Anyone in a creative field knows the creative growth process is a finicky thing. One can’t always just sit down and write a book or pick up a guitar and write a whole song. It’s certainly magical when it happens like that, but there are other times where we are at a particular stage of our growth cycle that requires patience with the process.
Of course, a growth cycle is for anyone, not only creative folk. Growing is part of our nature as human beings. We grow through easy things, difficult things…through failure and success. This cycle repeats itself many times in our lifetime, however, we are often unaware of where we are in our growth cycle. So I decided to write this post so you can determine where you are now and know what’s coming next.
Here we go!
Phase 1: Caterpillar Phase
This is the happy phase. You are that cute little caterpillar just going around and getting excited about something! Maybe you want to start your own business, or start working out, or insert some other amazing idea here! Yay! Look at all the inspo, listen to all the related podcasts, watch all the vlogs!
Munch. Munch. Munch. You’re that caterpillar eating it all up. You’re soaking it all in and it feels sooo good!
Then something happens. You have all this information and start to feel trapped.
What the hey? Bring back the inspo!
Congratulations, you’re movin’ on to Phase 2…
Phase 2: Cocoon Phase
Hello darkness my old friend. Suddenly you find yourself going inward.
Questioning. Thinking. Thinking. So much damn thinking!
Suddenly you feel trapped and find yourself turning inward. This is normal. Remember, you were outward before, eating all the goodness up around you. Now you cocoon. Where and how you cocoon is up to you.
A lot of creatives feel depressed in this phase. They also sometimes have random bouts of anxiety that are caused by the passion to do whatever it is they are inspired to do. These feelings suck, but they are necessary for introspection.
If you find yourself here, consider yourself moving forward in your growth. You’ve reached a pinnacle in all that excitement and learning and now you are trapped because you are overloaded with great information that lacks action.
Being trapped is important in your growth. You need this inward reflection to think about where you want to go. What is the final destination in this growth process for you? Maybe it’s a published novel or a product you designed. Recognize and honor that finish line. Think about it often here so you can rekindle the flame. Then turn inward to reflect on it.
The key to moving out of the cocoon phase is this:
- Validate your own feelings
- Build your confidence
- Reframe limiting beliefs
- Ask a friend to tell you that you are doing great (on repeat if necessary)
This is actually my favorite phase even though when you are in it, it sucks. When my clients are here so much “stuff” comes out of this phase that is cathartic. I learn so much about my clients and they learn so much about themselves. I have a true appreciation for the cocoon.
Now you move onto the next phase…
Phase 3: Transformation
All that inward thinking has brought you to this next phase. Your transformation is a special phase because you have already been through so much. You have been inspired, you have “battled your demons” in the cocoon phase. Now, you have space to look both backward and forwards.
Backward, you can see your growth, and looking forward you are ready to take action. in this phase you are essentially becoming a new person.
This is an awakening.
Here, you connect to your values and your strengths. You start to build resilience and confidence that allows you to see the steps outlined in front of you.
Hot damn, the caterpillar is turning into a butterfly!
This transformation doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a certain length of time needed in this phase to reconnect to your purpose from Phase 1 after you got in your own way in Phase 2. How much time really depends on the person. Please remember it’s not a race, don’t try to compete with yourself…that never ends well.
Give yourself time to build yourself back up, get re-inspired, and plan out carefully what your next steps will be.
The only thing I can say here is that you will know when your transformation is complete. You will just know. It will hit you out of nowhere when you are ready. It might freak you out, but remember this is part of the growth process.
When this moment hits you, your heart will start to race, your head will be clear for a moment and you’ll think, “Woah, it actually happened!”
Phase 4: Emergence
Da don doonnnnnn. You have made it. Now you are finally taking flight! This emergence is a process of taking actionable steps combined with an exploration of “what’s out there” beyond the learning.
There’s an acceptance here that whatever happens you are ready for. Because at this point you realize that any “failure” is feedback and any success is growth that you’ve prepared for in the other phases. Now you can go put things out there knowing you have done the work both outside and inside and embrace the uncertainty of what’s next.
Wherever you are in your cycle, remember to trust the process, and soon you’ll be flying free!