Exactly what are you waiting for?

How often do you stop in the middle of your day, where ever you are – at your desk, in your car, at the grocery store, in a meeting – and say to yourself, “This is exactly what I want to be doing!”

Just a random guess… not often.

I mulled over these thoughts quite a bit during a recent three day period in which I alternated between concentrated time with people I care and time alone. And it’s funny – when you’re around people who inspire you, who love you and who bring out the best in you, suddenly you’re very aware of everything you can be. Doubts melt away. Energy smolders and sizzles. You’re ready to charge ahead and embrace your present and you wholeheartedly believe you can make anything happen for your future.

Until, of course, that 5am alarm goes off and you’re back to walking the dogs, brewing coffee, waking up cranky teenagers, endlessly buying groceries (for said cranky teenagers), washing dishes, dodging telemarketers, shifting uncomfortably through meaningless meetings and hunched over your laptop late at night to meet deadlines.  When ‘real life’ kicks in, suddenly everything you can be becomes far less important than an extra 20 minutes of sleep or someone else taking out the trash for a change.

Because that’s where we lose ourselves: in the mundane of the every day.

But what if we could celebrate that?

No, really: what if, with a sticky, odiferous white 13 gallon trash bag in hand as you fumble out to the trash barrel, you could stop, swat away the pesky flies and say to yourself, “This is exactly what I want to be doing!”

It’s not the taking out of trash that is quite so celebratory – though I suppose, depending on what’s in your trash, it could be. It’s that you’re in that moment, very much aware of who you are and where you are. You are part of the world that happens to include taking out the trash. And washing dishes. And paying bills.  And it’s your world. Your reality. And it’s of your making.

Own it. Embrace it. Love it. Live it.

We choose our path. We create both the present and the future, and it is up to us to stop our assumptions from getting in our way.  We can’t find a new job because we’re too old for a career change.  We can’t move to a different city because it’s too hard to start over. We can’t start that new relationship because it’s never going to work out anyway.  We can’t end this current relationship because we’ve invested too much time in it already. We can’t let go…

Well, why not?

If you can’t look around you today, no matter what mundane, boring task it is you’re mired in, and say to yourself, “This is exactly what I want to be doing!” then perhaps it’s time to reassess. Something is cluttering your life, your thoughts and your heart.  Think about what needs to change so that the mundane doesn’t bury your soul, but is just one more action in your ability to live through your soul.

How much time do we spend thinking, “It would be nice if…” and “One day, I want to…” What is it we’re waiting for in order for those things to happen? More money? More time? A different opportunity? How much will waiting actually help those things to happen? What’s supposed to be happening while you’re waiting? Who’s making it happen?

And that is what I realized during that three day period: waiting for my goals to happen wasn’t really getting me very far. I need to proactively create the life I want.  A life that includes making time for the people important to me. It includes focusing my energy on work that I love. It is dedicated to making the most of each moment. And it means occasionally washing the dishes. Buying groceries. Dealing with cranky teens. Buying more groceries. And taking out the trash.

Natalie Hahn O’Flaherty is a principal at Dirty Girls Consulting, offering special programs that coach women moving into leadership roles. Women work differently, think differently, and it is up to us to allow this difference to become our strengths. We explore breaking free of traditional standards, accomplishing professional and personal goals to create an authentic, fully loved life. Read more Dirty Girl Consulting blogs here. 

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