In honor of the hot, HOT summer we’ve been having in Charlotte, North Carolina, I wanted to share a visualization that’s often helpful to my coaching clients when we  talk about exploring career options and strategizing next steps:


The Work Life Swimming Pool


I think of a swimming pool as a place where, yes, some rules exist to prevent you from cracking your head open or annoying others too much, but where people are for the most part doing what they want to do.


At the pool, the rules and activities tend to develop somewhat organically based on who’s there and what they feel like doing. In that sense, it’s a bit of a microcosm of life, and also why this visualization can be so helpful.


Your current work life as a swimming pool


Imagine yourself in a swimming pool that represents where you are RIGHT NOW in your work life.


What’s it like in your pool? Is the water:

  • Hot?
  • Frigid cold?
  • Lukewarm?
  • Clean?
  • Dirty?
  • Invigorating?

What’s the vibe in your pool?

  • Relaxed?
  • Intense?
  • Chaotic?
  • Boring?
  • Are there lots of rules at your pool?
  • Is it a “free for all”?

How do you feel in your pool?

  • Comfortable?
  • Exhilarated?
  • Can’t wait to get out of there?

What are you doing in your pool?

  • Swimming laps?
  • Exercising?
  • Perfecting your backstroke?
  • Treading water?
  • Lounging in a pool float with a drink?
  • Slipping down a water slide?
  • Doing “cannonballs”?

Are there other people in your pool? If so:

  • Who?
  • What are they doing?
  • Is everyone doing his/her own thing?
  • Are people chatting?
  • Gossiping?
  • Philosophizing?
  • Playing Marco Polo?
  • Throwing a ball around?
  • Competing?
  • Collaborating?
  • Enjoying themselves?


What’s going on outside your pool?


Now take a moment to look outside your pool. What else is going on?

  • Are there other pools nearby?
  • Are people doing different things in those pools?
  • Do those things seem interesting to you?

If you moved to another pool, would you want to:

  • Explore the new pool from the one you’re in right now?
  • Spend some time in some intermediate pools before you get to the one you really want to be in?
  • Jump in decisively with a graceful swan dive from the 10-foot diving board?
  • Dip your toe in the water first to get acclimated?


Are you doing what you want to do in your pool?


As you think about these questions:


  • What thoughts and feelings come up for you about your Work Life Pool?
  • What parallels can you draw between the pool you visualized and your present work life?
  • How close is your present work experience to what you REALLY want to be doing?


If your Work Life Pool is not to your liking, or if it doesn’t honor who you are, what would it take to get to your ideal Work Life Pool? Would it be a matter of:


  • Tweaking a few things?
  • Adjusting the temperature slightly?
  • Inviting a couple more people in?
  • Getting rid of a a rule or two?


Or would getting to your ideal Work Life Pool require some big changes? Maybe:


  • Doing away with all the pool rules and starting over?
  • Getting out of the water?
  • Moving to a different pool?


Whatever you do, make sure it honors who you are

The point of this visualization is to reflect about what you want and what you’re comfortable with. There are no right answers to any of these questions. There are only YOUR answers.


What’s most important about this visualization is what it tells you about how you’re experiencing your current work life, and how you want to experience it in the future.


What did you learn in going through this? Were you reminded of a part of yourself that you’re not currently honoring with the way you’re conducting your work life?



If you want to make some changes and need some help, contact me to see how you could get moving toward the work life you REALLY want to have.