Community//

Follow Joy

How do you choose when you are at a crossroads? The quick answer: 'follow joy'. 

Follow Joy, it seems simple until your head is full of chatter, with what you ‘SHOULD’ do, along with others’ voices added in.

It’s been almost two years since I left my old career of 23 years in chemistry. I hadn’t been listening to what my body and soul needed, finally they said ‘ENOUGH’, and it was time for me to make drastic changes.

Again, I’ve been feeling at a crossroads: (1) do I return to my old career in a different workplace and role, (2) continue on as I have been for the past year, or (3) take a new direction?

This summer, I found a couple chemistry job postings, I seriously considered applying for them even though I felt deeply nauseous; but my head was saying, ‘getting a job is what I SHOULD do’, along with some people around me that would think it was a good thing. It was the familiar route for me to take, even though it felt like going backwards, it was what I knew. Then I thought, maybe I’ll just return to work in the chemistry field temporarily to fund my option number (3). My head was still in charge here, thinking about money, and doing what I thought others would approve of.

So, I stepped back, slowed down, took a few breaths, and asked myself a question:

What would my life look like if I took option #1?

The images and feelings were immediate, I should have just listened to that first nauseous feeling in my gut, and been done there. The images I saw were vivid and unsettling: burnout, tired, heavy, grey, sadness, sickness. OK, option #1 is off the list! The nauseous feeling is gone, now that I am ready to turn away from the old and towards something new and better.

(2) I enjoy where I’m at, but it feels like there’s something missing. It’s OK, but I want more. There is always more inner work to do, and room for growth.

For (3), I again asked myself the question:

What would my life look like if I took option #3?

This time, the images were not as vivid, but the feeling was JOY, happiness, contentment, growth, opportunities, a bright continuing path into the unknown. One of the reasons change is so uncomfortable, is that it is stepping into the unknown, we don’t know the full path. We have to take a step before the next step is revealed, and keep going to reveal a little more of the path with each step. That’s also part of the excitement of change, it’s a path of opportunity, growth, and expansion, and creating what you want on your path. Even though I don’t have a clear picture of what #3 will bring, the joy and potential of it is what’s pulling me forward.

And I can continue on (2) along with (3), it’s not a complete shift, just little steps.

I’ve used this question for myself at other life crossroads. For me, the not so good choices come up vivid, heavy, and dark, with nausea.

When I ask this question regarding choices that are a better option for me, the response is much more subtle, a light and fluffy feeling, bright, openness, and joy.

The question can also be asked when there is something to let go of. ‘What would my life look like if I kept this situation?‘, and ‘What would my life look like if I let this go?

Where is your joy leading you?

What’s my #3?  Going back to university.

I’ve been feeling the urge for a few years, but always pushed it aside as a silly thing to do, especially at this stage of my life; I’ve never told anyone of this idea. A few weeks ago, my man suggested it out of nowhere, even on the topic I was considering; my heart jumped with joy, now here I go onto that path. I submitted my application. I plan on starting with 1-2 classes at a time, and going from there. One step at a time, and I’ll re-evaluate as I go.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.