Just two years ago, I felt like I was a series of titles and roles. I identified as a mother of two, a wife, a volunteer, and an entrepreneur that felt sidetracked by life during a career transition. I had sold a family business two years prior, but I was struggling to identify my next adventure. Something was missing.
To find out what was missing I had to look back over my career and the previous 15 years. I had to spend time thinking about decisions and roles that I took on. I realized that in my twenties, I had a plan full of dreams and aspirations. I was passionate and confident. But somewhere in my 30s, life just seemed to take over.
Marriage, careers, kids, and moving got in the way of maintaining the path I thought I was on. Sacrifices, compromises, and changes are part of life, but when we don’t take time to re-evaluate and re-calibrate our goals, we can feel derailed. I know that I did. I felt frustrated, and I felt like I was living on autopilot. My day-to-day life was monopolizing my thoughts and my time. I felt lost…until I intentionally started to rediscover and reconnect with who I was at my core. I had to train myself to think differently, to embrace my experiences, and to embrace what became my Plan B.
When we take on roles that we don’t want, it takes an emotional toll. It requires a great deal of emotion work to sustain appearances. It is exhausting and impacts sense of self, identity, mattering, and mastery. I took on multiple roles over an eight-year period out of a sense of obligation. It was like I was giving every ounce of my energy to my employees, to my clients, to the boards that I served on, and to my family without refilling my emotional tank and without taking time for myself. I know that many can relate—I was always putting myself last until I realized that I was at a breaking point. To save myself, I relinquished or reduced the obligations of the roles I didn’t want, I started saying no to opportunities that meant taking on roles that I did not want, and I started saying yes to me and to opportunities that were in alignment with my new goals.
Saying yes to you is not selfish. It the key to a healthier, happier version of you that uses agency to take on wanted roles – cognitively choosing how each fits into your life. It gives you clarity and purpose. As you intentionally sort out your desired roles, redefine them and articulate the expectations you associate with each.
My husband I had to re-evaluate the division of labor within our household. I had taken on many household management tasks for years which gave him the freedom to focus on his career; now it was time to transition those tasks to his management to give me time to focus on redirecting my career. We had to ignore predefined gender role stereotypes and redefine expectations.
My path was not to follow some predetermined life sequence. My path was Plan B. It was not always clearly defined. It materialized as an evolution of thinking and an evolution in re-defining the roles that I wanted to play.
I had to walk away from the security of the known to the possibilities of the unknown, and I am so glad that I did. Plan B is all about evolving and re-inventing how we think about work, life, and roles that we occupy. There is no final destination. Life is about living, learning, and growing as we move through different stages. Letting go of obligations that take a toll on our mental well-being. Finding roles that fuel our soul and give us a sense of meaning and purpose.
Embrace Plan B — Kristin Heck Sajadi, Founder and CEO, Shyft Strategies, LLC