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No Resolutions for New Year, Just the Gift of a Journey

Holiday gatherings reunited me with friends, family and colleagues.  After hugs and “great to see you,” I used the common conversation starter, “So, what’s going on with you?” Answers included:

  1. “Working hard, going nowhere.”
  2. “Well, you know, my life is all about the kids.”
  3. “Not much of anything.”
  4. “Same ole’, same ole.”

This is not how everyone responded. The theme of bored and going nowhere was prevalent.

What was my answer when asked what’s going on in my life? It seems I sought to be savvy and not use any of the answers above that could reflect badly on me.  My reply was, “I’m percolating on some ideas for the future.”

This worked well throughout the holiday season until a friend replied yesterday, “You know, Barbara, you’ve been percolating for a long time now.” Zapped. Nailed.

She might as well have whacked me with a frying pan or asked me to sign a paper saying, “I have no idea what direction I want for my life in the coming year.”

I have been exploring new business ideas and getting ready to create a new direction to apply to my life for over a year now.  While I know what I don’t want in my life, I’m unclear as to what I want to add to my life.  Establish a facilitation business, expand products on yourSABBATICAL, create coaching certification for coaches whose clients seek sabbaticals, join a consulting company in Buenos Aires to coach executives to be better leaders – all good ideas, but nothing creates the level of passion and commitment that pushes me to commit and get something off the ground. I could get super excited about some of these ideas, but so far, no OMG moment.

Transitions – critical endeavors of sorting through hopes, dreams and passions to determine one’s plan of action, to determine one’s course for future life and work – are hard work. You can get stuck, unknowingly it seems.

Whether in business, relationships or career, anyone who is not quite sure of their next step or steps can feel like they are in a mental muddle.  If we start comparing ourselves to others we can feel like we are hopelessly sinking in a bog surrounded by joyous people on  galloping horses riding wild to a destination.

Lest we forget, three reminders about life transitions are:

  1. Individuals with clearly defined direction had times of transition when choices had to be made.
  2. While some transitions are easy, others are very tough.
  3. Your current transition is NOT your last. (This was written for me, just in case I try to kid myself.)

Making important decisions during transitions is scary.  Life’s pivot points ultimately end in a new destination and require your time, energy, finances and courage.  To be able to look back and know when and why you “decided” to start that business, leave a marriage, or add that new product line can assuage a sense of sanity if it doesn’t work out.  And if it does work out, you’ll have true answers for your spot on 60 Minutes when Scott Pelley asks, “What were you thinking?”

One option to avoid too much time in “transition” is to get “coached into action.” I’m getting cheery messages in my inbox right now from people who want to coach me to success using their personal model – “Let’s start now!”  I value the coaching process (I am a coach), but a disturbing plethora of unqualified, ego-centric people using the platform look-what-I’ve-done-with-my-life charging $175 to $1000 an hour (yes, you are reading that correctly) could scarcely provide me with the well-defined answers I seek.

Why not?  Because you and I both know we already have the answers somewhere inside us and a one-hour session with a stranger – albeit a marketing-savvy one – is not likely to gain us more than a few suggestions. Good ones even, but not likely to be real game changers.

Along with peppy videos in blogs from these newly minted coaches, there’s also the whole New-Year’s Resolutions angle people employ to define actions for the future.  Two people at a dinner party the other night offered theirs.  Judith’s is to “move more” and she’s already gathered some base line data on her comfort distance so she can start to log an increase in daily miles beginning today. Small business owner, Teresa, created the acronym FILL for her new year – Focus, Innovate, Lead and Listen.

The process of making resolutions with a plan including accountability is a great tool propelling one to immediate action.  Many of my first-day-of-a-new-year activities found me organizing and making plans to implement my resolutions – business and personal.  It works!

But this is not the year for me to make New Year’s resolutions. While it is true I am bored with percolation, tired from not having clarity and not making much progress lately, what is my best move?  If not a coach right now or a list of goals or a theme for 2013, just what do I need to move forward out of generating great ideas and into action?

Answer: A break from all this– a short one – to warm my soul.

I am giving myself the gift of a journey – an adventure, a change of scene.  While this isn’t a true sabbatical since I will access the internet for work, I will be in a place that makes me happy and creates contentment.  That might be a yoga retreat for you, ice climbing or walking along the Seine. For me sitting in the sunshine on a park bench in the village square of some third world country watching donkeys pull carts does the trick.

Grande Square, Quito, Ecuador

Is this a good answer to help me move through this transition?  In my educational experience in counseling, I was taught that if you can change the physical stance of a person you can often change his/her point of view.  For instance, if you can get an angry person to sit down the conversation often becomes more productive.  Or if you get a person to lean in closer, uncross their arms or sit on the floor, the conversation changes toward a more meaningful one.

Combine this with my work creating positive outcomes utilizing sabbatical experiences for company executives – allowing a break from work to explore – I’m confident in my choice.  While I have a budget to consider and  a mere 4 weeks to spare away from the real world, I plan to soak in aspects of a new, unknown culture, improve my Spanish and see if the blue bird of clarity will dot a couple of the i’s on my future.

Right now, ideas to jump-start me into “doing” are not as important as listening more closely to me.  The conversation on the park bench with me might just be different than the ones I’ve been having. Who knows?  If not, the least I gain is a renewed spirit for more hard work ahead and a couple of new vocabulary words of Spanish. And although I have not one nano of more clarity than I did last week, I’m feeling very excited about my life. And that’s a feeling I’ve missed lately.

Perhaps it’s not the year for you to make resolutions or set goals right off the bat.  Take a break.  Change your scenery.  Start a new conversation – while standing on your head with your eyes closed in East Tennessee.  I hear it’s pretty there.

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