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Is this how you go through change? Compare yourself with this 'Individual Change Journey' model.

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

What difficult change are you going through?

Although this is a generalized depiction, this shows the main phases of how people typically go through change.

See if you can relate . . .

'Individual Change Journey' diagram for mindfulness, by The Calm Monkey

The above diagram is sometimes also referred to as the 'Valley of Despair' (and with good reason! Change can be hard!)

For disruptive changes in our lives, the diagram shows a generalized depiction of how people typically go through the change life cycle.

Follow along . . .

Let's walk through the above model using the example of a big change of work.

Example: Your leadership announces a major restructuring where you will be reporting to a new boss and your job is probably going to change, but it's too soon to know how exactly you will be impacted.

First, please notice the black, bold line that dips in the middle. This represents how you might move through the change over time, with respect to your attitude, emotions, performance, etc.

  • You might start out feeling okay but when the change starts to literally impact you, such as you start getting direction from your new boss, you might start to feel anxiety, confusion and frustration, etc. The black line starts to dip.

  • Then, you start to worry over how it's going to impact your role, and you really start to feel the stress. When stressed, you are not operating at your best performance. The black line hits rock bottom.

  • Then, after awhile, which may take many weeks or months, time elapses and you start to understand and get used to your new boss and your new job responsibilities. The new normal starts to feel more okay and you feel some familiarity with the situation. Your stress level is better and your able to perform again. The black line starts to rise again.

Yes, you might be thinking "but that's not how it always goes", and that is true. This is a very generalization depiction of the change cycle. Sometimes we don't come of the dip very well at all, or maybe ever. And who wants to be in the dip anyway? This is why I'm writing this post, because there is something very constructive that you can do to improve how you experience change in your life.

Secondly, please notice the five yellow boxes in the diagram. These are the five stages of change.

1. Awareness

This is when the change is new to you and you're just becoming aware of it. Mindfulness helps us become self-aware of our feelings and reactions about the change.

2. Understanding

When the change feels more real and impactful, mindfulness helps us notice what is making the change difficult for us and why. Complete honestly and vulnerability is needed here, and you can do this in the privacy of your own mind with guided practices. For example, you may uncover that you are worried that your new boss won't like you, you feel insecure, and you are upset about losing your old boss because she used to let you have lots of latitude in your work.

3. Acceptance

Acceptance helps get us out of the valley. If we can find a level of acceptance about the situation – an attitude of willingness to observe and be present with the situation, rather than pushing it away that causes the stress, this lets us move forward purposefully. We won’t get stuck, even if we don’t agree with the change. Mindfulness helps us to see the way things are without judgment, or with less judgment.

4. Commitment

This is where conscious decisions about moving forward are made. We engage constructively to help shape a more positive experience for ourselves. Here we might take tangible steps to lift ourselves out of the valley, such as taking some training, or talking to a trusted friend, or having a more positive, open, flowing attitude. Mindfulness helps us think more calmly, clearly and with more openness to possibilities.

5. Advocacy

You can be an advocate for yourself, recognizing your accomplishments and celebrating your wins. And you can be an advocate who helps others struggle through the change. Mindfulness helps us see the good, and be more compassionate.

Each change has a unique path

The experience of each change we go through will differ. One change might feel easy all the way through. Another change may start out well but take a dive and never come back up. Another change may feel like a roller coaster with lots of ups and downs.

Each change will have it's own unique path

The bottom line

Mindfulness can help at every stage of the change journey, and guided practices can be your companion in helping you create a better experience of change for yourself.

Explore the Dealing with Change Toolkit designed specifically to guide you through the stages of the Individual Change Journey.

This is supported by an evidence-based study that showed it positively helped all participants better deal with their changes.

This is your helpful, private meditation companion.

Dealing with Change Toolkit

Questions are welcome at


~Wendy Quan, Founder, The Calm Monkey


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