Looking to a new and improved future??
Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but it IS possible to turn your passion into a career. Here’s some evidence in the form of six very successful people who did just that!
by Nancy Friedberg, Now What? Facilitator
We’re living in an age of perpetual motion—so much so that we forget to take a moment to press the pause button, collect ourselves, and breathe. Proof is everywhere. While recently purchasing an Apple Watch, I discovered a new Apple App called Breathe. Oddly enough, this genius app detects an elevated stress level and heart rate and reminds you to BREATHE with an alarm signal to your wrist.
I have seen countless clients who end up “burned out” from overload and find their careers and personal lives come to a grinding halt. They are often left with three choices: 1) quit their job 2) obtain approval for a sabbatical from work or 3) request a medical leave of absence. But what if these options simply don’t feel plausible?
Try this instead: Give yourself permission to take what I call a “mental sabbatical.” I define this new concept as a structured time out from life—a chance to free your mind—devoid of all the should’s and have to’s rattling around your head. A period to simply feel mentally free to explore without any added pressure of having to do something, make any forced decisions, or take any impulsive fear-based actions.
Think about what’s Not Working
Consider any and all unnecessary clutter in your life, be it physical, mental, or emotional. Unless you spark a change, you’re likely to become burned out at work. Explore all the parts of your life that are draining and no longer serve you. Make a list of all the intolerances and irritants—people, places, and things. Then eliminate each energy drain one by one.
One dramatic example of this simple exploration led one of my clients on a de-cluttering frenzy in her home. The result? She decided after 4 months that a radical career/life change was in order. She left her corporate career of 25 years and a marriage of 15 years and moved from NYC to upstate New York, forging a whole new professional and personal life.
Examine Your Identity
Evaluate your primary role and how it impacts your identity. Are you a full time caretaker for your children or aging parent, a leader on a mission, or a tireless volunteer? Dig deep and discover the other parts of your identity you may have lost touch with. Identify any losses you’ve endured without overdoing it in this primary role.
In May 2010, I gave myself permission to take a 4-month full-time sabbatical from my primary role as Career Coach. The clarity I sought came right to me—in the white space I discovered a deeper craving for greater connection and more quality time with my two teenage sons. Following my leave, I transformed how I worked and played so I could be more fully present for both my sons and my husband while at home and my clients while at work. Today, 7 years later in my new role as “empty nester,” I can say it was the best choice I ever made.
While you might feel out of control, as though you’ve lost your authentic nature, a mental sabbatical can help you find your way, once again.
Look At Limitations
Consider your limiting beliefs and write them down. Think about the stories and messages you received from long ago that no longer serve you. By encouraging productive thinking and creating new possibilities, you’ll create excitement that embodies more of who you are. For instance, is your line of work limiting? Or, are you more risk adverse? Be honest: According to research at Pepperdine University School of Management, authenticity and vulnerability are linked, so don’t shy away from acknowledging flaws or limitations.
Explore Your Life Story
Take this time to separate the happy, healthy parts of your “story” from the unhealthy ones that may have led to fatigue and burnout. You can also start your day on a positive note with morning motivational mantras from Now What?® Coaching to encourage mental change. At Now What?® Coaching, those suffering burnout or who are desensitized to their dreaming mechanism are also encouraged to engage in “hobby by crisis.” Once you’ve identified negative patterns in your life story, use your intuition to create new ideas.
For instance, engage in a new hobby that can bring joy. View life as an experimental laboratory, rather than a prison where you feel enslaved. Here’s an example: One client realized it was time to reignite his sense of humor. What started out as simply a fun improvisation class turned into a moonlighting side career, performing at comedy clubs around NYC.
Find Your Purpose
Enthusiastically search out the qualities that absolutely no one on this planet has that only you can offer. Ask others for feedback on what they come to you for and how you have enriched their lives. These unique gifts will help you define your purpose. For instance, a study at Florida Atlantic University found that people who lack meaning have higher risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, but by encouraging participants’ creative talents, such as writing and meditation, risk decreased.
These gifts of purpose can also be quite simple, such as making someone laugh easily, being the voice of reason, inspiring wonder in others, or serving as the calm force in a crisis. Find ways to live from your purpose every day during your mental sabbatical.
Put yourself first to nourish the soul and regain authenticity. Whatever your path may be, approach it with excitement, openness, and curiosity—and you will see the healing it provides for health and happiness, long-term.
Originally published on Nancy Friedberg’s Linkedin articles
Finding herself (not unexpectedly) laid off, this young woman could have laid down with her tail between her legs, dog tired, and cowered in the corner.
Instead, she perked up and realized it for the opportunity it was – a chance to make her part-time venture a full-time career, and one that she loves at that!
Turns out she was a lucky dog after all!!
“What about the people who have never had a dream about what they wanted to be when they grew up?”
I occasionally stop by the You Tube page where my TEDx Talk lives to reply to any comments. The majority are very positive. There are a couple of complete trolls who probably question and heckle everything, and then … there is this burning question repeated time after time.
In the talk, I mentioned people who don’t dream or can’t remember having a dream from childhood about what they wanted to grow up to be. I mention that even those that can’t even daydream now may have come from a childhood that forced them to grow up faster than appropriate.
Kids who were scared for any reason (maybe losing a parent and fearing the other would die or go away, not being allowed to be themselves for whatever reason or fearing for their safety) will tend to be adults who don’t have a dream. While it is possible to dream if you grew up with these circumstances, when someone can’t, I have found they typically have lived these scenarios.
I apparently left a lot of people hanging but twelve minutes only allowed one through line of solutions.
“What do I do if that is me?”, you might ask.
If this is you, here’s what you do:
Get thee to a therapist — Really. I’m not kidding. If you shut off your dreaming mechanism because it wasn’t safe to check out temporarily, you have to go back and revisit the trauma. What caused the erosion of your sense of safety?
Let’s say you’ve already been to therapy or you just won’t consider going. OK – try this:
Re-sensitize your self — The connection that seems to be missing for people who don’t or can’t dream or imagine a desirable future for themselves is the distance between the body and the mind. You may be desensitized to your own feelings. Not the extremes like anger or elation, but the subtle ones like what you like, what you want, or even what brings you joy. If you feel like you don’t really even know what you want on a daily basis but decide things in order to avoid the pain of NOT making a decision, you are desensitized to your own body.
Your body has a lot of information for you.
How do you re-sensitize? Start or revisit a hobby that involves working with your hands or that requires full-body engagement. For example, knitting, painting, pottery wheelwork or other building/making activity is tactile and preferable. If there is nothing like that you used to do or would like to do, think of something that engages your full body like dancing, running or cycling.
After a couple of weeks of doing one of these activities four or more times per week, notice if you are feeling more sensitive and more aware of your feelings and subtle preferences.
Practice WANT days — Whether you can devote one-hour, three hours or a whole day, take time out to have no agenda whatsoever. Don’t even carry the responsibility of walking the dog or feeding a child. Just give yourself blank space. In that space, notice. Notice your gut. Notice what you want. In fact, keep asking yourself “What do I want?” What is the answer? What do you want?
Do you want to go for a walk? Read? Paint? Sleep? Eat a particular thing? Just practice hearing and responding to what you want. This isn’t about indulging yourself in stuff that’s not good for you. It’s not about masking your emotions with a substitute for feeling like food, alcohol, drugs or other forms of numbing yourself. Feel what you WANT!
Practice WANT days as often as you reasonably can until you can start to FEEL the difference in your body between a true want and a bad habit. When true wants are fulfilled, you will feel a sense of satisfaction. If you’re feeding a bad habit, you’ll ultimately feel negative emotions like guilt, anxiety or anger.
NOW WHAT? — Some feeling should be restored now which means an ability to see in your mind’s eye and/or dreaming should be coming back. See if you can see yourself in a role that brings you joy when you simply think about it, whether it be a specific job, career or life role.
Can you imagine yourself in a new future? Can you daydream about other possibilities for yourself? How does it feel as you envision these possibilities? Whether you are going to take action on them or not does not matter. What does matter is that your dreaming mechanism is now turned back on.
NOW, go back to the TEDx talk, and listen to it for the next steps. Welcome back.
Let me know how I can help you see what’s next.
Many people are feeling a need or desire for a fresh start, thinking they need to “reinvent” their lives. As we know at Now What?®, the most successful “second acts” actually are not reinventions at all, but rather come from what this author describes as, “crafting a new idea that’s almost always deeply rooted in earlier chapters and activities.”
What might you draw from your past or from the essence of who you are to carry you into a brighter future?
Here are great guidelines to consider as you turn your dream about reinventing yourself into a realistic approach to do just that. Many of the points we work through in Now What?® are part of this process:
- doing your research on your “dream job”
- putting the right support in place
- realistically assessing what will be needed to make the change (financially and otherwise)
- knowing yourself well – strengths, weaknesses, needs and values