“I’ll be 30 in two weeks and still haven’t figured out what I really want to do with my life!”
This was the conversation I had with my dental hygienist last week. She told me that she has a good job, it pays the bills, but it felt like there was something missing. That she wanted do something more creative with her life but didn’t know what it was.
As a coach who works with people in transition, I hear this all the time. The milestones and turning points of our lives have a way of waking us up, sometimes jarringly so. Whether it’s a significant birthday, a serious illness, the birth of a child, a loss of a parent, a change in our marital status, or the loss of a job….all these experiences pull us out of the regular routine and give us an opportunity to think about where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Something we don’t generally focus on when we’re in the busyness of our day-to-day lives.
With these milestones we have an opportunity, a precious opportunity, to look at the journey of our lives and see if the direction where we’re headed is still what our heart most desires.
My personal experience with significant milestones started in April 2006 when our daughter was born. Four months later my husband was in surgery to have a brain tumor removed, and four months after that I discovered a malignant melanoma on my foot. (Thankfully, we’re all ok now!)
This set of milestones, of the life/potential death variety, was hugely challenging. But they served to shake me out of complacency and got me thinking about how I was spending my precious life’s energy. These milestones provided the opportunity to deeply experience what I had only read about previously…that when you’re faced with the possibility of life ending much sooner than you anticipated, going along with the status quo is no longer good enough.
We can wait for a milestone birthday, or a crisis, or we can begin asking questions now that will help us live a life more aligned with our purpose. If this calls you, here’s what I recommend as next steps:
- Take Time For Yourself - Block off a half day on your calendar, or a full day or two if you can swing it. Dedicate this time to your personal development, to the unfolding of your journey. For an additional resource on creating personal retreats, check out this post: http://www.crescent-coaching.com/2012/12/time-for-a-personal-retreat/
- Slow Down – Use this time to chill out, to calm the mind and connect with your inner wisdom. Turn off your phone, put on an out-of-office message for your email, and tune in to yourself.
- Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt - As we begin to listen for our inner wisdom, what usually comes up are a bunch of self-limiting stories. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are constant companions on this journey…especially when we’re up to something big. I’ve found it super helpful to “cough up the hairball”, which usually looks like writing out all the stories in my head about how uncertain I am, how I’m not good enough, how I don’t have enough time, and any other not-terribly-empowering thought that comes up. Once it’s out of my mind and on a piece of paper I find I can usually settle in and take the next step, which is to…
- Listen To Your Inner Wisdom – The key to this is to ask good questions….here are some of my favorites:
- What am I doing now that is fun, joyful and energizing, that I want to continue in my life?
- What is missing that I would like more of?
- What is present in my life that is draining my energy?
- How do I want my life to feel?
- What do I want my life to look like in 1, 5 or 10 years?
- Be Open – As you listen for answers, tap into all aspects of your being: your body, mind, heart and spirit. And don’t judge the answers. What comes when we listen to our voice of wisdom may be different than what we expect. Receive whatever comes with gratitude, knowing that you retain the power to choose what actions you take, and when.
- Make a Promise for Action – Change happens in our lives when we see something we want to create in our lives and when we take action to make it happen. Wrap up your personal retreat with a small commitment for action. Perhaps you will share one thing you saw for yourself with a trusted friend or advisor, maybe you will sign up for a class to learn a skill you want to develop, perhaps you will go to the garden center and buy something to plant. Whatever it is, make sure your promise to yourself is clear. Write it down. And do it! Keep listening for the next step and act on it.
If you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And if you want to explore how coaching can support you on your journey, please drop me a line and we can discuss.
Here’s to making the most out of the milestones of our lives!