Have you ever had one of those moments in your life when you realise you’ve reached a new turning point?
Or have you ever felt that you’ve reached a major crossroad in your life?
Scary, unchartered territory stretched out before you?
Which path will you take?
There’s that fleeting moment or two, when you rehearse little scenarios in your mind.
Those scenarios where you worry about taking the wrong path, or screwing up, or not being able to make things right again afterwards.
All so emotionally draining.
I remember that feeling only too well back in 2005.
I was a couple of months into my maternity leave, having just had my second child, when I picked up a call from a colleague.
Had I heard the news? We were all in for the chop!
The whole department – considered a boutique and surplus to requirements – was to be disbanded.
I went from looking forward to a little time off to bond with my new-born, to wondering where on earth I’d filed the latest copy of my resumé.
Where would I find work? Would I have to take a pay cut? How would I afford the nursery fees?
Sudden and unexpected change can be momentarily disorienting.
But you can embracing it and even learn to enjoy it.
Small steps in the right direction
I think it’s important to realise that when you venture out into a new direction, the answers don’t have to come to you all at once.
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” Old Chinese Proverb
I love that proverb.
To me, the ‘right direction’ doesn’t necessarily mean a definite destination point. It can simply mean the right decision for you at that moment in time.
There doesn’t even have to be a definite answer. You can simply enjoy the process of learning, uncovering and discovering along the way.
When I finally decided that redundancy could be a blessing in disguise and to give self-employment a go, I identified what I thought were my most transferable skills at the time – writing, presentation design, marketing, people skills, to name just a few.
But for a long time afterwards, I honestly didn’t know what to do with them, or how best to use them – much less earn an income utilising them.
It was a process of taking lots of little steps and following my inkling. Testing things out, giving it a go, poking around forums, asking questions, networking, learning new skills on the fly, adapting them, honing them.
I’ve tweaked my offering many times since then. And frankly, at the time of writing, I have a business that bears little resemblance to the one I started with.
But that’s okay.
I’ve learnt much along the way and am able to serve others far better because of it.
When you tell yourself you’ll take it one small step at a time, there’s no pressure to ‘succeed’.
If you’ve reached a crossroad in your life, make the first step a trip to your local bookshop to treat yourself to a beautiful journal.
Make the second step an afternoon off by yourself, where you can explore your thoughts and jot down your thoughts. Not plans. Just thoughts and ideas. Dig out some magazines, newspaper cuttings, watch a movie – anything that helps to lift your mood and inspire you.
Give yourself time. You’ll get there.
Don’t write off mistakes as a fail
We’re made to feel uncomfortable with the idea of failure, so we try to avoid making mistakes at all costs.
But Tim Harford, in his book ‘Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with a Failure”, argues a strong case for leveraging trial and error to better equip us for success.
In fact, he believes that we need failure in order to succeed. He says:
“Accepting trial and error means accepting error. It means taking problems in our stride when a decision doesn’t work out, whether through luck or misjudgment. And that is not something human brains seem to be able to do without a struggle.”
There are well document examples of the world’s most successful people who have failed many times over.
You don’t have to feel ashamed of failure.
It’s what you choose to do afterwards – or perhaps in spite of it – that counts.
It could lead to something remarkable.
Draw upon others for help and support
It’s not a sign of weakness if you recognise you need support with where you want to be in life.
There are many situations in everyday life where we readily accept that we need an expert’s help or opinion – from the mundane (a plumber) to something far more serious (our GP).
Yet when it comes to a crisis in our personal life, we feel as if we must battle valiantly alone.
Whether it’s a friend, mentor or coach, you need someone by your side. Someone who wants you to be the very best you can be.
Who can YOU call upon to support you? To gee you up when you’re flagging, or hold you accountable when you want to achieve something important?
Call them today and tell them that you want this year to be *your* year.
It can be a wonderful year.
Here’s to your continued success!
This updated article originally appeared on The Divorce Magazine