Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just dream something up, decide how to get it and then have all of the puzzle pieces fall perfectly into place? It’s a lovely little image, isn’t it? But reality is, our lives and businesses take many different twists and turns and, sometimes, we never get to that end dream because the path changes along the way. Or maybe you didn’t start with an “end dream.” Perhaps you are only now discovering a destination you want to reach.
Progress is almost never linear.
Let that sink in for a minute. If we were to keep track of our lives on a line graph, you would see many dips in the graph. If you are lucky, you might find a few major upticks but what really matters is that there is any kind of forward movement.
When I look back on my life and where I expected to go as a college student, then once I was newly graduated, or when I first got married – – the only thing that was consistent in those days was forward motion. I really didn’t have any long term dreams beyond having a family. I didn’t even know I could have other dreams. I just put my head down and did the thing. In those days, the graph looked pretty steady and that never seemed to bother me.
So what happened to shake me up?
Life happened to shake me up. As it turned out, keeping my head down and just doing the thing wasn’t lighting me on fire. In fact, it was slowly killing me. I had nothing in common with my spouse. My babies were perfect but everything else in my life fell flat. If I had a graph to look back on, it would have shown a plummet in a big way. Sometimes things have to get really bad before you wake up enough to say, “I need something different.”
For me, that wake-up call happened in phases. It started with personal awareness of my deep unhappiness in my marriage and the realization that I had married the wrong gender (go ahead and giggle there; it’s usually where I pause for laughs). Realizing, halfway through my life, that I was not the person I always thought I was, shook things up like no other. Then I realized I had to tell other people about this realization (can you say terrifying!?)
If you have a similar realization that the life you had imagined wasn’t the life you were intended for, you have two choices: embrace who you authentically are or pretend nothing has changed. I chose to embrace myself because pretending was a whole hell of a lot harder to live with. I realize that sounds crazy. Completely turning my life upside down was hard (like, really, really hard!). There was a lot at risk and it was unbelievably painful but the idea of never embracing my true self or reaching my true potential was significantly more difficult.
Then I realized I needed and wanted more from my work – – from myself. I wanted to make a bigger impact in the lives of others. I wanted to light people up and help them connect with their own authentic selves and then do something about it. I had a story to tell that had the power to inspire others. This is where we start to see the line graph make an uptick. You see, once you truly tap into your super power and start listening to what the Universe has in store for you, things change shape.
This is why the first step in my work-life balance system (7 Steps to Designing a Balance that Actually Works for You!) is identify your needs. How can you get somewhere if you don’t know where you want to go?!
Let’s be real with each other.
Being an entrepreneur is hard. I am a kick-ass Success Coach, but just like many of you, my income is feast or famine. Some months are freaking great and some I wonder how the bills will get paid. These days, I identify what makes my heart sing and what taps into who I want to be in the world, what I have to give, and why it really matters. I am honest with myself if I need to let something go. Not all goals need to be met; some can simply be released to make room for something more powerful.
Progress is almost never linear. Don’t be so hard on yourself.