inner conflict

Surprises: What are the surprises we have after we leave?

Read the previous posts on this journey: A Dream Is Born and Climbing New Mountains. I have had several surprises since leaving my adventure-filled vacation in Nepal. A few surprises happened immediately upon leaving, others took weeks and months.

Surprise 1. The sun knows best. I was surprised to find out how much I enjoy rising before the sun and setting not long after the sun. i sleep better and more soundly when I follow the sun’s lead (most days).

Surprise 2. How little I need. Shelter, food, water, clothing, heat and electricity — the basics. It makes me wonder about the messages trying to persuade me to buy or do something because I need it. Not really the truth though. Do I need more clothes? More accessories? More decorations, more tech, more pretty shiny things? Nope.

Surprise 3. I enjoy smelling natural and earthy. I liked trekking and not showering, not shaving, not washing my hair and not laundering my clothes. I felt powerful, primitive and rebellious. It was so contrary to the North American ideal of cleanliness using a gazillion hygiene products to not smell, to not smell each other. I like knowing how I actually smell.

Surprise 4.How much stuff I have AND how hard it is for me to part with *my* stuff. The trek leaders offered us the opportunity to donate clothing at the end and it was a struggle for me. I rationalized that I would need the items when I travelled on or would continue to wear them when I returned home. Which I did and do. And I could have given stuff away and been fine. I had an opportunity to let go, to share and be generous. I realize it is not easy to detach from “It’s mine” and “I still need this”.

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DSCN0986

Surprise 5. The power of sticking to a daily plan. The trek leaders kept our group on a firm schedule which kept me focused, striving and challenged. Without it I probably would have stayed an extra day to rest my sick, puking stomach and then got caught in the snowy mess ahead preventing me from climbing higher and reaching base camp. Sticking to a plan made the difference between getting “there” and not.

Surprise 6. The intensity of North American consumerism and consumption. It was a shocking surprise to return to North American culture and values and be met with December holiday commercialism, the superficiality of celebrity culture, retail culture, and fitness culture. I felt bombarded by the amount that was promoted, marketed and sold to me, especially with the focus on “you you you” and “me, me, me” rather than “we we we” or “us us us”.

Surprise 7. Feeling spiritually full. I noticed how it felt to shift from feeling spiritually full to empty. I experienced having my spirit feel sumptuously full and fulfilled that my body needed little food to energize itself. I felt energized by what I was experiencing, seeing and doing. In contrast, I noticed the spiritual emptiness to urban life as the days and weeks passed and I settled back into a more sedentary life that was rich with resources and opportunities but lacking in nature, movement, community and connection.

Surprise 8. How the Nepalese listen and Canadians talk. When I arrived in Nepal, I immediately noticed how the Nepalese listen deeply and with full presence. They are able to be in silence, be with silence and allow silence to hang. In contrast, North American culture is all about the talking. Arriving back to Toronto I was surprised by the amount of constant, loud talking. We talk at each each and talk to make our opinions known.

There were surprises where my core personal values came alive in fulfillment and resonance, or when I experienced an inner chafing, a personal struggle of conflicting values.

There were surprising moments where a few of my core personal values declared themselves and wanted me to honour them more.

There were surprising places where I experienced a struggle between my values and those of my culture and society.

Surprising insights and realizations can happen when we leave anywhere or anything: Leaving a vacation place. Leaving a workplace, a job, a career. Leaving a relationship or friendship. Leaving home. Leaving an experience. Leaving a habit. Leaving a lifestyle.

Being aware of the surprises we have after leaving can not only give us important insights into ourselves. It can also help us understand and honour our true self.

What have you left?What things have surprised you since leaving?

Career transitions: deciding to make a career change or not?

In the 1970’s there was a game show on television called “Let’s Make A Deal” hosted by Monty Hall. Audience members dressed up in costumes hoping to be picked as contestants, filling their purses and pockets for when Monty asked them for some random item: safety pins, poker chips, a silver dollar. You could never know what Monty would ask for! For the Main Event, Monty showed a prize behind Door A and asked the contestant if they wanted to stay with it or trade up for what was behind Door B. And possibly a booby prize. Which would you choose? The prize revealed or the one concealed?

Oftentimes we go through a similar process when making the decision to change careers or jobs. Do you stick with the career you know or do you go for a new career? Do you stick with what you know or go for what is unknown?

That is one kind of decision that draws people to contact me — when they want to make a job or career change and feel confused or stuck about whether to stay or seek out a career that is not yet revealed.

Something is provoking their decision. Some common contributing factors are the boss, the unappreciative work environment, boredom, the lack of challenge or growth opportunity or their lifestyle.

And why stay? For many reasons: the (regular) paycheck, health benefits, the mortgage, the kids, the routine, the security, the stability, the status, the prestige, the familiarity, the Known.

Therein dwells the inner conflict: the reasons for leaving conflict with other reasons for staying. This is where “Stuckness” lives. 

So what propels us forward towards making a career change? It often depends on how much each of us will or can tolerate. Is the pain of staying in the career (job) greater or less than the “unopened curtain”?

Dr. Henry Cloud said, “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” This threshold point is different for each of us which makes discovering our places of friction and suffering important for change to happen.

Questions for your consideration (some of these questions may sound similar - answer those that make the most sense to you):

  • Which consequences will serve to mobilize you towards a career change?
  • What if you don’t do anything? What will happen if you stay (here)?
  • How will you be worse off or better off, temporarily or permanently, if you stay? If you leave?
  • What will you have to invest to make the change? What investment are you making in staying?
  • What will it cost you to stay? To leave?

8 Decision-Making Tips and Strategies Some of these strategies are analytical, linear and logical, some are creative, intuitive and emotional. Play around with them. You might want to try on some new ones and give yourself a personal growth stretch.

  1. List your fears. For example starting over, not being skilled, not being knowledgable, feeling incompetent, losing status, prestige or professional network, etc.
  2. Develop your intuition and “gut instinct”. Strengthen your sense of intuition, connect with your what your gut is telling you and develop your awareness of what feels resonant and dissonant for you.
  3. Notice what your body, your emotions, your mental and physical health are saying about your work, what aspects light you up and which ones lower your energies.
  4. Reconnect to your dreams. Dreaming of making a change is very different from taking steps towards making it a reality. Dreaming is an important part of the change process that will remain a dream until you take action. Keep growing your dreams and keep dreaming.
  5. Do research. Figure out what information you are missing that will help you make a decision.
  6. Network and talk with others who have gone through it or are going through it and learn what helped them and what did not.
  7. Clarify your core personal values and how they connect to your decision and/or choices. Oftentimes, we experience an inner conflict of our core values that makes the decision-making process feel challenging or “hard”.
  8. Get creative and brainstorm ideas, solutions, possibilities. Maybe you don’t have to leave your job or maybe leaving your job or switching careers is far more beneficial to you and your life.

Sometimes this is decision about your career and sometimes this decision is about your life. The more understanding and information you have, the further ajar the unknown door will open for you and what was concealed will become (more) revealed.

I'd love to hear what has worked for you, what strategy you have found to be most helpful or anything else you care to share about making a decision to change careers.