“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.”
~ John Muir
There are moments when we cry out for an answer – an answer that will change everything.
This is especially true when you stand at the threshold of a career change, retirement, or reinvention. Those times when you’re feeling an inner nudge, a call, that there is a career or life that would better fulfill and express you – yet the way forward isn’t clear.
However ready you are for an answer, it’s the listening that’s hard.
Life’s daily pace is relentless. Where is the chance to slow down enough to hear the still small voice inside? Or listen long enough to discern and follow the pull of your calling?
Demands come at you from every direction – family, boss, email, your phone… We’re surrounded by noise every moment. We even fill the small pauses with noise: entertainment, news, and Angry Birds. And our internal world is no quieter: details, plans, and worries are a constant, roaring whirlwind.
So how to find a space to slow – a way to listen, and to find perspective? How can you make space to connect with that place in yourself that you want to choose and create and live from?
I’m guessing you’ve found some trusted ways to slow (when you do them): meditation, prayer, exercise, pets, yoga… A daily contemplative practice is my most treasured beginning place.
But when it’s time for BIG LISTENING, these may not feel like enough.
Yet there is one underestimated place, right under our nose, that has spacious room for us to slow and listen. It is an overlooked, but extremely powerful, place for reinvention… NATURE.
Admittedly, even at 57, I’m a nature boy. Some of my earliest memories are of being high in the top of a pine tree in my boyhood backyard, swaying slightly with the trees’ movement and looking out over the surrounding homes and woods. And from that time forward nature is where I’ve felt most fully at home.
Yet even if you don’t consider yourself a nature person, even if the most of nature you normally get is between buildings or between car and work and home, I’m guessing that you’ve felt its power.
Remember the last time you walked or sat in nature and really stopped to see, listen, and take it in… Light illuminating the leaves overhead, the touch of sun and breeze, the starry sky, sounds of birds or waves or the night sounds of crickets and frogs. Beauty.
I’m guessing that something in you relaxed. That it stopped your busy brain in its tracks – and brought you fully into the moment.
It has that power.
For me, that’s nature’s magic – it’s power to bring me into the present moment.
A Place for Perspective
Reinvention is uncertain and confusing to its core. We’re questioning direction, often questioning ourselves – and searching for a new way forward.
In my own life, no matter how big the changes afoot and how uncertain, disorienting or scary the situation is, nature is one sure go-to-place I can reclaim perspective. It is where I remember – life is good.
When I pause long enough to feel nature’s touch, it evaporates my busy thoughts, calms any nagging worry, and puts all my whirling plans to rest. And, most important, something opens. I find gratitude. I breathe.
I re-find the place in me that knows how to listen deeply.
We Need to Get Out
Over my three decades as a career and leadership coach with a specialty of supporting people to navigate major career changes midlife, I’ve seen this: the one place my clients are initially most stuck – is in their heads.
I’m not knocking the practical mind. It has real value and creative power. In the later stages of a reinvention, it’s a vital partner. Yet there is danger too – and the bigger the change, the bigger the danger.
Because it’s where we get STUCK.
I’ve certainly been there myself. It’s where you can feel like you’re going in circles – bumping into piles of internal assumptions, old limits, disaster scenarios, and resistance. It’s where you try to “figure it out.” And where it’s so easy to get mired in options, confusion, uncertainty, risk, doubts and fear.
Yet some part of you is unwilling not to make a change. You know it’s necessary at a deep level.
So you stay stuck.
Tapping into Nature for Reinvention
When your heart and brain are locked in this kind of tug-of-war, it’s critical, to both your happiness and sanity, to get out of your head.
Because whether your head is filled with careful plans, critical voices, or the most brilliant ideas, it’s not where real life or blazing purpose are found. (I say this as someone who spends an embarrassing amount of time in my head.)
And inside your head is not the place where you’ll discover your calling; because new aliveness is never found with our practical mind. Never.
That’s where nature comes in.
While there are other ways to get out of your head, there is no better place to go than into nature’s wild embrace. It brings you back to yourself; allows you to touch life directly, reset your rhythm, tap your spiritual core, and still the noise long enough to listen deeper.
How about you? Is nature one of your places to find perspective, renew, and access guidance for your career reinvention?
If nature is a part of the nourishment needed for your reinvention, you’ll know it in the irrefutable way you know hunger. It will draw you. Even if it also makes you uncomfortable, it will feel true.
Pay attention to that pull. Pay attention to the calling in you that is asking for enough of your attention to reveal itself.
Add a Touch of Nature
The power of nature does not replace a good coach or any other kind of helpful career change support and structure. It’s not even essential to a successful reinvention.
But it is an ideal environment and a powerful catalyst that can accelerate the effectiveness of your efforts and support resources. Plus it’s accessible and almost free. It’s as close as a walk. And as easy and enjoyable as a day at the beach, mountains, or desert.*
Today or, at-the-very-least, this week GET OUT – add a touch of nature’s slow-magic to accelerate your reinvention.
* More about HOW to use nature for a career reinvention:
For specific ways you can tap nature, from small daily pauses to an immersion deep enough to ignite your calling, check out the second part of this post, 7 Ways to Find Reinvention in Nature, where I share some concrete practices and approaches (including several resource links) for using nature as a powerful container to stoke the flames of your next career chapter.