In this issue ~~
Growing and changing is a natural part of our human development. We know this. When we're thinking about what’s next for us, though, we tend to look back at our history to see what the next logical step is. But we may have dreams and passions we want to pursue that are not a linear outcome of what we've done before, so they don't feel doable. What do we do then?
Instead of creating our future out of our past, we can look at who we want to become. Usually, when we're looking toward our future, we think about what we want to do. But what about looking at who we want to be? Life is not just a string of accomplishments. It's a process in which we gain knowledge and experience and develop who we are.
When I was younger, I didn't think much about who I was becoming. I knew I wanted to be an actress from the age of 14, and I didn't care why. I pursued that path without further thought until I was in my 30s and found myself on a path of personal and spiritual growth. The question, How can I best serve? began to creep into my mind. While I realized that actors perform an important service, it wasn't the right kind of service for me anymore.
My next step was a foray into the world of publishing. I had no background in this field, but it was an opportunity to develop my writing skill and publish books that brought valuable tools and information and heart-warming stories into the world. It was a huge challenge to run a business and be responsible for bookkeeping and marketing and inventory. I grew tremendously and was proud of the books we published, but eventually, it ran its course and a new opportunity arose.
After 7 years of publishing, I happened upon an article about life coaching. We were still in the thick of publishing, and I certainly didn't need another career, but it kept tugging at me. After completing what turned out to be our last book, I enrolled in a coach training course. I loved it! This wonderful new profession – my new "best way to serve" – continues to allow me to have an even more direct, positive impact on people's lives. In working with my clients, as well as teaching and writing, I learn and grow every day.
In looking back, my career path makes a lot of sense. My acting experience has helped make me a better teacher and speaker. I continue to write and publish self-help materials that support my coaching focus. But as I began each new career, I had no idea why I was drawn to it or what it would bring. I only knew that I needed to step into a new challenge that would develop who I was as a person and a professional.
As we move to each new stage of life, a new sense of purpose is revealed to us. The things we did and who we were become a size too small, and we need to break out and seek new direction. It may be the logical next step from what we've been doing, or it may be a radical change. Either way, our new path calls on us to be willing to let go of the comfort of the old, familiar ways and open to learning new skills and new ways of being.
In the words of Shunryo Suzuki-Roshi, a 20th century Japanese Zen priest: "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." Although you may have decades of life experience behind you, approach your new stage with beginner's mind.
By letting go of relying on what you already know – about life and about yourself – you'll discover wonderful new aspects of yourself that will move you forward in your development, as well as your accomplishments, and open new worlds. And down the line, when the time is right, yet another new and mysterious path will be revealed to you!
Make a list of at least 10 adjectives that describe who you want to become in the next 5 to 10 years. Take one of these adjectives. What steps can you take in the next month to become more of that? In the next year?
"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it."
"There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder."
"Growth demands a temporary surrender of security."
"I began to have an idea of my life, not as the slow shaping of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and growth of a purpose which I did not know."
(click on the book or CD graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
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