Every single woman reaches a point in time where she asks: Is this all there is?  Now what?

Maybe it comes from the era we grew up in. We went to school. We got the degree. We were career women; the assumption was automatic. But we were still coached into believing “family first.” And frankly, we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Then we had a family. The kids grew up. And our careers became … boring. Tedious? Yeah, that too. We thought we wanted this. But now, we’re not so sure.

Who decided the American Dream was something to strive for? Who decided we needed all of this “stuff” that is preventing us from being who we want to be, doing what we want to do? And what if you have no idea what you want, the only thing you’re sure of is THIS isn’t it. There has to be something more.

A woman’s life is uniquely her own. Our beauty stems from all we have to give in this life. It comes from self-knowledge we gain by walking our individual paths. It comes from the wisdom we learn as we tackle each new project (sometimes several at a time.) Because every turn you’ve made, every lesson you learned, every path you’ve chosen has led you to become the person you are today. You have the wisdom you need to move forward. You can inspire yourself to move forward,

I recognize that women of all ages want to be seen, noticed, valued, find success, and relish happiness.

Let’s be real here; there is no age limit to those desires. Our goals, dreams, and ambitions simply shuffle along the way. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with the dreams you had when you were twenty, would you? At twenty, I was still trying to decide what to major in at college. I’ve come a long way from dreaming about starting a career, finding a husband, and dreaming about a family I may one day have.

As women, we have this insidious message that looms above our heads almost from the moment we’re born. It sets us up for unrealistic expectations. It damages us and prevents us from all we can be.

We’re told the American Dream is real. We can be it all – Superwoman knows no bounds. We can have a family. Raise decent, loving children. Have a career we love. Work a full-time job and still have plenty of time leftover to do all we need to do. We can be in charge of the PTA. Be a super, sexy wife. Be a great friend, a loving daughter, a caring sister.

SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE!

Us. That’s what gives. We become so busy with everybody else that we have no time for ourselves. We lose us. We lose our momentum. We lose our potential. It’s no wonder we start asking What’s Next?

There’s some truth to the adage If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy. I would argue we can change it to If I’m not happy, nobody around me is happy. It’s not just women; this applies to men too. Our beauty, our value, our success, and our happiness all comes from within. It’s born of self-knowledge, confidence, and wisdom that comes when you finally realize you deserve a little you time too. Your dreams matter. You matter. Let YOU shine through.

I am open and honest about where I’ve come from and where I choose to go.

Part of knowing where you want to go to is acknowledging where you’ve come from. What makes you YOU? What were your passions when you were younger? What constant has held true throughout your life?

Too often we let others dictate who we are, what we do, what we choose to believe.

Like the woman who listened to her parents and changed her degree from music to accounting.

Or the woman who was told by her professor that she couldn’t write, so she gave up on her dream of becoming an author.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of listening to what others say. We’re women. We’re people pleasers. But if we’re honest with ourselves, there are usually indicators that tell us what we truly would like to do.

If you like to write, you’ve probably written your whole life. A diary as a teen. A journal as a young mom. Taking over the newsletter responsibility for your daughter’s school.

It’s there. That tiny inkling that speaks to you softly throughout your life. “What if you would have written a book?” “What if you had pursued a writing career?” “Where would you be today?”

There are some things you lose the ability to do. A fifty year old will never be able to win a gold medal in gymnastics. But that doesn’t stop her from competing at different levels in something she loves just as much. Or pursuing the dream in a slightly different way.

Your nudges are there. That little voice speaks to you. You just have to listen.

I acknowledge that in order to get what I want, I may have to give something up.

Are you ready to change your life for good? One thing will never change: the 24 hour day. We each only have so much time we can contribute to anything. To add something new, you have to be willing to give something else up. Can you give up overtime to pursue a hobby? Can you let go of a relationship to add a new one to your life? Can you give up a career to start up a business?

This doesn’t mean you have to start big: start small instead. Diets never work because we attempt to change everything all at once. What does work is slow implementation. It’s easier to eliminate red meat from your diet than going vegan overnight.

I accept I have to change my expectations of me in order to get others around me to see what I truly deserve.

We all want to be loved and accepted. We want people to appreciate who we are and what we offer the world. We hate confrontation and work to keep things running smoothly every day of the year.

It’s human nature. It’s also “woman nature.” We jump in and stop the fights. We smooth things over. We avoid putting strain on everything, preferring to do it all ourselves whenever possible.

And as such, people dump on you and “expect” you to do what you’ve always done. If you see the old you, everyone around you will see the old you too.

I went through a long struggle to see myself as who I truly wanted to be. I fought it every step of the way because I knew many people around me wouldn’t like the person I wanted to become. I’d lose friends. I’d lose family. I’d lose the identity I’d had for many years.

But the new me was clearly defined. I knew what I wanted. I knew what she had to do. Difficult? Yes. But my expectations of me became stronger than what others thought I needed. And it made all the difference.

I want the best day possible from this day forward.

It’s taken me a long time to realize (50 years, in fact) that I am in total control over what happens each day. I can choose to be happy. I can choose to be successful. I can choose to do what I wish. I can choose to surround myself with my tribe and eliminate anyone that doesn’t fit into it.

I am the perfect ME I can be!

Granted, I’m still a work in progress. I’ll be working on this every day for the rest of my life. It’s called being human. But not a day goes by where I don’t wake up celebrating the day.

Because I’ve chosen to do exactly that. You see, it’s all a choice that YOU have to make for you.

In my experience, the older I get, the better I become. I have more wisdom. I know what I like and what I don’t. I have more things I value: health, love, tolerance, self-esteem, pleasure, education, knowledge, compassion. In short, my life experiences have brought me to where I am today.

And that’s a very good place to be.