I went through my files and looked at every single assignment I’ve ever given one of my Pathfinding coaching clients. I found some interesting patterns, a few really funny ones, and many that could help you find your path, too.
Here are the top 100.
All of these are actual assignments I’ve given to actual clients, with any identifying information removed. Even if the specific details don’t apply to you or your situation, see if there’s something in there that might help you.
The 4 most common assignments
I see variations on these four assignments in almost every client’s file. The details are personalized based on what works for each client, but the themes are the same.
- Daily spiritual practice! This is the most important thing. I’ve attached a 5-minute guided Remembrance MP3 for you.
- When you find yourself not entirely wholehearted about a decision, use the HeartCompass technique. Notice what happens. Are you resisting doing it? If so, why?
- If things get bad, ask yourself, “Is love available even here?” sincerely + curiously in your heart.
- Practice saying “no”. Practice saying “let me get back to you” instead of making a decision on the spot. Practice taking care of yourself, THEN taking care of others only after your own needs and comforts are met. (It’s okay if it feels selfish. Trust me, it’s okay.)
The first two I wasn’t surprised by. They’re specifically listed on the Pathfinding webpage because I know all Pathfinders need ’em. But I was surprised by how frequently 3 and 4 popped up.
Trust me, these all made sense in context.
- Don’t treat your Great Work as less important than cat shit.
- Put a picture of a crock pot on your wall!
- Do The Thing. All these tiny animals (and plants) believe in you!
I noticed that I adjust the way I speak and write for different clients. With my geeky clients, I use phrases like “any-time algorithm” and give them assignments like this:
- Maximize the new information to effort ratio.
- Noodle/journal on this: what are you optimizing for when your brain says “this makes sense”? Your old criteria are stale – what do you want to optimize for now?
…and with my clients who are energy workers, I give them assignments like this:
- Flow energy from your third eye to your throat chakra before writing
- Deepen your tree’s roots to access Divine compassion directly from the spiritual plane
The most frequent theme that arises is compassion:
- Take every opportunity you can for self-compassion. Remember that every pattern your brain gets stuck in is something that’s trying to help you but going about it in an unhelpful way.
- You feel like you need to educate the whole world about [your cause], and that sets you up between a rock and a hard place: either you remain silent and feel guilty, or you speak up and risk being wounded. Fight and flight are not your only two options. Neither one is a good choice. When you find yourself between that rock and that hard place, pause and take three deep breaths. See if you can find compassion (for yourself and/or the other person) in the moment, and journal about it afterward to see what underlies those feelings.
- Practice feeling compassion. for yourself, for your business partners, for animals… it’s all good.
- Have compassion for your inner control freak. She just wants to feel safe.
- Feel compassion for your past self who chose to go to grad school
- When you notice yourself taking others’ words personally, remember the visualization and compassion exercise we practiced. Feel compassion for the other person and realize that it’s not really about you at all.
- Optimize your environment to help you remember to bring spaciousness and compassion into your day-to-day life. A bracelet? auto-DMs? desktop background?
- Remember, the backup assignment is always “feel compassion for yourself”, and that’s totally worth practicing.
And it’s worth saying that we discuss all these assignments during our coaching session and agree on them, and these notes I’m sharing are just reminders. These aren’t just things I make up afterward and surprise my clients with!
Pathfinding often involves letting go of deeply held beliefs. But you can’t erase a belief, you can only replace it with a different one, like re-recording over an old cassette tape. Here are some of the tapes we’ve worked with:
- Practice rerecording over your old, stale, false tapes. e.g. “you’re a finicky eater” → “I have permission to have preferences”
- When an old pattern arises, remind yourself: “The past is the past. I do not have to succumb to feelings that are automatic responses. I am capable of dealing with chaos in a productive way.” (Write this mantra down and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day.)
- When you notice yourself thinking “If I’m not the best, then I’m not good enough,” remind yourself: “I am good enough because I am.”
- Whenever you think, feel, or act in accordance with the belief “If I am imperfect, I’m not worthy of love”, say: “I am joyful. I am worthy. I am love.”
- When you feel like you don’t know, say this in your heart: “I am enough, regardless of how much art or how much money I make.” and then look at the situation again.
- Each time you think “I am responsible for the emotions of others,” say out loud or to yourself, “I trust people to be good caretakers of their own emotions.”
- When you find yourself falling into your old habits, have compassion for yourself (these are years-deep habits, after all) and remember “I don’t have to change the world by yelling at it.”
Again, it’s important to note that the client is the one who comes up with the new message to record; I just guide the process. Otherwise that would be creepy!
A lot of Pathfinding is about getting clear about what to do. That leads to assignments like these:
- When making choices, ask yourself, “If everyone else would be thrilled by whatever decision I made, what would I choose?”
- Practice “all in or no deal.” Then, wholeheartedly accept the consequences when you make the decision – in advance.
- When you feel that “should” come up, take 2 deep breaths before choosing what to do. Be aware of that “should” feeling and be present with it before choosing.
- When you’re about to defer, like “We can do whatever you want” or “I don’t care,” instead make up a preference and state it as though you cared.
- Ask yourself “how do I want to feel tonight?” each evening when you get home.
- Focus on your own art. If you want to add anything else in, it must pass the Spaciousness Test: how much positive spaciousness and how much negative spaciousness? Is it a net positive?
Perfectionism is one of the most common obstacles that keeps Pathfinders bogged down in the muck instead of moving forward on their path. Here are some assignments to help with perfectionism:
- Futz! Try things out. They don’t have to be perfect, just headed vaguely eastward toward your intention.
- For the next month, try making things only 80% perfect and see what happens. It’s an experiment!
- Put stuff out there even if it’s imperfect. Lower the quality bar until the Universe says, “that’s not good enough.”
- Give yourself an advance permission slip to fail just once… then say yes to self-care – ALWAYS – until something bad happens. This will help you solve actual problems instead of worrying about imaginary future problems.
- Be yourself! Remember your note to yourself: “People are going to resonate with you whether your twitter background is perfect or not. Stop getting bogged down in the details and do what’s feasible.”
- Let three people down
My own resources
Sometimes, what my clients need is something I’ve already written, and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
- Try an Oberon Hour practice
- Read The Usual Error – especially Part II: Boundaries. I sent you a copy; it’ll arrive on Friday.
- Try check-ins (as described in The Usual Error) for communicating with your husband when you’re feeling vulnerable or just want to feel heard.
- Read and work through Unmask Yourself
- Do this short exercise: http://pacesmith.com/mot-reywas/
- Work through the ideal customer exercise on p.6 of the 2012 World-Changing Writing Workbook
Other times, what my clients need is something someone else has written or created, and we still don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
- Extra bonus assignment: Read “Red Hot and Holy” by Sera Beak. It’s all about an embodied experience of the Divine. I’ll give you a copy.
- Try the practice to get your etheric body back on kilter after a meds change. I’ll send you a link.
- Work through the first 2 sections of the Heart of Business Heart-Centered Websites workbook
- Read Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher
- Read Renaissance Business by Emilie Wapnick
- Read The Wisdom of the Enneagram (shipped, due to arrive on Thursday)
- Read this. it’s about self-care even when you’re not feeling like it at the moment, and it applies to everything, not just body care.
- Explore spiritual paths. Start with Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project.
- Look into grief counseling. Cath Duncan’s site is http://www.rememberingforgood.com/
Nourishing your heart
There are many different ways to nourish your heart, but you’re going to need at least one of them! Try these on for size:
- Whenever you feel frustrated, angry, or impatient, take a moment to connect with your heart. That’s your heart feeling thirsty. drink.
- Fill in this blank with anything and everything that feels true to you: If I remembered ___________ every day, my life would be so much better. Then create some ways to remember it. Keys, necklace, calendar, etc.
- Dedicate your knitting, weaving, and spinning to something greater than yourself – a devotional practice
- Comparison is a yellow alert! If you notice yourself comparing yourself to others, check in and see how you’re feeling. If anxious, take a breath, do Remembrance, recenter.
- Repeat to yourself “I don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s okay.” when you find yourself beginning to freak out
- Compassionate Witness is your archetype, and that means you need to _receive_ witnessing in your heart, directly from Source, so you can reflect that infinite light out to others.
- Create a short version of the energy work we did in our Pathfinding session to remind yourself “your clients are held in the light. what they’re feeling isn’t yours to fix.” Then do that energy work before each client session.
- Take your salary into Remembrance. What does your heart need to feel good about asking for what you need?
Letters to your future self
Write a letter to your future self, then open it when you need to remember.
- Write a note to your future self “If you never want to trust your heart again, read this.”
- Write a letter to your future freaking-out self, reminding yourself that if you follow your heart, things just kind of work out. Then remember to read it the next time you’re freaking out!
- Write yourself a letter, to be opened only in case of emergency, about how you feel now and how you want to get back to it
Stories have the power to change your life.
- Write the story of how this chapter of your life (e.g. this job) fits into your Big Story. You can create wholeheartedness with your stories.
- Come up with fictional stories, as unrealistic or fantastical as you wish, a sentence or a paragraph, in which you are the main character and in which one or more of these puzzle-piece qualities flows into your heart, nourishes you, and then flows out into the world to nourish the heart of someone else. Write down as many as you can until they feel like they’re basically repeating. Read them out loud in sacred space and notice which ones make your heart sing the loudest. And tell me what you notice!
- Write about what’s scary about being perceived as a weirdo – a new-age hippie freak. There’s something juicy in there. you’re a writer – dig it up.
- Ask those who love you and those who respect you to describe you in 1 or 2 sentences.
- Have a dialogue with your inner scientist. Work out a peace treaty.
This special kind of storytelling only came up twice, but both times, it was very powerful. Change the win condition of the game you are living.
- Define for yourself what game you want to win. And remember that you don’t need to stifle your competitive urge, you just need to harness it to win the game you REALLY TRULY DEEPLY want to win. (e.g. winning the game of feeling the way you want to feel as much as possible, as strongly as possible)
- Choose your new victory condition. State it in sacred space, then remind yourself of it day to day. Ways you can remind yourself include: saying your mantra when you notice your old groove; affirmations; vision board; etc.
Sometimes I teach a multi-step technique during a Pathfinding session. All of these are very useful and very powerful.
- Practice noticing your feelings without judging them and without immediately reacting to them. 2 steps:
- “I feel ______. I feel ______. I feel ______, and that’s okay.” Repeat until it really feels okay.
- What is my heart needing right now?
- Practice the time travel technique I showed you: talk to your past self about any traumatic event that comes up for you, and then put yourself into her shoes and listen.
- When intense emotions come up, practice the intense-emotion Remembrance:
- Take some sacred space for yourself and get still.
- Drop into Remembrance; begin calling the Name into your heart.
- Feel the feeling without judgment. Be fully present with the feeling without needing to act on it.
- Bring the Love, the Divine presence into your heart alongside the feeling.
- If you feel overwhelmed, confused, or burdened, ask for guidance. Here’s how:
- Offer up any burdens/shoulds. share with Spirit
- (If needed, ask to be shown what your heart needs to let those burdens go)
- Ask to be shown what your heart needs in the situation
- Ask to be shown your next action
Other times, the techniques are more practical:
- First, brainstorm lots of possibilities of things that would be fun. Don’t censor yourself. Then, create 3 columns:
- What would I love about this?
- What would be hard about this?
- What does my heart say about this? (use the HeartCompass technique, place it into your palm and near your heart)
We’ll talk about the results next time.
- Try out the morning routine we discussed:
- What did I do yesterday? (and compare with your plan)
- What could I have made better? (or could make similar things better in the future)
- What did I love?
- What am I going to do today?
Ask your wife if she’d like to do it with you.
- Write a draft of a manifesto. This is a bold overview of:
- What’s wrong
- Why it matters
- The way forward
Prepare your manifesto as a brief presentation. Imagine you’re at a convention of organization leaders, and you want to make the case for why this is a problem. Record yourself making your presentation. Then transcribe it and edit it to create the written form of your manifesto.
Bridging the practical and the profound
One of the things I love most about Pathfinding is how we weave the profound and the practical into a braid. We make progress on the practical, then when obstacles or resistance arise, we do spiritual or emotional healing work. Lather, rinse, repeat. Here’s a nice sampler mix of the practical and the profound:
- Put all your iPad games in a folder on a separate page
- When you come up with a great idea and you’re having trouble setting it aside, say “not now” instead of no
- Set aside 10 minutes, 3 days a week, with no distractions. You can write, think, or resist writing, but you can’t do anything else for those 10 minutes.
- Continue remembering to focus on how you want to feel (the journey, your heart) instead of the One Right Thing To Do (the destination, your ego & superego). Keep returning to that feeling, and everything else will work out.
- Create a sharing spreadsheet like your writing spreadsheet, to track what you shared, how you feel about the feedback, what helps, and what hinders.
- Make a list of things that are worth doing even if they’re totally not impressive.
- Burn your NaNo novel slowly and rescue the bits that absolutely must be rescued. Start over and have fun!
- Create a Worry List. It’s the drainage gutter for your worries. Set aside a time to be Executive Director and review the worries, and the rest of the time, let it go!
- Move one of the Buddhas off the bookshelf and onto your desk in front of your computer.
- Turn off email notifications, on both your computer and your iPad. After two weeks, if it feels right, start checking your email only twice a day.
- Harness your ego’s natural inclinations. Give yourself gold stars for spiritual practice!
- Do one tiny thing. Put one free video up, teach one thing (just the Mac version – make it as simple as possible), and get one person to watch it.
- Time management by tokens – 20 tokens per week. Start tomorrow (Wed). Let me know each week how many poker chips you spent.
- Think about the bare minimum needed to engage your desire to stick to the commitments you make to others. Would it help for me to create a fake “Creative Endeavors” class that meets on Saturday nights? Then you can say, “I can’t. I have Creative Endeavors class then.”
- Make the Big Commitment to follow your spiritual guidance throughout your life. To hitch your wagon to the Spirit-train, so to speak. If you don’t feel ready, journal about it.
And sometimes, there’s nothing that needs to be done right now. Sometimes, what’s needed is rest, integration, gentleness, and ease. And sometimes, it’s helpful to make rest an official Pathfinding assignment for my clients who have a hard time slowing down. (Not that I would know anything about that…)
- Just be. Don’t worry about doing.
- Do a creative practice that you love! Draw pen and ink cartoons! Or if it’s not too cold, take an aimless walk with a camera! Take the pressure off – the operative word is playfulness!
- Your only assignment is to allow. Let your protector and your muse work their magick while you sleep, while you rest, while you work, while you play.
- Take some time to savor and celebrate your success!
- Live your own ashram that you carry around with you always. Slow down! (:
- rest rest rest flow > slog slog slog slog. If you notice yourself slogging (forcing yourself, avoiding, procrastinating), rest instead! Chill out and/or do something nourishing.
- Let it be easy!
…and that’s 100!
As I compiled this list, I noticed how much of what I teach I learned from others. Deepest gratitude to all my teachers: Mark Silver, all my Reclaiming teachers, Julica Hermann, Danielle LaPorte, Martha Beck, Brene Brown, Chip and Dan Heath, Stephen Covey, Kelly Kingman, Gretchen Rubin, Emilie Wapnick, Katy Koonce, Jon Morrow, Ealasaid Haas, and of course, Kyeli.
I hope these 100 suggestions have inspired you, nourished your heart, and given you a taste of what the Pathfinding Program is really like.
Want to get some of this for yourself?
What would #101 be if it was written especially for you?
Let’s find out.
If you want to get some of this guidance and transformation for yourself…