Summary: The Four Stages of Life

Thankfully, today I stumbled on good stuff on Facebook. It is a blog post of Mark Manson, a NY Times author, which has a catchy name (to me): “The four stages of life”.

Mark suggested that there are 4 stages of life: Mimicry, Self-discovery, Commitment and Legacy.

Stage One: Mimicry

We grew up mimicking to become a socially acceptable human. As a result, we identify the rules and norms unconsciously, and direct our thinking and behaviors according to those rules and norms. In this stage, it is external approval and validaiton that matters most to us. In this blog entry, Mark mentioned that this stage is where there is an “absence of individual thought and personal values”.

Therefore, the advice for people in this stage is to be “aware of the standards and expectations of those around us”. But at the same time, we must “develop the ability to act by ourselves and for ourselves.”

Stage Two: Self-discovery

Whereas in stage One we learn to fit in, in stage Two we learn “what makes us different” from people and culture around us. We sometimes call them the “Beta people”, who are in the process of exploring their identity.

They often fall in the description of the marketing jargon “Millenials”, who can’t stay at any companies for too long and ready to quit their jobs for traveling. People call them spontaneously unthoughtful, but the fact is they are fighting internally about who they are and why the hell they are here.

Through a lot of trials and errors, these guys start to realize their strengths and weaknesses. They start to learn what excite them and what suck them to death. They realize “there are opportunity costs to everything, and that you can’t have it all”.

And there are people who stay in Stage Two too long. Mark refered to them with “Peter Pan Syndrome”- the eternal adolescents, always discovering themselves, but finding nothing.

Stage Three: Commitment

In Stage Three, after a while of exploring, winning and failing, you know who you really are. And “now it’s time to make your dent in the world”.

Stage Three is when you get it done. “You double down on what you’re best and what is best to you. You double down on the most important relationships in your life. You double down on a single mission in life.”

People in stage Three start to wonder: “What will I leave behind when I’m gone?” They start to build their legacy by maximizing their potential and focusing on what they are really good at.

Stage Four: Legacy

These people have created a legacy, which they somehow feel fulfilled and proud of. Now, they concern about making sure the legacy lasts beyond their death. They concern about passing their beliefs and wisdom to the next generation.

People in this stage need to feel they have done something meaningful for life. Stage Four is important because “it makes the ever-growing reality of one’s own mortality more bearable”.

Read more about the implications behind all of this at this link: https://markmanson.net/four-stages-of-life

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