Forrest Gump’s wise mama said, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”
She wanted him to understand that life can be unpredictable, unreliable and fickle. Indeed, it is often said there is nothing sure in life except death and taxes. Yet, to feel powerful, we like to believe we can control everything in our world and that we are in charge of our destiny. Is that true? Well, yes and no.
As it’s impossible to know for certain that the outcome of what we want will turn out right, we avoid making decisions. We often need to act without knowing the outcome, but find it impossible as we prefer to live in a safe bubble of boring and repetitive indecision.
We care too much what others think of us and our choices and before we know it we’re putting their views before our own personal needs and desires.
In coaching, we help our clients work towards goals and visions, definable and measureable outcomes; towards specific results that they desire to achieve. But, sometimes in life, we are faced with too many choices, or maybe two choices at polar opposites to each other. That’s when we fall apart, our resolve weakens and we eventually lose our sense of power.
Often, a client will say they want the ‘right’ outcome to a dilemma, or the ‘correct’ result to a problem. But the sooner they understand there is no right or correct answer, only a result that may or may not turn out well, the sooner they’ll be on the road to empowerment.
It’s true that Coaching is all about finding, stepping onto and following a path that leads towards something that makes us happy. But life experience shows us that we create this path ourselves each time we put one foot down and walk forward, rather than following someone else’s well-trodden way.
As any entrepreneur will tell you, it’s usually necessary to fail many times before success is achieved. Mistakes have to be made, wrong turns taken, and uncertain decisions acted on before a ‘hallelujah’ moment presents itself.
It’s also true that the key to success is not only to take chances and informed risks, but to do so with a sense of passion; a sense of joy at actually being on a path of choice, excitement at being in an emotional position to give it one’s best shot.
Growing up in 50s/60s England gave me the courage and confidence to take chances and do things my way, with little fear of what was round the next corner. I was fortunate to be born at a time when children could take themselves off to school and back without fear of abduction, or worse.
I remember the thrill of purposefully jumping on and off buses and getting lost in unfamiliar places, knowing that all I had to do was trust my internal compass and ask people the way. Occasionally, and always under protest, I was accompanied home by a concerned adult who had come across me hovering alone by a bus stop or in a train station.
I felt I had little to fear, so taking chances and daily risks became a way of life. Saying ‘yes’ to most things on offer became my default. Sure, I had some narrow squeaks, and sure, I sometimes found myself in situations that my mother never got to hear about. But I survived, as most of us did back then. Our parents allowed us our freedom, so we lived our lives without fear.
Nowadays, people have lost the capacity to simply make a choice, bite the bullet and accept whatever the result may bring. We need assurances that we’ve made the right decision, taken the right job or married the right partner.
Through technology, we’ve become so accustomed to depending on reliable outcomes that we live in fear of even connecting to our own intuition, let alone listening to it.
Counsellors, coaches and therapists often say that the way to achieve anything worthwhile is to stop passing the buck and playing life’s victim. That the best way to empower ourselves is by taking responsibility for our actions, taking a stand, making a decision – sometimes any decision – and stop aiming for ‘right’ all the time.
As soon as we stop thinking of mistakes as mistakes, but simply as lessons on the way, they lose their power. Even if an action turns out ‘wrong’, we’ll have learned something, hopefully about ourselves as well as about the decision we took.
There are no guarantees in life, only possibilities dressed up as outcomes. I still get hopelessly lost in a strange city or country, so then I take a different route and find myself on a different ‘path’, but always eventually get to where I want to go.
As the words of a song go, “Who knows where the road may lead us…” but, to quote Forrest himself, “I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze. But I, I think maybe it’s both.”
A client asked me this question the other day. He had been struggling in a job he loathed but was reluctant to give it up to follow his dream. The conversation reminded me how I had recently been waiting to be served in my local bank and noticed the bad mood of the teller. Looking to be in his mid ‘50s, but possibly years younger, he was grumpy with everyone he came in contact with.
Behind the grumpiness, I detected a well of deep sadness and wondered if maybe he had a sick dependent at home – a wife, mother, child – who was preoccupying his thoughts and making him appear bad-tempered.
But then I noticed his hands, broad and robust like a labourer’s, his fingers like sausages. It was difficult to watch these lumps of meat hold a fine pen and try to flick through documents and money notes. He looked quite smartly dressed but the collar and tie seemed to be strangling him and I felt he would be happier in an old sweatshirt and jeans.
Rarely am I so aware of someone looking so wrong in a job. This man, I would say, could be an artisan by nature – a sculptor or builder, forced into a daily grind that is wearing him down and making him and everyone around him miserable. For sure, his soul seemed to have forgotten how to fly. And for what, I wonder – a regular paycheck, a pension at the end, job security? At what price?
Most people believe that money equals success. Many children are still expected to follow in their parent’s footsteps, or upsize from them, or go into some ‘safe’ profession. Or are taught that work – by its definition – is to be endured, not enjoyed. Spouses are too often expected to stick at a job they loathe, simply to keep their partner or children in a lifestyle they have become accustomed to.
My mother tried to steer me in that safe direction too, many years ago when I left school; “…a nice job in insurance with a good salary and a pension at the end”, she said. Sadly – though through no fault of her own and due to her being brought up lacking all but the basics in war-time England – she simply did not get my creative spirit, need for self-expression and desire for independence. Like most parents, she was concerned for my physical welfare, but also in fear of a future lacking in whatever was her idea of security. My heart was sinking fast…
Luckily for me, I got straight into advertising, then interior design which led me into the mind/body/spirit world of feng shui, then personal development and then coaching. Happily, none of these professions have ever felt like ‘work’, simply working at what I love and do best. It has not been all rosy though; as with most people there have been times I have had to do jobs that I have not liked, hated even. But I have made sure they have been temporary, simply fulfilling a specific economic need for a short time.
Vocation or paycheck?
So, the question comes back to time or money – which is more important? If you take a long-term job just for money, it can be difficult to go back to what it once was that defined your core being and made your heart sing. If you are going to take a job for the money, make sure you have a get-out date in mind – and the sooner the better.
There is an endless supply of money in the world, but only a limited amount of time for each of us. If you are not enthusiastic about doing something, it is not for you. So, for the sake of your soul and your sanity, find a way to choose again. Whereas you can sometimes make more money, it is impossible to make more time; when it is gone, it is gone.
Listen to your soul – your intuition speaks to you through your body. Pay attention if you are always tired, depressed, hungry, smoking, drinking, using drugs, in pain, oversleeping, endlessly shopping, watching TV, etc. There are many other factors that create these diversions too, of course, but they can be indicators that you need to look at your choice of work. And interestingly, when we are doing what we love or – at least – like, we somehow find ourselves being provided for.
The energy of what we put out is what we get back, and money is just another form of energy. Listen to what your heart is whispering and make the very most of your time available here on earth.
If you are ready to choose again and follow your dream, I am here to help you. Contact me for a Free Success Exploratory Session. I look forward to hearing from you!
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We all need dreams
When I was little, we lived in leafy Kew opposite the Botanical Gardens near London. ‘50s England was a time of innocence and unhurriedness. Although the road we lived on was relatively quiet compared to now, it was classed as a ‘main’ road into London as perhaps one car would speed by at 40mph every minute or so.
There in our front garden, organizing my bears ready for a tea party, I would suddenly get the urge to go, just go – somewhere – anywhere. So, with my favorite teddy under my arm, I would click open the gate and start walking, ever ready for adventure and the open road even then.
Many of us need some adventure in our lives, or a sense of it at least. Maybe it starts when we are asked the question “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” though searching for an answer can lead us no further than previously explored territory. I remember I wanted to be a part-time Vet and part-time Hairdresser; I stated this firmly aged about 5. Without the benefit of the world-wide web, this was the extent of my wishful experience at that point; I loved animals and cutting my own and my dolls’ hair.
As soon as I was allowed to, I would take myself off to school by bus (this was the ‘50s, remember). I suppose this was the conscious beginning of my fascination with exploration. I would try to discover a different way home every day, sometimes by bus, sometimes walking for hours, always somehow knowing which way to go. As I was still only about 7 years old, my mother would understandably be frantic, but that did not seem to make any difference to whether I could go alone the next day or not; unimaginable behaviour nowadays, of course.
We all need dreams – dreams keep hope alive and fresh. Without hope we can fester, stagnate and die; whether figuratively or literally. Without hope we have no meaningful reason to get up in the mornings; if we are simply putting one foot in front of the other without hoping there could be something better ‘just around the corner’ life becomes intolerable. In our hearts we believe we are all unique.
Many of us know we have a ‘calling’ but cannot remember it or have never permitted ourselves the luxury of acknowledging it, believing ourselves to be unworthy, perhaps.
Many people spend their lives living either in the past or the future, reminiscing about how it used to be or dreaming of how it could be. There’s a reason for this. When we experience ourselves being fully in the present – often at moments of extreme pleasure or pain – it throws into sharp relief anything that is lacking in our lives and gives us pause for too much thought.
This can cause us such grief that we then block ourselves off from our true feelings, our hopes and dreams, and deny ourselves the opportunity of grasping life by the scruff and living it fully on an ongoing basis.
If the purpose of life is to have experiences and serve the planet, then a lot of us are missing the mark completely by not following our dreams. This is where the skills of a Life Coach can help – by introducing and opening up new pathways and guiding the client to experience more fulfilling ‘now’ moments.
If you are ready to follow your dream, I can help you. Contact me for a Free Success Exploratory Session. I look forward to hearing from you!
PS: In retrospect, I’m glad I decided against becoming a Vet, but I still like to cut my own hair from time to time! How do you follow your dreams? Please leave your comments below…
If this has been helpful, please forward and share it with a friend who could also benefit.