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The Curious Path to the Life You Really Want

By Linda Wattier September 16, 2023 Lifestyle

Something big was afoot.

Bored out of my mind and tired of the daily grind, I couldn’t muster up even one ounce of enthusiasm. My work in the corporate world had become meaningless. I knew I had reached a significant turning point.

In the mornings, my husband and I would laugh when, all “armored up” and ready to leave, I would rest my head on his chest and moan, “Please don’t make me go to work today.”

But this was no joke.

Have you ever realized you no longer fit into your chosen work environment? The one where you’d been performing well and cheerfully earning a living for years. The one with the great benefits package. In the brand new, art-filled building on the stunning campus.

Yikes.

That was me about 15 years ago. It was kind of terrifying.

The torrent of questions seemed endless. How the hell did I get here? Why do I feel so uneasy? What the hell should I do now?

I had no answers but sensed it was necessary to stay with the questions, be present with the not-knowing, and remain curious.

There was mental fog and confusion, so I did the only thing that made sense.

I got quiet.

I slowed down the hectic busyness of my life so I could listen for the answers to all those questions.

Somewhere along the way, I had given up on my sense of wonder and openness. I had opted for the “right” answers and solutions instead. The ones that would help me fit in.

So, I wanted to venture into this unknown territory and come up with all my possibilities, not just the “right” ones.

Life’s Big Questions

“What do I really, really want in life?” That was the question that started me on a new path. At first, what I heard was, “I just want some peace and quiet.”

Eventually, I understood that yearning for peace and quiet was a call to self-discovery. What I really needed was space to change and grow.

So, I became curious about where I wanted to grow.

That’s when some of the larger-than-life questions came up. Who am I, really? Who am I becoming? Why am I here?

It was staying open to the questions that led to crucial new learning. The kind of learning that lasts because it comes from within.

I found myself making new lifestyle choices that turned into healthy habits.

I became curious about new creative activities like nature photography.

I explored meditation and other spiritual practices.

Curiosity and inquiry also led to my professional coaching education, which turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences of my life.

My rekindled sense of wonder guided me back to my true self and innate creativity. Curiosity continues to be my starting place as I grow in understanding of myself, others, and our natural world.

How Curiosity Serves You

  • Embracing curiosity empowers us by expanding possibilities and opportunities in any situation.
  • Curiosity builds relationships. Being authentically curious about another invites them to reveal themselves candidly, so you make a genuine connection.
  • Choosing to view our natural world with wonder and curiosity refreshes the spirit.
  • There is power in not knowing. Venturing into the unknown has a sense of possibility and freedom to it.
  • As my mentor Brian Clark writes, “Just like having a lot of ideas is the way to have a great idea, being curious about a lot of things leads to a lot of ideas that can result in the perfect way forward for you.”
  • Curious people are happier. Studies have found that curiosity is linked to feeling more positive, less anxious, more satisfied with life, and having better mental health.

In the words of author Elizabeth Gilbert, “The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for an instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?”

She also says it’s like “a scavenger hunt – where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. You pick each one up, unfold it, and see where it leads you next.”

If you keep doing that, curiosity will lead you to creativity.

And that will be the end of boredom.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

I’d love to know: Are you going through a transition that has you pondering big questions? Have you asked yourself who you are becoming or what you really want in your next chapter? Where has curiosity led you lately?

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Patti

When I retired at 63 I began the journey of “what’s next”. I sought out lots of information and ideas to gain clarity around how I wanted to live my life going forward. I chose: GRACE, GOOD HEALTH and JOY. Those four words guide my actions and decisions. CURIOUSITY is a good addition so thank you for your insight!

Linda Wattier

Thanks for reading and your kind words, Patti. I love the values you chose for yourself. They will serve you well. And so will curiosity. :-)

Karen

The transition into retirement or semi-retirement has been forced upon me due to a restructuring in my workplace. Turning 62 this year has brought sooo many changes in my life and pushed my goals AND my curiosity to the back burner. My mom’s health faded quickly and is now transitioning into a memory care facility, of which I researched and found for her by sheer luck. Now that she is safe, I have begun the difficult task of going thru her belongings and selling her home.

This article is definitely being SAVED so I can begin deciding how to proceed with my “next chapter” when I am not ready to completely retire but need some respite from all the changes that came so quickly this year. Thanks for this timely article.

Linda Wattier

Oof, so much change for you, Karen! I’m sorry to hear about the restructuring at work and your mom. I’m glad you’re saving the article on curiosity for when you have more breathing room.

Here’s one I wrote this summer on life quakes and transitions, which might be more helpful to you now: https://howshethrives.com/5-ways-to-master-lifes-big-changes/

Wishing you peace of heart as you navigate it all.

Judith PrattJefferies

Good for you for letting your curiosity lead you to a new understanding of how you wanted to live your life. This article can be of great help to others. My life change began many years ago when I quit my very successful 9 to 5 professional job and moved to the island where I live now and have never regretted that decision. I wanted a different environment. The story of my move from the cold north to the warm south is told in my personal memoir, Permission Granted, How to Find and Follow a Path to a Life True to Your Self. Will definitely subscribe to your newsletter. Hope you will visit me on my website and read my blog. 

Linda Wattier

Thanks for your kind words and for subscribing to How She Thrives, Judith. I will visit your site and blog soon. It sounds like you made some bold moves for your wellbeing. :-)

Claudette

Lovely article. I have been on this journey.

Linda Wattier

Thanks for reading and your kind words, Claudette. :-)

Ona Lee Mosier

What a great article! It opened my mind to being more curious! I have been curious of what starting a dog/cat sitting business would look like. I lost my darling little shitzu almost a year ago and am curious what it would be like to dog sit. Hmmmm…very curious!!

Linda Wattier

I’m sorry you lost your darling shih tzu, Ona Lee. A pet sitting business could be a great idea. Hmmmm… keep exploring! And thanks for your kind words. :-)

The Author

Linda Wattier helps women over 40 embrace wholehearted living for a more authentic, fulfilling experience of midlife and beyond. She’s a women’s bold wellbeing coach and founder of How She Thrives, a free weekly newsletter on how to keep growing brave, strong, and free in the second half of life.

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