So, your son or daughter has finished up their applications. You have the list of schools divided up into top choices, middle choices, and safety schools. You’re making plans for the holidays, and soon, you’ll be making plans for graduation. Looking back, you’ve attended countless games, recitals, and performances and scheduled around practices and rehearsals for years. You’ve helped them study, driven them to innumerable places, and navigated so many moody nights and thorny social issues. And soon, they’re off to college, so let me ask you this – what’s next for you?
For most parents, their children become their purpose. Your focus is almost solely on raising compassionate, well-adjusted, contributing members of society. And, if you’re staring at the college process right now, there’s a good chance that you’ve done a good job at doing what you set out to do. But, if you’re going through the college process right now, life is soon going to be different than it has been for the last 18 or so years. This is why I ask, what’s next for you?
Life does not end when you send your kids off to school. It’s simply time to move on to the next stage in your life – just like the kids are doing. That’s not to say you won’t worry and that they won’t call home when they have something to celebrate, or they’re encountering new life lessons. But they’re also finding new freedom, and you can do the same.
Try this – and if you do this all the way – it can be a challenge.
Picture a vacation where you spend an entire week doing just what you love to do. Not with the kids, and don’t put any financial constraints on it – just you doing what you love to do. Think about doing what you love without stopping to drive someone somewhere or to attend a game, a conference, or an open house. And without being required to go to work at your current job. What would that look like? What would you be doing each day? Where would you be? Would it make a difference what time of year it was? What if it was longer than a week? Would it still look the same?
When you are caught up in the day-to-day life of raising a family, many decisions are put on autopilot. There are just so many choices to be made that you need autopilot just to keep your sanity. But, in doing that, you keep going to work to get the paycheck to do the other things that are also on autopilot. You get in a mode of believing that you must do A so that you can do B so that you can get to C on time. And let’s face it – routines are a big part of what gets us through everyday life.
But now the routine is being upended anyway. They’re off to college, so let’s step back and look at what comes next for you because you want to make it happen – not because it happens to you. Don’t worry about what the standard path is. No one says you must follow a standard path – except maybe you. Most people continue on the path that they’re on because it’s easier to just keep going. That doesn’t mean it’s the only path or the best path – it just means that they have a lot of company.
I’m not saying that you can definitely go out tomorrow and live the exact life you pictured for your vacation. But imagine that you go out tomorrow and have a new purpose. Your new purpose is building that life that you pictured. Rather than simply going to work each day so that you can get to the day that you retire, you start each day with a purpose that is specific to you. Imagine how much easier it is to greet each day knowing that you’re not just working; you’re working toward YOUR goals. Imagine knowing that the energy you expend each day is getting you closer to where YOU want to be. The time is going to pass anyway – spend it building the life you envision.
Once you have had the courage to design your ideal life, call me. Let’s talk about what’s possible – without the constraints that you put on yourself. Let’s see what steps you can take once you give yourself permission to build your ideal life.
P.S. You’ll be setting a great model for your kids, too.