I grew up with goal setting as a key component to our family life. Literally -- my sisters, Mom, Dad and I would meet at my father's office at least once a year and assess our dynamics as a family unit. We would whiteboard a traditional SWOT exercise (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and together create goals as to how we could each better engage in our family dynamics. I was 7 years old. In hindsight, perhaps a bit daunting for a girl of my age, but I have no doubt it was those sessions that helped ingrain the critical thinking skills that cultivated much of my entrepreneurial spirit.
In my late 20s and early 30s, I turned goal agnostic. I was resentful of always being in planning mode. I had started to explore and embrace so many facets of spirituality and feeling truly connected to the concept of trusting the universe and a genuine belief that things ALWAYS work out exactly as the should. Easy to believe when you are giving other people advice.
And then I got cancer and I realized that I am in fact a pretty disciplined person who likes to check things off a good to do list while simultaneously honoring the ability to be present. I appreciated that for better or worse, it was those early years of goal setting that became ingrained in my spirit.
My journey with cancer provided an entire year and a half of goal setting that I wasn't even aware was keeping me going. My mentality was if I could just get to the next goal, then I could focus on whatever was next.
If I could just get through understanding the diagnosis and a team I trust -- check!
If I could just get through communicating to my friends, family and colleagues -- check!
If I could just be open to the emotional and spiritual guidance and support -- check!
If I could just get through the double mastectomy and gain my strength -- check!
If I could just understand the next course of treatment -- check!
If I could just get through the 16 sessions of chemo --each, god damn session -- check!
If I could just get my strength back -- pending
If my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes would just grow back -- pending
If I could just get through the reconstruction and start to feel whole again -- pending
If I could just get through the awkwardness of accepting my new body -- pending
If I could just go back in for additional reconstruction and accept my new body -- pending
As I just completed the last official phase of my reconstruction, which I will spare the details, I found myself sitting in the airport on my way home from MD Anderson. I was at the exact same gate at the very start of this crazy journey where I sent the email to all my friends and family announcing that I had breast cancer. And I lost it. Like really lost it -- like heaving, needing to put on sunglasses and asking the gate agent if I could pre-board lost it.
I'm not sure if it was the fact that I had been sitting in a procedure room getting tattooed needles poked in me for four hours, or the finality of everything and reaching a point which my doctors recognize as the true "completion" phase and simply not feeling complete. Or perhaps it was simply the recognition that I have been down a road filled with physical, emotional and spiritual challenge that at times seemed unfair and too much to bear. Perhaps this was my first moment of being on the other side without any tangible next "TO DO," and I didn't need to be strong for anyone else, especially myself.
In many ways, perhaps the real journey is now just beginning where living my life with intention, creating goals, embracing present moment awareness and trusting universal guidance can all blend uniquely together to create this place called a new normal. A new normal that is filled with happiness, love, creativity and joy which are things I (and we all ) deserve. A place where I realize nothing is ever really complete or checked off the list, but rather intended to remind me who I am, what I am capable of, and to always honor the moment at hand.
You can read more about Paige's musings as an entrepreneur, mindfulness + meditation teacher, and recent breast cancer survivor at her website Soul Sparks.