Have you ever looked at the woman next to you and thought, “Why is her life better than mine?” There’s a reason for that. And no, it’s not: “You aren’t working hard enough.”
In fact, your time is coming.
We are all experiencing a different stage of the same life cycle. We have been here before and we will be here again.
Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of women in transition, and over and over I watch them look around the room at each other and ask themselves, “Why is my life look so different than hers?”
For those of us who love personal development, we tend to do the same work. We take out the same microscope and examine our lives. We take risks. We fail. We get up and take more.
But still. The question:
Why is her life “better”?
The more I watched these women, the more I witnessed their years falling neatly into buckets. Buckets that wormed their way into a pattern. A pattern that repeats itself in every woman throughout her life.
It turns out, the answer to their question was quite simple.
Her life isn’t better. Her life is at a different stage.
We are all experiencing our own rhythm within the Cycle of Years.
The cycle consistences of four revolutions:
- The Year of Unrest
- The Year of Destruction
- The Year of Growth
- The Year of Mastery
Knowing our place in this cycle is the key to stopping the comparison game.
Knowing where you are allows you to be present in whatever moment you’re experiencing. It gives you the tools to take out of each year the pieces that are important so you can gracefully move forward into the next cycle.
When I’m aware of my years, I less dramatically experience the shitty ones and more gratefully experience the easier ones.
So let me take you through the cycle!
The Year of Unrest
This is the year that feels the worst. You’re lost. You’re whining and moaning and bitching and drinking wine and crying yourself to sleep.
It’s the year that you thought you had everything you wanted, but all of a sudden you hit that moment of, “I’m not sure I like this. Now what?”
The Year of Unrest is painful.
My quarterlife crisis? Totally a Year of Unrest. The year I was pregnant, living in a new city with a husband working 14 hour days? Year. Of. Unrest.
The good news is that this year inspires change.
We get so sick and tired of being in the muck that we stop settling. We stand up, wipe our tears, throw down our wine glass and say “This is my life and I’m going to make a change.”
Which is what leads you into the year of destruction.
The Year of Destruction
This is the year you tear everything down and welcome a new, clean slate. A slate to build something new and beautiful on.
This could be the year of divorce, marriage, starting school, leaving school, moving across the country, developing boundaries, deciding who gets a say in your life.
Whatever the change, it’s radically different from your life before.
You feel a little better during the Year of Destruction. You’re finally taking control.
I see this year all the time. People generally need a lot of support during the Year of Destruction, craving deep talks and like-minded community.
I experienced a Year of Destruction when I quit my job, traveled around the world for a year, returned home and said, “Okay life, let’s do something brand new.”
Almost everything I had previously created—for the most part—was gone. In it’s place, I built Stratejoy.
I won’t lie, these years can be hard. But we need them to lay the groundwork for the next cycle. The Year of Growth.
The Year of Growth
I love years of growth. I find hope and optimism and forward movement so inspiring. This year is all about rebuilding. You might not experience “external success,” but your life finally starts feeling like yours.
The beautiful phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know,” applies to the Year of Growth. You are stretching and growing and learning. It’s an exciting time.
The Year of Growth might look like a change in your family makeup, diving into a passion project or starting a business. Whatever it is, you don’t know everything on the horizon, but you finally feel like you’re working your way towards it. Enjoy the feeling of play.
For me, this year is really empowering. I’m full of curiosity and I don’t mind a challenge. I’ve been in the Year of Growth for the last several years. My family was growing, my business was growing and I was learning new things about the woman I wanted to become.
This year feels like payoff. You start to see why you experienced that failure and uncertainty. The more you keep plugging away and believing in yourself, the closer you’ll get to the next stage in the cycle. The beautiful Year of Mastery.
The Year of Mastery
This is the year you wake up and say, “I have everything I wanted.”
I just had one of these years. I gave birth to my daughter, my business hit a place of personal fulfillment and financial abundance. We bought our beach house, remodeled and settled in. I felt confident as a teacher, accomplishing my life-long dreams of launching summer camp. My Year of Mastery felt good.
If you’re in this magical year, enjoy the hell out of it. Revel. Practice gratitude. Really appreciate where you are.
Because we all know what’s coming next.
After mastery comes unrest.
You might find yourself wondering, “Is this it?”
I’m in a bit of unrest right now.
But it feels less dramatic than the first time I went through it. I know how to tackle the unease by asking, “How can I renegotiate this piece of my life?” instead of going through a full-blown Year of Destruction.
This time around it meant talking to my husband about how to put some spark into our relationship. It meant Stratejoy 3.0, committing to the next evolution of my business and thinking hard about the women I want to serve.
These are big conversations, and a lot of work goes into making them. But I didn’t have to go through years of it. I didn’t need to hit the lowest part of the dip until I felt out of control.
Your years are fluid
I call this the Cycle of Years, but your particular stage could last a year, it could last three. You could move through Growth in six months.
The word “year” is not a hard-and-fast-365-day rule. Nor is it a calendar year.
So if you’re wondering where you are in the cycle, stay flexible.
The point is to understand the particular challenges and celebrations that occur throughout our lives. When you know yourself and your own unique cycle, you will experience freedom, allowing you to relax and be deliberate in this present moment.
Know that there are ways to get the most out of each stage as it occurs.
And know it is a cycle. You will eventually keep circling back in different areas of your life with different degrees of complexity and severity.
Your time is coming. You are not alone.