By: Lisa Clodfelter, Licensed Professional Counselor
Feeling unhappy or dissatisfied with your life, but you just can’t see a path out to a better situation? Or maybe you can’t even identify a better situation; you just know the life you’re living, the career you’re working, or the relationship you’re in just isn’t right. Maybe you’re feeling lost and you’re on the watch for the next right move, but nothing new and exciting is showing up and you’re feeling miserable.
Surely there must be more….
What I often hear from clients are things like, “How can it be that everyone around me seems to be so happy, but I can’t seem to find fulfillment in any aspect of my life?”
“I should be happy – most people would love my life. What’s wrong with me?”
Many of the clients I meet are yearning for something more satisfying in their lives. A more fulfilling career, a satisfying relationship, or just a more authentic life.
How can you get from where you are to where you’d really love to be?
Any path forward begins with where you are.
A good place to begin is to find some clarity around how you arrived here in your current situation. To help yourself identify that there really is nothing “wrong with you”, it’s a good idea to mentally climb a flight of stairs and look down at the pathway that has led you to where you are. Many times, this helps our decisions and past motivations make more sense again.
After all, we’re all just making the best decisions we know how to make at the time we must make them. When we look back at the content of our lives during the times when we made decisions and moves, the “why” of those choices comes back into focus and helps us to give ourselves a bit of a break.
From there, it’s important to use your imagination a bit. Mentally throw off any limitations, family obligations, financial constraints, etc., and ask yourself,
“If anything were possible, how would I like my life to look?”
Whenever you are experiencing something miserable in life, it’s very difficult to take your attention off the misery. When it feels as though we’re getting beat over the head with a hammer every day that tends to capture your full attention.
However, when we’re living something miserable, never have we ever been clearer about what it is that we do want.
Whenever your attention goes to how trapped or dissatisfied you’re feeling, ask yourself what it is that you’d rather be doing. How do I wish things were?
Really use your imagination on that question for a moment. If anything really were possible, where do you wish you could live? What work do you really wish you could make a living doing? What kind of relationship, if any, would you prefer? What living accommodations are your favorite?
When you can remove the constraints of what you believe is possible and just dream, your idea of your best life begins to take shape.
The pitfall that most of us fall into is getting overwhelmed with the impossibility of that grand vision in the real world of possibility. When we look at the outcome we’d like to achieve for our lives, and more importantly begin to measure our success or failure by whether we have it or feel we can achieve it, suddenly all we can see are all of the obstacles as to why we will never have it; or how much effort and sacrifice it will require. And then we suffer emotionally because we feel that great life is unattainable.
My work is centered on first helping clients to identify and find clarity around what their best life looks like and then breaking down the path to that outcome into its smallest component. From there, I work to help clients detach from the grand outcome (meaning letting go of measuring their success or failure by the outcome) and instead, measuring their success or failure by how well they execute step one.
Shakespeare said it best – “brick by brick, my citizens. Brick by brick”. If your focus is only on the wall, then the bricks become just a means to an end. But if you are focused on each individual brick, the wall tends to take care of itself.
I try to help my clients put their focus on controlling the controllables in small, incremental steps toward the life vision they have for themselves and then to find challenge in letting each step along the way inform the next step that will help improve the odds of attaining that great life they are envisioning.
If every step along the path is a satisfying one, then does it not follow that the journey will be a satisfying one? Let me help you focus then not only on seeking happiness but arriving at it by seeking freedom from unhappiness one moment at a time.
What does the next moment look like for you?
The dictionary.com definition of a life coach is “a person who counsels and encourages clients on matters having to do with careers or personal challenges”. Personal challenges of course is a pretty broad term, but encompasses everything from self-confidence issues, relationships, general conditions and transitions in life, on down to personal projects and just helping individuals find clarity in their lives and define the path forward toward the life they envision for themselves.
A life coach is someone who can offer different perspectives and help make better sense of life and its challenges, but also just helps.