Over the past week four people have come to me and asked for advice about the direction of their lives. I don’t know how I became the guru of life coaching, but I did the best I could. After all, what could I tell them? Last year I left my successful career as an award-winning journalist to … follow my bliss? I’m still not sure what to call it. Was it a quest? Was it a mission? Was it a time-out? Whatever it was, I came out a year later with some clarity about what I want out of my life — about the kind of person I want to be and how I want to spend my time while I’m alive. (Ugh, when did I become a hippie?)
All joking aside, the main things I learned from my experience was that I had to listen to my instincts. And I think this is true for a lot of people. We spend a lot of time talking ourselves into what we’re supposed to do or who we’re supposed to be. We ignore the signs from our instincts, our hearts and our minds that are maybe telling us it’s time to do something different or that something isn’t fitting. While I loved being a journalist for a long time, at the end of my decade in the business I realized I didn’t love it anymore. And it’s a helluva business to be in if you don’t love it. I don’t know if it was becaue I changed, the business changed or both. I just knew that by the end of it, no matter how successful I was, it felt like I was shoe-horning myself into it. It just didn’t fit me anymore. I wanted something different and I ignored those signs for longer than I should have before I finally left.
The common thread for all the people who came to me recently is that at the root they are unhappy and perhaps feel that they are in a rut and don’t know how to get out of it. I don’t have all the answers, but I know life is too short to spend your days feeling miserable and in a rut. Change isn’t always easy. When I decided to change my life last year it was one of the hardest decisions of my life. And it didn’t get magically easier when I decided to go for it and dare to change. In fact, in many ways it got harder because at the core of it I had to ask myself what exactly I wanted to do. And that’s really about asking yourself, “what will make me happy?” And sometimes the answer you get from inside yourself surprises you and sometimes it scares you.
And then, of course, once you know what you want to do, how do you obtain that? That’s a whole other quest and sometimes it takes you a long time to get to it. For me, it took a year to find the job that matched how I felt inside and what I think will make me happy. I had no idea it would take me so long! It was tough! Sometimes I lost faith. I’m glad I can say today that it was all worth it and it worked out. But I wouldn’t say that the process to get me to this place was easy.
Ultimately, that’s what I had to tell the people who asked me for advice this past week. Could it be that the hippies have it right — that you do need to follow your bliss? That sort of makes me gag. And I think it’s way more complicated than that. Obviously, it’s not my bliss to pay bills or smog my car or change the cat box but those things still have to get done. So even if you are on a quest to change your life, there’s still the realities of the world. Maybe it’s the muck and mire that makes happiness all the more precious.
A friend sent me my horoscope today and somehow it seems to sum it up pretty well:
“Be confident about the fact that you are making progress — even if you’re not sure.”
Maybe this is all off-topic for the usual Siren posts, but I just sense that there are even more people out there struggling with this. What are the odds that four people who don’t know each other, who are all different ages and live in different parts of the country would all come to me in the same week and ask the same question? So hopefully this can help the others out there silently pondering.