It will be a year ago tomorrow that I changed my life forever. You’ll notice that I didn’t select the passive construction of that sentence by saying “my life changed forever.” What happened on December 10, 2017 didn’t happen to me. In a moment of calm in a domestic storm, I stepped back from the fray and posed a clarifying question.
Let me backup a bit and paint the picture of what was happening on that Sunday morning last December. My husband and I were doing what we did best back then. We were having a squabble about something unimportant that was allowing us to not have a real discussion about what was really important. The really important thing was how disconnected we were from each other as a couple and as a family unit of three (my husband, my then seven-year old son and myself). So we were squabbling about schedules and pickup times and grocery shopping when I just got too tired to keep going in that direction. I was tired of living our lives in a way that was not getting us what we wanted, but I wasn’t clear about what I wanted.
Then I did what I usually do when faced with a problem. I took out a pen and notebook and started to formulate what I hoped would be helpful questions. The first one that popped out was “What do we want our lives to look like one year from today?” That got both of our attentions. We sat down and under the headings of Carol & Miki Relationship, Parenting, Carol (as an individual), and Miki (as an individual), we allowed ourselves to dream a little about what we wanted for ourselves and the people we loved the most. Disconnecting the how we would achieve these goals from the what we wanted to achieve was challenging, but we managed to get our unedited thoughts down in black and white.
After we were done getting everything into the pages of the notebook, I asked, “What needs to change right now for us to be able to start moving in the direction of that possible reality?” In the realm of things I controlled, the answer came quickly and with such force that it actually took my breath for a moment.
I needed to quit my job and give myself and my family more attention and priority.
And that is what I did. I sat down that afternoon and wrote out my resignation letter and went in the next day and resigned. I had worked for this company for 10+ years and held a leadership role, and I kept thinking, “This should be harder than it is right? I should have more doubts?” But that is the beauty of clarity. When you really know what you want, paths that seemed impossible suddenly open up and have neon signs pointing to them.
My husband and I recently had an opportunity to look at our lists from last year and were surprised by just how many things on our lists were done or in progress. It was also interesting to see how many things no longer applied given some of the big changes our lives took this year.
I’m writing about this now because the end of the year is always a time of reflection, dreaming and planning for me. For several years now, I’ve taken a page out of the corporate playbook and spent time and energy on my personal annual plan. It’s a gift I give myself every year and I never regret it. I don’t always succeed at achieving everything I plan for, but I know that the planning makes success possible and much more probable.
In this season of gift giving, think about giving yourself the gift of reflection and dreaming and a little planning to bring those dreams into reality. The future you sitting in December 2019 will thank you.