It is tempting to stay on the same road and inhabit the same spaces. We feel comfortable. Others feel comfortable. There is benefit in not changing and we are hard-wired not to discomfort others and ourselves.
In the past twelve months I have actively chosen to inhabit and embrace discomfort. Recognising that I was in a stage of transition (age, stage of life, what-do-I-want-to-do-with-my-life etc) I was intrigued by how doing the same things in the same way had become habits. Now some habits are good. They reinforce a sense of self-efficacy and predictability. But that has never been my style. In other words I had become comfortable and maybe a bit complacent.
Running a business, being self-employed and having a life full of activity is my stock-in-trade. But I became more conscious of the little habits that might prevent me from seeing what else is out there; I had created invisible walls for myself; I was still active but not necessarily creative.
So I decided to do an experiment. For 12 months I have consciously worked fewer hours and undertaken less networking activity in my usual groups. My goal was to touch other parts of parallel worlds and to see what else was going on out there.
What have I found? The world doesn’t stop if you consciously change. It keeps on turning. The work keeps coming in but it comes from new places and new people. What I have learned in my 40-0dd years of employment and self-employment does not become redundant just because I change direction. In many ways the direction of travel remains the same, in fact. It’s just that the route is different.
What new avenues have emerged in the last 12 months as a result of taking the road less travelled?
- I have worked less but enjoyed myself more
- I have tested new work possibilities – kept some and rejected some and felt ok about that
- I have become a better coach because I am thinking differently
- I’ve been nominated for a coaching and a supervision award
- I have trained to be a Humanist celebrant
- I am no longer concerned about saying ‘no’ to work that does not fit my values
- In becoming more open to possibilities I have found new possibilities that I never knew existed
The learning is that in creating empty spaces and being prepared to stay in an empty space rather than actively create momentum and ‘noise’, new thoughts and new opportunities arise. Not a bad bit of learning as I reach the end of the year.