When I was in a stuck burned-out place in my career, I couldn’t see a different path. What I would tell my past burned-out self now is:
You won’t see what’s possible for your life until you move out of being stuck. Yet, to do so, you first need to leave. Yes, that makes leaving even more terrifying. Know that possibilities will be waiting for you once you are able to open to them. They’ve been trying to get your attention all along.
This is the story of how I came to find the possibilities seeking to find me.
What came before I saw possibility?
I didn’t believe I could leave my career without a plan. I believed once I figured out what I wanted to do next, then I could leave.
I had so many rules about the perfect conditions needed for me to leave that I shut down. Unable to consider options.
When my daughter was born, suddenly I no longer cared about well-laid plans or perfect conditions. Suddenly it was clear to me: I had to go. For my family. For my health. For my life. So I listened to the wise inner voices calling me to leave. And I left.
What is possibility?
Opening to the likelihood of something that doesn’t yet exist—a state, a way of being, or a reality – coming to be.
How did I find possibility?
It started when I was still working in my past career. It started while I was in and out of my own burn-out cycles.
Step 1: Watch others find possibilities
Long before I left, I noticed curiously that others left their careers without something else lined up.
“What’s next for you?” I asked a colleague on her last day at the organization.
“I’m traveling for nine months. We’ll see what opportunities come up me after that.” There was a lightness in her voice. She sounded so free.
“Wow, that’s great you are able to do that” I tried to hide my look of surprise: she was leaving without something else lined up?
“I need a break! I’ll miss the people. But I won’t miss the work,” she smiled.
Others left with similar stories. It was always these women who caught my attention: the stressed, burned-out ones who needed a break. The ones who didn’t know what they were going to do next. Or what they even wanted to do next.
How could they leave without a plan? It intrigued me. Scared me. Did they know something I didn’t? They must have because they actually left. And I was still there, stuck, unable to make a change.
Over time, after others left, I watched something amazing unfold: some didn’t find another position at a company. Some created something new from nothing. Some built a career that was meaningful and fulfilling to them.
What I learned from watching others leave is that it is possible for something new to arise. They showed me that possibility exists. If they found possibility, maybe I could find it too.
Step 2: Intentional space
My intentional space came with a baby.
I craved a break from doing. From a fast-paced environment. From tight and often unrealistic deadlines. From working harder, faster. I was so tired of it all.
I craved slow, quiet space. With minimal external demands. I needed time in being energy.
It was not easy being home with my daughter at first. The newborn weeks were especially challenging. But, over time, as my daughter became more settled in this world, I found the space I needed.
In whatever time I had, I began to focus on my own development. Completing program exercises during my daughter’s naps and listening to program recordings on walks. A practical program on how to start a consulting business. A women’s empowerment program.
When I sat down to focus on a journaling exercise from the Feminine Power program about connecting with my deeper desires, I stared blankly at my notebook. The prompt stared back at me: “What do I most deeply desire to contribute in my life?”
The instructions specified to put the pen to the paper and write what comes up. I began: “I don’t know. I have lost touch with what I want to contribute.” I sunk into the chair, feeling heavy. My heart ached.
I was so disconnected from my career interests and aspirations. It was then I realized I would need to intentionally reconnect to my deeper career desires. To take time to repair what had been cut-off.
It was uncomfortable. To not know what I wanted or what would happen. To be in between what was and what would be.
It was when I became curious that possibility began to peak in. I wondered: how will things unfold? I wondered: what’s next for my career?
I found glimpses of what could be. Glimpses of a fulfilling and meaningful life I could create for myself. I discovered the seeds of what I desired to contribute.
Step 3: Do something
I didn’t magically discover exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t envision my dream career in that space. That’s not how I found possibility.
Intentional space reignited me to move forward. To start with what I knew. To begin right where I was.
Starting was clunky at first. I was learning how to start my own business. I was learning what it was like to be a consultant instead of an employee.
It’s in the living, the doing, that possibility has room to seep in. As I took more action, I learned what did and didn’t resonate with me. I learned the direction I wanted to go next.
Step 4: Come into aliveness
“Notice where your eyes light up and go towards it. If your eyes glaze over, ignore it.” A consultant suggested.
Another consultant shared an ah-ha that occurred while she was working with a client: “Wow, I love this work. How could I do more of this?” She lit up as she spoke. She realized she could find more of it. She could do more of it.
On a training program, the facilitator said: “What do you do when there are business decisions to make? You choose what you feel a big ‘Yes’ to.”
This is where aliveness resides.
When I started to go in the direction of what resonated for me, I felt a spark, igniting me. Tingly sensations spread through my whole being, radiating out. Bringing me into aliveness. In my excitement, ideas shot up so fast of how I could do more of this, like beams of light flying towards me from all directions.
Possibility blooms in aliveness. In places full of life.
This is how you find possibility: by coming into a relationship with aliveness. By going in the direction of what lights you up. By choosing what you feel a “yes” to again and again.
What I believe now about possibility
I needed to pull myself out of where I was to see possibilities.
I needed to stop listening to limiting beliefs trying to keep me safe that really kept me stuck.
Ultimately, I needed to start to trust in possibility. Then, I could begin to grow into something beyond what I had been before or what exists now.
There is nowhere for possibility to go when limiting beliefs reign. Possibility can’t break through the heavy fog of burnout, of stuckness. It hits a wall where there is no opening.
Possibility needs an opening. That’s how the light of aliveness gets in. Radiating its energy out into the world. Pulling you into fields of possibilities.
If you feel stuck or burned out, if it’s been a long time since you’ve felt lit up: it doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. There are ways to find your way back to aliveness. Where possibility flourishes.