Life Direction: the Teeter Totter of Life

By Anna Miller-Tiedeman

As a child, I loved teeter totters. However, when my life behaved like a teeter totter, I didn't find it as much fun until I recognized it as just that—a teeter totter. So when things become blurred, if I'm not too far down, several things occur to me:

  • Knowing I'm on the down side of the teeter totter somehow helps me through the maze of confusion. This means, I try not to think too much about it. I don't always know what to do or where I am going, but I am now quite comfortable with that uncertainty. I have utter confidence that I am doing the right thing even if I'm only staring off into space, riding along the Pacific Coast Highway, or wondering what to do next.
  • Focusing on lack of direction drains my energy and lowers my self esteem; and I need all the energy and confidence I can muster for the transition process. So, I stay busy making contacts, collecting information, and meditating because I know that I will eventually be informed.
  • Knowing that Life self-organizes, I keep unfolding my love affair with it, doing all I know to do, and waiting for the surprises (some wonderful and some not) that arise as a result.
  • I can relax because I know that Life self-organizes, that I can trust it. Further, I know that Life goes both right and left. The right turns make me feel good and the left turns teach me. Along with trusting Life, I know that it works--not always the way I want it to--but it works.
  • When I can't seem to get it together, I don't force it. I just let time pass and see what happens next and do whatever occurs to me. That may involve making a list of my uncertainties, reviewing my list of intentions, or talking with someone who can give me another perspective on things.
  • Thought seems to be hazardous to my life direction if I use it to judge the outcome rather than support my creativity and activity. Thought, used as a judge, is a curse; used as a motivator, it becomes a gift. If I can't get a cue, I don't judge that; I just take another step and wait for more information to come in. Sometimes the information comes quickly, and sometimes it takes months. Whatever the time frame, I try not to judge that either.
  • When my life direction doesn't seem to make sense, I give it time and space. Because I know that, when the right time arrives, I always know what to do. I don't have to ask, "What do I do now?" In that sense, Life resembles love. You don't need to ask someone, "Am I in love now?" You know. The same thing works in life direction.
  • Leap-frogging over the uncertainty and waiting period in order to find certainty and choice usually doesn't work. So, I don't use energy trying to do that. The uncertainty period helps me see life direction as a teeter totter; sometimes it's up and sometimes down, and sometimes it balances. And whenever I take action, the teeter totter moves.
  • Learning to value thought fluctuations that cause blurring of the focus takes work. But I've learned that the blurring signals the arrival of something new. As a result, I don't try to immediately unravel it. I honor and value its process, even though at times it feels like "the valley of the shadow of death," as written in the 23rd Psalm.
  • It seems so simple but I need to remind myself frequently that my life direction is in me and when the time is right, it makes itself known. And when I need to talk with someone about it, I know that too. This means taking action and learning from it, not sitting around hoping my life direction will appear out of nowhere. There is some truth in the saying, "The harder/smarter you work, the luckier you get."
  • After many years of valuing unsolicited advice, I now find it's costly -- both in time and energy -- and usually isn't too useful. Unsolicited advice often doesn't resonate with my experience and doesn't dovetail with my own personal knowledge. But, like junk mail, occasionally, I find a pearl. Robyn Davidson (1980) in her book “Tracks” describes her solo trek with camels across 1,700 miles of Australian outback. On return she began sorting out all her experience and two important learnings emerged:
    1. "...that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be”
    2. “…that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision. 'Camel trips, as I suspected all along, and as I was about to have confirmed, do not begin or end, they merely change form.'"

I now understand that life direction continually moves in and out of focus, and like camel trips, it doesn't end, it just continues to change form. However, using my Career Compass® -- my tool that is based on my experience, intelligence, and intuition -- I always get a reading for my next step and that leads to another, and another, and another.

Anna Miller-Tiedeman, Ph.D, is a National Certified Counselor and creator of the New Careering, a personal and spiritual approach to life. Miller-Tiedeman has over 37 years of teaching, consulting, and counseling experience with individuals of all ages and incomes. She taught career development at Johns Hopkins University, Long Island University, Loyola College and the University of Southern California. She also taught Small Business Management at Palomar College. Miller-Tiedeman is author of Lifecareer: How It Can Benefit You, Lifecareer: The Quantum Leap into a Process Theory of Career, How NOT to Make It…And Succeed: Life on Your Own Terms, Learning, Living, and Practicing the New Careering. She recently stepped out of her traditional role and served as the on-site Contractor for the construction of The New Careering Institute, Inc. at the Domes as well as a main living Dome. She offers her consulting, teaching, training, conflict resolution (Trained Mediator), writing and professional speaking skills to individuals as well as to various organizations nationally and internationally, most recently in Norway.

In addition, she now places David’s legacy in a legal structure to leave the Domes as a place of study for her Lifecareer® work and David’s visionary writing including decision making, computers, consciousness, and his great love of development, as well as community use. More can be found at http://www.life-is-career.com/

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