Explore: Open yourself to the unknown
This step allows you to begin thinking broadly and honestly about the direction your life can take. You begin to separate what you've always done and who you've always been from what you'd like to do and who you'd like to become. At this phase of your voyage, you get to give your curiosity free rein and try new identities and behaviors on for size. The point of these exercises is simply to get a feel for exploring new ideas and activities. Once you become comfortable with small explorations, you'll be better able to embark on larger journeys of life discovery.
Kick off your exploring with some modest accomplishments:
- Browse a magazine that never appealed to you.
- Skip the Sports section and delve into Food.
- Take a voice or musical-instrument lesson.
- Change your standard route home from work.
- Venture into a tavern that features line dancing.
- Design any other activity to get outside your comfort zone.
Choose: Whittle down your options
Now it's time to narrow your choices. This may feel intimidating — What if the path I pick turns out not to suit me? — but your selections at this stage in the journey are not irreversible. Multiple paths lead to the goal of reinvention; there's no need to worry that you're swearing all-or-nothing allegiance to a wrong one. Indeed, you can ease your way into this stage by taking deliberately small steps. Here are a few to consider.
Take time out. Carve out a regular block of time when you refuse to be interrupted, especially by technology. Visit this oasis each day to imagine future possibilities.
Say hello. Introduce yourself to organizations engaged in the things you're curious (and serious) about. Shadow a person doing something you think you might like.
Keep track. Record your reactions to all these investigations in a Possibilities Journal. Revisit prior entries to see if clues emerge that help you pick your best path.
Repack: What's essential for the road ahead?
Repacking entails removing the obstacles that are keeping you from reaching your goal. Think of it as jettisoning the baggage that no longer fits who you are now and repacking to accommodate the person you want to become. To get started on this step, try the writing exercise below.
1. Create the table of contents that would appear at the front of your memoir. Give each stage of your life story its own summarizing chapter title. Then group the chapters and give each section a title.
2. Now move to the present: How would you label the chapter you're living through currently? What would you name the chapter coming next? This exercise can give your life story a clear plotline to follow.