The Foggy Path

By May 31, 2012 27 Comments

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.



p.s. Get the inner critic e-course here!

Join the discussion 27 Comments

  • Powerful reminder to take it one day at a time and trust yourself. Thanks for sharing Tara!

  • Kerry Lee says:

    Tara, thank you, such a beautiful and powerful share and you’ve really made me feel OK to be in my fog today.

  • Michaela Ahearn says:

    Tara, Wow! I have had that thought after reading many of your posts, but have never said thank you. Now is time. The openness and clarity you have — and so generously share — re: your personal journey is always a gift, and especially has been a today. I’m in the mist, and now I know I’m in good company. Thank you!!

  • Marta says:

    Thank you. I needed your experience and also to know I’m not the only one in the fog. That there is a promise on putting one foot in front of the other.

  • Anu says:

    Hi Tara,

    Thanks for sharing your story! It is so comforting to know that it is ok to walk on a foggy path…that it is ok to just take the next step even though you cannot see where it may lead you next. I would also love to read more about anything you can share on the process of discovering your dreams? How did you dig deeper and deeper? Were there any practices that helped in that journey?


  • Melissa says:

    I like this. I love the thought that the gift we’ve been given is being able to see the next step. Just one small promise, one small shift, at a time. Beautiful! Thanks.

  • Tracey says:

    Why did this make me cry? (step!)

  • Donna says:

    The idea of a foggy path is a great way to think of our journey in life–not always well lit, indeed. Thanks for being courageous enough to find your voice and share your gift for expression, Tara.

  • Oh, thank you so much for this Tara. The reassurance that the steps will happen and the path will begin to take shape is SO what I needed to hear!

  • Sophia says:

    It’s amazing when you can read something someone else wrote that verbalizes EXACTLY what you are going through. Thank you, Tara, for verbalizing my current state (in the fog). I’m leaving a job I like, colleagues I love, to find what it is that will drive me again. I hope I find it like you have!

  • Marie says:

    Thank you!
    I’m in the middle of the mist, hearing people around me saying it’s important with clear goals, and feeling a bit lost. But I’m not lost. I’m right here, finding out where my path is taking me.
    Your words helped me remember that.

  • Frauke says:

    Thank you so much ! This article makes so much more sense to me than all the “plan and tell where you want to be in 5 years from now”. Taking that next step – I can do that. And if I do, I will probably be able to take another step – and so on …
    Off to take my next step ;-))

  • Prime says:

    You can always get quiet, tune out the noise of the world, and listen inward for that one next step.

    Ah yes, there’s too much noise on and offline that we sometimes forget to look inward and find that stillness within

  • Barbara says:

    thank you thank you thank you for this post. It´s sooooooo encouraging. I am on a very foggy path, just recently started to step out more of my comfort zone and it´s sooooo scary. Everything can happen, time will show. I so much hope that I will do just fine, but it´s so scary and so hard.

  • Deborah Reid says:

    Thank you for your willingness to share. This is so exactly where I am at and it is so comforting to know that I am not alone.


  • Tiffany says:

    What a beautifully written post, Tara. Thank you for writing so encouragingly about something that’s so real for us every day.

  • Catherine says:

    Thank you so much for this post which appeared at the perfect time – I am putting one foot in front of the other at the moment, unable to see what’s ahead, and feeling afraid and a little disoriented. It’s wonderful to hear that by listening to yourself and trusting and stepping forward slowly, you found a way…and that I’m not the only one in the fog!

  • Jule says:

    I LOVE this piece! And, the timing is perfect. Soon, I will leave a long-time and wonderful career, and a place of work that is filled with a sense of purpose and with people I treasure. I could stay – but, really, I can’t. There is other work for me to do. In my heart, I know that. Do I have clarity about the work – no. But, I am clear ( most of the time) that it’s time to pursue a different path. As you say – ‘Step’.
    Your beautiful piece gives language to a process that is seemingly invisible, yet strongly felt by so many. And, it provides a way – through your beautiful metaphor, to think about the experience of transition. What you have written applies, I believe, to all transitions – in work, in relationships, motherhood, and on. The experience of a felt need for change, without a vision of the future. The image I get is this – it’s like leaving the comfort of the shoreline, and setting sail without a destination. The destination is held in the body of the vessel. With patience and attention, it will be revealed.
    Thanks again for such a beautiful, soul-level message. xo

  • I’ve always wondered why I couldn’t see and plan my future several years ahead… Thought there was something wrong with me. Thought that I was bad at planning things… But I see that most of the times I’ve been able to see just the next step. And that it enought. That it’s more important to tap into and dig into our desires and dream and take the next step from there than planning… The foggy path is a great metaphor! Thanks, Tara!

  • Lindsey says:

    I can’t be the only person who thinks immediately of the iconic EL Doctorow quote about how “You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” when I read this lovely, wise piece. Thank you for the reminder that fogginess isn’t to be feared … I turn away from it often and wind up in the land where things are clear, but also, as you say, somewhat empty. I must turn back to the fog. Thank you. xox

  • Ari says:

    I hvae recently given it all up. A high paying job that many would kill for. I have stepped into my dreams and they are wild and crazy and very foggy. But for the first time in a long time, I feel happy. Scared but happy. And the reason is that finally, after 41 years, I am stepping towards the direction of my dreams. Thanks Tara for a great article and for your beautiful inspiration.

  • Tiffany says:

    Made me start to cry too. This post addresses exactly what I am facing right now, and I thank you for it, Tara, and for all of the work you do. What if you had never left that job? So many people would be missing the power of your inspiration. Thank you again.

  • Jennifer says:

    I love this so much. Next time the fog literally rolls into San Francisco, I will recall your words, and be grateful for what I can and cannot see, for the reminder to turn inwards and look at the area illuminated by my heart’s light and step with delightful delicacy into the unknown. The mists hold an untold future, the story of our souls. My heart thanks you for your inspired words of wisdom. Blessings to you, blessings to us all.

  • Yeye says:

    Thank you so much. I am literally right where you were 5 years ago. It’s so affirming to hear that I don’t have to have all the answers right now. All I know is that this comfortable life I’ve created is not mine and somewhere out there in the fog is my life.

  • […] foggy path (coined by coach Tara Sophia Mohr) is the path where you move based on impulse, and take one step […]

  • […] I wouldn’t say I ever “dove into the unknown.” There were no dramatic dives! There was a slow, multi-year process that began with a growing dissatisfaction with my previous career, and a knowing that that career […]

  • […] foggy path (coined by coach Tara Sophia Mohr) is the path where you move based on impulse, and take one step […]

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