I recently volunteered at a charity event run by a good friend of mine who’s trying to start a non-profit. By all accounts, the event was a success and went very smoothly, but my friend felt frazzled by …
Goals & Dreams
“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Watching …
“Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be true to yourself. How you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.” ― Steve Maraboli It’s been a while since we made our New Year’s resolutions, and all our …
I haven’t always been as intentional about the life I want to live as I am now. And I haven’t always been as successful at getting what I want. Now I know that simple old-fashioned formal planning about my life makes getting what I want much more of a sure thing.
Earlier in my life I probably could not have easily identified what I wanted. For instance when I had been married 17 years the first time, and I had three teen-age children, I was depressed, confused, and adrift with no vision or strategies for my life.
As I passed my 50th birthday, I wondered if I would ever be able to complete some of the dreams I had carried with me for decades. So many things had happened to me. I had been sent to juvenile hall at fourteen, got myself kicked out of school by fifteen, and married by sixteen. We had our firstborn son when I was seventeen, and my husband abandoned my son and me by my eighteenth birthday. Thing went downhill from there. I experienced abuse and trauma. After a gang-rape by six young men I turned to drugs to try to cope with the emotional pain.
By the time I hit my twenties, I was seriously mentally ill. Soon I would lose a brother and three years later, a father, to suicide. I went through another abusive marriage and divorce.
But I worked very hard to recover. These events changed me, but I grew as a person and changed my life. I eventually married a wonderful man. My children grew and became husbands and wives, with families of their own. I had the joy of a house full of grandchildren. My Christmases were no longer the nightmares of drunkenness of my childhood, but instead full of light and peace and the sweet laughter of children.
When I was born, something strange happened. I didn’t cry. The doctors thought I was dead.
Alarmed, they picked and prodded at me to see what was going on. After a few moments of their panicking, I started to cry. I was not dead. I was born asleep.
In some ways, I stayed asleep for the first twenty-four years of my life.
Being a freelance consultant and full-time mom, I’m always interested in how parents (men and women) juggle their professional and personal lives. Not surprisingly, I’ve been following Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her recent book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. More fascinating than the book itself is the reaction it has garnered in the media: from very positive reviews praising her stance on balancing work and life issues to very negative reviews that bash millionaire Sandberg for not understanding a more modest woman’s struggles.
All the arguments seem to boil down to one simple question for working parents: Can they “have it all” – the rewarding challenge of a full-time career and the joy of raising a child in such a way that you can be there for all the “little moments?” And therein lies the problem. By framing the question “Can you have it all?” I believe a person is setting themselves up for disappointment. Here’s why:
The saying goes, “Every journey begins with a single step.” For me, at least, the problem isn’t that first step. I can delve into projects with great enthusiasm, no problem. It’s usually step number 352 that gets me down. Then, through lack of energy or simple frustration, I simply get off the road.
Achieving a goal often feels more like a bell curve to me. The beginning is great, and when I reach the end, all is well. It’s that pesky middle area, when the bump in the road appears and I feel like I’m running uphill for miles, that’s the hardest to overcome. I keep looking for the end to be in sight, and when I can’t see it, I can get discouraged and give up.