“If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?”, she asked, as if that was a question to which I would have a ready answer. I stared at her, speechless. Then, to stall for time, I asked, “One thing?” Luckily, she let me off the hook, allowing me two or three things, if I found it too daunting to name just one.
This snippet was a tiny piece of a wide-ranging conversation between me and my new life coach. We met in a wonderful coffeeshop I had never frequented for our first session last Saturday. It is a little strange for me to say that I have a life coach, for a number of reasons:
1. I have a counseling degree, and have used it in my career – but I have never seen a counselor for my own life issues;
2. within the last year, I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a certified life coach myself – though I had never actually seen one in action;
3. I have been reluctant most of my life to seek assistance (there’s an entire blog post to be written about why this is the case).
I have been a classic case of “physician heal thyself”. There’s a simple reason we’re not supposed to do that. It doesn’t work.
Which isn’t to say that I have been unable to make changes in my life through my own action and determination. Actual change only takes place because I do the work. I’ve learned this, interestingly, by working with my fitness trainer, the ever-supportive Kylie Helgens. The hard work and sore muscles, the determination to show up at the gym day after day, these all come from me. But Kylie offers the expertise to make the most of what I am putting into it, as well as the challenge and encouragement to keep me coming back. Some days, I am willing to let myself down by not showing up, but I don’t want to let Kylie down. Trusting someone else’s expertise, and allowing them to assist in my development, is a powerful experience – and one I am ready to broaden outside the fitness realm.
Which brings me back to the life coaching session. If I am completely honest, I will admit that it was fun to spend a full hour talking about myself with someone whose purpose in being there was specifically to let me. No glazed eyes, no need to be reciprocal as might occur when meeting a friend for coffee: free reign for my inner narcissist! However, that wasn’t the only reason the session was a positive experience. In answering her curious questions about me and my life choices, we both learned a lot. Doesn’t that sound funny, coming from someone who spends a fair amount of time in self-reflection? Apparently, I know more about what I want for my life than I’ve been admitting to myself.
In the past days, as I’ve let her questions revolve in my mind, the answers I gave have been germinating and proliferating. And the answer to her question about what one thing I would change has been revealing itself to me:
If I could change one thing about my life, I would live with abandon.
Doesn’t sound like a very concrete goal for change. But it feels like a good way to explain what the concrete changes would be about.
If you look up the word abandon, you will find a definition something like “careless disregard for consequences” and synonyms like recklessness, thoughtlessness or (heavens!) licentiousness. I will never be a person whose life is defined by those words, it just isn’t in my make-up. But abandon also means freedom, spontaneity, and uninhibitedness – words I’ve often wished could be associated with me. I can be, I think, someone who has brilliant – or creative or at least good – ideas and acts on them. Abandoning myself to that moment of action, rather than holding back out of fear or self-derision – THAT’S what I’m talking about. A-typical for me, but possible.
One session into my life-coaching experience is early to know what may result. However, I already suspect that seeds have been sown which may yield unexpected fruit. My first homework is an assignment to dream…and I am attempting to dream with abandon, in the hope that I will eventually learn to live that way as well.