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Filed under: Life

Key insights from the forest on embracing new directions.

Widen Your Permission to Change

When it comes to embracing new directions in life, we often stop ourselves because we think we're tossing our previous experiences in the trash. 

This feeling is so present whenever I'm about to open new chapters. I don't want to start over. I don't want to waste all the work I've put in. 

In psychology, this limiting belief is called the sunk cost fallacy. It's when you don't want to end something, because of all the energy you've already put in. 
Then there's an accompanying belief that stops us from embracing new pulls. It's this view of coherence. 
In the past decade, I've gone from scientist to sojourner to filmmaker to meditation teacher to guide of authentic living. I am often told to weed out all but one of these roles in my resume, because it doesn't make sense. 
There's also this idea that if we do several things, we're not good at any one. I challenge this thought. 
While resumes are square, life is not.

Take a look at a carbon atom from your ear. The way it became a part of you is anything but coherent. 
If you traced its journey, you'd find it began in the mouth of stars. In ages past, it has spread all over the world, spending time in feathers, fins, flower petals, and feces of every description since your birth. Maybe you're exhaling one now that will become part of a cornstalk or a cat whisker.  

I've actually created a guided meditation that brings you on an epic atomic journey of yourself. Listen here

If the very elements that constitute your being embrace new directions, what does that say about the nature of living? 

Many years later, I see that all my previous paths have been like forest stumps. There was no death or starting over. There was only a continuation of transformation that nourished the soils for the next cycle. 
Although I don't wear a white lab coat anymore, my scientific path threads through everything I do. It has gifted me with the ability to think critically, experiment, and observe in systematic ways- skills that carry over into my current creative projects. 
Although I don't actively make films anymore, my filmmaking path has nourished my current endeavor Unravel by gifting me with resourcefulness, interpersonal sensitivity, and the balance of strategy with spontaneity. 

This summer, there was no shortage of conversation. From countryside garden tables in Bavaria to squeaky train carts in Switzerland, one theme that kept popping up was this idea of wasted experiences. 
I still loved her. There was so much wasted potential in our relationship.
I wasted four years of my life getting my law school degree.
I don't want to waste everything I've already worked for…

One misty morning, I was walking in the forest by my house and passed by a rotting stump. 

It said to me: 
Do you see how my disintegrating fibers bring new forms of life? Do you see how I don't vanish, but shapeshift into plumes of mushrooms, whirls of moss? 

It taught me: there is no wasted experience.

Why This Is Relevant

So, if you're stopping yourself from embracing a new direction or relationship, here's a reminder that there's no wasted experience. You aren't starting from scratch. You're building on soils that have been enriched by what came previously. Ground zero, but one level up. 

Things don't need to be “coherent” to be successful or meaningful. Just look at nature. Even if you change to something that seems unrelated, your previous endeavors will season your new chapter with a unique point of view and style. You define how you measure coherence, if that's important to you. 

Plus, as I've seen this summer, those who embrace their multiple chapters tell the most interesting stories. 

PS: If you're feeling like embracing a new direction in life, check out my Unravel program. It's the shortest, most systematic, and fun path to your next aligned life chapter, held in community. 

The Journal

The Journal

Some snapshots of my life chapters

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