Choose you. Yes, assess the benefits and the risks, the costs and consequences, but honor yourself.
In August, I had the opportunity to attend Fedability’s webinar, “The business case for a radical sabbatical”. In it, Dr. Dana Sims led attendees first through the journey of she, her partner, and their menagerie buying and living on a sailboat (the pets earn their keep through social media management); and later, relinquishing the golden handcuffs of long-term federal employment for a life at sea. The webinar left attendees with a process applicable for Big Moves— whether you’re considering a year at sea or a career change, or something in between. It offered attendees a chance to be both rad and radical.
At its core, Dr. Sims offered a casual-but-huge takeaway about mitigating uncertainties at decision points: choose you. Yes, assess the benefits and the risks, the costs and consequences, but honor yourself. Those two simple words have stuck with me for seven months, at the front of my mind and on the tip of my tongue.
Of course I choose me, don’t I? Sure. Yes. Mostly. Often. The more I thought about choosing myself, the more my certainty about actually doing it faltered:
-I chose the college I attended because they gave me the most financial aid to support the field I wanted to study, and that was the field I chose because my college counselor suggested I wouldn’t get into other programs of study… Financial aid plus adult guidance does not equal choosing me
-I stayed at jobs where I was harassed or devalued for way too long because I didn’t want to disappoint the very people who were harassing and devaluing me… Choosing pain and discomfort does not equal choosing me
-I once got a tattoo that was larger, darker and literally not what I wanted because it was what my partner at the time wanted… not. choosing. me.
This not-choosing-for-me mental list reflected patterns in my thought processes and behaviors; reasons and excuses and external factors that I allowed to influence decisions that I made not necessarily for my own benefit, but to prevent the discomfort or disappointment of others.
A second list, choosing-for-me, bubbled up radiant moments when I let go of what I thought or imagined were exterior expectations and said yes to my instincts, my needs and my wants:
-I left an unhealthy marriage because I woke up one morning and realized that the weight of my life wasn’t sustainable; that that couldn’t be it for me…
-I bought a Mini Cooper because I wanted to, and it supported my commuting needs, and it reduced my fuel and car payment expenses; plus I looked really damn cute driving it…
-I have allowed friendships to fall away because we weren’t helping each other be our best selves, because things had become one-sided, because I didn’t like who I was with those people…
-I took a leap to open a business during a global pandemic because I wanted to work differently, I wanted my days to have different meaning, and I wanted the hustle to be for me…
Those moments of choosing me have led to little joys, greater happiness and more opportunities to thrive. I choose me because I deserve to after years of not living for me.
I spend gads of time with clients unpacking why they can’t or shouldn’t do things.
“They expect something else from me.”
“What if I disappoint them.”
“I don’t want to seem selfish.”
All valid, selfless reasons to avoid social discomfort. And when we talk about the cost of those decisions, I always, always think about a life on the high seas and ask, “what happens if you choose you?”
Give that a think.
Then give it a try.
Then let me know what that does for you.