In retrospect, I had many years of feeling lost, unloved, confused, and unhappy. During these times, I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to for guidance. Nothing I did seemed to help. I only felt worse with each day than the day before, and my situation – although it should have been joyous – was miserable.
Changing my journey involved, among other things, acceptance of self, others, and situations. Self-acceptance of where I’m at and where I’m not. Accepting that where I’m at is a limitation, but more importantly, a point of departure or opportunity from which to grow. It all depends upon my mindset or perspective.
Any personal journey, by definition, can be a struggle or a beautiful unfolding. Each of us defines the meaning of our particular passage for ourselves. That meaning brings a unique emotional quality that we experience. It’s similar to taking a drive that we haven’t taken before. We normally ask Google maps for the shortest route, but we could ask for the most scenic route. Most of the time, I take the shortest way, but metaphorically, I lead my life according to what I find most interesting. I follow my passion, not money. Because there’s always money, but not always an enjoyable journey.
Are you on a journey that gives you difficult feelings to experience? Write down several perspectives that a person could theoretically take, NOT just your own. If it helps, don’t think of writing about your difficult journey, but that it’s someone else’s journey. Write both positive and negative ones. Be thorough and creative, making one perspective reflect life “before your difficult journey began,” and another from the perspective of “after it was resolved.”
Acceptance & Transitions
I don’t seem to grow as a person, improve, or make significant life changes without accepting the reality of my situation, first. I reason that life merely unfolds all on its own, without any input from me. My job isn’t to try and change life but is to decide how I will interact with life as it presents itself. This perspective or this fresh state of mind, enables me to see the positive in any situation. Because I and my actions can and will be positive, regardless of the situation that life offers up. I find it far more valuable to define my situation this way, given the alternative I’ve already experienced.
As a Psychologist, I, often deal with another person’s underlying struggle, encourage them to accept their journey for what it is, and ask them to consider what they might have control over. If they have a goal, I suggest that they find an action that might lead directly to that goal. We cannot eliminate the challenges of life, but we can strive to focus on what is going best and what is most important to us.
As in sports psychology, we benefit by creating a “memory bank” of positive outlooks and perspectives. Then all we need to do is to employ them for our own benefit according to the situation at hand. Unfortunately, too regularly, we allow ourselves to believe that “we simply must” focus on controlling situations that are normally outside of our control or are secondary to our goals. Too frequently, our “memory bank” of outlooks is populated automatically by unhappy experiences. “Forget about it.”
For me, due to a change in perspective, problems often change, too, by becoming less essential, tertiary to a more valuable objective, or in some cases, an unexpected opportunity. At least that’s how it sometimes feels. New perspectives, attitudes, or paradigms seem to bring new strength, clarity, and optimism that leads toward the right journeys.
That’s right, I’m saying that by definition – if you’re suffering – you’re on the wrong journey. Don’t blame yourself. That would be a waste of time and effort. Instead, adopt a fresh new way of looking at your life that makes the pain or struggle worth it for you. For a personal example, read my previous post titled Continuum of Leadership Correlates. Am I lucky? Perhaps. As Tiger Woods has said, “the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Opportunities can seem to multiply as I focus inward and become more honest and vulnerable with myself about myself and my life. One important aspect of my present reality is that my business is evolving, similar to being on a personal journey. I own the company, so I can help to mold its identity. Refine what it’s all about, who it’s primary clients are, as well as it’s business values.
A business, remember, is a reflection of its owner’s reality, not a creator of their existence, which means that I must garner strength and confidence elsewhere to feed the business at certain times. At other times, the clinic will feed me. Exercise, meditation, music, personal friends, and reflection. These are a few of my resources that mentor me down a trail to creating my masterpiece with my business. They inspire me. Hopefully, they will also stimulate the clinic’s evolution. Perhaps.
Whether this is true or not can be tested out. After considerable reflection and consulting my statistics, I can honestly say that my business has changed significantly in its first ten years. Where its clientele comes from and the concerns they bring reflect a critical component of change.
Today, the clinic sees a higher number of private clients who hear of us online or through word-of-mouth — no more advertising budget. Client concerns continue to vary somewhat. However, everyone wants to feel and experience happiness. Currently, client concerns are more professional than in previous years, and clients have more formal education. They are more psychologically informed when they come in, as compared to our early years.
However, one thing feels clear and right. My business is successfully evolving. It is on its own journey, to be sure. My clinic is changing as I am. I feel more creative, confident, and better equipped to provide a highly customized therapeutic approach to my clients. Strategic goals include continuing to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone. I have additional skill sets now, relative to 10 years ago. Because I have grown and behaved differently, those around me reflect those changes back to me.
As a result, our clinic now has four conveniently located offices in and around our downtown core. Other Psychologists offer counseling services alongside me. Leadership coaching and high-performance coaching stand out as specialties for clients in various cities, states, provinces, and countries. I publish and regularly speak, with occasional training. Annual earnings remain steady. Projections indicate a 20-30% annual increase over previous years. Most importantly, the quality of our focus has evolved more than anything else. Plus, new opportunities continue to present themselves.
Learn, Grow, Change, Evolve & Improve
Entrepreneurs might engage in the process of lifelong learning and best practices. As a Psychologist, I must work my business as if I were a gardener. Work the soil. Care for plants with water and sunlight. But I cannot insist that plants grow more or differently than they will. I just love them as they are and accept how they grow on their terms.
There is something quite magical about creatively loving life as it is, on its own terms. I think that a business requires great technical and business acumen and a commitment to forging greater connections with individual clients and the business community and a growing culture. Activities that I understand how to do, but which are often outside of my comfort range – and so here, I stretch myself again. I am an extreme introvert – which is excellent – as confidentiality is critical in a therapeutic setting but limiting in growing a business. Perspective definitely comes into play here.
My professional journey (and that of my clinic), at least for the time being, seems to be about patience, perspective, acceptance and stretching. Sometimes I think this is all life is about – accepting the things we cannot change, stretching beyond our comfort zones, and being patient for the life we long for. Acceptance, patience, perspective, and stretching, I should remember, reflects both a limitation and is a point or opportunity from which to grow.
“That’s it!” Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip once sung. We’ve got to engage in “a collection of things.” We’ve got to learn to love the life we have. Then it might change and become something more. Something not quite so “Tragic.”