Every system in the world is bound by the cycles of life, defined by periods of ebbs and flows, pushes and pulls, waxes and wanes. And each phase is as valuable to preservation and productivity as the next.
These cycles of life are the unifying thread and sustaining element of existence on macro and micro-level systems, prevalent the world over.
Simple observation of the changes of the seasons or the way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly bares witness to the infinite cycles that we are all bound by. It is evident in the blossom and decay of the trees, the rising and setting of the sun—even the inhale and exhale sustaining our own respiratory systems—few things are as guaranteed or universal as life’s multitude of cycles.
Cycles are integral to the sustenance and development of every natural system. The beauty of Spring cannot exist without the decay of Autumn. A tree must shake free of its leaves in order to bloom, the sun must set so that it may rise, and we must inhale in order to exhale.
There must be a push in order to initiate and sustain the pull. Anytime there is a force—of nature or otherwise— we can rest assured that we will soon encounter an equal and opposite force. Understanding life’s cyclical force helps us effectively capitalize on each stage.
*I know this is all very Circle of Life by way of The Lion King, but I promise I have a point that is less Disney Fairytale and more real-life application. Not the same fun soundtrack but hopefully a similar happy ending :)*
Your ambitions and experiences are just as susceptible to these cycles of life
Our personal well-being, whether mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual is also prone to this cyclical force. It is the author of both the creative block and the masterpiece, the motivation and the discouragement, the emotional highs and lows, the epiphany and the confusion. The reality is that each of these stages are inevitable. The secret is that each stage has its merit. The trick is capitalizing on each stage’s unique purpose.
Understanding the inevitability and then the purpose is the first step to validating each stage as an asset rather than a liability. Each stage has something to be gained, and when we embrace each cycle positively, we are in a much better position to continue on pace and become fulfilled by each cyclical chapter.
Some agricultural wisdom |
Flowers do not bloom all year. Do not expect yourself to either.
Cycles are life’s chapter book
Cycles are essentially life’s chapter book, each chapter with a distinct function to serve. Chapters, if left unread, would make the next chapter incoherent.
Chapters usually don’t change until we have completely exhausted whatever purpose it was there to serve.
Wishing for a different stage only deprives the current one of any value that you could glean from it, only hindering you from turning to the next page.
When we allow ourselves to confidently embrace the chapter that we are in, we are prepared to better receive the utmost fulfillment each cycle may provide.
So do not balk at the chapters that seem bleak. There are no negatives in chapters of silence or decay. These are likely the chapters that are for laying a foundation, fertilizing the soil, planting the seed, or taking root.
Finally, when that dormant winter thaws and the next season comes, we are ready to bloom with all of our might. And yes, we can expect to decay again, but only so the next chapter will find us blooming even stronger than before.
Understand that cycles prepare us
A seed can’t go directly from sow to harvest. There are steps in between. They may not be the most glamorous steps. They are likely not Instagrammable steps. But they are necessary steps. This is your behind the scenes chapter. Sure, the world may not be able to see what you’re doing under that soil. But nonetheless, you are taking root, building your foundation. An abundant orchard beginning with but one seed.
Understand what cycle you are in
Cycles have different purposes and time frames. The key to harnessing them is knowing what cycle you’re in. You may feel a sense of stagnancy or fatigue. Perhaps your sense of clarity is increasingly blurring. Maybe your petals are drooping and you’re feeling tired from all that blooming.
But before you retreat into a dormant but steadfast growth stage in anticipation of a barren winter, make sure those sensitivities aren’t just coming from a hard but temporary Spring rain. Even though rain can be a bit of a buzzkill, most times immediately but incorrectly perceived as an obstacle, it is one of the most fleeting and favorable bummers in our cycle. That storm is your best bet for quick, sustainable, lasting prosperity.
Understand that cycles are the basis of growth and regeneration
It is paramount that we approach life as a consistent entering and exiting and entering again of growth stages. Cycles allow us to sustain natural stages of growth and cyclical growth allows us to always adapt to inevitably changing conditions. Success is never experienced as a plateau.
To get to the next stage, you have to be willing to replant and regrow and regenerate. You can’t stagnate simply because you are apprehensive of the discomfort of growing again. Your new found strength to achieve must transform into the strength to improve—thus making your strength to grow the strength to preserve.
And you can rest assured that if you are not in a constant state of growth, you are dooming yourself to one of two fates. 1.) Some predator will descend upon your pretty little state of comfort and topple you from your complacent perch or 2.) mediocrity.
Understand that your task at hand should match your cycles
If you know that you are in a growth stage, situate your tasks at hand to sow rather than to reap. Trying to harvest in a fertilization stage will leave you with a barren crop.
If you are at the celebrated bloom stage, you should be harvesting that outward acclaim you are receiving—networking, selling, engaging with those whom your beauty is inspiring.
If you are pruning, zoom in on the details, edit, revise and review. This stage is one of the most important keys to sustainable and focused growth.
This does not mean that you can’t aim for the future, just that you cannot grow anywhere but the present. You capitalize on the present cycle to prepare for prosperity in a future one. Focusing on the future can bring us hope, focus, and trajectory but being solely future-sighted can also source confusion, depression, and stagnancy. Use your inclination towards future-mindedness as a guide rather than a basis for current action. Grow today to bloom tomorrow.
Understand that cycles require your participation
You can’t expect cycles to do all the work without your commitment to the action. Cycles will keep moving even if you don’t. And if you aren’t moving, you can assure yourself that we won’t be seeing you come bloom season.
Understand that cycles must complete their entire process
Skipped steps will be exposed later in weakness. This is not to say that you can’t help expedite the process, just that the process must be complete before proceeding to the next cycle.
Sure, if you have resources to form an environment that keeps you safe from deterring elements, you may expedite your growth while ultimately achieving the same strengths as your peer who is buckling down in an open field.
But you can’t turn a seed into a sprout before you allow it to take root. That seed will blow right out of its hasty foundation with a simple gust of wind.
Understand that cycles are the weedwhackers of life
When we don’t understand our role in the cycle at hand, we tend to suffocate under the weeds of doubt, growing increasingly skeptical of our ability until we give up. Doubt springs up when we’re looking for blossoms in the root stage.
You can’t see your roots, so looking at the empty plot of dirt makes the fruits of your labor seem inconsequential. In reality, you just haven’t gotten to that phase yet.
But once doubt takes hold of your seed, it will do its best to strangle any rooting that has taken place, mutating your cycle into a survival of the fittest. And you will find yourself weed whacked out from whatever garden you were hoping to grow in.
Understand that dormant stages are the busiest you will be
Blooming is your highlight reel. It is the outward and publicized expression of the resulting beauty for all of the hard work you put into that dormant growth stage. You can finally sit back and enjoy the sunshine and pensively scroll through your now totally Instagrammable life. But don’t forget how you earned your petals— through steadfast scrutiny, patience, and persistence in the dirt.
Also published on Medium.