As we embark on the 2nd quarter of 2017, many of my clients are facing decisions relative to their professional and personal journeys – some by choice and others by situations being thrust upon them. Some are victims of downsizing, others are actually ‘not fitting in’ culturally and thus are being forced out, and still others are simply not happy in their work or workplace and are evaluating ‘next steps’ in their career. Most of us have experienced at least one of those situations in our professional careers; and though it almost always works out well – the process can be filled with ambiguity and uncertainty of what’s next.
Each year in our lives brings new challenges, goals, hopes, and dreams. When we are faced with hardships in life – whether this be death of a loved one, life-altering illness, or losing our jobs in mid-life – we are given the opportunity to write a new chapter in our story and create the ‘new normal’ and a more hopeful future. No, it is not easy. I am personally facing this reality in my own life after the loss of my daddy last month; and it is one of the hardest transitions I have ever experienced.
As many of my clients know, I am a believer that the questions we ask ourselves are the key to revealing the wisdom and the lessons we are to learn through these experiences. Thus, I thought sharing a few provocative questions may be helpful as we navigate our next chapters:
- Where am I on my journey – professionally and personally? What am I learning?
- What have I accomplished thus far? How am I contributing in the workplace and in life? How do I WANT to contribute?
- What have I NOT achieved that I want to achieve?
- What do I want my legacy to be? How am I creating that today? What is missing?
- What key decisions do I need to make to set my life in the direction I desire? What is holding me back?
A favorite book of mine, which I have referred to many times in the past, is As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. It was written back in 1902; and it still extremely relevant today. The title is influenced by a verse in the Bible from the book of Proverbs: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” I share this book because when we face a new chapter in life, which may or may not be what we expected or even wanted; we have a choice as to how we embrace the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the challenging and the easy, etc. And how we choose to THINK about these experiences makes all the difference. A few of James Allen’s quotations, taken directly from his book, may open our eyes to the potential in front of us:
- A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
- Right thinking begins with the words we say to ourselves.
- The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors. We think in secret, and it comes to pass. Our environment is but our looking glass.
- The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
- The circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him.
- No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.
I hope these wise words reinforce our clarity, alignment, and strength to move forward through this new chapter in our lives. Being grateful for all experiences, regardless how painful, hurtful, and life-altering, helps to shift the energy. We can think calmly, optimistically, creatively, and with positive intentions. And when the ‘what’s next?’ question is forced upon us; we can be grateful for the lessons we are learning as they will enable us to contribute in an even more powerful way in our careers and lives.