What if all the advice out there about needing a clear vision and destination for your life is misguided at best and harmful at worst?
I sincerely believe that the people giving this advice are well-intentioned. Still, I cringe a little every time I see a variation of it (and there’s a lot of it out there).
Perhaps this is reality for some, but not me. In fact, I’m just one of thousands of people who are living proof that good things happen even when you don’t quite know where you’re going or what you’re doing.
Example: my journey to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).
I first wrote about this over two years ago.
My state (California) was the last to pass legislation on counselor licensing. But it wasn’t mandating that people like me (with a master’s degree in counseling, practicing as a career/life transitions counselor and life coach) had to become licensed.
It was sweetening the deal a little bit, though, by offering to grandparent us into the new license. (Grandparenting was a fancy way to say we’d have to do all work but without the intense scrutiny directed at newbie counselors).
Back then my ambivalence was on full display. Read this and you’ll understand what I mean.
Fast forward to last month. Even though I had to wait over a year to get the letter telling me the status of my grandparenting application, the news is good: all my supervised hours were accepted and I have only one more class to take.
And here’s the very best thing: I’m no longer ambivalent.
I know exactly why I’m doing this.
I understand how it will bring me to a place of greater integrity about my work.
My knowledge and skills have grown exponentially.
I see how I’ll be able to serve my clients better because of it (more about that some other day).
It’s remarkable how much things can change in two years.
Yet, if I hadn’t gone forward carrying all the ambivalence and resistance with me, I doubt I’d be telling you this story today.
But this isn’t merely the story of today. It’s the story of my life.
It’s the story of most people’s lives.
If it’s your story too, then you can stop comparing yourself to idealized stories of how you’re supposed to be getting on in the world.
I tell my clients this all the time.
So let me take the opportunity to say it here too:
You Don’t Have to Know Where You’re Going.
You can take your time meandering on the back roads.
You don’t have to know what you truly want.
You don’t have to be ready.
You can usually wait quite awhile before you have to make a final decision.
You needn’t commit your all to something.
You can be wishy-washy and uncertain and confused and ambivalent and resistant. (Which characterizes most human beings in transition).
You don’t even have to believe in yourself (as Martha Graham so eloquently said to Agnes DeMille long ago).
Here’s what you do have to do: Show up for your life. Every single day.
Take a few tentative steps and see what happens. Then decide if you want to take more steps. Rinse and repeat as many times as you wish. Or not, if you discover the direction you’re headed isn’t for you.
What a relief. You don’t have to know.
[As I was writing this I got obsessed with the idea of sewing meandering trails on an old map. I added a bit of gesso and paint to this one before I stitched over some of my favorite back roads for getting lost (and found). And X marks the spot: places I’ve lived or most loved. This art journal page reminds me how important it is to take time to explore the back roads, both literally and metaphorically, because you never know what you’ll discover.]
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