Published on December 16th, 2014 | by Nancy F. Clark0
What To Do When The Executive Suite Is Not So Sweet?
By Pegi Burdick—
There is a day for some of us that is the tipping day of awareness: When we awake and feel bewildered as to where we are. We just know that we are anywhere but happy.
It’s not a slight speed bump that is distracting us and will run its course and be over, like our daughter not getting into the Ivy League school of her choice, or our son telling us he is quitting school and going around the world on his skate board, or our sister informing us that our mother needs full-time care and is headed for a retirement facility.
No, it’s an undefined but powerful feeling that we are “done.” We are beyond fed up and beyond something that a week’s vacation in Barbados would normally cure.
We are numb.
We then text our assistant and tell her we won’t be in and please no calls or texts.
We climb back into bed. The house is empty except for our shaggy dog Mollie.
We try to go back to sleep but can’t. The nagging feeling of deadness won’t disappear. We are almost gagging from the constraints we feel.
We spend the morning not on the treadmill (interesting metaphor) but drinking our tea and watching repeats of Downton Abbey and ignore our telephone. We even ignore the paper on the front step.
All we can articulate is “NO.”
What happened to us? Burn out?
We have everything we asked for: president of a division that has an eye-popping annual budget, awards, photo ops adorning our office walls, elevated lifestyle, and all the trappings of a successful executive.
What happens when we set our sights on a goal that sounds full of promise to be happy but we feel anything other than happy?
What happens when we set out on our journey but don’t realize we are being trailed by mismatched luggage that are metaphors for old issues that shadow us like hand-maidens.
The Greyhound Bus company made famous the slogan: “Getting there is half the fun.” Was it fun for us climbing the corporate ladder?
Did we pay too high a price for the sacrifices required to ascend into power?
Did we have to compromise the very things that we valued in order to reach the top?
Do we ask ourselves, in this expanding window of self-awareness, what has driven us? How do we make peace with the daunting, vaporized feeling that nothing we do is ever good enough, that there is always more to do?
How do we fix ourselves when we feel broken? The branch we have crawled out on feels as if it will break with every breath.
The answers are inside of us. We just need permission and the tools to uncover our truths.
Here are some suggestions for you to use in order to uncover the answers. Get a pen and notepad.
- Determine what you like about your job and what you don’t like about your job: do this without judgment.
- Pretend you won the lottery and ask yourself what you would do instead of what you do now. Living your passion daily feeds your soul. And for those days that end up being more about putting out fires than doing what you love, it’s then manageable. But when the scales tip the other way, being a full-time fireman versus weekend volunteer, it starts to eat away at your core, deadens your spirit and creativity.
- Time. Do you feel you have enough to manage comfortably without adding stress? (Fact; no female executive or working mom ever feels she has enough time.)
- Identify truthfully your shortcomings (no one will read this but you).
- How well do you nurture yourself? Do you even sleep well?
- When did you stop enjoying your job? Perhaps you never really did, and it was really about the pursuit of the power rather than the happiness that it would bring.
- Is your spouse supportive? Is your family supportive?
- List all of your gripes from anywhere in your life. Women are notorious for sidestepping their anger and rationalizing it away.
It never goes away. It’s in that luggage you are dragging behind yourself. But you can live a life that is more fulfilling and authentically what you desire.
Is it time for an exit strategy?
Finding what really makes your life satisfying and making a plan to actualize it, as well as monetize it, will make you more powerful in a nurturing way.
You already have a lot of power. What you need is to feel connected to yourself.