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Step Out. Risk!

Listen to this episode of the Focus with Marlene Podcast:

Get caught up with all episodes in the Developing a New Focus series.

This is part 3 in my series, “Focus on Your Self-Evaluation.”
Part 1: A Guide to Developing Character and Wisdom
Part 2: You Will Become What You Focus On

Are you at a crossroads in life where what you are doing is not satisfying and drains your energy?

Do you think you are too tired or old to start something new or to redirect your life, even if it is something you have always wanted to do?

It is never too late to enhance your life or become more of who you are.

Let’s do some quick, fun reflective thinking.

If you could do anything you wanted without worrying about money, what would you be doing?

Brainstorm all the possibilities.

My story

Here’s how I went from being a classroom teacher to finding other ways to share my training and do what I love:

When my husband and I took early retirement from our teaching careers, we moved to northern Washington to build our dream home and spend time sailing in the San Juan Islands. But we also wanted to continue doing the work we loved. For my husband it was music. For me it was teaching.

My husband started a band with a group of talented musicians, and I started teaching part time at Chapman University Extension Center. However, classes were in the evening, and after teaching for four hours, I was tired when I started my long drive home. I decided this wasn’t going to work for me and I left the formal classroom for good.

But I still loved teaching and working with people in groups. After some thought and exploring the interests of my potential audience, I started leading my own workshops.

Because I had an extensive background in psychology and human behavior, I offered classes on topics such as parenting, pain management, stress management, and couples communication. Classes were two hours, once a week for eight weeks, and included giving and explaining material, take-home exercises, and discussions.

Sometimes I led one-day workshops or spoke at retreats. While I could have done other things, sharing useful information enriched my life.

Step Out. Risk!

We get stuck doing things a certain way. Even when those things are no longer satisfying, we hesitate to explore other options.

If you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself, “What would I love to do that I haven’t given myself permission to explore doing?”

Life involves change that sometimes occurs when we least expect it, such as the loss of a loved one, an unexpected divorce, the impact of a chronic illness, the loss of a job, or the end of a career. Whenever change happens, new choices are required that take us out of our comfort zone.

Change is necessary.

Change, whether initiated or thrust upon us, gives us an opportunity to try something new. Stepping away from what was familiar requires an adjustment that can make us feel vulnerable and anxious. But change is part of life. Knowing how best to take advantage of that can become the opportunity of a lifetime.

As you explore options, consider the following:

1. Remain strong.

The Oregon and Washington coast has huge rocks with trees growing out of crevices.

Seeds had fallen into these crevices and sprouted, and their roots kept digging deeper into the rock. As they grew stronger, the trees continued to withstand winter storms and high winds. They are shaped and molded by their circumstances and with roots sunk deep, they remain strong.

When reflecting on options, consider the pros and cons of each. As you do, sink your internal roots into God’s promises, think positively, and nurture an “I can do” attitude.

2. Develop an adventurous spirit.

I would never have had the wonderful life-expanding experiences I have enjoyed without considering “why not” instead of just “impossible.”

3. Be prepared.

When you go on a trip, you first service your car, check the route on a map and make reservations. With all your preparations, however, you may be required to go to plan B or C or take a detour. Plan for the unexpected ahead of time as you step out and take that risk.

4. Check your attitude.

Be flexible. Life isn’t perfect. It will have lots of detours, mountains, and deep ravines. Look at unexpected changes as opportunities, even if they don’t seem advantageous in the moment.

Ask yourself:

  • “What can I learn from this?”
  • “How can I benefit from going through this difficult time?”
  • “What might I have not discovered about myself if this hadn’t happened?”
  • “What jewel of understanding can I take with me as a result of this unexpected change?”

5. Challenge the way you respond to life’s unexpected changes.

Changes can become the best thing that happens if you look at it as the possibility to grow and become more than you were.

It takes courage to leave what you are accustomed to and step into the unknown. It takes courage to expand your world. Are you willing to try?

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