We all go thru seasons in life – from streaks of blessing and good fortune to dry spells of frustration and challenge. It should come as no surprise that our reaction to those seasons can influence our ability to create a work and life we love.
Right now, I know several people in my orbit who are going thru challenging seasons. A good friend’s restaurant was finally slated to open this year but was postponed indefinitely in light of the pandemic. One of my clients underwent a fairly routine surgery during which doctors uncovered the early stages of cancer.
In my own life, I am exiting a long season of burnout. My central nervous system had effectively gone on strike, and it was manifesting in every way from digestive distress to anxiety to neuropathy. Years of constant overwork, navigating the ebb and flow of marriage and the first couple of beautiful (yet hard) years of motherhood had taken their toll on my energy, creativity and overall well-being.
I was grateful for the life I had created…but OMG, I’d paid quite a price for missing the “signs to redesign”!
My business was thriving and clients were winning, but I was dropping balls I could typically catch without breaking stride. I was apologizing more often for not following through on commitments. Blessings that were once a dream come true had become burdens of stress.
For me, the remedy wasn’t to get better sleep, drink more water, or exercise.
I needed grace…
Grace to rest (not just sleep).
Grace to pivot, not because of the fallout of Covid, but because I desperately craved more fun and ease in my business.
Grace to set new boundaries in my relationships.
There’s nothing like a good ol’ health crisis to put things in perspective, right?
Being faced with my own alarming yet correctable condition put every single contract I’d signed (metaphorically) on the table for renegotiation – from my business design to the subtle dynamics of marriage to friendships, self-care, and legacy.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines grace as a “special favor or privilege”. Most people would agree that redesigning their life is a privilege, a privilege reserved for the “lucky ones”…those who don’t have a business to scale, kids to raise, elderly parents to care for, clients to support or retirement funds to build.
In the juggle to keep all the balls in the air, many fail to recognize the privilege they have – right now – to redesign what’s not working in their work or life so that they can actually enjoy what is.
It doesn’t have to take an acute life crisis to force your hand to release the pressures that suffocate your vitality. Nor do you have to “pay your dues” before you earn the right to experience more joy and ease in the pursuit of success.
Quite the contrary…this thing is called grace for a reason. There’s no price to pay for admission.
So what does that mean for you?
During some seasons, as with my friends above, it takes every once of grace just to put one foot in front of the other and walk through the heartache of the hand life has dealt you.
During most seasons, however, you have the grace to redesign what you want in the moment, provided you decide to embrace that grace and all its creative power.
1. Embrace the power to negotiate boundaries that support you personally and professionally
The global pandemic revealed yet again the capacity of women to take on more and more…and more. Very rarely will others in your orbit – be it a spouse, children, boss or colleagues – volunteer to give you what you truly need at your core. It’s your responsibility to negotiate your own boundaries – the yes’s and the no’s, the additions and the subtractions from your already full plate. When it comes to getting your own needs met, “negotiation is non-negotiable”. You may as well get comfortable being uncomfortable with this point.
2. Embrace the power to be true to what you want (and what you don’t)
If you truly want to create a work or life you love this year, you get to be unapologetically clear about what you want and don’t want – in every area that matters. Confusion is a cop out. Most times we are not confused about what we want; we’re simply afraid of the impact our desires will have on ourselves and others. What action will we have to take as a result of that truth and how will it rock the boat of other people or relationships that matters to us? As the “Good Book” says, “the truth will set you free”!
3. Embrace the power to pivot what you offer in the workplace or marketplace so that you experience a more authentic success
Money, status and security matter, and their importance varies depending on your own personal values system. Money, status and security, however, can never compensate for a lack of passion, fulfillment or meaning in your work. So, if you find yourself perpetually questioning if you’re enough, if you’re truly successful, if “this is all there is”, it might be time to embrace the power of a pivot and take the baby steps to figure out how a pivot could transform the joy in your career or business.
4. Embrace the power to choose your perfect customers and say, “No thank you” to the rest.
Every customer is not your “perfect customer” and every role is not the best role for you. The more discriminating you are about who you serve, the more you will enjoy the time, energy, blood, sweat and (yes, there still may be tears) needed to fuel your success. Mustering the courage to say, “No thank you” to less than ideal situations requires a deeper faith and trust in the abundance of the opportunities around you. Getting to that point may require some personal and spiritual work on your part, but you’re up for that, right?
5. Embrace the power to forgive your failures and trust your brilliance.
You can spend weeks, months or years trying to feel better about your failures, or you can shortcut the pain with grace and simply forgive yourself. That you’re even bothered by past failures indicates that you are a wiser and better version of the person who screwed up the first time! Make amends where you have to, of course, and let that be enough. When you’re able to forgive your failures, it will be so much easier to trust your brilliance – that amazing impact you were uniquely created to make through talent only you have. The world is waiting for you to get it together!
6. Embrace the power to ask (or pay for) the help you need to create a career or business you love.
There really are no gold medals for suffering unnecessarily through life, but oftentimes we struggle – in our career, business, marriage or parenting – because we fail to ask or pay for the help we need. If someone has accomplished what you want, let them show how you can get it, too, faster and easier than you could on your own.
In the mad dash to succeed this past year, you may have found yourself in the fast lane going in the wrong direction. Don’t sweat it; it happens to the best of us – in career, business, or with the love of our lives. In those moments when you veer off track, the last thing you need is motivation to keep pushing through. In those moments, gives yourself the grace to redesign.
One simple tweak can make your life a masterpiece.