“I always wanted to get into another field where I knew I would be more fulfilled but for some reason I was never able to get past the gate. You empowered me to step through the gate to get to the other side so I could have a more fulfilling and satisfied life.”
— comment from a client at the conclusion of an equine-guided coaching session with me
For today’s post, I invite you to go on a journey of the mind with me. Imagine yourself standing in the middle of an arid, earthen-colored and perfectly ordinary field. As far as the eye can see, the land is flat, scrubby, and barren. Feel the absence of the sun, the remnants of last night’s cold rain, and with it the chill. As you bend over to touch the ground, it is damp, cold, and packed hard. A clutch at the earth yields only a few stray pebbles and a bit of cool mud. As you stand again, you note the absence of sound, for the sky is still and silent. Taking a deep breath you feel the moist, cool air fill your lungs.
You close your eyes for a moment and when you open them again, you see it. A gate has appeared just out of reach and slightly ajar. Just beyond the gate you spy the beginnings of a garden in the spring. What’s that there? Could that actually be the color of bright yellow daffodils, blue crocuses and red tulips and the fragrance of hyacinths? And what’s that you hear? Is it truly the sound of the Northern Cardinal, that first harbinger of spring, signaling the end of a long, hard winter? And what about the brilliant sunlight you see over there – is it real? You can almost feel the gentle warmth in every pore. Just thinking about it brings a smile to your face.
You want to go there. You want to be there. The gate is open. You have only to step through it. But you hesitate. “What if it’s a trap?” you think. “What if it’s not really as wonderful there as it looks? What if I won’t know anyone on the other side of the gate? I can’t possibly go there now. Alone. Without knowing what I will find when I get there. What if I can’t find my way back again?” These are the thoughts that fill your mind. These are the barriers, created in your mind, that stand in your way.
How have I arrived at the gate?
This exercise illustrates a pattern of experience for many people I have worked with over the years. Many people live a perfectly acceptable and predictable life for a number of years and then often around the age of 50, something like this happens:
June thinks deeply about her life and asks, “Is this all there is?”
Leroy’s company feels the effects of the sagging economy and he is being “let go.”
Dave feels the cumulative effects of a hard-driving career and is left tired, burned out and worn out.
Nancy’s job responsibilities have been centralized at the home office and she is unceremoniously pink slipped.
Jim’s employer has been acquired by another firm, and he realizes his values don’t line up well with the new organization.
Denise owns a successful business and gleefully sells it, planning to just relax and enjoy a life of leisure. But after the novelty wears off, life soon feels boring and meaningless.
These 50-something people are all at a point of choice about how they want to live the next one third (or more) of life. Every one of these individuals has been given the opportunity to reflect and speculate on what he or she wants to do next.
How will I react when I arrive at the gate?
When faced with the opportunity to step through the gate to a new life, 2 things almost always occur:
1. A vision is created and a clear declaration is made of what will be achieved.
2. Barriers to realizing that vision appear.
You read it right. In my experience in life and as a coach, I have noted that almost the same minute a person declares what he or she wants to create, all the reasons that it can’t happen arrive along with the justification about why things should remain the same. These are barriers to the vision and they are not made of steel, wood or stone. They are made of unprocessed fear and anxiety.
The barriers are made in the mind: they are limiting mindsets. How will June, Leroy, Dave, Nancy, Jim, Denise, and you move through, over or around the barriers to achieve the vision? Limiting mindsets can be quite challenging, but are certainly not impossible to move past.
How can I successfully deal with a limiting mindset?
Simply put, embrace it. Put in writing all the reasons your idea won’t work, and prioritize your reasons by size of the obstacle. Identify the key fears and anxieties that need to be addressed in order to achieve your goal. This becomes your “next actions list.” You can handle some of these actions on your own, but for some you will need support. I encourage you to develop the capacity to ask for help. When you stop believing you have to do it all on your own and you embrace the systems, people and knowledge available to help you, you have made one sure step through the gate to your new life.
What if I have prioritized my barriers, fears, and anxieties, but I don’t know how to move forward?
Three things that I have found to be most helpful include:
1. Byron Katie – read about applying “The Work” of Byron Katie here.
2. Create a support system – read about the importance of support and get ideas for ways to build your own support system here.
3. Somatic, ontological, or equine-guided coaching – read about my approach to one-on-one and group coaching here.
For those who would like help in planning what the next phase of your life will look like, I recommend these life planning resources.
“The New Purpose Project” from the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota
These are just three of many good life planning resources available. For more, see the Services page of my ‘Living the Good Life on Purpose’ website.
Now it’s your turn.
What lies just beyond the gate in your life?
What obstacles – limiting mindsets – prevent you from stepping through that gate?
What life can you create by taking that first step?