New beginnings can be wonderful, feeling like a fresh start and a clean slate. If you’re anything like me, you like to play with the idea of reinventing yourself, of becoming that person you’ve always wanted to be. But it may seem like often you find yourself falling back into old patterns more quickly than you might have expected. It is challenging to be a truly blank slate. The past is essentially a habit, and it shows up in the way we think and talk and act. We may think that we need a change of place or people in order to achieve that state of newness, but wherever you go there you are. Unless the change begins within, it isn’t really change.
So it was with both nervousness and excitement that I started my new job in January. After a blissful 15 months without a “real job,” I was looking forward to getting back into regular interaction with people and putting some new skills into practice. The time off had given me a real perspective shift and an opportunity to make some real and lasting (I hoped) changes to the way I thought about work. I was a little nervous about the apparent loss of my freedom, but I was mostly nervous that I might fall back into the same negative patterns that had left me so miserable at my last full-time job.
I’ve been there for six very intense weeks now, and while you could argue that isn’t really long enough to know how things will play out long term, I have seen quite a bit of evidence that things really are different this time around. The time off to regroup and put some key concepts into practice outside of a full-time job enabled some new patterns to take root, and that investment seems to be paying off big time now that I am back in the workplace. And while I would not say that I have handled every situation that has come up perfectly, I’ve managed to stay calm and collected even when things have gotten pretty stressful, and on my best days, I feel like I’m demonstrating to my co-workers that balance can exist even within the midst of apparent chaos.
The best part about this experience is that it feels like I am creating it consciously. I had a choice about how I approached this from day one. I could either experience this job like many of my co-workers do, as a highly stressful and chaotic workplace that requires you to work around the clock. Or I could begin by knowing that a true work/life balance was possible for me here, and that it was an opportunity for me to show up not just as a good employee but as a spiritual individual, sowing seeds of peace. I look for, and find, the good in everyone I work with and in everything that I am doing, and I truly feel like while this might not be the Work I was born to do, it is definitely the work that I am meant to be doing at this moment in time.
I may not be a true blank slate, but I can take steps every day to overwrite past patterns with the new ways I choose to think and talk and act. What choices can you make today to begin to shift your perspective and enable change to begin to take place in your life? And are you noticing and appreciating even the smallest changes that are already showing up for you? This is my daily challenge to myself, to stay conscious and present enough to make a choice about how I respond to my work and who I show up as while I am at work, and then to appreciate the good that comes out of these choices, reinforcing the new patterns and allowing them to grow stronger. If you choose to take this challenge on for yourself, I would love to hear how it goes for you, and I wish you the best on your journey! Namaste.