Every so often, when I’m reminiscing with old friends, I hear myself saying, “Oh, my gosh, that was at least three lifetimes ago!” And in fact, I have invented at least that many lives for myself. I started out as a daily newspaper journalist, then spent several decades in academia, and now I’m a life coach. I’ve always been eager to call for a “Do-Over!”
And I’m not alone. Working moms are challenging the old rules of the corporate workplace. Boomers are changing the face of so-called “retirement.” Record numbers of women are switching careers, or becoming entrepreneurs. We are less willing to settle for life as usual. Are you ready for a Do-Over!?
Are you feeling the flutters? That’s what I call a barely noticeable case of the butterflies, a primordial sense of excitement or curiosity. The flutters are what launched me into coaching women. Or maybe you’re feeling stuck – grounded on the runway without a flight plan or sufficient fuel?
Whatever is prompting your Do-Over!, make sure to give it the preparation it requires. When I coach women in the midst of a transition, I see four common pitfalls. Don’t let these mistakes derail your reinvention:
- Poor Planning: You can’t wing a Do-Over! Big or small, it needs to be thought through ahead of time with at least the same consideration as you plan a meal. Not only do you need to consider the step-by-step pragmatics of change, but you also need to consider how you will handle the push-back you may get from your family, friends, or co-workers.
- Going Solo: Speaking of push-back, you’ll need to assemble your dream team. It takes a village to send a child off into life, and it takes another village to reinvent an adult life. So surround yourself with positive people who understand your dream and will help make it a reality. Some team members will keep you emotionally energized along the way, and others will step in at crucial moments to offer you guidance and advice.
- Confused Purpose: Wouldn’t it be lovely if each one of us had a big idea for changing the world and started our own nonprofit to implement it? But the reality is, not everyone has to change the whole world. Purpose isn’t just about doing something. It’s also about being something. As Victor Frankl said, “We can endow our lives with meaning by embracing our circumstances with dignity.” Meaning isn’t something we find; it’s something we make. Or, if you prefer Joseph Campbell’s way of looking at life, it’s simply about feeling alive. So don’t insist on finding a grand purpose that isn’t yours just because you think you “should.” Make it authentic.
- Insufficient Passion: Similarly, you’ve got to find what’s really yours to love, even if the rest of the world doesn’t value it. No one gave a hoot about French cooking in America before Julia Child decided to share her passion for it. A Do-Over! challenges us to the core, so you’ll need to possess an excess of passion to get through those inevitable rough patches.
© 2011 Ann Daly