Living on Purpose: Not everything is black and white
Vail CO, Colorado
“After 15 years of being out of the work force, I feel intimidated looking for a job, but I have to,” Lynne said as we opened our coaching session.
“What’s prompting you to return to the workforce?” I asked, knowing that several of our sessions had centered on Lynne’s dream of being a writer.
“I left work when our daughter was born. We’re refinancing our home and need more income to secure a loan,” she paused. “I feel I’m selling myself short. You know how much I want to be a writer.”
“Tell me about ‘selling yourself short,'” I said.
“When I work on my resume, I feel like I’m raising the white flag, admitting defeat.
Getting a job shows the world that I’m giving up on my dream of being a writer,” she said.
“You make it sound like looking for a job and being a writer can’t happen at the same time. It’s either this or that, black or white ” a writer or an employee,” I said, demonstrating by referring to each hand. “Tell me how these options are different; let’s define what’s black and what’s white.”
“Either I am a successful writer making money by selling manuscripts,” Lynne said, holding out her right palm, “or I am an employee,” she said, extending her left. “Sure, I’m making money, but I just put my dream of being a writer on hold that much longer.”
“Now that we’ve defined each option as two separate and very different colors, black and white,” I said, referring to each hand. “How can you create shades of gray?” I paused. “Let’s come up with at least two additional options.”
Lynne thought for a moment and said, “I could get a job that is nine-to-five doing something that allows (me) time to think. Then I could use my extra time and energy to write,” she said, proposing the first shade of gray.
As if a light bulb went on above her head, Lynne added, “What if I found a job that required me to write and got paid for doing what I love?”
She seemed very excited about this option.
“Let’s play with each option to see how it might work. Tell me the advantages of getting a nine-to-five job,” I said.
“Sometimes when I sit to write, I get stuck,” Lynne said. “The best ideas, characters and situations come to me when I am busy doing something else. My mind is calmed with routine activity, which opens my creativity. When this happens, things really flow for me.”
“In a way, this could be seen as a good writing strategy,” she added. “My mind is free to create and I’m making money. There is a lot less pressure and I can relax, which is where I do my best writing!” Her eyes lit up at the realization.
“Tell me about the option to find a job where you are paid to write,” I said.
“I kept seeing the two options as black and white and never put them together like this. This shade of gray might include getting a job at a newspaper, a marketing firm or do technical writing … and get paid to write!” she said.
“With these two options, what do you see in regards to your job search in the next two weeks?” I asked.
“I’m really excited because there are more viable options than I realized.”
We created a list of action steps to take her forward in her job search, including time frames and accountability.
Lynne closed by saying, “I don’t feel like I’m raising the white flag anymore. My flag is a beautiful shade of gray. People will probably wonder what that means!”
Coaching Challenge ” If you are stuck with two black and white solutions to a problem, create at least two additional options of gray. How else can you solve the problem? Even if some options make no sense or seem silly, push yourself. Play with each option to determine how it might work. If you get stuck, think of a couple more options. If necessary, go beyond gray and add color. Think of creative ways to solve your problem. There are more options available if you take the time to explore the full color spectrum.
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. Sheri can be reached at email@example.com or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.
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