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Forging New Paths

At the weekend I went for a walk in some woods I haven’t been to in a while. It seems that many of the tress had been shedding their leaves, and in most places, it was impossible to see where the paths were. Because the boundaries were completely covered, it gave me the opportunity to explore the space in a different way, following the path that I choose, rather than the one that was laid out. This wasn’t without its hazards, and I had to slow down to make sure I didn’t trip on a concealed root, or sink into some mud, but it was worth it to be able get a new perspective.

When I’m working with clients and we’re exploring changes that they may want to make I often liken it to creating a new path in the woods. It’s much easier to take the same well-trodden path, but if we always take the same path we always end up in the same place. Forging a new path can mean a much slower journey, risking getting stuck in brambles, having to double back to avoid obstacles all without the certainty of knowing where it will lead. This is why we so often get stuck, doing things the same way, even though it isn’t how we really want it to be. The familiarity can feel safe, and sometimes a known difficulty is better than an unknown possibility.

Making change is hard, but there are things we can do to help, tools and people that can make the way easier and after the first visit we have a map to make it easier to get back to. The more we choose to take the new path the more it becomes easier to navigate and the longer between trips down the old path, the more overgrown it will become. Eventually the new path becomes the easier one, and we are less likely to fall back on the old path. It will still happen occasionally, maybe when resilience is low or you’re under pressure and muscle memory will take you back the old way, but we will learn to catch ourselves doing this earlier and earlier into the journey, gently reminding ourselves that we don’t really want to go that way and bringing ourselves back to the new path.

Which new path would you like to forge? And what tools can help you do it?

Figure dressed in black walking through woods with leaves covering the ground obscuring the path. Text reads ‘Where would your new path lead to?’

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