How do you know when it’s time for a major career or other life change? Sometimes you’re in a situation where a new opportunity presents itself, and you may be highly motivated to go for it. Sometimes an incident happens that radically alters your life, and you have to decide how to face this change. Or you may have a growing awareness of dissatisfaction and lack of interest in what you’ve been doing for years.
The one sure thing is that change is upon you, and your choice becomes how to envision its possibilities. In my own life, and in those of my coaching clients, what I’ve noticed is that holding the largest possible vision of their potential at a change point can be a great catalyst for the most rewarding transitions. Not all visions have to be earthshaking in their dimensions. But they do have to shake you up and sometimes rock your foundations.
I remember my own career transition from a nonprofit program director to a somatic therapist. The shift happened at a slow-simmering pace, partly because-- as I realize now-- my original vision for myself was so small. With no support in creating this transition, I only imagined that I could go on to work at other, larger organizations-- not that I could radically alter my career path! It was only after experiencing a sinking sensation in my belly after each new interview at other, larger nonprofits that I realized I didn’t want to manage programs at all. I wanted to do direct personal development work using the body-based techniques that I had found so inspiring and helpful for myself.
For me, it was a gigantic leap into a career vision that I didn’t even believe was possible, because it was so entirely different from anything I’d ever done before. But it challenged and caught my interest! And it came true, with support from my new mentors, within a year.
Then there are people like super-athlete, Grant Korgan, who became paralyzed from the waist down in a snowboard-mobile accident. It must have been devastating to experience such a blow to his body, but Korgan’s statement (New York Times, 1/29/12) was: "I feel like everything happens for us, not to us. You can decide what you want, that you choose the direction you want to go. That's been the key for me, focusing on what I want, regardless of circumstances.”
In Korgan’s case, his dream was to trek to the South Pole in Antarctica-- and two years after his accident, he did it, with a great team of supporters, including his wife and two friends who were trekking experts. That was a huge vision, even if he’d been an athlete in the best physical shape possible, who could move on his own power. But he did it, thanks to his determination, intensive physical therapy, engagement with his trekking friends in planning and logistics, and constant spiritual affirmation of the value of achieving his goal.
"I used affirmations to keep me moving forward," Korgan said. "I began silently saying to myself, 'I am strong, I am healthy, I am healed, and I am working toward my goal of reaching the South Pole.' I eventually began to say these statements aloud and my teammates would often join me. Then, I said to myself daily, 'Although my body has been broken in the past, my spirit never can be. I am unbreakable.'
Remember that your vision is the culmination of the desire of your true self to blossom and be revealed in the world through the energy of your body and your spirit. Below are some tips to remind you how to begin this experience of opening to a dream, a new career, or another life direction you most desire:
1) Hold the largest vision possible for yourself-- one that captures who you really are and what you really want now! If you’re limiting your vision to only what you know and have done already, you may feel a sense of constriction or lack of energy in your body. Let your vision grow until you feel expansion through your whole self, body and spirit.
2) If you can’t hold this vision all by yourself (and most people find it challenging to do at first), find the right kind of support to help you do so. Sometimes you may need to bring in new people who aren’t so invested in your past career or experiences and who are open to new possibilities for you-- new friends, a mentor in this new direction, a life coach, etc.
3) Use affirmations such as Grant Korgan’s (above) that tap into your inner power to go forward. You do not have to know that a particular outcome will happen. All you have to do is hold the space for belief within yourself that it can.