As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me for the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For September 2022 the quote was, “Don’t be afraid to start over, you might like your new story.”
After doing this mindful quote practice for more than a year, it still surprises me how much the quote I pick for the following month rings so true and offers the space for the reflection I didn’t know I needed. This was especially true this month with this quote. Here are quotes that caught my attention in September that connected to “…start over”:
- One day or day one – you decide.
- You can end up navigating with a compass that doesn’t actually belong to you.
- By being here, you have given.
- You are the reason.
- May it help you to manifest positive things today and every day.
- The time is now.
- If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn’t get there alone. Someone had to pick it up and put it there.
- Our jobs as humans is to honor ourselves.
- Be free. Choose you. Amplify your voice and dream louder.
September was full of transitions. The 80-person change management/strategic communications practice I built from scratch and led went to someone else in a re-org. The place where I worked for 8 years dissolved through an acquisition. I automatically started a new job at the company that purchased us with 60-days’ notice. I got aligned to their defense account after 20 years in health care. My Outlook calendar was not transferred as part of the deal. I did not have a leadership role in the new organization – no practice to lead, and no clarity that they even had a similar practice of specialists.
I was truly starting over is every way.
But yet, I wasn’t.
This start began on a foundation of community of coworkers – 1,200 of us started together. This start began on a foundation of experience – I had my commercial, non-profit, and public sector client work to draw upon, as well as work at 3 other consulting firms. This start began on a foundation of mindfulness – I didn’t panic, I didn’t rush in, I didn’t look for the exit hatch. Instead, I simply sat with the phrase, “I’m open to opportunities” and took a lot of deep breaths.
In this transition I found the opportunity to start over with my Outlook calendar. I’m setting it up with a more mindful lens. Mindful of when I am most productive in the day. Mindful of how long certain tasks actually take and to block it accordingly. Mindful of my team and having standing 1:1 time with each person to connect more personally. Mindful to eat away from the computer. Mindful of having a “cherished chat” each week with a co-worker or community member who brings me joy and inspires me.
In this transition, I found the opportunity to start over with my career goals. I realized that for quite some time I’d focused on the progression of the company’s “career continuum” – what actions and metrics are needed to “level up.” I realized in the silence of not having a practice to run that I’d let the outside voices still my inner voice… that while my career was moving, it was moving in a rapid circular hamster wheel kind of way rather than one driven by my personal goals and core purpose. And, that I needed to really re-access how I most wanted to apply my expertise and passion next.
In this transition, I found the opportunity to start over with my community. As things wound down at Grant Thornton, I took time to connect personally with those who had impacted me – from my deputies and leadership team to mentors and teammates – to thank them. I sent a weekly Monday email to my broader team during the final month together that included self-reflections, links to songs, funny memes, and hope. I reached out to my personal community to share the news and ask for time to reacclimate. I set up “play dates” with my closest friends and had long calls with those farther away to be as refilled with as much joy as possible before I started the new job.
In this transition, I found the opportunity to start over with my identity. For so long, I was “Emily, the lead of Business Change Enablement.” But, that is not who I am… that is what I did. The freedom from roles and expectations gave me space to think about the alignment between my who, my what, and my why. I learned I am not my title. I am so much more.
In this transition, I found the opportunity to start over with vulnerability. As an introvert, so many thoughts and emotions remain in my head. Yes, I am comfortable talking and can banter with the best, but what is at my inner core is held close. I took this opportunity to work on a lesson the universe puts in front of me time and time again – let go. Let go of the need for control. Let go of the fear of failure. Let go of the need to succeed. Let go of the protection. Just be. So, I tried it. I shared more authentically. And, well, it was amazing! My conversations were deeper. The emotions comforting. The tense shoulder looser. The smiles more frequent. The connections more personal.
This transition also reconfirmed the follow: Making time for your co-workers is essential and a top priority, always. Routine exercise keeps my emotional boogie men at bay. Sometimes a giant bowl of coping ice cream is really what you need and it’s OK. Starting over is tiring. Setting up new technology inspires my use of curse words at a whole new level. Quiet time in my work day is a blessing and requirement. Laughter or a good cry make all things possible.
Finally, this transition reminded me that we’re all in this together… starting over each day with a fresh 24-hour slate with which to learn, try, grow, fail, progress, stumble, soar, help, and heal. How will you start over today?