Everything you need for your next best step (and the one after that, and the one after that) is inside you. The tough part is finding it. But if you’ve got the right blueprint it’s a heck of a lot easier.
Here’s how to zero in on your calling – and make it a reality.
1. Tap your intuition
You can’t coach yourself unless you know what you truly want. It starts with listening. Conveniently, the only person or thing you need to listen to is yourself.
Everyone has an inner voice. We’re not talking about the one that’s jabbering constantly, telling you what you’ve done wrong, worrying incessantly and running through your to-do list. We’re talking about the quiet voice.
“This innate intelligence – intuition – is expressed through the body, and is always guiding us to our highest good,” says Uma Sanghvi, a mind-body coach based in Austin, Texas.
Set aside 15 minutes to be alone with yourself. Now think about a situation in your life where you felt out-of-your-skin uncomfortable. Marinate in it for a while. Notice the physical sensations that come up (shallow breath, scrunched shoulders). Next, think about something in your life that brings you joy. Again, notice how your body feels (a warm expansive sensation in the chest, softening in the eyes).
“It’s different for every person, and changes from moment to moment, which is why it’s so important to be present with your body,” says Sanghvi, who uses somatic and mindfulness techniques to help people connect with their body’s innate wisdom. “Most of us are not used to listening to our intuition on a regular basis.”
What’s more, experiences and deeply engrained patterns from childhood can make it harder to listen. It might not be easy, but keep sitting alone with yourself, noting uncomfortable and joyful situations you’ve experienced – and the sensations that arise. In some cases, though, it could be good to first work with an experienced therapist to process and get past trauma.
2. Set an intention
Now is the fun part.
For the next week, take 10-20 minutes a day to visualize various futures for yourself. Go big. Be sure to contemplate a scenario that’s your ultimate dream. Don’t think about barriers to making it happen. Ask yourself what you’d do if money, time or circumstances were no object. Write down what comes to mind.
Be sure you’re noticing the sensations that arise as you go on these mental trips. If you are feeling conflicted, go back to step 1 so you can tune in again to following your gut.
“It’s important to define what you truly want before you take any action – that way your actions and willpower are in service of your highest good,” Sanghvi says. “Your gut is your seat of power – it’s your center of gravity – and an integral part of the wisdom of the body. Pay attention to your gut instinct more and more, and practice navigating your life from your gut, heart and body, instead of your mind.”
3. Put it in writing
“Pick a goal, and start,” Sanghvi says. “Don’t let fear and resistance derail you. As long as your goal comes from your higher self – and not someone else’s idea of what your life, body or career should look like – just start.”
In other words, without a plan of action, your goals are just goals. Meeting goals takes work – and doing it in small steps helps.
“For example, if your goal is to read 15 new books every year, then choose a starting point – for example, read for five minutes tonight,” Sanghvi says. “If you obsess about the 15 books, you could easily get overwhelmed. Instead, focus on the start.”
Write down your short-term, mid-term and long-term plans.
4. Go public
Tell someone you trust what you hope to achieve. This makes it more real. It also means someone can hold you accountable.
5. Keep at it
“Many of us think we need to change our identity in order to take action,” Sanghvi says. “But it’s the other way around: We need to take action first, and through repetition, our identity will shift.”
Don’t lose sight of your plan and its action steps. Persistence is key.
And be nice to yourself when you get off track.
“Whatever your goal is, remember that true power comes from kindness,” Sanghvi says. “I’ve found that at the heart of every real transformation is the dissolving of self-criticism and the emergence of self-love.”