Refuel & Reflect:  3 (Fun) Steps to Create Career Path Clarity

Summertime! It’s a time for vacations, travel, relaxing and spending time outdoors!

I also know that some of you are contemplating big changes as you prepare for the new school year, a job change, or a new life chapter of some kind.

This week I heard from three very different leaders, in three different industries, who were all investing some much-needed time to reflect on what they should do next in their personal and professional trajectory. They are putting themselves first and know that it’s time to put on their own proverbial “oxygen mask” so that they can have the success (impact & joy) they are meant to achieve.

How exciting!

For busy, purposeful leaders it can be quite a feat to navigate all the logistics required to take some time off.  That’s why I get so inspired and excited when I see people investing the time and setting an intention to “figure out” what they want the future to hold for them.

Not surprisingly, in some cases this reflection creates an awareness that it’s time to step away from a current role and begin a new chapter.  In the orchestra world, we just heard of a veteran leader who, while on a sabbatical (established by the board as a benefit after 10 years of service) determined that it was the right time to depart his beloved organization.

In other cases, the first step to embarking on a next chapter is to know what you don’t want. It’s important to note however, that if there are frustrations in your current situation, departing may or may not resolve anything.  We’ve all seen how “problems” can follow us from job to job (and relationship to relationship!).

The saying “Wherever you go…there YOU are” definitely holds true.

The leaders I talked with this week all shared that they are using their reflection time to look at the big, exciting, scary questions of reinvention, as well as to identify any adjustments they may want to make to their career paths (and life). They are each yearning to discover their purpose, and are determined to be financially successful, fulfilled and joyful.

Big Stuff.

I get excited that they’re looking at these big questions because I know the life-changing transformation that can occur once we know what we really want!

And.. I also get worried.

I think about how they may approach this pivotal crossroads and whether they’ll be able to use the reflective time to actually help them reveal what they really want vs. either staying stuck or going down a road that they regret.  I think about them sitting alone during their time away, with their eyes either squeezed tightly shut or viewing a beautiful setting, with a notepad or journal ready to record all the ah-ha’s… and yet nothing happens.

I’m also thinking about you, my fellow leader.

Can these big questions be answered on our own?

How can we ensure that our epiphanies and decisions are rooted in our purpose instead of what others want and need us to do, or what “best practices” dictate?

Most importantly, how can we make sure we aren’t being steered astray by all the “practical” voices in our heads, a fear of failing, or imposter syndrome?

As a coach that guides people through exactly these kinds of questions, AND someone who just returned from taking 30 days away from her business to go on a Pilgrimage around the world with my husband and a group of mindful leaders, I’ve found that working with a process and having a trusted guide, creates powerful results.

I’ve learned that before we can accurately determine what we should do next, we must first know what we really, really want at a deep level. How we want to be. What is the impact we are meant to achieve when showing up fully as our best self?

There’s a lot riding on this process. What happens if you DON’T create the space and invest the time to ask yourself these big questions?

What happens if you don’t find the answers?

What happens if you continue moving exactly as you currently are – even if the world views you as “successful?”

If YOU are in a situation where you know you want to make a change and you don’t yet have a coach or guided process to help you, here’s a place to start (actually, this list is good for everyone!):


Kathryn’s Recommended Summertime REFUEL & REFLECT list:

Block off a refuel day (a re-fYOUl day) – time away from the office – completely unplugged and unreachable.


A day or two will be fine – but even a half day will be a good start!

Invest that time:

  1. Doing things that connect you to the FEELINGS you want to experience on a daily basis – no matter what job or path you choose next.
  2. Doing things that you don’t normally think you have TIME to do, and that are things that you want to do in your next chapter.
  3. Observe and write about what you experience, how you felt, and if any resulting “ripples” occurred afterwards. (Don’t overthink this part. Just capture the experience and any thoughts or feelings that come.)

SOME IDEAS for this “Refuel Day” (you can also make your own list!)

  • Go visit a special place that brings you JOY.  Happy tears. Gratitude. Awe.  A spot in nature? A work of art?
  • Go do something ACTIVE that makes you laugh (and be a little “embarrassed” or out of your comfort zone).  Skip like when you were a kid?  Do a cannonball into a pool? Take a belly-dancing lesson? Jump up and down? Go to an indoor skydiving experience?
  • Paint/sketch a self-portrait of yourself at a peak moment in your life, feeling on top of the world, confident and happy.  (This may also fall under doing something that makes you laugh!)
  • Volunteer in a direct, hands-on role in your community.
  • Take a yoga class with your favorite instructor.
  • Cook dinner.
  • Practice a musical instrument.
  • Visit a relative or family member, do something kind for them, and ask them all about themselves.  Ask them what they are most proud of.

So many leaders take action in their careers without knowing the foundational aspects of themselves. While success can be achieved without this awareness, there often comes a moment when investing in a deep-dive process to reveal the answers may be the only way to move forward into the fully integrated work and non-work life that you envision.

When you begin to gain clarity on how you want to FEEL and BE in your next chapter, and when you know your true value and purpose through the lense of impact, you will then have a reliable filter through which you can effortlessly make all the other more “practical” decisions of what to do.

Enjoy your moments of refueling and reflecting – extraordinary revelations are close at hand!

To your success,


P.S. – I love hearing from you!  How are YOU refueling this summer?  And if you’re feeling like you’re at a crossroads of some kind, let’s get on the phone to see if I can be of help!

P.P.S. – I’ll be in Sacramento August 8-11 speaking at the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) Conference [and a proud board member and sponsor!] – shoot me an email if you’d like to meet in person!

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