First 9 months
As I round out my first 9 months in Singapore, I’ve finally started to feel not only settled in but starting to thrive and find a real rhythm to my life…just as we are about to head back to the U.S. for a short break. So with the first part of our assignment in Asia coming to a close, how do I feel about how we did and more so about moving ahead?
Coincidentally, this reminds me of how I would evaluate each year at work.
At the beginning of every year and also 6 months in, I would take the time to do a self-evaluation, evaluations for my team and prepare goals for the following year. This is something that’s very much a part of corporate culture and I had my own system for preparing these throughout the year so that I would be prepared to take out that yardstick and see how much my team and I had accomplished and what was next.
During a marketing event I attended I heard one founder say something that peaked my interest about this process. After seeing the value it brought to his work world he wondered why he wouldn’t use it for his personal/family life. So he and his wife created a review for their personal lives as a good check-in that utilized many of the same metric templates to see if they were really thriving or just ignoring a good thing.
How do you know that you are on the right track, where you’d like things to go or what you’d really rather stop doing because it’s not serving who you are as a family anymore.
I remember mentioning this to my friends and spouse when we were all deep in the baby diaper stage of life and distinctlly remember the complete disregard for this approach. When you’re knee deep in poop, it’s no time to put together a performance review.
Those reviews were mostly for myself anyway, so here I go…
What yardstick did I use?
Ok, so before you get started on any kind of measurement, you’ve gotta figure out the greater goals. But that’s clear right? Maybe not. My goal was to create a happy and fulfilling life but it was so damn busy. In the states, my focus was split between driving forward in my career and making sure our family was happy/healthy/enjoying life. We would sprinkle in time for us as a couple, friends, exercise, vacation, chores/errands, throw it all in the blender and hope for the best. We were living a very fast, exhausitng and crowded life, but that was kinda the norm of NY life. It didn’t seem unusual or like we had much of an alternative if we wanted to live in this part of the world. We made peace with that and I can genuinely say that I was happy with that life, although wished it could be a bit less hectic, but just a bit.
But look at this chart. This means that 70% of my life was just work and kids. And if I’m being honest with myself, those numbers only represent where I had them in mind. If I look at actual time spent? Well that chart starts to look even more lopsided than it already is. Where were my hobbies? Where was my quality time with friends? Exercise? Date nights? What about anything resembling passion projects?
That was “before”. This is now. I had to put a tremendous amount of time and energy into getting us set up, moved in, settled into this new life. Only recently have I started to have several real irons in the fire that go beyond just #momlife. So now feels like the perfect time to set up my goals for the next year. The exciting/interesting thing about that is how many things are now on my list of priorities that I simply didn’t believe I had the time/permission/energy/space to have before.
There are whole aspects of my life now that are much more flexible, focused on my physical and mental well-being and don’t rely on external factors. I’m learning to start from a place of strength rather than a place of utter exhaustion.
A great quote from Ariana Huffington that I heard on a podcast today was “Life is shaped from the inside out”. That’s completely opposite to the way I was living before.
I love the simplicity and empowerment of that quote as many times it does feel like the circumstances around us whether that was a promotion, a trip, a health scare, a boss, my car breaking down or a family issue were like the stock market. If things were up, I was happy and if things were not looking so sunny... well I’ll just follow that feeling down the rabbit hole.
Doing away with the idea of perfection & quieting our inner critic
And so when you're life changes drastically it allows you to reimagine what it means to be happy in one’s life. To change your yardstick. So many of us have had a reimagining over the past 2 1/2 years. When the very things that were SO important that you couldn’t possibly imagine not having in your life, simply go away. What you never thought would be possible suddenly is your reality.
This makes you start to reprioritize. But that’s not an easy task, not because you don’t know what to do, but more because it makes you question what you spent so much time doing before. It makes you question your core. If today’s truth is actually correct, then were you in the wrong yesterday? Maybe, maybe not. Or perhaps it’s not even a question of right or wrong.
I’m realizing more each day that we are all just making the best decisions at the time given the information, opportunities and time we have. There is no “right” way to live this life, only what serves you and what doesn’t. What’s necessary based on your needs. What pushes you to the next step and what holds you back. In fact, some of those decisions that I might have mistaken as great for me, were really stopping my growth and things that have been hard or challenging propelled me further than I could have imagined.
We are constantly evolving and what you did yesterday served “yesterday’s you” and what you are doing today is about “today’s you”. Neither particularly right, just making it work with what you have.
Life paths are not linear but cumultative and often require pit stops and u-turns. Much like this picture created by @LizAndMollie, you can feel very much like you are going in cirlces, not making much headway at all, but you’re actually learning, making adjustments and growing each time around as you progress. This is a perfect visualization of how these past months have felt and yet I’ve progressed nonetheless.
So now I ask myself: what moves you? What excites you? Where do you shine and what do you want to learn? What value can you add here? Those are the big questions that I am working on. Understanding that I have so much more to offer than I was giving myself credit for in the past.
I'm learning to pivot in ways that I never thought I could, but also enjoying the process of being a life long learner of information, people, culture, habits and experiences.
The art of the pivot
What are my new buckets of focus??? Well I’ve got 3 big ones to keep it simple yet focused. I’m happy to say that I’ve included myself in my new list :)
Making time for parents/siblings/extended family
Keeping health as a priority
Making new and growing existing friendships
Taking on new hobbies
Growing small business
Devoting time to social causes
Ever think about doing this type of check in? It can take some time and some introspection, but I think well worth the journey. Let me know where it takes you!