A few years into my career as a change management consultant, I received an award called the C&L commitment award (along with a plaque engraved with my name). At that time, I felt honored, acknowledged and probably proud. In a hard-working culture, it seemed like a high point and certainly an affirmation that all the late hours, Rolaids, lean cuisines, missed social engagements and sleepless nights spent worrying about whatever I’d left undone. Were worth this reward. Never mind that with this did not come a promotion, I was satisfied with simply being affirmed that I’d met some standard held by the firm. It reinforced to me back then that working harder was working.
And this is such an expression of how we are conditioned to please, work hard, achieve, prove ourselves over and over again. Our core identity is often linked to what we’ve accomplished, the status of our career and simply how busy we are.
For me, although I eventually received that promotion, and my own office I got it that I could never have enough of what I didn’t really want. Yes, that’s right. Never enough of the stuff we don’t really want in the first place. That realization came when I bottomed out on pleasing others until I simply could not fulfill my promises and disappointed others. My recipe for success had failed and I knew it. I unhooked from trying so hard to deliver and started listening to myself
How I got there was to begin making different choices, choices to explore, to slow down, to listen to myself if just enough to know this lifestyle/job was not what I truly wanted. Sure, it was a sought-after job, but it wasn’t what I really wanted. It took me time to separate out the many voices within and start giving credence to the one telling me I was not on the best path for me.
So many of my coaching clients are overwhelmed right now with more responsibilities than ever, and looming expectations like I described above. This is not a game we win by simply doing more. Such a paradox, we win the game by answering questions when we are grounded, centered and closer to our felt sense. We are more likely to make course corrections to align our inner and outer life if we stop and listen. We ask:
What is it like for me right now in this environment/job?
If I continue on this path, who am I becoming?
What is working about this direction/path? Not working?
Are there ways this is not lining up with my soul?
Am I able to sit with the discomfort of not knowing how it might look if I were in greater alignment with my sense of purpose, my values, my commitments to care for myself and my loved ones?
Listen to my 7-minute centering practice to get more grounded and present.
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