Joyce had no shortage of work, and that was the way she liked it. She dug into new projects with great relish and thought proudly of herself as the consummate taskmaster – in that she strove to master every task she encountered. Still, her desk was so cluttered that it frequently took her 10 minutes to find the task at hand. And it used to be that when she was this busy, she felt an empowering sense of belonging, but now her work seemed to take on a life of its own, and she was drowning in it, utterly overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, Joyce was in a three-year relationship. Despite its longevity, however, it was not a satisfying one. Somehow, Joyce had become involved with a man who seemed her polar opposite: She was motivated; he was aimless. She was deeply connected to her spirituality; he was a staunch agnostic. She loved to go dancing; he preferred to stay home and watch ESPN. Worst of all, she longed to get married, while he wanted to remain “committed” without the ritual of marriage, and she wanted a family, whereas he wished to stay “unencumbered.”
At 33, Joyce had begun to suspect that her greatest dream – to get married and have a family – was drifting out of reach. She knew she was at a crossroads, but she wasn’t sure what her next step would be. Around this time, she happened to attend a business networking event where she was offered a complementary life-coaching session. Amid her confused circumstances, she was nonetheless able to recognize a golden opportunity. In that moment, she made the choice to change her life.
When I met Joyce, the first thing I asked was, “What must happen for you to regain control of your life?” She hesitated and glanced away. But then she said quietly, “I will have to learn how to say, “no.” In other words, she will need to develop her “Won’t” power. In life coaching, three things must be present for the client to move forward: the ability to confront reality; the willingness to make changes; and the dedication to take action.
Joyce had met the first two criteria – she had identified a fundamental obstacle and was prepared to pare down her commitments. Now it was time to see if she had what it took to really get her life on track. So I asked, “If you knew for certain you could have everything you desire, what is the first thing you’d do toward those ends?” She thought for a second and said, “I’d make a list of my most important projects, stick with those, and let go of the rest. Then I’d get back in touch with my dreams and figure out how to make them come true.”
After that, we began to meet met weekly. Eventually, Joyce was able to reacquaint herself with her core strengths. Among these was her truth to her word: If she told someone she’d be there for them, she was; if she said she’d take on an assignment, she completed it. As such, she found the idea of delegating some of the responsibilities she’d assumed frightening. Why did she feel this way?
Upon reflection, Joyce began to realize that she accepted projects she knew might overwhelm her because finishing them would bring her admiration. She needed to learn to praise herself for who she was and what she’d accomplished so she would no longer require the validation of others to sustain her. In fact, the more she drew sustenance from herself, the more manageable her life became. Day by day, Joyce cleared the hurdles cluttering her path and moved closer to her dreams.
Finally, the moment came when she was ready to jettison her least productive project, the one from which she could never seem to take satisfaction, no matter how hard she worked at it. I’d asked her, “Do you believe you can have the relationship of your dreams?” “Yes,” she answered. To which I responded, “What must you do to make that happen?” “I have to make room for it in my life,” she declared. “And how will you do that,” I queried. For the moment, we left the question unanswered.
The following week, Joyce told me she’d broken up with her boyfriend. It had been one of the most difficult things she’d ever had to do, but she had no doubt she could and would do it. We talked further about her dreams, and she decided to set some concrete goals toward realizing them.
I asked her, “How long will it be before you meet the man of your dreams, the man you will marry?” With some hesitation, she ventured, “About two years.” We both knew she could do better. “Are you willing to change your thinking and set a goal of six months?” I asked. Her expression betrayed a flicker of fear, but then came a breakthrough. During our work together, she had learned that by setting a goal outside her comfort zone and taking the steps necessary to achieve it, she would succeed. This situation was no different. Slowly but surely, she affirmed, “I will meet the man of my dreams and get engaged within six months.” “So be it,” I said. “Based on your past performance, I know you will accomplish this goal.”
Guess what? Within six months, Joyce fell head-over-heels in love and became engaged to a man who not only loved her too, but was her match in spirit, intellect and temperament, a go-getter who shared her values, her dreams and her sense of humor, a partner who nurtured her completely, encouraging her to pursue her every desire and applauding her every effort. Not long after they decided to get married, Joyce and her fiancée walked down the aisle surrounded by elated friends and family. Recently, the two bought a home and became the proud parents of a gorgeous baby girl. Update: 1/21/21 She has two children and has been happily married for 15 + years.
The fact is that dreams do come true. But you have to make your own luck; you have to be ready to leave the road winding away from those dreams and turn onto the one heading straight toward them. Only then can you receive the gifts the universe is waiting to bestow; in the words of the gifted psychiatrist and author Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, “You can give only as much as we allow ourselves to receive.”
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Ken D Foster brings 35 years of expertise in personal and business development. He is a Best-Selling Author, Business Strategist, Life Coach, Serial Entrepreneur and Syndicated Host of the Voices of Courage Show heard in 170 Countries. Have a talk with Ken http://www.KenDFoster.com