An Exercise for Identifying Your Worth in this Season of Life
I use this platform to teach, share resources, and network, while also sharing my story, accomplishments, and struggles. I often think of life as coming in seasons—each season is marked by different goals, responsibilities, needs, and relationships. What we value and prioritize shifts and changes as the seasons of our life progress. In my early 20s, I was in a season of life where I was a Mom, getting my undergrad degree, working part-time, maintaining a home, and writing/managing a healthy living blog. I wrote healthy recipes, created workouts, and got my fitness trainer certification. I was in the best shape of my life. Then, I got into an amazing PhD program — I was commuting to a different state and taking a rigorous course-load, while still maintaining the responsibilities of caregiving, maintaining a home, and nurturing my family and relationships. Then, I got a job at a consulting firm, too. I kept adding responsibilities to my plate. And, fitness quickly took the back burner. Naturally, I gained weight and I often missed the amazing benefits that fitness and exercise brought my life — a sense of well-being, energy, stress-relief, and just generally feeling strong and confident in my skin.
Over the last few years, as my coursework ended, I started bringing fitness back into my life. It’s still a struggle to prioritize my workouts, but I’m doing my best. I recently saw a picture of myself in 2010… and my thoughts took a quick turn to placing judgment on myself. Those were my peak blogging and fitness days, and I was proud of how I’d used fitness to transform my body. In fact, I was building a brand around weight loss and healthy living in a hectic world. BUT, that season of my life is in the past. And, while I loved what I was doing then, my focus and priorities are different now. I recognize that my mindset around body image is heavily influenced by societal standards, social media, etc — and to be honest, I hate that. I wish I could say that I can easily look past that influence, but I’m only human. Regardless, I took some time today to remind myself of everything that I am beyond my physical appearance. And let me tell you: the list is long. In this season of my life, I’m proud of:
(1) the impact I have in my coaching work
(2) the value I add through my work on women’s leadership
(3) the supportive and rewarding relationships I’ve built (4) my Master’s degree, passing intense comprehensive exams, and working toward finishing my doctorate
I’m fortunate that I can help others financially and own a home where I can invite others in. I’m proud that, in spite of the challenges of being an incredibly young Mom, I have a son who impresses me with his compassion, open-mindedness, and honesty. While my health and well-being is a high priority, and I enjoy taking care of myself — my looks simply do not define me.
Take some time today to consider the seasons of life you've been through as well as what season you're in now.
Maybe you're the Mom of young kids, and you're heavily defined why your caregiving role. Maybe you're just kicking off your career and working hard to establish yourself in your space. Or, maybe you're working hard to find out how to survive in the face of a challenge...
Regardless, sit down with a notebook, and ask yourself:
(1) What seasons of life have you gone through, and what did you prioritize in each?
(2) What are your top 5 priorities right now? I'm talking about those things that are simply NOT NEGOTIABLE.
(3) Where are you currently deriving satisfaction?
(4) Which standards guide your internal thoughts? Which standards should you let go of?
(5) What makes you feel powerful and confident? How can you get more of that in your life?
(6) Finally, write out a list of all the things you're proud of yourself for. This can range from: "I'm proud that I woke up with my alarm this morning..." to "I just killed a big presentation at work." Remember: this is about YOU, without considering what standards are imposed on you.
Put this list up somewhere where you'll see it often -- and when you're inevitably struggling (as we all do), revisit this exercise and consider if your season of life may have shifted yet again.
Life is a journey and we can only enjoy it if we're truly paying attention.