Where do I start if I have no idea what I want next? I’ve run into this question a few times over the past several weeks. I’ve talked to a couple of people who are feeling completely overwhelmed at not only the prospect of being motivated to do something (find a new job, get out of a terrible relationship), but also of the idea of having to create whatever it is that happens next.
We are not dummies. We know when our jobs stink or our relationships need fixing or ending. But we stay stuck in bad situations out of fear. Fear of being alone, fear of not being able to pay the bills, but mostly fear of being in charge of designing what happens next. What if you have no idea what you want, but you only know it isn’t THIS?
Ah, I’m glad you asked! Fear of transitions is completely normal. Hence the expression about the devil you know and the devil you don’t. But the truth is that with a little soul searching you don’t have to face a devil you don’t know. You can figure out what you want next. It doesn’t have to be a devil you don’t know, and it doesn’t have to be a devil at all.
My experience tells me that while many people need help getting over hurdles to goals that they’ve clearly articulated and really want (without self-sabotaging emotional baggage about why you shouldn’t or can’t have it) once they are at that point, they are 85% of the way there. (OK, I completely made up that statistic, but you get my point). It’s not that the major thing that holds us back is lack of motivation, know how, and the like. It’s that we don’t know what it is we truly want.
Imagine being in the situation of hating your job. (Maybe you don’t have to imagine very hard). You know what to expect: the boss you hate, too much work that is no longer fun, and a steady pay check. The idea of finding something you love may seem impossible, frivolous, and terrifying when you don’t know where to start. Here’s what I suggest:
- Start keeping a journal of any interactions or situations that give you a little zap of feeling alive. Was it when you were out at a nice dinner, helping someone solve a problem, or handing in a completed project? No matter how small that feeling, write it down and see if you can start to put together a theme of when you feel at your best.
- Look at your skills. I’m not talking about the latest web technology you learned. Don’t recreate your resume. I’m talking about your innate skills. If you are great at learning web technology because you love it, then that should go on your list. Or if you want someone in your life who will appreciate your ability to listen, write it down. Chances are, you are really good at certain things because you love to do them, and if you love to do them they somehow fit into the puzzle of what is next.
- Get some help. Whether it’s professional coaching or a good friend, having someone listen and offer another perspective can be helpful. You may gain insights into yourself that will help you write the next chapter.
It’s both scary and empowering to think that we get to choose what happens next in our lives. But if you can push into the fear of change knowing that there is hope, that you can figure out and create what you want, then hopefully that will outweigh the fear (and downright hopelessness) of staying stuck forever in a situation you hate. You are the only person with the power to make a change. Otherwise you will stay stuck in this same situation, or one equally difficult. But if you can find the courage to take a look, my guess is that you will figure it out and you’ll be too excited about the change to even have time to feel afraid.
Do you feel like you are doing what you are meant to do, or do you get out of bed every morning wondering how you will do this job (or some version of it) for the next 10, 20, or 30+ years? I know there are many of you out there who wish for better.
Why do we do it to ourselves? Is it that we are so confused about what we really want to do that we just keep doing what is right in front of us because for now it pays the bills? Are we too afraid of making the leap to something better?
Maybe you have a childhood dream that is still inside you, or a wish to do something in particular that will improve the world. Maybe there’s a book inside that is waiting to be written or a hobby you would like to make into a business. My question is, what are you waiting for?
There are two paths: go after your calling, or don’t; look for it, or don’t; believe in something better, or don’t. Personally, life gets a whole lot more fun for me when I believe in the power of possibility and when I think that my wildest dreams have a chance of coming true.
But where should you start? Maybe you have no idea where to begin, or the very thought of going after your calling makes you feel selfish, guilty and terrified (that the mortgage won’t get paid, for example). Let me tell you what you probably already know, but have trouble believing: those are the opposite feelings that you should have. Here’s why:
- Living it is Giving. The world gets to see and receive your true gifts when you live your calling. You are no longer robbing the world of what you have to offer. How can you feel selfish and guilty when you are being so generous?
- Open the Flow. You can find countless stories of successful men and women that will tell you that when they decided to go with their flow – that is, align with their true calling- the world started to open up for them. They felt happier, more fulfilled, and started generating the abundance (financial and otherwise) that they had always dreamed of. There are a lot of reasons why this works, and it’s not all crystals and tarot cards. I’ll write more about it in another post.
So how do you make the leap from believing that this is true in theory, or that it’s true for other people, to knowing and seeing that it is true in your own life? Start to slowly imagine what your calling might look like. Begin by noticing what activities during your day light you up and which shut you down. When you feel that pit in your stomach at the beginning of your work day, try to understand what it is that it is telling you. The first step is to notice. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Put “Up” on one side and “Down” on the other. Write down all of the things you can in each category every day for a week and then spend some time looking at it. Do you notice any themes? Are there way more items in the “Down” category? What does a close, trusted friend notice about it after looking at your entries?
I will post more ideas and activities to get you started on this amazing journey! If you are looking for more support, I have just started a new group on Linked In dedicated to these ideas. You can find it here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Find-Your-Calling-4314465?gid=4314465&trk=hb_side_g
Visit my website for coaching, newsletters and more at: www.wishingwellcoach.com