I Don't Know What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

I Don't Know What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

I have only known a handful of people who had a clear calling from a young age.  Most of us discover our career path in a different way.  One client couldn’t stand her commute anymore.  Another wanted more financial stability after years of contract employment.  A third had been passed over for multiple promotions with no clear feedback about development she could focus on.  Each woman had reached their limit.  I heard anger in their voices.  I recognized the energized commitment in their bodies.  A change was coming and they wanted help navigating it.

Other clients have come to me in an earlier stage of the “what's next” inquiry.  They recognize it as fantasizing about leaving their role or calling in sick to work.  This can be an incredibly uncomfortable place to be.  People often get stuck here because they believe they have to choose an ideal role before taking any steps forward.  After being asked as children “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and by their managers “where do you see yourself in five years?”, they feel paralyzed. If career development is a linear journey along a straight path, their next step could be the WRONG one! If they don’t know what to do next, isn’t it better to do nothing at all?⠀There is an important difference between staying still to listen to your own guidance and ignoring the question that is stirring inside.  Sometimes when people choose to wait they are actually just avoiding the discomfort of uncertainty.

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A Practice For Navigating Uncertainty

A Practice For Navigating Uncertainty

“Is this the right choice?”  “What will I do next?”  “What do I want to do with my life?”  These big questions frequently come up during sessions with my clients.  Sitting with this uncomfortable uncertainty can feel overwhelming.  Many of us want to reach an answer quickly or be told that a choice we’re making will turn out well.  I experienced this a lot over the past two years as I decided to start a coaching business.  "Is this my purpose?"  "Will someone please tell me I'm doing it right?"

There is one activity I have been introduced to that translates that inner journey of not-knowing into a physical contemplative practice: walking a labyrinth.  People have been building labyrinths for over 3500 years across multiple continents and cultures.  Moving along a labyrinth combines the mindful practice of walking meditation with a surrender to the twists and turns of the path.  There is only one way in and one way out.  You may find yourself trying to puzzle out how soon you will get to the center or what the overall design is.  Letting go of your need to predict the journey is a powerful metaphor for exploring uncertainty in life.  Another metaphor within the practice is that as you move towards the center it is as if you are coming closer to your Inner Knowing or True Essence or the Divine.  In this way, it is also a practice in developing trust.

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