Learn Who You Want To Be At TUJ’s Life Planning Workshop

Take Charge Of Your Life Now

Feeling stuck in your current life? Want to take your career to another level, yet not knowing where to start? There's a workshop in Tokyo that can help you take action.

Wanting more. Those two simple words united everyone in the classroom on a quiet mid-April Saturday morning at Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) in Minami-Azabu, a day out of the office and our daily routines. Coming from different parts of the world and personal backgrounds, we were poles apart, yet so similar: we want more from life, more from our careers, and yet we don’t know where or how to start. We sat close to each other and looked to the whiteboard: the “Life Planning: Take Charge Of Your Life Now” workshop was just about to begin and we all waited impatiently.

Learning Who You Are

“In order to know where you’re headed to, you should first know where you’re standing now,” the instructor, Sarah Furuya, told us, asking us to briefly introduce ourselves and say what our personal motivations for attending the workshop were. We started with the standards: born and raised, years of living in Japan, marital status, work, ambitions. She smiled quietly and guided us to walk on a personality mat, asking us to stop at the word that most clearly defines us as of present. We stopped at “Taking Charge,” “Observant,” and “Flexible/Spontaneous.” We explained why we chose those words, gradually becoming more comfortable in sharing more about our lives. Listening to each other’s stories, we came to know that knowing who you are is, in fact, the most difficult process in realizing who you want to be.

Defining where you stand on the personality mat puts you on the start line of understanding your current life condition.

The seminar then guided us through a number of exercises focusing on analyzing ourselves: drawing a timeline of the highlights of our lives, reflecting on the past and analyzing how it influences us today, listening to each other and commenting on what we noticed, felt and what stood out. An hour into the workshop, we had turned from strangers to knowing more about each other than even our families. Without even noticing, we had achieved the goal of the first series of exercises: we had come to know where we stand, what stops us from being who we want, and what we want to change in our current lives.

[…] we came to know that knowing who you are is, in fact, the most difficult process in realizing who you want to be.

Learning To Fight Your Own Demons

At a glance, all of us sitting in the class, were very much in control of what we are currently doing: we were successful in our own way, positive and highly motivated. But as we were doing assignments, things started popping up: “I’m lazy,” “I’m a big wimp,” “I’m not special.” Though we had our fair share of laughs over these confessions, we were guided into realizing that we are the only people who think this way of ourselves and that is exactly what stops us from moving forward. And that was a key realization. “Always ask yourself: Is it true?,” Sarah would repeatedly tell us, supporting us in finding evidence against our own statements. Working at home and at the office almost 24/7, none of us was lazy. Moving thousands of kilometers away from home, living, working and/or raising children in a foreign land, none of us was a wimp. And we all had something special about us — in fact, as we learned through a number of other exercises, much more than we ever thought. And we all needed a trigger to realize this.

“Search for evidences against your fears and limitations.”

Digging Into Your Wildest Dreams

Half-way through the workshop, we had already put aside negativity and had moved on toward finding out what our next steps would be and how we could work on them. We started by putting together a “permission to want things” list, writing up everything we want from life — all the way from pizza and losing a few pounds, to writing books and founding our own companies. “Put everything you want here, get into your wildest dreams,” Sarah’s voice would echo around the classroom, as cheerful as she could get. We proceeded to highlight the most important wishes on the list and put ourselves into the shoes of that “dream person” of ours, that we could by now envision clearly. The classroom had quickly turned into a bubbly workshop, moving from exercise to exercise, impatient for the next, brainstorming, dreaming out loud and giving each other suggestions and ideas on how we could achieve what we’ve just talked about.

The “Permission to want things” list is just one exercise the workshop uses to guide participants into clarifying their goals for the future.

Professional Guidance

None of us knew Sarah Furuya well before the seminar, but by the end of the day, we knew why she was put in a position to teach it. With over a decade of professional experience as a life facilitator and executive coach, she has worked with a number of individuals — both Japanese and expats in Japan — as well as teaching seminars across the country, and has supported many in achieving their dreams and goals.

Executive and life coach with years of experience, Sarah is also a lovely individual to meet in person, who makes the classroom a bubbly venue for anyone to feel comfortable at.

A UK-native, Sarah has lived in Japan for 16 years, throughout which time she has constantly kept herself busy: apart from being the president of one of the largest professional women groups in Japan, FEW (For Empowering Women) and a workshop facilitator at Temple University, Japan Campus, she is also a lovely individual who knows the Tokyo international community well. Sarah bases her coaching on psychology — a field she has a degree in, which could explain why her approach is very personal. She tactfully guides you into self-realization rather than stressing you out with “that’s how I did it” tips on what you should do and how to behave. A natural-born public speaker and a down-to-earth life coach, she warmed up our hearts in no time. “I do the work because I need the work myself,” she would humbly, yet confidently tell us, sharing her own experience at how once, she quit her full-time, well-paid job and boarded on a plane across the ocean to attend a women-focused seminar, called Rich, Happy and Hot Live. She was sitting where we are sitting now at some stage of her life, too, and that is one of the greatest reasons why she can understand and associate with people’s needs.

[The instructor] tactfully guides you into self-realization rather than stressing you out with “that’s how I did it” tips on what you should do and how to behave.

Taking Action

The last part of the seminar focused on taking actual steps on what we can do to achieve our goals. From a short-term to a weekly and yearly plan, the step-by-step guide came to us surprisingly easily. A key exercise in this section was the “Wheel of Life,” which lets participants evaluate their current life, from career, money and physical environment, to personal growth and recreation. We were then asked to analyze what parts we want to improve and how the improvement in certain areas would affect others on the wheel. We were then invited to write reasons why our fears are groundless and actual steps of starting to work on our goals: from today, tomorrow and a year from now on. Each one of us also received practical tips and sources that could help us start on our next journey.

“Recognize it every time you take a step,” is a key to building confidence for achieving your personal and professional goals, says Sarah.

By the end of the workshop, we had turned into aspiring interior designers, book writers and tour guides. We had also developed catch copies for some of our future websites. We had also found ways to solve pressing problems in our personal lives and confidence in making a change — and we had made new friends and allies.

The workshop ended with us on the personality map again, searching for the word that best describes our next move. We landed on “Structured,” “Spontaneous,” and “Demonstrative.” And that’s where we start the next chapter in our lives.  


The Life Planning: Take Charge Of Your Life Now” workshop is taught at Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) three times a year in English. To register, inquire at TUJ directly. The workshop is from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday and costs ¥18,000. Sarah Furuya also teaches “Lumina Spark – Communication Preferences,” another workshop at TUJ, focusing on polishing up your communication skills.

TUJ also offers an exciting array of over 300 courses a year in its continuing education program on various specialities, from business management, art, law, education, information technology, communications and more. For more information, see here

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