Be True to You to Improve Your Formula
Fundamental? Definitely. Simple? Not at all. At least, not for me. I’m in the very early stages of my fifth decade – shudder – and am just starting to honour my true self as I make decisions about both personal and professional matters. Perhaps this is wisdom that can only come with age. I do feel I’m late to the game, but so glad I’ve arrived at all. I try not to lament about the time lost trying to fit in or adhere to others’ standards (still a conscious effort, especially with participation in social media), but rather focus on the present and future, aligning my actions with my true self to more fully realize my potential and be a better mom, wife, professional and steward of the earth.
Working with Kelly on her website design was a recent experience that brought to light the beauty of our differences in HOW we get things done, despite having the same goal in mind – launching her website. On a broader level, we as women all have very similar goals: to get things done, to provide for ourselves and those who matter to us, to have joy in our lives, to live up to our potential, to shed the labels that we may have acquired in our youth, to age gracefully, and continually improve.
I’ve wanted all of these things for quite some time and have done a number of psychometric and personality assessments over the last twenty years (by far the most revealing were Myers-Briggs and Empatico), and I’ve spent a lot of time with myself by myself. All of this has consistently confirmed my personality and all that comprises it. Bottom line: I know myself. But only very recently did I finally begin to apply my core values and personality traits to how I live my life to be happier, better, stronger and just more me.
By this point in our lives, we all have a fairly good grasp on what makes us tick, but it does tend to get lost in the demands of adulthood, working life, home ownership, spousal bliss and motherhood, and the pressures of getting it all done with pretty smiles on our faces. But I’m starting to see that I’m not being the best anything to anyone, especially me, if I’m not doing it my way. If you’re not being true to who you are, here’s some food for thought, a (somewhat indulgent) list of traits that are beginning to serve as a greater informant of my decisions and actions:
- am a non-conformist – if something is popular or mainstream, it quickly loses its luster for me
I can remember specific situations even from public school where I’d drop something like a hot potato if it caught on with the “late adopters”. Has anyone claimed credit for coining the now clichéd “I liked it before it was popular” mantra? I think it may have been me.
- am principled and increasingly thoughtful about ensuring my actions are in line with my core values
This is often a difficult thing to do. It can be easy to just go with the flow for the sake of not pissing anyone off, but if my convictions dictate otherwise, I make an effort to stay true to them. That said, I do not oppose for the sake of opposition. That character trait drives me mad and I work hard not to indulge a chronic opposer in debate, as it’s inevitably a losing battle. Up is down, black is white… ugh.
- feel passionately about social, economic and environmental injustices in society – the sheer number of them and our blindness to them can sometimes paralyze me
Social media is a great education tool. I try not to preach, but love to use digital social platforms to raise awareness, especially about environmental and animal cruelty issues. I loathe the “look at our perfect family life” posts but admittedly do indulge now and then in sharing glimpses into some of the (mostly) better parts of my personal life.
- have a strong need to stand out/apart from the crowd, through my personal expression and my work
Style is paramount. Shopping is fun for me but painful for anyone who may want to tag along or help me. I could spend hours on the hunt for perfect pieces that I feel good in – pieces that both speak to who I am and nicely fit my “full-figured” frame. Jewellery and shoes are easier (right, ladies?) and hair is a must. I miss long locks, and maybe I’ll go back there some day, but my hair’s just not what it used to be since having kids. For now, it’s short and funky, thanks to my good friend Jessika at The Green Hair Spa.
- have a strong desire to be part of a community
I need to give to the community in which I live and like to involve my kids as well to set an example of giving and altruism. The cause(s) to which I give my time and energy must be aligned with my core values.
- dislike committing to a schedule too far in advance (if at all) – I feel boxed in and claustrophobic
About a week before we were ready to launch this website, Kelly asked me to confirm my availability to train her in the management of her site’s content. She said she wanted to ensure she had enough time to commit to that and accomplish everything else she had planned for that day. WHAAAAAAT? I confirmed the date with her but couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that she had an entire day’s activities scheduled for two weeks down the road! Perfect case in point – this need to plan everything helps Kelly feel organized and prepared, but would have me in a mental and emotional straight jacket in no time flat.
- value spontaneity, variety and flexibility – in my schedule, in my relationships, in my work
The prospect of what a day can possibly hold – who I could meet, new projects I could begin, what I could learn – is so invigorating and only possible when my schedule is as open as it can be. Yes, I have meetings and appointments, but my productivity and creativity thrive on a wide-open calendar.
- value work satisfaction over money, but also enjoy the quality of life that money affords
I’ve finally come to understand that it’s okay to do work that you love and make money. Loving my work, while immensely fulfilling, does not pay the bills. If I’m doing work that is of great value to my clients, that’s worth something.
- am energized externally and love meeting new people, because you never know when you’re going to meet that next gem who could become a great friend, mentor, or otherwise valuable connection
However, I have very little time in my life for people who are disingenuous or with whom I have little in common. The multiple demands on my time make it a precious commodity; I need relationships with substance.
To be sure, this ‘being true to me’ thing is most definitely a lifelong work in progress. I relish that fact. To this end, I’m doing more of the things that allow me to connect more fully with myself so that I continue to honour myself: meditation, exercise that I enjoy (I am NOT a runner), pursuing creative initiatives and connecting with others who provide me with support, inspiration and/or mentorship. And the value of shared laughter cannot be underestimated.
I often think about what great value it would be to meet regularly with other women with common interests and goals to share ideas, laughs, and maybe a beer or glass of wine. I would love to hear from you about how you honour yourself, and welcome comments (below) and connections to keep this conversation going.
Have a wonderful day.
Strategic Marketing Advisor & Principal Designer
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