Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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Contingencies: The Chrysalis Cycle

  1. Contingency Planning
  2. Contingencies: Commander’s Intent
  3. Contingencies: Plan a Graceful Exit
  4. Contingencies: Making Peace with Probability
  5. Contingencies: The Chrysalis Cycle

So, we’re on the last day of the contingencies series. I hope you found the tactics for dealing with life’s curveballs useful…

Here’s the trick…

The hardest thing about this whole deal is just making your peace with uncertainty. Uncertainty is a fact of life. There’s just no way around it. But like learning how to take a fall, deciding your likely moves in the face of the unexpected is a use for time that always has a good ROI.

I love 5 year plans. I think it’s exciting to look into the future and think about what I want to create with that. A friend of mine says “That’s impossible. I can’t get over my perfection. To me, I would have to have every month planned out for the next five years. I know that it has to be updated refularly, but it’s just not happening.”

Listen, I write a new five year plan three or four times a year. Want to know how many I’ve accomplished? None. And I’m fine with that. I don’t need to stick to the plan just because I’ve made one. I just want to make sure I think about the big picture. It’s less a five year “plan” and more a “5 year moving target”. Some people do execute on their five year plans. Maybe I will one day too. But my chrysalis cycle is too fast.

WTF is a Chrysalis Cycle?

Just like a caterpillar goes into a cocoon and comes out a moth, you have a cycle of change too. It’s just harder to distinguish.

6 months to a year is all I get out of any given chapter in my life, and when changes happen, they happen fast. It’s a matter of self-preservation to be able to discard what no longer applies and embrace the new status quo.

How fast is your cycle? Well, it depends. Some people get five, even ten years. Some people get three months. It generally slows as you age (mine is speeding up, but, um, I’ve always been weird).

Basically, your cycle is as long as it takes you to get itchy feet, and to move onto the next thing. It doesn’t really matter WHAT it is, because there’s nothing right or wrong. It’s simply something to plan around.

Leveraging your Chrysalis Cycle

Leveraging your chrysalis cycle is kind of like timing the markets– the returns are ENORMOUS. Think about it: most projects, don’t fail on their own merits. For one reason or another, they just sort of… fizzle. But timing your goals to your chrysalis cycle is like doing your highest-value work at your peak productivity times. Which you definitely do, right?

You might have concurrent cycles; I have 3-4 small cycles, and one big cycle. So I find it conducive to plan large projects like my book in a small cycle, and keep my eyes open for the big, usually general-life-circumstances change that seems to crop up about once a year.

It might take you a few cycles to get the hang of it. But it definitely pays off. You know to the month when your interest will wane. You’ll know to schedule any new opportunities for that time. Last year, I spent 4 months pencilling opportunities into my calendar in September. Come September, I was booked solid. And at that point, you can cherry-pick your opportunities, and reject the ones where your interest has waned.

You know exactly when to cash in. Say you started a nice little internet business. If you know your cycle is 18 months, you know you have 18 months to either have it automated, or sold. If you’re, say, a project manager, you know to avoid projects that last longer than your cycle (and then, you make damn sure they come in under the deadline, so you don’t get stuck there after the point when you’re so done.)

Mastering the cycle…

is always a work in progress. Because change is inevitable, even in the length and depth of your cycles. You’re not going to set a fool-proof set of practices and then never have to revisit them. The same things apply here that apply IRL life: Stay centred, begin with the end in mind, and plan your exit.

If you enjoyed this series, sign up for the CataLyst, to get practical strategies for Jedi-level meta-interaction with rules, realities, and possibilities. In other words,  learn to use the force!