The One That Got Away

Opportunity wooden sign with a beach on background

Whether it was the missed connection, the dream job, the international man of mystery, the lady in red, the big fish, or the 200+ inch, double drop tine buck**, nothing haunts us quite like the one that got away.

Having lived long enough to have made my share of questionable decisions, the best decision is to have no regrets.

If in the agony and urgency of attempting to make a life-changing decision I can remind myself there is not just one perfect soul mate, one perfect job, or one chance of a lifetime, this is easier.

Granted, these opportunities are rare. But I’ve come to trust that what is meant for me has a curious way of circling back around.

Through a series of outrageous occurrences, I was invited to Miami Beach for a creative writing residency by the founder and creative director of one of the world’s finest greeting card companies. The chance to spend a little time writing cards at the beach escalated into an opportunity to become an integral part of the company.

Anyone who knows me knows being part of a creative team of writers and artists and brilliant minds is a dream come true.  Everything about this opportunity beckoned me.  Exceptional people.  Exceptional place.  Exceptional potential.

Except for the equal and opposite dream I have been quietly crafting in my own back yard.

Before I had a home, a husband to be, and a steady job that supports my writing habit and frequent flights of fancy, I would often imagine in detail what a free-spirited, super successful, single person’s writing life should look like.

Suffice it to say, it looked like what I was now being offered. Living the dream for a few days was intoxicating.

Returning to the reality of my regularly scheduled life was excruciating.  Not because it isn’t alluring in its own right, but because I had been unequivocally altered.  Only those closest to me knew to what extent.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t reconcile the gap between achieving what I’ve always wanted professionally and the price it would exact personally.

In getting a glimpse of this parallel life in all its glory, I got that my dreams must evolve as I do.  Like an app on an iPad, I must update them regularly in order to address the glitches I fail to factor in when I originally envision them.

Life-changing decisions are not meant to be easy.  By their very nature they urge us to evaluate everything, question our assumptions, check our egos, inventory what’s important, and listen deeply to our own wisdom.

They are designed to wreak havoc.  They are going to cause some grief since something has got to give and some things have got to go.

Adding to the pressure, they are usually time-sensitive and affect other unsuspecting people.

We remember the one that got away with such angst because he/she/it catapulted us out of our comfort zone and demanded we address our soul’s deeper yearnings.

Whether we act on the invitation, take a leap of faith, and change our current trajectory or not, the real gift is conjuring up the courage to consider doing so.

To feel deeply, love flat out, and shamelessly want what we want reminds we are alive with infinite input into how we live our lives.

Living this way is both exhilarating and exhausting.  And will undoubtedly define us as the one that got away in someone else’s story.

Now go.  Discover creative ways to live your updated, awe-inspiring dream.  Live large in small areas of your life.  Or go big and still go home. Whatever works.  It’s up to you.

And when you get a minute, tell me about it in the comments below.

**I only know about such things because the buck is Bob’s dream.  No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

8 Excellent Reasons to Challenge Yourself

Comfort Zone/ Challenge Sign Concept

During the month of July I led a  group of through my Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge.    The goal was to do one thing each day for thirty-one days  on our to-do, to-dream, to-become list.  These things needed to be small steps that didn’t require a lot of planning or equipment and could be done within 5-15 minutes. 

While I could go into detail about the impressive things  participants got done, what I’d rather share is why taking on a challenge that catapults us out of our comfort zone and into the “What was I thinking?” zone is so important.

The reason for doing anything that challenges us physically, mentally, emotionally, spirituality, financially or all of the above is because we forget what we are made of.   We lose sight of our superpowers and the only way to reactivate them is not to just dream the impossible dream but actually do something about it.

While it may seem like trying something for a few weeks, twenty-one days, or a month  or two won’t change  a lifetime of bad habits, you may be surprised what a little forward momentum will do for you.

Here are eight excellent reasons to act on your desires and take on  a time specific challenge.

#1 – Focus is required.

Whether it’s 3 days or 30, knowing you have a finite amount of time to achieve certain results definitely clears your calendar of any unnecessary clutter or distractions and allows you to focus on the goal at hand.  If you think you have all the time in the world to work on your website, draw up a will, or lose twenty pounds, that’s how long it will take.  If you have a timeline, a plan, and a schedule that’s non-negotiable, you’ll get down to business.

#2 – Resources rush to the rescue.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” The universe will meet you halfway but you have to take the first step.

When you are committed to the challenge, synchronicities occur.  From random songs on the radio to books that fall off shelves to old friends who suddenly call with the exact information you need, assistance is all around you.  Tune in to it.

#3 – Activation energy is unleashed.

In her TED talk, Mel Robbins talks about “activation energy” or the energy required to overcome the inertia you will experience when faced with the physical reality of changing your behavior.

Whether that’s throwing off the covers and getting out of bed a half hour early to write instead of hitting the snooze button or walking away from the chocolate chips crying out to you from the cupboard, you will feel a gravitational pull to old habits that you will have to conquer as part of your challenge.

#4 – Next steps are revealed.

The great thing about taking the first step is that in order to get anywhere, you have to  take another.  You do not have to know where it will lead or how long it will take to get there.  You only need to pay attention and take the next step when it is revealed.  Attempting to blast through all of the steps at once is not only incredibly destructive but hides the treasures that can only be found in navigating  a tricky terrain.

#5 – Perfection is not an option.

The quickest way to learn a something is to fail a few times.  Just like getting lost will help you find your way the next time, failing is a sure fire way to help you continue to refine and define your reason for wanting to master this skill or challenge.

You don’t know what you don’t know when you begin.  But you get leaner, fiercer, and smarter as you gain experience. Or you soften, become more compassionate, and wise.

As most people training for a marathon will tell you, they are not in it to win it. By qualifying, participating, and completing, they achieve something beyond winning.

You are not taking this challenge to become perfect.  You are taking this challenge to become more of who you know you can be.

#6 – Expect the unexpected.

At some point during the challenge something will surprise you.  Whether it is something you learn about yourself or an opportunity that presents itself, your efforts will be rewarded when you least expect it.

#7 – Freedom comes through discipline.

One of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets to Adulthood is,  ” What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” The biggest lesson I’ve learned from any challenge I’ve completed in the last year is this.  Freedom comes through discipline.

Discipline makes those hundreds of decisions that could derail me so much easier to make.  I just say no.  Not for the next 21 or 31 days or however long it takes.  Doing what I need to do every day instead of once in a while or when I feel like it makes all the difference.

#8 – You are capable of more than you imagined.

Until you activate your superpowers, you don’t know you have them.  Until you do what you say you want to do, you’ll never know that you can not only do that, but so much more.

One of  Danielle LaPorte’s truthbombs encourages us to “Love the necessary hard work.”  While it may be difficult to believe in the beginning, you will come to respect this advice. Once you have walked through the fire, felt the heat of the challenge, and come out on the other side, you will not only understand the wisdom of these words, you will be an example of them.

I’d love to hear about the some of challenges you’ve taken in the comments below.