More than a decade ago, a friend invited me to attend a weekend creative retreat that she had organized. At the time, I could have been the poster child for so-called “transition.”
I’d just made a significant job change. I was in the middle of a divorce. I was considering selling my home and juggling a full schedule of volunteering, spiritual studies, fitness, personal growth, social life and starting a side hustle (you know, anything to keep busy).
Really, I was in that murky place of answering tough questions about what was next for me. And, because life often works this way, this retreat included an enthusiastic talk that focused around this one question:
What would you create if you had permission?
I’m no artist. But creating my life? That I could get behind. I went home from the weekend with a lovely, bright symbolic permission slip. A fun talsman. A reminder.
That piece of paper is long gone, but the psychological permission I’d granted to myself? Well, that wasn’t going away.
I thought of this recently when reading Carl Richard’s spot-on piece in the New York Times this week, about making a life-changing geographic move. (Something I’ve personally done, and yes, this is how it felt.)
Have you ever held back a bit, waiting for… something?
I’m betting the answer is yes. Maybe you’d feel more at ease with approval, reassurance, or a nod of the head for the direction you want to go. Maybe you want evidence that it will all work out beautifully. You and me and Carl and nearly everyone I have ever coached– we have all been there, waiting for that permission slip to move forward. It’s human.
My challenge to you is to give all of that to yourself. (Or else, take it from me.)
You have permission to want what you want. To be gentle, honest and clear with yourself about your real desires. Envision the changes you want to make. How will this fit into the bigger dream for your life? Go ahead, make a list.
You have permission to have it (and to go get it). To create what you want. To have what you know you need. Let go of the I can’ts and I shouldn’ts and they-would-nevers. Those are the (incredibly common) voices of roadblock.
You have permission to trust yourself. Because, once you turn off the noise and tune back into yourself, you know. And if you don’t think you know, you can always just try something and see.
You have permission to define what success is– for you. To step back from the expectations of others, and to connect to what is meaningful and fulfilling for you. Even if it looks different than the recipe you were given.
You have permission to say no so that you have the capacity to say yes. To uncover the underlying values that drive you. That will clear up a lot of confusion about where to spend your time and will help you to set boundaries based on what’s important (and what’s not).
You have permission to carve out the time you need. Whether it’s sane work-life balance, the quiet time to recharge, a vacation, or a few days off from your business to attend to your family’s needs, give it to yourself. (Yes, the world will keep right on spinning.)
You have permission to do things differently. To develop a bold new plan for what’s next. To make a course correction. To do business and build your work and your lifestyle in the way that fulfills you. Even if “no one else” is doing it.
You have permission to try (and even to fail and try again). This is how everything worth doing gets done. We test things out. We try. We adjust. Rinse and repeat. Step into the arena that calls you.
You have permission to change what isn’t working. It doesn’t really matter what specifically feels stuck or on the wrong track, if you know it’s not working, there IS a better way.
You have permission to acknowledge what you’ve achieved. It’s not bragging. It’s honoring your own hard work and growth. And that breeds more of the same success.
What you need is to know what you truly want for your life. You need to know what (and who) matters to you and be clear on what your responsibilities and commitments are to those people, places and goals.
Honor that, and you have all the permission you’ll ever need.
Go on, grant yourself permission for something that feels important. I’d love to hear what you choose.
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