Go to university. Get good grades. Find a good job. Buy a house. Get married. From the time I graduated high school, I had my life mapped out in a perfect timeline. I knew exactly what I wanted and the steps I needed to take to get there. I was incredibly goal-driven and focused on making my life match the ideal picture I had created long ago. To me, success meant being able to check off items on my “to do” list and follow this timeline as closely as possible. My life became defined by collecting as many of these accomplishments as I could, until one day, like a child collecting trading cards, I had them all. On the outside, I had it all figured out. I was living the dream; I had everything I ever wanted. But on the inside, I had never felt so lost and confused.
I worked hard for years, striving to ace a test, or get a promotion, but now that I had met all these goals, I didn’t know where that left me. There was something missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I felt selfish, greedy and ungrateful. Here I was, with all of my accomplishments, and now I wanted more? It kept me up at night, it ate away at my conscience, but no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, I knew I was meant for more.
But what happens when you no longer know what you want or what the next step is? What happens when you can’t help but think, “Now what“? As fate would have it, one day I found myself sitting in my friend Michelle Grocholsky‘s office, only on this day she wasn’t just my friend, she was my life coach. I had never thought of having a life coach before this point – things were going well, so why would I? But when you all of a sudden don’t feel like yourself anymore, you’ll take all the help you can get.
Michelle invited me in by saying we could talk about anything I wanted to talk about. I sat down in front of her and the first thing I could say was that my life felt “fuzzy”. I explained that I felt like a goal-driven, over-achiever who didn’t know what my next goal was. I could see my professional life clearly and knew exactly what steps I needed to take, but when it came to my personal development, I was at a loss. I had spent my entire life working towards furthering my career that I had overlooked the basic fact that I am more than my job. She started asking me questions I never thought to ask myself and all of a sudden, a conversation that I thought would go in one direction, ended up somewhere completely different. Her questions focused on getting to the root of what was important to me, what excited me and how I felt about certain aspects of my life. It turned out that I did know what I wanted out of my life, but perhaps I was too afraid to admit it out loud.
By the end of our session, I felt renewed and ready to take on the world. Looking back, I can clearly pinpoint that meeting as the day everything changed for me. That was the starting point of the journey I’m currently on. It was the day I rekindled my passion for writing and the wheels were set in motion for this blog. It was also the day I decided to recommit myself to finish writing a book I started three years ago.
So, what changed? I like to think that Michelle has magical powers and transferred some of them to me, but really what changed was my perspective. During our session, I realized that I had been letting my perfectionism and fear of being vulnerable and exposed prevent me from setting new goals. I had gotten so used to achieving great results and always coming out on top that I forgot what it was like to have dreams to work towards. I allowed myself to define my self-worth by the number of awards I won, promotions I received or goals I met. The problem with this is that while you are achieving, you feel great, but when you feel like you’ve met all your goals, or even worse, fail to achieve any, you start to doubt yourself and question everything. Once I had accomplished the goals on my list, I forgot to set new ones and the only word I can use to describe how it made me feel was “stuck”.
That day I began to feel excited about my future again. I didn’t have a clear picture yet, but I no longer felt ashamed to want more out of my own life. That day, I started setting goals again. When I got home, I sat down at my desk and set a timer for 15 minutes. In that time, I thought to myself, “If I could do anything or be anything, what would that look like?” I scribbled down my answers and at the end of my 15 minutes, I had a list of amazing things. For the first time ever, my goal setting looked a lot different than it had as a student. I was no longer solely focused on how to further my career, but started adding in things that filled my heart with happiness. Things like “More quality time with family” and “Create a regular writing practice”. Once those goals were on paper, I immediately felt accountable to follow-up and make them a priority.
Even though this year isn’t over yet, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in 2017. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve re-established my goals as a priority. That initial meeting with Michelle was an eye-opener for me. She helped me to figure out where I want to pour my energy and what sets my soul on fire. During our discussion, I realized that I had the answers to my questions all along, I just needed someone to help me find them. I think the biggest lesson I learned in all of this is that it’s okay to want more out of your life. It is not selfish to invest time in yourself. In fact, I’d argue that when you show up for yourself, you are better able to serve others. It’s like the saying goes: “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. Since that day with Michelle, I’ve reignited my writing practice, created this blog, and found a new outlet for creativity. And because of that, I feel more like myself now than ever before.
If you are interested in learning more about Michelle, or would like to touch base with her, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear if you’ve had a similar experience, or what goals you’ve been working on this year. Share your stories in the comments below.