It's Time to Just Play the Game



When you are playing a card game, whether it is poker, Old Maid, Go Fish, Rummy or Spoons (remember that one!) at some point a winner is declared and it’s time for the Toss-In. Everyone throws their cards back into the pile and celebrates their victory or mourns their loss. Next, someone gathers the cards for The Shuffle, and the players decide who is going to go another round and what they will do to come out on top. Up next is The Deal. As the cards get dealt out, the game has been chosen, the rules are set, and the players know which cards are wild.

At long last it’s time to ante up and just play the game as best you can with the cards you’ve been dealt. In the Cycle of Change that we’ve been discussing the last few months, the “Playing the Game” phase is much like a card game. It’s time to let go of the past and future and just be in the moment.

After the turbulence and uncertainty of the other three phases, you will likely feel a sense of calm, relief, presence, and joy. That’s not to say you can’t experience these emotions during the Toss-In, Shuffle, and Deal, but they come more readily when you are Playing the Game.

At the very beginning of this phase, you are likely to feel light, free, and a sense of stability. As the previous phases disappear from the review mirror, you may feel confident and comfortable with your situation. But nothing lasts forever, and if you are paying attention, towards the end of Playing the Game, you’ll likely notice feeling some complacency, boredom or just an itch for something new.

I’ve been talking about my relocation to the Berkshires to illustrate the Cycle of Change, but I’m not yet Playing the Game. But I do know what it feels like. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be cast in a production of A.R. Gurney’s The Cocktail Hour. We started with a table reading of the script then got it on its feet and figured out the blocking. Next, we had our costumes fitted and got off book. Finally, we had our tech and dress rehearsals to hammer out the final details. It was whirlwind of three weeks to get everything ready, but before I knew it, it was opening night. Once the proverbial curtain went up, there was no more discussion about blocking or memorizing or discussing. We just went out and gave the audience a show.

The play ran for four weeks, five shows a week. After the last show, we all went out to celebrate, and then it was time to Toss-In our character and move on to our next project.

If you are “playing the game,” enjoy the moment, and remember at some point it will be time for another Toss-In. Maybe in the next go around, you can use everything discussed in these four blog posts to your advantage. Reflecting on the Cycle of Change I started this series with the Toss-In, but given that it’s called the CYCLE of Change, there is, by definition, no first phase or last phase. You are constantly moving through each phase one after another.

In my experience, The Deal and the Toss-In are like mile markers that announce a clear shift in circumstances and The Shuffle and Playing the Game can be less definitive and it’s more likely you’ll have to take an action to get out of them.

You are Playing the Game for a while then BOOM! Things have changed and you are in the Toss-In. Or you are doing the Shuffle...still Shuffling...Shuffling over here and there and everywhere... then BAM! Welcome to The Deal.

In any case, the Cycle continues, and like the climate in New England, If you don’t like the phase that you are in, there is another one coming up.

Something to ask yourself is: Do you want to get run through them like a sock in the dryer or cruise through them like a race car driver? Or something in between? We don’t always get to choose when and how we move from phase to phase, but you have more power than you might think to set the tone.

It’s not about trying to control the Cycle of Change because sometimes life just throws a wrench in things. What will serve you even more than feeling “in control” throughout the cycle is being conscious. Conscious of how you feel, what your needs are, and who is impacted by your choices or lack of choices.

Who do you want to be regardless of where you are?

If you enjoyed this and found it helpful, check out the other three blog posts in this series.

Heading back outside your Comfort Zone: The Toss-In

How Long Do You Shuffle?

What's The Deal with Change?