Why did I order salad that day when I really needed a sandwich?
Salad is the healthy choice, yes - but chicken on a bun would have been wiser.
I was hungry, surprisingly not tired, thinking about my To-Do’s and excited about meeting up with one of my long-standing mentors for lunch.
We started off with our usual topics - exciting life updates, successes and funny kids stories. It brought joy for me to tell her that our oldest daughter is convinced that the new baby we’re expecting is a brother and she wants to name him ‘Pedialyte.’
I was halfway through my salad and we dove into the necessary topics - life, career, meaningful failures, impactful projects and long-term goals. Nerves and excitement hit me when I shared the recent discussion with my Leader about possibly pursuing a larger leadership role. This topic was as fresh as my salad because it came into play not more than 24 hours ago.
As my trusted mentor, she asked me a lot of questions. Some were easy breezy and others were tough to answer. This came as a surprise to me.
Why are you excited about this opportunity? Easy.
How does this align with your long-term goals? Easy.
What is the current state of the role, what are the desired outcomes? Easy.
What do you need to be successful in the new role? Semi-hard.
How’s the balance at home? Is your spouse still traveling? Semi hard.
Where do you see yourself with the organization in two to five years? Hard.
How much time, energy and brain space would it require? Hard.
What would be the impact on your new family member? Hard.
What do you want to do? Oh boy.
Then...I cried. No joke, I burst into tears at lunch. Perhaps others around me thought it was normal to see a pregnant woman crying in the middle of a restaurant. Looking down at my salad didn’t help. I kept thinking, ‘Why did I order this salad? I could really use those carbs right now!’
The thought of taking on a new challenge always entices me. It pulls at my internal hardwiring with full force. It captivates my attention and deep desires to achieve. Frankly, it pushes my ego into dangerous territory. I thrive on a challenge - the prospect of what’s next is enticing and draws greater excitement than what has already been accomplished. I’ve learned that this is my 23 year old voice on my right shoulder chirping in my ear.
I am no longer my 23 year old self.
My 33 year old self is in on a different stage, with a different audience. This voice sits on my left shoulder and values brain space over monstorours to-do lists, peace over chaos, faith over fancy titles and most importantly...time. Life is unfolding beautifully and my 33 year old self is more accepting of ‘You can have it all. Just not all at once.’ This is still a work in progress for me. It used to be my natural instinct to tackle everything at the same time, but I burnt out and learned it wasn’t sustainable for me or my current stage of life. Each day the voice on my left shoulder gets louder, stronger and I know it is speaking to my best future self.
After 20 solid minutes of crying with my Mentor, my salad became mushy and I understood what I truly wanted. Ice cream (of course) and a weekend to circle reflect. This is when I challenge myself to internally reflect deeper on something I’ve already explored.
A few days later I happened to be listening to a podcast featuring Deepak Chopra, a spiritual thought leader, and he described his experience as a Buddhist monk in Thailand. On the last day, one of the Monk’s said to him, “The most important time in your life is now. The most important person in your life is the one you’re looking at right now. The most important thing you can do in your life is what you’re doing now. The best way to prepare for the future is to be totally present now. Forget all your learnings, just remember, now is the moment that never ends.”
I sat with this for a long time because my mind’s natural state is to immediately race to the next thing - the next opportunity, the next conversation, the next project...you get the idea. Then my Mentor’s voice sprang back into my head, “Do not forget for one minute how wonderful and special you are. Pay attention and steer toward what is best for you and your family.”
Focusing on now is what is best. Not only for me, but for those around me. The present moment is the simplest and most difficult space to absorb. I encourage all the Kick Ass Ladies to center on your now.
You can learn more about Sarah on LinkedIn.