A couple of wise and savvy women gave me some advice not too long ago that has proven invaluable and I’d like to share it with all of you. I presented the notion that, for me, it’s tough to decide on a path because choosing one direction always means saying “no,” to another. And since I have many interests, I often feel stuck deciding which to pursue at any given moment. But the advice these fab friends gave me has really helped me get “unstuck.”
The first piece of advice was very concrete, maybe a bit obvious but it had eluded me. Make a list of choices and then just pick one. The key is to give myself a timeline, six months, a year, whatever, to try something and see how it goes. The timeline helps me feel less panicky that I have to live with my plan forever and never have the chance to move on. It also helps to alleviate the guilt I feel when I don’t complete something and gives me permission to change the plan.
The second piece of advice was more introspective, but nonetheless helpful. For a creative type like myself, or for someone with lots of interests, choosing one thing (or two, or more) means living with loss. Loss of the path not taken, of the possibilities not pursued. Most people are okay with that type of loss, or just don’t see it as such. For me, the fear of leaving something behind is paralyzing. But allowing myself to feel the loss, to grieve the interests not pursued, actually helps keep my life in perspective. Nobody can do everything she wants. Whether because of lack of skill, talent, resources or opportunity, some dreams are just that: dreams that fuel our imagination and keep us excited about living.
So, how have I applied all of this sage advice? As always, I am constantly bombarded by new and exciting ideas, new paths to consider. Should I stay home and write? Should I partner with a friend in a new business venture? Should I find a more secure, stable job? The list goes on. But these days when my mind starts to whirl, I remember my muses and stop for a minute. I put pen to paper to create my list of priorities, think about a timeline for each and contemplate what is a real possibility and what is merely a dream that fuels me. I can give myself permission to take a chance, the time to keep some options open and also allow myself space to grieve the losses.
For now, I have chosen to both pursue a new business venture and continue my writing career. For now. Because as surely as the seasons are starting to change, so too will my interests change, and now I have some tools to work that through. And by the way, I think my dream of singing on Broadway may just be a dream. But…you never know…
Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors. Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com. If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.
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