When Your Life Isn’t What You Imagined
On a recent Friday night, I snuggled up on the couch to watch Dance Academy: The Comeback. I had watched all three seasons of Dance Academy, a show about high school-age ballet students at the Australian National Academy of Dance. I was ready for the next chapter in the story of Tara, Christian, Kat, Abigail, and Ben.
When we left off at the end of the series, Tara had suffered an injury and while it was clear she had recovered, it was unclear whether or not she was still dancing. At the start of the movie, we see that everyone around Tara is leading the life of their dreams. One friend has a contract with the national dance company; another is the principal dancer for a company in the States; another is teaching hip hop at a community center.
Tara is taking a writing class (and getting unhelpful feedback from obnoxious classmates) and working for the caterer at the Sydney Opera House. The feeling at the start of the movie is that she’s a starving orphan with her nose pressed up against the glass of a beautiful fancy restaurant, where all her friends are feasting.
Tara decides she wants to get back into dancing. She trains, she practices, and she auditions. She battles injury, rejection, and friendship struggles. And she feels like she’s getting nowhere.
I was haunted by this line that Kat says to Tara at the low point in the movie: “We can’t be responsible for the fact that your life didn’t work out the way you wanted it to.”
But haven’t we all felt that way sometimes? Haven’t we looked around at our friends, our former classmates, our colleagues, and maybe felt like their life was perfect? That they had it all? And we … well, had nothing?
I’ve totally been there. I’ve felt like everyone was farther ahead than me (in career, in salary, in life milestones). Like I would be just as happy if I had that marriage or that job or that house or that life.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned: when I can use jealousy as a detector to discern what I really want, and a map to get there, it can be constructive. When I allow it to eat me alive, it’s destructive.
The title (Dance Academy: The Comeback) kind of gives a clue to the ending, but I’ll just say that the comeback isn’t what you might expect.
And when the credits rolled, I had this bone deep realization: after a long season of soul searching, I’m confident now that I am on the path to my biggest dreams and goals. I wanted to start a business, and I did. I wanted to leave my job, and I did. I wanted to match my salary the first full-time month in business, and I did.
And I’m just getting started! I’m growing my business to $100K in revenue this year. I’m not playing small. I’m in this for the long game, and I’m going to make it happen.
I’m not there yet. But I’m on the path, instead of feeling lost in the woods like I did for many years.
That was such a beautiful, empowering feeling. It took me a loooong time to get to this point.
Asking the Right Questions
One thing I’ve learned from my coach is that your brain will seek to answer whatever questions you ask it. There are helpful, productive questions, and there are totally unproductive questions.
Unproductive questions include things like, “Why is everyone else farther ahead of me? Why doesn’t it ever work out for me?”
These questions are unanswerable.
Here are some more productive questions:
- How do I most want to feel in my day-to-day life?
- What is one “hot track” (a burst of excitement, curiosity, or interest) that I can follow today?
- Where do I want to be in five years? Ten? Twenty?
- What are the obstacles to getting what I want? How can I solve for them?
- What is one “dare” (scary thing) I can do today that will move my business forward?
As my coach says, don’t let “I don’t know” be an option here. Go deep!
When You’re Stuck
What if you know your dream, but you’re stuck in trying to achieve it? What if your online business is a hobby that you pour money into, but don’t get anything out of? What if you’re feeling stuck?
Try this exercise that my coach recently did with me:
Imagine that you’ve achieved your goal (e.g., for me, I have a business that made $100K in the first year).
What are you feeling? What are you thinking? (I was feeling excited, proud, and happy. When I did this exercise, I was thinking thoughts like, I did it. I have a business that makes $100K. I can do anything I put my mind to. I can create results just by thinking thoughts that produce the feelings and actions I want.
From that place where you’re feeling and thinking as if you’ve already achieved the goal, ask yourself these productive questions:
- What do I need to keep doing in my business?
- What do I need to start doing?
- What do I need to stop doing?
Then choose one of those things and implement it this week.
Where are you getting stuck on the path to your dreams and goals? Tell me in the comments!
If you’re an online business owner, I’m offering a free landing page audit for a limited time. If your landing page or sales page isn’t getting the conversions you want, sign up for a slot and I’ll give you at least three concrete tips you can implement yourself the same day to optimize the page.
August 12, 2018