Blobs represent the seasons of life in distinct stages of 6 years. Knowing what changes and milestones are typical for a particular stage can help you understand which challenges you may face in the coming years, and how you can overcome these challenges and thus come to terms with your current situation. This is exactly what “Blobs” intend to do. In digestible portions of 6 years, the Blobs describe a path typical of of a person living in today’s middle-class society of the developed world, and also to some extent of the wealthier, urban society of the developing world. They represent different learning stages in which we master different skills and abilities. Through this framework I hope to help you to better understand not only yourself, but also your partner, your child, your parents, your friends and social circle. (Read also my blog post on why the ancient 7-year life cycle model needs to be adapted to today’s lifestyle).
Seasons of Life
The Blobs of Six divide and describe the human lifespan in four seasons of 24 years each. Each season is further divided in to four Blobs of 6 years each:
- Spring (1-24 years): Blobs 1-4 for developing, absorbing and growing
- Summer (25-48 years): Blobs 5-8 for engaging, executing and maturing
- Autumn (49-72 years): Blobs 9-12 for stabilizing, harvesting and giving
- Winter (73 years and beyond): Blobs 13-16 for slowing down, reflecting and releasing
I like to think of “Blobs” as droplets of life. A lifespan being a continuous sequence of Blobs. A person as a homogeneous composition of all his Blobs.
A baby is born. It grows in to a child, enters puberty, followed by adulthood, old age and then the inevitable end of life. Unless prematurely ended, everyone lives this pattern and goes through these stages of life. In every stage, or Blob, we all go through many changes which are not just biological, but also cognitive, psychological, moral and social. We interact with our environment, learning and absorbing all the way in to late old age. At the same time we gives back to the environment and take on responsibilities, thus fulfilling a social role. Society, on the other hand, typically expects certain characteristics, tasks and milestones from us at every stage. These expectations of society vary, dependent on geographic location, culture, time period, economic status and educational background.
This Blob framework describes what you would typically experience and expect in a particular stage of life, IF you have been following the pattern. In general, everyone grows at his own pace and experiences life differently. Blobs are certainly not supposed to be seen as a rigid set of rules with fixed boundaries. Not everyone goes through all characteristics of a Blob, nor does one have to ‘tick off’ all milestones before proceeding to the next Blob. Having said that, life may be ‘easier’ if the skill set meant to be learnt in a particular Blob is acquired before proceeding to the next one. Thus, a child would typically learn to crawl before it walks, and would babble before forming sentences. According to Bernice Neugarten’s “social clock theory”, those who accomplish milestones ‘on-time’ are more likely to be accepted by society and live less stressful lives than those who may be “off-time” or experience unexpected milestones. Thus a teenage mother may find it more difficult to find her place in society, than someone who has her child together with other’s in her age-group. This does not mean, that having “off-time” milestones will make you a less happier person. But it does imply, that the pattern is broken, and that you might need to try harder to ‘fit in’ or to meet society’s expectations on you.
Several developmental forces are constantly working on you during each Blob. You go through biological influences that are predictable, such as puberty, graying of the hair, loss of hearing etc, and environmental influences that effect a large group of people, such as the technological revolution or wars. There are also non-normative influences that do not follow a predictable pattern and affect only a small group of people, such as diseases, birth defects or personal events and choices. Any of these influences may have a positive or negative affect on the expected pattern. A birth defect or disease may delay or make you skip milestones expected in a particular Blob. On the other hand, some influences may accelerate events, e.g. you may choose to get married very early in life, or, as a genius child, you may finish schooling much earlier than normal. Divorce, disease, death, long time stress are all factors that work as turning points and may result in outcomes that are not ‘as expected’ in a particular Blob.
Though Blobs describe typical skills and patterns that are observed at particular chronological ages they, particulary the Winter Blobs, are not rigid . The older you get the more fluid they get. As Gail Sheehy explains in her book New Passages, over time, genes, gender, race, class, marital status, income, preventive health care (or carelessness) pile up to make us less and less alike.
Read about how Life Begins
Understand why the 7-year life stages are outdated in this Blog