This past weekend I spent at Festival for the Future (festivalforthefuture.org.nz), an incredible weekend event here in Auckland full of inspirational speakers, panels and workshops that help build ideas and skills to support the future, and inspire change across areas such as sustainability, race relations, technology, and innovation. Inspiring shit.
My friend Irene Wakefield, CEO of Prepair NZ, a kick-ass organisation educating young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships, scheduled a breakfast for 10 of us girls all intertwined by our entrepreneurial endeavors. We are from different cities, lifetimes and backgrounds, but we are all bound by the common thread of relentlessly chasing our dreams and backing each other 110% percent no matter how lofty our ambitions. With a squad of such ridiculously talented and inspiring cheerleaders like that it makes all of the second-guessing, the uncertainty, the fear and the "what the fuck" moments on this health coaching journey surmountable. At the end of the day, we're all on a mission to serve and to ensure success our mission needs to be bigger than us. And it is.
A common theme across the weekend was people not quite living their dreams. Of being confined by fear to living out their parents version of a dream life for them, and never quite realising their own dreams. Of living out of alignment.
We're thrust into this world kicking and screaming with no clue about who we are or what we're doing. From birth to adolescence we are told what to eat, what not to eat, what to wear, when to go to bed, who to date, which subjects to take at school, what time to be home, which body parts not to pierce. In our teens we start to push the boundaries of what's acceptable, and more often than not, suffer the consequences of doing so. We leave school, and our parents tell us what to study, which car to buy, who to vote for, which friends to hang out with, where to take our gap year.
And we conform, because it's easy, it's safe and other people probably know best. What do WE know about anything?! We're babies!
So it's no surprise that when we finish school and university and it's time to enter the real world we don’t really know how. They don't teach us consciousness or radical responsibility at school. We're not taught to lean into our intuition and just let love lead. Everything in our lives up until this point has been more-or-less decided for us by people that are older and more experienced than us, inheriting the wisdom from people older and more experienced than them. We've been tiger-mothered by the system and so we confine ourselves within the coffin of our comfort zone and of parental and societal conditioning. When it comes time to make adult decisions that affect our future we are paralysed to do so, because we tell ourselves that the stakes if we fuck adulthood up are really high.
This was me.
I spent a large chunk of my early twenties in a negative self-doubt spiral, mainly over what to do with my career and where to live. I coasted along and had some hits and some misses. I’m fortunate that my parents ultimately wanted what was best for me and never put pressure on (except when I said I wanted to be a hairdresser which is where Mum drew the line). I interviewed to be a flight attendant at Air New Zealand and told the interviewers it was the perfect job for me to get over my fear of flying. Not surprisingly, I didn't make it very far in the process. What has that got to do with indecision? Nothing, but it's a great story and it reminds people that this trajectory of mine was anything but linear.
A few years later I got promoted quite quickly into a marketing role at BlackBerry, having very little marketing experience and I felt way out of my depth. I agonised over every decision, playing out different scenarios and their ramifications in my head, never getting much done and ultimately settling on paralysis by analysis. I'd sit and hope that the tasks I'd been given would just disappear. It was exhausting for everyone involved and my manager eventually gifted me a book called 'Effective Decision Making' which I never read, and then subsequently lost which on reflection wasn’t a great omen for success. I left that job 4 years later, moved to London, lied on my CV and landed a role as an Executive Assistant to a CFO. Now that's a whole other story for another day.
Over the next few years I had various roles that were predictable and a safe level of challenging. I helped other people achieve success in lieu of my own and accepted the fact that I’d missed the life purpose boat. I moved countries several times to give me the shake-up I so badly craved.
In an ideal world, I would have had my shit figured out years ago, but, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year it’s that everything is happening as it’s supposed to and it’s all for my highest good. I live a life on my own terms and one that is fully aligned to my values, and I've never been happier.
At 33 years of age, when society dictates I should either be a married, stay-at-home Mum or climbing the corporate ladder (ignoring the glass ceiling, obviously), instead I’m chasing the unknown and I’ve never felt more at ease. I have come to realise that big changes are really just tiny shifts. Do my parents and friends think I’m crazy? Probably. Does it make me want it any less? Not a chance. And besides, it's none of my business what people think of me.
So, I invite you to make choices that align with your values and not with your insecurities. Do things that feel good for you, and not because you've decided it's what someone else is expecting of you, or you feel you should. I have zero time for shoulds in my life anymore.
Go to the gym because you love your body, not because you hate it.
Use the fancy silverware.
Leave your safe job and chase a passion project without worrying that your friends might think you're an idiot. It's highly probable that they're barely thinking of you at all; people are too busy worrying about their own stuff.
If you've been trying over and over to manifest something into your life, using the same willing and the same affirmations and it hasn't surfaced; you're out of alignment. Question whether it's what you really want or if it's a safe, logical or expected option. Fuck safety; choose something that fires you up and is scary. If something seems really scary and uncomfortable, that's probably where you need to go.
I hope this sparked a little something inside of you that shifts you one step closer to your dream.
Lots and lots and lots of love, Anna.