Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Reaching A Crossroads

At some time or another in your life you will probably have to make difficult choices, sacrifices or changes, if not already having done so. The difficult part is that it can often seem as though there is no right answer. Settle down and raise a family or travel the world and keep your freedom? Stay with the secure job that you're in right now or branch out as an independent freelancer / entrepreneur? Keep working on the relationship when things are difficult or move on and find someone new? And so on. Just what can one do to find out which path to follow?

Here's an exercise to try in order to help yourself come to conclusions.

Take out a picture of yourself as a child. Place it in front of you. Now as you study that picture ask yourself what this child wanted for you. What were the dreams and aspirations that were forming then? Now take out a more recent picture of yourself and compare them - how many changes that have happened to the more recent person would the child in front of you endorse? Are there any that have happened that the child would be unhappy about? Now place a card alongside these pictures and write down at the top the age that you will be when you retire, or in the next ten years even. Write down below a list of things that you hope to have done with your life by then, the sort of people you hope to have shared it with (friends, lovers, colleagues); include financial, familial, emotional, physical, material and spiritual elements. Hint: this exercise takes time and you might need to go away and make a cup of coffee and come back to it to think some more. Do it at a time when you are feeling relaxed and not going to be disturbed.

One client's conclusions looked like this:

8 year old me:

Be free
Be loved
Be creative
Be happy
Be fit

Me Now:

More cynical
More guarded
Direction has been more influenced by others
More worried
Less loved and more respected

60 year old me:

Be free
Be loved
Be creatively fulfilled
Be happy
Be fit
Have a close and happy family life

The interesting part of this exercise is that for this client, the 8 year old had the same desires as the 60 year old; and so something else had happened in the middle bit. To be fair, that middle bit could be called life! However, this exercise helped this client highlight that in order to create closer relationships, he would need to take his guard down. In order to worry less and be more creatively fulfilled, he would need to prioritise some of the less well-paid activities. If he wanted to be an active and fit 60 year old he would need to make some changes to his diet and exercise habits, starting now! He decided that as he progressed with making some changes, he would regularly revisit his 8 year old and his 60 year old.

Changes take time and if you find that you are quite far from where you'd like to be, remind yourself that you can still take little steps today to get you started and as you go the momentum of change will pull you along. Good luck and bon voyage!