Work and Money
Listen for the Whisper: Finding Clarity During COVID
By Debbie Peterson, Keynote Speaker
“Just because you’ve always done it a certain way doesn’t mean you should continue to do so.”
That’s been my big message this year. In 2020, if you’re like me, you experienced one of the biggest pattern interrupts of your life. This year, most of what we knew got turned on its head, and it propelled us into a period of forced creativity. We had to figure out how to do just about everything differently.
We had to figure out working from home, school, visiting with friends and family, church, even going to the grocery store.
"In March, every keynote I had on the books canceled or pushed their event to next year. The business was gone. It was crushing, and the uncertainty only made it worse."
Mid-March wiped out my business for the foreseeable future. As a keynote speaker, I travel to conferences and speak on topics to elevate women in leadership and the emerging leaders coming up behind them. I get to meet all kinds of fabulous people, have great conversations, and visit different cities all over the country. That was, until COVID.
In March, every keynote I had on the books canceled or pushed their event to next year in hopes of having an in-person event later. The business was gone. It was crushing, and the uncertainty only made it worse. So, I wallowed in my pity for a time and then got clarity on how this was a gift for me — and got to work.
At the end of 2019, I heard an internal whisper, and I knew that a keynote was not enough. That all of these amazing women I meet and are struggling to find what is next for them in their career needed more. That it wasn’t just about knowing what is next — and for many, that is hard enough — but to understand how they can achieve it without compromising who they are and what they value most.
So, in the first three months of 2020, I created The Way Forward in YOUR Career. It’s programming, support, and accountability to help women make the space and the time to do the thinking and brainstorming required to advance in their careers … and life. It is a community of like-minded women who lift each other up and help brainstorm the way forward and what to do about the obstacles that get in the way. When COVID arrived, I decided to put all of my efforts into building out an online course, a mastermind, and a retreat. I was back in the saddle!
But then came more lessons.
Let It Flow
Have you ever pushed so hard for something, been so focused on it and doing everything within your power to achieve it? Has it ever turned out that the more you try to force it, hustle for it, or make it happen, the more it doesn’t come to fruition?
My experience has been that you can force something or allow it to flow. And I was definitely forcing it. It was exhausting and frustrating, even though I knew it was the right thing to do.
Then, in June, the world shifted a little more, and my grandson was born. I knew I had to let go, quit forcing it, and let it flow. Shape my business in a way that aligns with me, and what is most important because I wasn’t about to miss out on being with him. In that stillness is where the answers came. This summer has been one of the most illuminating periods of my life, and it was because I got to the point where I had to stop, be open, and listen.
See, that’s what happens. Life goes on and it changes, and when it changes, you have a chance to change, too. You have an opportunity to choose what’s important to you and make other choices, no matter how small, that will move you in that direction. In the stillness, you will hear the whisper your inner guidance is trying to steer you toward.
So whether it is your career or another area of your life that isn’t serving you well, now more than ever, it’s time to reevaluate and be open to how it can happen differently. Be curious and apply the skills you’ve learned during this period of forced creativity, how you’ve adjusted and become more innovative, and focus them on what is next for you.
Oh, and don’t forget to listen for the whisper.
Be good to yourself, and here’s wishing you the clarity you deserve.
Debbie Peterson is a Keynote Speaker, Career Coach, and Retreat Host, whose mission is to support and advance women in leadership without sacrificing who they are in the process. Learn more at DebbiePetersonSpeaks.com.
CircleAround is partnering with NAWBO (the National Association of Women Business Owners) in a series of posts exploring the following prompt: "What comes next?" Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States.