I’ve lost count of how many times clients have said to me ‘I know I want something different but I just don’t know what it is.’
Whilst I’m an advocate of planning and goal-setting, I also know that things aren’t always so cut and dried. Sometimes it can be better to not have such a fixed idea.
Let’s take a simple example. You have a week’s holiday coming up. You feel the need to swim in the sea, lie in the sun, enjoy some fresh seafood. You know you can get all that in Cornwall. You book a great hotel, research the best beaches, pack your sunscreen, reserve a table at the fish restaurant you read about in the paper and you’re all set.
A few days before you leave, you’re watching the news and the lead story is about a storm system that’s heading straight for the South-West UK and the weather forecaster announces that rough seas, high winds and torrential rain will be blighting your holiday destination for the week.
What’s the alternative? Well, you are aware of your needs for a swim in the sea, sunshine, and some fresh fish: that’s more important than your actual destination. Maybe you could stay flexible, not book anything, wait until a couple of days before the holiday, take a look at the forecast to see where on the coast the weather is looking favourable and then go online to see what you can find in that resort. It doesn’t have to be a hotel, you’d settle for a cottage or even a tent. There are lots of possibilities!
Some might call that approach being flexible or even agile: Victoria Labalme talks about ‘risking forward’. The risk forward is a mime move she learnt from the great Marcel Marceau. Physically, it involves shifting your weight forward onto one foot, slightly off balance, and having your ‘heart open’ – an open stance, poised to move forward.
Of course, when my clients talk about wanting something different but feeling uncertain, they’re not talking about taking a holiday. They’re thinking of their careers or maybe their lives. Can you still risk forward in those instances? Watch Victoria Labalme’s TEDx Talk to find out:
One sentence which has stayed with me since I first saw this talk was ‘Trust the idea that leads to the idea‘ in which Labalme suggests we use to unlock our creativity to generate as many ideas as possible: the most unworkable idea might be the one that sparks off a thought which leads to the best idea.
She also encourages us to ‘stop asking each other “What’s your plan? What’s your goal?” and instead ask “What interests you now?”. I have used that question with clients and it’s led to some very interesting conversations and action plans.
Today’s pebble for your thoughts is this: if you are feeling unsure about what’s next, will you experiment with the idea of risking forward?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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