I may have figured out the secret to life and it’s brilliant in its simplicity.
Actually, what I have recently learned is that I have spent far too much time trying to figure life out, trying to find my way, looking for direction.
Now that I know once and for all, that I am utterly lost, I understand that this might actually be the best way to live. I have no idea, and I do mean no idea, where life is taking me next. I have felt stuck, or what I thought was stuck, for awhile now.
But then, as if hit by a lightening bolt, it occurred to me that I don’t need to know the right direction because, in truth, I have never known. Chasing direction is like looking for a ghost. You’ll never really find it.
I thought I had once. I thought having a purpose and being useful and making a difference and all of that good stuff was my destiny. I pushed my way through life trying to fit into this box.
I became a social worker. I helped the elderly and then the dying. I put successful management teams together and saved more than one failing healthcare business from going under.
But at my last job, I felt like I was a gerbil stuck on a wheel. No matter how hard I tried, I could not put a strong team together. I kept the business from failing but I was a one woman show and I ran myself into the ground.
The business that I worked for should have had the definition of insanity as their mission statement. The turnover rate was astounding and the company lacked an ability to understand that this was a huge part of the problem.
So, instead of figuring it all out and putting all my wonderful plans in place, I got sick. I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis while working for this company. While they were profoundly dismissive of just how ill I was, I don’t blame the company for getting me sick. I think my disease had been smoldering inside of me for some time and the stress of my last position just sent me over the edge.
You see, I don’t do things half way. Its always been all or nothing. So, when I could not get a good management team in place, in large part because the demands of each position where too great, which is a big part of what caused the turnover rate to be so high in the first place, I did all that I could myself. And as a one woman show, I did manage to save the business but I put myself out of commission in the process.
Eventually as my disease progressed, I realized the stress at that job was not good for me so, I quit. I quit with no plan. I quit for the simple fact that I needed to stop. And, I feel like I’ve been in stuck in stop ever since.
For awhile it was good. I could focus on taking care of myself and I desperately needed that but eventually I was filled with quiet panic about what I would do next. It occurred to me that I had no plan and I have been racked with guilt for not producing anything. And until very recently, this has been my private struggle.
Then yesterday, I was talking to a friend and she said this, “Lisa, you may think you’ve always had it figured out but the truth is, no one does. You were fooling yourself. Relax and just focus on living.”
I admit that I’m not good at living without a plan. Plans have always been my security blanket. But now, I am learning to live without a safety net and I’ve come to realize that being successful in business is great, having a plan is wonderful and accomplishments are nice but just learning to live is hard work. I think this is the lesson though, at least for me.
For the first time in my life, I have no plan. I am in unknown territory. I am learning to live and this might be the most courageous thing I have ever done.