“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
What does “resilience” mean to you?
Resilience is the key to getting through difficult journeys – or detours. It’s a learned skill, and it’s a challenging task, but it is achievable. Through resilience, I learned how to cope with stress, anxiety, and even better, I was able to travel my detour long enough to finally find that beautiful clearing.
How do you learn to love your detours? You follow the path and see where it takes you – that makes you a DETOURIST. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce an amazing Detourist…
My name is Serena and I’m a #Detourist…
10 years ago, I was facing a crossroads in my career. I had been practicing for 11 years as a government lawyer in Singapore. It was a good job, a good career – there was nothing wrong with it as such. It’s just that I was getting to a point where I was no longer satisfied with what I was achieving. I felt that I could be doing something more with my life, but I didn’t know what that something might be. I just knew that I wanted to help people, which was why I had become a lawyer in the first place. At the same time, I wasn’t sure that doing law work was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
So I was curious and I was searching for answers. I read a lot of self-help books, attended career counseling courses, explored all the options. There weren’t very many options at the time. My first thought was to retrain to become a career counsellor so that I could help people who were facing the same kind of crossroads as I was, who were just as lost and confused and clueless as I was, who weren’t sure what would happen next, how to deal with the feelings of confusion and overwhelm, and how to get answers. I decided that the time had come for me to be bold. I decided to resign from my position. It was interesting the responses that I got from people. A lot of people told me it was a waste of my degree; I had spent all these years studying and training, I had a good job and a good career, so why was I giving it all up to do something that was possibly less lucrative, less prestigious, and that would require me to start all over. And I didn’t have answers for that. I just had this strong inner urge, this feeling that it was the right time for me to go out and do something, and that if I didn’t do it now, I would never do it. If not now, then when?
After I resigned, I spent the next few months in limbo, a very, very uncomfortable place to be, and I found it hard to acknowledge it, because I’d gone on this journey pretty much on my own, without support from anyone (other than my husband), and I was walking this path alone. In truth, of course, there are so many other souls around the world doing the same thing, but we aren’t always aware of what is going on outside our own little world and what’s preoccupying us at the moment.
So for a few months I tried different things – network marketing, internet marketing, going to BNI meetings to meet people from different industries who were doing their own entrepreneurial thing, freelance writing, and all this went on until I fell pregnant again. And then it was a new focus – I spent 3 months being sick, lying down most of the time, not being able to eat much. And I was really glad I wasn’t working fulltime anymore, because I needed to focus on getting through my first trimester and feeling good about myself again.
And then we decided to migrate to Melbourne in the middle of all that. By the time I arrived in Melbourne, I was 5 months pregnant. It was a very interesting place to be. BY then I was at a comfortable and stable stage in my pregnancy. At the same time, there were so many new unknowns in my life. Where to stay. How to find work. How to get around. Making new friends. Figuring out how things worked day to day. And then it was time to have the baby, and it took another year or so settling her in, and by that time my older child was ready to school.
So every year it felt like something new and big was happening. In retrospect, all of it was good, and all of it was necessary. Looking back now, I’m grateful for all the changes I’ve been through and all the ways I’ve grown. I am really very proud of myself – coming from this place where I was an introvert who was terrified of speaking up, terrified of being heard, in case I got criticized or judged, in case people told me I was a fool, or that my opinions were worthless, or “Who are you to want to get noticed?”
In the last four years, I’ve built my practice working with professionals seeking change in their lives and careers, who are at the crossroads, feeling stuck and overwhelmed. They feel like the clock is ticking, time is running out, and at the same time they are experiencing lower levels of energy, more commitments, more demands on their time. They’ve got a family now, they’ve got children they need to look after, and they have to manage everything around these commitments. How do they do that, and how do they do it in a way that is sustainable energy-wise and health-wise, and at the same time is fulfilling for them and has meaning for them, that makes them feel alive, makes them feel like they are contributing and here to serve a purpose in the world and impact people’s lives, that they are adding value, expressing themselves and their talents and strengths.
So this is my mission: one person at a time, to reach out to people at the crossroads standing there clueless and a bit terrified. I’m grateful to be able to serve others this way. My approach may be different from that of other coaches, because I am coming from a place of introversion, a place of spirituality and deep reflection, of doing the inner work first before we rush into the how-to’s.
I think a lot of us just want to know the answers – how to do this, what should I do next, what’s step 1, step 2, step 3. And what I always tell people is that it has to come from within – you have to clear the things that got you into this place of stuck-ness in the first place. All the limiting beliefs, the assumptions, the values that may need to be re-looked. All the decisions and the attitudes and the thinking that has led to this point in our lives. We need to reach into ourselves in a deeper and more profound way, to be more vulnerable, more real, to no longer be afraid of what people will say about us, but to put ourselves out there in trust that the right people will come along. The right opportunities will come along. The right collaborators and the right projects will come along. And at the same time taking charge and not being passive, not being a victim, not blaming anyone else, but taking responsibility for how we are living our lives and doing the work we are called to do.
So this is my detour. This is what I do now, this is what I love, and this is who I am.
That is why…I #LoveMyDetour!
Serena Low is a Career Coach for the Purpose-Driven Professional and author of the forthcoming book The Hero Within: Reinvent Your Life, One New Chapter at a Time.
She writes at www.career-change-confidence.com and www.serenalow.com.au.
So when life gets stressful, or just doesn’t go as you plan, think of it as a detour – and make it a beautiful one. As you travel, remember to reach out and ask for the help you need. Together we’re stronger. Together, we can navigate our beautiful detours. Share your story here!
Oh, and …
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Learn how to navigate your own beautiful detours by trying out a private detour-navigation coaching session with me here.