If you were to ask me right now, if my life is exactly where I want it to be, my answer would be a resounding no.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a life plan so intricately detailed, with measureable goals, timelines and next steps. If I hadn’t drafted it out on excel, it was at least imprinted so vividly in my mind that it pretty much dictated how I lived. This spanned across University – that’s why I graduated top of class because I planned on being Summa Cum Laude and Class Valedictorian from day 1 of college and worked my entire 4 years to get just that. This was true for corporate life, at least for the last 10 years I devoted, working for a company that shaped a lot of who I am today. This was also true for every sport I seriously got myself into. I planned on learning how to dive so I became a certified diver. I told myself I’d be able to run a few 26.2 milers, so I became a marathoner. I ruined my knees from all the training, but I still successfully transitioned to becoming a triathlete. And then, I wanted to see the world when it wasn’t yet the status quo, so I travelled on my own at a young age when it was very much frowned upon, and life outside my comfort zone has since been my greatest teacher.
But life doesn’t always go as planned, no matter how foolproof our chosen methods are. See, accolades in school, work or sports do not define us, neither do they set out the pace and direction for our entire lives. When I was in corporate, I only planned on becoming the best person on the job, never did I imagine I would eventually become a victim of sexual harassment. And although my highly respected company took the right measures, it still sadly took a toll on me mentally and emotionally, at a time when talking about it was taboo and there was none of these #MeToo and #WomenEmpowerment campaigns. It changed the direction of my career, and affected a lot of my decisions thereafter. But it was the same turn of events that opened doors for me and eventually led me to finding my true calling in life. God, after all, works in mysterious ways.
Many years after, I’ve come to realize that none of the things I felt proud of accomplishing, significantly influenced the life of another. What I tracked myself against and considered as success measures were very self serving, therefore I knew something was fundamentally missing. I am however incredibly grateful for everything I have worked hard for, mostly because of the values ingrained within me over the years. But what was made clear to me, and it was in moments of struggle and despair that these epiphanies came about, is the resounding fact that life isn’t meant to be lived with the sole purpose of making our CV’s so damn impressive or living the best life impression on social media.
And this is why it’s so important to stop comparing ourselves, our lives and our relationships with what we see on Instagram and what appears to be #goals. It is equally imperative that we catch ourselves before we fall trap into these FOMO and YOLO millennial self inflicted anxieties. The worst thing that can happen is we begin to feel inadequate, because we have created a so called standard of how life should be lived, based on what we see and what the internet projects. We fail to realize that these are merely snippets and fragments of everyone’s entirety and truth. Nobody enjoys sharing their pain and misery online, and we can’t blame people for keeping to themselves the less glamorous stories of their lives. The key is to understand and embrace that we all have our own individual journeys to live. Our lives move at different paces, go through different seasons, and we need to honor and respect that, in order to truly savor the lessons at every stage. We are not any less because the other is way ahead in terms of career or personal path.
Starting my own company still scares the sh*t out of me, every single damn day. And if I allow my fears to win over what I believe my purpose is, I would go back to corporate in a heartbeat. Not saying corporate is easier, because it’s not. But as it has become my comfort zone for the last 10 years, it has served its purpose in shaping my character and has paved the way for me to be where I am today. It’s so easy to compare our personal scorecard with that of others and feel bad or sulk if we are indexing way below. Hence, we need to be absolutely crystal clear with what our underlying values are, what we deem important in this life and most importantly, who do we live for. Because everything else around us is just noise. At the end of the day, when we remove all the filters, we should be able to clearly articulate what matters to us the most. And that pretty much simplifies all our decisions.
Right now, 2 years outside corporate, I have proactively forged my own path, that which is less travelled. I have learned to redefine what success looks like, and this time, I’ve made sure it goes beyond just myself. I want to be able to contribute, add value and touch lives through the work I do and the life I live – whether it be as a consultant, a trainer, a speaker, a writer, a sales expert, or as a brand. More importantly as a daughter, a sister, a partner and a friend. And that means I am able to give my time, mind space and presence as I do my work and live my life for and with these people. If I inspire you in the smallest possible way, that’s already me winning in my renewed scorecard. I still have sleepless nights filled with fear and worries on how I make my vision come to life, but my strengthened faith in God, my wonderful family and loved ones, have been my refuge and the wind beneath my wings. And it’s so true that God sends us people, angels if you may, to cross our path and lift us up. I’ve met a few, am forever grateful, and my life has never been the same.
So again, if you were to ask me right now, if my life is exactly where I want it to be, I’d say it’s exactly where I need it to be.