The Existential Cycle - the Wheel of Change

This cycle is used in many fields including life changing career decisions, exercise regimes and addictions.
Doing: This is the daily, everyday routine activities - you are in equilibrium.
Contemplating: Questioning the ‘Doing’, becoming dissatisfied with the present - becoming curious about what could be different.
Preparing: Researching the possibilities, moving beyond daydreams and wishes to fact finding and goal setting.
Experimenting: End current ‘Doing’ activities and start a new set of activities. After a period of time this becomes the new ‘Doing’.
We are constantly being pulled back to the original ‘Doing’. The further round the wheel we get the stronger the pull. This stops mere flights of fancy, of the over exuberant, being acted upon: changes are usually made only after consideration and planning – but can prevent potentially good opportunities being taken by the overly cautious.
The time we make an irrevocable decision (eg selling the house in England to buy the hotel in Spain) is when the magnetic attraction of the original ‘doing is at its strongest. This point is known as crossing the Rubicon. This is when we move from ‘preparing’ to ‘experimenting’ and lasts until we move from ‘experimenting’ to the new ‘Doing’.
Attitudes that go along with returning to the old ‘Doing’ include: ‘dreamers are losers’, ‘get real’ and catastrophic fantasies. Emotions that go with these are fear and guilt and these emotions are often swiftly followed by regret.
If you return to the original doing your reasons for moving towards the new doing are not as compelling or well formed as the reasons you are moving away from the original doing. Every time you step off the existential cycle you learn something from that experience and the next time you step back on to the cycle you will be closer to reaching a new way of doing.
Doing: You are in love with your addiction. You see nothing wrong with it, make excuses for it: ‘ I can drink six pints and be safe to drive’, ‘my grandmother lived to 86 and smoked 60 a day’, ‘fat is beautiful’.
Contemplation: You have to perform your addictive activity more and more to achieve less effect and withdrawal seems harder and harder. Doubts begin to set in. You waver between wanting to stop and not wanting to stop. You stop for a while but it returns; it’s hard, or you don’t want to, make the break.
Preparing: Something tips the balance. You make an action plan
Experimenting: You attempt to cross the Rubicon, to change your ways, to avoid your old behaviour. You may seek help.
Now you may go to new ‘doing’ by staying stopped, or you may go back to any other point including the old doing (pre-contemplation). The doubts soon creep back in though and you have added to your skill-set about what works and what doesn’t around your unwanted activity.
Past attempts are stepping stones to future success.


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