2015 brought massive changes for my career and ignited some serious internal dialogue about why I work at all. Do I do this for the money as most of us like to think we do because that answer seems to remove any real decision? Do I do this for the personal reward of hearing my patients tell me that I have helped them to achieve their goals, repair their marriage or reach a level of personal health and autonomy that they have been working years to attain? Do I do this to role model for my girls who continue to live in a world that teaches them they cannot achieve as much as a man outside their homes and if they try they will suffer insurmountable regret for the choices they have made? Do I do this for my son so that he sees what it means to be an equal partner in marriage, sharing both domestic duties and bread-winning with his future wife? Or so that my children can learn that financial independence carries a security nothing else can provide and marriage is neither required nor time sensitive? Or is it more spiritual than that? Do I do this because I truly believe it is what was meant for my life and that a higher power has steered me along this journey and will continue to make all my paths straight?
Yes, yes and yes. It is all of those reasons and many more…
Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) challenges us to ask, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and my answer to that is simple. I’d live it all! I’d live it all with passion. I’d live it all without regret (well, a little mommy-guilt is unavoidable, let’s be honest). I’d live it all with wild abandon. I’d dive right in and ask, “what’s next”? I’d realize that my days are numbered and each one can have lasting impact in some small but important way. I’d ensure that each and every connection that I made was one of love, gentleness, kindness, mercy and grace. I’d realize that I, like you, have the ability to change someone’s life with a gesture or a smile and that that one life has the potential to impact many others. I’d acknowledge that our gifts and talents are intended to be used in service to others and that we each have something precious and special to give back.
And just when we wonder if we are insignificant and our uphill climb too burdensome, we need to look inside and ask how to lead forceful change. We can’t keep our eyes pointed down in selfishness, blinded by fear or cloaked in busyness and hope that others will augment that change. We are all fragments of a bigger picture and I count myself among the blessed with some faint idea of what that contribution involves. The answers are accessible to all of us if we just ask the right questions.
For many of us, myself included, it is time to stop asking why we do something and start asking how we can do it bigger and better. If we are willing to step outside of our comfort zone will we have the ability to, more profoundly, affect more people. That is what is meant by living our best life. It is not a safe place to reside, more buying power, more things checked off the list (although that feels great!) it is a constant, moment-to-moment, acceptance of our personal responsibility to influence others in positive ways. There is only one present and all the planning in the world won’t change our yesterday. When I look back upon my life I want to say that I made a ripple.
“What is an ocean if not a collection of drops” – author unknown.