I hear a lot about turning points and defining moments in the work I do as a coach to midlife women: Those moments when the forces of head and heart come together with crystal clarity and you know that what you’ve been doing, or haven’t been doing, is no longer enough.
Often these moments are painful and confusing, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could reach these aha moments, if you could navigate these necessary transitions without having to be in crisis? What if you had some way of recognizing when you’re heading into the arms of a turning point? To help you navigate a little more clearly, here are four critical clues that usually accompany these defining moments. Do you recognize any of them?
You’re feeling scared
We often fear the very thing we are meant to do. Change is scary. It’s messy. It’s unknown. If you start to feel some discomfort when you think about doing something differently – like setting firmer boundaries, or contemplating opening your own business – know that this type of fear isn’t meant to hold you back. It’s there to give you a little of that hair rising on the back of the neck phenomenon that tells you you’re scared, but also excited. The way a singer feels the fear before going out on stage; the way a sky diver feels the fear before she jumps out of the plane (okay, that might be the wrong kind of fear, but you get the idea). This is the fear that motivates us to change.
But there’s another fear. The fear that keeps us stuck. Most often, these fears are locked away from your conscious thought. They drive you to behave in unsatisfying, self-destructive, and limiting ways without your awareness or consent. For you to truly move forward, these fears must see the light of day, where they can be examined, questioned, debunked and rendered benign.
You’re turning your thinking on its ear
Stop in your tracks and begin to ask different questions that allow the possibility that this turning point is happening for a critical reason and you’re meant to address it, for the betterment of yourself and others, as challenging as it may be to do so. Become an active participant in your life by asking yourself questions that give you your power back: What am I meant to learn from this? What changes do I need to make in my life? These are a powerful beginning to examining the process of living rather than just the content of your life.
You don’t get what you want
Surprised? Sometimes when we don’t get the things we think we want, it’s because we don’t really want them. Our inner voice is whispering to us what we need and is serving us in those moments, pushing us forward to finally leave our unhappiness behind and be honest about what we want our life to be.
I can remember when I was up for a huge promotion after a merger occurred in the non-profit organization I was working in as a consultant. They were consolidating the territory and giving the responsibility for five states to one affiliate consultant. I really wanted the job. It would mean some additional money, but the real reason I wanted it was because of the much larger reach the position entailed as well as a coveted spot on the affiliate management team.
When the job went to my counterpart I was extremely disappointed. Demoralized. I questioned my abilities and my talent. I spent a lot of time bemoaning the fact that they didn’t choose me, but in hindsight I realize that had I gotten that job I wouldn’t have set out on my path to becoming an entrepreneur and doing work that I truly feel passionate about. Sometimes NOT getting what we want is just what we need.
You’re looking for a support system
It might not be your current support system. Sadly, your friends, family, colleagues, bosses, everyone who surrounds you are often too filled with doubt, fear, and negativity to support you on the path of following your soul’s work. Honestly, the majority of people don’t have a clue about the real chops required to do soul-satisfying work.
So how would they know what’s possible and what’s necessary? They don’t! You must surround yourself with those who walk the talk, and who can see beyond limitations and fear. Even if it’s one or two other soul sisters or soul brothers, it’s critical that you don’t try to do it alone. Follow your own voice, yes, but open yourself up to more than that by having like-minded people accompany you on your journey.
In Barbara Stanny’s book Secrets of 6 Figure Women, every six-figure woman she interviewed spoke of the significance other people had in their overall success. They refer to these people in two ways: “True Believers”- people who recognize your potential and offer encouragement, and Way Showers – people who provide the map and serve as proof that success is possible. Sometimes they are separate people. Sometimes one person plays both roles. But always they are critical. Success is not a solitary journey.