Who Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up? (Aligning Expectations and Reality)
I never expected to ask for a tampon from my child.
To get an AARP brochure in the mail.
To feel sexier now than 15 years ago. even with that little cushion around my waist.
To look down at my hands and literally not recognize them.
To be creating a Tinder account, for the first time, at this age.
To completely change careers.
To feel invisible.
To love the freedom that comes with not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks.
To feel more anxiety now than I've ever felt in my entire life.
To be questioning everything, including my marriage.
To feel exhilarated about what that second half of my life will reveal.
So, in this chapter we really look at, and you study with women, kind of, what the expectations are, around us, for who we are and what we wanna be. So often we do not realize that we are operating based off of others' expectations of us. The, we talked to one woman who said, "But my mom said I was gonna be good at PR, and that was my one path". And we were ta...
lking to her at 50 years old and she was in the midst of changing her entire career, but feeling really guilty about it.
Right, or that woman we talked to who said, "My dad would only pay for college if I went into finance, and I went through finance, I had a career in finance, and suddenly realized like, 'Oh my Gosh, at this age in my life I don't wanna do this anymore'". And became an interior designer, which she always wanted to be so.
Right, right. Or we also talked to another woman who had been big publishing career her whole life and she read the book and it gave her permission to go on a girl's trip, which she thought would just be this frivolous, like little trip. And what happened is her best friend said to her during the trip like, "You have always had this knack for organizing. And you've always trivialized it, like it was nothing and it's actually really meaningful". So now she'd sort of ditched the publishing career and she launched this organization business that is like flying through the roof, she is soaring on every level, and so happy about. She was so worried about what her husband would think of it.
Right, and that is the issue, right there. Is that so many of us have these expectations, or think that there's expectations put on us from others that surround us. Our parents, our children, our husband, even our friends. That we define ourselves by our expectations and it's kinda time now to redefine those expectations for yourself.
It is and not only is it, it's helpful to sort of whiteboard it out. Like write down all the expectations that you feel, some of them are really heavy, some of them are lighter, like I make all the doctors appointments, I am responsible for everything in the house, and the household. I'm responsible for my kids' happiness, for my kids' education, for my happiness, for my husband's health, so whatever those expectations are and then kind of start to like look at where the expectations are coming from. And sort of lose some of them, keep some of them and lessen some of them, and sometimes it's helpful to look at the phases in our life, and what they represent, and so we look four phases in our life. And the first phase is sort of the dreaming years, and that's zero to 25 years. Where everything is unicorns and--
Looking at the future.
Looking at like yeah, all those beautiful things that we don't really, we're hopeful for, and that's really a lovely time in your life, and then 25 to 45 is the billing years. You finish college, you maybe get married and have kids, you're starting to build your career, build your foundation. It's this forward thinking of building things.
And this is tricky because these are where the expectations start to come into play where, you have those little voices in your head of like okay, this is the career I'm supposed to build and these are the kids I'm supposed to have and this is the husband I'm supposed to have.
That I built up in these dreaming years, right?
Yeah. And it might not be exactly the choices you'd make, but those are the choices you think you should make.
Well, and then it's time here, and this next phase, which is sort of the reinventing years. It's time now to ask yourself, are these expectations that I've either put on myself, which we too do it ourselves, we're very hard on ourselves and where are they coming from? And now, I wanna reinvent them. I wanna redefine what that looks like for me.
And treat them, it's fine. It's fine to say like, well I went down this path but it's actually not serving me anymore, and maybe, shoulda coulda woulda, don't do that, but kinda look forward and go, I'm gonna re-adjust. I have permission, I'm allowed and I can reinvent at any time in my life.
Right, and it's going back to like losing those fears. So this really is the time that those fears get put aside, and you push through something that's really, maybe something you've always wanted to do, or dreamed about doing in your younger years. And go back and we talk about that too, go back to like feeling like you were in kindergarten again, and like what did you love? And what did you, what helped you--
What you used to play like when you were a kid, like, I played gas station.
That's just weird.
That's really weird. But it's like what did you like to do? Did you like to fix things? Did you like to help people? Did you like to dance? What are those things, and then those will give you clues in terms of how to, where to begin to reinvent.
Well, and also having (mumbles) stuff with women who know you maybe a little differently than you see yourself so, the exercise of spending time with women and saying like, what do you think that I'm good at? Like how do you see me? Yeah or way, how do you see me? When do I shine the most? Or when do I light up when I talk about what? And, it really gives you some understanding of like, maybe things that you hadn't even thought of before.
Yeah talked, we were at an event in New York City right, and this woman had been in PR her whole life, and then she just constantly dreaming about being in the medical field. But because she's in her 40's she said, well there's no possible way, immediately, put up a no. There's no possible way I could go back to medical school, I couldn't do that but, if you think differently about it, like what was that, what's underneath that? What's underneath that is she wants to serve in some way. She wants to help people feel good. And there are lots of choices underneath that bucket. And she felt in PR that she was constantly just like slaving away and helping other people and helping businesses in a way that didn't feel great to her.
She lost herself.
She lost herself, right. So, it's just a matter of kind of re-figuring that lens.
And it takes some work. It takes some work, it definitely takes some time to sit down and ask yourself these big questions.
Yeah, exactly. And then, it's kind of nice to know that we'll talk more about happiness but it's funny that like, research tells us that you're the happiest at like 60, 65 plus, which is funny because we always think that like, why am I not like the happiest? It should just be this incremental thing. Right, in a plateau. But, it just keeps getting better and better. So the celebrating years, I know. Very exciting. So 65 plus are the celebrating years, when you can really just enjoy and it should be.
Especially if you've made some different choices for yourself. So you can go into those years, feeling like fulfilled.
Right. So, it's funny, I mean we all absolutely have a list in our heads about the things that we, shoulda coulda woulda, should've accomplished in our lives and it's much like motherhood. We heard that over and over in motherhood that like, oh my gosh, I should be this type of mom, I should've already done this in my career. But now the stakes are higher because we have less time to reinvent and to rebuild, and so a lot of times, we equate in this phase, we equate success with accomplishments. We talk to so many women who said, when we said, do you feel successful? And they were like, what do you mean? Maybe not. Because they're looking at it like, maybe it's that promotion they didn't get, or maybe it's the path they should've taken, but really it's like we all have literally manifested amazing things in our life that equate success, that maybe are different than we would've thought. So one of the things, I mean it could be beautiful kids. It could be, making someone laugh. It could be, a whole multitude of things that are just beautiful.
Right, and we do need to like redefine success, because that, this generation especially really puts it, the pressure on this resume and the outcome, like if I'm not a CEO, or I haven't, I'm not the best mom, because I'm not a carpool pick up, or whatever those things are that are, we really step back and say, I haven't done what I'm supposed to do, and that list for us of success is so long, so big, and so unattainable, that we're never ever gonna feel like we have--
We set ourselves up for failure on a lot of levels so, so one of the just basic exercises is to write a list and make this just grand list of everything you've manifested in your life, and did you change cities, did you change careers, did you find someone--
The little things, even.
Special in your life. Did you find your best friend, did you go on the trip of a lifetime? I mean, we all make those things happen so, and those are the things that ultimately happen.
Right, well and it's really hard because we have this social media that's really kind of getting in the way of our own success too. Like the fakebook effect where we're looking at our eighth grade best friend and saying like okay well she, it's not even Cindy Crawford anymore, it's the girls you went to high school with or junior high with who are, look like they're so successful and doing so well in so many different ways.
Or the couple that like post underneath their own picture, I love you baby, no I love you more, and no I love you. And you look at them like, literally how many people are like that. Like there's no way I can be that happy and we talked to one woman who had to literally take a six month social media hiatus because it was making her like, social media was making her miserable, and making her feel less than, and in reality everybody's got their stuff underneath that, so we really we talk a lot about in the book about that and--
Shutting out that noise, yeah.
That woman about that and it's a real issue. So fakebook.
Well it's pushing through our fears. We have, there's eight common fears that we all, at this time in our life, are going through and that's like, future regret, what are we going to regret? And so, what if I quit my job like, and we can't afford our house or we can't afford soccer or these big, and they're big questions but we're fearful of those, of those things.
Judgment, I mean we all know this feeling, because we, it started when we in our 20's and 30's, and it kept going. Motherhood and marriage. So we're afraid of being judged. What if you have this great career like that woman in publishing and she was so worried that everybody would say what are you doing? You built this and so we're all afraid of feeling judged but really we should be worried about ourselves, and judging ourselves, more than anything.
Well it's a fear, and another fear is making a mistake. Again we're so, it's this fear of failure that, if, what if I make a mistake and will people think that I'm not a success anymore? Or will my kids think that I didn't good choices? Or, it's just, it's all fear based, of these--
And along those lines, heading down the wrong path. I mean we are programmed, the generation before us have programmed us to pick a path and stay on it. And that's what we have watched over time, and so it's almost, it almost feels like against the grain. So sort of, make a change and it's okay, like we really really can sometimes need to take a different path. But it's a fear.
No and it's, we're wasting time. Like oh gosh I don't have anymore time in my life, like I can't make a career change, I can't take time for myself.
Or divorce a husband that you know, there's a lot of different changes that we need to contemplate at this point.
And money, we're fearful of losing money.
Well the prior generation like drilled in our head.
You should have X amount saved, you should have all these different accounts, you should be retired by 65 and we are such a different generation. The rules don't apply to us anymore.
Right. And of course, fear of missing out, FOMO.
Oh FOMO. Yeah, that's a real thing.
Especially with Facebook and with, what am I missing out on? What am I not doing? What's the life that I could have, that I should have, that I haven't done? I mean no matter what, it's all around us. So really like--
It's real thing. Our kids have it too. And, overall fear of failure. So what if I change paths and, what if I quit that amazing job and I try something and I fall flat on my face?
Right well, and that's, especially for this generation. I mean we're so, we're such over perfectionists that that idea of that word failure is really scary. And you gotta let that word go.
So there's four questions that will help kind of navigate this tricky territory so the first one is, what if you throw away that resume you're clutching? Because the resume is who you are, and really it's, the resume isn't who you are, what if you threw it away? And what if you rebuilt it? And what if you wrote it with other--
Or the last line, add like what you'd wanna see in 10 years. What's that thing that added to your resume that you don't see now? Like what would make that really feel complete?
And one woman like had this like resume writing party, and she literally had her friends over, and they ripped apart her resume and burnt it in a fire, and then they like, on a whiteboard, wrote every amazing quality about her. And then a whole new path was born from that.
And we can all appreciate that, and we can all appreciate each other, more than ourselves sometimes.
Like help with that.
And throwing away that idea of success. Like really pushing it aside, all those like this is what I think success looks like, and redefine it. Maybe it looks very differently than you thought it was gonna look. And write it down. Like what does success mean to me now? Spending more time with my family, spending more time with friends, it's re-evaluating my career. Whatever that is for you right now.
Spending more time in nature, because if I spend more time in nature, I'm more fulfilled and happy and everybody around me, it's this amazing effect. And what it'd look like if we, we talked about all these expectations and we wrote them down and what if we ditched all the shoulds?
And just ditch 'em, and just what are the possibilities of what could be, and just thinking about that, we don't give ourselves permission to do that. And also, what could you add to your life that would enhance someone else. And we heard this over and over again from women that they're okay, they're happy happy, they're so so happy, but they don't feel fulfilled. And that was one of the sweeping, overwhelming things that we heard from the majority of women is they're looking for more meaning, they're looking for more purpose in their life. So, what does that look like and what does that mean to you?
Well, and we also have learned that when people are helping others, even just helping a girlfriend redefine her success, helping her, what does that bring you? I mean it's so amazing that the happiness we can, we can be by helping others, helping our friendships in that way, and helping (mumbles).
We were stuck and we, after we wrote our first three books and we were stuck and we went to Haiti, not only did we just get outside of ourselves and it felt like maybe a selfish thing to do, but really, when we were in the orphanages and we were helping give a smile to a child and that made us feel giving and it sort of, that was contagious for us and led to our next idea.
It also gets you out our yourself. It just gets you out of your own head, and how you think things should be and allow you to some space to, and you're not thinking about this big word of success. It just sort of let's you make different choices.
Yeah, one woman we talked to just started tutoring like three hours a week, tutoring kids and it was, she just felt like maybe it wouldn't be enough but that literally opened her eyes and she ended up adopting children from another country. An unbelievable path.
So here are five easy steps to realigning your expectations. First, write down your expectations of yourself.
Yeah we talked about that but it's important.
Right no, like really ask yourself where they're coming from. Your parents, your spouse, your kids, your friends, where are they coming from? Yeah, time to write them down and you'll be alarmed on how many like expectations that are really coming from.
Right, and the eight common fears we talked about. Which fears apply to you, and how, in what way? Kind of dig a little bit, let yourself go down those paths like oh wow, I really am so afraid of failure that it's paralyzing me, and I'm literally like ma ma ma, and not even allowing myself to think about the possibilities. So really write that down again, have a friend brainstorm with you.
And then take that resume, crinkle it up, throw it away.
And write down really what you'd like to have on that resume. Really what you'd like to say, in the next five years. Like what's gonna make me feel--
And play with it, like be playful. Like be a kid like.
Get out of your head.
Master of dreaming, master of ceremony, you know. Whatever that like fun, title might be that you'd give yourself when you were six or seven, and then think about it.
Why not become your everything, but if it takes up five minutes of your day that makes you put a spring in your step, like that's worth it.
Dance fairy queen.
It's a thing.