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Anu Rao: Honesty and Action

A few weeks after joining us at a DYL for Women workshop, Anu Rao of Cambridge, Massachusetts shared this reflection on her DYL experience…

“Last month I joined 50 women at the DYL for Women workshop in New York, where we enjoyed a day and a half of energizing, collaborative design work.  Amongst my many takeaways: the DYL process is the antidote to self-doubt and limiting beliefs. And the key to this antidote is honesty and action!

In the workshop, Susan Burnett and Kathy Davies led us through a dynamic mix of discussion and design work–lifeview and workview insights, balance and energy assessments, reframing problems, odyssey planning, and prototype planning. If you’ve read the book, you’re familiar with these concepts. Perhaps like me, you’ve done some of the exercises but at some point you stopped and got stuck. I arrived at the workshop wanting to have a continued ‘bias to action’ and an actionable plan to continue the exercises in the book, especially life design interviewing and prototyping. And I do now have a plan for these next steps (including a plan for keeping me accountable). Very exciting!

What I realized, though, is that it’s important not just to do the exercises, but to do them with 100% honesty with yourself. This is easier said than done. But if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll do the exercises in a way that truly reflects you–not what you think you should answer or what you’re supposed to answer. The beauty of the DYL process is that the exercises are naturally conducive to this honesty, to this what-does-your-gut-tell-you thinking. In the workshop, this was exemplified to me in the Odyssey Plans exercise.

When I did Odyssey Plans #2 and #3, in the spirit of the exercise I allowed myself to just listen to my instinctive thoughts, and not to edit myself, and I came up with all sorts of alternatives to my ‘Life One–That Thing You Do’. These alternatives included: working in music, nursing school, dog-walking, programming, nature conservation, and teaching yoga. What??!! Of course, none of these correspond to my 20 year corporate career, and that’s the point. After I wrote these down, my self-doubt and limiting beliefs immediately kicked into action–I can’t…I’m not…I can’t make a living doing…But those alternatives are now on paper, they’re my antidote to self-doubt and limiting beliefs, and they’re very revealing. They reveal my true interests and my values. It’s up to me to use them as a springboard to generate ideas, options and next steps. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to become a yoga teacher tomorrow, or ever. But it does mean that there’s something there that sparks for me, and I want to listen to that.

My challenge is to now take action, no matter how small, to continue exploring what these ideas mean to me and how they might fit in my evolving life-design. Thanks to the workshop, I have a deepened appreciation for honesty and action in this process, and these odyssey plan alternatives will inform my life-design interviewing and prototyping. I look forward to staying  connected with the DYL community and continuing this powerful work. Onward!”

Update: On the workshop follow up call 6 weeks after the event, Anu shared that she has formed her LLC for her coaching practice, and in the new year she plans to enroll in a yoga certification program.  Onward indeed!