Something interesting happened to me this year.
I finally got sick of my own bullsh*t.
I can’t claim that clever concept. It belongs to writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who followed her passion around the world, wrote a memoir about her travels (“Eat, Pray, Love”), among other works, and now serves as inspiration for other creative types.
“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting sick of their own bullshit.”
Gilbert tweeted that in 2014. My crap didn’t catch up to me until a year later, when I felt I was stepping in it, again and again.
I was working harder but enjoying it less. Always rushing. Nothing I did felt right. My mind wandered. My body broke down. But stubbornly, I held on. Because that’s just what you do. You pour a cup of coffee and you power through. You push onwards. You make it work. Because it has to work. Right?
What do you do when Work No Longer Works?
I had known for some time that I was due a transformation. But I wasn’t able to begin until I finally got sick of my own bullsh*t.
What kind of bullsh*t?
All the reasons why I couldn’t do something. Shouldn’t do something. Wouldn’t do something.
I was full of it.
Because… what would people think? And… this will never happen anyway. And I’ve invested all this time already, I have to stick with it. And… what if I fail?
If you feed the voice it grows louder:
Who the hell do I think I am? This is nuts! Don’t do that — that’s scary! And unknown! And might go wrong!
All that bullsh*t kept me from pursuing things I was interested in and that felt right to me, that made my heart sing. But I couldn’t get my brain on board. It was too fearful, too easily swayed by advisors who told me to stay the course and well-intentioned friends who suggested maybe I was having a midlife crisis and wouldn’t a week at a spa suffice?
Instead of falling into the throes of a midlife crisis, I chose to make a deliberate midlife transformation. A rejiggering of priorities. A rebranding from who I was for the first half of my career into who I’ll be and what will sustain me for the rest of my life.
The unknown is a scary place. It still is. But trust me, there are pretty cool people here. And what pushed me over to this side of the fence (after sitting atop it for a really long time) was I knew if I I just kept buying the bullsh*t, if I didn’t try this terrifying thing, I would regret it.
Sheryl Sandberg outlined our biggest regrets in her book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.”
The majority of regrets are about failures to act, not actions that failed.We regret the chances we missed, not the chances we took.We regret the things we don’t do, not the things we do.
What would you regret not having tried?
And once you’ve determined what that is, what are you waiting for? Permission? The perfect scenario? When you finally feel “ready”?
Here’s another quote for you:
“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
But you don’t. I lost an aquaintance recently, one I had just gotten to know. I believe she came into my life and I into hers at a time the universe decided was right. A year ago she was having discomfort after eating. It turned out it was advanced and inoperable stomach cancer.
Why do I share this terrible story? Because if there’s something you want to do, just go ahead and f-cking do it. Stop waffling and wavering and letting the bullsh*t in your brain get in the way and cause delay.
So, what about you? What do you hope to do? What transformation awaits?
It doesn’t have to be a grand plan to leave your job, move cross-country, live off-grid…It can be the small changes and forward motion that get you closer to where you want to be. Flash-forward in your mind and create the scene of what it looks like down the road. Then put together the necessary plot points. Your story doesn’t change until your central character makes a change.
Stuck in a bad relationship? Or the wrong career?
Would you love to take an art class, write a memoir, start a small business?
Want to lose weight, run a half-marathon, have more leisure time?
Are you seeking love – a new relationship – or want to ask for more in the one you already have?
Hope to stay home with your kids, earn a degree, set up a side gig?
What’s stopping you? What are you not doing because the B.S. in your brain is telling you you shouldn’t or couldn’t? Which means that you won’t and you don’t.
Let’s turn that DON’T into DO (and not get side-tracked by the doo-doo… sorry, you had to know that was coming).
Transformations start one step at a time. You know what awaits you? YOU.
What will your story be in 2018? Don’t tell another crappy one. If you’re finally sick of your bullsh*t, flush it for good.
Valerie Gordon is a former award-winning television producer and now the founder of career and communication strategy firm, Commander-in-She. She’s forming an accountability and coaching group on Facebook for transformative change in 2018. To join or for inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org