I was talking to a dear friend and former client last week who was exiting from a company she had been with for a long time. There had been some changes in management that were not aligned to her vision and she had essentially evolved beyond the company and her role.
She had made the courageous decision to exit without another role and trust, the personal and professional development work she had done around her vision, mission, and values, would lay the foundations for what would emerge. She was planning to take a break and also, remind herself to sit in the ‘fertile void’.
As she was telling me this a light bulb went on in me as I was reminded that this was the exact space I found myself in when I made a transition in my career 6 years ago and in fact, upon reflection, it’s where I find myself roughly every 3 years*.
Have you ever found yourself in that space when you know something needs to come to an end but it’s tough to make the decision, as you don’t know yet what is on the other side?
This uncertainty can often leave us staying in a role, relationship or situation far longer than we know we should. It can often come with a whole lot of stress and, stifle new ideas and opportunities forming.
So why do we do this to ourselves?
In today’s fast-paced world, where we often measure our worth by what we do and how busy we are, it’s easy to lose touch with who we think we are. We spoke about this in our ‘Confessions of a busy addict podcast’ in April, keeping ourselves busy often allows us to avoid the discomfort of just being and allowing things to unfold. Which for many (myself included), can be a very unnerving experience.
But we have to be mindful. Sometimes the decision to leave is taken out of our hands and we get made redundant or, the other person calls it before we do. So there we find ourselves, thrust back into that uncertainty anyway but now we add the wound of rejection on top!
And what is our first reaction to this?
We take action, have coffees with people, leverage our network, and keep ourselves busy and then we leap at the 1st new role or person that comes our way. Or worse still, we go for that interview and our hearts are not in it, as we are not yet clear on what we actually want and it results in a ‘no’ that might further knock our confidence.
Deep down we know we should stop ‘doing’ and that any results we might get might set us back or be short-lived… sound familiar? When we don’t take time to cultivate the space to ask ourselves the deeper questions then we don’t sit in the fertile void long enough to allow something new and exciting to materialise….
So what actually is the fertile void I hear you ask?
The Fertile void (central to Gestalt theory), is about the ability to stay in the state of not knowing and, the chaos that this can often cause, and to trust, that creative energy flows from experiencing the emptiness of being…Essentially, that new meaning, creation, ideas will inevitably emerge if we allow ourselves to stay in this void.
So, if you find yourself here right now or, you sense that change might be coming, how can we go against the grain of our natural tendency to get busy and trust that the answer lies in not doing anything, at least in the short term.
Those eagle-eyed amongst you and, that caught the ‘*’, will notice that my latest 3-year cycle is coming up. So full disclaimer here, I’m writing this blog post as much as a reminder for me, as I am for the many clients, friends, and peers around me that are experiencing this right now. So, whether you are barley-surviving rounds of redundancies and need to take control of your destiny, have a big project ending and you are waiting for the next juicy one to appear or, you are contemplating a significant career or life change. Then here’s how to get ‘future ready’ for this next phase of evolution…
My top 3 ways to sit more comfortably in the fertile void.
1) Understand that hardwired in human nature is often the need for ‘certainty’. When we meet this need then it helps us feel more comfortable to allow the possibility of new things to emerge.
How can you create some level of certainty to support yourself in the void? In my case I look to:
- Identify and activate a regular routine of self-care to support my wellbeing in my case; yoga, meditation, walking, and hanging out with some of my favourite people
- Remove anything that might wreak havoc with your mental and emotional state, in my case alcohol and not prioritising rest and sleep are a no no
2) It’s all in your mindset baby – what we think, we create. I regularly use the power of reframing and positive intention to calm down my mind and build confidence and trust in myself. Some great reframes that you might say to yourself are:
- I’m in the fertile void right now, this is exactly where I am supposed to be for the next phase to emerge
- Out of uncertainty often comes growth, how can I trust in the process and be kind to myself right now
3) Surround yourself with the right people to support you
- Get a great coach or mentor around you that can help you make sense of what might be emerging out of the chaos. There’s a number of people I call on at times like these to listen to my musings and help me form new thoughts and ideas
- Go to interesting and diverse events to spark new ideas and connections
To your health and happiness,
Clare and the CLARETY Team
*A wise mentor of mine once pointed out that we all operate in cycles. Like everything in nature, there is a beginning, middle and an end and this often signals our next stage of personal or professional growth. Then she asked me to reflect on how long I’ve been in the roles throughout my career. As I looked back there was a common pattern to the changes I had made and they seemed to happen every 3 years. For others, it can be 18 months and others 5 or 10-year cycles. You might reflect, what yours are and in some ways, this may become a predictor of when you may feel things coming to an end and allow yourself to sit in the fertile void for new things to emerge.
P.S. Find yourself in the fertile void or, want to get yourself ‘future-ready’ to take control of the best way forward for you? Email us with ‘READY’ in the subject header and we’ll send you details of our new Transitions Coaching Package specifically designed for those who are ready to make a transition to their next phase of growth but don’t have clarity on what that looks like yet.