The Three Stages of Growth

There are three stages of growth. If you do the right tasks at the right time, you will progress much faster. They are: crisis, working, and maintenance.


Crisis is when problems exceed your skills to deal with them. This could be emotional, such as when you are crying about something and just can’t stop. It could also be when you are worrying about something and can’t distract yourself or focus on other things. Crisis can also be physical, such as when you just can’t get out of bed, get dressed, or go to work. Other examples of physical crises are when you are in danger of bodily harm, being homeless, or not being able to feed yourself.

When you are in crisis, the only task is to create stability. If you continue to spin yourself up, the crisis will escalate. No growth will be possible. If you do nothing, no growth will be possible. If you are reactionary and emotional, you may make the situation worse. The only effective thing to do is to create safety and stability. If you need to find shelter, get shelter. If you need physical safety, remove the threat and get to a safe place. If you need food, find a way to get healthy food regularly. There may be a big mountain of other things that need your attention. Wait. Once you are stable, you will be in a better frame of mind and a healthier state of body to deal with the other issues.


The working stage of growth is about generating ideas, implementing ideas, seeing them to their conclusion, and re-evaluating their effectiveness. Sometimes people have a lot of motivation to change when they are in crisis, but once they get to the actual work, it all fizzles out. The challenge in the working stage is to keep going. It’s easy to fall back into old habits. After all, the devil you know is comfortable. However, staying the same doesn’t create change. Don’t be fooled into believing that if you are not in pain, things are okay. Living a tolerable life is not the same as living a happy one.

Another challenge is doing things that don’t create change so that you can say that you are doing something. Examples could be blaming, complaining, issuing ultimatums, and refusing to change unless and until someone else does something first. “Working” generally means that you are doing something different from what you were doing before. If that is not what you are doing, you might want to re-evaluate your strategies.


Once you’ve created change, it’s easy to coast on your laurels. Think of it like fitness. If you do a lot of work to sculpt your body and detoxify, what will happen once you slack off? It goes right back to how it was, doesn’t it? Everything requires maintenance: your car, your mind, relationships, your body, your home. If you don’t tend to a garden, weeds begin to grow. If you leave it long enough, the weeds will take over. The same is true of your life. When you cultivate positive habits and skills, you have to keep using them to keep them sharp. You have to be mindful of things that threaten your tranquility. You also would benefit if you are mindful of opportunities for further growth. A new challenging relationship or workplace isn’t necessarily something to be avoided. Perhaps it is the thing that can take you to the next level.

When you know where you are in the stages of growth, you can make the most appropriate interventions to get you where you need to be. Crisis may sound like it’s something to avoid. If you embrace it and use it as fuel to get you moving, it becomes a really effective tool. While working may seem like drudgery, it’s also necessary to keep you out of crisis and move you far beyond your present capabilities. So do the work. And maintain your gains. A healthy lifestyle creates space for great things to happen and the enjoyment of life.

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