What should I do next?Journaling
Do you ever wish someone could tell you exactly what steps to take next?
“Wow, Virgo!!! Just… wow!!!! THIS IS IT”, exclaims the fortune-teller. “July is going to be your month. Lucky you! I’ve never seen anything like this!”, she continues, overwhelmed with excitement at the sight of her Tarot card spread. My slightly random, unorthodox consultation at a summer festival has suddenly left me sizzling with anticipation.
“Do tell!” I think impatiently. I listen carefully, hoping for answers to my big question, but the news that someone I know well has an agenda which interferes with my plans, throws me a little. “OK, OK… someone I know has an agenda… maybe Sam wants to see a different movie from the one I chose on Friday. Yes, that must cover this point. But how about the important stuff?”
I give up on the fortune-teller – no clear answers. I go hunting on YouTube: you see, I have a lot on my mind and I could really do with some advice! YouTube is good entertainment, and I really want to believe I might find even a cryptic fragment of an answer or draw some parallels from the vloggers’ words. But annoyingly, everyone has a different story, so my quest looks increasingly hopeless… I just want to know if I’m on the right path to achieving my goals. That’s all. And I need is an answer now. At 1.13 AM on Thursday night.
I eventually fall asleep.
As I wake up a few hours later, I go straight to my journal. “What was all that about?”, I wonder, feeling a little mystified. As I recall the fortune-teller’s advice, I can’t help but chuckle and feel embarrassed at my persistence. But I decide to unpack my feelings.
Why would I want someone who doesn’t know me to tell me that I’m going to be OK? Am I even asking the right questions? What was all that fretting about?
Generally, people who consult fortune-tellers want to know about love, money, health, personal success, etc. “Will I recover from my illness?”. Think about these themes for a second – they’re huge. By putting these problems into the hands of a stranger, people are asking for help with a concern which simply feels too heavy to carry alone. And then sometimes, they just want an answer to a burning question: as the famous song goes, “Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?”
When I asked the question “Am I on the right path to achieving my goals?”, no doubt the answer was “yes”. But I don’t need someone to tell me so. I’m working, probably making mistakes, but therefore, by definition, learning and growing closer to my goals. But, being all-too-human, my question also carries the following wish: “Can I be lazy about this and just let things happen now? How can I make a beeline for success? Can I get all the help I need by magic? Can you throw in a nice car with that too, please?”
Thinking about it, my questions are hiding quite typical frustrations and anxiety:
– I’m so fed up. I feel like I’m making too little progress. I’m tired and I want help.
– I don’t believe I’ll be lucky — and yet I think I really need luck to succeed.
– I’m worried that I’m going to fail.
– I’m not sure how to prioritise my work anymore, because I can’t see clearly.
– I simply can’t picture myself achieving my goals. I can’t envisage what success would actually look like – worse, what I can see isn’t in alignment with the vision I have for my life. Success frightens me.
And so here are the questions I should have been asking the fortune-teller (or perhaps someone more relevant!):
– Where can I find the right kind of help and support so I can make giant steps?
– Why would I fail? Are there any obstacles I should be considering more seriously?
– How could I create the right space and time to sit down and have a strategy session?
– What exactly do I see when I envisage success? Why is it looking scary?
– Has anybody succeeded in a similar pursuit whom I could talk to?
“Ask the right questions if you’re going to find the right answers.”
– Vanessa Redgrave
And the answers I would have wanted to hear would have said something like this:
– Drop Jennifer an email and ask if you can work together.
– Remember your successes and think about what techniques helped you to succeed.
– Look for a new accountability buddy.
– Clear Wednesday and hop on a train with your notebook for a strategy brainstorm.
– Meditate on your big picture. How does this project succeeding fit into it? Write one idea a day.
And then, all the things I have no control on, I should just accept to let go of. I can’t know if I will be lucky. But knowing that I’m being pro-active and understanding what the battlefield looks like, I feel a much greater sense of agency over the situation. This takes my attention away from the concern surrounding luck. I feel energised and thrilled that I have a plan of action.
But the fortune-teller’s advice is summed up in one short sentence: “Follow your heart, Virgo”.
That’s fine. That’s never bad advice, whatever it means. But it isn’t the answer I am looking for. I didn’t actually know what question I was asking. In defining the questions though, I realise that the answers are all inside me — and if not, they are things I must just accept I can’t control.
So once again, I find that by sitting down with my journal and having a calm and honest conversation with myself, I find the guidance I so desperately sought online. It’s as though the feeling of overwhelm has now been crystallised into a beautiful plan of action.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it”
– Abraham Lincoln
We often skip this crucial part in our lives – we travel to the end of the world to find answers to our big questions, while they are right there inside of us, knocking at the door of the conscious mind, throughout the day and night. We just need to listen and stop escaping.
Having an honest conversation with ourselves takes great bravery, but there are ways to start small. So, I challenge you over the next week to sit at your desk first thing in the morning and ask yourself this one question: “What’s on your mind?” – I like using the second person, so I can detach myself from the answer and give myself guidance from the distance of an outsider.“The best way to predict the future is to create it” - Abraham Lincoln” Tweet This
If you feel like you need a bit of support to set up the practise, why not consider a session or two with a life coach? This would be a wonderful investment in yourself.
I expect I’ll be browsing YouTube for more guidance next month. After all, I do love to be told “There’s forward movement this month, Virgo!” and “Listen to your gut” is rarely bad advice. It works as a little boost… like the small coincidences we start to notice in life when we open ourselves to opportunities and to the world in general. As long as it’s positive, I’ll take it!
And by the way, July will be my month. I have great plans. I’ll be sharing these with you soon… one of them will be taking me up on a big stage!
So as a very enlightening game, why don’t you ask yourself the following questions:
- What would you want to ask a fortune-teller?
- What answer would you like to hear?
If you’ve enjoyed this article and know anyone who could benefit from reading this, I’d be really grateful if you shared it with them.
Thank you for reading!