A new year, a milestone birthday, or a transition like getting married, starting a new job, ending a relationship, or sending the kids off to college are all, in some way, symbolic of the start of a new chapter in your life.
More often than not, these significant life events inspire some contemplation around what it is that you would like to do with the next year—or the next several years. Your ideas will generally be geared toward who you want to be, what you want to be doing, how you want to be living, and the things you want to have. Examples might be to have more freedom to:
- Travel to unique places
- Explore hobbies
- Invest in meaningful relationships
- Perfect your health and vitality
- Start an exciting new career
The early twentieth century philosopher and mystic Rudolf Steiner created a theory of human development based on seven year cycles (also referred to as Saturn Cycles in Astrology). Each cycle has a general theme that is pertinent for the particular stage you’re in and can serve as a framework to embark on the next chapter in your life.
These years are where you are developing physically and cognitively. Your core values and personality are also being formed during this cycle. You’re like a little sponge, and you take in everything. You develop core beliefs about yourself, others and the world, and you begin to label things as being good or bad, right or wrong, and scary or safe.
This is when you begin to look for role models you admire and want to be like. It’s also when you begin to refine your previously adopted beliefs and try to make sense of things you’re being taught. You’re looking to make connections between experiences and understanding.
This cycle is about becoming independent, while simultaneously creating a social network where you feel like you belong. You start to explore your interests more deeply and act out various personas. Emotions are heightened, and you can be overly dramatic, passionate, and reactive. It tends to be a time when there is a lot of push-back on parental or authoritative figures as you develop your sense of independence and autonomy.
You are now legally an adult, and you are having to make adult decisions. Your focus will tend to be around career and success—how you are going to “make it” in this world. It’s typically a very exciting time in your life because you’re on your own and facing a lot of difficult life lessons. This is when you are establishing yourself.
This is a period of time where you have probably established your career, and you feel like you know yourself more deeply as a result of all you experienced in your early 20s. It’s often a time when you look at finding your life partner and start a family of your own. This cycle is often marked as “having the time of your life.”
If you don’t fall into the trap of going through life each day on auto-pilot, you may begin to question what you are doing with your life and whether or not you are happy with how things are panning out. It's time to get clear on what isn't working and potentially create some change.
This is the cycle when major changes occur. According to Steiner, you will be digesting and metabolizing your life experiences, extracting the learnings, and adopting new ways of thinking, being, and doing. It’s a time for big changes and a new direction; a pivotal time to change partners, life, and personal direction. It’s also where you let go of old ideals and beliefs so that you can be born again as a new person for the second half of your life.
This cycle is where you see real changes in your body, your energy levels, and, perhaps, your overall enthusiasm for life. You may find yourself retreating inward and directing your attention to doing some inner work. For many, this is also a period during which an awakening can occur as you realize that things you used to hold as being important don’t matter as much. You are also focused more on meaningful conversations and relationships.
You know who you are and you enjoy living your life in ways that afford more love, peace, connectedness, and joy. You are probably looking at retirement and re-evaluating how you want to be spending your time—and with whom. You may have the itch to travel, taking extended down time after a lifetime of hard work.
You have acquired a level of wisdom and an understanding of the importance of living a life of purpose, joy, and fulfillment. You likely have a deeper appreciation for the gifts you have been given, and you may find that you enjoy silence, nature, and time in prayer, meditation, and reflection.
Visualize Your Next Chapter
These cycles may or may not match up exactly with what is happening in your life right now, but it is still beneficial to consider them when visualizing the next chapter of your life. Try the following five-step process to start your journey:
- Start by closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and settling into your seat.
- Bring to mind your ideal vision for how you would like your life to be in one year:
- What does your career look like?
- Where are you at in terms of your health and fitness?
- What is the state of your intimate relationship and friendships?
- What does your family life look like?
- What are you doing for fun?
- In each area of life, write down your ideal vision, and then write down an action step you can take each day to move you closer—and eventually into—this ideal next chapter of your life. *Note: these action steps should have smaller 2-week, 1-month, 3-month or 6-month milestones that help you celebrate your achievements.
- Keep a progress journal, check in at each milestone to assess your progress, and make any necessary course corrections. If you find you’re unable to effectively overcome some obstacles on your own—things like fear, anxiety, toxic relationships, or beliefs you have about yourself—you may need to hire a coach or enlist your best friend or partner to help you stay inspired, motivated, and, most of all, accountable.
- Maintain your momentum and stay focused on your vision for what you want this next chapter to be.
During this process, it’s important to pay attention to signs and synchronicities. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to meet new people, have new experiences, and see things from a different perspective. The essential ingredients for living a life of purpose and passion are to be:
When you’re outside of your comfort zone, you’ll find that the infinite possibilities you once believed to be purely fantasy have manifested as your new tangible reality.
Have fun creating and living your inspiring next chapter.