I’ve discovered a lot about myself in the past few years.
For most of my career, I lived in a hyper-productive state, always on the go, operating in a State of Crazy, so much to do and so little time!
I thrived on that highly charged, highly-caffeinated atmosphere. Did pretty well at it too.
Until I didn’t.
I burned out, big time.
The Beauty of Burnout is that it forced me to take the time to slow down, re-evaluate, and reprioritize not just what I wanted to do, but who I wanted to be.
It turns out I had boxed myself in with a predetermined notion of who I was.
I had only ever thought of myself as a television producer. And a busy working mom who had time for nothing else.
How do you answer the question, “What do you do?” when you no longer do what you once did?!
So I set out with a sense of curiosity to TRY new things and see if they felt like… me.
Here are a few things I learned.
It turns out, all those years of hyper-productivity masked the truth that deep down I’m kind of a… slacker.
A little lazy, actually.
I love nothing more than getting back into bed in the AM with a good book and a cup of coffee and a cat curled up on my lap.
But it sure is nice.
For years I said I was the kind of person who hated meditating. The thought of sitting still and clearing my mind left me downright itchy. I believed you can’t turn a racehorse (me) into a turtle (anyone who meditates). An 8-week Mindfulness Stress Reduction Course taught me that I can indeed meditate, maybe not well, but that’s not the point of meditation. That lesson – and the subsequent quiet – was good for me.
I always joked I’m a lousy cook. Turns out I’m a lousy cook at the end of a long workday when the kids are hungry and everyone is crabby and the email is still pinging and I’m trying to multi-task a rushed dinner on the stove. In other circumstances, I actually enjoy cooking!
I’m particularly good at soup. (Who knew?)
What does it mean to acknowledge you like to laze, to meditate, to make soup?
Maybe nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Or maybe something.
Maybe even… everything.
How we define ourselves is how we live our lives.
The more I examined who I thought I was and the more I allowed myself to explore who I might be, the more I learned and changed and grew and became and THRIVED.
Moving on from a previous identity is hard.
I’m no longer a television producer. I’m still a busy working mom. I’m also an entrepreneur, a business owner, a communications consultant, a storytelling strategist, a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, an author, a blogger, a frequent podcast guest, a professor, a career coach, a speaker in live storytelling shows, an improv performer, a sketch writer, and a soon to be stage show producer.
Who knew I could be all those things?
And – here’s the cool part – I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of who I might become. Interests change, titles can be dropped and added, and we can keep growing into new and interesting versions of ourselves.
Maybe you’re not quite who you’ve claimed to be. Maybe there’s more of you left to discover. Maybe you’ve got Deep Pockets hidden within you you’ve yet to explore.
What if we lived our days with a curiosity about what we might accomplish and who we might become if we let go of pre-existing notions of who we thought we were?
Who might you be and what might you do?
There’s another chapter within you. (And one after that and another after that too…)
Set out to discover what’s next. Stay curious about what you might become if you’re brave enough to move on from what you’ve been.
Your future “you” is ready to star in this story. Be its active author.
It’s Your Story… What Happens Next?
Valerie Gordon is a longtime television producer, humorist and author, and the founder of career and communications firm The Storytelling Strategist. She helps clients and teams discover and utilize the power of story to build successful careers and strong relationships. Follow her on LinkedIn.