How to access intuition (and why it sometimes seems to go silent).
In his book The Art Of Work, Jeff Goins recalls the time he attended a workshop on careers. He insisted he didn’t know his purpose … and then he realized of course he did. He wanted to write. He was just a little afraid of the idea.
Nearly all career change (and business strategy) conversations begin the same way.
“I don’t know what I want.”
Sometimes you know and the idea is just too scary. Sometimes you’ve got inklings and you want to ignore them.
The idea is, deep down most of us know the answers to your own questions. You know what you want to do. But you can test your inklings with just a few steps.
Intuition works off information. The more familiar you are with a situation, the more your intuition kicks in.
There’s a famous story of a firefighter who entered a burning building and ordered everyone out, immediately. Seconds later the roof fell in.
On one level, he “just knew.” On another, he had been through so many fires he was picking up subtle cues that others missed
When you’re changing careers or starting a side hustle, you’re on unfamiliar territory. Intuition may mislead or even shut down.
Francine felt drawn to a high-priced, high-powered marketing coach. Everything felt “right” about signing up for this coach’s program. Francine’s credit card would be stretched … but Francine kept getting “go” signals.
Once she signed up, Francine was horrified to realize her intuition had led her astray. The coach talked a good line — and probably helped a lot of people who were far more advanced than Francine.
Francine didn’t have experience in choosing this type of mentor and she didn’t have a tested process to screen potential resources. Her intuition just didn’t have enough to work on.
Sometimes you just need a few pieces of information.
Joe wanted to become a trainer or professional speaker. But he was also a single parent to a 12-year-old so he couldn’t travel.
Were there opportunities for trainers in his own city? That’s something he had to investigate. Most trainers travel … a lot. But he might find a unique niche in his particular city. Maybe the field has changed. Maybe there’s a niche for non-travelers. He needs to get this question answered before moving forward.
Trudy was trying to decide whether to accept a special assignment for her new side hustle business. The work would be perfect for her resume, but the pay was low — and her prospective client wouldn’t budge. Trudy needed to learn the going rate for this type of assignment; it’s possible she’s getting a terrific opportunity.
You have to be ready to receive guidance, from a person and from the environment.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.” I’ve found that when I’m really ready to move to a goal, I find the “right” advisors. I’ve learned to pay attention to signals.
If you’re not really excited about your goal, your intuition picks up on your feelings — or lack of feelings. You won’t get meaningful guidance. You won’t notice cues in the environment. (If you’re genuinely excited but sabotaging your own success, that’s a different question.)
And the “teacher” may come from your environment — not a specific person. I’ve seen people who wanted to go back to school or start a business or move. They were totally stuck on what to do next. Often they concluded, “There’s no way I can do this.”
Then something happened — the last straw moment or a new opportunity. Suddenly their mindset shifted. They found all sorts of ways to move to their dreams.
That’s why so many people talk about the importance of “mindset” for success. When you really want something, you’ll find support everywhere.
Success is not guaranteed. It’s just more likely to happen.
Intuition speaks in code.
You have to learn your own intuitive language. For some people, a sleepless night before a major decision means, “Don’t do it. You’ll be sorry if you say yes.” But for others, the same sleepless night means, “This is normal. You always lose sleep over decisions!” And for yet another group, the sleepless night actually means, “You’re on to something! Keep going!”
The way to interpret your signals is to follow patterns and keep track of how decisions turn out. It’s an individual process. You can’t rely on iconic symbols: seeing a cat may have one meaning for you but a totally different meaning to someone who’s never lived with one.
Intuition speaks quietly and playfully.
Speaking of cats, intuition often comes as quietly as a cat’s purr. You have to listen carefully. And you have to be polite. Intuition can shut down when you demand answers and pound on the door. Most of all, intuition is playful. You’ll get better answers when you don’t take it — or yourself — too seriously. Let your mind wander around your question.
More on intuition: Intuition For Career and Business Decisions -
Available as a kindle book (but you don’t need a kindle to read it — you can download a free app for your computer, tablet, or phone).
Originally published at https://midlifecareerstrategy.com on August 25, 2020.