A few weeks ago, my mom and I were guests at a spa resort at in the Arizona desert called Miraval, known for its focus on mindful living. My mom had been a few times before, so experiencing this place she loves with her for the first time was long-awaited—not to mention, everything I expected and more. The food, the staff, the destination and the activities were all incredible. It really was the perfect mother-daughter bonding trip to start the new year, and the timing was perfectly on point. It was a nice, lengthy pause to reflect on all that I’ve done in the last year and to think about all of the great things to come.
As I’m inching my way toward my next steps in this journey I’ve been on since I moved across the country in May of 2013, Miraval’s emphasis on wellness in mind, body and spirit really resonated with me. I returned home with a few things to think about; things that I think are worth sharing for anyone practicing mindfulness and doing some soul-searching.
1. What you’re good at isn’t always what brings you the most joy.
This may seem obvious, but many of us gloss over the distinction between our talents and what Miraval’s wellness guru Tejpal calls our gifts. There are things we’re really good at, perhaps so much so it’s a job, but that doesn’t mean it makes us happy. And so goes for the things that we may not be that good at, but it brings us joy and inspires us to give back.
Our gifts and our talents may overlap a little, but to really find the answer, Tejpal suggests an exercise of journaling for 40 consecutive days, honestly asking ourselves, “What is my gift?” I have some ideas, but I’m going to start it this week and get to the heart of it.
2. Fear and uncertainty are a part of all unknown adventures. Acknowledge and embrace it, then move through it.
I’ve always loved adrenaline-inducing activities like skydiving, zip lining and roller coasters. But my mom’s not a big fan. While I’m having fun, she’s often terrified of the speed and the heights and the sheer uncertainty of it all. At Miraval, we participated in some group challenge activities and talked through our fears and how we hope to learn and grow from them.
For me, I think I often yearn for those big physical risks to counter my fears to take leaps in the rest of my life. I was reminded during those activities that the anxiety, exhilaration and breathlessness that I feel in quick succession is not unlike what it feels like to let go and swing when going forward in discovering our passion.
3. When it feels like you’re spinning in circles on what to do next, it doesn’t mean you’re starting over. It means you’re going deeper.
I’ve changed my mind several times about what I think I want to do next; sometimes coming back to my first decision, sometimes tweaking it a bit. And because I haven’t felt like I’ve made tangible progress, it feels frustrating. But my dad reminded me that I’m not starting over each time—instead,I’ve learned something and I’m going deeper, slowly making my way towards the things I want. I am not where I was eight months ago, so I’m not starting over. I’m just taking another step in my process.
And while we’re talking personal processes, there’s another note-to-self to be made: my process will not be like anyone else’s. Same goes for yours.
4. Instead of detailing a complete plan to find THE THING, do due diligence and pick SOME THINGS to try.
We all get caught up in the idea of needing a 5- or 10-year plan and having all the steps lined up before we get started. So that means we end up setting expectations for ourselves that may not actually line up with our soul mission—be it financial, social or otherwise.
But Anne, another wellness counselor at Miraval, encouraged me to think about doing research and due diligence instead of planning and to start taking steps toward “some things” I want to try, rather than settling on “the thing.” My dad also suggested setting goals instead of expectations to give more context to my decisions—and also so I might have fun while achieving them.
Whether you’re just starting your career, making a change or merely toying with the idea of one, these are just some of the things to think about as you work through the process. Everyone has different goals and ideas for how they want to live their life, but ultimately? We all want to be happy.
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