Lately it has become undeniably clear to me that I need to do some major assessments of the Big Picture of my life. I’ve known this for a while but have only recently really devoted to the process. Oprah says that life talks to you in whispers, and if you ignore the whispers, eventually life will smack you upside the head. I feel like I’m alllllmost to the point of life smacking me upside the head, so I’m finally getting serious about sorting things out and making some changes!
As is often the case, when I notice something coming up for me it also seems to come up for people around me. I’ve been working with several clients lately who are grappling with big questions of what to do with their lives going forward. Maybe there’s some collective energy at work leading a lot of us to ask things like: what needs to be uprooted in my life? What do I want my future to look like? What changes must be made in the present to ensure I am on the right path?
Going down this line of inquiry can be exhilarating – but it can also be pretty daunting. Luckily for me this isn’t my first rodeo. I already have a decent amount of experience doing the dirty work of looking at what’s working in my life and what’s not working, taking things apart and putting them back together. As I embark on this process again myself, I’d like to share some tips for those of you who might be going through a similar experience.
It’s happening, accept it and get on board.
When you feel a pull to dig into the roots of your life, your first reaction might be resistance. This definitely happens for me! Lately I’ve been a bit like a stubborn child: “do I HAVE to think about the big picture? Uggggh, that sounds hard. Can’t I just stay in my comfort zone and stick to the status quo? I mean things aren’t really that bad, this is fiiiinnnneee.”
A lot of people stay in the resistance phase for a long time. I’ve had clients tell me they lived this way for YEARS, knowing there were foundational issues in their lives yet unable to commit to facing this truth. So the first thing you must do is decide that you’re no longer willing to live this way. You have to decide that you deserve more, you have to know that change IS possible even if it isn’t easy. You have to ease yourself out of denial, accept that this need for assessment is really happening, and get yourself on board for the process.
Intuition will guide you, but not on your schedule.
It probably goes without saying that I am a huge proponent of the notion that you intuitively know what is best for you. It is the workings of intuition that let you know when something in your life just isn’t quite ‘right’ for you, and it is the workings of intuition that eventually guide you to what IS right. If you’re reading this, you probably have similar beliefs and experiences.
But sometimes we glamorize intuition and make it seem like this super wonderful thing that will automatically solve all your problems. What we don’t talk about as often is that intuition works on its own schedule and in its own ways. It is pretty rare for your intuition to sweep in and bestow you with a detailed plan of what you should do from here. This does happen sometimes, and it’s amazing when it does – but more often, intuition works in subtle ways.
Sometimes there is a really uncomfortable gap between accepting that something is ‘off’ in your life and being intuitively guided as to what precisely you should do about this. When this happens you may get frustrated or doubt your intuition or try to force it to get to work. While there are things you can do to create more space for your intuition to come forward (journaling, pulling tarot cards, the list goes on), sometimes you ultimately need to learn to let go and wait until the answers are good and ready to arise.
Envision clearly but paint with broad strokes.
Once you do have some intuitive understanding of what changes you need to make, you may feel inspired to start really envisioning what your life could look like from here. This is a huge thing that people who are into “manifesting” talk about. I’m all about visioning, dreaming and creating a vivid picture of your ideal reality. Go for it! But there are a few things to watch for here.
The first is letting your ego get in the driver’s seat. One of the tell tale signs that ego is guiding your dreams is that they are all about what you should want. We all know this happens with more ‘traditional’ people, but remember that this happens even to woo-woo people! We think we should want to be drinking green juice every day, being self-employed as a priestess, so on and so on.
Now, if these are things you REALLY want, that’s cool! But maybe what your soul craves is something completely different than the Instagram-worthy spiritual-lifestyle stuff we are told we should want. You’ve got to clear away all notions of what you should want in order to lean into what is truly the right fit for the shape of your soul.
The second thing to watch for here is getting TOO specific about how you envision your future. I know, this probably flies in the face of what all the “manifesting experts” say but whatevs. Having a detailed plan and a specific vision of what you’d like your life to look like can be helpful, don’t get me wrong. But it can also put you into a sort of tunnel vision in which you are so set on this specific vision that you miss all the other possibilities around you.
As John Lennon said, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Don’t get so fixated on your plans and visions that you miss life happening. It can be really helpful to have some idea of where you’re going, but you may find it’s best to paint that vision with broad strokes. The only way to fill in the details is through lived experience in each moment.
Instead of trying to “manifest” a set-in-stone outcome, I find it works best to simply set the intention to manifest whatever is actually in your highest good. It is very possible that you simply cannot yet at this time envision exactly what your most magical future could look like, so try keeping your expectations somewhat open-ended.
You must make a mess to clean up a mess.
Once you’ve accepted change is necessary, given your intuition space to guide you, and formulated some type of vision and broad plan…it’s time to get to work. It’s time to really dig the fuck in and start making some changes to your life. There’s no way around it – you’re going to have to get your hands dirty.
Depending on the magnitude of the changes you’re making, you may find that you have to deconstruct certain aspects of your life. For example if you’ve decided on a new career path, you might have to quit your current job. If you’ve decided a relationship isn’t working, you’ll have to go through the difficult process of ending that relationship. If you’ve decided to change your living situation, you’ll have to get the hell out of Dodge. And this deconstruction can be intense. In tarot, the Tower speaks to this concept. Blowing shit up in your life is usually pretty terrifying and dramatic. And it is almost always messy.
One time I was in the midst of making a smaller change in my life – reorganizing a closet – but it works as a metaphor here. In order to get the closet into a better state, I had to take out everything in it. That meant that the contents of the closet had to be strewn out across the entire room, creating a huge mess. My man, who was helping me with this task, looked at the closet rubble littering the room and said “sometimes you must make a mess to clean up a mess.”
It’s probably the most Confucian thing he’s ever said to me, and I’ve taken it on as an important life lesson. Sometimes there is no easy way to change directions in your life. Sometimes you have to make a daunting and unruly MESS in order to get things all sorted out. You have to be willing to create that mess and face the consequences in order to get things re-assembled in a better way.
There is no finish line.
There is no way I can say everything about this topic in one post, so I’ll leave you with this. Try things. If they don’t work, try more things. Don’t give up if it takes a lot of experimentation and a few epic failures to create your path forward. You can choose to view everything you go through as a learning opportunity.
And there really truly is not a finish line. Once you sort through one cycle of assessment and change, things might settle down for a while. But then you’ll feel the pull to expansion and change again. This is natural, and it is part of being a growing, evolving soul. Allow yourself to constantly check in with your inner state, and stay continuously engaged in the process of building the life that is right for you. It’s not always easy, but it IS always worth the effort!