I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thoughts and Wonders

In the past several months, I've been a bit adrift in terms of my life and what the heck it is I want to do with said life. Yes, I run a business and yes, I'm a mother and yes, yes, yes, it would seem as though my life is pretty darn organised and I've got this whole 'live a good life' thing pretty sewn up. The truth is, I don't think I actually am living the life I am meant to. I'm referring to my professional life, not my personal one (although, being a small business owner, they sometimes seem like the same thing.)

Don't misunderstand me. I don't have any need to escape my life and go hang out in an Indian ashram like the eat.pray.love author, nor do I want to eschew all creature comforts for a crunchy hippy life, nor will I wake up tomorrow wishing I was a corporate high flier. It's just that I'm not entirely sure I am doing what I am meant to be. I suppose you might say I am having a crisis of faith. I'm just...vaguely uneasy with things. There are certain thoughts, words, ideas which just seem to constantly live at the back of my brain, niggling away at me. At first I mistook these for negative self- talk: "I should be doing more" "I should be helping more" "I'll never be good enough" "I should have tried harder" "I haven't achieved enough" and so on. Having thought about it for a while now, I think it's more about not living an entirely authentic life than it is about me being some sort of bad or incapable person.

Just typing that "living an entirely authentic life" makes me snort and laugh and giggle like a 5 year old who just heard the word 'penis' said out loud. What the heck IS an authentic life, anyway? And who the hell believes in that hippy drippy arty farty stuff?

So here is the part where it gets a little interesting.

About a year ago, I organised a fundraising event for the kids' school. I used a certain company for this event. On their website, they credit a business coach for helping them to grow to their current level of success. I clicked through to that biz coach's site, liked what I saw and signed up for his newsletter. I've read the newsletter now for almost a year. It has never occurred to me to engage a business coach, I really just thought the newsletter would have some good free advice. Which, I should say - it did! The coach's writing style was engaging, funny, and often (to me anyway), full of wisdom.

Stay with me on this, okay?

A few weeks ago, said business coach offered some free mentoring to anyone who wanted to trial his services. Since I enjoyed his writing, I thought I'd sign up as it seemed (from what little I knew) that he and I would get along well. Ridiculous, really...to like someone based on their writing, while not really knowing anything about them, but there you go. I just had that strange feeling that, if I knew this guy in real life, we'd be fast friends. So we had our first session - which was eye opening and interesting and full of light bulb moments and it made me think a lot in the days afterwards. The first session was clearly meant as a freebie to get people to sign on with him for further (paid) sessions. However I made it clear that although I enjoyed the consult immensely, I had no means of engaging him for further work. Much to my extreme surprise and delight, he said, "I don't know why, but I really like you. I think we can achieve things together, and something about you draws me in. Let's just talk again next week" and then he set me some 'homework' tasks in preparation for our 2nd chat.

The second chat revealed a whole heck of a lot more than I thought it would, in so far as I revealed to this person (who is basically a stranger): I'm not entirely sure I am living the life I am meant to be. I'm not sure the path I've chosen is the right one. I think I've lost my way...and even though we're supposed to be talking about growing my business, I'm not all that sure I even want to BE in business in the first place.

All of those, and more, are thoughts which I've never said out loud, let alone to some guy I don't know at all. Still, it was an enormous admission for me to make. HUGE. Because after all, I am this...person...who is achieving what she set out to achieve, who is doing exactly what she said she would. But what if the thing I said I'd do... isn't really what I want to do? What if I just went along this path because a) it was expected of me and b) I knew I'd succeed at it? What then?

...and then he started using words like "intention" and "authentic" and a whole lot of other words which kinda made me feel uncomfortable.

As you can imagine, this conversation opened up an enormous can of worms. ENORMOUS. The crazy thing is, he thinks we should keep on talking... knowing full well I can't afford to pay him for his time, and knowing that he will only (for now anyway) be paid in gratitude. How do you explain that?

At the end of our conversation, he set me a task, which was based on Christine Kane's philosophy of 'Be. Want. Do.' It sounded terribly time consuming and emotionally difficult to do, but...I think I need to do it. Anyway, after hanging up with the biz advisor, I kept rolling that name around in my head...because the name Christine Kane sounded so familiar. And then I reached back into my mind and realised that almost 18 months ago now (around the same time I started to feel unsettled), I had read a post over at Karen's blog about making a vision board. A vision board post which referred back to - you guessed it - Christine Kane. I even bookmarked the post, because something about it resonated with me...and that in itself is funny, because I would have said all this 'authentic life' stuff is a load of crap.

Of course, now I can't shake this feeling of how life has come full circle. I read a post, and bookmarked a link, and then 18 months later met someone who led me right back to that forgotten post, and that forgotten link.

My head is now bursting with thoughts and wonders. I think this will be an interesting year.

1 comment:

Cameron said...

I'll admit that I frequently find myself in that same place, and I am starting to realize the importance of having a vision and goals, even if those change constantly.

I think you and me are the same in that we always hammer on ourselves for our shortcomings, what we don't do enough and what we don't do well, and wondering if we are cut out for doing what we're doing right now. I have my own business too right now and I've had the same doubts.

After reading your post, I came to the realization that I'm not being fair on myself beating myself up for everything I am not, when I have not adequately thought through what I actually want to do, and where I want to be. It's like punishing our children for everything they do wrong without telling them what they are actually supposed to do.

And like developing software, I don't think we need to know exactly what we want, and exactly where we want to be in order to create something compelling - we just need to have some rough idea of some desirable next step. In one of the project management books I read, the author points out that an airplane is off course 99% of the time and it's by paying attention to reality and taking small incremental steps that the airplane makes it from, say, Melbourne to Los Angeles.

I don't have a "vision board" but I have personally found it helpful to commit to writing some month-long, six-month-long and year-long goals and then come back from time to time and see if (1) I am heading towards those goals and (2) if any of those goals should be replaced with new ones. That's probably pretty similar to what you're undertaking.

Good luck, keep us posted, and I am glad you're writing again. It brings joy to my day to read your missives.