I absolutely love Atlanta!
Originally born and raised in the UK, Atlanta has been my home for the last 20 years. TWENTY YEARS? Yes, I know, I can’t believe it myself!
One of the things that originally attracted me to this city back in the late nineties was seeing women of all backgrounds, colors, and races rocking it at all levels of the social-economic scale. When I say all levels, I mean from the ground floor all the way up to C-suite level; and I must confess – it still gives me the warm fuzzies when I see professional women in Atlanta using their magic to crush it. I’m talking about successful, accomplished, ambitious, driven women doing their thing!
On the outside, I appeared confident and in control.
Like so many women, I spent most of my career consumed with climbing the corporate ladder and chasing the next leadership position; while also flying around the country, consulting with leading clients like Coca-Cola, Hewlett-Packard and Kimberly-Clark.
On the outside, everything appeared rosy (as we say in the UK). To my clients, coworkers, and team, I was confident, in control and took care of business. I always overdelivered on every request that was ever made of me – giving 110% every single day, week and month.
I felt successful and had the resume, accomplishments and material goods to prove it. Friends and family members secretly lived vicariously through me as I traveled around the country and stayed in upscale hotels as I helped my clients launch their corporate change initiatives.
I had become a workaholic.
Behind the mask, however, was an ugly truth. The reality was my work had consumed my life and overwhelmed and overworked, I realized I had become a workaholic. I was stressed, broken and on the verge of being a hot mess. I had gained an extra 20+ pounds and barely had enough energy to get through the day.
My work had become dull instead of exciting, draining instead of energizing, exhausting instead of invigorating.
Throughout the week I found myself aimlessly wandering through my workdays trying to find meaning in what I was doing. Worst still, I had lost myself and my fiery zest for life was gone. I was S-T-U-C-K! Not only was I off-track, sadly I had lost sight of my dreams and passion for life.
For weeks, months and even years, I found myself just going through the motions of life because that was what I believed was expected of me.
I was unhappy, unfulfilled and unmotivated and I often used negative self-talk and destructive behaviors as a pathetic way to pump myself up enough to get through the days (I know, I was in a sad state of affairs!)
There had to be more to life than this, right?
I realized I had been living by default…obediently following the “socially-compliant, pre-programmed” path my family, friends and even the general universe had mapped out for me.
But was this it? Was this how it was to be? There had to be something more to feeling like my life had meaning!
I wanted to feel alive again!
There was a time when I felt alive, energized and unstoppable – I was hungry to get that feeling back again from the core of my belly to the hairs on my chinny chin-chin! I was hungry for something more, but I didn’t know what it was and how I could make it happen.
After months of anxiety and feeling like I had let my parents and clients down, I finally hit rock bottom and decided to hit pause and take a career break, twenty-something years into my career! – Yes, really!
The truth was I didn’t know what was going to be next but what I knew for sure, I was on a mission to break out of my toxic situation, get “me back” and reclaim my life and freedom.
Oh my goodness, what have I done?!
No sooner had I given my notice that the negative self-talk started taking its toll on me: “How am I going to make a living? How am I going to pay my bills? How am I going to handle health insurance? Crap, what have I done? Help! Maybe I had made the wrong decision after all!”
Now I was on the verge of becoming a basket case – what gives!?
Then I got quiet and repeated this mantra…
Just as I was about to have an out-of-body experience, I got quiet, in fact, very, very quiet and very still. I took several deep breaths, stood in front of my bathroom mirror, looked deep into my eyes and the following words left my lips…
“I am a woman on fire…not just any woman, but a SMART Woman on Fire. At this point in my life, I refuse to be a statistic, and this is the one chance I have to live an AMAZING life. Time is limited, so I either need to do something about it or quit talking about it. It is time to design and live the next phase of my life!”
I exhaled, took my brain out of reverse, put it firmly into drive and decided to embrace my future and all the worldly fortunes that lay ahead of me.
Once I had committed to change, it was all systems go – because I was done with being a statistic and it was time to make a bigger dent in the world by positively impacting other women’s lives.
I am now doing that. I have reignited the fire in my belly and in the process, I have also completely transformed my life.
As busy, ambitious women, many of us are on autopilot suppressing our true gifts. Life has gotten in the way and we have lost our path – living by default, instead of taking control of the reigns and designing the life we want.
Along my arduous but fulfilling journey, I discovered 3 secrets that I want to pass on to you.
- Know your “why” and stay connected to it. What is your mission here on early
- Give yourself permission to do you and don’t let anyone else steal your joy. Live your life first for you and on your terms.
- Face your fears, get out of your own way, and go after what is already yours! Sometimes, the only limiting factor is YOU!
Smart Women on Fire is not about my story and you following in my footsteps; it is about whether YOU are at a point in your life where you need to hit pause, reconnect and reboot. My need for a reboot was triggered by corporate burnout, but for you it may be family, friends, relationships or possibly your career or profession.
No matter the reason, ask yourself if you are happy, energized and living your best life?
If the answer is No, I urge you to take the steps to reignite the fire in your belly today, because your health, joy, and life depend on it!
This article was published in Real Women Atlanta Magazine to serve as an inspiration to women who may feel stuck and desperately unhappy, unfulfilled and unmotivated by their current situation and need the courage to reboot their lives.
The mission of Real Women Atlanta Magazine (realwomenatlanta.com) is to feature ordinary women who are doing extraordinary things. It is committed to inspire, inform, educate and entertain women in a proactive way by addressing matters of importance to them including health and wellness, lifestyle, relationship, business, and community.