"We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking." ― Richard Rohr
After exiting my last company, I started a much-needed sabbatical to relax and discern my future. Sounds amazing, right?
Going into this time, I thought relaxing and dreaming would have been easy.
Was I ever wrong!
This period has perhaps been one of the biggest challenges I've faced in my adulthood.
The first half of my career was built primarily on stumbling into things.
As a high school junior, I applied to various universities that seemed "cool." I naively had no idea why I should have picked one over the other. After being accepted to all five, I chose one that seemed like it'd be the best fit. In retrospect, all of them would have been fine.
After college, I turned my part-time job on campus into a full-time one. Easy.
When I realized I needed to get the hell out of the small college town I was living in, I applied for a job in New York City. And I got one solely because of where I went to college.
So on and so on. Life just happened.
Selling my last company was in all ways, except financially, a big ball of stressful madness. I can't go into details due to long, boring contracts my attorney told me to read and sign, but I'm glad to put that chapter behind me.
And once I was free from all of that, I faced something I'd never experienced before:
a large space of
If my life were an ancient map, there'd be a massive "Terra Incognita" stamped over this period.
At first, this nothingness created anxiety:
How am I supposed to create something again from nothing?
Was the last success a fluke that I just stumbled into?
Could I do it again?
What if I fail miserably at whatever I decided to do next?
Would moving into a new career bring me energy and joy?
I was faced with a million options. I had enough resources and experience to do many of them, but logically determining "the right one" brought heavy angst.
Perhaps you are facing a similar nothingness -- from selling your company, starting a new career, losing a loved one, or moving to an unfamiliar city.
I'm still figuring this out, but six months in, here's what I've started to learn.
That nothingness isn't actually nothingness, it just seems like it at first.
When you wake up in the middle of the night in a pitch black room, your eyes aren't able to see anything. But wait a few moments and you'll start to see things that you weren't able to see before.
The soul seems to work in the same way.
Six months later, I find my senses are heightened. I've started learning how to see all the wonderful things around me with more clarity; how to hear people as they speak and not impose my own voice on them; what's valuable and what's not; how to slow down and enjoy and breathe; how to hear God in new, subtle ways.
And I now have more space to dig deep down and change, adapt, fix, discard, learn, add, and grow. To live into a new way of thinking!
I don't have the pressures of my past life -- to make payroll, to win new clients, to live under the stressful life that I had previously created. The nothingness imposes none of that... no need to please anyone but myself and my God.
And I can experiment and try small things without the requirement that I must be successful in everything. What a luxury!
I don't have all the answers. I won't ever. And many days I am still an anxious mess. But I've come to see this nothingness as a massive opportunity to simply live. I'm now certain that the next chapter, the second half of my career, will be better because of it. And for that, I am grateful.
Image: Public Domain, Wikimedia