Periodically, I get frozen in the midst of a project because I can’t see from here to the end. A great example of this is our basement, which in recent years became the final destination of both the random and precious belongings of family members who have passed on.
Some days I wonder, “Is this my life’s work?” It’s a project, all right: daunting and deserving of a Scope of Work document, some days feeling so enormous that the weight of it seems an anchor.
I get into this “frozen” state even though I am generally a high-functioning person, and it seems to happen in one of two circumstances: 1) I can’t envision where I’m going; or 2) I have the vision but I have no earthly idea how to get from here to there.
Sometimes my coaching clients find themselves in similar situations in their work lives, overwhelmed or unhappy but frozen and unable to move in any direction. They might be in a job that no longer is satisfying or has changed beyond recognition; or they realize they have a long-deferred dream to start something of their own and don’t know where to begin; or they feel an urgent need for a sense of meaning in their work but need a way to see what the possibilities could be.
In these situations, and even in my own basement chaos, a single question can break loose the stuck-ness and open a path. My version can be “What’s a simple action I can take?” or “What’s next or right in front of me that I can do?” The courage to start and complete a single task can unlock the grace of getting into motion. Simple and uncomplicated action can clear some of the fog and help us see what might be the next action, and then the next.
If you have inertia that is work-related, you might ask yourself if one of the following could possibly be a “next thing” or simple action:
Who is doing work that you admire or are drawn to, and can you have a conversation with them to learn about it?
If you haven’t recently taken an inventory of your “wins,” perhaps pause to write down or capture things you are proud of or for which you’ve been thanked or recognized.
If someone were to ask you to describe your dream job, what would you say? Consider playing with some language to explore this.
Think about whether there’s one thing in your current work routine that saps your energy and that you could eliminate, streamline, delegate, or otherwise solve. Similarly, is there something you could replace it with that fills your cup?
In case you are drawn to move toward a change of work or purpose in the coming months, support is available. Along with my partner in Your Right Livelihood, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, we’re offering The Big Picture Retreat Oct. 20-22 at a calm and beautiful retreat retreat in the Kansas City area. Our annual retreat is a welcome refuge from your workaday world to explore these questions and more as we lead you through a process of dreaming up and planning out your goals for the coming year. With other participants, you'll find greater companionship for the journey as well as new ways to build and sustain your vision and resilience. We'll also relax and have a lot of fun.
Joining with others who can support you on your path is simple action you can take! Whatever simple action you step into, it’s the perfect one, because it’s a place to begin. And even if it reveals another question or challenge, you are in motion, and that in itself can be perfectly beautiful.