Don’t be timid or squeamish about your actions. The more experiments you make the better.– Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is one thing to know you need a change in life, but quite another to know what to do about it. Fear and inertia keep us stuck in ruts. People often justify this behavior by saying “the devil I know is better that the devil I don’t know”, but that really is not true. Staying stuck in any aspect of life that no longer serves us is the real trap.
The good news is that trap is easier to spring than you might think. There are so many wonderful options, possibilities and choices open to us in life, and the exploration process can be joyful and profoundly helpful. Seeing life through beginner’s eyes, noticing what makes your heart sing, and tapping into serendipity are three great ways to taste from life’s bounty and decide what path you’d like to follow next.
The first step is to wake up to your current life. Stop just going through the motions and really look at where you are, who you are, and what really matters. Sometimes when we have been in a funk about our job, a relationship, or draining friends and family, we let that situation define our whole world. It is time to take off the blinders and act as if your life is new to you. Feel, see, touch, and smell what is all around you. See the beauty on your drive home. Notice what you do like about the people in your life. Also, be honest about what your heart tells you needs to be changed.
An interesting way to have a fresh insight into your existing life is to pretend for a few hours that you are a close friend visiting with yourself after a long absence. What would surprise you, what growth would you see, and what pain and hurt would come through. Be kind and loving, just as you would be to a good friend. See your strengths, skills, and talents as someone would see if that person met you today – let go of past failures, disappointments. This will give you a great place to start your exploration of what else is out there, free from the unkind and untrue self-perceptions of your potential and challenges.
Notice What Makes Your Heart Sing
Whatever new direction you want to pursue, the ultimate destination is happiness and fulfillment. You are moved to grow, change, and taste from life because you are ultimately returning to your natural state of “injoyment”. The best way to connect with what brings you joy is to notice when your heart sings. When do you feel alive, intrigued, involved, in your own world, and sorry to have to leave that place? What do you long to return to, daydreaming and looking for others with whom to share your interest? Which activities, people, and places show up on your bucket list?
Start to notice when your joy meter is triggered, record what you discover, and allow yourself to follow its lead. I use a small plastic notebook to keep with me so I can record the when, where, who and what of moments when joy fills me from the inside out and makes my heart sing. Sometimes it is a big ah-ha, like a new place to visit or a new way to get my body moving. Sometimes it is small, like having a break for tea in the afternoon or a kind word I overhear my husband saying about me. By noticing and recording, I find more triggers and more new paths to explore.
Tap Into Serendipity
Once you do your work of noticing where you are in life and what new joyful directions you are ready to try, your work is done. The Universe has been listening to your discoveries and cannot wait to open doors, send resources, and shower you with serendipity. Your only task is to be surprised and delighted by what shows up, and then to walk through the doors, use the resources, and take the small steps that appear.
A word of caution – this is more challenging than it sounds. We want to control the details and know how the small steps that appear will ultimately lead to the big change or new direction. As I have learned from author and speaker Mike Dooley, we must let go of the “cursed hows”. We don’t take the small steps that appear because we know where they will lead. We take them because that allows the Universe to put us someplace to meet someone and get the next step. Only when we look back can we connect the dots.
Don’t fall into the quicksand of trying to figure it all out on the front end. Just do what shows up, let your joy meter keep you on track, and savot the unfolding adventure that is life. When in doubt, take comfort in the wise words of Dr. Seuss. “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can take steer yourself any direction you choose.”