Usually (at least for me) Square One of the change cycle feels eternal, and it’s when I’ve given up on it ever ending that I start moving slowly into Square Two. The dreaming and scheming phase of change is usually ushered in by a glimmering of hope, and a lifting of the pall that seems to accompany Square One. You start to feel yourself getting excited about things, possibly things you have never even considered for yourself previously. After the chaos and confusion of Square One, you start to feel like maybe something wonderful could happen in your life. This phase is all about figuring out what that something wonderful might be.
To review from prior weeks, the pretty blue portion above is Martha Beck’s Change Cycle. (For info on the stagnant pond, read this.) Martha’s model was designed to show the process of fairly dramatic life transitions, and she includes what she calls a catalytic event between Squares Four and One. It’s incredibly useful to know it when you are facing one of these major life changes, but I find it equally as helpful for the smaller changes, and that’s what I’m focusing on for this series of articles. I think sometimes smaller changes are harder for us, as it’s so easy to just head to the Stagnant Pond instead and pretend they are not happening.
Square Two usually begins with a small bit of hope, then a return of dreaming. You start thinking of things you’ve never dreamed of doing before. You mentally try out different possibilities. After a while, one of them starts to stick. You move from “hmm that might be interesting” to “I’m going to try that.” Then, you start plotting out how you’re going to make that happen.
So let’s look at what Square Two might be for a couple of our examples from prior weeks. Our recently promoted director one day realizes in a meeting with her new bosses that she actually knows what they’re talking about, and starts to feel a sense of hope that she can handle this whole director thing. A few weeks later, she has the idea that maybe she could be a different type of director than the other people in her company. Maybe she can manage based on employee strengths.
Over the course of several weeks, she keeps noticing opportunities for how strengths-based management would improve an existing situation. Finally, she decided she is going to do it. She researches how to do so online, she schemes out what it would look like for her own department, and she decides what she would need to do in order to make this happen.
That takes her from the beginning of Square Two (a spontaneous hope that she might survive this promotion), through the dreaming phase (how fun to manage on strengths!) and finally to the scheming phase (okay, I need five copies of the strengths finder, employee buy-in, and management buy-in!)
For our person who decided to lose twenty pounds, the beginning of Square Two might be something easy, like the thought, “hey – maybe this won’t be that hard.” As this thought appears, he may start dreaming of ways to lose weight without starving – the more-sex diet, hypnotherapy, the bingeing once a week diet, etc. Then he starts actually researching what types of methods there are for weight loss that don’t involve eating just lettuce or just meat. Finally, he decides that he is going to try the Paleo diet for a month and then evaluate the results.
Next week we’re going to be looking at strategies for navigating some of the ‘dangers’ of Square Two – the first being shrinking your dreams in order to be socially acceptable, and the second is getting stuck in this phase. In my own life, I’ve managed to turn some of the ‘dreaming’ of this phase into Stagnant Pond visitation. (Vision boards are more fun than TV!)
Are you in the dreaming and scheming phase in any area of your life? Leave a comment below and let us know!