Where you are in the change process?

What is required of you?

Stages of change? It doesn’t feel like when it’s happening, but when significant life change occurs, there are a series of stages the inevitable play out.

Column One below gives a brief description of the stages of the change process. Column Two describes the real world, external events or characteristics of your life that indicate change is occurring. Column Three describes the internal aspects of change, what is happening to you psychologically and what is required of you to move through this period of change.  This content of the table is based on the stages of the hero’s journey as described by Christopher Vogler. See the video here

Importantly, the change process is not linear. As you progress through these stages, you will return numerous times to Stage 3. Stage 3 reflects those moments when change is overwhelming, where our attempts to change have failed or a setback occurs leaving us exhausted and despairing. On the face of it, Stage 3 may like a step backwards. It is not. Successfully navigating change inevitably involves setbacks, moments of failure, experiencing chaos, of losing our bearings yet again and of being unsure of what to do and doubting our ability to do what is required, yet again. This recurring stage for most of us will be a temporary place where we give up, collapse in a heap and recover. This downtime will again allow us to explore what else we might do, what skill do we still need to master, what part of our last efforts do we need to tweak so as to increase our chances of success the next time.

12 Stages 3 Phases

The 12 stages fall into three phases. Phase One is where we leave behind or parts of our life are taken from us. This is called the SEPARATION PHASE and includes stages 1 to 3. The second phase involves finding ourselves in new and foreign situations having little idea as to what to do or what is required. This is called INITIATION as what is really happening is that you are learning new life skills both real world and psychological. This includes stages 5 to 8. The third phase is the home stretch. This is the part of your change process where you are consciously using your new skills to resolve the problem associated with the significant life change. This phase is called MASTERY as it is in this stage where you will successfully master the new skills required for your next life chapter.

the 12 stages of the hero's journey

The 12 Stages of Change

Where do you think you are?


Ordinary World Despite your best efforts, your everyday life with its activities, relationships and responsibilities is somehow lacking. There is a mismatch between the life you would like and the one you’ve got. The enjoyment factor has dwindled. Life feels more like a habit or a chore than being something rewarding or engaging. There is a growing sense of discontent but you are too busy to consider doing something about it or you tell themselves that ‘this is as good as it gets’. You believe that any problems you have are due to someone or something else. You many have little awareness of the real problem.

The Wake Up CallAn event or series of events, either intentional or unexpected, bring an end to some or all of the key aspects of your Ordinary World. The life that you thought was predictable, even boring is now uncertain. There is also now a significant life problem to address. You experience high levels of fear and sadness which leads to feeling confused and overwhelmed. You now have an increased awareness of the problem but continue to firmly believe the problem is still someone or something else.

This can’t be happening! I can’t do this!The events which have occurred are difficult to comprehend. The diagnosis, the accident, the discovery, the arrival of the new child, the loss of your job or health or relationship etc. There is a recurring thought that ‘this can’t be happening’. You are still trying to get through daily life but it feels like you are just putting one foot in front of the other.You feel dazed by the event(s) of the Wake Up Call. Your life has changed and this new situation feels too scary to face, too difficult to address. These emotions lead to denial. ‘This simply can’t be!’ You begin to look for reasons as to why this can not, should not, can not happen but it is. You begin to look for someone or something to blame. You have yet to realise however that whatever has happened, whoever caused it, a personal response from you will be required.

Meeting with a Mentor You meet someone who has faced a similar problem. Someone with the same diagnosis, or who was made redundant or lost their job, the woman who also miscarriaged, etc.Mentors help you process the sadness and fear following your Wake Up Call simply by acknowledging what happened to you. They have been in your shoes or very similar ones. They help your thinking shift from denial to acceptance; from ‘This can’t be’ to ‘What do I need to do?’ Most importantly they help you realise that no matter who is to blame, a personal response is required and that you can not keep living the same way as before.

Crossing the First ThresholdWith guidance from the Mentor, Heroes takes action crossing into a new area, a new arena, unsure of what to do, how to do it or even if they want to do it. Despite their overwhelming reluctance, action is required to address the problem caused by the Call to Adventure.Heroes realise that avoidance and denial are not working. Crossing into new territory involves learning new skills. Often these skills will be the polar-opposite of what the hero has done before. Heroes have some awareness that despite not wanting to, life is forcing them to change and adapt and inaction is not an option.

Tests, Allies, Enemies and RewardsHeroes realise they are required, often forced by changed circumstances, to undertake a series of tasks to try and resolve the problem caused by the Call to Adventure. The Hero meets people who want to help (Allies) but also others who appear determined to make things difficult: Enemies. Heroes begin to see some of their efforts pay off (Rewards).Heroes experiment with change, experiencing both success and failures. They begin to realise that these tasks required to resolve the problem require new skills. These skills are both internal psychological skills and external, real-world skills. Heros begin to realise that asking for help makes things better and does not mean they are weak. They begin to learn that failure is sometimes the only or best way to learn.

Approach to the Inmost CaveHeroes begins to realise that despite some success, the tasks are becoming harder.Heroes experience shock and disappointment. They realise more is being asked of them. Heroes have little idea that each more difficult task is improving the new life skills they are learning and adding to their experience level. These new polar-opposite skills will eventually be required to resolve the problem caused by the Call to Adventure.

Supreme OrdealThe Hero faces the most difficult task yet. Despite their best efforts, they fail. It looks as if all is lost and there is no point continuing.Heroes had believed that good intentions and hard effort would win through. The Supreme Ordeal teaches them that this is not the case. They still have not mastered the new polar-opposite skills required to resolve the problem. Heroes feel like giving up.

RewardHeroes receive a reward for surviving the Supreme Ordeal. The reward may be a new realisation, the recognition of their effort or the love and support from a significant other or Allies.Heroes realise they can attempt the impossible, fail and survive. They begin to think of themselves differently, as more capable than they had thought. As the problem caused by the Call to Adventure is still unresolved, Heroes realise that another attempt at resolving the problem is possible and required.

The Road BackHeroes set out to address the problem once and for all. Even more difficult tasks await them.Heroes have a psychological rededication to resolve the problem.

Death and ResurrectionHeroes face the most difficult task. All the skills and experience learned up to this point are put to use. Things do not go to plan but somehow the problem is resolved.Heroes face the hardest, scariest task to date. Completion of the task demonstrates that the Hero has mastered their new skills. They have attempted something they were terrified to do. They’ve resolved a problem they thought they never could. They have cast off their old self-limiting beliefs about who and what they are capable of. They have a new, more adult sense of themselves.

Return with the ElixirThe problem has been resolved. Little went to plan but the Hero persisted learning new real world skills but also undergoing an internal, psychological change.Heroes realise that there is a different way to live with their new awareness and skills and that these may be passed on to others.

To learn more about the stages of the hero’s journey start here.