Life’s Big Questions
The question “What are you longing to do?” was posted in the August issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. It’s all about taking risks and conquering fears. I have to tell you that this was right on time for me. It got me thinking of what I am longing to do with the second half of my life. I am actually in the midst of a big life shift. If we are friends in RL or on SM you may already know that I just quit my job as a high school counseling director to move back home for my husband’s new job. Change is always a little unsettling, but also very exciting. I grew up in a military family and we moved every three years. While I have to admit that I didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now, what I did understand was that a new place meant another chance to reinvent yourself.
“What are you longing to do?” was a question I have often asked myself, but as I turn 45 which is certainly midlife, now it looks a little different. The question seems more critical. I have so many encouraging people in my life now and they keep telling me that my future is so bright, and while I also believe that to be true, the how to get to that big bright future part is a little more complicated.
I remember sitting with a bunch of amazing women last summer at a dinner table on an Oprah cruise and everyone was sharing what they wanted to accomplish. “I want to be an influencer who gets opportunities to test drive cars and try new appliances…I want to be published…I want to be a travel blogger…I want to write about single motherhood in a way that feels authentic to me.” Now, I am paraphrasing here, but the bottom line is that each person was able to easily rattle off their big goal. When it came to my turn, I couldn’t come up with what I thought was an acceptable answer.
Who’s this girl?
I already had a career that I loved and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t searching for the next great thing. I was married to my closest friend, I had great co-workers, My children were grown up and I was proud of them. I had written the book I had been trying to write for years, and I was just embarking on an amazing new journey as an O Mag Insider. “I have no idea,” I said, “I just want to inspire as many people as possible”. My answer felt lame. It wasn’t an actual job to just inspire people. It didn’t seem like a real tangible goal. The question would be posed many more times during that trip and I always felt like the newbie who hadn’t quite figured it out. That was out of my comfort zone for me, as I was always the goal driven person who could tell you exactly what I wanted to do.
Finally, after another “I don’t know…” answer from me, a wise woman seated to my right said, “Tonya, you know exactly what you want to do. I have heard you say it many times. You, my dear want to inspire people.”
It Finally Makes Sense
I walked around with that thought for a whole year not quite knowing what to do with it. It sounded like the result of a goal, not an actual goal… until I listened to Grit by Angela Duckworth. Angela explained that what I had was indeed a top-level goal. That was the BIG goal I was looking for and all the stuff that I would do to make that happen would fall underneath it. I had never looked at it like that before. So I want to share that with you. If you have something that you are longing to do, think of ultimately what you want to achieve as your high-level goal and then list lower level goals underneath to show how you would get there.
So for me, it might look like this…
Inspiring as many people as possible
- Writing another book/blogging
- Empowerment coaching
- Content Creating
- Finishing my LPC
- Speaking engagements
Now it’s your turn
If you are like me and still trying to work it all out here are some things you can do.
Journal– Write down your big idea even if it seems abstract. Then jot down all of the things you would like to do if the world was your oyster, because…well it is. Then circle the things that actually align with your big idea.
Research– This sounds like a no-brainer as we are all quick to turn to google, but sometimes we don’t spend as much time thinking about our long-term goals as much as we do researching the hot summer shoe trend. Research can be traditional or you can do it as easily as putting in a hashtag and discovering someone who is doing exactly what you want to do.
Put it out there– Talk to your friends about it. Ask for information. Someone might be able to put you in touch with someone else already doing that very thing. I recently posted a question on FB about getting my Ph.D. and the response was overwhelming! So many people reached out to me privately offering to meet with me or phone conference with information.
Shadow or interview someone already doing your dream job– I’ve had lots of people reach out to me about interviewing or shadowing me as a school counselor. I am always happy to oblige.
I’d love to hear about your big ideas and the steps you are taking to get there!
Until Next Post,