My last couple of posts (A Story about Signs, Synchronicity & Meaningful Coincidences and Another Story about Signs, Synchronicity & Meaningful Coincidences) featured videos about experiences I had that gave me the courage I needed to take action toward something that I was excited about and a little scared of. The signs were clear and empowering. But sometimes we get signs or have experiences that are not so supportive or uplifting. And other times the signs we get are conflicting. What do you make of THAT?
Well, on that note, I have another story to tell you. Shortly after I gave my notice six years ago to leave my cushy job and start my own business, I met some friends/colleagues for dinner and was excited to tell them the news of my recent decision. I was still reeling from the sudden turn of events and though I was thrilled about the leap I had just taken, I was also feeling a bit nervous and vulnerable (as most people do when they move out of their comfort zones). I was hoping that they would give me added encouragement and support.
Unfortunately, they did not. In fact, they were quite adamant with their cautionary tales about several people they knew who had left their stable jobs only to find themselves barely scraping by and lamenting their decisions. GREAT. This is NOT what I wanted to hear. And it bothered me that two people I respected and admired — who were in fact successful independent consultants in their own right — were chastising me for my decision instead of congratulating me. (Yes, there was a little ego in there too.)
I left the restaurant feeling beaten and discouraged. I began to question myself and doubt my abilities. I worried that I had made a costly mistake. Was this a sign?
The next day I went running on a canal bank near my house, which I frequently do to clear my head and tune in to something bigger than myself. I reflected on the previous evening’s conversation. I felt the worry well up inside of me and ran harder and faster as though I could possibly outrun it. Did I make the right decision?
In the next moment, a sign caught my eye. It was a mile marker placed on the side of the canal by a running club for people who were training for an upcoming 10K. Beneath the number on the sign, there was a quote. It said “Those who believe it cannot be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.”
I felt the hair on my arms stand up. The worry gave way to relief and then laughter. I knew this little sign was for me.
Here’s what I learned from that. When it is really a sign that has significance, it will resonate with your inner wisdom – not your inner critic. It will make you feel strong, at peace, and calm. The sign or experience itself isn’t as important as the feeling it evokes and the messages we intuit.
There have been times when I was considering a course of action that wasn’t right for me. As I reflect on what might have been signs that confirmed an inner knowing that I should not proceed, those signs were never shameful or disparaging. Rather, they simply heightened my awareness of an incongruence I was already experiencing on some level – kind of like the way I’ve felt after trying something on that I really wanted to wear, but just didn’t fit right, or playing the piano and landing on a note that was in the wrong key.
Sometimes I paid attention to those little signs, and sometimes I didn’t — perhaps a story for another post. Suffice it to say that when I paused long enough to ask, listen, and really discern what was going on, it made all the difference in the world.
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