Feeling uncertain about what's next? Time to explore the fertile void.

If the only certainty in life is change, you’d think we’d be better at it by the time we reach our Third Age!

Like it or not, we ARE changing! What’s less certain, is how we navigate this change as we transition into our next chapter.

Change rarely follows a linear path – that would be too easy! More often than not it’s full of stops, starts and detours, together with a degree of confusion, uncertainty and emotional ‘turbulence’ thrown into the mix for good measure!

And at the very time when the question you’re desperate to answer is, “What now?” it’s very likely you’ve found yourself plunged into an uncomfortable, in-between place experiencing your own brand of emotional turbulence!

Because when there’s no ready response to this question, the subsequent silence can be disconcerting to put it mildly!

So it might reassure you to know that there’s a name for this in-between place. In fact, there are a few…. I’ve heard it called the Fertile Void, the Creative Void, the Powerful Pause and the Neutral Zone – all names to describe the very real stage we go through as we transition from one state of being to a new beginning.

For me, ‘the fertile void’ is the most apt

Isn’t that a contradiction in terms, you may ask?

On the contrary, it’s spot on!

Because while the Fertile Void is, without doubt, an uncomfortable, in-between place, there’s a HUGE amount to be gained by simply sitting with the confusion of not knowing… IF (and yes, it’s a big IF!) we can resist the urge to rush ‘through and out’ because when we do that, we miss out on the gifts this space has to offer us.

I know this may be hard to believe – when you’re in it, it IS a confusing, painful space to be in. BUT – and this is the good bit – something inevitably shifts in the process.

The fertile void has its own creative energy

Think of this time as your very own ‘cocoon of change’…. a time and place where you gradually shed the skin of your old life in order to develop the new. And, like the butterfly, you won’t suddenly appear in all your glory without hanging around as a bit of gloopy stuff first! 

This is where you get to spend time in your own chrysalis whilst engaging in some introspective soul searching. AND if it feels as if nothing is actually happening, just keep remembering the incredible metamorphosis going on inside the seemingly unchanging cocoon.

What if you could regard this as a place of opportunity, of potential and possibility? What if it’s a time to think and reflect?

What if it’s a creative space? A space where you are ‘held’ in order to allow a transition to take place:

  • to realign with the REAL essence of who you are and how you want to be in the world
  • to become aware of all those things now calling for your attention
  • to shed the old layers that no longer serve you
  • to re-examine aspects of your life and let go those that no longer feel right

Making the most of this opportunity

  • Acknowledge your feelings 
    Whatever you’re feeling right now – fear, anger, grief, confusion – it’s ALL totally valid and accepting the validity of these feelings and working with them will be more productive than trying to push them aside or plough on through, in the long run.
  • Embrace this time
    Believe me, I’m well aware this is easier to say than do! You may well be impatient to dig into something new but the fertile void is essentially a time of waiting, not acting… of being, not doing. It’s funny, isn’t it, how much more difficult we find it to NOT do things? But it’s by pressing the pause button that we gradually become aware of the unheard voices calling for our attention.
  • Let go of the need to know ‘what’s next’ for now
    You’ve probably used a huge amount of energy already trying to push your way through in an attempt to find something new and solid to stand on. In letting go of expectations for ‘what’s next’, you gently open a space – a space to breathe…. a space for inspiration and ideas to incubate and germinate. You open up to what might be and to the possibility for something new and fresh to emerge.
  • Control your mind chatter
    I’ll bet your inner gremlin has been having a field day recently, whipping your thoughts into frenzy as it desperately tries to reach some semblance of ‘normality’ and restore the status quo. It’s really important to find ways to get outside your head and give yourself a break from its incessant chatter enabling you move into a space of optimism, curiosity and open mindedness. For me this usually means taking more exercise and doing more yoga – honestly, there’s nothing quite like a bit of mind, body and spirit alignment for finding some all-important white space in amongst all that dark fuzzy, tangled stuff!
  • Keep an open mind
    This is a precious chance to allow your ideas to roam, explore new possibilities and make new choices. Some of the best views are to be found at the end of what look like dead-end tracks, so don’t be afraid to follow your curiosity and wander down some unfamiliar paths.
  • Start a journal
    And I know all the above might sound frustratingly passive, so if you’re desperately looking for something to DO at this time here’s my go-to option! Get writing!  Writing has well-documented therapeutic qualities, so get it all out of your head and on to paper…. anything that comes into your head… feelings, ideas, thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears. Write it ALL down. It’s a brilliantly effective way to process your thoughts and gradually sift and refine them into a personally inspiring and meaningful way forward.

You may be desperate to find a way out of the fertile void but trust me (and the process) when I say you will not stay here any longer than you need. 

When you are ready, when it’s time to take action, you will emerge from the Fertile Void with a clarity and understanding that will put you on a path to a fuller, more abundant life.

Confusion is the state of promise, the fertile void where surprise is possible again.

Paul Goodman