21st century human: how will you plan your next move?
The last time I went to buy toothpaste, I was overwhelmed by the choice on offer. With the lack of anything else to drive my decision, I allowed myself to be financially motivated and went with what was on promotion – two for the price of one.
The choice of toothpaste is a mere snapshot of the complications of life in the 21st century. Before we go any further, I will own up that I am a recently qualified professional life coach. So, you understand where this article is heading.
Because the life coaching industry is largely unregulated, it is easy to misconceive what the service is about. There’s nothing to stop anyone from labelling themselves as a life coach with no experience and no qualifications whatsoever. There certainly are some horror stories around! But there is a growing professional community of life coaches who are passionate about helping you to find direction. Fundamentally, you should know that a professionally trained life coach does not operate from an expert point of view and they are not going to tell you what to do with your life.
So, what is life coaching?
“At its heart, coaching is a response to a 21st Century human condition” ~ Nick Bolton, Founder of Animas Centre for Coaching.
What is this 21st-century human condition? Or perhaps we should think in terms of the conditions faced by the 21st-century human.
We are certainly inundated with choice. Desperate for your attention, advertisers are constantly differentiating and reinventing their products. We are overwhelmed with information at every turn. We live in a world of constant distraction and noise. Whilst we shouldn’t take freedom of choice for granted, a large part of this ‘noise’ is meaningless and only serves to confuse.
This choice extends into our personal lives. Forty years ago, it was more common to have a job and a marriage for life. These days, if you don’t like your job or your partner, you can simply change them (or if they don’t like you…) The security of knowing your place behind a desk or a production line for the next 40 years doesn’t really exist anymore. But by the same token, if you were to offer this career path to a young millennial, they would probably feel more like it was a prison sentence than an opportunity.
These factors alone lead to an environment of confusion and uncertainty, which are normal 21st-century conditions.
So, how do you find direction when living with pressures like these? You may have a wonderful group of friends and a supportive family but do they know what’s best for you? Will they listen and take the time to understand what’s in your heart, or will they simply offer well-meaning advice? (Or perhaps they’re more interested in what’s being projected through the screen of their phone…)
In my early 30s, I was faced with a life choice. I wanted to move on from the job I’d been in for 9 years. I suspected I could find a better opportunity within a different industry. I turned to a life coach and set some goals for the way forward. I found the life coaching process to be so empowering and within 3 months, I had achieved everything I set out to do!
The only trouble with that was 3 years later I found myself living this lifestyle that felt superficial and unfulfilling. I don’t for one moment discount the process I had been through with my coaching and I still consider it a hugely valuable experience. But the problem was that I had set these goals without really considering what they meant to me. I guess I had thought more about what I should be doing, rather than what I wanted to be doing.
I hadn’t taken the time to focus on what felt important to me. I’d not even considered what I might want to contribute to the world or what made me feel alive and made my heart sing. I hadn’t for one moment assumed that I may have a personal purpose. Or that it might be important to know these things to keep me striving through difficult times. In fact, I hadn’t given much more thought to the process than to my choice of toothpaste! Consequently, the goals I had set were superficial and therefore the life I achieved was superficial.
A professional life coach can offer you a unique space to consider these questions. A good coach will allow you to talk and make sure you know they have heard you before trying to move forward. The process will be entirely trustworthy and non-judgmental. They will help you to challenge anything that may be standing in your way; e.g. those limiting beliefs and critical self-talk. They will help you to understand what is important to you and why.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Once you have connected with your why you will be consistently guided towards the right direction. This will be your inner compass that always points true north and that will help you cut through the noise of society. You will instantly understand what is important and what is not. And even when all the odds may be stacked against you, knowing your why will keep you grounded and motivated.
I’m not sure it can help you pick your toothpaste though.