By Anide Eustache
A few years ago, I went to Marshalls and found a sweatshirt that read, “When Nothing Goes Right Go Left.” I chuckled at the phrase, but yet, in its simplistic humor, it was very profound. I still hold on to that phrase and wear my sweatshirt to this day.
Aside from the birth of my second child, 2018 was a fairly uneventful year for me professionally and personally. It turned out to be a year of rest, pause and re-adjustment. However, as I enter into 2019, I always find that it’s very important to reflect on the past year. I want to share a few key lessons I learned that will lead me in the New Year:
No more sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to choose me and give me validation. I read this statement and it truly resonated with me. In elementary school, I used to hate gym class, especially when we had to break up into teams. I disliked this process because I was always one of the last people to be chosen to be on a team. As a young pre-teen, one of my deepest desires was to be accepted, chosen and to be seen. There was a sense of validation if you were chosen early in the process versus the tail-end. Similarly, in life, even as adults, we have that same desire (i.e. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). This past year, I had to re-learn to validate myself, not through the lens or likes of others, but through owning my abilities, skills, gifts, strengths and shortcomings.
Lesson to Apply: Instead of raising your hands waiting to be chosen, begin to strategically create opportunities for yourself (through new partnerships and relationships) that will allow you to leverage your strengths and intentionally own your professional and personal growth.
Continue to give myself permission to change my narrative.
At times we get stuck because we keep trying to reach the goal post we set in our minds years ago, not realizing the post either needs to be moved or that the strategies that we have been employing need to be changed. We chase a thing for so long, that we sometimes fail to assess whether or not we still want it or why we want it. We have become enslaved to living up to the narrative of other people’s expectations or measuring our success against the benchmark of others. I believe God gives us the power to re-adjust our narrative. You may have been dealt a bad card, however, how you choose to accept, internalize, live out or fight against that narrative is your choice.
I give myself daily permission to re-adjust my story, my expectations and to begin again. This is my life’s theme.
Lesson to Apply: Give yourself permission to release the expectations of where you thought you should or would be. Take hold of the truth that in order to move forward you have to start from where you are and not where you think you should be.
Do It Scared. This year I had to constantly remind myself to move forward in spite of my fears. It’s natural to have fears when you are entering into new territory. What is not ok is to become paralyzed by fear (masked via the actions of being too cautious, over-thinking, over-processing, etc.) to the point that there is no progress. Fear has its place, but not to the point that you remain stagnant.
Lesson to Apply: After you have counted the costs, you’ve done your due diligence, you’ve prayed/meditated and you’ve sought wise counsel (from mentors, trusted friend or family member), MAKE A DECISION. This year give yourself the gift of moving forward even if and when you are scared.
Rest and Regroup: The final lesson I learned was that I don’t always have to be on the go. This year, I learned that lesson more vividly as I scrolled through social media posts. I am so proud of the progress that is being made by people of color, women and millennials in so many arenas. However, I had to check myself (hence lesson learned #2). I would find myself comparing their success or journey to what I deemed as my lack of progress or success. I would think, “Oh wow, I’m not doing anything worthwhile compared to such and such.” So, I would pick up a major project, take another phone call, think of something else I could do or volunteer for and after a while I would feel burnt out and overwhelmed. This in turn depleted my energy so I wasn’t operating at my optimal level for myself or my family.
Lesson to Apply: Slow down, drink your coffee or tea in the morning, meditate, exercise, breathe, and rest. God has given you one life to live, so take care of yourself. When you find yourself overwhelmed by projects (even those that seem worthwhile), people pulling you from different directions, STOP and regroup. Determine what is important to you right now, what aligns with your goals/values, what you can reasonably take on and choose wisely.
My key themes for 2019 are to be Relentless and Present. In being relentless, I want to be deliberate in pursuing my goals both personally and professionally. I will not negotiate my time, strength or peace of mind for things, projects, people or financial gains that do not align with my life values and goals.
In being present, I am choosing to go offline and will not respond to work emails after a certain time. Once I am off the grid, I am off the grid and you will hear from me in the morning. As I mature, I find that I am more fiercely protective of the time that I spend with my family, my husband, children, friends and most importantly myself. Those are the times that replenish my soul and I will no longer juggle multiple conference calls and text and emails in exchange for reading my daughter her favorite book or watching “Baby Shark” for the hundredth time.
So what are your lessons learned?
Anide J. Eustache, Certified Professional & Executive Coach (CPEC), Principal Garraud Consulting