You Can’t Be Where You Aren’t (or: Start Where You Are)

(Learn to Discern, Principle #7)

Have you ever been lost in an unfamiliar place, maybe a new city or a national park, and realize that you have no idea where you are? You know exactly where you want to go – where you wish you were – but the problem is that you can’t begin to get there because you don’t know where you are right now?

And then you stumble upon a map, and it goes one of two ways: either you are really frustrated, because the map doesn’t tell you where you are, and you still can’t work it out! or, there is one of those wonderful “you are here” stickers, which makes all the difference. Now you can actually figure out how to get where you are going.

Life is pretty similar. Many times, we have a pretty good idea of where we wish we were. We know where we want to go. But we can’t get there, because we don’t know – or perhaps we aren’t honest – about where we are right now. Continue Reading

Abandon the Box

When my friend first moved to Italy, she was eager to learn the language and would dive right in to efforts at idiomatic expressions. As a woman studying alongside seminarians – an “outsider” with some “insider” knowledge – she was in a unique position to understand some of the difficulties at the institutional level.

One day, she had the opportunity to speak with an older staff member at the seminary, to whom she tried to explain the benefits of changing things up a bit. They needed to “think in new ways,” to “think outside the box!” she insisted, as his eyes widened in surprised. The priest nodded, but did not have a response.

My friend went away thinking that her “shake-up” had been successful… only to learn that what she had actually said, in Italian, was that they needed to “bust some —–“ – a phrase usually limited to the men’s locker rooms.

A practical win, albeit a grammatical loss. Continue Reading

Seven Ways to “Know Thyself” Better

We’ve talked about how important it is to “Know Thyself” – and why it can be so difficult. But there are ways we can know ourselves better! Here are seven things you can do to grow in self-knowledge.

||ONE|| Give yourself time: not as an excuse, but as a method. Don’t expect to know yourself overnight, if you’ve never given it considered reflection over a period of time. It takes time to really get to know anyone, and even though you’ve been yourself your whole life, chances are that your first 10-15 years had very little conscious self-reflection built into them. While life is a process no matter how old you are, the thirties definitely offer more “settling in” to yourself than the twenties, and the twenties more than the teens. So, just know that time is essential and you can’t rush time. Continue Reading

Try it Out

(Learn to Discern, Principle #6)

When working as a university professor, I had more than one conversation with a student that followed these lines:

Me: What are you studying for your major field?

Student: Accounting.

Me: That’s great- so you really enjoy accounting?

Student: I’m not sure.

Me: You aren’t sure if you like it? Why are you studying it?

Student: I just need something that pays and I heard accountants make good money.

It baffled me that they could spend four years of their lives, go into debt, and plan to spend several decades doing something they weren’t even sure they liked. Continue Reading

You Don’t Have to Become the Thing to Do the Thing

Recently I attended a fun workshop event run by Dave Evans of Designing Your Life. After speaking about the nature of human possibility and how we need not be set in thinking our life can only go in one direction, he asked us to imagine our lives in three different ways.

What could we do if we didn’t stay where we are? If we did something wild?

Our answers didn’t have to reference career- they could encompass the whole of our lives, both professional and personal, work and family.

As I tried to think outside the box, per his instructions, I found myself stuck in “becoming a thing” categories. (My categorization, not his.) Continue Reading