I know many folks leave this decade wishing it had never happened. For me, this has been one of the toughest decades of my life. Yet, at the same time, I’m quite resolved. I’m quite thankful for every minute of it.
During this decade, I’ve watched my two children grow into responsible, polite, accomplished young adults. Each has their own interests and personality that delights and disappoints – sometimes in the same hour (they’re teenagers). Also, during this year I reach my 24th wedding anniversary. Who would have thought that cute guy with the ’69 Firebird convertible would still be with me. (Yes, the car is still with us too.)
But, the biggest transformation and accomplishment this decade was the work of me. I think I’m a typical mid-career woman. Started off doing one thing, following my nose until I realized it was actually someone else’s dream I followed. (No, I can’t figure out who this preverbal “someone” is.)
About 10 years ago, my executive coach asked me “what do you want for your future?” I said with pride (knowing this is what she wanted to hear), “I want to be CEO!” Then she said smugly (like she heard it before), “That’s just a title, what do you want?” At the time I felt it was a rhetorical remark and shrugged it off, but today I realize from that point in time I’ve been trying to address the question.
Of course, I went off to achieve and ultimately became a CEO. I have to admit it was not my favorite job. This job came with A LOT of overhead and nonsense. Not a great position for me because I don’t deal with wasting time well, and this crew mastered wasting time – mine, yours and everyone else’s. Do note that’s my perspective and not theirs – it was my first clue I was dependent on the wrong team of people.
One day, the wise words from my coach hit me when struggling with a client issue. I realized I had only achieved a title, and not a dream. This wasn’t really what I wanted! Now, I don’t know about you, but finding out that I had spent my whole career chasing an empty goal was devastating. So, I gladly sold the company above and went off to do my own thing, which has been more of a journey than a destination. It’s taken me years to get to the point where I think I may just now be on the path of knowing what I want. Just on the path. Yes. I’m just now entering the path.
Why am I thankful? I’m on a promising path, and oh how hard it’s been to find. I’m finally asking the right questions – Who am I? What do I value? How do I want to live my life? What do I want to give to others? How much can I give to others? Who do I want on this journey? Who do I need on this journey? What will I tolerate and what will I not along this journey?
What’s in store for the next decade? I don’t know, but I know this journey is going to be exciting (and it will have its heartbreak too). I’m letting go of those things I do because it’s what others expect of me, and discovering my voice. Turns out, I’m not particularly good at delivering in my voice. I think many women who reach this juncture feel the same. As I learn more about what I want, my path seems clearer and more compelling than ever. Cheers and clink-clink to the decade ahead.