Does your environment—the places you work, play, sleep, and relate to others—nourish, sustain and inspire you? Sometimes we may feel unhappy and out-of-sorts, not aware to the fact that our environment is the cause of our discontent. I worked for many years in a factory, actually a food processing plant. For decades that environment nourished me with close relationships, good camaraderie, and a space for me to be creative and part of functional work teams. There were other elements that did not nourish me, like the noise and the rigidity of the work hours, yet it was a place where I was happy and supported by a great boss who encouraged me to take risks and pursue the things that interested me. Over time, it changed. My boss retired, and I was reassigned under someone much younger than me who did not care about me. Work rules got much stricter, paperwork and documentation (stuff I do not care for much) increased tenfold. Trust and communication were going down the tubes companywide. I was moved from an office with a window to ever-shrinking cubes that were subjected to piped-in white noise. Like the frog in the pot of cool water that is on a burner, I barely noticed over the stretch of years that the environment I was in was killing me. I knew I was not happy. What I did not realize was that I would never be able to enjoy a sustaining environment with the changes that had taken place. One night I had a dream that told me that if I stayed there I was going to get cancer. I woke up with a start, and resolved to plan my exit. I would not die a slow death of being eaten alive by cancer or suffocated by an airless workplace.
That realization brought me to coaching, which I love immensely. My environment, where I do a lot of my work, is filled with inspiring photos and drawings, and images of people who I adore and who love me. I love the technology that I use; it works for me with little or no frustration. It’s a little messy, usually, and I enjoy the clutter until it is too much, and I put things back into order. My work as a coach inspires me to love people deeply, and to continue to heal my own old wounds in order that I can be of greater service to others. I am nourished by the place, in my home, of my own creation, and I am not confined to an office chair to do my work. The difference between now and just over a year ago is like the difference between a night blizzard and a warm spring dawn. This environment nourishes, inspires and sustains me!
So here is a question for you: Does your environment (work, home, or another) nurture, sustain and inspire you? Do you feel you are your authentic self, your body relaxed and heart open where you are? Are you stimulated to be engaged in relationship, intelligent discourse, or physical activity? Do you feel alive, vibrant, and empowered?
If not, what is missing? What values that you hold in your heart are not being honored or expressed? What is it that does not let you breathe deeply, and exhale deliciously? What is absent that could nourish you to toe-curling fulfillment? Write down what comes to you, without editing anything. Let yourself really want that perfect environment for yourself, so that you can express it for yourself.
And when you feel complete in stating your wants, ask yourself: What needs to happen for me to have this environment for myself? What actions can I take today to bring some piece of what nourishes, sustains, and inspires me into my life today? Perhaps it’s a walk in the woods, or getting your hands into soil to garden, or maybe an art museum.
What might you do to bring more of that into your life in the next few months? And what can you do to co-create and maintain your ideal environment over the next few years? There are parts of our environment that may not be changeable in the short run, but all of us are able to get up and move to a place or be in circumstances that feed us deeply.
Now put those ideas into action. Let yourself come alive. The world needs you to be fully alive, vibrant, nourished and inspired. The world needs your passion, and your gifts and your purpose. If you want an ally to help you in creating that nourishing environment, rediscovering your passion and articulating your purpose, a life coach may be just the thing for you.