Now What? At the end of any intense period of life this question confronts us? You may have recently been laid off, completed a huge project, closed a big deal, sent your child off to college, or suffered any number of major life dislocations. The periods preceding these life events can often be so defining or consuming that their absence leaves a troubling void.
How should we react during these personal voids? This much is certain; how we respond during such voids determines the course of our remaining life. We can wallow in pity, or we can make them times of rejuvenation that restore and prepare us for what lies ahead. The key is using this respite from doing to return to being. Let me suggest three phases for responding to a void in our lives.
Remember — Return to your core purpose for living. Remind yourself of the guiding principles upon which you have chosen to order and direct your life, family or business. This will likely involve investing significant time in rereading and revisiting passages, people and places that have previously inspired you. Set aside a private space for this remembering time. This is a great time to write out (or update) a personal mission statement.
Reflect — Significant people reflect on the past to learn from it, not wallow in it. Condemnation is unhealthy. Convictions are empowering. Evaluate where your recent life/work aligned with or wandered away from your guiding principles. Identify triggering events or behaviors that helped you stay aligned or caused you to wander off the track. Examine each relationship in your life and ask whether that relationship challenges and encourages the fulfillment of your purpose or distracts from it. Reflect (and possibly even solicit input) on the impact my life has had on others. It is impossible to over emphasize the value of capturing your reflects in writing. Making time to write down what you’ve learned both crystallizes that learning in your own heart and mind and also creates an invaluable resource for Remembering during future life voids. On a personal note, this blog is one of the ways I am recording that thought process in my own life.
Renew — At this point in the thought process we should face forward and ask the following three questions in my core being and each major role in my life:
- What am I committed to continue?
- What should I eliminate, quit or stop?
- Where do I want to learn, grow or start?
Apply each question to your private world (body, mind and spirit) and every role in the public world; such as, spouse, parent, sibling, friend, neighbor, citizen, volunteer, student, profession, or employee/employer, etc.
I’d like to give a shout out to @JonStallsmith for his talk on Nehemiah 8-10 from which arose the core ideas in this blog post.