In the movie Eat, Pray, Love, the heroine realizes her life is no longer working. In doing what she’s always done, using familiar strategies, it becomes clear: She does not know how to resolve her growing sense of discomfort and disconnection.

She embarks upon an unexpected path. A path that was not part of her previous “life plan.”

This unexpected path? An intention to travel for a year in search of herself.

A dear friend asks a question all too familiar, one you may have asked in the journey to self and contentment:

 What if it doesn’t work?

This question is big. Huge.

Consider what it really asks:

What if this choice (or action) does not give mKuan-Yin-and-Birde what I (think I) yearn for?

 What if this workshop (or book or mantra) does not provide the answers to the questions that hold me hostage?

 What if this teacher (or coach or guru) does not show me the way to feel secure (or validated or confident) so I can (finally) feel complete, move forward and live into my vision?

Beneath that? A whole ‘nother level of questions, deep questions, scary questions and questions that, when faced, can be very uncomfortable:

  • What if I never get there, or worse – never figure out where “there” is?

  • What if this – the life I’m living now, the feelings I’m feeling now, the restrictions I am experiencing – IS all there is for me?

  • What if my life does not turn out the way I thought it would, the way I planned, the way it was supposed to have turned out?

  • What if I embrace this unexpected path, this unplanned, unrequested path and lose my way completely? What if I lose myself?

And so, we eat, pray and do our best to love when we confront – or avoid – these questions. We seek soothing with substances. We seek comfort through Guidance. We’ll “do” love and peace and joy…until it becomes apparent they aren’t producing the outcomes we want.

What if this does not work?

If you’ve been sitting in the question of how to make things work and how to know if something will (finally) work for you, then maybe it’s time to redefine “successful outcome.”

Maybe it’s time to step onto the unexpected path.

When I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1989, I did everything I could to regain my ability to maintain the status quo. Sought help from doctors in two states, researched medical literature, looked for the right vitamins and herbs, did juice fasts and chanted affirmations by the hundreds.

It. Did. Not. Work.

At least, not if you define success in this case by my going back to working as I had before: Putting in long hours at a soul-sucking job for abusive management in an unconscious company.

If, on the other hand, you consider that I’m happier, living a richer, fuller life and being far more generative than I was 25+ years ago…then…something “worked.”

If you shift perspective from: Lyn’s corporate career derailed entirely to Lyn graduated from the “school” of working in a crazy place…then something worked on a grand scale to get me out of an untenable situation.d.

But don’t stop there. Add in the growth and wisdom accumulated along the way. Tally up the transformation that’s been integrated. You want success? That’s success, baby. That’s success in spades.

So …if you’re asking what will finally “work” to bring you what you want – it may be time to hold this differently. To ask different questions.

To embrace the unexpected path the Life presents you, even when it seems to be taking you in the opposite direction from where youb had planned.