by Judith Ogedegbe, Certified Life & Leadership Coach
A young lady I got friendly with from sharing the same fashion designer told me how she loves to keep things orderly and organized in her life as we both sat down patiently in the dressing room to fit our clothes. I have coincidentally met her a couple of times so we got friendly. Mandy as she likes to be called is married to an investment banker with two beautiful children, and a promising job and career in a fast moving consumer goods organization. She went on telling me how much she has to juggle her responsibilities to make enough time to meet her scheduled fitting appointment for today, and gushed on gushing about how she retires to bed at the end of each day with a smile on her face for ticking the boxes on her to do list and smashing her goals. I found it very impressive, so i accepted a lunch date as she proposed one, because I really do enjoy her lively company.
As we sat down waiting to be served some oven fresh sumptuous hot brie and bacon, Mandy started telling me how her week has been – from planning her sister’s surprise engagement party, her success in sorting out the matching tuxedo for her husband and sons for the wedding, attending the mother’s day event at her children’s school, and in that same breathe calling the florist to make sure that flowers to be delivered to her mother and mother in love are in the right size and choice of flowers with very distinct description of what she wants, color of the ribbon and how the ribbons should be tied – with instructions to the florist that the bouquets must be delivered before 10AM Mother’s Day. I watched Mandy go on with pure admiration and keen interest. Just as I was about to ask her about to whether she has visited the new spa and wellness center she told me about, she was interrupted by the bleep of a text message from her manager – congratulating Mandy on the amazing report she presented to the Board of Directors last week. This made her face light up like she has just received a 21 gun salute from an army parade.
As Mandy continued on her cruise of successes, I posed a question to her – was what more are you looking for? Dismissing my question, she continued to tell me about this great report she had submitted and all the great stuff relating to it. As she continued, I started filling my tea cup with some Earl Grey tea from the teapot. I continued to pour the tea into the cup, and poured it…. and poured it until it reached the brim and poured out to the saucer, unto the table and started dripping to the floor. Astounded – she asked me ‘what are you doing? Can’t you see that your teacup is full and now pouring to the ground?’ then I stopped, feigning instant realization I said to her – this is how I see you! Mandy looked at me with absolute shock with some underlying rage, but I quickly asked her before she could say anything – Where is your pause button? Not knowing what to reply and trying to understand my first question – I asked her another question, how fulfilled are you? In bewilderment, she asked ‘fulfilled with what’? My response was more shocking to her when I replied – how fulfilled are you in life?
It was so very apt that she lowered her head, and she said – I am too afraid to ask myself that question, I just get on with stuff that I have to do and don’t think much of my satisfaction or fulfilment in life. Mandy candidly expressed the tiredness of achieving all her goals which sometimes takes away the joy and fulfilment that should come with it and makes her feel like there is still a void to be filled. She then abruptly stopped herself and added gently, ‘well I guess that if I am very successful, I will be satisfied in life’. Without a breather, Mandy continued to validate her success with her list of achievements and success at 37years old!
This time, I allowed Mandy finished and asked yet another question – if you look back to this time when you are 67 years old, will you think that you were satisfied at this age, and her face lit up again, she said EXACTLY! At the age of 67, I will be satisfied with my life because my children will all be grown, married with children, I have retired as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, my husband and I can then be able to …., in the middle of her trance, I interrupted her.
Do you realize I explained “that your finest time in life is today” and the only way we can ever fully enjoy each moment of your life is to be satisfied in each day, live in gratitude and be accustomed to loving your life moment by moment.
Mandy looked at me in appreciation, as I continued telling her that your days, months and years cannot be filled with check lists and to do lists of success attaining tasks, whilst missing out on the simple things that make you truly happy. How about you fill up your days with laughter, joy and fun as well, because there has been no reference to any of that since I met you? What is stopping you for having a fun and enjoyment check list and not wait for any day in future that is not promised to you?
I went further to say – if she paid attention to the elderly when they tell their stories, she will note that their stories are usually referenced with days of their youth!. Think about how radiant their faces become and how their lips curl up with a smile when they talk about the hey-days they had, and the fine lines and frown that turn up when they talk about the hustle for a promotion, chasing new business leads or even the dinners they had with their bosses and presumably enjoyed, that they equally achieved great success at.
Mandy listened with interest as I spoke and scribbled a few notes as we enjoyed our brunch with a new topic on increase in prices of luxury items in our shopping lists. We enjoyed some banter, and left with parting hugs and kisses.
A few days afterward, I got a bouquet of very beautiful lilies with a note that said, “You triggered some beautiful thoughts for me that I can’t stop thinking about! how about lunch on Wednesday to tell you about some of the ideas that I have come up with to be satisfied, fulfilled and happy today and not when I am 67!
I burst out laughing to myself, feeling blessed that I have been able to spark those thoughts for her!!
How much do you recognize yourself or see some of Mandy’s patterns in your story or how familiar does this sound to you? With the efforts you put in your life to ensure things are perfect and you are successful, how much of the same effort do you put to enjoy the achievements you have made, because you have conditioned yourself to ask yourself – what next?
How about these two questions – How satisfied am I in life? What a beautiful journey I have made so far?