First Exploration, Then Implementation, Finally Liberation
By Payam Ghassemlou, MFT, Ph.D.
The three steps of exploration, followed by implementation and then liberation, are designed to help you find your way out of confusion. Use them as a map to help yourself with challenging issues like what kind of career to pursue, which graduate school to apply to, what type of person to date, and other decisions.
Exploration is about finding something new or finding some other aspect of an already-found idea. It is an act of examining something to find out more about it. It requires getting out there and learning more about the issue you are facing and the world you are living in. Suppose you are feeling unsure about your career path. You can achieve more clarity by entering an exploration stage. Start by learning about different career paths. Go to the library, check out books on careers, and read biographies of successful people. Attend seminars and workshops on topics related to careers. Do volunteer work and see what comes up. Pay attention to people around you. What kind of work are they doing? How did they get to where they are in their careers? How much training or schooling do you need to do certain work? Assess your resources to pay for a desired training or schooling. For example, do you have the time and money to attend medical school and become a physician? Is this option realistic for you? Participate in career counseling and continue clarifying what you would like to do. All these avenues require you to be engaged in a process of exploring and understanding your needs.
Exploring your options in life is not about exploring ideas that other people approve of. If you are heavily influenced by your family values or your significant other to the point that you cannot be your own person with your own mind, then you need to work on your individuation. You must take charge and believe in your ability to make a decision. This stage might take months before you feel you are ready to implement your decision. Sometimes personal issues, like depression, low self-esteem, not feeling deserving, and trauma, can prevent you from fully participating in the exploration stage. It is important to get help from professionals like psychotherapists to deal with such issues. Many life coaches do not have psychotherapy or analytical training or clinical license to provide you with the help you need to heal from such complex issues.
The exploration stage can inspire you to implement a solution that feels right for you. After spending enough time doing your research and exploring different ideas, you are now ready to implement your decision. Suppose you decide to work in the legal field. During your exploration process you learned about different opportunities in that field and how much training you need. You might even already have some experience from previous jobs. Implementing your decision might involve signing up for a school that offers training in that field or finding a company that offers you job training. For example, some firms hire people who want to work as paralegals and offer them on-the-job training.
If your desired field does not require training or schooling, then it’s just a matter of applying for a job in that field. Again, you must take an active approach and start filling out applications. Make sure you approach this with a realistic attitude and avoid getting hopeless about it.
Don’t get too attached to the result and just do your best. If you can’t find a job in your desired career, then practice a little more patience and keep filling out more applications and keep trying. After you have tried absolutely everything and you still can’t find that desired job, then examine how realistic your choice has been. Are you setting yourself up for disappointment by choosing something that is not realistic for you? Sometimes liberation comes from letting go of attachment to a certain career path and instead believing that the universe might have a different plan for you. Or it’s not the right time for you to work in that specific career, and you need to let it go for now. During such a disappointing time, it’s important to talk to a professional counselor and get support. Perhaps you need to accept the loss of that specific job and return to the exploration stage.
Hopefully, everything will work out and your exploration followed by implementation will lead to fulfillment of your goal. Eventually, you will get the job or get accepted to the school of your choice and feel the liberation that comes with this fulfillment. The liberation stage might involve excitement that you have completed your journey and fulfilled your goal, but also anxiety that you might lose what you have gained. Enjoy the happiness that comes with getting to where you want to be, and by maintaining your gains, take care of this anxiety about losing it all.
Since you worked hard to get to this liberation stage of getting your goal fulfilled, it is important to appreciate and maintain your gain. You can do this by being grateful for your hard work during the stages of exploration and implementation, by thanking people who helped you in your process, by feeling the enjoyment of the liberation stage, and by working hard at your new life adventure.
© This article is copyrighted by Dr. Payam Ghassemlou MFT Ph.D., a counselor in private practice in West Hollywood, California. www.DrPayam.com