Since life is not static, your situation is also full of change. You may be seeking to change careers or retirement. Some of you have just sent your child to college for the first time. Your marital status or your role with an elderly parent may be in question. But, no matter what shift in life is occurring for you, most certainly you are asking yourself what’s next.
Many of us plan with new activities in mind. We see empty space ahead, and the natural human thing to do is to quickly fill this so that we have a navigable course for our days. As human beings, we don’t like not knowing what to do with ourselves.
Then, some of you are in a contemplative stage in your life where you question whether you’ve made the contributions you wanted to make. You ask yourself if you can truly make this next chapter count, making sure that it is meaningful and fulfilling.
If you are finding yourself in a position of change and you are drawing up a bucket list for your next chapter, take the time to ask yourself the following five questions in order to make your future story most meaningful.
Five Questions to Make a Fulfilling Transition
1. How do I ensure that this next chapter is most meaningful?
It’s natural to seek meaning in our lives. It answers questions such as, “How do I navigate the world?” and “Why am I here?” Human beings seek purpose to understand how they fit in, and as you shape your immediate future, it will be more fulfilling if you can relate what you do to a purpose.
For example, if you choose to shift careers, how will doing this bring more meaning into your life? If you decide you will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, what meaning might you draw from this experience? At many levels, these two examples will provide new opportunities to learn and grow.
2. How can I make sure that whatever I choose makes a difference to others?
This question becomes even more important as we age. At a certain point in life, we begin to question what difference or legacy we have truly created. This harks back to meaning and purpose, and links it to how we have been able to positively affect others.
It answers the question, “Has my life been of worth?”
This query can be answered by identifying how we have contributed by bringing value to the world. We need not take on Mother Teresa’s commission in order to feel confirmed in this way. One of the greatest human beings who contributed to my life was a high school teacher who simply cared enough about his students to show them that he did.
3. Where in my life do I need to play bigger?
It may be that in your current situation, you have ignored some personal growth opportunities. Some of you may have something in your personal life that needs adjusting. Others may have identified a specific dynamic in your professional life that holds you back. Are you comfortable confronting conflict? Confident in presenting? Where in your life might you decide to finally tackle that one thing that keeps you in a compromising comfort zone? One of the greatest satisfactions we can find is that sense of overcoming and stepping into the success that new growth brings.
4. How shall I make this next chapter fun?
A lot of executives and business owners I coach are intent on meeting goals and getting ahead. They should be – this is their commission – to support a healthy enterprise and their own careers.
I see the same in others, whether stay-at-home parents or retirees. It can become somewhat of a dry checklist with little enjoyment, unless we ask ourselves how we can approach our work so that it is fun. When you are in a serious situation such as caretaking, this question may seem odd, but it is even more important. Levity feeds attitude, and attitude feeds soul. How can you infuse fun into your next chapter?
5. Is it possible to “have it all” in this next chapter?
What does “all” mean to you? When most ask this question, they are usually addressing that long list of activities. But if you will take a moment to step back and ask yourself what is most important to you in the coming story, what outcomes you would like to celebrate at the end of that chapter, I think you will find that your list becomes smaller, but more meaningful and full of the essential.
The greatest reward comes not from a full calendar, but from fewer, but deeper and more enjoyable experiences.
Here’s to making an amazing next chapter for yourself! Have fun with these questions, and make sure that your new story counts.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive coaching, leadership development, succession planning, change, and conflict management. She is also a Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.