I was privileged to do executive coaching a few months ago. More and more I find professionals who are nearing the end of their career asking the big questions: what have I done with my life? Why aren’t I happy? Is this all there is?
These are typical questions after we’ve reached our 50th birthday. The kids are out of the house, the career is in place, our relationships are well-established, and typically we’re financially set. Let’s face it; we’ve worked our entire life to get to the point where life is easy.
So, what’s missing?
Maybe it’s not that something is missing, but rather that we have too much. Bear with me a moment. We spend our lives accumulating things – relationships, wealth, possessions, accolades – and then we realize that as filled as our lives have become, they are empty. Meaningful work and a sense of purpose suddenly become our driving force.
Such was the case with my client. She was almost 60 years old, full into her well-established career, and unhappy. As I met with her, I quickly discovered she had too much. Too much to worry about, too many obligations, too much past interfering in her present.
So, I set about reducing her life. This is the process of simplifying our lives. We started with her house, which was packed with books, VHS tapes, clothes she didn’t wear anymore, and a plethora of knickknacks that had long since lost their intrigue, not to mention all the items her children kindly left behind.
At the same time we were working on de-cluttering her mind. I am a firm believer that life is not meant to be difficult. It amazes me how complicated we make the simplest of things. She had a penchant for needing to be right, to be the ‘go-to’ person at work, and be a model of success. This is a lot to be carrying around and it wasn’t making her happy.
Each day we worked on releasing more and more of these elements that she’d acquired over her lifetime. At the end of three months consulting, she was at greater peace, the relationship with her husband was richer and their communication had strengthened considerably. Her history had been a need for security and certainty, which had driven her career. Three months into our consulting and she surprised me with an announcement to quit her job.
The interesting thing was she had no other job to replace it. She was doing this on instinct alone, knowing intuitively that it was time to end the job and trusting that everything would be fine going forward.
What does this have to do with business?
Quite a bit actually. Businesses and corporations are living entities. As they mature, as with most things, they acquire more and more. They get cluttered up with old things they’ve been carrying around for decades – inventory, office equipment, customers that are no longer profitable, processes that are archaic and inefficient. Past employees leave things behind too, like bad habits, loss of customers and outdated technology. My favorite thing to hear as a consultant is, “we’ve been doing it this way for years.”
Yes, and the world has been changing around you.
Fear of failure and avoidance to risk-taking keep businesses stasis, just the way our own fear keeps us in place. Lack of diligence in paying attention to the current state of our business, or ourselves, leads to unhappiness. And in business that means failure.
Ask yourself: is it time to take a look at where my business is at? Do I have old processes and thought-patterns that I need to release?
Only in letting go can we have our hands empty to receive the next thing.
Laureen Peltier helps companies uncover their human potential through innovative leadership approaches. As a keynote speaker, a healthcare consultant and meaningful workforce expert, Laureen has improved employee retention, developed leaders and designed mental healthcare programs that are patient-centric. She has been speaking on mental health for over 10 years and is passionate about being an instrument of change to both organizations and individuals. experience trends.