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Each state has different rules and regulations, but Colorado has opened up quite a bit. Job loss is slowing and the economy is picking up slightly. While we will never go back to the way things were before this, we will have to adjust to a new normal.

In 2017, I wrote a book titled “Change Mastery“, and the subtitle is “Making sense of change to navigate life’s transitions”. That feels really resonant right now, so today I wanted to share some wisdom from that book. Today, I wanted to share with you the seven stages of change. I encourage you to identify where you are at and how you’d like to proceed forward.

The Seven Stages of Change: Navigating the New Normal

Stage 1: Crisis

Does this sound familiar? At this stage, you have a lot of questions. You will be in shock because as you try to wrap your head around the consequences of this change.

I remember hearing the horrific numbers of deaths caused by the Coronavirus. I remember the moment the country went into crisis mode with governors declaring states of emergency and public panic that led to a toilet paper shortage. Crisis activates our “fight or flight” mode.

Stage 2: Loss

The losses of the Coronavirus pandemic are hard to imagine. The lives lost, the businesses lost, the financial losses. The truth is, every change in your life starts with an end. There were deeper, psychological losses as well. People lost a sense of security, a sense of control.

During this stage, I encourage you to grieve. Process the loss and wrestle with it. Walking through the loss is the only way to get through it.

Stage 3: Denial

Denial happens when despair causes you to get lost in the loss. The temptation to wallow in the pain is powerful and your will to overcome is weak. Though this pandemic was incredibly difficult, you will eventually have to move on from your hurt. Don’t get stuck in the blame game. Recognize the loss and grieve it, then move on to how you can rectify it.

Stage 4: Resistance

Suddenly, anger, fear, depression and guilt hit you like a ton of bricks. You want to retaliate against whomever or whatever caused this negative event in your life. You may even be angry with God, wondering why He did not prevent this experience. 

The emergence of these powerful negative emotions is just part of the change process. It is the chastening or discipline that is talked about in Hebrews 12:5: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord.” But remember what it says later in Hebrews 12:12-13: “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” Healing is on the other side if you do not give up. 

Stage 5: Discovery

This is where momentum can build.  The stage of discovery is a time of contemplation, a time to appreciate the past, to look back and remember the good things. It is also a time to reflect on the things that were not so good.  Don’t view the past unrealistically; often the good old days were not actually as good as we remember.  There’s a reason you’re experiencing a change. 

Discovery is a time of chaos. Good things are happening, but you do not yet have a clear picture of where you are going. A common mistake at this stage is to try to pinpoint exactly where you  are headed without taking the time to explore all the possibilities in front of you.

Stage 6: Commitment

In this stage, you start looking at the place you are going instead of where you have been or where you could be. In the discovery stage, you daydream about new things for your life; now it’s time to get after them! It’s time to set your will and conviction toward a new structure or plan—whether this is a new job, new relationship or a new habit. In this stage, you have firmly identified with the change and are ready to start living it out. 

It’s time to make a vow to yourself. Commit to making it all the way through the change process. This is a good time to be vocal about the possibilities you are pursuing. Tell a good friend, tell your spouse, post it on Facebook. I don’t care how you do it, just put it out into the world that you are seeking after a change! This will help make it real for you. Then allow safe people like a mentor, small group, or a really good friend to hold you accountable to the rest  of this process. Let them know what you are seeking after and how they can partner with you to help you achieve your goals. 

Stage 7: Assimilation

Finally: victory! In this last stage, you completely embrace the change. It is no longer something you are thinking about or worry- ing about; you have assimilated it. You are no longer the same, for you are now something new. There is no going back, and the desire to go back is all but faded. This is where you can build your new normal.

As we move into navigating the new normal, I encourage you to start dreaming of where you could be. Begin thinking of the opportunities that can be borne out of this forced change.