Image of a compass

What’s your earliest childhood memory?

Sit with this for a moment.

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Most people will recall a happy time, free of life responsibility — a place of comfort.

For others, this will surface more challenging memories — ones they’d sooner forget.

Whatever your experience, the natural next step is to reflect on what’s happened since that time — to retrace the story of your life from then to now.

Note: this post is also on LinkedIn — please read and interact here if you use this platform :-)

Then come the inevitable questions…

  • Am I all I hoped I’d be?
  • What if I hadn’t made that decision?
  • What would I change if I could live my time again?

…followed by comparison with other people, and the accompanying narrative e.g. they’ve achieved so much more than me, made more of themselves, been bolder, seem so much happier, made better decisions, etc.

And then the unwelcome emotions that accompany all of the above.

But, I wonder…

How much of your life so far has worked out exactly as you planned? How much has actually been the result of unforeseen events, circumstances and experiences — a unique chain with a thousand ‘life happens’ links?

In the midst of this, where’s your sense of direction come from and how much more could you realistically have controlled?

A personal reflection, for openness…

One of my earliest memories is as a small child on the beach with my parents. My mum took me into the sea, and, as I remember it, lost hold of me in a wave. I can vividly recall the sensation of being spun around, my mouth full of salt water and no idea which way was up. I remember feeling panicked and helpless. Needless to say my mum regained hold of me, eventually!

Life can sometimes be like this. One moment all is calm and still, with a sense of safety, control, and clear direction. Everything is going as planned. The next, a storm brews and the fog of uncertainty sets in. To top it off, your boat capsizes.

Many are in this place right now. Your world feels unsafe and your future uncertain, with no obvious handholds or signs of letting up. Anxiety is order of the day, however well you cover this up.

Navigating the storm

In uncertain times like these, how do you find direction — your ‘true north’? How do you move from feeling out of your depth to rediscovering solid ground? How do you bolster self-belief and keep motivated, secure in who you are and the unique gifts you have to offer? And, all this despite face-value circumstances?

Disclaimer: I don’t have all the answers, though I’m all too aware of the questions!

It’s times like these

Times like these present us with a choice. We can slip into patterns of unhealthy introspection, negative thinking and procrastination, or we can choose to accept a level of discomfort, believe there are better days ahead and keep going until those days arrive.

It’s like a runner in a marathon, keeping their eyes on the prize, despite the pain and temptation to give up.

For me, this begins with recognising the situation for what it is, including the things I can and can’t change.

The next step is being honest about things that trigger negative thought patterns, unhappy emotions and unhelpful actions, alongside simple steps to avoid and/or counter these. This includes strategies to help prevent self pity, in all its guises.

Finally, focus on things that create positivity and cultivate a sense of wellbeing and self-respect. For me, this includes areas such as exercise, diet, sleep and self-development, alongside structured time for networking (open and honest conversations with positive, life-affirming people), creative pursuits, job seeking and ‘dreaming big’ for the future.

Interestingly, negativity is often the easy option e.g. feeling sorry for yourself and playing the victim. Choosing positivity can be tough, requiring self-discipline and mastery of emotions. This is all part of finding direction, particularly during the more stormy times.

Acceptance

I’m slowly learning the importance of accepting and ‘sitting’ with discomfort, of taking the opportunity to explore the deeper depths of who I am—failings and all—without simply grabbing for the nearest life raft.

My last post “Renewing the human connection” included the following quote:

“Entering the neutral zone can allow you to reconnect with who you really are, for a while detaching yourself from the professional or even your “social” persona which shapes a lot of who we are, so much that we find it hard sometimes to exist outside “what we do”, “who we are expected to be” and not just “who we deeply are”.”

The willingness to venture through discomfort, without running away, will always lead to a better place. It just takes patience and time.

With this in mind, I’m reminded of a further quote, which I believe is from the poem ‘Divine Comedy’ by Dante Alighieri:

“The [only] way out is through”

Or:

“The way out is the way in”

And, as my late grandmother used to say:

“In acceptance lieth peace”

Taking the next step

I have a vision called MakeLifeClick, an open invitation to connect around the deeper questions and challenges of life that typically go unspoken; things that stop us taking that extra step.

Launch was paused back in June, since which I’ve received lots of encouragement to get things moving again. You can register your interest here (foot of page), with more to follow in September.

Get in touch?

Fancy a coffee and a chat about people, purpose, vision, business ideas/opportunities and perhaps even life in general? Drop me a message — you never know, we may have a few things in common…