Life happens, and...
As we approach Halloween, I can’t help but think about some of the costumes my kids had when they were younger. They were everything from Mummies wrapped in toilet paper to princesses with cardboard crowns. My youngest was even Ozzie Osbourne one year. (Since I had been coming up with costume ideas for years, I gave up and let him decide, even though it was a little humiliating!)
I haven’t gone to a costume party for years, but sometimes I think about what I would wear if I were to dress up. I can’t imagine pulling off Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. I don’t sing well enough to be Taylor Swift. I am not articulate enough to be Oprah. I could never take on the persona of Margaret Thatcher like Meryl Streep. I can’t write or speak like Brené Brown. I am not nearly as glamorous as Coco Chanel. And I don’t have enough Facebook friends to be Sheryl Sandberg.
I believe the quality of our life is in direct correlation to the quality of our questions. So as I list all the people I can’t be, I am struck with the question: Who do I want to be?
I am a firm believer that first we say who we want to be then we do what we need to do to make our vision a reality. Unfortunately, many times, I walk around focusing on what I need to do in order to feel better about who I am now. I sometimes forget that I can “BE” who I want to “BE” at any point in time. If I decide to play “Dress-up” I can choose to “BE” the best version of myself at any moment. Instead of feeling locked in a certain pattern or way of BE-having, I have the option at any time to shift my thoughts and actions and BE-come whoever I want. I can play dress up every day!
This is a liberating thought! That means I never have to feel stuck or stopped in my current situation. If I want to change something in my life, I have to first get a clear picture of what I want, and then align my actions with that picture.
For example, I have struggled with my waistline since the birth of my first child 25 years ago. I am constantly looking at new eating plans and exercise programs and asking friends what they do to stay in shape. I am always hoping to meet someone who just wakes up one morning and finds themselves in great shape physically. Everyone I have ever interviewed has had to make a decision to modify their lifestyle in some way to maintain their standard of physical fitness.
After many failed attempts to decrease my waistline, I realized I had approached this topic from the wrong angle. Instead of asking what I needed to do, I first needed to ask myself who I wanted to BE. I wanted to BE a physically fit fifty year-old. With this declaration, I needed to modify my actions to line up with my picture of a physically fit fifty year-old. I started to ask myself, “Would a physically fit fifty year-old eat this?” Rather than telling myself, “You can’t eat that!” I also started to ask myself, “What type of exercise would a physically fit fifty year-old do?” Rather than chiding myself to get up and get on the treadmill. It’s amazing how a shift in “BEING” shifts your “BE-havior”.
I am a firm believer that you will never outperform your self-portrait. I want to invite you to join me in the challenge of re-painting our portrait to reflect the version of ourselves we aspire to be rather than a reflection of who we are today. We can be who we want to be at any time if we stay committed to keeping our actions in alignment with our vision. As 19th Century Novelist, George Eliot writes, “It’s never too late to BE who you might have been.”