Nine weeks ago, I took a leap of faith and joined the first Working Out Loud (WOL) group launched within our organization by a close colleague and friend, along with 5 other trusting souls. We were challenged right out of the gate to come up with a personal goal on which we would individually focus for the next 12, yes 12 weeks! Each week we met, we shared, we learned and we grew. We saw how trust can be easily built, honored and celebrated. We discovered how we could arrange our schedules and make time in our already overly committed lives for what became sacred space and a sacred hour in our week.
As individual goals were being crafted, I struggled and had a difficult time really focusing on mine. I was all over the place. Should it be personal, should it be work related (most in our group were not), what did I want the results to be. Clearly (as no surprise to many) I was over thinking this. Shocker, right? I did come up with a goal and took the steps suggested each week in working toward that goal, however I honestly could not wrap my heart around it. Something was missing. Something was tugging at me but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. It lacked the “sticking” power and successes that others were experiencing. I felt disappointment but not sure what to do. Then came WOL Week #7 when we were challenged to write a letter to our future selves. The goal of this exercise was to provide a long-term vision of what might be possible for ourselves.
That became an ah-ha moment! While the syllabus offered a list of 10 items to consider when creating this letter, it was item #10 that hit me like a ton of bricks: “Picture the way you’d like to be.” I could instantly visualize that picture and it looked nothing like my original goal. No surprise there either since I really couldn’t visualize my initial goal. So, at week 7 ½ I changed by goal. It was exhilarating and freeing which created excitement for where I saw myself personally growing. I could articulate a new vision for myself (also part of the assignment) which started off with: “Being (and working towards being) the best version of myself.” This was it! This began a new path toward self-awareness, introspection, reflection, honesty and more! While I am back to step one with the WOL assignments, others in our group moved ahead all the while supporting me in my new path. Our WOL group was challenged to blog about something, anything as a way of showing contribution to others, while expressing their own ideas, projects, motivations, challenges and more. This tool was to help to be introspective and reflective while broadening the scope of one’s “reach,” for their personal goal and I really had no desire to do this. Now this is where it gets interesting…
By changing my WOL goal in week #8 to a very personal one, I discovered (or I should say rediscovered) an interest in something I had thought about years ago… the practice of Mussar. Mussar is a “Jewish path of character development and spiritual growth leading to awareness, wisdom and transformation…” (Mussar Institute) As I began doing research and listening to podcasts on this, it became clear that journaling would be an essential element toward awareness, wisdom and transformation. The practice of Mussar means I would have to write! I would have to be reflective and introspective if I wanted to get a true accounting of my soul with an accurate understanding of where I am in my life.
As I sat down to work today, the last thing I thought I would be doing today was writing, reflecting and being introspective with my feelings, thoughts and purpose. Because I believe there are no coincidences, there are reasons for why things show up when they do. As my WOL work intersected with my idea of practicing Mussar, I am confident this was the path I needed to travel. This was meant to be just in the way it was and I look forward to becoming an experienced and skilled spectator of my own inner experience! Stay tuned.