Try Being an Explorer



If you are experiencing some kind of life transition, you may be eager to get settled into your new phase. It might be leaving full-time work, or living alone for the first time in years, or having to adapt to new physical conditions. No matter the reason, life changes may be a time to reassess your sense of self and approach to life.

I had a recent conversation with a woman about how to create a revised life that is more fulfilling and satisfying. She asked me how she can know what she really wants out of all the possibilities and her perceived limits. That’s a very good question that requires a thorough response. Here we go!

“Thinking” That You Know

Knowing is more than what you ‘think’, literally. For example, when I left full-time teaching, I planned to teach courses part-time and enjoy more personal time freedom. I was doing what seemed “logical.” That lasted for about three months. I had entered a new phase of life, and I was dragging around remnants of my old life. The result? I was disengaged and bored. Of course, those feelings carried over into my freedom. I knew I needed a different approach.

I learned that I needed to draw on my inner self, not just my thinking about what seemed logical at the moment. Earlier this year, a newly retired, professionally successful client sent me a bullet point list of the activities she had in mind for herself upon retirement. This list was created by thinking about what to do next.

After several months together, she created a life full of personal meaning based on expanded relationships and creativity, with some of the bulleted items serving as support. The bullet points missed the mark. She needed time to listen to herself deeply.

I’ve called this deeper knowing “listening to your inner wisdom.” But how do you do that?

Not Knowing Is Perfect

The first step is to allow yourself to live without knowing. If you have recently entered a new phase of life, of course you don’t know yet what you truly want. Our first reaction is to fill that void and try to get clarity as quickly as possible. I invite you to do the opposite!

Be an explorer. Be curious. How can you create a map of a territory you have not yet explored? As you explore, give yourself time for daydreaming and self-care. Notice what you notice in your reading and in the people and events that enter your life. If you hear a fleeting, “I’d love to try this,” why not try it? Notice what feels like guidance. Give yourself spaciousness, rather than limits. It is seldom in life we take such significant time for ourselves.

Exploration is not floating through life aimlessly. Your aim is to hear yourself and feel what you feel. You know you want fulfillment; you are allowing yourself to know what supports that for you. It is not copying what others are doing; it is not taking counsel from “experts.” You are your own expert.

Stand at Your Portal

As you allow yourself the opening to explore, at some point you will realize that you do have a sense of what you truly desire. Some women have called this standing at their portal. It is like you are at an opening looking out on the life you choose to create from where you are. Some women can describe their portal in detail, even how it smells. For some, it is like looking at an extensive, beautiful landscape. Simply notice that you are standing at the opening.

This is an exciting time because you can feel what is ahead for you, even if it isn’t completely clear yet. Sometimes it helps to write or draw what comes to you. Perhaps you may describe a partner, or a home, or a lifestyle, or something you are creating. Once I knew I did desire to be married, I drew the great room and view that we have from our home… a year before I ever met him!

One Step, Then Another

So, now, at last, it is time to take action in the direction you choose. After all, a portal is for walking through, right?

Once again, this is not yet a project plan. It is asking yourself every day what you can do to move toward what you are creating. Notice if you feel fear or try to tell yourself there is some reason you should not go forward. If thoughts begin to stop you, go back and stand at your portal. You deserve to live the life you want.

Small steps might be exploring dating services, or visiting an area where you may want to live. It might be joining a group to meet others who share your interests. It might be going to a bank to explore financial options or finding a source for volunteer or part-time work opportunities. Think of this as finding support along the way.

Each step will lead to the next step if you keep asking yourself what is next each day. As you move forward, you will find that support for your journey will present itself. Open yourself to being aware of the support around you.


Finally, trust yourself. Trust life to offer what you need. Trust that you will live with fulfillment.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

I’d love to hear about how you have approached life transitions. What has worked for you? Have you ever noticed how what you need next appears at the right time? Are you going through a transition now?


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