For years I chased success, striving this way and that to make it in this world.
My identity was my business and everything was an effort to better my brand. I burnt the midnight oil, I took on every opportunity that came my way, I paid way too much money to be in the in crowd. I worked everyday, all day, till my hands were shaking and my back was breaking. And thankfully, it seemed to be working!
My business was growing faster than I anticipated, people sought me for professional advice and media publications were graciously accepting.
By the standards of one on the outside looking in, I was really making it. I had everything I’d ever wanted and I was living my dream. But in reality, something felt wrong- off.
I wanted desperately to quit everything and can remember on many occasions, telling my husband I wanted to run away. I’d day dream about working at Starbucks -something mindless that I didn’t take home with me or secretly hope that I was somehow pregnant so I could excuse myself from work all together for awhile. I was looking for an excuse, any excuse, to stop running without having to face the elephant in my house.
Achievement was loosing its luster. It wasn’t “it” anymore – the be all and end all of my life. I would’ve gladly traded it in to have my life back; to have date nights with my sweety and weekends with my friends and family again.
In 2013, I took a long hard look in the mirror and owned the monster I’d created. I took steps that very day to start small and work toward changes that focused on making what matters happen.
I set proper work hours and entire days off and installed an auto responder to notify clients. I set meeting days and office days and stuck to them like my life depended on it. I set business goals that were realisitic, that included the maximum number of clients I would take on and marketing opportunities I would engage in. I stopped attending industry events, instead investing in select connections that were genuine and the support was reciprocated.
And most importantly, I started saying No. No, no and more no’s, so I could say Yes to so much more.
But it was hard. It felt more akin to 1000 No’s for every 1 yes.
And while I knew what I was doing was right, I questioned myself constantly and feared what people would say. But as with any new habit, time and practice makes perfect- ish!
What followed, was the most beautiful and fulfilling year of my life. My days were filled with more joy than I ever imagine and adventures I had only dreamed of embarking on. My passion was resurfacing, I was falling in love with my life again and my purpose was becoming more clear.
I can admit I sometimes still feel conflicted by these boundaries and shift in priority and focus. Some of the professionals who started with me are now off speaking and running workshops- their businesses have tripled in size and they’ve got “likes” and “followers” to show for it.
But I know that no one can fully invest in lives when they’ve spread themselves so thinly, be it clients, family or friends.
With my rhythm of life now, I experience peace, knowing the truest part of me wants to be present, fully living every moment. I want to be all there, where ever I am, involved in what God is doing in the lives of those around me. It may not be glamorous or instagram worthy on most days, but I see more beauty than ever through these eyes. I know joy, lasting and deep; contentment, strong and true.
And here’s the secret: I’m discovering that everyday relationships are more fulfilling than climbing the ladder of achievement.
Each January, when I look back across the 12 months and recount the ways in which I’m most grateful, without hesitating, I place my family, friends and the moments in between, at the top of my blessings list.