Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 11th 2015 Contents B19
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In my last article about career transitions, I
touched on the subject of the neutral zone, the stage
between your old life and career and your new life
and professional direction. For many of you who
are undergoing a career transition, this can be a
You still have no idea where you are heading. You
are confused, you lack direction, and you can be
gripped by fear. Many of my clients have described
this phase as a period of emptiness, suffering, and
Sounds like fun, doesn t it? Well, it isn t fun, but
it is an absolutely essential step. It s important to
experience this neutral zone because you first need
to dismantle your old career, attitudes, and opinions,
and then provide space within yourself for the creative
act of constructing a new life and career.
A PERSONAL RETREAT TO
START THE TRANSFORMATION
Since it is so important to surrender to this phase
of emptiness and stop trying to escape it, I often
suggest that my clients get away for a few days and
take a personal retreat. The solitude associated with
a retreat allows you to see and experience the world
differently and opens you up for transformation. In
this article, I will focus on the importance of a personal
retreat and time of renewal in helping you find clarity
for yourself and your future career.
So, where do you begin? We already have discussed
why a personal retreat is important and when you
should go, now we ll review the how, what, and where
of undertaking this time of contemplation.
HOW YOU GO ABOUT A
RETREAT IS IMPORTANT.
You need to find a place mentally and physically
that will allow you to slow down yourself, your activ-
ities, and your thinking. This is not as easy as it
sounds. Most of us have tremendously busy and
active lives---we re heavily invested in our work and
profession, we have countless responsibilities, both personal and professional, and we have very
little time to think deeply about whom we
are and what we re doing.
Often, we ll have a few minutes here and
there to organise our thoughts or plan our
activities. And, we ll often feel as if we ve
done a good job planning out our day, or
work week, or weekend. This type of think-
ing or planning is just scratching the surface
on what you need to do for your time of
personal retreat and renewal.
What you need to do is to get away from
everything---both mentally and physically
---for a long-enough period to really get to
the bottom of who you are and what you
want to do. Think of it as a period of inner
reorientation where realignment begins to
take shape, and that can t be done the same
way you might plan out the next day when
you re stopped at a traffic light while you re
driving home from work.
A PERSONAL RETREAT IS NOT
AN UNCOMMON ACTIVITY
FOR MANY PEOPLE.
Traditionally, it was thought of something
someone did that was religious based, such
as the life of a monk. But, different types
of retreats are becoming more popular.
Some people take a retreat that involves
a week of silence and contemplation, oth-
ers go on personal and group retreats
involving meditation, yoga, writing, exer-
cise, personal improvement, and even
physical activities, such as camping,
overnight canoeing, or rock climbing.
Your retreat could encompass some of
these activities. But, any activities you
use have to work toward your goal of get-
ting away from everything and everyone.
Yoga, meditation, or hiking might work
for you, but you have to do it alone. You
need the solitude to experience your
retreat on your own without the accom-
paniment of any distractions.
First, get rid of your means of com-
municating. Don t bring your Blackberry
or laptop. Do bring your cell phone, but
keep it turned off. Then, pick a place
that works for you, one at which you feel
comfortable; a place where you can be
I love the mountains for the beauty,
the isolation, and the quiet, contemplative
setting that they provide. Others might
like the ocean, such as the isolation that
South Beach provides in Chatham, MA,
or a cabin in the woods. It could even be
an urban setting where no one knows
you. It just has to be a place where you
can isolate yourself with your thoughts.
These settings provide the opportunity
for activities such as a hike up a mountain
trail, a walk along an isolated beach, or
sitting on a park bench where you can
be more open to a transformation and
finding clarity for yourself. In addition
to physical activities, writing out your
thoughts, listening to classical music, and
fasting can kick off the contemplative
thinking process that you need.
But, finding clarity can t be forced. You
can t make yourself find clarity, you can t
force yourself to think, "I m going to be
this or do that with my life." You must
let that process come naturally. It must
evolve from your activities (or lack of
activity), your isolation, and your invol-
untary thought processes.
Finding clarity will come to you. You
can t go to it. You have to create the prop-
er environment for this to happen. And,
that s why I recommend planning a per-
sonal retreat that will work for you.
Your goal is to provide space within
yourself for the creative act of construct-
ing a new life and career. By isolating your-
self and clearing your mind of deliberate
thinking, you will loosen up your inhibitions
and open up possibilities you might not
have thought about previously. You will
come to this point naturally after experi-
encing an inner calmness. And, you are
most likely to find a new direction when
you least expect it.
This is not the end of your journey, rather
it is a new beginning. So, there will be much
more work to do. But, this process of retreat
and renewal can start you on the path to
a new career and new life.
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