My life became somewhat of a 15 car pile-up in my mid-forties. I was a late bloomer when it came to marriage, motherhood and career - so they all arrived somewhat at the same time. I had gotten married, had two kids under three, and was in a leadership role at work with increasing demands. Over time, my husband reduced his hours and eventually quit his job to maintain our family (thank god). I was finally living my dream of challenging, exciting work, motherhood and enjoying a great community in Oakland.
Was I happy? Who knows. I certainly didn’t have much time to think about it. As a woman, I was expected to make sure my kids were the center of my life – and as a professional I needed to keep work at the center of my life and so, it was a crowded situation.
What I wanted didn’t seem to play into the equation anymore. There was what everyone else needed from me, and there was bone tired exhaustion rubbing up against each other. Grinding gears. Something needed to change.
This idea of change has some dangerous impacts. Especially when I'd lie in bed at 3 AM reminding myself that all of what i had been living was my dream only a few years earlier.
As the breadwinner of my family, my job was important. Two young children, a caring spouse, a mortgage, retirement plans, a newly widowed mother, elderly in-laws. Basically, the full deal for someone in the sandwich generation of my mid-forties. In many ways, it was a privilege to have this life. Actually acknowledging how unhappy I was didn’t seem to have much place, seemed to be a pointless thing to ponder and also seemed somehow bratty or spoiled.
However, I had to admit that a lot was not working for me. And compromise after compromise, the satisfaction and joy had been nibbled away in my life and what was left was heavy responsibility, a long list of things that I was tolerating that drained my energy, and a hopelessness whenever I considered I was supposed to be happy. Didn’t I have everything I ever wanted? Maybe now isn’t the time to stir the pot.
Change requires some generosity on your part. It requires you to provide time, thought, care, money and patience. I had no generosity towards myself. I was quite stingy and unrelenting. Making a change would require stepping into some unknown and what if I stepped into something worse?
In the next few years, through series of very small steps, I changed my life, moved my home, and started my own company doing coaching work. Today, I continue to evolve but I do so while spending my time in ways that matter to me and are aligned to my values. I repeat: Through a series of very small steps. The biggest step was leaving my job, but even that step was something I had thought about for TWO YEARS (more about that later when we talk about courage).
Maybe you're ready to change how your life is working? Maybe you've been wondering if things are turning out the way you had expected.
I'll be posting a series of Evolution posts here walking through how we move into a Plan B, Plan C, or Plan D.