When contemplating a new start to your career or a personal life path, the best way to begin is counter-intuitive— not jumping right away into something new. What's important is going deeper into what you're feeling, thinking, noticing, desiring, and needing. "We learn by reflecting" on all of these things.
However, reflecting does not mean sitting around and stewing in disappointment, discouragement, and uncertainty because you're dissatisfied with where you are now in your life. What it's about is taking this time as an opportunity for quietly noticing who you really are and what you really want for yourself to emerge from deep inside, where they've been stuck and are waiting to appear.
As a career and life coach, I've found that offering support for reflective time is one of the most important services I offer my clients on the path to creating transformational change. Because the busy pace of our lives tends to reward action over reflection, having a coach who understands the value of an inner timeout as you begin to transform your life can give you just the ally you need.
One of my clients, Marie, was struggling as a corporate employee in the technology field. Initially, she’d enjoyed her position, but after having counseling following a serious family crisis, she began to feel that she was developing into someone who wanted to express herself through a completely different way of working.
She understood that who she truly was didn’t fit the corporate position she’d had for years, but hesitated to leap out of it when she wasn’t yet clear about her direction. So I suggested that she take walks by the waterfront where she worked at her lunch break to free up both her body, mind, and spirit. I also suggested that she keep a journal and jot down her experiences from her daily walks.
Journaling, as William Bridges, author of Transitions, says, allows you to "look back, at the end of a day or a week," at what "stands out, like a path through the grass that was all but invisible as you walked it . . . What was your mood? What were you thinking about . . .? What puzzling or unusual things happened?"
Below are notes she from a couple of these walks after several weeks, reflecting new openings into what genuinely "called" to her. Notice the relaxed, meditative quality of her journaling, and her attunement to her own call through awareness of nature and the metaphor of "the path.”
"I felt somewhat compelled to keep up a brisk, exercise-worthy pace, but found myself pausing often: to watch the hawk perched on a branch or the jackrabbits hopping around the field, or the pelicans gliding and ducking their bills into the water. Later in the walk, I turned a corner and saw the road stretching out ahead of me. I am on the path to my future, I thought. I wonder what it will bring?"
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
"I stopped at the turnaround point to sit in meditation for five minutes. I had no trouble keeping my mind off work. As I headed back toward the office, I felt slightly disinclined to return but reminded myself, I’m on the road to my future, and toward job satisfaction and contentment!"
In our coaching sessions that followed, Marie began to relax and reflect from a deeper place about having a career she loved. She became increasingly confident about her vision for work that would allow her to be the insightful, imaginative, empathic person she truly is — and that would be stimulating and collaborative, with potential for lifelong learning.
If your desire, like Marie's, is for a career change that deeply satisfies and enriches your whole life, coaching like mine that encourages taking time to free your mind through reflection offers you the transformative path that you need.