Lately, several people have asked me, Did you know, when you left your old career, that you’d be doing what you are doing now? Did you plan to write a blog, lead the Playing Big program, and do all that you are doing now?
They are wondering, How much do I need to know about where I am headed? If my vision is vague, is that a problem? Or if I have no vision at all?
Here’s my story.
Five years ago, I was working at a large nonprofit foundation. I didn’t hate my job. I didn’t even dislike it. I enjoyed going to an office of passionate, fun colleagues whom I adored. I liked working with generous, inspired donors.
And yet, I knew I had copped-out. I knew this work kept me in my comfort zone but had little to do with the path my soul longed to walk.
I knew I felt dried up inside.
I knew I had long ago abandoned my most tender dreams.
I knew the next twenty years could fly by as I kept doing all these things.
I knew I didn’t want to get to my deathbed and look back on a life of greater loyalty to my fears than to my dreams.
So, no, I didn’t know about Playing Big or this website or 10 Rules for Brilliant Women. I didn’t know what a blog was. I did know that, big picture, I wanted to move into something creative, something that felt juicy and alive and connected to my childhood loves of writing, theater, and creating. I knew I felt called to do something more centered around my individual voice.
I put one foot on a very foggy path. The fog was so thick that I couldn’t see where the path led. I could see the cobblestone right in front of me, and all the rest was mist.
The first step of that path was simply being willing to admit to myself that what I was doing was not actually so peachy keen. Step.
The next step was becoming willing to look inside to see what dreams and desires were really in there. That — not even the looking, but just the becoming willing to look — was a huge, difficult step because I knew that once I got in touch with the dreams inside, some things in my life might need to change. That was scary. Step.
The next step was to ask myself: What do I desire? What longings and dreams are buried down there? What really does bring me joy, and what doesn’t? I went on an archeological digging expedition — down, down, down — past layers of “no, you can’t do that,” past layers of “let’s put that dream aside — it’s frivolous,” past layers of “it’s just too risky to put yourself out there.” At the bottom, under all those piled-on layers, deep in my chest, I found my tender, soft, sweet, teary, dreams.
A desire to write. A desire to build my own company. A desire to be an artist, a leader, and a builder of an organization. Those answers didn’t come all at once. There were whispers, then more whispers, then images, then more images. But the path remained very foggy.
I am writing this to you, because, probably, you too have a foggy path to walk. Maybe you don’t know what you want to create in your life or work, or maybe you know, but the “how to get there” path is very foggy. But you have some vague inklings. You have some fuzzy pictures. You have some leanings, some directions that seem to pull at your heart.
What I want to say is this: the path is foggy, most of the time. That is the weather here in the territory of consciously creating our lives. As you know, grasping at the fog doesn’t make the path clear. Running through the fog in an attempt to find the clear spot doesn’t make it go away either.
Where we go wrong is this: we forget the gift we’ve been given. The gift is that you can see the next step. You can always get quiet, tune out the noise of the world, and listen inward for that one next step. You can feel the one next longing, the one next intuition, the one next pull. You can take that step. And once you have taken it, you can see the next step in front of you.
I’ll see you in the mist.