Because I spent about 40 years going to school, I think of a New Year beginning in September rather than January. How can you get excited about turning over a new leaf in the middle of winter?
Anyway, the “Back To School” time of year always gets me excited. Time to start a new year, new energy, new changes, new stuff, new adventures, a new opportunity to re-invent myself!
A necessary part of that Re-invention is Reflection: the pursuit of evaluating your life and looking at what’s working, what’s not, and where do you want to go with what you’ve got?
“They” say with age comes wisdom. And that wisdom eventually brings the realization that suddenly, without being quite sure how it happened, you wake up one day and there’s more life behind you than in front of you.
Wow. Heavy, eh? That’s exactly what happened to me.
I began to examine my life, the way I was living it, the things I filled my time with. While many of those activities were enjoyable, and at one time even satisfying, had I simply kept doing them without thinking? Like I was on auto pilot?
Suddenly I felt like I was wearing a pair of shoes that had grown a little too snug. While they didn’t exactly hurt, they felt…constricting. Uncomfortable. And SO last year! 😉
When you realize there’s more of your life behind you, what’s in front of you becomes precious.
This doesn’t involve leaving my husband, either, just in case you were wondering. 😀
What do I want to do? What am I good at? What brings me pleasure? What endeavor brings me so much joy that it doesn’t feel like work?
Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits, said in a recent newsletter: “Your job is to figure out what your superpowers are, your strengths, and then figure out a way you can use your superpowers to add value to the lives of as many people as possible. The money will follow when what you do for a living adds real value to the lives of others.”
Ok, great! But what does that mean for me?
While I haven’t totally figured out the answers yet, it’s really made me slow down and think. How can I add value in this lifetime? What does the world need? What should I do differently?
Of course, there’s always the issue of time: Do I have enough time? How will I fit this in around my work? (Because after all, we all have to earn a living!)
I began to take a serious look at how I spent my time.
I began to take stock of everything I was involved in; what rewarded me? What brought me satisfaction? What did I enjoy? What fit into my life’s mission? (Whatever that is!) What felt meaningful? What did I look forward to?
On the opposite side of the spectrum, which activities that, once enjoyable, now felt like an obstacle course? Where did I feel like I was exerting enormous amounts of energy only to see minimal or no progress?
It’s human nature, especially as we age, to want to avoid change. Yet sometimes change is necessary on a personal or organizational basis in order for us to grow, and none of us embrace it or realize it at the same pace. Neither right, wrong or indifferent, that’s just the way it IS.
And then suddenly, you wake up one day and realize that you’re wearing those ill-fitting shoes that I referred to earlier. If you’re very involved, it can feel as if you are trying to drag a lumber wagon up hill. Both ways. It can be exhausting and frustrating at the same time!
WHAT IF…I opened up my schedule enough to leave myself time to think. What if I started all over again: freed up my schedule outside of my work and opened up blocks of time.
After all, if you want good things to come into your life, you have to make room for them.
My niece and I were just talking about this very topic today. (Funny we were on the same wavelength!) What new ideas, projects or opportunities might come my way if I opened up some space?
Inspiration is a necessary ingredient for creativity. And it’s impossible to be inspired with a packed schedule and a long ‘To Do’ list.
At first, the thought was kind of scary. In some form or another, anything we’re involved in has a reward of some sort. Whether it’s public recognition or the simply the good feelings of having made a positive difference, that reward is why we keep doing things.
The first thing I had to do was let go of the need for the reward. And that, my friends, took some doing. I’ll be honest.
But now that I’ve taken that step and let go of some things, I find I’m looking forward to my days again. I’m enjoying my work, enjoying my daily round and that peaceful feeling of contentment has returned. And with it, inspiration. For myself, and for others.
I have no idea where this adventure will take me, and that’s OK. That’s part of that beautiful mystery of life. We’ll see what opportunities come along and see where it takes me.
What about you? Are you on auto-pilot? Are there things you’re doing still that you no longer enjoy?