Nearly two years ago, on February 20, 2016, I received an email from Ted.com with the subject: “My year of saying yes”. It was the Talk Of The Week featuring television titan, Shonda Rhimes. In this Talk, Shonda mused on how she got her “hum” back by saying yes to her toddler.
Prior to checking out this TED Talk, I was on a journey toward restoring order to my life, which meant saying no to the things, people, places, and experiences that did not reflect my vision of how life at 40 should look. If there was an article about not being a people pleaser or being a bit more selfish in order to grow, you had better believe that I read it.
After all, I was in a profession that was slowly suffocating me in so many ways. I was saying no to all of the wrong things: spending quality time with my ailing aunt in Nassau; planning for significant personal events or retirement; taking creative workshops that would allow me to live from my heart; even just relaxing. I was always on.
I could not see the growth that various lifestyle articles (and my new decade) mandated that I experience.
So there was no way I could know that, at just under 19 minutes, that TED Talk would transform my 2017 thinking in a radical way and ultimately lead to the transformation that I spent the last five years seeking. With every bit of New York-style boldness I could surmise, I ended 2016 with the decision that I was not going to renew my independent sales contract with the “limitless earning potential” at the start of the year, but would instead focus on landing a more stable role in order to make my physical and financial health a priority.
I was longing for a more structured, professional environment where I felt a sense of togetherness. I also missed the vibrant energy that seems to be a fundamental part of working in Manhattan. The after work mixers, workshops, and last minute events-about-town that land in my inbox courtesy of Pulsd.com. It wasn’t just my professional goals that needed revamping; I needed to reset my lifestyle.
At the start of 2017, while already working on one project, I received a call about a six-month project at a financial services firm in Rockefeller Center. I immediately agreed. That six-month commitment challenged my project management skills and brought out my best professional self; I was in the office by 7:40 on most mornings and worked closely with two senior managing directors.
Prior to the end of that project, I received an email from a recruiter who has always gone out of his way to connect me with one opportunity after another. He had an open-ended project at a company that supports the arts and entertainment industry. It was coming up toward the end of July and he wanted to know if I was interested.
The day before the project started, I received an email invitation from General Assembly to an after work event titled “Personal Finance Mastery”, presented by The Financial Gym. As I said, I was resetting everything in my life so it only made sense for me to attend. I was so excited to finally feel as if I was regaining control over my life, that I didn’t hesitate to hire my Financial Trainer after our initial meeting.
I needed this makeover. Future me needed a complete makeover.
I had brutally honest discussions with my Financial Trainer, Crystal, about where I had gone wrong as an independent contractor and what I steps I needed to take in order to restore the balance I previously had. The first step was to secure a stable position.
About three months after my initial meeting with Crystal, I received a call from the recruiter who hired me for the open-ended project. There was some movement within the department, a permanent position was available, and the HR manager who had promised she would keep in contact regarding future opportunities wanted to meet with me.
In short, I accepted the role working with the team that I had been a part of over the summer. Several of the people whom I work with are very creative (an illustrator, a theater buff) and for the first time in a very long while, it felt as if I truly belonged.
To say that I experienced personal growth would be an understatement. My much-needed transformation arrived wrapped up in the uncertainty of 2017.
Oddly, it seems that I needed the chaos of instability in order to experience the calm of clarity.
Saying yes to this new job meant that I would also be able to say yes to greater quality time with my family this coming year. It means taking courses at Gotham Writers Workshop or Sarah Lawrence’s Writing Institute. This shift will finally allow me to have more time – one of the very things the independent role was supposed to afford yet did not.
Most important, perhaps, is that I can get back to making plans and executing them from a place of knowing.
When I started making moves this past quarter, I based my decisions on what innately felt right to me and for me – not on anyone else’s invasive analysis, strong suggestion, or unsolicited opinion. I moved in silence and chose to share with only my Financial Trainer and one or two close friends until after I executed my move.
When I said yes to me, I got my “self” back.