My word for 2020 (and possibly the next couple of decades) is GO! Here is why…
I dropped out of the workforce some 14 years ago for not very original reasons. My husband and I both had demanding jobs that required a lot of travel and time in the office. Something had to give, so I gave up my job to allocate my time to the children and explore an array of volunteer opportunities. I have absolutely no regrets. I have made amazing friends that I plan to cherish for a lifetime (and I got to keep my work friends). I’ve loved the vast majority of the minutes I had as the kids emerged into lovable, but even more importantly, likable humans before my very eyes.
I quite enjoyed (most) of the various volunteer hats I got to wear. The number of hats I wore as a volunteer over this last decade and a half could fill a suburban size/have a small group dance party walk-in closet. Volunteering at this stage in the game made sense for me. Again not for very original reasons. My volunteer jobs offered flexible hours where I was able to give back, interact with people, and use my brain and various work skills depending on the role, while still being quasi present for the kids when they were in my midst.
Five years ago I introduced the nascent stages of what has become Grab Your Group and GO into my activity mix via The First Tuesday of the Month Theater Group. This evolved with absolutely no agenda on my part. I nurtured things along, but treated the operation very much as a back burner – super part-time – situation. More like a hobby than a business. Hobbies are fun right? Managing a theater group where I got to go the theater on a more regular basis with my nearest and dearest was a super fun endeavor for me. Therefore, the opposite of work and something I would put at the bottom of my to-do list behind everything else in my life that had to get done.
Remarkably in this back burner/bottom of my to-do list location, Grab Your Group and GO has thrived. We have a clear mission: to connect people through shared experiences, a group that is growing in size by the day, and we have a back-office system that is super legit and makes it possible to do what we do.
So why is it that this summer when I was just coming off a time-consuming volunteer job did I scramble to fill my new found time with yet another volunteer job? Why did I need said volunteer jobs to NOT work out to make me realize how I should be allocating my time? I am sitting on top of a mission that I love that is supported by my aforementioned amazing friends, family and perfect strangers. Yet when given the opportunity to allocate my time to it – I ran in the opposite direction, the direction that I had become my habit – volunteering. Whoa. Crazy. What a necessary wake up call and loud siren to my internal self these two ill-fitting and kinda scratchy volunteer jobs were!!
I am grateful to these volunteer experiences for not being a good fit. They truly made me hit the pause button and think through (on several walk and thinks – another thing I love to do and highly recommend) how I really, really want to be allocating days. My realization? I want to grow and expand and further define Grab Your Group and GO.
Epiphany: I was using volunteer jobs to hide behind what was literally sitting on the table in front of me – the legit work of developing this business.
To go forward I needed to give my very own self permission to front burner Grab Your Group and GO and move it from the bottom of my to-do list to the very top of my to-do list. What a revelation! So important is this point that I will repeat it. I needed to give my own self permission… no one else was standing in my way to do this but me. Whoa! What do you need to give your self permission to do to move forward?
I had this epiphany while on a walk and think one morning and mid- epiphany ran smack into a friend who is part-angel (her name literally has angel built into it) and blurted out my not quite fully formed epiphany with her. She was super excited and supportive about my epiphany and after a flurry of enthusiastic conversation she then thoughtfully replied: “I hide behind the caregiving of my children.” Of course she does! This is such an easy thing to hide behind. Kids have the capacity to fill every minute of every hour of each day (and night). But if one is on the market for something else – something they want to pursue or achieve or accomplish – one needs to make that a deliberate choice and front burner the *blank* out of that thing to make it happen.
Hiding behind kids or volunteer jobs or a variety of other things to fill your time is safe and comfortable and a legitimate life choice (I know this because I lived in this safe and frankly quite fulfilling space for 14 years). Building something – putting yourself out there – is terrifying. There is no GPS. There is a huge potential for failure and an unfortunate amount of potential for being judged in ways you might not endorse. But, no great revelation here – the more you put in, the more you get back. Since front burning Grab Your Group and GO – just four weeks ago – all kinds of amazing things have happened. Wild growth has occurred. New connections have been made and new systems and new ideas are getting put in place each and every day. (You may notice our spiffy new logo and website with integrated ticket sales. Stacie has been super busy.)
By treating GYGG (as we call it for short) as a front burner endeavor instead of a hobby it has become a business. It was a subtle but a super necessary shift to take things to the next level. The only person I had to share this shift with was my self, my family, and my GYGG collaborator Stacie (who makes so much magic happen behind the scenes).
What do you need to shift in your life to bring what you want to the next level?
Book recommendation: If you are sorting through stuff like this I recommend the book Fair Play by Eve Rodsky. We read this for book club in early December – solid choice Jennifer L. I wish I had the book when the kids were little. I didn’t love all of the rules in the middle of the book, but what I think is valuable and eye-opening is how the author thoughtfully breaks down all of the various ways we spend our time as parents and as families. She talks about the invisible work we do and is big on the value of how we spend our time. She is a fan of being disciplined about how you allocate your “Unicorn time” which for me was Grab Your Group and GO. I just didn’t have a label for it. She concludes the book with tips on how to find your unicorn space.
The whole book is a useful reminder on time management and making more time for what you want to accomplish with your life. Because totally trite and again super unoriginal – you only get one.
We have a new decade in front of us group… GRAB YOUR LIFE and GO LIVE IT!