“Can I finally start?” It was a question that popped into my head unwittingly as I sat in my office last week. I was trying to shake off the exhaustion from the holidays and begin an avalanche of work that I’d queued up for the New Year. Start what? In acknowledging the question, I felt as if I was on the edge of tears. It took only an instant for this feeling to pass. Even so I realized I’d crossed an important milestone for my transition, one that makes me think about New Year’s Resolutions and new beginnings a little differently.
My ‘start’ question was a subtle prodding to get me even further away from the ‘should do’ arms race that I inhabited for so many years. To understand this further let me set the stage for this milestone by giving you two data points:
The first hails from a speaking event I did about my book, Women & Transition, last October to a large audience in New York City. During the Q&A at the end of my remarks a woman asked, “Now that you are an author how do you think differently about your career?”
The question caught me off guard. It brought real tears to my eyes.
I responded as honestly as I knew how.
“I don’t consider myself an author.” I said. “My transition to this point has largely been about leaving a corporate identity that I’d built over decades. One that stifled the person I’d become.” (Pause. I pressed on.) “I was always told I wasn’t a good writer – teachers, early bosses – so I guess I never considered ‘author.’ I acknowledge that there is some irony in this because we just spent the last hour discussing a book published by Macmillan that I wrote. Time to rethink author?” (chuckle, chuckle, next question).
In that question and my response the audience witnessed an unvarnished element of transition, barriers.
The second data point for my new milestone came just this week. I was creating a ‘to do’ list for 2017. Novofemina was listed. I happened to log into the site as I was writing this action item and noticed something very special. I’d surpassed 30,000 visitors. 30, 047 to be exact….!!
Do you know my first reaction as I looked at the number? ‘It isn’t a million.‘
These two reactions – the ‘not an author‘ and ‘not a million’ – pushed me to another level of understanding about transition – a greater visibility of the barriers accompanying me on this journey.
Barriers have changed as my transition has progressed. Early on in my transition I met barriers like ‘fear of an uncertain outcome,’ as in ‘I am afraid to leave my job if I don’t know what I’m going to do next?’
Now – almost six years in – the barriers seems entirely personal – like ‘not.’ They are deeper and require even more courage to listen to what they might be telling me.
One thing I am quite sure of – this propensity of mine to dress down achievements into what they are ‘not’ – is likely a barrier that I need to understand more fully in this New Year.
I do wonder how to finally start living the entire vision of my transition. One that makes no apology for the achievements that I enjoy while doing the things I love….
Transition has taught me to listen to New Year’s Resolutions differently. ‘Lose ten pounds.’ ‘Start networking.’ ‘Spend quality time with my kids.’ ‘Get my retirement plans in order.’ ‘Find a partner.’ ‘Laugh more.’
Could each of these resolutions be a first pass at addressing a barrier? Or could they be an unwitting attempt to distract their sponsor from bigger questions like ‘not’?
In 2013 I closed my New Year’s blog post with the following:
- For 2013 I wish for you an anchor…to anchor on as big a dream as you can imagine. I also hope that patience and courage serve as heavy chains for that anchor so that you never let go.
This year I want to add to that wish…
May your dreams guide you towards living the fullness of who you are and may you dance beyond the forces that try to remind you of what you are not.
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