Three Lessons from Next Steps

We just wrapped up a refreshed version of our Next Steps Personal Reflection workshop. And we sat down and refreshed it again.

We had a great three weeks with a small group of 19 people who each find themselves at an interesting, personal crossroads in life. And while each person was there for their own individual purpose, they shared in common a desire to carve out serious time for personal reflection, serious discussion and a small dose of discomfort.

Over the course of nine hours – three Tuesday early evening sessions in late March and early April – the group dug into a deeper understanding of their personality, their personal values and various aspects of their “best self”. Individual homework turned into small group discussions. Small group discussions evolved into a deeper understanding of personal challenges and opportunities.

No one left the Next Steps workshop profoundly transformed – or, I don’t think they did! – but each person left with new or deeper clarity around small steps they could take to live more fully into their life.

Here are three things I (re)learned from the latest Next Steps workshop:

  • Investing Time Matters: We’re all busy, busy, busy. Taking time to reflect – even about things we already know about ourselves – is an investment we make in ourselves too infrequently.
  • Defining Values Are Hard: Identifying your personal values is pretty easy. Defining them in clear English can be hard. Understanding how each of those values really impacts out day-to-day life can be even harder.
  • The Conversation Is the Change: We say this all the time. Watching the 19 participants in the workshop dive deeply and enthusiastically into pair and small group discussions just reinforced for me the value to dialogue.

This latest offering of Next Steps is an evolution of its own. The program started in partnership with the Greater Richmond Chamber in 2009 at the peak of the Great Recession for individuals who suddenly found themselves unemployed. We repeated the program for St. Michael’s Catholic Church’s Jobs Assistance Ministry, and then ran a two-day session at the Visual Arts Center. Based on feedback from this spring’s participants, we’ve already revamped the program – and will be offering it again in the fall.