Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 18th 2017 Contents B21
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Retreat and renewal to find clarity for your career transition
In my last article about career tran-
sitions, I touched on the subject of the
neutral zone, the stage between your
old life and career and your new life and
For many of you who are undergoing a
career transition, this can be a terrifying
phase. You still have no idea where you are
You are confused, you lack direction, and
you can be gripped by fear. Many of my cli-
ents have described this phase as a period of
emptiness, suffering, and confusion.
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
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
The solitude associated with a retreat al-
lows you to see and experience the world
differently and opens you up for transfor-
In this article, I will focus on the impor-
tance of a personal retreat and time of re-
newal 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 activities, and your think-
ing. 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
organize 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
thinking or planning is just scratching the surface on
what you need to do for your time of personal retreat
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 some-
one did that was religious based, such as the life of a
monk. But, different types of retreats are becoming
Some people take a retreat that involves a week of
silence and contemplation, others go on personal and
group retreats involving meditation, yoga, writing,
exercise, personal improvement, and even physical
activities, such as camping, overnight canoeing, or
Your retreat could encompass some of these ac-
tivities. But, any activities you use have to work to-
ward your goal of getting 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
accompaniment of any distractions.
First, get rid of your means of communicating. 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 yourself.
I love the mountains for the beauty, the isolation,
and the quiet, contemplative setting that they pro-
vide. Others might like the ocean. 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
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
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 involuntary thought processes.
Finding clarity will come to you. You can't go to it.
You have to create the proper environment for this
to happen. And, that's why I recommend planning
a personal retreat that will work for you.
Your goal is to provide space within yourself for the
creative act of constructing a new life and career. By
isolating yourself and clearing your mind of delib-
erate thinking, you will loosen up your inhibitions
and open up possibilities you might not have thought
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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