Whose Life is This Anyway?

 Are You Living Your Life....or Their Life?

Have you been busy being everything to everyone? Have you ever wondered, "When it’s going to be “my turn”?"

Listen all you Smart Chicks, here’s a lesson I learned from my father when I was just twenty-two: there is no one – no matter how much they love and care about you – who is going to know what’s best for you but YOU.

And here's another lesson I learned from children, siblings and in-laws: as long as you are willing to do for them, and don't expect their help and consideration in return, you won't get it. I call it the "expectation of accommodation." If love isn't a two-way street, all the pretty words (like, she's a great gal, isn't she? and I don't know what we'd do without you) in the world won't make up for feeling taken advantage of or mitigate the empty feelings that come with being used.

If you aren't in the lead in your own life, personally and professionally, chances are you:

  • Aren't getting where you want to go
  • Feel frustrated because you innately know you want and should have more
  • Suffer from low-grade, chronic depression
  • Are letting anger and resentment build up

None of those are good for you and your mental, emotional and physical health.

One of the saddest conversations I had while doing the Victorious Woman interviews was with a woman who, in spite of a master’s degree in graphic arts, was working a minimum wage job. When I asked her why she didn’t keep up with her education in what seems to be a very hot field, she told me something I’d heard a hundred times before from other women. “This was supposed to be MY time,” she said bitterly. “It’s what we had agreed on. He'd work and I’d stay home with the kids until they were in high school; then I’d go back to my career.”

Unfortunately, she had a minimum wage job and was cleaning exercise equipment at the local gym (and barely making ends meet), while her one-time life partner was having fun with his new girlfriend. "He told me I wasn't interesting anymore," she spit the words out like venom.

Here's a third lesson: when you are making plans for your future, forget wanting to be  oh-so-saintly and self-sacrificing (like all the good girls do). Stay in the lead in your life.  Don’t agree to anything that will leave you unprotected and in the lurch, should you arrangement with the other person change.

Here are TEN TIPS that will help you get in control your SELF.  And since it's November and, in the U.S. we are celebrating Thanksgiving, I'm using Thanksgiving Dinner as the model.

1 - Start with the end in mind
When you are planning a holiday dinner, usually you start thinking about it as a festive occasion. You imagine how good it will be to have everyone with you, sitting around your table, laughing and having a good time. Of course, your next thoughts are probably about how it’s going to be a lot of work. Still, in the end, you’re going to like the outcome.

Leadership is the same way. Think about something you want, like getting a new job, buying a new house or enjoying a loving relationship or financial freedom. You imagine how good having that thing will make you feel. You visualize the outcome. In both cases, the family dinner and the home or workplace leadership, you start by thinking how good it will be at the end.

Yes, you know it’s going to be work, but you also know that the work will give you the specific desired result. It's that "good time" at the end of the work that pulls you forward into action. Without it, you can easily get stuck. So start with the end in mind.

And if you can't think really far out, think about this time next year. If that's too far, think about 6 months. During a really hard time in my life (I now refer to it and the time my life had a D&E), all I could control and focus on was how I wanted to feel at the end of a week.

You can't go anywhere but where you are right now if you don't give yourself direction. Do what you can, but do it.

Once you make up your mind to have the meal, that is, decide what you want your life or work to look like at the end, take the next step...