A good friend and I were recently reflecting on the last year and they crazy amount of change and learning we both experienced. He (Jim Fellows) has been a key supporter, cheerleader, mentor and sounding board for me through this major career change and he said ... "I just dont get it, you haven't experienced any of the typical loss, grieving or malaise that normally comes with leaving an organization after 26 years. You are either a psychopath or pretty self actualized".
He got me thinking (again). While its possible that I am a psychopath, and while there is the potential to be both a psychopath and self actualized, I am leaning towards his observation that I am fairly self actualized. I think thats true, but why and how?
I know that it hasn't always been the case. I struggled with "finding" myself in high school, college and the 1st half of my career; trying new sports, classes, careers and fashions. In grade school, I wanted to be "That Girl" (Margo Thomas), live in a big city, have a cute boyfriend and an exciting job. In high school I thought - Fashion Designer, yeah.... that's it (for those of you know that know me well know that this is WAY off track). In college, I thought ... sports medicine, math professor, art historian ... In actuality, my grade school vision of myself was pretty darn close for the 1st 10 years of my career. I did live in a big city, had a cute boyfriend and an exciting job.
Unfortunately, I also spent those 1st 10 years trying to figure out who I "should" be. Should I ... "get promoted", "be a Director", "get married", "have kids", "buy a house" ... on and on. I really didn't spend any time thinking about what I wanted until... that exciting job in the big city wasn't so exciting any more. I was in my early 30's and realized ... I don't like shopping, I'm not a consumer and I don't like product. None of that fit with working at Target. And, while I had married that cute boyfriend, we were having a hard time having kids (biologically), promotions at work weren't coming as fast as my peers and I didn't feel like I was doing anything well. I was having a mid life crisis and I wasn't even 35.
I took a huge step back and asked myself...who AM I?! What do I like, who do I like to spend time with, what give me joy, what frustrates me, what motivate me, what makes me sad, nervous, excited, etc.... I would love to be able to say... it was hard work for a year and I figured it out but the truth is ... that was the start of the journey and I'm still figuring it out. But, what I DO know and what I HAVE learned is....
~ I LOVE being part of a team - IN a team, not above or below or next to a team. Truly, up to my elbows in team work
~ I like to be prepared - I can't think unless I am organized, have time to think through and get ready for what is coming however...
~ I thrive on surprises - while this sounds like an oxymoron, in reality, being prepared allows me to be aware of and take advantage of surprises
~ I have a strong need to learn new things, always - am easily bored with routine and need that adrenaline that comes with being outside your comfort zone
~ I have an equally strong need for closure - bordering on compulsive, I can't leave anything left undone, ever
~ I need to work out, every day - in large part this is because I have more energy than I can handle and its important to wear myself out before I drive people around me crazy
~ I am enough - once I figured out that I have a unique perspective, skill set and experience set that NO ONE else has, I was freed. Freed of worrying about if I was good enough, smart enough, polished enough, eloquent enough ... I'm not. Not at any given single moment in time, but thats ok. I am me.
~ I am not my job or the company I work for - I have loved every job I had, and I adored Target, but not because of the role, title, company or responsibility. I have loved them because of the problems I get to solve, the people I get to work with, the experiences I get to have, the learnings I gain, the failures I create ...
So, no, I didn't really mourn leaving Target. Instead, I celebrated that journey and felt extreme gratitude for the experiences, people and growth I had during my 26 years. AND, I bring all that with me, to all of my experiences now and in the future. What a blessing!
I think this is an extremely important message to everyone (especially young women) that doesn't feel like they are "enough", Believe me ... you are, it just might not match up to what you have been told you "should" be. I think Tracee Ellis Ross says it best ...
I wish for you what I wish for myself .... Peace and self actualization in 2018 and beyond!