Are you in flow, or on a hamster wheel?

This week’s topic is on creating both stability and flow to better roll with the changes. 

Change… gawd, it’s so commonplace now that it’s almost boring to talk about. Layoffs, working from home, COVID lockdowns… 

I’m sure that’s why this HBR article on being forever employable in this era of rapid change is striking a chord for a lot of people. Two of my coachees recently emailed it to me and asked for my perspective.

What Jeff Gothelf writes here triggered an “Absolutely!” mixed with “oooh, I’m not sure about that.” 

Yes, a thought leadership platform can create both stability and flow.

Jeff writes: “By becoming a recognized expert in your chosen domain or discipline you reverse the flow of jobs, leads and opportunities. Instead of you having to chase them down, they come to you.”

Totally agree: this flow of attraction is the sign that we are doing something right. And yes, the mindsets of entrepreneurialism and self-confidence keeps us open for spotting and pursuing new opportunities when they arise. 

So far, so good. 

But let’s try to stay off the hamster wheel, ok? 

Three of the five core concepts in this article are continuous learning, continuous improvement, and reinvention… gaaah! It’s not that it’s wrong, per se… but I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. 

Do you feel this way too, or is it just me?

Maybe I’m extra-sensitive to this overly busy work environment we’ve managed to normalize. Sensitive after hitting burnout two years ago and escaping overseas without a plan. Since then, I’ve deliberately redesigned my life for balance. 

This idea of perpetual, ever-increasing, ever-faster hamster wheel of change is NOT NORMAL. Spinning, spinning, spinning… and we’re having a hard time holding on, let alone keeping up. 

It’s especially hard for “rebels with a cause” — we tend to be dazzled by a lot of different ideas and problems to solve; we see so many opportunities. How to focus? What to learn and improve? 

This doesn’t feel like flow.

Can we stop the endless doing and start being

There’s a balance between change and stability; we need to find that edge and surf it. The first question to ask ourselves is… what doesn’t change? Anything?

Yes… human nature doesn’t change. There’s a reason why Shakespeare is still relevant 500 years after his death: he knew how to play to people’s needs and emotions. For as long as humans have walked the earth, emotion is what drives us to do what we do. 

What lights you up? What brings you joy? As I wrote last week, these are the things that ground you in who you are. They’re what I call “motivational DNA,” unique to each person. How do you want to feel? 

Will you find new things that excite you? Sure. Will you evolve? Absolutely. But the Jen at 51 is pretty much the same as Jen was at 8, exploring, painting, writing, riding my bike with the wind in my hair. I’m a rebel with a cause; a free-bird problem solver. Always have been, always will be. 

This is NOT about endless reinvention. 

This is about excavating who you already are under the rubble of should’s, expectations and endless running on the hamster wheel. 

Your motivational DNA, combined with your skills and strengths, can help you identify your ground of power: the source of flow. This becomes your stable platform, and you’ll naturally enhance it with new skills and knowledge because you love it; it’s effortless, like breathing. 

It’s like the source of a river, high in the mountains: when we’re connected to our source, we tap a wellspring of boundless energy, creativity, security, and whatever else we need to thrive. 

Our source never moves. It never chases. It doesn’t care what other people think, what the latest technology is, or the latest job title, or the hottest unicorn in Silicon Valley. 

Instead, it magnetizes. This grounded source creates the flow. It’s both/and, not either/or. Flow and stability, simultaneously.

Questions:

Are you in flow, or on a hamster wheel? 

Are you attracting or chasing? 

Are you more focused on being who you really are, or endlessly doing more and more? 

Want to discuss? Shoot me an email, or leave a comment here on this blog post! 

Until next week!  Jen

PS. Most of my clients are navigating a transition right now, and we’re working on building their own thought-leadership platforms. If you’re interested, check out my coaching for flow page and/or book a call with me. 

How to attract the life you want

I was on the phone last night with a dear friend of mine who has always had this feeling she would move from the US to the city of romance: Paris. She’s even had dreams about it.

So she tells me last night (again), “I feel like I’m going to be in Paris. But I just don’t know when or how. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.” This passive phrase coming out of the mouth of a strong woman already in mid-life surprised me. If not now, then when?

I responded, “May I gently challenge that assumption?”

“Yes of course.”

“‘If it’s meant to be’ isn’t enough; it will happen when you make a choice.”

“Ha! Ok… but I don’t have a big stash of money.”

“I didn’t either when I made the leap overseas.”

Really? I assumed you did. Well, what would I do with my cat?”

“Bring the cat. Really, is that the only thing stopping you?”

(long pause)

She looks at me with both fear and delight visible on her face.

“I could really do this, couldn’t I?”

Yes, my dear friend. YES!

What’s stopping you?

What stopped me for decades was an assumption that these magical, fabulous lives that people led were… not for me. I didn’t even question whether or not I could actually move overseas. The desire was more like a wish that had made a comfy nest in a small corner of my mind, accepting that it would be her destiny to stay there.

What’s worse: I’d convinced myself that I didn’t even know what I really wanted because the best options (roaming the planet, photography, writing, coaching) were for someone else. Those options were already taken, and it was “too late for me.” What lay within my personal realm of possibility in this tiny box that I called reality? Nothing fulfilling, as it turned out.

Inshallah… if God wills. If magic happened and someone handed me an opportunity and a pile of cash on a silver platter, then I’d know it was really for me. I’d go along for the ride. “If it’s meant to happen, it will be.” All of my perceived barriers would miraculously be removed. Fingers crossed!

It’s all within our reach

So how do we get out of our boxes? How do we even know the right thing to choose? I’ve written before on the practical how-to’s of finding yourself, which is the prerequisite to knowing your path… but today I want to talk about something else.

I want to talk about faith and enchantment.

I bet that surprised you. I bet when you read “if it’s meant to be isn’t enough,” you assumed that I’d be taking an uber-rational approach to making things happen… right? And while I have a reputation for doing exactly that, here’s what I know to be true… and I’m confident that my friend (who lives a more enchanted life than I ever will) knows it as well:

There’s a big difference between passive wishing and active faith.

  • A passive wisher stays in her comfort zone; an active faither says YES to opportunities not knowing what will happen, but having faith that something magical will come of it. (Is faither evan a word? well it is now…)
  • A passive wisher has limited her vision to what she can see; an active faither navigates life like a bat… feeling into the next step, guided by intuition and the pull of her soul.
  • A passive wisher is boxed in by the practical; an active faither lives an enchanted life, expecting — and therefore receiving — the hard-to-explain coincidences, clues and gifts that she needs to fulfill her path.
  • A passive wisher feels like she has to push boulders up hill to make things happen. An active faither enters the flow; she knows that the right things come easily, and she simply needs to put herself out there to find them.
  • A passive wisher wants to believe in destiny and says things like “if it’s meant to be, it will happen.” An active faither believes in destiny and chooses it to happen.

Faith without action is a wish… and wishes have no power. A meaningful life overflowing with joy is within reach. The only thing stopping any of us is the choice to see the world differently — from our hearts instead of our heads — then taking the next step based on that limited yet accurate sight. And the next, and the next…

And what happens when we do that is… magical. People, answers, opportunities, even parking spots! appear as if conjured out of thin air. We live an enchanted life on faith. But it can only happen if we are active participants in the process. My logical left brain tries to explain it away, but my soul knows better. My soul knows when I’m in the flow.

May 2020 be the year you decide to reawaken the sense of possibility that perhaps you had as a child. To start unshackling yourself from burdens that are not yours to carry, and begin saying YES to what life has to offer.

PS.

The photo in this post is from my 6-week stay in the small fishing village of Essaouira, on the coast of Morocco. It’s here that it finally sunk in: I’m doing it. I’m doing what I’d always wanted to do.