It was May and I was due to graduate from the University of Virginia with a major in Pre-med. When I entered college, I had a dream to become a doctor but, by junior year, I realized that was not my real direction – but what was? The school counselors were not very helpful so that left me at this major crossroad with no direction. I was stuck.
So, one day I was lounging by the school pool with two weeks to graduation and no place to turn to. Then, eureka! I got this inspiration out of the blue and I decided to ask myself a question: What is it that interests you? Talk about enlightenment! I had experienced many summer jobs in companies where I witnessed people who hated their jobs and I knew that wasn’t for me. Why not love the thing that I would be doing 8 hours a day for the best years of my life?
My answer was film!
OK, what could a woman do in film that was part of the creative process? This was years ago so opportunities for women were more closed off. That answer came after reading some filmmaking magazines I discovered – film editing. There, I had answered my questions at that crossroad and the next thing was how to get into the film business…but that is another story. Just know that I did get in and had a great career until hypnosis lured me away.
There’s always a new crossroad and a new what’s next.
Yes, it’s true. As you’re looking down the possible roads be it changing jobs, deciding to start or end a relationship, how to advise your daughter about her new, suspicious boyfriend, deciding on the knee replacement or limping along with a cane, etc. Whew, that’s a lot already!
And it’s scary because a crossroad involves choices and that involves change. But keep this in mind, change is something you have done all your life.
So here are some ideas to help with those crossroad decisions:
1. Try asking yourself the magic question I fortuitously found: What is it that interests you now? What brings you joy? You may not yet know what you would be doing differently but that will come? Just sit with it.
2. You might also want to think about what isn’t working for you right now. It might have been fine in the past but everything has an expiration date. Quite often, the pain of not changing outweighs the comfort of not changing, staying with the same old. If you need the motivation to change, imagine what would happen if you didn’t. Be honest.
3. Consider what you can and can’t control. For example, you may not be happy as to where we are going as a nation but that may be too massive for you to effect in a meaningful way. Think about the crossroad you can control. How about getting involved at the grassroots by becoming part of a local campaign. You can begin change at the local level. This way, you aren’t wasting energy, you are making sure this life transition is meaningful.
4. Prioritize. You may have more than one crossroad to determine but choose one to begin with. Some of the others may fall in place.
5. Make a plan. OK, change is scary because it is the unknown but think of it as the road to new and better aspects in your life and those around you. Create that plan of action and it will be much easier to make any changes on the way to your what’s next.
6. Take action. Maybe that’s doing research and keeping a journal. Talk to people about it. So often the conversation can help advance your plans or lead you to the next person. Take a step, even a small one, every day. Small advances will bring you closer. This will cause you to take more action.
7. Trust yourself. Some people struggle with change because they don’t believe in themselves. They don’t believe they are deserving. Work on boosting your self-esteem first, then you will naturally be more open to change and any setbacks. One way to do this is by learning and using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or hypnosis which help to access your deepest self. The answer is always within you and it’s a matter of allowing your inner light bulb to turn on.
Consider the tips I have outlined above, and remember: if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.