Are you at a career crossroads, struggling to decide whether to go this way or that?

Here’s an excellent exercise that helps you imagine what your life might be like if you took this path, or that path, or if you left the path altogether. You look at three possible different futures and really play out how your life might look after, say, 3 – 5 years of living each of them. I use it with all my clients, it’s fun and productive.

Part 1
Start by thinking of all the things that might get in the way of change for you – is it money, small children, financial commitments, investment in a particular work identity, status, family stuff, or…?

Now, for the moment, just sweep them aside. We aren’t ignoring them, just moving them off centre stage for a minute.

Then, imagine a world where there are NO obstacles to whatever future you might imagine, none.

And ask yourself this question: ‘What future would bring me the most satisfaction / success / happiness?’

If there is only one winner, go to Part 2A.
If you have more than one clear answer, move on to Part 2B.

Part 2A
Now, for your top future, imagine your life in say 3, 4 or 5 years’ time. Think about a typical day:

  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • What is happening?
  • What are you doing?
  • How do you feel?
  • What do  you see?
  • What do you hear?
  • What about smells, tastes, touch?
  • What do you feel?
  • What about spiritual elements, physical elements, mental elements?

Record this in whatever way you like – journal, collage, mindmap, list, a story, a recording…

Part 2B
Zero in on the top three possibilities for a future direction, picking the three that seem the most attractive or compelling or interesting, NOT the three that are most practical or easiest to achieve. Remember that for the moment there are no obstacles in the way of achieving these dreams.

Now, pick one of the three, and imagine your life in say 3, 4 or 5 years’ time. Think about a typical day and answer the same questions that are listed for Part 2A.

Then repeat for the other two futures.

Thinking about the three, which one seems more compelling or inviting?

Part 3
Taking your top pick, bring all those obstacles – money, time, kids, status, identity, fear – back into view. Make a list of them, thinking of them as logistics challenges rather than reasons not to move forward.

Looking at them one by one, brainstorm ways you could overcome the obstacles. Assume that there IS a way around each challenge without losing your dream.

If you get stuck, get help – talk to a coach, a mentor, a colleague or a friend. Do some research, seek out people who have done what you dream of doing.

Don’t give up.

Joanna Maxwell


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