Monday, April 12, 2010

The Great Wide Open

I facilitated a Career Strategy Workshop this past Saturday morning for a wonderful group of men and women in their late thirties to late fifties at various life stages.

I continue to offer this workshop (I’ve been doing it since 2005) because we all have such remarkable shifts in groups.

Often others articulate or explain feelings we’ve been experiencing for a long time, but have been unable to verbalize. And invariably, the feelings of self-defeat, isolation, frustration or overwhelm, slowly start to dissipate and somewhere, a light bulb goes off!

I love to witness these moments—they help me remember what we’re all capable of birthing.

A predominant theme from the workshop—and something we’ve been hearing from many of our clients lately, is, “I have no idea what’s next. For the first time in my life I’m not sure what the next chapter of my career/life is going to look like. It’s like I’m standing on one precipice with my right foot outstretched towards an opposing cliff but there’s a lot of space down below. And anything could happen!”

I call this the great wide open (one way to look this phase of life). Read a short story from one of my mentors Richard Carlson, author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” on this theme.

We live in a society where it’s not cool to not have a plan.

“What’s next for you?” you’re asked. You better answer like you know what you’re doing or be prepared to be met with an uncomfortable silence.

Americans like to be busy, directive, highly productive, moving up, moving on or moving out. We don’t value pausing, stillness and honoring transitions--the space in between one stage of life and the next. And we certainly don’t congratulate our friends and pat them on the back when they appear to have no clue what to do next?!

But, I think we’re missing the boat here.

Some of the most powerful things I’ve ever experienced or have been inspired to do, came from the void. From the not knowing … the wide open.

What if rather than run to the next thing we think we *should* do, we allow the next thing to come to us? To reveal itself to us. What if a primary part of our job when we’re hanging out in the unknown, is to wait, to listen, to do the inner work to prepare ourselves to receive what is coming our way?

I suggested to my workshop attendees who are currently in this life stage to smile when asked what their “plan” is and to simply respond, “It’s on its way.”

JOIN US FOR A RETREAT: In career/life transition? Would you like support while hanging out in the "great wide open"? Join us April 23-25 Refresh, Reclaim, Re-Balance: Women's Self-Renewal Retreat at The Crossings Spa & Resort in Austin, TX, but sign up today to ensure your spot. Or, escape to the cool mountains in August and join us at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health for our Self-Renewal Retreat in the MA Berkshires, Aug. 13-15. One of my favorite spots on the planet!

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The Journey, a blog about coach/author/entrepreneur Renee Trudeau’s personal journey to life balance and living life from the inside out, comes out weekly.

Photo: Man looking over the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland. Wonder what he's thinking?


Madelyn Vertenten said...

Thank you for this topic Renee! I think our culture also is very uncomfortable with this stage of life because there is no associated role or title, and that's how we meet people. 'Hi my name is Tom.' 'What do you do Tom?' I've been playing in this space for a while and it takes some getting used to. But now... I really enjoy the freedom - to embrace whatever is next.

Julie said...

Fantastic post Renee. Thanks!