Have all you need – sounds simple, right? But how many of us are always searching for more, for what’s next, for perhaps that unattainable goal or state of life that may never be. One of the primary elements of psychology that I learned a while back and have held onto is the term “self compassion.” We all can be our own harshest critics, often setting standards for ourselves that we’d never set for others, and judging our own decisions and life choices in a way that we’d never do to anyone else.
It has taken me about 12 years to finally feel that I do indeed have all I need. Up until getting married and more significantly, having kids, the path I was on in life was very clear and linear. I centered most all of my decisions around getting ahead in my career. I chose the colleges I attended with that in mind, I worked long hours and made many sacrifices along the way, but I was confident in what I wanted and where I wanted to go.
That all got turned upside down when I created my own family. My priorities shifted when I got married, but more significantly, they not only shifted, but they became very conflicted after I had kids. There became trade-offs – many many trade-offs….namely, the ultimate one, do I continue on the career path I’ve worked so hard towards, or do I detour so that I can be a real “mom.” Now I know now that you are a mom the second you have kids, no matter whether you work, don’t work, have help, don’t have help, play legos with your kids or not; but at the time, when my children were babies, everything felt like mutually exclusive choices.
I made what felt to be the best decisions at the time, shifting the amount I worked, the jobs I held, and how I balanced my life as a wife, mother, and an employee or business person. Literally every decision I made for many years I instantly regretted. I would decide almost right away I had made the wrong decision; because of this, I built up over time a fear of making any decision at all.
This self-criticism and self-judgement (this was not what I envisioned for myself; this was not where I was supposed to be at this age) started to shift about two years after we opened Lexington Power Yoga. I say two years because for the first 1-2 years of opening LPY I regretted everything about it. Owning a small business can be both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. For the first 1-2 years it is pretty much only incredibly challenging. The self-crticism and self-doubt only increased in those first two years – this was literally the worst decision of all career related decisions I had made. And then things started to shift – it was gradual for sure, but I started to realize how proud I was of what we had built; I started to truly value and appreciate the community we had created; I started paying attention to the thank-you’s and the praise more than the crabby customer emails.
I have become truly thankful for the balance I’ve been able to create between co-owning LPY and working PT in investing; for the non-profit boards I’ve been able to serve on; and most importantly, for the flexibility in my schedule allowing me to be proud of my role as a wife, a mother, and a friend.
While there is no true recipe for what defines life and what defines a happy life, we can all work on shifting our perspective, being grateful for what we have rather than mournful for what we don’t have, and for simply saying, “I have all I need.”