In the middle of a recent coaching appointment, both the client and I had a huge realization. She was completely bored with her life! As we were talking about a decision she was facing, it wasn’t the opportunity that was appealing; it was the thought of welcoming change – any change – into her life that had caught her attention.
“What’s challenging to you right now? What is exciting in your life? Where do you find passion?” I asked. To each question, she gave me a puzzled, almost painful look. She did not have an answer.
Finally, she explained, “I work hard and am successful in my career. I got married, had kids, survived divorce and am now working hard to keep some balance in my life. Life feels functional; I have a lot of responsibilities and I find that the only real challenge is juggling the activities in my life.” But where was the passion?
It’s easy to see how this can happen. When we were in school, our goal was to graduate. Then we wanted to get a good job. Next it was to meet someone and get married, have kids, be a good parent, etc. Now that we’ve done all that, what are we moving towards? The first part of life seemed so structured. We knew what we were “supposed” to do and what was “normal” and what came next. But who makes the rules and sets the goals now? What is “supposed” to happen next?
“Imagine that you are the writer and director of a movie – your movie,” I said, introducing an analogy for us to play with. “The stage is set, several plot lines have been introduced, and there is a cast of characters with you as the lead. Tell me how the story unfolds. What happens next?” Sounds pretty open-ended, right? The irony is that this much flexibility can be stifling!
She looked at me, completely stuck. I pressed, “Where is the passion?” She had become so busy just managing her day-to-day life that she had forgotten.
We then reconstructed and described each of the eras of her life. We began in childhood and moved on to the School Era, the Single Years, the Relationship to Marriage Era, the Family and then the Divorce Years, which brings us to now.
We brainstormed her future Eras. The next one was called Back to Me. Travel Time came next, which naturally flowed into the Relaxation, Retirement and Grandparent Eras. We talked about each one and built a loose framework for her future. As we watched the chapters unfold, she saw where she was now with more perspective as to how it fit into the rest of the story.
By creating descriptions for each time period (including the tone, color, theme song, motto, etc.), we provided clarity and dimension to the various segments of her story. Excitement grew as her entire life began to feel more alive and connected. Ideas sprang forth that took completely by surprise and the boredom disappeared. We had, in effect, re-energized her life by adjusting her perspective.
Stepping outside of the day-to-day responsibilities can help to gain a broader perspective. This macro-view provides the big picture along with the details…and how it all fits together to make up your life. By knowing where you’ve been and where you plan to go you gain a better understanding of where you are right now. Isn’t life really all about right now?
Coaching Challenge: Review your life and write down the major eras. Describe each segment by answering the following questions:
• What is the overall theme of this time period?
• If you had to describe this era with an article of clothing, what would it be?
• What is the lead song on the soundtrack of this era?
• What kind of car do you drive?
• What would a bumper sticker on your car say?
Now list the upcoming time periods in your life. Create the macro view. Then focus in on each one and answer the questions above. Have fun with it. See where you are going. Imagine the possibilities, and feel the passion!