Before I made the decision to start living my life with no regrets, I would have said that my greatest accomplishment was...
...being recruited as the Director of Nursing for an Ambulatory Surgery Center.
I accepted this position 5 years out of college and then found ways to take patient care and job satisfaction from being great to becoming extraordinary. Even 2 years ago I might have said that my greatest accomplishment was being accepted into a highly competitive Masters program at a prestigious school.
It’s interesting that the two accomplishments I could come up with have to do with my career path and neither one of them made me happy.
When I was the Director of Nursing at the surgery center I “worked” 7 days a week. I was not technically “clocked in” but I was always working. I was always thinking about what needed to be done the next day. I was married to my phone in case there was an emergency. I would startle myself awake at 2:00 AM most mornings wondering if I had done everything that needed to be done so that we could start our first surgery at 7:00 AM. I would answer my emails while I was on vacation and should the Department of Health arrive unannounced during my vacation I would have to cut it short to return to work immediately. If someone called in sick at 5:00 AM, it was my job to find a replacement or be the replacement and the sick call would come directly to my cell phone. How does that sound for being at the “top of my game”? The title looked so good on paper, but the quality of life that being “at the top” promises was not there, in fact, my quality of life had decreased. Of course the position offered plenty of benefits, a generous salary, and an impressive list of responsibilities on my resume, but is that enough?
Is that what life’s all about?
Somewhere along the line it has been passed down from generation to generation that our purpose is to work really hard, make a lot of money, retire, and then enjoy life. At least, that’s the impression I was under. I didn’t ask a lot of questions about this as a child because my parents were “always right”, I “respected my elders”, and I assumed the answer would be “because I said so” even if I did, but I watched what my parents and grandparents were doing. I listened as people started to retire and escape into the land of happiness and joy that was promised to them and they described their lives as “boring”. I refused to believe that I was racing to the finish line of retirement so that I could be bored. I soon made it my mission in life to figure out what they were doing that was making their lives boring and how could I stop it from happening to me.
Last year I figured it out.
I found a way to start living a life of happiness and joy that did not have to wait for retirement, more time, more money, or more success. It is so hard to describe what it felt like. You would think it might feel like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, but that wasn’t it.
It felt natural and carefree. I felt happy. I stopped worrying. It is the greatest feeling I have ever felt in my entire life.
I didn’t think anyone would notice that I had changed because I was still doing the same things I had been doing. Isn’t it interesting that we define who we are by what we do? The last time you met someone new and they asked you, “What do you do?” did you find yourself answering with your job description, job title, or career? That is how most people answer the question and it makes sense because that is what we spend most of our time doing, but does it really define who we are? I half joke when people ask me what I do now and I reply by saying, “I’m a city girl, yogi, morning person, world traveler, and an Aries.” The funniest part about all of that is at some point it wasn’t a joke anymore. I had stopped defining myself by what I do for a living and started defining myself by how I was living...and people started to notice. People started to ask me, “What are you doing differently?” I couldn’t put it into words back then, but I knew I needed to figure it out so I could start sharing this with everyone who needed it. That was when The Potentialista was born: How to start living the life you are meant for...now.
When I started my company I was on a very different path.
I had a plan to start a Masters program. My job had an endpoint. I had signed a lease in a different state. I had accepted a package for financial aid to pay for said Masters degree. I was at a crossroads and I was torn between the way I was going and the way I wanted to go. The path I was on was filled with everything I was taught I should do. It felt like the right thing. It felt so secure. I knew exactly what to expect. The path I wanted to go down was unpaved. I was unprepared for the feat I wanted to tackle. I didn’t really know anyone who had done this before and if I told people what I was doing then they might think I was crazy. And if I got far enough down this path where I was chasing the end of a rainbow, what would I do if there was no pot of gold at the end?
So, what did I do? I called my dad.
I talked to my dad on the phone and told him what I wanted to do. I told him that I felt committed to this program, I had paid a deposit, I had signed a lease, I had accepted financial aid, and I didn’t want to do it. I felt like I had to do it. I was in deep and I didn’t know how to get out. He asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I didn’t want to go and I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do instead, but I could figure that part out. All I knew was that I wanted to change the world. He is very logical and I remember the conversation going a little like this, “Well, you are very good at a lot of things and you are persistent. You do understand that the things you want to do are very difficult - right? I am not saying you can’t do it, I am just saying that it is a very small percentage of people in the world who have actually achieved what you are saying you want to do.” Then I told him that he taught me to always keep my word and I had learned that integrity was the most important thing to me through all of this. Would I lose my integrity and not be keeping my word if I withdrew my acceptance to this program?
He answered my question with a story about when he was younger.
He graduated from college and interviewed for a position with an established company. They offered him the job and he gladly accepted it. Before he had his first day at his new job, his friend approached him with an opportunity. His friend wanted to start a company together and they would be doing something that my dad would have loved to do. He was torn between the commitment he had already made to the established company and the opportunity that his friend was offering him. He kindly declined his friend’s offer and went on to work for the company that he still works for 40+ years later. But, he still thinks of the opportunity his friend offered him and how his life would have been different had he gone down that path. We went on to talk about what integrity really means. The truth is, large corporations do not hire you because of your integrity. They hire you because you do a job that helps them make money. If he had not taken that job back then after he accepted it, then they would have likely found someone who would do his job the next day and not thought about it again. After hearing this I knew what I needed to do.
Fast Forward to December 2016.
I went home for the holidays. My dad picked me up from the airport and we were talking about my company I had started. I was so excited to tell him everything I had been doing. It was a pleasant surprise when he asked me a lot of questions about what I was teaching people and how I was doing it. I got to sneak in a little life coaching right there in the car (shhh! Don’t tell him that’s what I was doing!). By the time we pulled into the driveway an hour later he turned to me and said, “I think I know some people I can refer to you.” It’s ironic that I thought my dad would be most proud of me when I decided to go to the same college he went to, but that night on the way home from the airport he told me he was proud of me and I knew it was bigger than the day I got into college.
While that moment had me feeling like I was on the right path, it wasn’t until this week that I really felt like I knew what my greatest accomplishment in my life was.
As a Coach, I think it is so important for me to constantly be working on myself and working with coaches so that I can be even better for my clients. I was doing a little self reflection and I felt like I really needed to thank my dad for teaching me how to ride a bike. I won’t go off on a tangent and tell you where that came from (if you want to hear the bike details you can click here), but I will tell you what happened after I thanked him. My dad responded by telling me that he had retired early and he was starting a company. He thanked ME for teaching HIM! Then he said something that really let me know he heard my message. He said, “I am excited to work on something again, this time for myself and not others.”
I used to think that if I could just make my parents proud then I would be a good daughter. Now I know that a good daughter is also someone who can be proud of her parents.
My greatest accomplishment is becoming the person that has helped my dad make it to retirement and find his purpose, his joy, and his happiness.
Every testimonial on my website deserves its own blog post dedicated to the amazing story of transformation that it represents, but this one in particular will always hold a special place in my heart.
What is your greatest accomplishment? Comment below! I would love to hear it!!
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