Ever been “on the fence” about a decision regarding a relationship or a job, or any other big life move?

Sometimes, if you take too long to choose a path, life might just push you off the fence, forcing you to take action. This post is about such a time in my life, when I was forced to venture into an uncertain future, how vulnerable I felt, and what has come out of my choice to live in the grey.

“Falling from grace” and negotiating with Life:

Not too long ago, both my employer and live-in boyfriend gave me an ultimatum - within days of each other. I had been unsure for a while about whether to continue with my boyfriend; he sensed it. He demanded proof of my commitment, which, I could not give. That was the end of us. (Note: we aren’t fooling anyone; when we have “one foot out”, our partner can sense it. This also applies to jobs we are not that crazy about.)

At the same time at work, my role had turned out quite different from the one I’d been hired for and, after discussing with my employers, I was nicely told that, either I could take whatever they were offering, or leave. Another ultimatum.

Here too, I spoke my truth. I was not interested in doing something that was not using my best talents, just to get a paycheck while I “wait and see” indefinitely.

With these back-to-back ultimatums, I initially panicked and thought I should bend to one of the two, to not send both areas of my life flying into uncertainty at once. “Maybe I should keep my relationship intact while I resolve my job situation.” But I had already been pushed off the fence, and could not lie to myself or to others. I parted ways with both.

Falling off the fence might cause dizziness and fear:

What followed was a confronting period of upheaval, uncertainty, travels, conversations, deep discoveries, breakdowns and breakthroughs.

I felt disappointed in myself for not being able to “make it work” with my boyfriend and job. I made myself wrong with thoughts like:
“Why can’t I just be happy that I have a ‘good enough’ job and relationship?”
“Am I ungrateful?”
“Will life punish me by withholding jobs and relationships?”
“Am I fooling myself thinking I can have it all?”

On and on, the tapes played. I cried. I had head fog that lasted for days sometimes.

The first thing I did was take two trips, to get out of my environment, empty my head, and fill up my heart. It was a needed escape from having to make any more decisions. I went home to France, to spend time with dear friends and relax.

Then I went to Burning Man, with the intention to heal, and to welcome whatever life was ready to send my way. I got so much more. I went on this trip alone, because I wanted to prove to myself that I am OK doing daring things on my own. What started in the Nevada desert was an honest conversation with myself about my role in this world, and the quest to fulfill my purpose.

That conversation has continued, and I’ve had amazing windows of clarity - despite being in a transition period that still feels scary. I’ve also understood that NOTHING in life comes with guarantees, and now can relax in this knowing.

Getting real, intentional, and taking action:

Once I identified my purpose and consciously chose to follow it, things became simple -but not easy. Pursuing one’s purpose takes dedication.

Here are some steps that I’ve put in place to support me (perhaps they’ll help you as well?):

• Defining my “lines in the sand,” the things that I am not willing to compromise on (or on the flip side, those things that absolutely must happen)

• Developing mastery of my skill. For example, I build my experience by working on pro-bono projects with Catchafire.org

• To intend and design my life, I use tools such as Danielle LaPorte‘s, The Firestarter Sessions.

• Also, since a solid body and mind are THE foundation, I meditate regularly (try Headspace to get started), practice Yoga daily (10 minutes every morning is golden) and am training to run my second 5K race. Everyone has a “magic mix” of what they must do to keep their foundation strong.

Now I am building up my coaching / consulting practice and, although I do not have everything figured out, I take baby steps every day towards something much bigger than myself (start small and aim for bigger!).

When in my “flow”, the right people pour into my life to contribute to what I’m creating. I’m fired up by a passion to support others in realizing their magnificent potential. Yes, I am under-slept most days, because living what I love is not the path of least resistance. It is, however, the most enriching and alive!


Sylvana R. is a badass polymath living in the grey. As an executive coach and consultant, she supports organizations and individuals looking to solve problems creatively and reach their goals sustainably. She draws on her expertise from a decade of international development and public health work, enhancing her approach with knowledge gained from her own personal development, passions, travels and Yoga studies.

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