Crossing the Threshold: “Moving through the Liminal Space to Start Your Journey”

Updated: Mar 12



This post is the fifth in a series on Green trends and foresight in support of our forthcoming GreenSense Workshop: Practical Strategies for Career Pivots.


Summary: Transformation is a progressive practice that invites the traveler to leave the normal and comfortable and which begins by taking the first steps in response to the call.

  1. Honor your discomfort

  2. Be supportive of yourself

  3. Choose and invite your cheerleaders and mentor

  4. Expect successes and celebration and prepare for roadblocks

  5. Notice what the journey looks like, now that you have started

What do you need to know for “Crossing the Threshold”?

In our fourth blog post, “The Value of Experimentation on Your Green Career Journey,” we focused on preparation. This involves more than getting ready; it’s about understanding what’s inviting you forward and then getting into action.


Here is where we begin to get some traction on our career goal. Things start to become “real” – we begin to take action—commit to the journey, heighten our senses, meet, start, and become.


Discomfort is usual at this stage—honor it. We know we will be learning new behaviors and new ways of acting. We foresee happenings that will help us grow by showing us new experiences. Some may move us out of our comfort zone, even as we understand there a positive new direction is opening before us.


So, why is there discomfort? Because we are in a liminal space, between the old and the invitation to the new. We face the competing physical, psychological, and even spiritual desire to move forward and stay back. It is exhilarating and frightening at the same time.


We know that once we take the step, we will never be the same, perhaps never be able to return, yet we realize the call to move forward is too strong to resist. Gary Zukav (quoted in Soul Matters: What does it mean to be a people of thresholds) emphasizes, “At that moment [of realization], a threshold is crossed. What seemed unthinkable becomes thinkable... Once that realization has emerged, you can either honor it or ignore it, but you cannot forget it. What has become known cannot become unknown again.”


Here are several touchstones to keep in mind at this step on your Green Career Journey:

1. Envision the goal with confidence in yourself. In her book “Confidence,” Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes about how our own sense of self-efficacy has everything to do with our success.

“Those who are convinced they can be successful in carrying out the steps necessary for a successful outcome – who have self-efficacy – are likely to try harder and to persist longer when they face obstacles.”


An exercise for building your confidence could involve journaling about your first steps on Green Career Journey. You may want to describe the joy of your coming success.


Kevin Kent, in his article “The Power of the Pen: A Simple Exercise that Can Make a Big Difference,“ reports that some studies show expressive writing about our experiences, especially challenging ones, is “associated with better health and happiness,” in addition to other possible benefits including the decreased time to find a job.


Kanter also notes the importance of positive “self-talk” that keeps our spirits up and keeps us focused on what’s truly important – why we are taking this step.

2. Invite your cheerleaders and mentor to encourage you to stay focused on motivation and movement.

Mentors, colleagues, family members, and friends also are valuable supporters and can make the difference in moving through this stage with self-compassion. Have someone you can count on to talk with you when things get challenging, especially someone who could act as a mentor. It may be, for various reasons, that you don’t have that mentor. We suggest that you consider choosing a role model, someone you admire, as a guide. For example, we know travelers who have chosen a historical figure, occasionally asking: What would (fill in the hero’s name) do? The key to this is to get a different perspective on the situation and, by using your role model, it helps “get you outside of yourself.”


Ask for their encouragement when you need it. In fact, you can tell them what you need to say. For example, on occasion, Beth will ask her husband Paul to repeat back to her a specific, scripted phrase of encouragement she’s written. For example, she might ask him to say, “Beth, you’ve got this, and I know you can do it.”

3. Expect successes and celebration and prepare for roadblocks

Revisit your vision and imagine the celebration that comes with achieving your goal. See yourself living out your goal. Recognize, too, that anything worthwhile will come with a few stubbed toes and speed bumps.


In “Making Change Work for You,” author Scott Steinberg observes, “Overnight success seldom happens overnight.”


Real success is the result of several stages, “as learning, experience, insight, and resources slowly stockpile and compound.” He cites the example of famous rock bands, who got to their level of success by spending years playing dive bars and touring in an old van.


Steinberg notes that what may help you stay the course is remembering that success is never an instantaneous process. Always celebrate your successes. You’ve earned it! Share the good news with your mentor, colleagues, friends, and families. Maybe even reward yourself in some meaningful way.

4. Notice what the journey looks like, now that you have started.

Just as moving from one location to another changes your perspective, so too will crossing the threshold. Take time to reflect on your new way of seeing and feeling. From Soul Matters: “From the outside, it may seem that nothing has changed in our lives, and yet once that imaging takes shape in our minds and hearts, nothing is ever the same. The idea, the dream, the recognition suddenly takes on gravity. And that gravity creates an inevitability that transforms us . . .”

Questions:

  • What should you keep doing, stop doing, start doing in order to cross the threshold?

  • What can you remember and learn from the step you’re making?

  • What encouragement or support do you need to continue on your Green Career Journey?

Can we help with building and sustaining the skills you or your team need to advance professionally? Reach out to Beth Offenbacker, PhD, CPCC, ACC, at beth@waterfordinc.com or via phone or text at 703-623-4811 to discuss if our Green Career, Executive/Leadership Coaching, Small Group Coaching and Mentoring, or Learning & Development services are right for you. We work with professionals and organizations that have a sustainability focus in their work. All services are customized to your needs.

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