Written by: Jen Murtagh, Certified Leadership Coach
Someone wise once said to me, “Jen, don’t wait for a life-changing moment to change your life,” a sentiment that remained with me for many years before I had the strength and self-awareness to do anything about it. For far too long, I was stuck in a perpetual cycle of exhaustion with no clear path out.
When I began to network within the women’s leadership space in Vancouver, I witnessed, admired, and revered women who seemingly had the ability to “do it all.” Everywhere I looked I saw women raising families, building their careers, sitting on corporate and volunteer boards, mentoring others, and attending events. In the span of a day, they somehow managed to crush their goals and earn prestigious rewards, and still serve a well-balanced meal to their family for all of social media to see. I was in awe. Inspired to “lean in” and do all of this and more with my own 24 hours, I sought to blaze my own path to success, a path I believed would lead to happiness and fulfillment, and I blazed it by burning both ends of the candle.
For over a decade I dug in and became the head cheerleader for hustle culture. I excelled at doing it all, checking off one achievement after the next, even receiving my own awards along the way (thanks Business in Vancouver). I had two children, accepted senior leadership roles, and volunteered extensively in the community – leading causes and championing people. I made it all look good on the surface, but if I am going to be honest, underneath I was exhausted of life on a never-ending treadmill. I struggled through anxiety and was close to burnout too many times than I would care to admit and yet still, I failed to acknowledge and implement consistent self-care.
It took many brushes with the bottom to finally recognize I needed support and begin working with a coach. During that time, I had a life-changing insight that my decade long path to “happiness” was actually the path of my own worthiness. I realized that I struggled with putting up boundaries in so many aspects of my life because so much of my self-worth was intrinsically tied to “doing” and not simply “being.” The notion of valuing myself just because I was here on this earth, and had a right to be, hit me right in the gut and I knew I needed to take bold actions to align with the new vision I had for my life. A life that included joy, deeper presence, purpose, meaning, and impact.
I began a radically fresh model for my life that would change my trajectory in ways I couldn’t have imagined. At first, turning inward and getting still was incredibly uncomfortable. Meditation and engaging my soul had never been at the top of my priority list. To be straight, I put a lot of those practices into the ‘woo-woo’ category that I didn’t have much time for. I realize now that was a story I was holding onto so I didn’t have to slow down. Saying “no,” putting up boundaries, and finding ways to reprioritize myself in my life was a daily struggle. I had to learn new ways to value myself that didn’t involve achieving or doing.
Doing less cracked me right open and showed me who I really am, what I really value, and how I source my value. It has brought so many moments of joy that were previously lacking, more presence with my children, and more access to my inner knowing about this new, brave path ahead. Doing less has helped me uncover my own inner glass ceilings, reconnected me with my heart and my purpose.
We don’t like thinking about the end. It’s uncomfortable. We’re often too busy just focusing on the next two or three steps ahead of us, but the challenging and instrumentally rewarding process of slowing down reminded me that the legacy we leave behind is just as important, if not more so, as the extrinsic rewards that lie ahead. Stillness is a gift. Quiet brings perspective, and perspective brings joy.
This journey starts with the recognition that you need a change and thrives with the support of someone who’s been there. If you’re curious about living more boldly, leading more bravely, and creating a more meaningful impact within your life, please connect with me. I can’t wait for you to design a life you love.