I’m pretty certain that most everything I’ve ever set out to do, I set out to do both with the intention to enjoy the experience & to succeed at it. This is probably the case for the majority of us human beings though. For who doesn’t deep down, wish to both enjoy & succeed at whatever it is they step up to do?
While success, in its various established forms, can be wonderful when it happens, it’s surely not the outcome of every venture or seized opportunity. We human beings know this too; which is why we often hold ourselves back in the first place, from starting or going after something we desire to do, create or make happen. What if it doesn’t go as we hoped for or planned? What if it doesn’t end up exactly as we envision? What if we fail? We human beings know that if we do something, anything…whether it be entering a contest, going on an audition, a blind date, a job interview or starting a business, it may not end up the “success” we’d like it to be.
Even so, is this good enough reason not to get into the game of life & live it fully? Even so, is this good enough reason not to follow our dreams, passions &/or do the things that we love? Well, two recent experiences of my own, have reminded me that the answer for sure is, “Definitely not!”
Experience #1: My Return To My Work. When I think of myself, I surely don’t think of someone who’s fearless. I’ve got plenty of fears & things that cause me to hang back (& if you don’t believe me, ask my husband or come live with us for a week!) Even so, I struggle with hanging back around my work because I so love what I do. I just love, love, love my work! Why? Because my work is me. It’s who I am. Even when I’m not working, I’m working! I’m either reading a book on the latest in neuroscience, watching a documentary, listening to a Ted Talk, taking a course or creating an exercise for myself so I can figure out my next life steps or where I’d like to start growing again more. This is simply who I am & have been my entire, adult life…& I can’t (& don’t wish to) turn it off. Ever!
So last year, when I relaunched & returned back to teaching my courses, I was super excited! And nervous. While I still love what I do, I’m also a mother of two, young children with obvious, ongoing needs. I want to be there for them. Additionally, I have a husband who also runs a business of his own. As much as I remember the joys of teaching for a decade plus in New York City, I also remember towards the end (with both of our businesses & the kids), the stress & overwhelm I constantly felt. It was precisely why I finally stepped away in 2012, when our second child was 18 months old. For me, it took a tremendous amount of energy to do my work & run my entire business well, day in & day out! So when I went back to work as planned last year, I quickly realized that although I had made conscious shifts to the way I worked, the work itself (as I was continuing to offer it), required more time & energy than I still had. Immediately, I started feeling stress again!
In the midst of this stress though, I still had this “something” that I LOVED to do…& something great to give, great to share with other women! And as I began to realize that I didn’t have all the time & energy I would like to devote to it, I did have some time & energy! So I stepped back, took a deep breath & cancelled the rest of my originally scheduled courses. Then, I began again. I started doing a totally fun & stress free, complimentary course online called “Jen Mac’s Life School Program!”; perfect for me & my current schedule…& perfect for busy, like-minded women like myself to participate in weekly. (This I know because I do the course myself, every single week!) Now, was this what I had originally planned for & envisioned? No! Was my relaunch the “success” I was hoping for at the outset? Definitely not! Was it a failure though? I can’t honestly say I feel that way…although you might ask me now, “Well, where is it going or what are you doing or offering next?” & still, I don’t really know! All I can share at this point is that I’m proud of myself for staying in the game (despite the game not going the way I hoped & not at all sure what plays I’m supposed to make next!) I am though, living my life fully & doing my best to figure out how I can still do what I love & live life from “my happy place.” For those of you who know my work well, you know this is what I’m all about…so stay tuned as there’s definitely more to come!
Experience #2: Our School’s First Talent Show. About two months ago, my son had a play date with his good friend. She & my son share a love of gymnastics so during their play date they choreographed a routine in our basement to a popular Ed Sheeran song. They then asked me to come & watch them perform it. Ironically, right before I went downstairs to watch them, I received an excited email from their elementary school regarding the school’s decision to have their very first talent show! Right after I watched their routine, I told them about it. Immediately, they were both excited to participate…so we got them signed right up!
For the next six weeks they practiced diligently once a week. In their final week, they practiced almost every day. As a parent, it was inspiring to watch them. They were both so committed, excited & filled with joy every time they did their routine! On the night of the show, we got to watch about twenty different acts with kids ranging in ages from 7 to 11. Because they were all so young, the evening oozed of passion rather than perfection. For all in attendance that night, this was both a positive life lesson & genuine gift! For each of these kids stood bravely on the stage, in front of all of us adults…& their siblings…& their classmates!!! They then shared their love of whatever it was with no apparent focus on, concern for or trepidation about the outcome. One by one, they each appeared to exude a feeling of joy afterwards too; for having gotten up in front of others to share with us something that they loved!
For me, the whole evening reinforced this one, same idea; that life’s meant to be lived, experienced & enjoyed…period. So if some type of “societal success” comes along with something you step up to do, great! If not though, you’re still a success because you’re actively participating in the game of life! Yes, it’s true that this isn’t our culture’s current definition of “success.” In my humble opinion though, it’s way better…because as Eleanor Roosevelt once truthfully & brilliantly stated, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
May you live your life fully & completely, now & always! And may you take from here large or small whatever’s helpful to YOU…& where needed, share this message with those you love. Happy May to you as well! I wish you a wonderful & beautiful month ahead!