Have you ever had a strong sense that there was something you were meant to do … but then second-guessed that knowing, because you couldn’t see how it would work?
Ever spent time in silence, getting clear on what you yearn for … and then felt a vicious wave of doubt knock you down?
I get it. I see it in my own life, and in my work with private coaching clients.
Often we pretend that the problem is not knowing what we want … when the truth is that we DO know, we just don’t see a way forward.
So we say, “I just don’t know,” and, “I need to get clarity!” when the true difficulty lies elsewhere.
It’s not that we don’t know.
It’s that we don’t believe it’s possible for us.
But what if we understood that taking action in the direction of our dreams is what allows the way to appear?
Here’s the story of a time when I learned that lesson.
From ages 13 – 21, I attended church summer camp in Scotland every year, on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. It was quite simply my favorite place on earth.
The last several summers I served as a volunteer staff member, which meant that tuition was free. Airfare, however, was not.
When I was younger my parents generously paid for my travel. One year, though, they (wisely) checked my privilege and said: “If you want to go to Scotland, you’ll need to pay your own way.”
I was a student, and I had just under two months to scratch together about $900. It felt daunting. But I had a very clear sense that I was meant to be in Scotland that year.
So I dove into applying for jobs. My old babysitting gig wasn’t an option, so I searched high and low. I submitted applications, made calls, and tried to sell a family heirloom. Nada.
At night I tossed and turned. I prayed and asked for help, but still, nothing materialized.
Why couldn’t I find a job, when I was willing to work and I had this clear, intuitive knowing that I was supposed to go to Scotland? Time was running out!
Just when I was starting to lose hope, my brother Willie’s behavioral aide came for her weekly in-home visit. When I greeted her, she said, “You told me you’re looking for a job for part of the summer, right?”
“Yes!” I said. Of course I’d told her. I was telling everyone.
“Well, there’s this preschool program for kids on the autism spectrum, and they need teacher’s assistants,” she said. “It’s only from now through mid-July, and the pay is pretty decent. I can refer you, if you want.”
“Yes! Thank you so much! That sounds perfect,” I said.
And it was. That’s not to say it was easy – is taking care of a passel of preschoolers ever easy? – but it was the right job for me that summer.
It gave me a taste of the work I’d do later on, at L’Arche. It ended just before I needed to leave for Scotland, and it allowed me to earn enough money to pay for travel.
And I do mean EXACTLY. Working at the preschool, I earned precisely enough for round-trip airfare to Scotland and one Guinness beer, which I bought as a thank-you to the friend who drove me to the airport.
That summer, my friends bought glasses of wine and candy bars and postcards, but I smiled and said, “None for me, thanks.” There was no margin to speak of, and no money left over.
Yet I felt rich every single day. Why? Because I had been provided for. Because I was grateful.
Because I had just enough to be where I was meant to be.
(Me and my friend-like-a-sister Tam, Scotland, 2001 or thereabouts)
Here’s what I want you to know …
You get to trust your inner knowing.
In my experience, here’s how it works:
1. Get still and listen. Notice the desire for something, and a deep intuitive alignment that it’s right for you. (This is a “hell yes.” There is no “hell maybe.”)
2. Acknowledge the desire. Heed it and respect it.
3. Take action in the ways that you know. Let people know what you’re up to.
4. Do this for a long time. Likely get discouraged. The key is to ask for help – human and divine – and keep on keeping on.
5. Pay attention for an unexpected open door. Trust that this door is meant for you.
6. Seize the opportunity. Say thank you, do the work, and walk through the door.
7. Go on your adventure. Feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Taste the sweetness of the dream come true.
Live a story that you’ll love to tell.
Yours in possibility,
Have you ever experienced a time when you took action and things just lined up? Join the conversation in the comments below!
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I printed the “inner knowing” list and it is posted at my desk. Beautifully written blog post. Thank you.
Oh Bridget, that warms my heart. Thank you. I’m so glad that the list was helpful for you!
Brilliant story and Loch Lomond is just five minutes from my home town. Then I moved to Cyprus for warmer weather <3
Your list is so good and reinforces "keep going" which many of us find it hard to do. Thank you xxx
Mary, that’s so kind of you, thank you. I’m grateful that what I’ve shared speaks to you. And how cool that you lived just minutes from Loch Lomond! I only ever traveled there in the summer, so I can certainly understand wanting a warmer climate. 🙂 I’m glad that we’ve connected from across the globe.
I know the exact feeling you are talking about, Caroline! As soon as the pandemic started, my catering work disappeared. I’d been volunteering on and off for a couple years in a non-profit kitchen that provides meals for homebound folks with serious illnesses. I had no idea what was going to happen with my job situation, but I suddenly had a lot more free time and it seemed like a no-brainer to start volunteering more and at least be productive and utilize my skills. It also staved off the panic I felt from the uncertainty of the situation, which was a big deal considering my worrisome nature. This led to them offering me a job, which never even occurred to me as a possibility. I had no idea how much happier I’d be spending my days baking for people in need, surrounded by big-hearted people I genuinely look forward to seeing, instead of making fancy wedding cakes for entitled bridezillas. When I let go and just take the next logical step without trying too hard to plan the end result, it very often turns out better than I ever would have imagined.
Jennifer, that’s such a great example of this principle in action! Thank you for sharing – I’m inspired, and I know others will be as well. 🙂