If we take the Groundhog’s prognostication from last Friday as fact we will have six more weeks of winter. Either way on March 20th, six weeks from now, it will be the vernal equinox, the first day of spring! I’ve always loved this tradition born from a Dutch superstition. Throughout most of my career I’ve entertained a similar belief – “If I can just get through the next six weeks it will all be okay.” Unlike the groundhog, however, my first day of spring keeps moving out another six weeks.
The Myth of Six-Weeks
"If I can just get through the next six weeks, it will all be okay." Winter or spring – either way the time would go by and six weeks would come and go. What would be different in my life? Would things be better, worse, or more of the same? Was more of the same better or worse?
Several years ago, I was flying back from Australia and experienced my Bill Murray moment (remember the Groundhogs Day movie), I got on the plane in Sydney on Friday morning and got off the plane in Chicago on Friday morning. In the movie Bill Murray is trapped in the same day over and over again. In my story it’s the same six-weeks over and over again.
During the flight from Australia I had a lot of time to think. I think best when I am in motion. – driving, flying, train rides, etc. - my brain wanders freely – floating from one thought to another. As I sat in my roomy first-class window seat I looked out at the earth below me. I looked backwards at the shadow of the plane on the ocean below me. As I watched the shadow follow our path it occurred to me that the shadow was also a reflection of the decisions I had made in my life – the good and the bad. As I looked forward along the line of the plane the limitless sky above and the ocean below felt like a clean slate – a glimpse of what could be.
It was then that I had my epiphany moment.
If you are going to change your life you need to change your life.
What did it mean to change my life? What needed to be different? What was I willing to make a priority in my life? What was I willing to sacrifice? Sitting in my first-class seat it would have been easy to let my comfortable world hold me in place, to push these thoughts and questions aside and lose myself in the in-flight entertainment system. Instead I chose to take each question on and be open to the answers that came.
Family – I had delayed becoming a mother until my early 40’s. Once I made that commitment however, there was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to do whatever I could to become a good mother. Being an active parent in my son’s life. Being there for his ups and downs. Being a good role model. These were my goals.
Over the last 3 years however, I had become a great provider – comfortable home, fun vacation trips, the latest technology as gifts – but I lacked connection to his every day. I was the absentee parent, not even there when I was there. Instead I was trapped in my head watching the ticker tape scroll through the back of my brain – internally battling with who my job required me to be and who I really wanted to be.
Dream Job – My job was the dream job. At least it was the dream I envisioned for myself when I was in my 20’s. Having achieved the role, the responsibilities and prestige I had sought for so long was like a dream come true. Until it wasn’t.
As with most dreams we often find that the reality of a thing is very different. In my case the role, while prestigious, was not in alignment with who I am at my core, what my strengths are. Under the CliftonStrengths® Assessment my Positivity (#1) and WOO ($6) (winning others over) bookend four strategic strengths: Input, Strategic, Ideation, and Futuristic. My job was about benefits costs, workers comp costs, compensation plans, systems, technology enhancements, and too often being the harbinger of bad news. (My UK counterparts nicknamed me the Wicked Witch of the West – clearly not a name that someone with WOO wants to hear!)
Taking the first step
When I got off the plane in Chicago that Friday morning I knew what I was prepared to do. After the jet lag wore off and I was sure I was no longer sleep deprived, I pulled my family together and together we made the decision.
Six-weeks later I had quit my life as an employee and stepped into the world of creating my own coaching business, focused on helping others be their best version. Five-years later I’ve experienced lots of ups and downs, multiple starts and stops, but not one single regret. Learning to trust the voice inside me and letting go of old dreams that no longer fit who I am has allowed me to experience life at a deeper level. My choices are more intentional. My failures are more meaningful. My successes are sweeter.
Now more than ever I believe that All is Possible.
Share your story.
Have you had a Groundhog Day moment in your life? I would love to hear about it and how it’s impacted you.