I asked myself that question one morning as I stared in the mirror, seeing more experience than youth reflected back at me. The jagged scar on my chin, etched forever by a silly stunt at age 12, wrinkled up further as I frowned at myself. "Is this really what I worked so hard for?" The combination of my aging reflection, a disappointing career move, and the very question itself, prompted within me a sense of urgency like none I’d ever known. I knew I couldn't continue like this. I was burned-out and suffering badly. The increasing demands of a career that seemed to suddenly morph into a hotly competitive field that required more and more of my time, energy and focus, left me feeling raw and empty every day. After eight years of running my lucrative, one-woman Business Intelligence consulting and staffing company serving top Mid-Atlantic companies, I subsequently transitioned into what I thought would be a less demanding role in Corporate America. I was mind-numbed, overwhelmed and going through the motions in a tedious and unfulfilling position. My attempt to lessen my pain only increased it. On top of all this, I was navigating the exhausting, choppy waters of elder parent care and doing a terrible job. I had nothing left in the tank to give. As I stared at the weary woman in the mirror, I knew that her patience for her current existence was gone. I knew she'd reached a dead end.
Hanging Around the Schoolyard...
Despite the pain I was in, I still fought to justify why I couldn't do anything about it. That I had too much at stake to leave my senior-level role. That my dad could get by without seeing me as much, as long as a neighbor could check in on him and be my back-up. I kept trying to justify my position and rationalize my pain. I'd worked too hard to get "here". There was no way I was leaving, no matter how much I suffered! Still, at the soul level, I knew I was lying to myself. I knew it was time to take a stand for what mattered most in my life. I knew it was time to graduate from this phase of my life and up-level what I felt most passionate about: Helping professionals age 40 and up, from all walks of life and profession, identify their unique genius, serve the world from that place, and create lives they envision. But I still held back from making that shift. I felt like that one kid we all knew back in high school who managed to finish (or age out), but still hung around the schoolyard because he wasn’t quite ready to let go and move on with his life. Because she didn’t quite decide what she wanted. Because he always had an excuse to stay. And that’s when it hit me. Throughout all my years of “success” that led me to this big, brick wall, I only just recognized in that moment, that I’d been nursing a heavy addiction.
The addiction I nursed was not to my career, my reputation or even to my money. I nursed a massive addiction to my excuses! Deep-rooted excuses that kept me constantly running, but not really moving or growing. Ones that convinced me I had too much at stake to change. Neat, comfortable justifications for staying unfulfilled and ignoring long-cherished dreams. Most damaging of all, were the very subtle, almost imperceptible excuses that led me to that brick wall.
Taking a Stand
Recognizing my addiction was a moment that defies words. Have you ever had a physical ailment that wasn't diagnosed for years? Then somehow, in some unconventional way, you finally get a definitive diagnosis! Although your symptoms remain, the joy of knowing you’re on the path to recovery is indescribable!
And so, there I was: newly diagnosed and asking myself a different question: "What do I want to stand for in my life?" I knew it wasn't chaos, neglect, exhaustion and self-compromise. I took a stand for living life on MY terms, EXACTLY as I envision, NO EXCUSES!
Over the next 90 days, I forced myself to focus inward, listening for and confronting the many excuses that justified my pain and stagnation. I created MASSIVE change that now allows me to work just three days a week while my income increases month after month. I am more present for my family, have a deeper connection with my husband, and I am proudly there for my dad just as he has always been there for me. My coaching practice is thriving. I have embraced and amplified my unique brand in the marketplace that has given me so many incredible opportunities to help individuals and organizations work through the fog of their ideas, get crystal-clear, bring out the best in themselves, and create solutions that fatten their bottom lines! Life feels good and full and beautiful again! I am experiencing life on the other side of my excuses and I couldn't be happier! I continue to break my excuses every day because excuse-addiction never quite goes away. It must be managed. Even still, I now know what I stand for and even my biggest excuses cannot hold me back ever again!