“Both/And” as an ideology, is the opposite of “this or that”, and is an omnipresent guide in how to accept oneself, as well as the limitlessness of valid contradictory truths found within society.
My experience is that if you try and start with what you need and want without first creating some space it can feel overwhelming.
If you don’t first start to pull out the mess and noise of other people’s expectations, the busyness, and overwhelm, you may not really land in a helpful place that truly reflects your desires.
Addressing Your Hesitations About Your Needs And Embracing What Is Uniquely Yours In Your Life Map
Does the thought of naming what you need and want make you feel anxious? Does your mind go blank, or is it completely foreign to even stop for a moment to put the demands and expectations of others to the side and really question what is important to you? Or have you always been really definite and quick to answer what it is you want, but have reached a point where things just aren’t feeling right? In other words, even though your intentions were good, you’re not satisfied, or you feel burnt out and unfulfilled.
Wherever you are currently, part of what I’d love for you to get a new sense of today is that there are some concrete steps you can take to design a more fulfilling life that is aligned and uniquely yours.
When you take the time to really know yourself you will unlock the often-empty saying “slow down to speed up”. Without clear steps, or a strategy, it can feel frustrating when someone suggests you need to “slow down” when all you want to do is get on with it and get things done.
You Can Succeed In Gaining Clarity About Your Goals By “Slowing Down To Speed Up”
When I suggest slowing down, or I come back again to the importance of leading yourself before trying to lead others, I promise I’m not doing that just to infuriate you! I’m suggesting it because I know from personal experience, and from working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, that taking the time to reflect in a thoughtful way (and to really understand yourself) will make you a far more effective, decisive, and satisfied leader.
I know you don’t do anything by halves, but if you keep pushing hard, working as intensely, and driving to goals that may or may not be coming from a place of real clarity and alignment, you risk a lot more than you realize.
You could get to a major milestone, a point of burnout, or the end of your career and ultimately recognize that you’ve worked yourself to the bone but there’s nothing satisfying in what it is that you’ve achieved.
I don’t want you to get to that point and find yourself asking, “is this it?” That’s where Life Mapping comes in.
How My Own Life Mapping Changed My Journey In The Most Unexpected Way
Let me tell you a story of the way in which Life Mapping is less about specific answers and more about the questions that help draw out new insight, or more accurate naming, that can help unlock what you really desire.
When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a famous singer – I also thought I wanted to be the Prime Minister, an actress, a lawyer, and a few other things – but the niggling one that would never leave me alone was the famous singer. As an adult, I told my partner, Brad, that it just wouldn’t leave me alone, and I was feeling unfulfilled. More importantly, I felt lost, and I suggested to Brad that I should maybe pursue being a singer after all these years.
As we mapped out my life, the questions drew out the moments of flow, the periods of frustration, and boredom. Through that lens, we were then able to get to the heart of what inspired me, filled me up, and identify what was missing in the periods where I felt so lost and unsatisfied. The pattern was clear, and a more accurate naming emerged.
It wasn’t the very specific goal I had been aiming for, of being a “famous singer” for which I was aiming. Rather, it was, in fact, that I loved to be “on stage” – either literally on stage or with some kind of platform on which to perform. When Brad walked me through the pattern, it all fell into place, and the flow and tension made sense when mapped back to my need to perform.
By naming that more accurately, and pinpointing the real driver, I could stop in moments where I felt unsettled or restless and ask myself “what’s going on here? How long has it been since I’ve had an outlet where I could perform? How could I add some more performance into my days in ways that are aligned with what I’m working on?” Rather than set fire to my life, and chase a misnamed childhood dream, I was able to design my life in a way that better integrated an element of what I needed.
Life mapping is a game changer and worth taking the time to do well because it gives you clarity and insight and helps you see yourself in a new light.
If a life mapping exercise doesn’t destabilize you at some point, you haven’t gone deep enough! Though, if you’re curious, and courageous enough to be open to what emerges – then clarity can unlock things in really meaningful ways.
Today, I want to help you quiet the noise and begin to sense the environments, and factors that best foster your sense of flow. This can then inform your actions, your effort, and the way you put your Time, Talent and Treasure to work in the world so that where you land is in fact fulfilling and meaningful.
You’ve started to clear the space and now you’re allowing what you really need and want to emerge from the noise and busyness.
Turn Down The Volume Of All The Demands, Outside Voices, Unrealistic Expectations, And The Lists You’ve Been Clinging Onto
Before you begin to reflect and be curious about what is emerging for you, take some deep breaths and just slow down with me for a moment. I’m going to ask you two questions and all I ask is that you just be curious and have the courage to go with it for now.
What could you do that would give you joy, energy and flow?
Just take a minute now to jot down your thoughts whether it’s dot points, words or images. If you prefer to sketch, then do that. The main thing is to just go with whatever comes to mind. Don’t judge it, second guess yourself, or start to limit the flow of consciousness by beginning to plan or add constraints.
What decisions could you make now that could bring that into your life now?
Sit with these two questions remembering that the purpose of this exercise is to allow what you need and want to begin to emerge. Don’t put the pressure on yourself to name a detailed or specific role or next step. Instead follow the energy and patterns that you see and try and name more accurately what you see.
Often, it’s surprising and even liberating to realize that once you name these things, you can see that many (if not all) of them are often already within your grasp. You just haven’t captured the clarity amongst the chaos and busyness of life, the moving targets, and the ever-changing goals. As a result of this, you haven’t realized that a greater sense of joy, energy and flow were within your grasp.
My results from this two question exercise in life mapping
I do this exercise on a regular basis and I am always amazed at how many of the things that I actually feel a deep need for are right there for me to address. Recently I did it and wrote down the three things that came to mind. Every single one of my desires were right there within my power to act on, and either address immediately or at least take the first steps to bring it into my life.
They didn’t require me to make more money.
They didn’t require me to run away and live on a desert island.
Two of my responses to the question “what could I do that would give me joy, energy and flow?” were:
- Restore beautiful, clean, calm surroundings
With this one, one of the realities on the back of closing down some parts of my work and life and making changes on the back of COVID (and the epic 3 years we’ve all just been through) is that I’ve found my physical space has gone from a beautiful, calm sanctuary to a chaotic, crowded mess.
I’m definitely someone who experiences the truth of Gretchen Ruben’s quote “outer order contributes to inner calm”. When my physical space is a mess, it gives you a clue that my mind and emotions are out of whack and running riot!
In answering this question for myself it drew to my attention that my environment was actually distressing to me and there was a longing in me to restore the beautiful, clean, calm surroundings that gave me that sense of sanctuary and ultimately helped me feel joy, energy and flow.
All the structural bones of what I need for that space are already in place. My environment has been that sanctuary before, and I can make it that way again.
There are decisions and actions I can take right now to bring that joy, energy and flow back into my life.
- Give myself sleep and quiet time on my own
This second one is a result of the same upheaval and chaos of life emerging from 3 years of COVID, and all of its flow on consequences!
I have always been such a good sleeper but for months now I have not been sleeping well. I NEED my sleep, and not just the total number of hours for me, it’s also about how many hours of deep sleep I get that affects how I feel and function. Over a decade ago I prioritized getting at least eight hours of sleep, and it is an incredible part of what allows me to function at the level I do. In intense periods of my life, I have made the commitment to get that level of sleep at least 5 nights a week when there were commitments and realities that made it tricky to do it every night. For the most part, however, it’s a priority EVERY night.
Doing this exercise made me realize that I was feeling SOOOO tired, and my lack of sleep these last few months was robbing me of joy, energy, and flow.
I can (and have) taken immediate steps to get that back on the agenda, and I am trying to unpack the aspects of what else is going on in my mind/body that is making me not be the solid sleeper I used to be. It’s taking a bit longer than I hoped, but it is still something that I can make decisions on, prioritize, and take action to give me a sense of agency and control.
I don’t know what will make it onto your list, but I’m guessing there will be some actionable pieces there that you can act on now!
There will always be factors outside your control, and people placing pressure and constraint on you. This exercise, though, is about you and the pieces within your control, so you can start to consciously bring the joy, energy, and flow to create a massive impact in a world which desperately needs what you uniquely offer.