About five years ago I was going through a quarter life crisis that centered around my career. Things just felt off and I was judging myself because I thought I should be happy with the career I had chosen. After all, I spent so much time getting to where I was, wouldn’t that all go to waste if I made a change?
My mind often told me yes – but my heart knew that everything I had done up to that point was leading me to new career opportunities. And deep down I believed that my career could be wrapped around me versus trying to fit me into a career.
Fast forward to 2015 and I can now see very clearly why I wasn’t happy – I was conforming to a career that no longer reflected who I was or what I wanted. Yes, at one time it fit me perfectly – in fact, I felt very lucky because I got my dream job at age 27. But the beauty of life is that it’s ever-changing, which means we are ever-changing and can grow, develop, and change our minds on things — just because our life is going in one direction doesn’t mean we can’t change course.
And if you are like I was and feel like you may be conforming in an area of your life, I see it as a great sign. While conforming often has a negative connotation to it, it is not a bad thing as long as you can see it for what it is: an often necessary part of the journey in determining what it is you really want.
Conforming helps point you in the direction of what you do want by showing you what you don’t want.
I like to look at the idea of conforming as a place (I call it Conformity Island) because like any place, you can leave it if you choose.
And if you are doing one thing but really longing for something else, whether that be in a career, a relationship, or an overall lifestyle, then you may be ready to start your journey off Conformity Island.
So how do you know when it’s time to leave?
Pay attention to your feelings. Your life is always talking to you…what is it saying? Are you feeling totally drained by your work? Is your gut telling you something is off in your relationship? Do you want to stab your eye out at the thought of sitting in front of a computer all day?
Trust that you are feeling these things for a reason.
Once you’ve started listening to your feelings then you can tune into two foundational things needed to navigate this journey:
First, it starts with the belief that something better is possible. You must believe that where you are is NOT where you need to stay; that you can find clarity for yourself and most importantly, that you can feel better.
Second, you have the intention to make it so. This is where the heart and head come together. You make the decision and commit that you can and will do what feels right for YOU – no matter what.
From this space, clarity and change can happen.
Intellectually speaking this is easy to understand but it’s been my experience, and I’ve seen it from many others, that knowing it in your bones and getting off Conformity Island is a process – and it happens one experience at a time.
In my own life, I’d gotten off Conformity Island in my career but as I ventured into the world of being an entrepreneur there was a lot to learn.
And I found myself headed back in the direction of Conformity Island as I looked at what other entrepreneurs were doing and tried to model my business to theirs.
But guess what happened?
It didn’t take long for things to feel off again. Those feelings were my sign that I was not doing what was right for my business. So, I looked at my beliefs. I already believed that my career could be wrapped around who I am and I now believe that my BUSINESS can be too. In fact, I know that is how it will be most successful. NEW BELIEF and INTENTION = Conformity Island out of sight 🙂
I don’t regret this little detour – it was a necessary step in the process of discovering who I am as a coach and business owner.
Going back to conformity island throughout life can be essential as we grow and develop….but the more you get to know yourself and what it is you want out of your career, relationships, life, the less you need to visit.
Please do not beat yourself up if you feel like you’ve been living in conformity mindset. Try on this new perspective for size: conforming is helping me find clarity in what I DO want by showing me what I DO NOT want.
It’s all information leading you to bigger and better things and helping you get to know yourself even more in the process.