This was me 20-ish years ago.
I had fun. Lots of fun. I’m wearing thrift store bellbottoms and a hand me down top. My hair is multiple colors. I changed a lot at that time- job to job, city to city, project to project. I made a documentary about New York City hot dog vendors. I ran Vermont’s first internet café and community center. I did a little acting. I organized arts conferences. I deejayed for a drag queen show. I launched a hip-hop youth center. I moved 12 times.
But I wasn’t happy.
I had my moments, sure. But deeply, at my core, I wasn’t content. Life felt disjointed.
Now, in my work as a speaker and coach for professionals in transition, it seems that so many people feel that the older they get, the more it is just expected that one must
focus focus focus
We seem conditioned to either let go of exploration and pursuing unique hobbies, interests and events or to continue to allow ourselves these ‘distractions’ and to then feel fickle… and lost.
I got lucky. Events in my life led me to realizing I wanted to connect with people in a different way—that I needed to do work that allowed me to be of service, to do something related to creativity and performance, and to connect with people, but on a different level than I ever had before. I was burnt out on community organizing, the nonprofit world, and feeling like I never quite fit in.
Fate, circumstance, and the birth of my baby boy
led me to the gift of entering seminary. If you had told me, the girl who told her mother at four years old that she would reluctantly go to St. Mary’s on Sundays “as a favor to her” , that she would become an ordained minister, she would not have believed you. But, from the moment I started, I was truly home. And really, officiating ceremonies and the coaching, counseling, and motivational speaking work that has all emanated as a direct result of that journey ties together everything that I love- meeting diverse people, a constantly evolving and shifting program, performance, creativity, and service.
I hear so often from men and women in their thirties, forties, and fifties who wonder why they are still feeling unfulfilled. Why they either haven’t yet found what they love to do, what they want to be when they grow up, or, if they have found it, why they are spending their days feeling so chaotic and overwhelmed.
Please know this:
- You are not alone, and it is NEVER too late to love what you do and figure out what you want to be when you grow up
- Tune in to the still, small voice inside that knows what feels right. Listen to it. Even if it takes you away from what you think you “should” be doing. This may feel “woo-woo” to some of you, but it works.
- Put it on your calendar. Give five minutes a day to something important to you.Martha Beck calls the teeny tiny steps towards a dream your ‘turtle steps’ and she finds that they are THE way to achieve seemingly insurmountable goals. I have found that too.
- Start small. The same skills you use to make one tiny choice differently are the ones you need to hone to make the big ones. Do one little thing differently to take a chance and enjoy this day.
- Make it non-negotiable. Here’s the brilliant M.J. Ryan in why that’s so important.
Yes, some things shift as we get older. Our weight shifts. Our energy shifts. I get it. But just make sure what you’re engaged in conscious shifting—take some time to listen to your inner voice and learn what feels right and wrong. Sometimes it takes trial and error- you may need to observe how you make choices- and whether you’re really listening to your own voice, or the ‘voice’ of others who are telling you what you ‘should’ be doing. Who are you to be so bold at this age? Who are you not to! What do you want your legacy to be? What kind of model do you want to put out there for your children? How do you want to be known? Those around you deserve to have a YOU who is whole, who is energized, and who honors all the weird, wonderful, wild things that make you the unique multi-faceted mammal that you are.
Ever feel like maybe your head bone isn't connected to your neck bone? Let's chat.