The Purpose Project: Telling Your Family & Friends
The road to finding and then living your purpose has its bumps - and sometimes what makes it bumpy at the start is worrying about the people who will be affected the most by your change of direction. Chances are that your spouse, partner, children, employer, close friends and relatives are comfy with the way things are - the way you are. And now you're going and upsetting everything!
Last week in my blog I included, "Who else in your life is involved?" on my suggested "Changing My Life To-Do List." It can definitely be stressful knowing you have to broach this new living my purpose subject with the people closest to you. And planning exactly what you'd like to tell them - and when you're going to tell them - are key factors in creating a positive and productive mood around the discussion. If you are among the few who are lucky enough to already know that everyone in your life will be overjoyed by your decision, good for you. You can stop reading now! This wasn't the case for me, and I learned a few valuable lessons about spilling the beans.
When I could feel that my jump off the corporate ladder into the world of pajamas was nearing, I was a ball of nerves. No matter how I rehearsed what I would tell people about my change of heart, it sounded absurd and trite even in my own head,
"I've decided to leave the career I've spent 12 years building to give pajamas to kids in shelters."
In my heart I knew it was neither absurd nor trite, but my head was out to win this battle.
I soon decided it was time for a trial run, so I picked a casual friend to confide in. She was a safe choice, I thought, as she wasn't too close a friend, nor in my field, thus having less potential to spread the news before I was ready. "I just need a little encouragement, an enthusiastic reaction," I told myself. So I invited her for a drink to spill those beans. Several gulps in, I started. And as I heard the words coming out of my mouth, I started to sweat. My idea really did sound crazy out in the open air. I downed the last of my wine, as she launched into a rapid-fire assault,
"Why would you give up your career?"
"Do you really think pajamas are going to help these kids?"
"How would you pay your bills?"
"Why would you walk away from everything you've worked so hard for?"
Feeling beat up, I made an excuse and got out of there. Her questions were the same ones I had, but I'd pushed mine way back in my head.
It took weeks to pick myself up from that low point of self-doubt and fear and summon my courage to reach out again, for those kids, and for me. And then I gave it another go. I told my then-boyfriend/now-husband my idea and that I wanted his input, suggestions and support because I hoped to move forward together. Do you know what he said? "Go for it!" Next was my mom. I told her I knew that the loving, warm and cozy bedtime she gave us shone a light for me on what these children didn't have at bedtime to let them know they were loved. She knew it too. "Oh, that sounds like a beautiful idea. I know you'll figure it out," she said. I didn't have anything figured out yet, but they loved me and trusted me. I wasn't crazy, just leading with my heart and their hearts knew it.
That's when I learned the first rule of sharing your decision to change lanes: find your cheerleaders before your naysayers.
Realize that while this time of changing lanes may be challenging for you, it can be even more confusing for others close to you if you take a sharp turn. Despite their own fears and mixed feelings about how this may impact them, those closest to you really do want you to be fulfilled, doing work you love. In your initial discussions, let them know you want to hear how they feel about your change, any suggestions they may have, how it may impact them and your world together, and what they think may help your transition process. Moving forward, include them in your plans and process. That way, they'll know how much they matter to you, even if you need to re-think or re-calculate some things in order to respect their considerations and concerns.
If your priority is to live the life you feel is most aligned with your purpose, you want to wake up every morning with gusto! You want to look forward to each day, to all the minutes and hours that fill you with both excitement and a sense of peace. And you want the people in your new life to see your joy and be happier for it too. Share your heart and let your true self out so everyone can see and feel your passion - and they will, they can't help it - you'll be contagious!