5 Steps to Creating a Turning Point

I Really Didn’t Want to Go

I really didn’t want to go to my paddle board exercise class yesterday morning.

At all.

I looked for every excuse.

I woke up late.

I couldn’t find the keys.

It was cold outside.

I mean, any excuse.

Finally, I slipped on my wetsuit and made it to the car.

I was going to be late, for sure.

Hmmm….maybe just don’t go?

But I did it.

I started the car, drove to the pier and hopped on my board.

As I’ve been thinking about turning points, I’m realizing that our lives are full of them–little moments when we decide whether to take a leap or not, whether to go or stay, whether we let little things like inconvenience, cuddly blankets, past mistakes or resistance get in our way of what our souls are calling us to do.

The funny thing about yesterday is that because it was so windy, it really wasn’t a good day for paddleboarding.

So, instead, we spent the whole class close to shore, learning about how to TURN in the face of strong wind–exactly what I most needed to learn.

Last week, I mentioned I am developing a program called Turning Point. It’s definitely a work in progress.

Here are five things I’ve been figuring out about what it takes to create a true turning point, on the water and in life.

Step #1: We Hear a Call

A turning point from one state to something better always starts with that small, still voice within that wants whatever is in our very best interest, our core essence, that unique energy that we each have that wants to be honored and expressed.

Even in the face of the greatest gusts of wind, that small, still voice is there.

So often, other voices win out instead, voices of doubt, other people’s judgements, fear, jealousy, worry, childhood wounds or pain we haven’t yet recovered from…what will they think of me…no, that’s too silly…I could never do that…or probably the most persuasive of them all: fatigue.

We hear all the reasons why we won’t succeed and why we shouldn’t even try.

And then, on the precipice of a turning point, we decide we are going to try anyway.

Our inner voice, our core essence, a greater call is the reason we make that choice.

This is the voice that tells us to keep trying.

This is the voice we call the will to live.

This is the voice people say they hear when they hit rock bottom and decide they wanted their story to be different.

This is the voice that guides us out of darkness when we can’t see the light.

This voice is what gives us our strength, and makes it possible for us pivot, to adjust and readjust, and to realize that a blockage isn’t an end in the road, it’s just guidance to find another way.

Step #2: We Make a Small Gesture

When the wind catches us on a paddleboard and takes us in a direction we don’t want to go, the first thing we need to do is take small little strokes, rather than big ones.

If things are bad enough, we learn to fall to our knees on our board in a kneeling position.

We honker down and focus, so we are no longer acting as a sail for the wind to use against us.

We take small, little gestures, and with each small stroke, we listen more deeply to our inner voice, telling us we can do it.

Once we get going, grounded and focused, we can take bigger strokes.

But how we begin is so important.

And so, we keep things small.

Minute, baby steps.

If we don’t, we will get tired too fast, or have to pause too often to readjust, which in the face of a big wind could be fatal.

We can’t afford to let the wind overtake us.

So, we decide to do something that’s good for us, just for a few minutes.

In life, baby strokes can take many forms.

We open a box of clutter and look inside.

We wake up earlier than we usually do.

We have an important conversation.

We read a self-help book.

We sign up for a course.

We sit in silence for a moment and listen to our heart.

We do a push-up.

We drink a glass of water.

We say no to an offer that is not good for us.

We do something simple, then do the next best thing.

We make a decision.

We restart, slower this time.

The truth is, we really don’t know what the heck we are doing at the start of a turning point, and so any grand gesture, any big fanfare or celebration will be wasted energy, distracting us, possibly taking us far from whatever is our most right course.

Since we don’t really know where we are going, it’s best not to pretend we do, zigzagging, readjusting in a criss-cross route, exhausting and depleting ourselves.

Now is not the time to run a marathon.

Now is the time to lace our shoes.

Step #3: We Are Willing to Do Things That Don’t Make Sense

Turning points are not linear. They are circular.

One thing is perfectly clear–to make real, meaningful change, we have to do things differently than we’ve done them before.

As the saying goes, so often attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

What I have found in my own life is that what really turns our lives around are things we never would have chosen for ourselves if we had mapped out a linear plan in advance.

They are things that happen accidentally, that seem counterintuitive, that almost seem like distractions, although healthy ones.

We decide to rescue a dog because because it’s cute and we needed a pick me up. Then the dog’s love ends up giving us the support we need to get through an illness or an unexpected crisis we could have never seen coming.

We say yes to a paddleboard class, even though at face value, it seems like it could take time away from our “real” goal.

We take a detour and meet a new friend.

Navigating a turning point slowly while keeping attuned to our inner voice means being more available for happenstance coincidences, unwanted or unexpected synchronicities, invitations that seem wrong or like silly distractions, that turn out to be just the thing we most needed.

Turning points can only happen if we allow enough space for grace.

Step #4: We Stay in Action (a.k.a Don’t Lose Momentum)

A steering trick I learned years ago, when paddling kayaks and canoes, is to place the paddle toward the back of the boat and pull the water backward, in the opposite direction of where I want to go. In calm, still conditions, this technique creates a very sharp, fast turn.

Unfortunately, it also means that temporarily, we almost come to a complete stop, losing all our forward momentum as we readjust our course.

When the wind is blowing in our face, the momentum we lose while turning in this way can be a very bad thing.

Yesterday, I learned there is a better way.

Instead of paddling backwards to get back on track, we can instead put our hands close together at the top of the paddle, lean out way forward toward the front of the board and do a quick forward stroke.

Something about the leverage of our hands together and being so far forward turns the board with us scarcely skipping a beat.

When it comes to paddleboarding, it works brilliantly.

What does this have to do with our own personal life turning points?

Stops and starts are painful.

As someone who loves to produce things in a huge output, rest afterward then do it again and again, I am the expert in starts and stops. I often use my creative rhythm as an excuse for taking long breaks in between.

Our small still voice within knows we don’t need to do this.

Fear and doubt, however, think we do.

In this process of blogging, each time I post a new article or hit send on my newsletter, I momentarily panic.

Each time I post something that’s imperfect or that I would have done differently if I had taken more time, I have a mini little private freak-out inside my mind.

I used to let these mini doses of self-doubt or  judgement stop my forward momentum.

I used to take all the time I needed to recover or make things “right.”

I now know there is no such thing.

None of us will ever do things perfectly, and we will never make everyone happy or give everyone what they need or want. Ever.

The challenge becomes finding creative ways to readjust our direction when necessary without coming to a complete stop.

For me personally, I’ve discovered that my solution is to just keep writing.

That is the way I keep moving my board forward.

We all have our own creative versions of achieving forward momentum.

It’s important to come up with our own personal strategies, because moments of discouragement, doubt and new information we need to integrate, process and use to redirect our course are all part of life, for all of us.

If we stop too long to readjust to these facts of life when they happen to us, we may end up simply going around and around in circles instead of experiencing a true turning point.

Step #5: We Return to Listening

Turning points are not easy. They are not easy because they require doing things differently than we’ve done before, and new skills always require extra energy, especially at first.

That’s why true turning points require stamina and endurance.

Stamina is all about keeping the faith even when we want to stop.

Whenever we feel like we don’t know what to do next or we are lost or off-course, I think the idea of beginner’s mind is always helpful.

Go back to step #1.

Listen to your soft, still voice, the voice that only wants what is very best for you.

What’s Your Turn-Around Story?

I am starting my 28-Day Flow Challenge again on Monday.

This time around, for the next 28 days, I invite you to choose anything your soul wants you to do that could be part of your turnaround story.

What is one small thing you could do for five minutes a day that might just make all the difference?

If you’d like to join me on this journey, email me and let me know what one small task you are choosing at [email protected]. I’d love to hear your story and offer support.

Remember, it’s just 5-10 minutes a day!

You can also get support of others by joining our Circle of Friends Facebook group here.

More Like This

You also might enjoy these articles:

Is This Your Turning Point?

When the Wind Kicked Up

Could Burnout Be Your Next Big Idea?

About the 28-Day Flow Challenge

20 Questions to Help You Find Your Passion

Photo credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

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