This month’s column is an exploration of a concept I wrote about over a year ago. I was in the midst of marketing my book, and I had developed some posts to inspire women using some of the themes of my book. I was having fun putting together images and quotes. I came across this in my picture library and it struck me, so I reshared it recently.
I decided to dig into this topic from a woman’s leadership perspective.
One of the things I’ve learned in life: Follow Your Bliss
What brings you joy? Lights you up? Start there. Dig in. Feed yourself. Surround yourself with people who “get it” and “get YOU”. Never stop learning. Trust yourself and take action – with urgency.
Yes – you’ll be frightened – but fear is a constant and has derailed many dreams. Trust yourself. Trust God and the universe to show you the way – and then get to work! Many blessings to you and yours
What does it mean to follow your bliss?
The answer is simple… whatever you decide! This relates to any area of your life: family, romance, career, spirituality, and treating yourself well – mind, body, and spirit. For purposes of this space, I will focus on our roles as women leaders.
I was once in a job where my boss, a bad-ass woman who I genuinely liked and admired, was caught in a toxic web with the job itself. The organization was a good one, but it was going through a rocky time, and as the head of development (fundraising), the stress was hitting her hard. She worked long hours, had difficult choices to make, and it was very apparent how much it was wearing on her. While it affected me too, as the department head, she bore the brunt. And she was already wired to be a bit of a workaholic so that just made things worse.
I would encourage her to get rest and take care of herself, but I could see what the job was doing to her. As happens with good people, an amazing opportunity came her way, and she took it. While she felt bad about leaving the organization, which she had helped get on the right footing, she owed it to herself to make a change. Now when I see her, I see joy and light. I’m so grateful that she chose her bliss. She had put in the hard work, and now she is in a much better place. And guess what? Life went on. The world didn’t end because she chose to do something different. Sometimes we place so much pressure on ourselves for things that are not our responsibility.
Why am I telling you this story? Because I bet you’ve been in a similar position yourself, or you are there now. Maybe you’ve been suffering in silence for years, feeling trapped by your circumstances.
Sometimes bad things happen, and we must ride out the storm. Death, illness, or personal tragedies come to mind. Life sometimes causes us to put our hopes and dreams on hold because we must ride out the storm. If you are facing one of these tough situations, I pray for the best possible result. Do what you can to take care of yourself and be sure to ask for support. This is not the time to go it alone. Trust yourself – you are stronger than you may think.
Just as there are inevitable challenges in our lives, there are also opportunities to learn, grow, and enjoy life. Sadly, sometimes we don’t embrace these opportunities when they arise. We are so used to the fight, or we have bought into negative self-talk or learned behaviors that keep us small, safe, and unchallenged. And what fun is that?
Is it time to follow your bliss?
Someone reading this is ready for something more. She has been longing for a change. She may have even identified something that she wants to do, have or be – very badly.
Is it you? If so, what are the reasons you’ve been denying yourself what you want? And when will you finally give yourself permission to make another choice? Because honestly, life passes quickly. It seems that in the blink of an eye weeks, months and years can pass. Take stock of your life, and if you have an opportunity to follow your bliss – take it!
Ask yourself this question. What’s the worst that can happen? No, really. Think it through. If your plan doesn’t work out, what comes next? What would you do to move on? Sometimes working through the worst-case scenario can help us realize that change is possible and give us the courage to take the fork in the road.
I thoroughly enjoyed Shonda Rhimes’s book Year of Yes. I liked it so much that I read it twice! She was very open in sharing how she, an enormously successful woman, still struggled with taking risks. One year, she pushed herself way out of her comfort zone and decided to say “yes” to every opportunity that came her way – and it changed her life in surprising ways. She followed her bliss. I highly recommend it. As we already know, she’s a great storyteller, and it’s interesting to learn more about how someone who we consider “has it all” still had more living to do. What’s more – she writes as if she is your girlfriend confiding in you. I applaud her for coming out and sharing her story.
If Shonda could do it, so can you my friend.
I also want to take this opportunity to share about a few more women who have followed their bliss:
- A coach and author who decided to move to Mexico, creating the plan as she goes. Watching her new life unfold on Facebook is so inspiring!
- A former client, after years of angsting about it, walked away from a lucrative career in finance that was stealing her joy and making her sick. She took early retirement and is now building a business that and chose to l
- My cousin, who had never been to Europe, took a week-long solo sojourn, visiting several countries along the way. She got to make friends and learn how to communicate across various languages and had a blast. Another friend took a solo sabbatical and spend weeks in South Africa.
- Another friend who produced one of the books I co-authored moved herself, her husband, and her son’s boys to Costa Rica “just because”. They home-schooled the boys and she hosted several retreats there.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Life is too short to put your dreams on hold!
It’s up to you!
My challenge to you, my sister, is to begin to broaden your perspective.
Give yourself permission to live more fully.
Give yourself permission to say yes to something that makes your heart sing.
Give yourself permission to say no to something or someone that is holding you back, stealing your joy, or making you feel “less than”.
To make such a shift, you must get quiet and tune in. Prayer, meditation, and quiet contemplation will help you regain your clarity. You may need to reclaim some time by unplugging from the barrage of media, audiobooks, and podcasts that we consume to keep ourselves busy. Get in the habit of going for walks or running without the earbuds. Your mind and your heart will start speaking up.
Reclaim your life – you’ve got a lot of it ahead of you, and it’s up to you to decide how it turns out!
On a personal note…
Although I will admit to having spent too much of my life tied to others’ expectations of me, a battle I still wage from time to time, I have several times decided to follow my bliss. This includes the day 10 years ago when I decided to embark upon my coaching career. That decision has yielded multiple blessings, including becoming a best-selling author three times. My latest adventure is unfolding. I just accepted a VP position at an amazing organization, Code2040, that supports Black and Latinx young professionals in the tech industry through fellowships, early career education, and advocacy for diversity in the tech sector. I am in the process of relocating from Maryland to San Francisco. I had to remind myself several times along the way how important it is to choose myself after years of pouring into others. My new colleagues are brilliant, energetic and committed. I am so thrilled about making such a huge change in my 50s. Life is what we make it my friends.
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