If not now, when? 7 Questions to Help Navigate the Unknown

if not know

Twenty years ago, I began to stir from a thirty-year sleep. Other than the forty pounds I’d packed on, there was nothing to indicate life was anything other than picture-perfect. But I was miserable and felt like I was living inside an empty shell of myself. Something other than my seams had to give.

After several years of looking for a solution through marriage and career counselling, Stephanie Marston’s book If Not Now When? Reclaiming Yourself at Midlife caught my attention.

It gave me the nudge I needed to do what had to be done. I was not going to live the rest of my life as it was and rust away. My only options were to end my marriage and career. I had to take those first two big steps into the unknown. Then I’d be free to move in whatever direction I chose.

I don’t recognize the person or my life from those days, although I’ve got pictures to prove I was there. I leaped into the unknown and never looked back. Life is still life, however, and presents challenges that push me up against my comfort zone.

Like now, when I’m making plans to ride my motorcycle to Alberta this summer in response to the call of the land I heard clearly last September. It’s hard to explain, yet I must go. That little voice propelled by fear uses its outdoor voice to yell familiar rhetoric. Seriously? Are you nuts? What have you started? You’ll look like a fool. Where will you go? It’s a big province. How will you do it? Where do you start? You’ll likely have to ride on gravel! And the list of predictable questions goes on.

A few key questions help reduce the noise so I can hear the stronger calling and make space for for new possibilities.

If Not Now, When? 7 Questions to Help Navigate the Unknown

  1. If not now, when? I’ll be 66 in May. I’m healthy, fit, and have someone I love and trust to look after Measha (my cat). Trudy (my Triumph Tiger motorcycle) is all tuned up and ready to go. I can’t go yesterday. I don’t want to reach a day I can no longer do these things and say I wish I would have. Let’s face it. The older we get, the more likely we’ll meet a life-altering experience.
  2. Does what’s being asked have heart and meaning for you? What else would you be doing with your time and energy? Does it have heart and meaning for you?
  3. Where does your energy want to go? What is your intuition telling you? Honor it.
  4. What are your inherent gifts? In particular, what are your inherent unexpressed gifts? This is different than your strengths. I believe we bring a unique set of gifts into the world and they’re meant for sharing. It can take time to peel back the layers of stories we’ve accepted to find those nuggets. I’ve been going through childhood photos, looking at that little red-headed girl so full of potential (and energy) and trying to imagine what she carried. I wonder what has yet to surface.
  5. What’s the worst that could happen? Without catastrophizing, think about the possibilities. My years in Health and Safety taught me to calculate risks by identifying the hazards, mitigating what I can, then evaluating the probability of something happening and the potential severity if it does. Is that risk acceptable?
  6. How does it feel if you say yes to whatever’s calling you? How about if you say no? Scan your body and you’ll feel different responses to those questions. Your body doesn’t lie.
  7. When you look back at your life, what’s most important? One of the powerful exercises in my shamanic Energy Medicine training was a life recapitulation. We role played, imagining we were at the end of our life. What had been left unsaid? Undone? Unresolved? What were we most grateful for? What accomplishments had meaning? Where did we focus our energy and was that meaningful?

When you look back at your life, what’s most important? One of the powerful exercises in my shamanic Energy Medicine training was a life recapitulation. We role played, imagining we were at the end of our life. What had been left unsaid? Undone? Unresolved? What were we most grateful for? What accomplishments had meaning? Where did we focus our energy and was that meaningful?

Use these questions as a guide when navigating change or the unknown. No two people will have the same answers, and your answers will change depending on what’s going on in your life at the time.

What questions do you ask yourself when making decisions? Leave a reply below.

About

Healer, author, and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.

10 Comments on “If not now, when? 7 Questions to Help Navigate the Unknown

  1. Hello Liz,

    In the last two years, I left my marriage and took an early retirement package from a job that no longer felt like a good fit. Last year I drove my Can Am Spyder coast to coast and arrived back in Montreal basically jobless and homeless. Now, I’m writing that story and trying to figure out my next chapter – I’ll need to find an income soon. We have a friend in common – LeeAnne who pointed me to your book “Women, Motorcycle and the Road to Empowerment”. She also told me about Energy Medicine training and I thought to register for next month but I’m still decompressing after years of trying to do the right thing. Would love to connect.

    • Hi Wendy, Wonderful to hear from you and thanks for sharing your adventure! I applaud your courage for taking those life-changing steps. it can (and I’m sure does) seem chaotic but that energy is clearing the way for whatever awaits. Thanks to LeeAnn too! Would love to connect liz@lizjansen.com.

  2. The season of Spring is in the air…My birthday tomorrow. Both my parents died in the last few years. I cared for them. My jobs always within the caring professions, too.

    Time has been spent recovering from an autoimmune illness that has had me completely debilitated.

    Now?

    Time to clear the past, in the physical sense as I have begun to psychically. Physical stuff from my mother’s house remains in my back bedroom and in my loft. Today I started to jettison what I can’t use, to charity. I write this in a late lunch break I am giving myself.

    It all seems daunting sorting and getting rid of my mother’s possessions. Many books I grew up with and cannot accommodate in my small flat; but I know as I go, I will feel lighter…and the space to find my own creativity will be created as go forward in my life alone, but not lonely.

    Thank you for facilitating these reflections, Liz.

    • Wonderful to hear from you Rosie! Happy Birthday. What a way to mark it.

      Are you journalling Rosie? Allow the words to flow onto your page without editing and censoring. You may be amazed at what you teach yourself! Sending much love and healing energy. <3

  3. Thank you, Liz. It feels a satisfactory way to spend on the eve of my birthday 🙂

    Yes, I’m a long-standing ‘journaler’ and dream recorder…fascinating what our unconscious will reveal, eh?

    …And allow for the synchronicities life presents.

    Now it is time to act rather than write, I feel.

    My energy will not be so good today after today’s efforts…but little by little I will clear my path, to then return into the outer world, rather more resilient, I think, than ever before.

      • …life has been a great teacher…and listening more and more to my intuition to navigate it. ‘Turning lemons’ into lemonade :)…and seeing everyone who has been close to me in my life – even those who were quite toxic, and those like angels – all my teachers..And you, as others whose stories are helpful in spurring me on to keep the faith in living well and fully. Thank you <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.