Start a New Chapter in Life
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”– Martin Luther King Jr.
For decades, counselors and life coaches approached career development like a big matching game. They believed that finding the “right” career was a matter of measuring a person’s strengths, talents, interests, and personality, then choosing the path that aligned most closely.
You can apply this “matching” approach to choosing a partner, or a place to live, or a new hobby. It’s a handy paradigm for making decisions — but it’s not the only paradigm.
The “life design” or narrative approach to counseling and coaching starts with the assumption that you are an adaptable, malleable human being capable of tremendous growth and positive change in pursuit of your most important goals.
By approaching your life as a narrative that you’re actively constructing day by day, you become empowered to change your story about who you are and what you’re capable of.
Change Your Story
When you reflect on the story of your life, which plot points stand out to you as times when you were at your best, tapping into your potential, and truly sharing your gifts with the world?
These likely weren’t the most comfortable experiences of your life. In fact, they may have been incredibly challenging. But they gave you an opportunity to grow and adapt, and the result was increased self-confidence and a deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
If you can discover what it was about those experiences that put you in touch with your best self, you will have a North Star to guide you in the direction of meaningful, rewarding work that you love.
Starting a New Chapter In Life
If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, or have a nagging sense that you could do more and be more, that’s a sign that you’re ready to start a new chapter in life, at work or in another area.
Start by reflecting on how you got where you are. How did you choose your current path? Which decisions were really deliberative, and which just felt like the thing you were supposed to do, or the logical “next step?”
Your answers here will tell you a lot about the values, conscious or unconscious, that have been shaping your story up until this point. Once you have a clear sense of what your values have been, you can decide whether to carry them forward, or shed them for values that are more aligned with the new story you want to create.
When you’ve invested a lot of time (and money!) on education and training to break into a specific career, it’s not easy to admit to yourself or others that you’re unhappy.
To get unstuck, it helps to examine your expectations about how careers are “supposed” to go. If you’re like most people, you chose your career path as a young adult, and you likely expected to work in the same field until retirement.
But in reality, major career changes are incredibly common. If you’re unsatisfied — with your career, your relationship, or any other major life circumstance — are you really willing to endure your current path for another decade? Or three?
This is the “sunk cost” fallacy at work. It’s a very human mindset, but it doesn’t lead to courageous, empowered decision making based on the life you really want.
Instead of focusing on the investments you’ve already made that can’t be recovered, focus on the new insights you’ve gained about what you want out of life, and the opportunities you have here and now to begin creating it.
A New Chapter Begins
For many of us, the coronavirus crisis has been a time for re-examining how work fits into our lives.
We’re seeing the result of all that reflection in what some are calling the “Great Resignation,” an economic and labor trend in which tens of thousands of workers have left their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.
While the labor shortage has caused serious stress for business owners, it’s a signal that our collective attitudes toward careers are shifting, and that people are beginning new chapters with new values in mind.
Writing My Next Chapter
When we’re unhappy with some area of our lives, we often feel an impulse to get away and start something new as quickly as possible. We may quit a job to pursue a shiny new opportunity, or leave a partner and immediately enter a new relationship, for example.
But it’s important to step back and think about your own role in creating whatever circumstances you’re eager to leave behind. If you skip that step before making a major change, you’re likely to find yourself in a similar situation again.
It’s not easy to take responsibility for a relationship, job, or any other pursuit that didn’t go as you’d hoped. But by looking at past patterns and recognizing your role in creating them, you become empowered to write an exciting new chapter.
A Fresh Start
The New Year is upon us, and so many of us are feeling energized to make major, positive changes.
What would you like to bring into your life in this New Year? What would you like to leave behind?
I hope our conversation gives you a chance to reflect on these questions, and some guidance on making real changes that stick. I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below.
Cheers to the next chapter,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music in this episode is by Wet Leg, with their song “Chaise Longue.”
Under the circumstance of use of music, each portion of used music within this current episode fits under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, i.e., Fair Use. Please refer to copyright.gov if further questions are prompted.
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How to Start a New Chapter in Life
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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