Every year at this time I ask my clients to designate one word for the year that will serve as a homing beacon for when life is confusing. This year I chose the world "ALLOW." I wrote the word in sand at our beach house, took a photo of it and put the image in a frame on my night stand where I look at it each evening before bed and each morning before I start my day. I've been doing this for years.
The word ALLOW served me well this year. I prevailed in my work on a $4.6 million capital campaign for an important project that serves under-resourced patients, supported my mother in an independent living facility, was executrix on my uncle's estate, overcame health challenges, celebrated a milestone birthday with the people I love - all while in the stress of a pandemic where people were sick and dying at the hospital where I am its Foundation's president.
I ALLOWED what was out of my control while focusing my energy on what was in my control. And for me a lot of that energy went to creating programs that helped sick patients and our hospital employees. This served as a good diversion from my worries. But just as everything that we turn away from comes back to hunt us down, I had to get curious about the nagging unsettling feeling that was haunting me. I realized that what I was turning away from was my own mortality and that of the people I love in this pandemic. Once I honored that feeling, I was able to release it and move to a space where I could ALLOW myself to appreciate every moment for what it is and not fast forward to what might happen. And in that clearing I could direct my energy to something else that I love - painting and photography.
Some people reach for big change as a solution to unhappiness because they think any change will be better than where they are. This is dangerous. They think that a new job, house, partner, vacation, car, outfit etc. will remove that nagging feeling they run from. It won't. It always resurfaces. Despair is rooted in helplessness and misaligned values. Align the values, release the despair. Sometimes a change is needed. But only after your values have been revisited.
I have more fun sitting in my make shift studio painting and creating than in anything else I have pursued in a long time. I coupled my value of the freedom I feel at the beach with my value of artistic expression and started painting oyster shells and photographing the beach. What I never expected is that when people saw my work they'd want to buy it and in a weekend my hobby tuned into a business. Who'd of thought?
In closing I will say, when you want to do something else, examine what's behind your desire to make a change before you make a drastic mistake you regret. Reset your values and how they stack up against your dreams. The change you are seeking might call you to own and release a perspective that is no longer serving you. Doing so may allow you to reset what's out of alignment to make space for something new and exciting.
Wishing you space to create your word for 2021. Mine will be "Flow."
If you are feeling age discrimination when your company should be putting your expertise to good use, this link to the strategies I share with my clients might help >>> 10 Tips When You Fear Age Bias
P.S. Feel free to send this link to someone who could benefit from it. We are all walking down the same road in life looking for a hand to hold. Sometimes we must be the hand that reaches out.
Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and 19-year corporate CEO who helps leaders have more effective careers, happier lives and better relationships. Request a free consultation call.
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