The Ingredient to More Risk Taking
I'm a sponge who loves to soak in information. One of my top Strengths from StrengthsFinder is "Learner." I will deep dive into a random esoteric topic for weeks and weeks, learning everything I can about it (like tea, for example). I even got my Masters in Learning and Design because I'm just that nerdy.
But I'll tell you what learning has really done for me: Learning has given me the perfect excuse to take risks and pivot my career trajectory.
Eliminate & Integrate
After college, I wondered: "How does research affect policy? I want to learn about that." I worked at a non-profit in D.C. learning how research affects policy. But what I really learned was that I hated the cubicle life.
So I crossed that off my list.
The next year, I wondered: "How might we be able to look inside the brain during meditation? I want to learn about that." I worked in a lab at the Stanford Medical School. But what I really learned was that I hated crunching data and research was too slow for an "activator" type like me. I also wasn't sure I was helping anyone...
So I crossed that off my list.
The following year, I wondered: "How might we support women out of the sex trade? I want to learn about that." I worked for Anchal Project and headed to India by myself. I felt like I was getting closer to my calling. But I learned that I probably needed to head my own initiative or social business.
I also used to think I needed to make a big impact, until I met Dada.
So I crossed "save the world by sacrificing myself" off my list.
The year after that, I wondered: "How might we support people in feeling happier and healthier? I want to learn about that." I enrolled in a Masters program. Then I learned a whole bunch of things:
- - I learned that I loved creating beautiful intimate spaces where people could be themselves, fully intimate and present.
- - I learned that I was far more creative than I had ever believed was possible.
- - I learned that I wanted to work on supporting people to design their lives.
Then I designed my path by weaving all the pieces together: women's empowerment, design, art, spirituality, entrepreneurship, creating safe spaces, meditation...
And I shaved off the rest: stifling office space, corporate structures, lack of contact with people, lack of control over schedule, and other people's ideas of power and success. Deep sigh.
Be Curious & Experimental
What I wish someone had told me when I was having those breakdowns and anxiety attacks about "my purpose in life" at every moment of uncertainty, transition, and pivot: It's all about course-correction. You're going through a self-sculpting process.
To a degree, I was naturally doing a form of design thinking even though I didn't know it at the time. As you may have noticed, every career move I made started with a question I wanted to investigate (yup, nerd!). Then I went and investigated it. Curiosity was the underlying energy.
Learning was the process. Clarity was the outcome.
What's nice about design thinking though is that it focuses on creating small prototypes of the experiences without going through the whole experience. So instead of working 2 years at the Medical School, I would have been able to figure out I didn't want to crunch data all day in a few weeks (or maybe even a half-day)!
But I hadn't given myself the permission to be that lean, exploratory and experimental because "I had to make money" and I felt ashamed for not having "figured it all out yet."
Why Does It Matter?
I'm amazed at how much I now use design thinking in my coaching work. I want women to self-sculpt with more ease – save themselves time, energy, and thousands of dollars. And not in the name of speed and efficiency.
But in the name of feeling alive as soon as possible.
Because the now is all there is. Because women need themselves to feel alive. Because the world needs women to feel alive. Women who are vibrant, conscious, and giving.
If you are in the self-sculpting process, please remember:
You don't find the path, you create it. And part of the creative process is risk-taking, making mistakes, learning, and course-correcting.
You are in the process of feeling more alive – so congrats!
For more information, check out mariamolfino.com.