I remember when I turned 30, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to stress so much anymore on whether or not people approved of me.
I spent most of my life before age 30 twisting myself into knots trying to gain approval, be liked, and stay on the good side of others.
There were times when I stayed silent when I should have spoken up, when I said things I didn’t believe to gain favor, and when I did favors for people who accepted them graciously – or not, and then forgot about it.
There Are No Mistakes, Only Lessons Learned
It was a lesson learned. When I turned 30, it magically seemed to go away. The drive to be liked, though still there, was not causing me to hide my real self. My attitude changed to one of “this is who I am, take it or leave it.”
The only people I looked to for input on my attitude and behavior were mentors and trusted friends. I also looked to people in history and current events whom I admired to model myself after.
I wanted to be adventurous like Helen Keller, forgiving like Anne Frank, loving like Mother Teresa, organized and great at relationship-building like my mentor. I may not have lived up to their standards yet, but what a difference it made to shift my focus to these figures.
Old “friends” shifted out of my life and new wonderful friends shifted in. I had more success at work and I entered a period of renewed energy and zest for life.
As other women in my life neared 30 I heard them talk about the same struggle.
Turning 30 for me came to symbolize a time to assess who you were surrounding yourself with and make changes as necessary. Those who could cut cords and be mindful of who they were giving their time to went on to have similar successes at work and in their personal lives.
Higher Levels of Awareness
As I turn 40, I find my mind focused on a new level of self-awareness. Though I am still focused outward – my very mission in life is to help others discover and enhance their ability to be great leaders – I no longer feel a drive to do that at such a high cost to my own well-being.
Let me explain – maybe you’ll relate to some of this as well.
I go through cycles where I am on top of the world. I am eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, spending time with family and friends, and my business is flowing with me.
I am energetic, I am positive, life is good and I seem to naturally attract people who have great opportunities to offer me. These opportunities have a lot of potential.
I can see the possibilities of what these opportunities can become years down the road. However, I know it’s going to take time and there will be work involved. I am overcome with the excitement of it all and I say “yes!”
The Start of the Downward Spiral
And then the preparation and the work begin. The reality of what I signed up for sets in. This is what it looks like:
My schedule gets tight. It’s getting harder to fit everything in.
I think I’m going to have to skip my meditation this morning so I can send those emails. If I don’t send them before my day starts, it will never get done.
I was going to go for a run – but I haven’t finished tomorrow’s PowerPoint presentation.
Friends and family want to know when I’m coming to visit…
Don’t they know the weekend is when I get the majority of my work done?! It’s the only time during the week when I don’t have meetings, the phone doesn’t ring and my email does not get backed up.
I miss them. A lot.
It’s hard to go visit because the time is so short and I don’t want to leave.
And it Continues…
My home is falling apart. I don’t have the time or energy to fix things as they break.
I know this place is a mess, but I only have time for laundry and grocery shopping.
Now I can’t sleep. I’m so wound up, I can’t get relaxed enough to fall asleep.
I have to be up early tomorrow. If I don’t fall asleep I’m only going to get 6 hours of sleep. Now it’s down to 5. Shit, 4 and a half.
Exhaustion sets in and I finally fall asleep, only to wake up with bleary eyes.
Take a shower, have some coffee and put on your game face. You can do this.
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people cant.”
Blah. Blah. Blah. That’s such bullshit.
When am I going to feel like myself again?
I can feel my patience slipping.
I’m putting on weight.
I’m so tired and out of shape.
Until, one day, the light bulb in my head turns on, and I realize…
ENOUGH is ENOUGH!
At some point during the downward spiral, the light bulb comes on. I realize I’ve over-committed and I renegotiate my commitments. My schedule eases up, I pick up the pieces of my health, my relationships, and my home. Life gets back into a good rhythm.
And then the cycle begins again.
I can’t tell you how many times my coach has asked, “Why are we talking about your calendar again?”
Looking Ahead: My Commitment
As I write this, I am now in recovery mode from one of the worst downward spirals I’ve experienced yet.
The internal drive I had the entire time was, “Once these commitments are done, there are going to be some changes around here!”
I don’t want to sacrifice my well-being any more to have my dreams come to fruition.
Make no mistake – my dreams are going to come true.
But it’s not going to be at my expense. I want to be healthy and well enough to enjoy my life when that time comes.
As I turn 40, I am committing to take care of myself like I would anyone I love.
For my birthday, I commit to nurturing the most important relationship I have in my life; the one I have with myself.
Tell me, what are some of the life lessons you’ve learned and changes you’ve made as a result of hitting a new decade?