The positive change cycle

Disciplines > Change Management > The psychology of change

The positive change cycle

Uninformed optimism | Informed pessimism | Informed optimism | Completion | See also

Just as there is a negative cycle of emotions experienced when the change is not to the liking of the person in question, so also is there a positive cycle. Not all people experience change as a bad thing: some will benefit from the change, whilst others just find change in itself intriguing and exciting.

Uninformed optimism

In the first stage of positive change, the person is excited and intrigued by the change. They look forward to it with eager anticipation, building a very positive and often over-optimistic view, for example that it will be much easier for them and resolve all of their current issues.

And for a time after the change (sometimes sadly short), there is a ‘honeymoon period’, during which they are positively happy with the change.

Informed pessimism

The honeymoon period does not last forever and the rose-tinted glasses start to fade as the untidiness of reality starts to bite. The person finds that things have not all fallen into place, that other people have not magically become as cooperative as they expected, and that things are just not as easy as they had expected.

This pushes them over into a period of gloom when they realize that perfection, after all, is not that easy to attain. This may evidence itself in mutterings and grumblings, but still does not reach the depths of the depression stage of negative change perception (unless the person flips into a delayed negative cycle).

Informed optimism

Before long, however, their original optimism starts to reassert itself, now tinted by a resignation to the reality of the situation. After all, things are not that bad, and a positive sense of potential begins to creep back.

As they look around them and talk to other people, they make realistic plans and move forward with an informed sense of optimism.


Eventually, things reach a relatively steady platform of realistic and workable action. The person is probably happier than they were before the change started and, with their realistic vision, have the potential to reach giddier heights of happiness as they achieve more of their potential.

Link to Changing Minds

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