Summer transitions. Some people prefer to mark the changing calendar years as times for significant transitions. Others fall back on childhood notions of the start of a new school year in autumn as the most opportune season for change. Not me. For me, it’s almost always taken place in the summer.
Changes either happen to us, or they happen because we make them happen. We’re either the actor or the reactor. And as I’ve said in numerous blog articles, I prefer to be the actor, setting in motion transitions when they strategically make most sense in my career and my life.
Mind you, not everything has changed for me. In fact, some really remarkable aspects of my life continue just as I would like.
I’ll soon be signing my contract for my third professorial year at Edgewood College. My association with a number of other leadership, learning, and organizational development consultants continues. Each of them brings unique perspectives, experiences, and insights to my own consulting practice. So, I’m thrilled to be maintaining many of those, and growing others. I’m still researching. Still running. Still parenting.
So, what’s changing, you ask? Well, the focus of my consulting world is transitioning rather significantly this summer, and that’s a result of several key realizations and reactions to my personal and professional life over the past several years:
Some people work to live, and others live to work. I want to have my cake AND eat it, too.
You see, I really love my career path. Teaching, coaching, and mentoring all tap into my strengths and my passions. But as with many consultants, the intermittency of income streams often pressures you to take on projects that either fall slightly outside your “passion zone” or that create a seemingly non-stop feast or famine mindset. When projects are coming, you grab them up by the handful, for you never know when the next lull might arrive.
That’s the mindset in which I found myself mired repeatedly (and increasingly) over the past year or two. And if all I wish for is to work on my professional pursuits seven days a week, that would be fine. But, for me, that’s NOT what I desire. In fact, my recreational pursuits are equally vital to my well-being. I need time to read, to write, to skydive and backpack, for long-distance running and the occasional week-long vacation with my daughters (who are quickly AND eagerly awaiting commencement of their college careers in the next several years). Nope, the feast or famine mindset simply isn’t conducive to living a strategically balanced lifestyle for me.
So, what have I done to ameliorate that mindset? I’ve done precisely what I coach others to do….yes, I’m now applying my own counsel to my own life. Novel, I know!
The biggest step I took? Putting my house on the market. Kind of extreme, you say? Not so. You see, it’s a move I would have taken anyway in a year or two as the girls headed off for college dormitories. As an empty nester, I long ago realized the folly of keeping a four-bedroom home just for me. So, I listed the house, and at JUST the right time! Two days….it was sold! And with it, my huge transition began….
The house, wonderful as it was, brought with it quite a few key downsides. First of all, the mortgage itself mired me in the feast or famine mindset. Even in the times of feasting, I always felt the pressure to work more. So, the more projects came up, the more I took on. And the more my other priorities in life, i.e., kids, hobbies, relationships, reading, and yes….even sleeping, got pushed to the sideline.
But as I watched several neighbor’s successfully sell their homes, it got me thinking. And in the end, I decided to test the water. If it sold, fantastic. If not, I’d simply stay put (and accept the imbalance) for another year.
As I stated above, it sold…in near-record time and for a great price! And the timing was perfect. A couple of close friends offered to rent me their place, which might just get me through until my youngest heads to college and I decide where my next life adventure will take me. I jumped at the chance!
And in the process, I jumped at the flexibility this transition holds. Teaching becomes my professional priority. Consulting (primarily coaching) remains, but I will now have the flexibility to only take on those projects and engagements for which I have true excitement and passion. I’ll be carving out more time to wrap up my dissertation (which ALSO is a true passion of mine). My kids, in their final adolescent years, will remain a priority. My writing will become central to my life once again. And I’ll have the time and energy to continuing building upon a wonderful relationship with that special someone. What could be better!!
All in all, I have always loved summertime. From my childhood summers spent in the Northwoods, canoeing and backpacking amidst the calls of the loons to the backporch reading and wine sipping of today with the chirping birds and the cool breeze through the trees. Summer’s always been my favorite season. And as I transition this summer, I will look back at all the changes I’ve made in my life and embrace this one as something truly special…the summer I took a dream life and made it even better!
Yes, I’m definitely enjoying this transition. And I will continue to enjoy it….as I backpack across Isle Royale National Park next week. See, it’s working out already!