Part 1 The Courage to Discover What You Want
And then I heard it. Far away… a rumble that was getting louder, and louder…
You’ll hear it too if you listen closely enough. It’s a deep inner knowing, it’s a sensation of peace and quiet determination. Nothing can stop it. When you hear it, you know that something has to change but you have no idea how to go about it. Let me be clear: it’s not a desire to change, or a thought that maybe you could do something different – it’s a visceral reaction, it’s a need: there is an inner fire that will not let you settle for what you know.
You have to adapt or get out of the room – but you have no idea what you are adapting to! What you know is that suddenly, you need to let go of being who you’ve been to become your next self, to step into your next chapter.
Suddenly, there wasn’t a need to have a specific, definite answer. Instead, a process opened up in front of them: a true process of self-inquiry, exploration and self-realization.
The rumble usually comes after a period of surrender which I talked about briefly in my last post. You’ve given yourself time to strip off the layers of identity that have contained you and now, you’re becoming you: the true essence of you who are. For most of us, this implies moving from a life of focusing on the self to focusing on others.
There is a process to this which often begins by setting clear boundaries that allow us to thrive. For example, we review our relationships and let go of those who drain our energy to make room for those who inspire us. We choose how we spend our time more wisely to ensure that we concentrate on those activities that bring our life meaning and are aligned with our core values.
And it’s not all sunshine and flowers.
Because when you’re a high performer, who’s used to being an expert and you have to start from the bottom, well… it’s hard. You have to deal with those around you asking what’s wrong with you or whether you’re ok because it’s kind of weird that you’re doing this. They’re worried and you get it but it takes it toll because it makes you question yourself. Of course, more importantly, you have to deal with your own self-esteem.
- You make less money than before, sometimes, you even make NO money!
- You don’t have the recognition you had in your previous field.
- You feel ignorant.
- You constantly question your choices and doubt yourself (even when deep down you know you couldn’t have carried on as you were!)
- You feel like a fraud.
- You don’t know what you want.
I could keep going but I think you get the picture.
The last point is probably the hardest one to deal with: because when you don’t know what you want, yet you know you want something new, it seems impossible to start re-building confidence.
And this is where courage comes in because you have to take action and step into the unknown. You have to go and explore. I heard a little while ago that courage is being so scared of something that you pee your pants and then you do that thing anyway… with wet pants! So yeah, you have to go explore the unknown, with wet pants! That’s HARD. Not to forget extremely uncomfortable!
I interviewed a lot of high performers who had made a transition to a new life, and realized that most of those who felt they had successfully transformed had changed the question from “What do I want?” to “How do I want to feel and who do I want to be?” GAME CHANGER.
Suddenly, there wasn’t a need to have a specific, definite answer. Instead, a process opened up in front of them: a true process of self-inquiry, exploration and self-realization. Shakespeare said it through King Henry in Henry V: “All things are ready if our minds be so.” We don’t need to know what we want to act. We just need to be ready.
A while ago, I wrote about purpose and about the way we can start gathering clues by thinking about our strengths, our values and the impact we want to have instead of looking for the magical sentence “My purpose is to….”. This is the same principle.
All those I interviewed agreed:
- Set clear boundaries for yourself and ditch anyone who is not supportive of you or drains you and instead, surround yourself with those who will show patience, support and enthusiasm.
- Start to get yourself out there. Do one thing – anything, that will allow you to meet someone new, feel a new sensation, learn new content… One new thing.
- Make sure that you reflect on your experiences with consistency and frequency. There are many ways to do this: from reading books, using workbooks, going to workshops, using journaling prompts or working with a coach.
- Know that in order to become who you want to be and feel what you want to feel, you’ll need to give yourself permission to change. That’s the hardest thing.
I know how incredibly challenging this process can be because I have been through it. I have read books, blog posts, studies, I have interviewed people: it does not get easier and yet, the growth, the pride, and the inner fulfillment that come with it make the hardship all worth it. If I had not had the courage to explore, I would not have supported outstanding humans to start their own business, move to a new city or leave a job that slowly extinguished their fire. The impact that my willingness to get out there with wet pants has had is manifolds and the ripples infinite.
Here is the thing – the creative process is not just for artists. It’s for all of us. To create what we want, to be who we want to be and feel how we want to feel, we have to go through self-doubt, chaos, introspection.. and all of this takes courage.
I love this quote from Rollo May taken from “The courage to create”: “As I would put it, [the creators] are the ones who enlarge human consciousness. Their creativity is the most basic manifestation of a man or woman fulfilling his or her own being in the world.”
Here is the choice: you can choose to stay where you are, be safe and continue to have the same life you’ve always had or you can pee your pants, create and let the world know how powerful you are. What will you choose?