Here are some examples of clients who I’ve told “You need to recharge your life!”
A third-year teacher had great, innovative ideas about how to help her English Language Learner students.
But no one gave her an opportunity to try them out. Finally, she decided to partner up with the teacher across the hall and just get started. As they gained ground with the ELL students, the administration took notice, offering them the opportunity to share with the rest of the team.
A churchgoer wished her church had a choir.
She had been in show choir in high school and missed singing in public. When she mentioned it to her pastor, she was told her there wasn’t enough interest. Finally, she decided to get a few friends together and meet at the church on Saturday afternoons to sing and play instruments together. Over time, others at the church started coming until the pastor had to admit that he had been wrong, and the group was invited to sing and play at the weekly service.
A woman told her husband for years that she would love to learn to speak French.
For two years, she dropped hints around the holidays and her birthday about a French class at the local travel bookstore, and the French Cultivation Society that does movie nights, but nothing ever came of it. Finally, she confronted him. “I know you don’t want me to, but I am going to learn French! I’d like to sign up for this class.” Her husband looked at her, dumbfounded. “What makes you think I don’t want you to learn French? That class sounds like fun, you should do it.”
In each case, things started to change when these women stopped waiting for someone else to choose them and chose themselves instead
Don’t get me wrong, it IS nice to be chosen. It’s a great moment for the ego when someone says “I’ve considered all the options, and you are the one I’ve chosen.” But if you want to recharge your life, you must choose yourself.
I work with a lot of coaches and therapists and so many of them have great ideas, big plans, and groundbreaking projects they are dying to try. But they’re all just sort of waiting. It seems that the desire to be chosen has been replaced with the necessity to be chosen – in their work and in their lives.
Here’s why it’s better to choose yourself and get started than it is to wait around hoping to be chosen:
There is less pressure to master things quickly because no one is paying any attention.
Consider the teacher in our first example. She was able to experiment, make mistakes, and try again, all without any real scrutiny. Then, when she started to see results and people began asking questions she was ready to share. There’s nothing like undue, early pressure to kill a cool idea.
You have more fun, sooner.
Think about the churchgoer in our second example. If she had waited for her pastor to okay her idea, she’d still be waiting…and she would still be yearning for more music in her life. By diving in with whoever was interested, whenever the church was available, she filled her life with music and was happier.
You take the pressure off your relationships.
Think about the woman in our third example. She waited and waited and waited for her husband to allow her to learn French. And not only did she miss out on two years during which she could have been happily eating croissants with her friends at the French Cultivation Society, she became more and more frustrated with her husband. When she finally “stood up to him” she learned he was wholly unaware of her hints. It’s too much to expect the other people in your life to anticipate what will make you happy and make it happen. If you want to recharge your life, that’s YOUR job.
It’s not the chosen who change their world. It’s the audacious.
I believe that at the deepest level of our psyche the thing we want the most is to carve our own path. To pursue our dreams and to create our potential.
Even when we are talking about something like learning French – yes, it will be amazing to go to Paris and order your eggs in French. But, what’s way, way more amazing than that? Taking that dream seriously. Acting on its behalf. Showing yourself that you are going to make this life of yours exactly as rich, and fun, and multi-faceted as you want it to be. And that, my friends, takes courage.
It takes courage to choose yourself and recharge your life
Courage, according to the dictionary on my computer, means “the willingness to do what frightens you.” Sounds kind of intimidating, doesn’t it? When I tell people that they should be courageous on behalf of their dreams, they worry that I’m suggesting that they do something really big, like set up a huge greenhouse in their backyard or enroll in an expensive six-week program. This is not what I’m saying! In fact, I think those would be terrible first steps.
Instead, I suggest that you exert your courage through everyday, routine experience. Every day, do one small thing that gets you closer to your dream.
- Send one email asking to have coffee with the director of the local theater who also goes to your gym and ask her how people get involved in set design
- Go to the travel bookstore and browse books about Peru
- Get out your guitar and play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
“Those don’t sound frightening!” you say. And you’re right. Because the frightening part, the part that requires courage, isn’t that small action...it’s the belief you infuse in yourself by doing it.
Each and every day you act on your dreams, you declare, “I’m no longer waiting for you to choose me. I’m choosing myself in small ways, every day.” That’s the courageous part! This is how you recharge your life.
The courage to choose you, to recharge your life, changes you
In each of the examples that opened this essay, the women eventually got what they wanted. The teacher was given a chance to lead PD in her school, the churchgoer got to sing in the choir and the woman’s husband enthusiastically endorsed the class she wanted to take. That’s the thing about choosing yourself: if you choose yourself, you will be chosen.
As you show the world that you possess the confidence, the gumption, and the audacity to make things happen regardless of who believes in you, you transform. In the eyes of the world you go from someone who might be able to handle an opportunity into someone who they are dying to have agree to their new opportunity. You’ll see.
Choose YOU. Recharge you life NOW.*
Depending on your profession, there’s a good chance that summer is a less stressful time for you. Many of you will have some actual time off, and it’s when most people slow down a little. This provides the perfect opportunity to make progress on your project and recharge your life.
Take a few minutes and ponder this question:
If you could spend THIS SUMMER finally making progress on one thing…what would you choose?
Be bold! What would you really love to move the needle on? How amazing would it feel to start the fall having made real, substantive progress on your project?
During the icebreaker at the all-staff meeting where people are sharing “What they did to recharge this summer,” how great would it feel to say “I grew an organic kitchen garden for the first time!” or “I started playing the piano again!” or “I finally learned how to juggle!”
If you’re having a hard time figuring out what that is, or you just need a little support, the Great Work Journals is a great place to start. It can help you prioritize your wants and desires, organize your time, and keep overwhelm at bay while you make progress on your goals.
THIS IS YOUR LIFE. Make the most of it.
*Ok, the internet is a timeless place. Are you smack dab in the middle of winter? Just starting fall? Heard the very first bird chirp the beginning of spring? It’s still the right time to get started. Choose you, choose now.