Last year I took a leap of faith and left my corporate accounting job of almost 13 years. It was one of the best decisions I ever made because I was able to rebalance my life. I worked on my self-care, spent more time with my family, and focused on life coaching. Personal development was a significant part of my life since I was first diagnosed with bipolar. It continues to be as I find ways to turn my past pain into purpose to be able to help others.
During this time, I nudged myself to get comfortable with discomfort. I worked on aspects of myself that I wanted to improve. I did things I never thought I could ever be brave enough to do, like sharing my personal thoughts on a public forum for anyone to find. I now have a sense of freedom being able to speak freely about living with bipolar disorder and become an advocate for mental illness.
Since the beginning of this year, I started my own life coaching business. I’ve created my own website, which I didn’t want to publish until it was perfect. I created new social media accounts for my business, but was hesitant to post anything since I couldn’t think of the most impactful to say. I was nervous to publish my first blog post. Because even though I enjoy writing, I didn’t consider myself savvy enough of a writer to share my work. I even had my sisters proofread it to make sure there were no mistakes.
As you can see, I have a tendency towards perfectionism. I know being a perfectionist can hinder my progress and development. Therefore, I pushed myself to publish the website, to post my first social media post, and to publish my first blog–before any of it was “perfect.” I guess you can say I am getting better at being less of a perfectionist, I don’t ask others to edit my blog posts anymore and if there are grammatical errors, I can live with it.
At the time, those were all scary things to me. Looking back now, I am considerably better for having done those things. I was able to do them not because I wasn’t afraid, I did them despite the fear and anxiety that was always present. Most people think you have to wait for the fear to go away before you can get things done, but it’s in the doing that causes the fear to slowly dissipate. None of these things in itself may seem like a major feat, but the things that elevate us in life aren’t necessarily one major accomplishment, but a lot of tiny steps and actions.
Last month, I made yet another pivot in my life. One I didn’t think I was quite ready to make. I wanted to give myself more time to develop my life coaching business. However, life hardly turns out how you plan it. I was presented a job offer to come back to accounting. The opportunity was too good for me to turn down, mainly because I would get to work with someone who I have tremendous respect for in the industry.
The other component which made this job appealing, is the person I will eventually become from the experience I would gain. In this role, I am the accounting leader of the organization. I don’t have the safety net of going to someone else for answers. While this idea terrifies me, it is also exhilarating. I have trust in myself and know I can step up to the challenge. I have set very high expectations for myself. And when the reality of who I am catches up to those expectations, I will become the person I knew I could be.
As I navigate this role, I am currently experiencing much discomfort, but I know I can’t grow without stretching myself. We all have moments in our lives that shape us. I know I am going through one of those times right now. I need to remind myself of all the things I already know and have accomplished rather than focus on things I might be lacking.
As I allow myself to slowly step into this position that is slightly bigger than me at this moment, I know this is where I will discover what I am made of and acquire the traits I want my future self to embody. This is my moment of evolution, and I am excited to be able to witness it as I go. And to share it with those who may need a nudge as they proceed towards their own milestone.
As someone living with a mental illness, with any major life change, I have to rebalance and recalibrate. I have to reconsider my priorities and do what is best for my own mental health. I have to safeguard my time and energy so I don’t become overwhelmed by it all. What this looks like right now is: posting a blog every two weeks instead of weekly; limiting the number of potential clients; looking at my calendar and only keeping important meetings; saying no when I want to say yes to certain obligations; and asking my husband to take on more of the workload at home and with our kids.
In the past, I was often afraid to accept the promotions I was offered. It was ironic because my managers would tell me to let them know when I was ready to be promoted. They saw something in me I didn’t quite see or trust in myself back then. I know this is a function of living with bipolar disorder. I was fearful of biting off more than I can chew and having regrets for pushing my limits too far. I was also hesitant to ask for help or to admit when things felt out of control.
Today, I am more grounded and confident in my abilities to take care of myself than I have ever been. This didn’t happen overnight. It took many years of discipline, trial and error, falling down and getting back up, and an amazing support system. If you would have asked the discouraged version of me 20 years ago, she would never believe it is possible for me to be where I am today. I know that if I can do it with all my faults, my struggles, and my failures–anyone can do it.
Everyone is deserving of the version of their own best life, but it has to be earned. The things we deem most valuable in life are usually earned. If it was just given to us, we wouldn’t value it. We all have different journeys and different starting points. Some of us carry boulders that weigh us down. But if you are dedicated and work hard, you can chip away at it until one day you don’t even know it’s there.
For anyone who may feel like they are playing small because they have been dealt a hand that isn’t ideal; I am here to tell you that you don’t have to wait for life to unfold for you. You get to decide the trajectory of your life. You have the power to control what your life can look like. Don’t look to your past to determine what you can do today. Your past is irrelevant. Don’t let doubt and fear of the unknown get in the way of living the life you want.
The future you want is in your grasp. But you have to want it enough to go after it. Being interested in it won’t get you there. You have to be completely committed and immersed in your goal in order to achieve it. For those of you who know what you want, why are you waiting?
I want to share a video I listen to when I need a boost of inspiration or when my current challenges feel too overwhelming. It’s by Eddie Pinero, one of my favorite inspirational creators of today.