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What Now?

What Now?

Over the past few weeks, one of my morning rituals has changed: I’ve found myself going into my closet and selecting clothes that I haven’t worn for a year. The sweatpants and leggings are losing their gravitational pull, despite the comfort they’ve given me (and will continue to on the days I need them). The pattern of reaching into drawers and pulling out cozy fleece has lost its appeal. Yes, the seasons are changing, but it’s time for some variety.

Falling into patterns can be reassuring, giving us the ease of predictability. But maybe you’re moving beyond comfort and are starting to feel a bit stale -- or even stuck -- as that nagging feeling turns into an inner voice whose volume increases by the day. Whether personal or professional, this voice can drown out other thoughts in your mind and cast a shadow over everything you do, see, and how you show up.

I’ve noticed that my inner voice becomes more chatty when change is afoot; almost as if it’s nudging me to try something different. To no one’s surprise, change has happened for all of us in a very real way over the past year, whether small or large. It’s been an exercise in understanding what we can (and cannot) control. And even though we’re now seeing glimpses of what the future will look like, uncertainty continues to loom as we ask “What now?”

Some of the questions I’m hearing every day are:

What do I want to be doing a year from now?

Is my role still making me happy?

Does a move make sense right now?

Many people are feeling like they’re coming out of a cocoon, shedding a skin whose protection they don’t have as much use for as they seek out something new to wear. Or they want to do this, but don’t know how.

If you’re craving something different -- but are unsure of what it is -- here are a few steps that can help to channel your energy and provide clarity.

1) Take inventory.

Maybe your priorities have shifted. Start with these questions:

  1. What am I doing right now that’s working well?
  2. What am I doing that’s keeping me from what I really want?
  3. What do I want to hold on to over the next 6-18 months? And what am I ready to let go of?

[Related: Everything You are Going Through is Just Preparation]

2) Think about what makes the most sense for you right now, and what’s realistic.

Do small or big steps feel right? What sort of challenge makes sense right now? And if you’re aspiring toward a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), what would the plan look like to achieve it?

3) Add something new to the mix.

Try something you’ve never done before; explore and experiment with things you’ve backburnered for various reasons. Maybe it’s something as small as finding ten minutes to sketch every day, guitar lessons, or a bolder move like mountain climbing. Try it, reflect on it, and see what joy or satisfaction they bring.

[Related: Three Leadership Lessons From the Mountains]

4) Talk it out with a trusted friend, advisor, or coach.

Having another perspective can help to both support and challenge you to uncover obstacles you didn’t know were there. Or maybe partner up with an accountability buddy who can reinforce good habits, provide nudges when you need them, or have your back.

5) Start a reflection practice (weekly, monthly, quarterly) where you pause to think about how you feel.

Which of your daily tasks are draining you? And what’s giving you energy? Look for patterns and challenge yourself by asking if the various things you’re doing are allowing you to live into your values, or if you’re checking boxes.

Now is a great time to start thinking about what’s next, how you want to be spending your time, and who you want to be 6-18 months from now. That inner voice might just evolve into an inner champion -- encouraging you to not just try on a new pair of shoes, but take some brave steps while wearing them.

[Related: Habits, Routine, and Lasting Change]

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Suzanne Weller partners with clients to maximize talent, transform organizations and teams, and lead from a human-centered place. Find out more at www.wellercollaboration.com and discover more blog posts at https://wellercollaboration.com/blog.


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