Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Progress Report: 6 Months Til 40!

It's been about 6 months since I turned 39 and whipped myself up into a tailspin around life goals, work/life balance, physical fitness, writing the great American memoir, and various other hallmarks signifying the passage of time. A lot has happened in those six months, some of which I've written about here, and much of which I haven't since I don't want to 'overshare' about everything on the Internet.

Essentially, in terms of what's happened: I took most of the summer off, quit my job, have reduced my body fat from 37% to 25%, am making steady progress on my book, saw my mother through some serious health issues, have dabbled with doing consulting versus having a full-time job, and perhaps the biggest change is that I have acquired an amazing boyfriend who has two wonderful teenagers, and I've become part of his family.

For the first time since I began working in my 20's, I unapologetically put my personal life first during the last six months, and it has paid off beyond any expectation I could ever have created in my mind.

Along the road, my entire worldview has changed, and things that have always seemed most important (steadily progressing career with more responsibility, money, and bigger titles) now seem unimportant.

Why did I need to essentially quit working in order to find a fulfilling personal life? Maybe normal people are able to do this whilst maintaining their job, but I've always been a person prone to extremes. My friend Ruth calls me a "verbal cutter." Everything is either "the best EVER!" or "a complete DISASTER" in my world, with no middle ground. I think this passion is part of what's made me successful in my career. I can easily sell what I feel passionate about, and I don't hesitate to very candidly dismiss what I'm, uh, not so excited about. I boil things down very quickly to their essential elements, which is a great talent for a marketing person to possess (there is bestselling book about this trait—thin-slicing--called Blink that Malcolm Gladwell wrote).

So, it seemed logical to me to boil down my personal life to essential elements – or in my case the almost complete lack of the essential elements required for a personal life. For me this process started in September of 2005, when my personal life hit a low point, which ironically coincided with the highest point in my career: I went through the breakup of a seven year relationship, after having moved across the country to be with this person; I had no friends in my new town to help see me through; and I had a new, high visibility job that required I walk into work every day with a huge smile on my face ready to revolutionize the company. How could I be doing so well at work and so horribly in my personal life? I pondered this question through the very long winter that followed…

Many of my friends have asked how I've come so far in such a short time, but they are only seeing the actions that have unfolded since I decided to take a sabbatical in June. In actuality, it has taken three years from the time my personal life was at the low point in September of 2005, until now. Along the way there have been the 8 moves I wrote about in a previous blog, making the difficult decision to leave a great job to return to San Francisco, and a lot of introspection as to what I want my life to look like on both sides of the aisle (personal/professional) as I approach 40.

With six months to go, I'm beyond pleased with my progress, and now the next hurdle is to combine the two sides successfully. I've redefined what work looks like for me, and I've finally, at the age of 39, reached a successful definition of what my personal life should be. The next six months will be about putting them together to see if they can create a cohesive whole…

Wish me luck!

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