If you can get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. -- Eckhart Tolle
I've never been to a psychotherapist, although many of my friends have. Not that I wouldn't have benefited from more objective insight, but I harbored some common preconceptions: the process might be a little self-indulgent, time-consuming and costly. Psychotherapy, by its very nature, forces you to examine yourself.
Now that doesn't mean I haven't intellectually explored other pathways to self-discovery or happiness or examined ways to be present and achieve a balanced life. At the moment, I'm poised at the emotional starting gate.
A few months ago, I began to realize that, after years as a respected, confident businesswoman, I had lost a valuable connection with myself. For all I know, I may never have had that connection. I seem to have forgotten myself along the way. What was my excuse? Deadline driven, overbooked, taking care of business.
I knew I had to become reacquainted with myself but didn't know where to begin. I had made a few feeble attempts to revamp my schedule, my hours and my workload, not fully realizing that true life change comes from within. I wasn't finding the key to making real progress.
And then last week, I found myself sitting among 2,000+ women (and enlightened men) attending the Third Metric Live Conference hosted by Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski. I sensed that this experience could be my alternative to traditional psychotherapy. Slowly, but ever so acutely, did I begin to discover a valuable truth: Being present in the work world was but one part of my identity. We, as human beings, represent a sum of all our parts: professional, personal, family. Every facet of our lives exists within ourselves, not as separate entities, and it all can mesh.
I realized that I wasn't even present while talking to a dear friend beside me during our break in the program, on the opening night of the Conference. My lips were moving, and words were coming out of my mouth, but my focus was drawn to checking email and taking care of business at the same time I was supposedly engaging with my friend. I forgot to be present. I lost the human connection. It was 9:20 p.m. What couldn't possibly wait until morning?
Arianna spoke the truth: You can't live your life in response to texts and email. There I was, attending an event about redefining success and learning to thrive, and I was doing the very thing that the panelists had asked us not to do.
Professionally, I wear many hats as I balance a full schedule in the events management and production industry. I confess: I am addicted to work. The clients and projects often come first. I had been trying to fold my personal life into my work life, but I now realize, I got it backwards.
Because of the conference, one of the goals that surfaced was that I needed to change the way I think to encompass the way I feel. I hoped that armed with the new information I had learned, I could affect some real change. I made external adjustments to my schedule (again), but this time, I tried to stay connected to my feelings rather than my thoughts. Perhaps I would experience a personal epiphany by starting the day earlier or rearranging my daily routine.
I plan to look into mindfulness tools, investigate Headspace (a gym membership for the mind) and I have asked a few friends about meditation. I've begun to educate myself on mindfulness and awareness of all aspects of health, mind and body to see how my life can change. And I'm consciously taking deeper breaths as I charge ahead. I'm going to explore a variety of paths to redefine success in my life, and see if they start to work for me.
Last weekend, I spent time with three of my great-nieces and decided to dip my toe into the proverbial baby pool. The pre-Thrive Jodi would have taken myriad pictures of the kids as a viewfinder separated me from the real human interaction. I discovered that taking fewer photos resulted in layered memories, real engagement and presence in the moment. To my surprise, I noticed more details. The experience was energizing, a concept difficult to fathom, considering the stamina required to keep up with three children under eight. Even the smallest changes can be invigorating.
I am trying to learn that being present in the moment promotes efficiency in everything you do in both your personal and professional lives. Self-improvement yields productivity and creativity. I need to throw my life against the wall and see what sticks. I know it won't happen overnight, but I'm going to ease into it and attack it with full passion, as I do everything in my life.
This new discovery is a first step toward redefining my own success. I'm a work in progress, filled with optimism and hope. Perhaps I'll find fulfillment in unexpected places. What works today may not work tomorrow, but I'm going to explore a variety of ways to live a more fulfilling and authentic life -- not to merely exist but to fully thrive. I'm taking a new step forward to live the life I truly want... and deserve. And maybe even feel a little lighter.
It's time to get back to the true essence of who I am, check in with myself more, give my full self to what I'm doing, grow from it and enhance my entire life as a more active participant.
I would love for you to join me on my voyage to a Third Metric life.