The Real Reason What You Want Feels Impossible


what_you_want_seems_impossible_everest_new

I was talking to a client recently who had a sense that what she really wanted was simply not possible for her.

Either her dream job didn’t exist or she didn’t have the qualifications for it or there was no way it would pay her enough to live on.

She could think of a lot of solid, air-tight, realistic reasons that a positive outcome wasn’t possible, so she felt defeated before she even started.

I myself am no stranger to the art of impossibility.  My default response to any new idea is to think of 101 reasons it wouldn’t work out.  I spent years telling myself that I couldn’t be a writer because if I relied on it for money I would no longer enjoy it, and if it didn’t pay the bills, then how could I take it seriously?

My mother used to call this “putting yourself in a box.”  It turns out I’m exceptionally good at it

We Have Good Intentions

Those of us who have a hard time seeing possibility don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, least of all our own.

To be fair, we’re actually trying to help make things happen by being practical, pragmatic, and down-to-earth.  Our intention is to be more effective by anticipating obstacles and planning for difficult circumstances.

And yet the actual effect of our focus on the negative is the opposite.  We miss out on opportunities because we’re focused on what can’t happen instead of what can.  We feel demotivated and discouraged.  And too often we don’t even start because we think we already know it won’t work out.

The Real Reason We Do It

When we’re having a hard time feeling a sense of possibility, it’s not because we know something other people don’t.  It’s not because what we want is impossible, or even unlikely.

The real reason we think something can’t happen is because we’re trying to protect ourselves.  Deep down, some part of us is afraid of failure, or rejection, or finding out that we’re not as capable as we thought we were.

We don’t want to be disappointed.

So we convince ourselves it’s not possible so that we don’t even try.  If we don’t try, after all, we can’t be disappointed.

But the Truth of the Matter?

We are capable beyond measure Sure, we have limitations.  But we also have great gifts to give, and our limitations are simply landmarks that orient us and point to where our greatest gifts lie.

We can handle disappointment, failure, and rejection.  In fact, these things can make us stronger and take us closer to success.

So much is possible.  There are no boxes except the ones in our heads.  No matter what roadblocks we hit, we always have choices and can always find another way.

Seeing Possibility

So the next time you find yourself thinking about all the reasons something won’t work or all the things that could go wrong, stop.

Remind yourself that:

  • The future is unknown. 

No matter what’s happened in the past, and no matter how you feel in the present, you cannot know what will happen in the future.

Remember that it’s just as possible that you’ll be surprised by a new opportunity or solution as by an unforeseen problem or obstacle.

  • There are more possibilities out there than you can think of right now.

We tend to think that we know everything and have thought of all the possibilities that exist.  In my experience, that’s almost never true.

For example, though the idea never would have occurred to me when I was younger, I now use writing as part of my work without having to rely on it entirely for income.

And if my client can’t find a job doing what she loves, she can go into business for herself.  If it doesn’t pay her enough, she can subsidize it with other types of work she doesn’t mind doing.

  • Things change.

The only thing constant about life is change.  If something isn’t possible now, it may be that all you need to do is wait.

Our economy changes all the time—for example, college degrees are becoming less important in hiring, and the highest-paying jobs are not what they used to be.  The context and constraints you are now in will not be the same next year, next month, or even next week.

It Takes Courage

Seeing possibilities is a skill we can learn.  But we have to be willing to not know.

We have to learn to see the bigger picture.  We have to allow ourselves to trust and begin to have faith.  We have to be willing to be disappointed.

When we’re ready to take that risk, possibilities are everywhere.

Over to You

What have you achieved that felt impossible or unlikely in the past?  What helps you to see the bigger picture?

Please share your experience so that others can learn from it.

See What’s Possible for You

This is the last week to sign up for this month’s Pathfinders: A Group Hike and Discussion to Find Your Calling.

You’ll meet others like you who want to make a meaningful career change and go on a beautiful walk in the woods—one of the best places you can find to see the bigger picture, reconnect to yourself, and begin to see the possibilities.

It’ll be fun, fulfilling, and free your first time.

For more information or to register, click here.


If you liked this post, you can share it with others using the buttons that follow, or sign up for my newsletter in the box just below.  I’ll send ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change to you every other week.


Photo credit: Joe Hastings // CC

Want to Make a Career Change You Won’t Regret? Try This.

change_you_wont_regret_new

You want to make a change.  You really do.  It’s just that you don’t want to make a change that you’ll regret.

How do you know this is what you really want?  You thought the jobs you took up to now would make you happy, and they didn’t.  Who’s to say the next job you choose will be any different?

And change requires money, time, and energy.  What if you go back to school and then realize it’s not for you?  What if you give up everything you have, start all over, and then end up back where you started—miserable in your job after the newness wears off?  What if it’s all a waste?

This prospect is scary for anyone wanting to make a career change because the future is inherently uncertain.  And yet your fear underestimates you and what’s possible when you really, truly listen to yourself.

You have a powerful GPS system already operating within you.  When you tune into it and follow its guidance, any career change you make, no matter the outcome, will bring you closer to what you want.

Case in point: I’ve coached dozens of clients to answer their calling, and not a single one has regretted the change they made in their career.  While their processes were quite different, they all had a few, key things in common:

They drew from all 3 types of intelligence.

Most of the time we use our intellectual intelligence to make decisions.  We reason, analyze, list pros and cons, and try to find the option that makes the most sense.

Often this leads us to ping-pong back-and-forth between options without a real sense of which one is right for us, or which one we won’t regret.

That’s because while intellectual intelligence is great at solving certain types of problems, it has very little to tell us about passion, desire, and purpose, the very things we need to know about if we’re going to be fulfilled long-term.

So to identify work that they didn’t regret, my clients tapped into their emotional and somatic intelligence, both of which offered incredible information about what they loved and what was most important to them.

Emotional intelligence draws on the information contained in our feelings.  Somatic intelligence comes from our body; it’s sometimes called intuition or “gut feeling.”  When my clients learned to listen to these sources of wisdom, they discovered what they most deeply wanted, what was meaningful to them, and what would truly fulfill them long-term.

To apply this to your own life, you can start to notice how different options and possibilities make you feel.  What emotions do they bring up?  What body sensations?  Which options bring up the most positive sensations?

Doing so can help you make decisions aligned with who you really are, which is the best way to avoid regret down the line.

They explored.

We test drive cars before we buy them, but often not careers.  Why?  We spend far more time in our career than we do in our car (assuming you’re neither a truck nor taxi driver).

My clients all went through a thorough process of identifying what was most important to them in their work—from location, pay, and environment to job responsibilities, impact, and people.

They then brainstormed ideas for jobs that included these elements.  Armed with a list of exciting possibilities, they became explorers: They tried out different routes to see which ones worked best for them.

They researched.  They did informational interviews.  They shadowed people.  They volunteered.  They did everything they could to get a crystal-clear picture of what a particular job would look like, sound like, and feel like day-in and day-out.

Then they checked in with their various intelligence centers—head, heart, and body—and noticed their response.  In this way, they got a clear read from their highly accurate, state-of-the-art internal GPS system about which path was the best, not just in theory, but in reality as well.

They followed their fear.

Yes, that’s right.  I know that our programmed response to fear is to freeze or run in the opposite direction.  And that’s okay.  If a giant, man-eating bird is trying to hunt us, that’s probably a pretty good response.

But if we really want to find our calling, we need to learn to follow fear.

We only fear a path when it contains something important to us, when we care, when we really, really want it to work.  Those are all great signs that a route is a good one for us.

So, the next time you feel afraid, stroll right up to your fear, introduce yourself, and shake its hand.  Let it know you’re pleased to see it—it means you’re on the right path.  Then march right along past it and continue in the same direction.

As Stephen Pressfield says, “Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

All of my clients took paths that led them, in one way or another, directly into the heart of their fear.

The path to work you love may not be a direct one.  Sometimes you have to try things out, learn, or even fail; sometimes you have to start one thing to open the door to something else.  But if you use your internal GPS when making decisions, each step you take will bring you closer to what you ultimately want, and each step will bring you lots of joy along the way.

Over to You

What do you make of this?  What’s helped you make changes you’ve been happy with in the past?  Do these point to any action steps you’d like to take?

Your ideas may help others.  Please leave a reply in the comments below.

Make Your Career Change a Happy One

If you’re not sure how to tap into your full intelligence, or if you’ve had trouble exploring or following your fears on your own, click here to request a free clarity session.  Sometimes all we need is a little guidance, support, and structure to be able to do things we couldn’t before.

Photo credit: ** RCB ** / Foter / CC BY

[gravityform id="3" title="false" description="false"]
<script type="text/javascript">var gform;gform||(document.addEventListener("gform_main_scripts_loaded",function(){gform.scriptsLoaded=!0}),window.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded",function(){gform.domLoaded=!0}),gform={domLoaded:!1,scriptsLoaded:!1,initializeOnLoaded:function(o){gform.domLoaded&&gform.scriptsLoaded?o():!gform.domLoaded&&gform.scriptsLoaded?window.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded",o):document.addEventListener("gform_main_scripts_loaded",o)},hooks:{action:{},filter:{}},addAction:function(o,r,n,t){gform.addHook("action",o,r,n,t)},addFilter:function(o,r,n,t){gform.addHook("filter",o,r,n,t)},doAction:function(o){gform.doHook("action",o,arguments)},applyFilters:function(o){return gform.doHook("filter",o,arguments)},removeAction:function(o,r){gform.removeHook("action",o,r)},removeFilter:function(o,r,n){gform.removeHook("filter",o,r,n)},addHook:function(o,r,n,t,i){null==gform.hooks[o][r]&&(gform.hooks[o][r]=[]);var e=gform.hooks[o][r];null==i&&(i=r+"_"+e.length),gform.hooks[o][r].push({tag:i,callable:n,priority:t=null==t?10:t})},doHook:function(o,r,n){if(n=Array.prototype.slice.call(n,1),null!=gform.hooks[o][r]){var t,i=gform.hooks[o][r];i.sort(function(o,r){return o.priority-r.priority});for(var e=0;e<i.length;e++)"function"!=typeof(t=i[e].callable)&&(t=window[t]),"action"==o?t.apply(null,n):n[0]=t.apply(null,n)}if("filter"==o)return n[0]},removeHook:function(o,r,n,t){if(null!=gform.hooks[o][r])for(var i=gform.hooks[o][r],e=i.length-1;0<=e;e--)null!=t&&t!=i[e].tag||null!=n&&n!=i[e].priority||i.splice(e,1)}});</script> <div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper gform_legacy_markup_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_3' ><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' id='gform_3' action='/tag/fear/' > <div class='gform_body gform-body'><ul id='gform_fields_3' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id="field_3_1" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_3_1' >Email</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_1' id='input_3_1' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_3_5" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label screen-reader-text gfield_label_before_complex' ></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_checkbox'><ul class='gfield_checkbox' id='input_3_5'><li class='gchoice gchoice_3_5_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_5.1' type='checkbox' value='GDPR-yes' id='choice_3_5_1' /> <label for='choice_3_5_1' id='label_3_5_1'>I give consent to use this information to send emails and communication as described in your Privacy Policy​.</label> </li></ul></div></li></ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_3' class='gform_button button' value='Submit' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_3"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_3"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_3"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_3"]=true; jQuery("#gform_3").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_3' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='3' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_3' value='WyJbXSIsImY5NDlkMWNjNTJmNGNmYzAyOWRlNGE3ZjRmNWViODExIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_3' id='gform_target_page_number_3' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_3' id='gform_source_page_number_3' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js_1" name="ak_js" value="57"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div>
[gravityform id="3" title="false" description="false"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper gform_legacy_markup_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_3' ><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' id='gform_3' action='/tag/fear/' > <div class='gform_body gform-body'><ul id='gform_fields_3' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id="field_3_1" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_3_1' >Email</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_1' id='input_3_1' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_3_5" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label screen-reader-text gfield_label_before_complex' ></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_checkbox'><ul class='gfield_checkbox' id='input_3_5'><li class='gchoice gchoice_3_5_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_5.1' type='checkbox' value='GDPR-yes' id='choice_3_5_1' /> <label for='choice_3_5_1' id='label_3_5_1'>I give consent to use this information to send emails and communication as described in your Privacy Policy​.</label> </li></ul></div></li></ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_3' class='gform_button button' value='Submit' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_3"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_3"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_3"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_3"]=true; jQuery("#gform_3").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_3' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='3' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_3' value='WyJbXSIsImY5NDlkMWNjNTJmNGNmYzAyOWRlNGE3ZjRmNWViODExIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_3' id='gform_target_page_number_3' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_3' id='gform_source_page_number_3' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js_2" name="ak_js" value="234"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js_2" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div>