Sunday, September 6, 2009

Exploring the mission

Another thing I've been taking a look at is some of the work I did at a Kripalu workshop eight years ago. Kripalu, if you don't know it, is a great retreat center for spirit, body and mind, located in the Berkshires. Peace and positivity emanate from the place, to the point where wild rabbits know it's safe to come within inches of people sitting out on the front patio.

The first time I went there, I took part in a workshop called, "Exploring your life's mission." I was attracted to it because they didn't promise instant results like some other workshops I'd read about. You know the ones: "After this 48 hour experience of self-discovery, you'll have all the tools you need to change your life instantly!" (There always seem to be a lot of exclamation points involved in their brochures.) All the Kripalu folks would commit to was getting you started on your journey. Maybe you'd come away with some answers, or maybe you'd find out that you had a lot more work to do to help those answers along. That seemed reasonable. If anything, it was a lot less pressure than figuring out the rest of your life in two days.

Led by two life coaches, the process was well thought-out and drew each of us back more to who we are and makes us feel most alive. To answer that question, we went back to very specific examples in our lives where we felt most 'lit up' and most authentic. My answers gravitated around having fun and novel experiences, especially those where I made a connection with people.

While there wasn't much talk about what that equates to from a money-making perspective, the coaches gave great guidance on making one's mission real, including keeping things simple and taking small, achievable steps. Nonetheless, I made little, if any progress on my own mission after that weekend. Between a challenging job and the shock of September 11 later that year, I got waylaid. With so much seemingly out of my control, I think I just needed security and familiarity, however uncomfortable it might have been.

Maybe it just wasn't the right time for me, but that mission has been lurking these many years. It's risen to the surface from time to time, mostly from a sense of dissatisfaction when I've been relegated to making someone else's vision real, and following directions instead of being the one setting the direction. Sometimes knowing what you don't want to do, or where you don't want to be, is as important as knowing what you do want.

The scary part is in actually working at it. I can spend a lot of time mulling it and intellectualizing it and writing about it, but that doesn't push the needle very far. The chat with the career counselor on Wednesday should help, I hope.

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