This afternoon my son had his Science Fair, and before school, I asked him how many parents were going to make it – it was scheduled for mid-day. He said less than half the kids reported that their parent would attend – they had to work.
We talked about the life I’ve created to be able to be at the fair. Saying YES with my eyes fully open and saying NO to things that take me off course. (With a fair share of yes and no in the wrong direction and later course correction.)
There was a time I traveled weekly, was taking calls and texting about work 24/7, and prioritized work over many other things a lot of the time. I had to do it. I had no choice. Or, then again, maybe I did have a choice but didn’t take responsibility for my life choices. Instead, I made up stories that defended and protected me from my constant go-go-go largely professional focus instead.
Are You Honoring Your Life Choices?
Four years ago, when we moved to Australia and moved to a small town in the Outback, life changed as did my business. Interestingly, my way of thinking about work vs. life did not make the leap with my body. I was still pushing for “success,” yet not really making choices that honored the life I said I wanted.
For the past few days, messages have been pouring in on LinkedIn congratulating me on my work anniversary; seven years of Break the Frame. What they can’t see in a status update is what’s going on behind the scenes or, more accurately, behind the screen.
One year ago, I had a medical diagnosis that forced me to make a decision about major, life changing surgery. It turned out that the decision became easier once it was a choice. I did more than make up my mind (made the decision)… The moment of choice I stepped into my power.
Still, it’s not easy.
It’s not easy to make life choices that you tell yourself other people would judge if they only knew about them. Choices that slowed down my success trajectory in exchange for simply living my life. For the first time in my adult life, I chose to work less, prioritized self-care and time with family outpaced my desire for a robust bank account and professional success… but I rarely talked about it publicly or wrote about it here. I was slowly but surely reframing my definition of success into one that consciously prioritized satisfaction.
Now, a year later, my brain is still catching up with my body, but things have changed.
I chose to be at the Science Fair.
For the past week, I chose to have live flowers in the house.
For the past few months, I chose to up my commitment to the gym.
For the past year, I chose not to travel for speaking, consulting or conferences.
For the past four years, I chose to take my kids to school most mornings and pick them up in the afternoons.
Over the years I’ve worked with many clients who echoed words I have said far too often. They complained about their crappy projects or long hours and lamented that they had no choice. I’d ask,”Who’s forcing you? Who’s making your choice for you?” For the past year, I’ve been asking myself those same questions.
Choices, Ripples and Mindfulness
Some of the choices we make are small and others more significant. The things they share in common are ripples and mindfulness.
The ripples are the impact of our life choices that move beyond each one of us and mindfulness is taking responsibility for being present in your experience.
We need to be responsible not only for ourselves but our ripples. There is a movement that says we need to put ourselves first. However, you may wake up one morning only to discover that everyone else is gone. Mindfulness enables us to see our ripples and make choices that reflect beyond our bubble of one.
Are You Choosing or Floating?
You and I, we can go through life like we’re on a raft on a roaring river being bounced about, holding on for dear life and moving forward (so it feels like progress) OR we can pick up the oars, get off the rapids and move with mindfulness, conscious choice, and whole-hearted intention.
Downshifting is a choice. Closing your business is a choice. Doing what you love is a choice. Being with people you love is a choice. Travel is a choice, and adventure is too. Creating a startup is a choice. Working late on a daily basis is a choice along with trillions of others.
One year after my first of several surgeries, the biggest and most important choice I’m making is to choose happiness. It’s time for my mind, body, and spirit to get into alignment. It’s time for a new chapter, and my son’s Science Fair is one of the pages I’m highlighting as I write my story.
I’ll be honest, what’s next is cloudy for me. I suppose that’s not something we’re supposed to admit or publish on a blog about personal leadership. However, I believe, it’s accepting those cloudy moments that creates the space for what’s next; resisting keeps us stuck.