I was stuck, really stuck. Unfulfilled, too busy doing what was unfulfilling to see my way out of the situation and no space to see or crete new alternatives. I’d arrived at this place by following a series of entirely sensible choices, each at the time seeming to be the best possible option, and I’d ended up in a dead-end.
For me those circumstances were a small business, successful and profitable, but trapping me in a cycle of busyness that robbed me of time with my kids, numbed my creativity, and and certainly didn’t help me address the underpinning concern I had, to make a wider contribution in the world. My team and I were providing high quality training and coaching to leaders in some of Europe’s largest organizations, well-regarded and well-paid for our expertise. It was work I’d loved doing, for a while, but eventually I got to see the trap I had created. I’d tried a bunch of options to get out of this role and get into “making a difference in the world.”
I was now super busy winning sales to cover other people’s salaries, doing less of the transformational work myself and having to “runbusiness” And my conscience was reminding me in an ever louder voice that the companies I was supporting were not forces for transformation in the world.
It was time to re-choose. I still remember walking through a beautiful park in Chester, with a view over the meadows and the River Dee, autumn was in the air, seasons changing. I realized I had a choice I’d never considered before, just stopping doing what was paining me, closing the doors on the business.
That simple choice, which I took, ushered me into a period of reflection lasting a couple of years in which I set about re-choosing my entire life. Everything. And in that re-choosing many things changed, my work, my marriage ended, I ended up moving continents and roles. And the process of re-choosing also allowed me to examine and willingly re-commit to some of the same aspects of my life, values, habits that serve me, relationships that nourished both parties.
The magic of re-choosing lies in the opportunity to re-examine everything without the pressure of having to change. We get to look at all of the dimensions of our lives, and to re-new our commitments to what works, while looking to adapt our choices in the areas that aren't working. Its a process we can willingly undertake at any time, not a response to difficult times or problems. So we can approach it unburdened and free to change something, everything or nothing at all - that freedom is liberating. I don't know if I agree with Socrates in dismissing the unexamined life as not worth living, but I do know that the examined life is richer and more current, more vital than continuing to play out the habits, circumstances and choices that have lead us to this point.
I’ve come to see re-choosing as 4 simple steps to optimize any aspect of our life. i'm using it on the biggest questions and the smallest details. Right now we are re-choosing where in the world to live, as well, each morning, as re-choosing to be grateful for this day and the simple gift of being alive. In this way re-choosing isn't a one-off activity, its more like a philospophy for living.
The steps are simple enough, the key often is to recognize what we need to re-choose and when. The symptoms to look out for are boredom, lack of fulfillment, making no headway toward important goals or feeling becalmed and stagnant.
Try it. Pick something that isn’t even broken, a friendship, maybe even a good friendship.
Step 1 - review. How is this is serving you, serving the other people in involved? Are you each nourished, enjoying this relationship, does it support you moving forward as you wish?
Step 2 - develop options. Look at each of the options available to you right now. In this example it might include continuing as you are now, or how it would be to be without this person. Consider making the friendship even more important to you, spending more time together..
Step 3 - identify. Reflect deeply on each option, what would that be like, how would you feel in each case? Select whichever feels the most appropriate option, knowing that continuing as you are now can be a valid choice. Clues to the right option can often be found in how you feel when you consider how the option might play out.
Step 4 - commit. Make a commitment to yourself in a specific way, and throw yourself into the choice you have made. You are committed to this being the best option right now. Of course now is the time to begin to design how to make this new choice really work for you, and for the other people involved.
Try it, have fun, and drop a comment below about its impact.