The evolutionary cycle

The market cycle

We will borrow Howard Mark’s description of the market cycle from Mastering the Market Cycle.

The evolutionary cycle

When it comes to the personal evolution journey, the principle is the same. Internally, we also experience highs and lows.

Stage 1 — Dreaming and exploration

The evolving person is aware of a vague dream and has a desire for something better. He searches for a form of expression for that dream. The person is very open and willing to explore. The key here is to try as many new things as possible to find the right form.

Stage 2 — Perseverance and discipline

After the exploration stage, the person chooses a few forms to focus on. The person must be disciplined and put in consistent effort to master the new form of expression. The person meets with trials and challenges along the way as he expands himself. The key here is perseverance.

Stage 3 — Outward balance, internal conflict

Although the person has made headway into mastering the new form and has manifested certain elements of his dream, remnants of his old life remain. Part of him clings to the safety of the old life, while the growing part yearns for expansion and breakthrough. Both sides are in constant conflict. As one side gets stronger, so does the other.

Stage 4 — Choice and commitment

To progress successfully to Stage 4, the person must make a choice to go all in. This feels like jumping off a cliff blindfolded. The person does not know whether things will work out, but he must leap anyway. As the person leaps, he soars into the sky. He is rewarded with synchronicities, help, success, and manifestations beyond his imagination.

The flip after Stage 4

After Stage 4, the person experiences a flip in his orientation. Whereas in Stages 1–3, the person was self-rejecting (i.e. changing oneself to grow), after Stage 4, the person becomes other-rejecting. He begins to assert himself. Everything that does not fit into his new world view, he rejects. He makes a stand for his new beliefs, and attempts to shape the world in his image.

Stage 5 — Facing the shadow self

So begins the descent into the abyss.

On motivation and reconciliation

When a person makes a decision to move from Point A to Point B, there is a force directing the person away from Point A to a projected Point B. Point B is the perceived land of milk and honey, a heaven where all his problems would be resolved. This creates positive motivation for him.

Stage 6 — Upturn and final sprint

Once the lowest point has been reached, the person experiences an upturn from the depths of the abyss. The person senses that the cycle is nearing completion, and feels time is running out. He makes a final sprint towards the finish line, working to complete any unfinished business and fulfil any unfulfilled dreams.

Stage 7 — Consolidation and integration

The person reflects and looks back on the journey. He assesses the outcome and results. The person must now put things in their place. There is a desire for order, rest, renewal, contemplation, and stillness as the person tries to pare life down to its bare essentials. The person finds a way to express lessons learned. He attains the best of both worlds.

Final note

The evolutionary cycle is like a wave, going through peaks and troughs. In life, there is a time to hold on and a time to let go, a time to build and a time to fall apart.

Further reading

Here is a non-exhaustive list of works that describe the cycle and its stages. Not all works describe the cycle in the same way, nor include the same stages. They do, however, convey similar themes.

  • In Search of the Miraculous by P. D. Ouspensky (Law of Seven)
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (The Hero’s Journey)
  • Mastering the Market Cycle by Howard Marks (The Nature of Cycles)
  • The Four Stages of Alchemical Work (The Great Work)
  • The Bible (Genesis creation‌ narrative)
  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu

The bigger picture

You may have heard Kelvin mention in one of the TBEs that our lives are like loops, and that when we break through, we expand into a larger loop.



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Shuying Ke

Shuying Ke

Shuying is a life and voice coach. She loves exploring life, seeking truth, and empowering people to reach their potential. Blogs at