Choose your own adventure

Choose your own adventure www.theredelevator.comYou’ve just got some bad news.  You didn’t get the job or the promotion you really wanted.  The love of your life doesn’t love you anymore.  Your business is officially failing.  Do you:

A) Shit on yourself?  You feel like the world is against you.  You weren’t good enough for that job anyway.  Why would she still love you? You’re obviously not marriage material. Why did you think you could succeed at your dream?  Now, what are you going to do to pay your bills?

or

B) Believe that better things are on the way for you?  You weren’t meant to get this job/promotion.  You’ll figure out what’s next.  You’re heartbroken, but you know that you’ll find the person who’s right for you when it’s the right time. You’ve experienced what’s not working, now you need to explore new ways to succeed in your business.

Please note: I’m not implying that person A doesn’t realize at some point that there are good things that come out of losing out on the job/promotion or the love of their life, and learning what not to do in their business.   Nor am I implying that person B skips along in sunshine surrounded by butterflies every day, and won’t feel anger or frustration or sadness or loss.  I’m simply asking about your initial reactions, thoughts, and feelings.

If you choose A, please skip to “I’m going to give it to you straight”.

If you choose B, please read below.

You know that acknowledging the bad, letting yourself feel your feelings, accepting the situation,  analyzing the whys and coming up with solutions are the steps to come out the other side better than you were before. And during that process, you are allowed to smile, laugh, feel good, have a day off, and take care of yourself.  Feel free to give yourself a pat on the back and stop reading here. Go and check out my facebook page for some interesting articles!

I’m going to give it to you straight:  getting down on yourself doesn’t make things better.  Worrying doesn’t motivate you to get out of your bad situation. In fact, it does the opposite – it keeps you there, viciously cycling through what he said, what she did, how this and that happened and what should have happened instead.  It takes you a lot longer to push through the feelings of shame and embarrassment to where you are able to look at things clearly.
Do you scoff at those people who say that the Universe wants them to succeed?  Do you think that people who think things are ‘meant to be’ are deluding themselves? Have you ever kept up with those people to find out what happened after they went through their bad situation?  Have you found that, in fact, they are happier and more successful?  They got an even better job/promotion, they met and married the most fantastic person or their business made seven figures last year?   What do you put that down to?  Good luck? Actually, it’s due in large part to their positive attitude. Their belief that they deserve good in their lives and they will get it. I’m not saying you have to start believing in the benevolence of the Universe or in destiny, but you do have to start believing in yourself.   It’s likely you generally do, or you wouldn’t be here, but do you realize that even initially assigning blame to yourself or your personality instead of your behaviour or your thinking means that deep down, you don’t believe you deserve all the good things that you want?  When things are going well, you are confident and sure.  But when things go sideways, you get lost for a bit.

Instead,  stop for a moment and acknowledge that what’s happened really sucks.  You really wanted the job, the girl, the business to be profitable by now.  Rage, cry, get drunk, watch Love, Actually on repeat.  Feel your feelings.  You are allowed to feel bad.  Just don’t make any permanent decisions here.  Once you get those feelings out of your system, notice how much lighter you feel.  You’re ready to accept your situation for what it is.  An impermanent occurrence.  Figure out why it happened.  Be realistic and honest with yourself.  Understand that not everything is under your control, but that now you get to make decisions about the things that are under your control.  Namely, what you’re going to do next.  What are your next steps to getting that promotion?  Is it possible to talk things out with your loved one?  Who can you ask for help with your business?  Make a plan and implement.  And while you are going through this, take care of yourself.  Talk to friends, go out and let off some steam, feel good about your progress and the good things in your life.  The next thing you know, you are moving up, moving on, and moving forward.  And the next time something bad happens, you’ll choose B because you know you deserve good things and you know how to get them.

Photo credit: S. Bailey

How did I get here?

How did I get here? A post on disconnectionLila Duchesne was one of those people who didn’t remember her dreams.  She was unable to commiserate with her friend who couldn’t figure out why she kept on dreaming she was naked at work or join in dream analysis discussions with her colleagues.  She just fell asleep at night and woke up in the morning at her alarm’s insistent beeping with blankness in the hours between.  It didn’t use to be like this.   She used to have vivid dreams about flying and fantastical creatures.  She’d once had a philosophical conversation with a tree where she seemed on the cusp of understanding the meaning of life until the alarm dashed her hopes.  But in the middle of college, her dreams just stopped coming, and 20-odd years on, nothing had changed.   She was musing about this on her way to work because just last night her mother had reminded her that she used to have such a wild imagination when she was a child, always acting out little skits for ‘her audience’, making up songs about people and singing each person their own special song to make them feel better, and she used to draw out all her dreams, papering her room with the drawings.  Her mother had kept all the drawings as a reminder of her “little artist”.   Lila sighed and shook her head now, thinking that she should probably visit her parents.  It was obvious her mom was missing her.  All of a sudden, she felt an arm across her chest, pushing her back onto the sidewalk.

“Hey, Lila!  You almost walked in front of that bus!  Didn’t you see the light change?”  It was her co-worker, Steve.

“No.  Thanks for saving me.”  Lila was feeling a little shaken.  She was usually so cautious.

“Can you imagine if I hadn’t been late leaving my place today?  You’d be splattered on the front of the bus and the road too, probably.  I’d have to write your obituary.  ‘Lila Duchesne, 43 years old, a senior financial analyst with Fastech Industries, a Fortune 500 company, leaves behind her dog Samson, and …”

As Steve enthusiastically went on describing her life and death, Lila felt like she’d just done a sidestep, like, if this was a movie, everybody would be paused, and she’d be looking at herself from outside her body.  I’m 43 years old.  I’m a financial analyst.  How did I get here, how did I get to this life?  I’m Lila, the girl who could run faster than all of her friends, the girl who couldn’t wait to get up and see what adventures she could embark on.  What happened?

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When this happened to me, it wasn’t dramatic like Lila’s situation at all.  I can’t even remember what triggered it.  It was just a little shift and I thought to myself, I’m a software training team lead. I felt momentarily unreal; like I was reading about somebody else in a book.  It was rather neutral too.  I didn’t feel dismayed at the realization, so to speak, it was more like a quiet jolt. And wouldn’t it make a great blog post if I could say that was the moment I realized I wanted to do something else?  Nope. I shifted back into myself and continued working.  But, I do think that it was a catalyst to thinking about what was out there for me.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  Where you suddenly and temporarily had a bird’s-eye view of your life?

What realizations or home truths came about as a result?

If this hasn’t happened to you (or you’d like it to happen again in a more controlled fashion), what could you do to manufacture this shift process to gain knowledge about yourself?  I sometimes have daydreams about being interviewed on a talk show (doesn’t everybody?), and when I start talking about how I got to where I am or did what I did it gets me seriously thinking about why I made the life choices I did.  Other times, I’m watching a procedural and I wonder how I’d behave if I was being questioned in court.  How would I explain my actions?

Now it’s your turn.  Let me know your story in the comments!

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Do you want even more helpful questions?  Click on Work With Me to find out more about what I offer and contact me for a complimentary chat.

To tribe or not to tribe?

Lately, I’ve been running across a lot of articles about finding a tribe of people who are like-minded and will support you as well as help to hold you accountable for your business endeavours. On the one hand, I’m all for it. I’ve been feeling a little alone when it comes to starting my own service-based business. People seem much more accepting of my husband’s business, which is product-based. They’re a little more concerned about how I’ll build momentum, a little more worried about how I’ll increase my business. Some of their concern may have to do with people, especially my parents’ age, not knowing what a life coach is, unless they are in the field or a related industry (at least here in Canada). But, overall, it seems like if you aren’t doing a traditional service-based business (ex. doctor, dentist, massage therapist, hairstylist) or one that people at least recognize, then they aren’t ready to fully support you in your new endeavour.  It’s also quite the change for everyone around me, to see me go from working for corporations in one capacity or another to starting my own business, in a field that doesn’t quite sound real to them. Looking at it this way, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for me to get together with a group of people who understand me, know where I’m coming from, know what kinds of practical issues I’ll run into while starting a business, and who will help me, champion me, and be there through the good and bad. On top of that, so many successful people in my field whom I admire have a tribe, so it seems savvy from a business point of view too.

And yet, I hesitate.  I was quite shy as a child.  Once I got to know people, I made one or two good friends and was friendly to everyone else but not close.  As I grew older, I grew less shy, and understood that I was introverted.  I might be quiet until I felt comfortable, but after that, I would be my usual self.  I remember people being shocked by my sense of humour because they didn’t expect it from “sweet and quiet Sérene”.  Nowadays, I’m not shy, and most of the time, have no problems starting up conversations or joining in.  In fact, I’ve always equally liked being alone or with one or two good friends.  The thing is, I have those good friends in each of the different areas of my life –   work friends from the diverse companies for which I’ve worked, friends from my university days, and friends from here and there.  They all know some of the aspects of me I let everyone see, but, otherwise, each set knows different parts of me.  I’ve never had a ‘gang’ of friends.   A tribe would be the equivalent of a gang of friends.  Is that something I could handle?  It seems like this tribe would have to know my personal life as well as my professional life in order to understand me better and know when I’m self-sabotaging from fear of failure, or to help me figure out when I can actually handle taking my business to the next level.   Letting a group of people in wholeheartedly would be quite a significant step for me.

If I choose to go for it, do I actively look for this tribe or do I let it happen naturally?  Do I try to form my own group or join an existing one?  Which will be the harder thing to do?  Am I overthinking it?

As I try to figure out this tribe issue for myself, think about your tribe, if you have one.  It could be your book club, your gang of friends, or an official business group to which you belong.  Are you able to be vulnerable and get encouragement and support?  Do they help you with your goals and desires?  Does your tribe give you what you need?