How to figure out what to do next?
“I feel like there are two paths I could choose to follow. I can continue doing what I’m doing now, which is safe, stable and ‘predictable’. I’m good at it and the salary allows me to live comfortably. The other path is unknown. I have no idea how it would turn out but it’s what I dream about night and day…”
One of my clients, who like many of my clients, is at a crossroads contemplating which route to take, shared these words with me in a recent coaching session.
During the session I asked her to close her eyes and guided her to imagine her life ten years from now in that first path she described, the predictable one. What does your day look like? How does it feel? What do you look forward to?
Next, I asked her to notice what she feels in her body, especially in the belly area. “What colour does it have?” I asked her.
“Monochrome, black and white,” she replied.
And then she added – “I feel like I’d live my life but then have bursts of inappropriate moments trying to express myself”
I then asked her to close her eyes again and imagine her life 10 years from now in that second path. The second path, though vague and unpredictable and therefore harder to imagine what it would look like, was vivid and colourful.
I’m sure this sounds somewhat familiar – it’s the kind of crossroads I believe we all stand at, at least once in our life.
A crossroads where we get to (yes, we get to, we don’t have to or need to, we get to. Choice is a privilege) choose between:
The familiar path or the unknown path.
The safe / sensible path or the risky path.
The path that is already paved for you, all you need to do is follow the map. Or the path where you are the one creating the map and navigating through it all at the same time.
As a coach, I’m frequently in conversation with clients and friends facing dilemmas. Option 1 or Option 2? Job A or Job B? School C or School D?
It might seem like, because I come from a place of personal growth, that I’d always encourage to choose the “harder option”. While it’s true that we do grow from challenges, not all challenges are made equal. It is not the harder/more challenging option that I’d guide people to seek, it’s the TRUER OPTION.
(and the only person who can know what’s true is the person making the decision)
There are some challenges from which we grow beautifully. We come out the other side, stronger, wiser, blossoming. Then there are hard experiences of challenge that leave us run down and bruised and in a less-than-place from where we were when we started.
The wisdom is to know the difference:
Constrictive Challenges: challenges we choose because we learned to choose “the hard way”. They require us to work / live in situations that are not nurturing for us, that are not the right fit. We often choose them because that’s what we think we should do. This is the path that takes us further away from ourselves. From our truth.
Expansive Challenges: challenges we choose because we are ready to stop waiting, wanting, wishing. They stretch us to stop procrastinating and postponing our true desires and step up into who we really are, instead. This is the path that takes us closer to ourselves. To our truth.
In his book, Crossing the Unknown Sea, David Whyte shares a conversation he once had with a stranger he encountered when he himself was at a crossroads in his life, feeling lost, stuck and unsure which way to go. The stranger, who has found ‘the work he loves’, offered him the following advice: “We all have our own ground to work, you know. You have yours, too. You just have to find out what it is. But you know what? It is right on the edge of yourself. At the cliff edge of life. That’s the edge you go to. Put yourself in conversation with that edge no matter how frightening it seems. Look down over that edge.” The truer option is the option that stretches us to the edge of ourselves, of our truth, of our life. These edges stir up all the parts of ourselves that need stirring up – the fears, the old ego stories, the inner critic, the instinctual part of our brain that’s wired for survival. They are gifts. They are the path to transformation. They grow us. They rebirth us. Lean into the options that are calling you to step up into who you really are, to share your unique gifts and voice, to take the risk of being authentically you and face all kinds of fears as you do this. If you're at a crossroads, trying to figure out what you want and which way to go, I'm here to guide you through the fog so you can find a way forward that feels aligned, wholehearted and most importantly -- that lights you up! fill out this application form and we'll schedule a discovery call to find out if we're a good fit. Rooting for you. Love, Naama