Square Four of Martha Beck’s change cycle is where all your hard work of creating a new life, a new identity, pays off. The learning curve starts to level off and you pretty much know what’s going on and where you’re headed.
Your life (or whatever part of it is in Square Four) looks a lot like you dreamed it would, way back at the beginning of Square Two—or it looks totally different but feels just as great as you hoped it would.
Once you’ve had the baby, or settled into your dream job, or relaxed into the idea of being single again—you get a chance to take a few deep breaths, look around, notice what’s working—and tweak what’s not.
Small changes are the name of the game in Square Four. That’s because when your life (or your career, or your relationship with your partner) is fundamentally strong and satisfying, only small changes are needed. For example, I’d like to institute date night with my husband. We went out for dinner alone a couple of times last year and twice already this year—I’d like to make it a monthly event.
If, when we get to Square Four in one area of our lives, we forget to pay attention and make those small, necessary changes, we can eventually find ourselves back in Square One. For most couples, the first year after having a baby puts the needs of the couple on the back burner. But eventually, the marriage needs some nurturing, too. If none is given, the marriage can lose its strength. We all know this intellectually, but in the busyness of day-to-day life, it’s easy to keep putting off making the couple a priority.
To stay in Square Four, take some time to reflect on the different areas of your life. What small changes (or even one small change) could you make in each of these areas to make your life even more enjoyable (or relaxed, or exciting, or whatever your core desired feeling is?)
You don’t have to implement these changes today. Just make a note of them and think about how you could incorporate these changes into your daily life over the next few weeks or months.
For example, I like to run and swim, but I’ve also found yoga to be really helpful and relaxing. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to start going to yoga again. I’ve only been to one yoga class in 2014, so one of the tweaks I’ll be making is to schedule a yoga class once a month—that may not sound like “enough” but it’s more than I’m doing right now and I’ve found that a small change is much more likely to occur than a big change. Eventually, I’d love to go to yoga once a week, but I’m starting small so I have a greater chance of succeeding at my goal.
Are you in Square Four in any areas of your life? What’s working well and what small change could make things work even better?