"My career doesn't own me anymore."
These are the words I heard from a client last week after YEARS of ladder-climbing that led to her "dream job"... which didn't turn out to be quite as great as she hoped. It's lucrative and came with lots of clout and responsibilities, but it didn't set her up for the freedom and flexibility she hoped it would.
But she isn't leaving her job. She's cutting the spider webs that made her a puppet of it.
Skipping a vacation, losing sleep, or missing out on family or friends might be worth it for a specific project or short period of time, but, usually, it's not... and, for the most part, those sacrifices aren't necessary to get the job done right. If anything, they hinder her ability to show up fully at work and set an unhealthy standard for her direct reports.
My client is stepping away from a destructive amalgam of micromanagement, pride, fear and guilt by loosening her grip, but she didn't quit or make any big proclamations about slowing down. She delegated—so she could release the reins, her team could grow, and the rest of her life could get some love. She also recognized (with relief and dismay) that her power to influence the overall direction of a multi-national corporation is formidable but not limitless.
I have other clients (in various decades of life) who are struggling to discover what they even want to do next—and others who know exactly what they want but can't seem to focus on the steps required to get it.
All of these people and the challenges they face might seem essentially different. They might need different approaches to manage their next steps, but regardless of which phase they're in, the point of the work they do—professionally, personally, and with me—is to improve quality of life for themselves and others.
"Quality of life" might mean making more money, traveling, building financial or emotional security, seeing a creative project through to fruition, carving out more down time, taking a leap on something new-and-scary or new-and-exciting, or saving the planet. It's different for each of us, but we all need to know what it means before we can make decisions in service of it.
What does "quality of life" mean for you?
We might not know exactly what we want (or need) or how to do it, but most of us have a pretty good idea when we feel alive and at peace in our current situations. We know the people and practices that help us feel at ease and when the ambitions we pursue are engaging and exciting—or not.
That sense of balance can come from many different areas of life. You'll find the 10 most common in Chapter 2 of The Habit Trip, and you can read more about them HERE. Knowing which areas need extra support isn't as hard as it seems. As you read through each one-line description of the Ten Areas, check with your body to see which one (or two) sends up a flare. Then you can build ritualized reinforcements for those specific situations.
That might sound easier said than done, but it's surprisingly easy to stick with an activity when it's providing you some form of energy, entertainment, support, or comfort. There's no reason you can't slather on relief like cocoa butter to support your quality of life... and your quality of work too. You deserve it. All of us do.
My client made a number of changes, not only to limit the amount of work she does, but to limit her attachment to the outcomes. She makes her voice known, chooses her battles, and lets the powers-that-be fall on their faces when they insist. She elevates under-represented, under-respected, under-paid people at the company every chance she gets. She's not fixing everything, but she's fixing a lot. She loves her work sometimes, sometimes not—but it's all in support of the bigger picture.
This is our post-pandemic summer. There's a lot of pressure to "make the most of it!"
What if "most" simply means figuring out what our priorities are and reinforcing them like spackle and paint on the outside of an old Phillips 66 Station that's being revitalized for its next iteration as an art gallery or farmer's market?
What makes you feel alive and at peace? What kind of relief can you find?I am doing my first in-person event since last winter! If you are in Nashville, join me on June 26th at The Happy Hour in 12 South for a two-hour workshop, Re-Entry: Your Life, Your Way Post-COVID.
As COVID recedes, we have a powerful opportunity to root into the lives we want to lead going forward. This workshop is an opportunity to bring those ideas out of our imaginations and into reality. I'll be teaching a straightforward method to identify the challenges you face and meet them with repetitive acts of healing.
You will walk out of this workshop with a self-selected, concrete change in one habit that feels targeted and joyful (not forced!)—and your own copy of The Habit Trip to support you through whatever changes you want to make going forward. Info and tickets HERE.
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Past posts can be found HERE.