Ask A Results Coach: "I feel demotivated and confused about my life direction..." | HerCanberra

Everything you need to know about canberra. ONE DESTINATION.

Ask A Results Coach: “I feel demotivated and confused about my life direction…”

Posted on

Feeling stuck? Unmotivated?

It’s natural to feel stagnant sometimes—especially when we’ve been locked down for nine weeks. It can be hard to kick yourself into gear and think about your goals and the future when our world has been so limited.

Enter Alex Wright-Moore, a Results Coach who has kindly offered to answer some commonly asked questions she gets from clients—and share her knowledge with the HerCanberra audience.

Each month, Alex will explore some of the ways we can better understand what challenges us and empowers us to find solutions—lockdown or no lockdown.

“For some time now, I have felt demotivated and confused about my life direction. How do I work out what I am meant to be doing with my life and feel a greater sense of purpose?”

When we find ourselves searching for a sense of purpose, it comes from a desire for greater meaning in our day-to-day existence. This doesn’t mean our lives are meaningless or unhappy.

It’s certainly true that some of us may be struggling to find a deeper sense of meaning in COVID-19 times. But it’s also possible for us to lead full lives and simultaneously question if there is something more out there.

Understanding our place and role in the world is critical for a healthy sense of identity and belonging. What’s more, yearning for a connection to our authentic self and others is innately human. Unravelling confusion about why we are here and what we seek to achieve is not always simple, but here are a few ways we can make this process easier on ourselves and gain real insights which help us move forward.

We can start with ‘WHO’ (to help us to answer ‘what’ and ‘why’)

Learning more about ‘WHO’ we are, can help us unpack the complexities of ‘what’ we want to do in the world and ‘why’ we are driven to do it. Online personality tests such as this one here can provide us with generalised insights, but defining our identity is not always so straightforward.

This is because the socialisation process we experience as children often teaches us there are advantages of ‘blending in’. As we observe our surroundings early in life, we quickly discover that an ability to adapt our mannerisms and behaviours to our environment is handy for social acceptance and/or survival.

This ability can help us to foster a sense of belonging and social/cultural capital in school, sporting, family, religious and play settings. It can also provide us with support networks which assist in keeping us safe. On the flipside, it reinforces the message that sometimes we need to hide who we really are to avoid judgement from our peers and social isolation.

These formative experiences commonly lead to the development of multi-faceted identities in adulthood where we learn to adopt a variety of characteristics to suit who we want to be in different areas of our lives. For example, who we are at work, at home, in relationships or on holiday is not always the same—and this can make it difficult for us to tap into the heart of who we are and develop a true sense of self.

Luckily, who we want to be and how we define ourselves is always within our control. We simply need to decide how we want to consistently show up in the world, regardless of our circumstances. Many coaches offer guidance on how to find one’s ‘North Star’, but Dr. Margie Warrell provides regular insights for those looking for something deeper on her weekly Live Brave Podcast.

Dr. Warrell’s key takeaway? That every attribute we admire in others also lives in us. Confidence, courage, optimism, gratitude… these are all muscles we can strengthen with practice. So, in times when it’s easy to let problems define us, it’s vital to be deliberate in defining ourselves; identifying the virtues of the person we want to be and then practicing them daily. This, in turn, helps us to purposefully clarify our ‘why’ and ‘what’. Listen to an eight minute breakdown of what Dr. Warrell has to say on this topic here.

We can get clear about our values and align our actions

Taking a good look at our values can be profoundly transformative and life-changing. In fact, some coaches will tell you that all transformation is the discovery of value.

Be it value in ourselves, others, our circumstances, our painful experiences or in what we can contribute to the world, it makes no difference—once we know what we value, we can never truly unknow it.

Discovering what we value, shapes our sense of identity and provides us with insight into our behaviours, strengths and weaknesses. It also allows us to get real with ourselves.

For example, many of us may say we value ‘honesty’, but when our parents begin to give their opinion on who we are dating, what we are wearing, our career choices and the guestlist for our wedding—suddenly ‘honesty’ may not feel as important as ‘self-expression’ or ‘trust’. In this sense, the process of uncovering our values can take courage, but reap real rewards in its revelations about our preferences.

In good news, Research Professor at the University of Houston, Brené Brown, has designed a simple values exercise to assist us in focusing on what really matters in our lives. It calls for us to select our top two (and only two) values from this list and answer the following three questions about each value:

  1. What are three behaviours that support your value?
  2. What are three slippery behaviours that are outside your value?
  3. What’s an example of a time when you were fully living into this value?

The process is designed to help us accept our true nature, prioritise what we hold dear in our lives, define what is outside of our value-set and identify if we are truly living by our values. Aligning our actions with our values—and holding ourselves accountable for ‘walking our talk’—is then essential if we want to pursue a path of deeper meaning and purpose. For those looking for a little bit more, a detailed values determination exercise is also available here.

We can foster a ‘growth mindset’ to tap into what is possible   

Sometimes we can get caught in a mental pressure cooker of our own creation when we tell ourselves there is only one thing we are born to do with our lives. While the notion of a ‘divine life mission’ or ‘calling’ may resonate for some, this is not necessarily the case for all of us.

Furthermore, mentally berating ourselves for not having identical beliefs to our fellow humans is never going to help us thrive. Instead, our time and energy may be better invested in exploring what feels like the right fit for us so we can empower ourselves to live our lives a little freer from fear. A fundamental part of this comes down to mindset.

Fostering a ‘growth mindset’ can be helpful in discovering what is possible and better equip us to carve out a sense of purpose in our lives. Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, originally coined the terms ‘growth mindset’ and ‘fixed mindset’ in her research on our conscious and unconscious beliefs, defining the key characteristics of each. But the scientists and educators of our time have come to acknowledge that these two concepts sit at opposing ends of a mindset continuum (pictured below).

Credit: James Anderson. Click to enlarge.

So, what are the benefits of a growth mindset? Well, in no small part, it tends to put what we yearn for in a space where it looks, feels and sounds more achievable. If we believe that investing effort is a good thing and we can find enjoyment in challenges, it can propel us forward in times of hardship and confusion. Developing an ability to learn from our mistakes, paired with an expectation that we will eventually master our obstacles, can also assure us that there is no wrong direction for our lives to head in.

Then, how do we develop a growth mindset? As it turns out, if we believe our brains can grow, we behave differently, and it is entirely possible for us to change our mindset from ‘fixed’ to ‘growth’ with deliberate intention and action.

We can start by empowering ourselves with the knowledge to identify the type of mindset we have and better understanding the hallmarks of the mindset we hope to achieve. Then, we can expose ourselves to new ideas to nourish a change in mindset and form habits consistent with the mindset attributes we desire.

Diagnostic tools such as this one here can help us to identify our mindset type in first instance. If we are experiencing a crisis of purpose in our lives, finding stories that resonate with us can also help us to understand what really matters. As a springboard, the list here provides a few different book suggestions to get started, but is by no means exhaustive.

Ultimately, our cumulative life experiences are what help to us gain further clarity on what is (and what is not) aligned to our sense of joy and purpose in life. The good, bad, ugly and inspiring —all of it helps us to sift and sort through our preferences to decide what feels right. This is not to say that what is true for us now, will never change. But the simplest recipe for discovering our purpose in the present, is to focus our attention on what feels good to us now.

Take some time to have a think about the following:

What is exciting and inspiring? What creates a sense of awe, gratitude and joy? What is the best part of the day? What activities are fun? What thoughts feel empowering?

If we start here and cultivate these behaviours in our day-to-day lives, a deeper sense of purpose is sure to follow.

Credit: Alex Wright-Moore.

Want to ask your own question?


The content in this article represents the individual ideas of the writer alone and outlines general advice only. It does not replace individual, independent or personal advice, mental health treatment and/or crisis support.

Coaching does not prevent, cure, or treat any mental health disorder and does not substitute for therapy from a licensed professional if necessary.

Should you require emergency crisis support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or see your GP to discuss a mental health care plan which can help you access the support you need.

Neither Alex Wright-Moore, nor HerCanberra receive any kickbacks, commissions, gifts or fees for mentioning anything contained within.

Related Posts

Comments are closed.

© 2021 HerCanberra. All rights reserved. Legal.
Site by Coordinate.