It may be your last lingering thought as you drift into a restless sleep. Or it may manifest as a background hum, always present, whether you’re closing a deal, commuting to work, or conquering the world on the Stairmaster.
It’s the knowledge that life isn’t in balance, that your path, which once seemed ideal, no longer satisfies your soul.
“Often we are afraid to even acknowledge our desire for change,” says Diane Dillon, Ph.D., licensed psychologist at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. “We may dread the disapproval and disappointment of others.”
Diane should know. After 13 years of living the Manhattan dream life – complete with satisfying work, a loving family, and a coterie of friends – she realized that her passions and priorities had changed. “My husband and I realized there weren’t enough hours in the day to devote to the things that mattered most to us. So we made time to be quiet, to examine how our lives aligned with our priorities. Taking a close reading of our inner compasses allowed us to make the leap to move to the Berkshires.”
Now, at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Diane especially enjoys working with guests who are contemplating change. She offers these thoughts:
Express the other sides of you.
What talent has gone undeveloped, which passions have you kept on hold? If you’ve been an accountant for 20 years, you might be ready to get out your old paintbrushes and express your creative side. If you’ve got a book inside that’s dying to get out, write the first page today. Or you might start the business you’ve dreamed of, volunteer at a school, learn to fly, take French lessons. Think about balancing your life over time, allowing yourself to change paths and gears.
Give yourself the gift of quiet time every day.
Even if you can only spare 10 minutes, tune the dial to your core self. Focus on breathing, whether you’re meditating, practicing yoga, cooking or going for a walk. Journal writing works for many people.
Seek support from others.
Speaking with a non-judgmental friend, family member or professional can help you find balance, restore confidence and open up to your full potential. You can’t please everyone; we all know this intellectually, but most of us imagine that others think about us and judge us constantly. The truth is that people think about us far less than we think! Cultivate relationships that are nurturing and empowering.
Discomfort may come and go.
Prepare to feel uncomfortable in the midst of change, and know these feelings will pass. In fact, brain research with MRIs has shown that brains are adaptable, giving us the ability to change the way we feel. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” The words of the ancient philosopher Philo ring true today. As you consider your priorities and limitations, be kind to yourself. Guests at Canyon Ranch are typically time-crunched, successful people, who have a hard time saying “no” to others.
Be gentle with yourself as you contemplate your path. Give yourself permission to explore new things throughout life without the weight of expectations.
Follow your inner compass.
“Retirement is one of the biggest opportunities for positive change,” Diane says, “and many guests come to the Ranch looking for help in navigating their retirement and relationships. It’s thrilling to see people who are learning for the first time to take care of themselves. For example, one guest retired from a very high-stress position in finance. His lifelong passion was animals, so he is now working with therapy dogs.
“Another executive couldn’t say no to being on boards. She was brilliant and had a lot to share, as well as a huge heart. But she had too much on her plate. So many of us know what it’s like to feel pulled in multiple directions; this guest learned that she could experience both sadness and exhilaration by limiting her board commitments. You can make room and honor a host of feelings when you are following your inner compass.”
Diane reminds us that life offers a wide range of possibilities. Whether you choose to take a giant leap of faith and move across country, reawaken a dream, develop an invention, or simply reserve 20 minutes a day to meditate, you can enrich your life when you discover what resonates with you.
Have you exercised your metaphysical side lately? Balancing a practical, show-me-the-facts approach with a helping of intuition and spiritual exploration can open new possibilities.