Over the last week, both of my children graduated. My son from Trinity College and my daughter from high school. It has been a wonderful, bittersweet, and exciting time for my family. As I listened to the commencement addresses, watched the happiness mixed with tears as the students said their goodbyes to the lives they have led for the last four years, and thought about how fast the time has flown to this moment, I was reminded of the importance of our many journeys through life and the many chances to choose or find a new path – no matter how old we are.

It is amazing to see all of the hope and promise captured in the faces and stories of the graduates and to feel the positive energy of the village of supporters they each have as they head off to college or to whatever their next step will be. It’s inspiring and awesome – and you can’t help but reminisce about your own graduation days. And while graduating from high school or college is a very clear marker for change and newness, we don’t need a major milestone like graduation in order to take stock of where and who we are and to choose something new and different for ourselves. That opportunity is available to all of us every day.

A few years ago, Lisa and I wrote Making Resonant Choices to help our coaching clients connect with what feels right for them when faced with important choices. The questions and prompts in this tool can help spark energy and ideas for your future. To move forward on the next phase of your journey, take these steps:

  • Reflect – It is important to acknowledge and celebrate what you have accomplished so far. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we have yet to do or have failed to do, we neglect to fully appreciate all of the things we have accomplished when, in fact, often the path to the future is made clearer by recognition of the value of the past.
  • Smile – Tap into what makes you happy. By remembering the sources of your joy, you can let those guide your next steps and help you to prioritize what is important and joyful to you.
  • Inventory – Take stock of the resources you have available to you – your network, your strengths, your finances, your knowledge and experience – and think broadly. Be realistic and also push yourself to think out of the box about what you have access to. For example, your network is likely more expansive than you think it is. Think about past mentors, advisors, professors, and bosses or family friends, neighbors, professional organizations, and community groups. Capture those names and then reach out to this circle of support as needed.
  • Assess – Analyze and reflect on your current situation, needs, and desires. What will bring you greater fulfillment and help you to optimize your experience? The book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, for example, describes the elements of flow, or an optimal experience, as being the opportunity for deep concentration, high and balanced challenges and skills, and a sense of control and satisfaction. In thinking about your future, you have the opportunity to consider when you experience flow now, when you have experienced it in the past, and how you can create more flow in your life in the future. Assessing yourself, your environment, and your needs can help you make the best choices for your future.

The word “commencement” is derived from Latin meaning “beginning” or “inception” and the commencement ceremony or graduation has come to symbolize the beginning of a new life chapter. We all have the opportunity to create our own commencement, our own beginning to the next part of our journey – and we don’t need the cap and gown nor the Pomp and Circumstance, just our own commitment and action to reflect, smile, inventory, and assess.

What do you see in the future for yourself?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For more information about creating a vision for your future and making resonant choices, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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