom.

The constant handling of big and small obstacles and setbacks, ironically, is what provides meaning to our lives. It is almost as if a Gateway or threshold has to be crossed, signifying the commitment of the journey from the ‘Hero’ who is able to successfully complete the ‘test of life’.

Autobiographical Occasions

Life transitions are the interesting chapters of our internal autobiographies, that provide us with the opportunity, tools and the reason to transform ourselves for the better.

We need to take small steps, or ‘microsteps’ to accept these transition moments, visualize and plan out the change, shed our old ways, unveil our transformation and the resulting new self, and to storify the entire transition.

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The Three Phases Of Life Transitions
The Three Phases Of Life Transitions

In the face of a crisis, we feel chaotic and out of control. The transition comes in three phases:

  1. The Long Goodbye, in which we see our old self go.
Identifying Emotions During Life Transitions
  • Be aware of your emotions such as fear, sadness and shame.
  • Writing down your feelings or doing certain rituals or activities to cope up with the loss is a great way to transition your life.
  • A ritualistic gesture becomes a statement and a metaphor for your emotions to take a physical form.
The Process Of Letting Go

Shedding of something we have long clung to, like a certain mindset, delusion, habit or dream, is part of the messy middle.

It clears the unwanted parts of your life, creating space for something new to blossom.

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William Bridges

“Change can happen at any time, but transition comes along when one chapter of your life is over, and another is w..."

William Bridges
The Stages of Transition

The experience of Transition has 4 main stages:

  1. Disengagement: the feeling of separation from what is lost
  2. Disidentification: the destruction of the old identity
  3. Disenchantment: tearing out of the old reality
  4. Disorientation: the feeling of being lost and bewildered by the loss experienced.
Change is Inevitable

Change is the only constant in life.

It is always a certainty and failure to cope with change is not an option.

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Change is inevitable

If a change is well planned, it can produce positive results. However, without planning, change can be hard to accept and appreciate.

The Kubler-Ross Model is the most reliable tool to un...

The Kubler-Ross Model

The Kubler-Ross Model, also known as the five stages of grief, consists of the various levels of emotions that are experienced when facing trauma. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

After the model was widely accepted, it was found to be valid in a majority of cases and situations related to change.

Relevance in Business

The Kubler-Ross Change Curve is also true when it comes to business, work, or employment.  

Change can cause a lot of upheaval to the employees. If there are improvements to be made in systems and policies, the employees can't persist in their old ways. Only when the employees of an organization make personal change, can the company move ahead to reap the benefits.

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The new law of productivity

High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)

Deep work vs. Shallow work
  • Deep work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. Creates value.
  • Shallow work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. Doesn't create value.
4 philosophies to integrate Deep Work into your life
  • Monastic: maximize Deep Work by minimizing or removing shallow obligations. Isolate yourself for long periods of time without distractions; no shallow work allowed
  • Bimodal: divide your time into some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leave the rest open to everything else. Reserve a few consecutive days when you will be working like a monastic. You need at least one day a week
  • Rhythmic: involves creating a routine where you define a specific time period — ideally three to four hours every day — that you can devote to Deep Work
  • Journalistic: alternate your day between deep and shallow work as it fits your blocks of time. Not recommended to try out first.

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Isaac Newton's Quarantine
Isaac Newton's Quarantine

During the bubonic plague in 1665, Newton was among the students forced to return home from Trinity College, Cambridge.

Away from university life, curriculum constraints, and professors to g...

Creativity unleashed

Isaac Newton mentioned that during his isolation days, he was in the prime for his age for invention and focused on Mathematics and Philosophy more than any other time.

His forced time away from university life allowed his creativity to flourish. The discoveries he made during his time of social distancing would form the foundation of his career for years to come.

Focus on your potential

Our lives are upended and our routines are disrupted due to the pandemic. While there is much to despair about, we could also use this time for reflection and discovery.

The sudden change could unleash your imagination and inventiveness in ways that could not be possible under normal circumstances. This could be your year of greatness.

A cluttered mind

It can make navigating even the most basic parts of our day exceedingly stressful and frustratingly inefficient.

Mindfulness
It is the habit of being aware of and noticing our own minds and the world around us, without judgment.
It strengthens 2 essential mental muscles: metacognition (watching our own minds at work) and attentional shifting (the ability to deliberately refocus our attention away from one object and onto another).
A Consistent Organizational System

It is an external strategy for keeping track of what we need to do and accomplish.

By creating and maintaining a reliable organizational system, we give ourselves the best possible chance of efficiently processing the day-to-day Have-Tos, so that we have sufficient time and energy to focus on the Want-Tos (the things that really matter to us).

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The biggest challenge to moving forward on anything

... is the transition to working on it. It almost always represents a shift from doing something comfortable to doing something uncomfortable.

We tend to think that getting tracti...

3 steps to transitioning

  • Start with willpower. Willpower in a moment is much more reliable than willpower over long stretches of time (In some cases you just need to force yourself through a moment to get to the other side).
  • Commit to repetition. Even if your mind starts protesting, ignore it and keep going.
  • Benefit from adaptability. The mental and physical challenges will be so diminished, that you'll no longer experienced the transition as pain.

Get good at moving from comfort to discomfort

  1. Identify something important to you that you want to move ahead with.
  2. Identify the transition point to working on it. Examples of transition points are: Pick up the phone and dial (for a conversation); ask a question and then stop talking (for receiving feedback).
  3. Make the decision — set a time and place where you will get started (transition).
  4. Prime your emotional courage. Starting something hard will bring up feelings of discomfort and you will need to be prepared to feel things to move through it without stopping. 
  5. Follow through without questioning
  6. Repeat this every day.

Post-Breakup Loneliness

The process of breaking up can sometimes be compared to the death of a loved one.

Transitional Loneliness

Major changes can create a sense of loneliness, even if they're positive. You might be leaving a job or starting a new job, ending a relationship or embarking on a new relationship, getting married, getting divorced, [or] starting a family.

When struggling with the adjustment period, it can help to acknowledge the feeling and also acknowledge that it's likely temporary.

Caregiver Loneliness

There's very specific loneliness that can creep in when you're responsible for the care of another person — be it an elderly parent, a sick sibling, a disabled partner, etc.

So even though it's a big job, it's important to not forget about yourself. Find a supportive friend to talk to without judgment, or attend a support group.

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Why Zoom Calls Drain Us
Why Zoom Calls Drain Us
  • Video calls require more focus than face-to-face chatting. We have to pay more attention to process the non-verbal cues like tone, pitch, body language and facial expressions. There is also a...
Everything From A Tiny Screen

Video Calling is being used for studying, dating, talking to your parents and for work purposes, leading to a new kind of exhaustion of doing everything from your laptop or smartphone screen. Add to this our being confined in a tiny space (like a room) most of the time.

Relaxing Activity Vs Performance

If video calling and catching up with friends was a relaxing activity, where you can just be yourself, you would not feel fatigued. 

What we have here is an added pressure to perform virtually among so many other participants, each vying for attention and validation.

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