Over the last year, a running joke between Kara and I is the phrase, “...now what?”. It’s usually in response to finishing up some task around the house or when we’re trying to figure out yet another activity for the family to do. Well, now that can apply to working towards my new career….”...now what?”, indeed! It’s definitely a question that inspires many emotions. In response to that question I’ve felt excitement, fear, and uncertainty, with many more emotions to come, I’m sure. So far, I think the hardest thing for me to accept is that I don’t have to have the exact answer to that question. The bigger and more important question is that of my true, conscious, and awake identity….yeah, that’s all!...Once I get that figured out, all the next steps will be easy!
OK, so of course I understand that it seems ridiculous to put off thinking about the “...now what?” question in the context of my life and career after my engineering job ended. However, I’m also learning to be mindful of the problems that could occur when you revert to old behaviors or situations that haven’t worked in the past. I really believe that the answer to both “what is my true self?” and “...now what?” in my life and career is the same thing. The trick now is how to find this answer.
I’ve had to remind myself that the path to a new career and a new happier life isn’t just a single step. It sure would have been easier if I saw a job posting for “#1 Dream Job” on the day that I was laid off, but that’s not how this process works. I need to understand that this process will be made up of many smaller steps towards the correct answer. For one, being honest with myself about not wanting to work as a chemical engineer in any capacity (be it at a refinery, a chemical plant, something more “green” like a renewable energy company) was a big step.
It’s been hard for a lot of my friends and family to understand this decision, which makes it doubly hard when those same people want to help me with a job posting or other idea that “fits” with my background. I do welcome this help and concern, but I also need to be confident in this decision to make a break from part of my life that is not my “true self”. All that said, I am confident that moving away from my past career is absolutely the right idea, and definitely counts as a step towards figuring out “...now what?” It doesn’t mean that the skills and lessons I’ve learned along the way are not valuable and never will be. It simply means that the “refinery chemical engineer”-self was not my true self. I can acknowledge that this part of myself existed, and can now be left behind while using the skills of my true self as a guide.
In the last few weeks of working out “...now what?”, I’ve explored many different avenues and techniques that I could never have seen myself doing. Probably the simplest item so far has been an honest and committed practice of mindfulness. Kara and I attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition Virtual Symposium, and I was very inspired by Deepak Chopra’s presentation. When the symposium ended, I picked up his latest book, Total Meditation, and gave it a deep read (and for many chapters, multiple re-reads). At the same time, I started using the Breethe app for daily mindfulness and meditation. As a latecomer to this area, I have been so amazed at the calmness and clarity this has brought to my life while I work through these life questions. Taking the time for even 10 minutes of meditation each day has been so beneficial to me, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I have also found a lot of peace and insight from starting to blog. I’ve always seen myself as more of a technical writer, as that’s what most of my educational and work life has demanded. However, as I started my meditation practice, ideas about personal and professional development that needed further exploration were always coming to mind. An easy way to help build on these thoughts or maybe to just “put them to bed” was to start journaling. It’s not always easy to get started with writing, as I tend to think about the end before even beginning the process - “Will someone want to read this? What if this sounds stupid? What am I even doing?” I’m continuing to work through this with the philosophy of “Just start writing and decide later”.
After progressing through this journey of “...now what?” over the last three months, I’ve come to understand that there will never be a final answer. Everything in this world exists in relation to something else, and your personal decisions and path forward are no different. However, I can say for sure that starting Ksquared Health Coaching with Kara, and finding ways to help others realize the changes they want to see in their lives is a step that speaks to my true self.