Life as a journey
I recently discovered one of my personal strengths is ‘futuristic’ (CliftonStrengths Assessment). Whilst this sounds like I have some natural affiliation to sci-fi (I admit I am partial to the odd vintage episode of Star Trek) it’s actually about foresight and learning from the past to improve future outcomes. And this makes total sense to me, I love thinking about my future life – I have clear ideas about where I want to live and how I will spend my time. And I bet, whether you share this strength or not when Monday morning rolls around you find yourself thinking about what a different future could look like for you too. This certainly seems to be the case for most people I come across.
But here’s the thing. Not to get all mathlete but if all you’re doing is imagining a different life and then carrying on the same as normal, your odds of everything changing are probably pretty slim. Einstein has been credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” and it’s a sentiment I appreciate. It’s like holding out to win the lottery but never buying a ticket (I know at least one person reading this is executing that plan right now).
Coming from a project and strategy background in business, I’m pretty good at spotting how actions relate to outcomes. I have tried to apply this principle to my own life and over the years I have made big decisions that created big life changes. After I was made redundant I acknowledged the sense of dread I felt about finding a new job; the thought of having to be at the same place at the same time every day doing the same things just didn’t inspire me. So I broke the mould and started working for myself. After a year I had hit every target that I had set myself and had a huge sense of achievement – but what was still missing was a sense of fulfilment. I noticed that regardless of what I was working on, I took the greatest joy from helping people learn new things or solve a problem. As I already had a break from work planned I used it to explore this further, and that’s where my coaching journey began.
Becoming a coach was an idea that had floated through my brain over the years but I had always dismissed it again just as quickly, thinking it would be too great a departure from my ‘normal life’. Yet once again I had that feeling of ‘sameness’ about my life and realised I was standing at another crossroads; everything could stay as it was or I could take a risk and create a new path. I knew the choice I wanted to make and shortly after signed up to a Diploma in Transformational Coaching and started training just over a week later. Sure, I was nervous and didn’t really know what to expect, but I’ve learned that that’s kind of how change works (and to not give myself too much time to think…).
It turned out to be an incredible journey, I learned new skills, made new friends and found fresh perspectives to bring to my life and my relationships – once again I carved myself a new path and it has changed my life. Coaching hasn’t replaced my old career, it’s become an additional one. Forget “as one door closes, another one opens” – right now I’m running around with all the doors open just having a ball. What I had wanted were change and fulfilment and that doesn’t have to mean throwing out any semblance of your old life. That’s fine if that’s your preference but it could also be a case of moving some pieces around until you find the combination that feels right for you.
In my ‘first’ career I work as a consultant, using my skills and experience to help businesses solve problems and I still get a thrill when I start to see the solutions coming together. Coaching also has an element of problem-solving but unlike consultancy, I don’t see it as my job to come up with all the answers – because no one is more of an expert in your life than you. My journey was just that, mine. And I believe that each person has their own, unique to them. My role as a coach is to help you unlock the answers within, to recognise where your own crossroads might be and what new paths you could carve for yourself. I see it as a privilege to join someone on part of their journey and I get a great sense of fulfilment from knowing that I’ve played a role in helping someone make those choices for themselves.
I don’t know what your personal strengths are but what I do know is that anyone has the potential to create change in their lives. Not everyone knows what they want that change to be but usually, they’re clear on what they don’t want from life – and that’s a perfectly good place to start. So when Monday morning rolls around again and you find yourself imagining that happier future life, just take a moment to ask yourself:
“is my journey at a crossroad?”