It sounds simple, right? Like something we should all know?
But often, we lose sight of what we’re about. We get caught up in the daily grind.
Often, we end up in a situation that we just, ‘fell into’ by accident.
Sure, it brings in the money, and its ‘okay,’ but does it really fulfil us?
Is it really want we were ‘meant’ to do with our life?
For most of us, the answer is “no, not really.”
There are a few reasons why we get stuck in a job or career that doesn’t really suit us – here’s some examples:
- Doing an apprenticeship/graduate scheme/work experience and being offered a permanent job – it’s an easy option to take. Suddenly, you’re still there 5 years later.
- Being expected to go to university because that’s what all your family has done OR
- Not being expected to go to university because no-one in your family has been
- Doing a ‘sensible’ job that pays the mortgage even if it’s not your dream
- Going into a field that your parents/teachers/careers advisor thought suited you
- Being scared of taking a risk to follow your dream career
- Getting sucked into the ‘golden handcuffs’ trap of many a corporate job – company car, private medical insurance, annual bonus, good salary – suddenly, you feel you can’t live without all these things.
- Continuing in a job because that’s what you trained for, even though you don’t enjoy it anymore.
- Starting out following your dream, but talking yourself down from it before you even try, so that you’re doing a watered-down version that feels ‘safer.’ E.g. working in an art shop, rather than selling your work as an artist.
So How Can NLP Help?
There are many different ways that NLP can help. For some people, they know exactly what they want to do, they are just too scared to do it.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of financial insecurity.
Fear of failure.
Fear of success even.
For those people, its about courage. Finding your inner courage and reigniting the confidence inside you to just go DO IT.
There are other people who really don’t know what they want to do. They just know that what they are doing now definitely isn’t it.
For these people, it's about exploring themselves. Discovering their personal values – what is really important to them?
What makes them feel fulfilled? Satisfied? Excited? Alive?
What are they passionate about, and driven by?
From this, an idea or two (or many) of what you could do will become immediately clearer.
Once you know what you want to do, there’s also a lot that NLP can do to help as well.
Such as breaking down the limiting beliefs that you hold about yourself, like “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do it.”
Mindset changes to focus on learning from mistakes rather than focussing on the feeling of failing, as just one example.
Ways to tune into your gut instinct, which, lets face it, is normally spot on.
Tools to make difficult decisions quickly, while still tapping into all the information you’ve got to make the best decision
Skills to connect more deeply with other people, whether your family and friends (and support system) around you, or your colleagues, or your potential customers.
Questions to help you think differently, to consider angles you’ve not thought of before
Processes to reframe experiences into something more resourceful.
Ways to forgive yourself (and others) for past blunders.
There’s also the importance of turning your dream into a Well-Formed Outcome. By setting a clear goal, aligning it with your personal values, imagining yourself achieving it, considering some of the barriers you might face and how you’ll overcome them – you have a tangible, obtainable goal, with a clear first step to take as well.
Without this, your dream will stay exactly that. A dream.
My Story - How NLP Helped Me Find My Direction and Purpose
At school, I was always very academic – I did well in all my subjects, and pretty much had an open choice of what I wanted to do. I choose my A-level subject on a basis of what I enjoyed doing, and which teachers I liked the most (although my favourite teacher had the audacity to leave over the summer before I’d even started!)
Going to university was simply expected of me. My parents had both been. My brother had gone two years before me. It’s what all the teachers expected of me. I’m not saying it was a wrong choice, I loved university and got loads out of it. But, simply as an example, no-one spoke to me about anything different, like starting my own business or being an entrepreneur, or doing a more practical job. I was expected I would go to university and get a ‘good, proper job.’
Fair enough, I did pick a subject based on what I enjoyed – I studied Psychology and Sociology, because I was interested in people, so that’s a positive. In my later years, I mentored a girl who was just choosing her further education options. She decided to study accountancy, despite stating she found it boring, as it was a well-paid field and her parents thought it was a great idea. What she desperately wanted to do was be a dance teacher.
Now, we do need a reality check on our dreams. Not everyone can be a premiership footballer, or a chart-topping singer song-writer. But so many of us don’t even try for our dreams as we’re too scared of failing, or those around us make a plea for us to do something safer, as they are too scared of us failing. I often wonder if that girl is still in accountancy now.
At the end of university, I knew a few things I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to study any further, I couldn’t imagine doing a PhD. I didn’t want to be a clinical psychology (you needed a PhD for starters) and I didn’t want to work in academia. Knowing what you don’t want is a good thing! It discounts some options.
The problem was, I had no idea what I DID want to do! I went to the careers service, and was recommended HR, as the people side of business. It seemed a good fit. My brother, two years ahead of me, had applied to graduate schemes, so this seemed like a good, well-paid option to choose. I applied to companies almost at random, based on their pay scale and reputation, from a somewhat limited selection in mid-financial crash; Shell, BT, Rolls-Royce, Lloyds Banking Group, among others.
But was it what I was ‘meant’ to do? No. Was it my absolute passion in life? No. Was it making me miserable by the end? Yes.
The first sign of change was a chance encounter in a lift. I was seeing a lady out of the building after a meeting. She was a coach and personal development trainer we’d hired to run a leadership session at the bank. In the 20 seconds or so that it took for the lift to go down, she simply asked me
“So, what do you really want to do with your life?”
I still have no idea what made her ask me such an important question in such a short moment. I was so taken aback, I just blurted out a truth that I’d never really given much thought to, as it seemed so impossible. I can’t remember the exact words I said, but it was something like:
“I’d love to run my own centre in the mountains helping people.”
“Oh,” she said, “you should contact my friend Sarah. That’s what she does.”
Fast forward a few months, and I’d spoken to Sarah on the phone, and then attended one of her ‘netwalking’ meetups and met a load of like-minded people, including a couple of NLP coaches who generously practiced their skills with me. I was intrigued. Not just by the answers coming out of me, but by their skills, the way they made me think differently, feel more confident, feel supported and believed in. I wanted some of what they had.
I looked into NLP courses. It actually took me 3 tries to find one I liked. I tried two ‘taster’ days with two different trainers. My experience of both was that the content was really fascinated, but that the trainers were on a bit of an ego trip and out to manipulate rather than help.
Then I found my trainer Madeleine, who I connected with straight away just from what she’d written on her website. My gut instinct knew she was right for me, and the course was right for me, and I signed up straight away. This was my first lesson is following my gut instinct – how right it proved to be.
When I booked the course, I was still pondering that perhaps it would just be good personal development for my job in the bank, and would help me progress. By the time the course came around a few months later, I’d gone from mildly unhappy, to desperate to escape. I was feeling trapped by the golden handcuffs of all the benefits of working in a bank, and also by the idea that I had no idea what I wanted to do, or what else I could do.
But of course, I did have some idea. Remember the lift lady? I didn’t know exactly, but I knew I loved mountains, and I knew I loved helping, supporting and nurturing people. I just didn’t have the confidence or courage to go there yet.
That quickly changed. By the end of the 4-day course, I had a clear direction and purpose. Through exploring my values, I knew what really inspired me and made me feel a deep sense of fulfilment. Through some of the tools we explored, I found my confidence, hiding deep down, squashed by a few years of working in what I experienced as a toxic environment.
I found my courage, to just go and start my own business, an option I’d never really actually considered as an option before. I had worked through my goal, fleshing it out in as much detail as I knew, making achieving it real for my senses, knowing what I’d see, hear and feel when I got there.
I had also started the journey towards learning a valuable toolbox of ‘stuff’ that I could use to help people. Picture of my first foray into business below - a group coaching walk in the Pentlands.
I see this journey time and again through my coaching clients and NLP students. The tools, techniques and general approach of NLP are so powerful to help you become the person you were meant to be. To follow your passions and dreams. To find your confidence and courage. To help you say “Yes, I can!” and “I believe in myself.“
That was my story. I’m now 9 years into running my own successful business, and its growing, changing and developing all the time as my priorities shift and change, and I discover more about myself. NLP helps me every day to make decisions about what to do.
What’s your story?
What might it develop into if you came on an NLP course?
Sign up now and find out.
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