“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole lives waiting to start living.” ~Eckhart Tolle
One key lesson I learned on my journey to developing my business knowledge base is that everything is built from the ground up, and each stage has important lessons for the subsequent stages. Sometimes we are only privy to the first stages.
Other times, we only see the middle and final stages. These are the times when we are wowed at how fast things have happened for others, and we become insecure and worried about the pace of our growth.
No one comes to Earth fully equipped with all the skills to make and sustain a successful business. For some, it takes years to even figure out what our business is. Plus, in this fast-paced world, we can quickly come to find out that there is no constant.
We may be in one business today and another tomorrow. In life, as in business, we are challenged to constantly reinvent, identify what does and does not work for us, and find ways to enhance the things that do.
Making successful life pivots requires an understanding that each phase of life brings its own set of challenges and lessons.
We create space for joy through flexibility and a willingness to love ourselves in and through each stage.
Too often we get stuck because where we are now does not look like we had envisioned. We waste precious time wishing things were otherwise, forgetting that we have the power to change our circumstances by merely choosing the way we interpret them.
Sometimes we stop living, hoping that if we just get through now we can have the life we want. This sometimes painful process holds significant lessons for growth and development.
This lesson in clarity and the importance of remaining in the now came to me while I was in graduate school.
I remember rushing through college, just trying to get done so that I could move on to graduate school—all the while rushing to finish my thesis, then finish practicum, then finish my dissertation in the hopes that I could finally start living my life.
I spent ten years of my life chasing the next starting point.
I lived, ate, and breathed school, all the while neglecting those experiences that were happening around me.
Opportunities to learn from others, and to connect and network with colleagues and friends in different fields, passed me by while I wished time would hurry up so that I could get started with my life.
It wasn’t until I was about to complete graduate school with no real social life, no significant relationships, and no real plan that the realization hit me. I had pegged so much on getting done that I had no idea who I was and what it meant for me to be an individual outside of academia.
As graduation neared, the pain of losing the structure hit me like a ton of bricks. I had relied so much on an institution to provide my social life and identity that living on my own terms elicited a truckload of existential angst and panic.
Many nights, I would lie awake wrangling my brain to figure out where to go next and what I could make happen, neglecting the fact that life is a process and the universe takes care of you if you let it.
What ensued was a frantic soul-searching and confidence-building initiative. Sadly, what had happened as I gave up my self-determination was that I lost confidence in my ability to make decisions.
I didn’t trust myself to make the best decisions for myself because I had allowed the academic process to lead my life. I had become a bystander in my own life and climbing back was no easy task.
In order to move away from waiting to live to living wholeheartedly I chose to:
1. Acknowledge that while I was waiting, life was happening.
The things I was waiting to happen were happening all around me; I was just not a part of them.
Life doesn’t stop because we’re busy. Children grow up, family members and friends grow, and the world keeps turning.
What happens in those moments can never be relived and regrets can never give them back.
We can start to help this process by opening our eyes and hearts and paying attention to what is happening around us.
While we might not be fully ready to wake up, realizing that things keep moving while we’re standing still may be the very thing that you need to cross over and start living the life that changes your entire being.
2. Stop second-guessing whether I was on the right path; no experience is wasted.
The emotion that we normally experience after realizing that life is passing us by is fear—fear that we have made the wrong decisions, that we have missed our calling, that where we are is not where we are meant to be.
What results is a frantic searching for purpose. We begin to think that, because we have not been participating in life as we were thought it would look, we must be on the wrong path.
While it’s true that we may not have experienced some things that may have had the potential to change our lives, careers, and family life choices, what we experience is what we are meant to.
Every path brings its own purpose and lessons for growth and happiness. The issue is not whether the path is right or wrong, but whether we have been paying attention to the opportunities for growth that the path presented.
Often, when we feel like life has passed us by, we have been awake at the wheel but paying very little attention to the lessons we were there to learn.
3. Start living in the moments I had knowing that now was as perfect a time as any.
As Eckhart Tolle wrote in his book The Power of Now, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
Remember that you can’t go back and change the past. You can choose how you will live the moments in front of you.
A decision to live these moments to the fullest will enhance your perception of the past and help you to identify the lessons that you can take with you into the present and future.
The memories of the past all have a place, to teach you lessons to move you closer to where you can be your best self. Nothing else. Not regret, anger or animosity.
Now provides the perfect opportunity to create the life you want. Take hope from the realization that now is the perfect time. It is all you have, after all. Do your best with it and live your life.
Jumping man image via Shutterstock