Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Feb 2015
Dear Dr. Toni:
I have been a stock broker for twenty years. I am a forty-eight-year-old man who is married with one son. I read your columns and have always wondered about the type of person who would write to a shrink they didn’t even know about their problems. I have been a recovering addict for seven years and still go to meetings when I can.
I am being laid off from the firm I work for along with several other employees. I have wanted out of my job for about two years and yet didn’t have the courage to leave sooner. My severance package is small; only three months. In January, we start living on our savings. I imagine by the time this gets printed, if it gets printed, I will no longer be in need of your advice but decided on a whim to write you anyway. Perhaps my problem might help someone else.
My question is this: I know I don’t want to go back to corporate America or work for someone else, period. I have been looking at a business to buy through business brokers. So far, I haven’t found anything I could get excited about. I grew up in a working class background in New Jersey and was taught that it didn’t matter if your work inspired you, what counts is to provide for your family and if you can provide well, then that should be your deciding factor on a career choice not what makes you happy.
I am confused as to what to do. I would really like to expose my son to a new environment and take six months off and live in Europe and then decide what business to buy, but my wife is afraid it is too risky to spend a third of our savings on this whim of mine. I am curious as to what you think.
Now this is a problem lots of people would like to have! I am not discounting your confusion but it is nice to have options when we are suddenly in career transition. So, here’s a couple things. Part of being a great investor in the stock market involves using both the logical brain (looking at the history of a stock) and your intuition. The best traders have both.
Do you experience yourself as someone who needs to be enthusiastic about your work to be good at it? When you think about your core values, how important is happiness and fulfillment? Make your decision about what business to buy on the basis of that. As for the trip, your son is at the perfect age to do it. He hasn’t started kindergarten yet and is mobile enough to travel. There will never be a time again when you can take him out of school without it being a big disruption. If your wife is afraid to spend savings on this, sit down with her and give her a plan that makes fiscal sense. Women love a clear plan.
My sense is that if traveling for a while is the only thing that is grabbing your energy positively, listen inside for a message as to where to go. This sounds very much like it is part of some kind of personal hero’s journey that you are embarking on. Read Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero’s Journey. It is perfect for anyone embarking on a life and career transition. My own book, The LifeQuake Phenomenon also gives you a seven-stage model for finding your life purpose.
Dear Dr. Toni:
This may sound like a stupid question, but how do you strengthen your intuition? I spent so many years numbing out on drugs and alcohol and making dumb choices, I don’t trust myself even though now I am sober for five years. Are there things I can do that will help?
Well, first let me say that this is not a “Dear John” letter. I have good news for you instead! There are practices that do strengthen one’s ability to hear their inner knowing. Wisdom often comes from two places: either experience from the past or listening to a quiet place where higher information that we have never experienced before is accessed. Sometimes listening to our experiences can actually make us more fearful, not wiser, if those experiences were painful and viewed as failures. Higher wisdom can best be accessed through doing exercises that enhance right brain activity. It is like a muscle that must be utilized to get stronger.
Here are four practices that can help. First, set an intention to remember your dreams and then keep a journal by your bed and record them. Ask for answers to any questions you are pondering before going to sleep. Second, do a simple twenty minute meditation every morning in which you focus on your breath and the word Om on the in breath and Om on the out breath. Next, set a gentle alarm on your cell phone to go off every three hours and notice how you are breathing. For five minutes, turn within and breathe through your belly, not your chest. Finally, at the end of every day, scan the day and notice what you were feeling emotionally throughout all of your activities and then let go of any negative emotions that your body absorbed from the experience. Do this all the way up to the present moment.
In summary, the best way to become more intuitive is to slow down and be present to all of life as much as you can.