What “I Don’t Know” Really Means

by Now What?® Coaching Founder, Laura Berman Fortgang

“But I don’t know what I want to do!”

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!”

“If only I knew what ‘IT’ was that I was supposed to do!”

I’ve heard all of these statements and more from seminar participants and clients. That overwhelming, anxiety-producing, adrenaline rush bordering on despair, which only someone searching for their next steps can feel. It’s very real, but experience has shown me that it is also grossly misinterpreted.

Sure, sometimes there really is not even an inkling of clarity and that usually requires more down time and stillness to get a spark to come. But for most people, I find that “I don’t know” really means “ I am too afraid to admit it”. You see, somewhere deep inside and maybe secretly expressed, is a dream, a wish, an inkling of an idea that is just too scary to admit. If you do recognize that you have a germ of a direction that interests you, then you may have to take action on it. You may have to be held accountable. You may have to give up life as you know it (suffering and all) to have it. That is HUGELY scary.

I find that “I don’t know” is a knee-jerk reaction to avoid the pain of the truth. “I don’t know” is like a shot of whiskey that keeps you numb and causes procrastination to persist. It amuses your friends or wears them out, but it serves the purpose of avoiding change.

I remember a participant at my Kripalu seminar one year who amused the whole class with her giddy repetition of the ‘I don’t know’ mantra until I finally asked her to take a deep breath and stop laughing when she said she did not know. She sobered up and once out of her adrenaline high could not longer repeat the phrase. I asked her to seriously tell us what little bit of clarity she already had about her career direction. She tried to fly off into giddiness again but I did not let her. Out it came. She admitted that she wanted to start her own business. Her husband, who was sitting next to her, instantly piped in and said: “She’s known that for years but she always has an excuse as to why she can’t do it.”

Busted! She spent the rest of the retreat weekend coming up with a plan instead of playing her ‘less than’ role of a giddy, flaky woman who did not know what she wanted.

What about you? What truths are you covering up with “I don’t know’s”? Put pen to paper and write down the truths you may be too afraid to face.

If you need a kick in the pants to do it, contact one of our facilitators or join me for the Kripalu retreat on April 29th- May 1st.

I don’t believe you don’t know. I believe you are just too scared to admit it. Tell the truth and take action. The world needs what you are afraid of doing.

Rock Your Career

What does your career have in common with Steven Tyler’s or Bruce Springsteen’s?  Today’s article claims that career planning in the modern business world is not unlike that of famous rockers who also must address: frequent changes of venue, constant reinvention, and developing a loyal fan base.  Read on for some interesting takes on this metaphor.  There is also a link to a short quiz on personal branding which you may want to check out.  And, we can’t help asking, just for fun:  Which rock star would you pick to be your “ motivational muse” as you make plans to rock your next career move?

Finding The Essence

Today’s story about former policewoman Cheri Maples illustrates the significant connection which often exists in the roles you take on over your lifetime, even when they look unrelated on the surface.  For Cheri, whose career path took her from cop to Buddhist teacher, she came to see that the heart of her work in both roles was that of peacemaker. 

What is at the heart of the most significant roles you’ve had throughout your life up to now?  What is at the heart of the jobs you dream about?   In the Now What?® program we call this finding the “Essence”.  We use the following question to identify the ‘essence’ or as referenced above, the heart of the work:

If you were to be successful in _______ role, what would that make possible for yourself and others?

Your answer will be unique to you.  If, for example, you asked three architects about the heart of their work, you  might very well get three different answers.  Architect 1 might say: to reach new heights. Architect 2 might say: to bring a new perspective.  Architect 3 might say: to inspire awe.  Your own answer is what holds the clues for you because it will lead you to what brings purpose and meaning to the work you do.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

“Career Changer: From Stressed-Out Cop to Buddhist Teacher.”

And when the doors close…

by Kirsten Meneghello, Now What® Facilitato

When we walk through life and continue to see doors close on potential paths we really wanted to go down, how do we react? With frustration and anger? Or do we take the 10,000 foot view and realize that the Universe is trying to tell us something? Nudge, nudge. “Over here! Look over here!” And when we look back on past disappointments in our lives, we inevitably see how it all worked out for the best. For example, maybe that guy I really liked didn’t like me back. But then I met my future husband the next year and I was glad I single when I met him.

When we really, really want something (i.e. a new job) and we are holding on oh-so-tight, and then we don’t get the job of our dreams, we automatically attach meaning to it and create a story around it. It might go something like this: “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never find the right job,” or “The economy is so bad right now, I’d be lucky to get a menial job at McDonald’s.” And that’s not what life is saying to us at all. There is no meaning attached to not getting the job except the meaning you create around it. Maybe it was just not the right job for you at this moment in time. Perhaps it’s not because you were thinking too big, but maybe you were thinking too SMALL. What if you were not meant to be a salesperson, but the manager of the sales team?

HOW we interpret our “failures” is essential to how we move forward.

A friend told me a story over the weekend about her friend, Susan. Susan was very unhappy in her job. She complained about it all the time. She had a long commute to and from work and couldn’t wait to find something else. Recently, Susan was laid off from her position. The universe heard her, sensed her energy around her job and gave her the option to explore something she would really like to do. When my friend saw Susan, she said “I bet you are so happy now that you’re out of that place.” And Susan’s eyes were frozen, like a deer in the headlights. She was scared because she was a single mom and not sure what to do next. Instead of feeling excited about the possibilities, she was terrified.

We need to pay attention to the doors that close and the doors that open.   It’s really about the perspective we have that will make an amazing difference in how we see what is possible for ourselves.

You Never Know What Door Will Open

After being laid off from a company where she worked for 22 years, Gloria Schaffer is trying something new.  She says, “The result of being laid off turned into a brand new life.  You just never know what door will open.  Don’t be afraid to walk through it.”

My Accidental New Career.”