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We Are Limitless (Part 3)


At the age of 23, I got married. At the age of 27, I got divorced. I had no idea at the time, but that heartbreaking decision marked a huge shift in thinking for me, a shift I wouldn’t fully understand for nearly two more decades.


Let me rewind and explain.


When I was in college, I met a guy who checked all the boxes– handsome, responsible, star student, promising career, nice family… all of it. So, when we graduated from college, we got married.


Why?


Was it because we were madly in love and couldn’t imagine life without one another? No.

Was he different from the guys I had dated before? Not really.

No, we got married for one simple reason- Because in our minds, that’s what people were supposed do after college.

“The way it’s always been done.”

It was that simple.


Remember the three things I listed in Part 1 of this series? The three influences that distort our perspective, leading us to our self-limiting beliefs:

  1. The way we see other people doing things,

  2. The way things “have always been done,” and

  3. The way other people tell us we “should” do things.

Each of these is immensely powerful and can have such a dramatic impact on what we think we “should” do in our lives and in pursuit (or not) of our dreams.

I talked about the first of these last week here.

The second, “the way things have always been done,” can be such a subtle influence that we don’t even question it.

Think of all the things in life that we do just because “that’s the way it’s always been done:”

  • Get married after graduation

  • Have kids immediately afterwards

  • Get a job with a good retirement plan

  • Enroll our kids in 7 million activities

  • Kill ourselves trying to keep a spotless home

  • Bend over backwards to make everyone happy

  • No white after labor day (ok that “rule,” thankfully, has mostly fallen away. But don’t get me started on panty hose…)

You get my point.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these, and for many of us, all of this feels right. If that’s the case, then it IS right for you!

It’s not the actions that are the issue, it’s the thinking behind the actions (or the lack thereof).

For instance, what if your dreams don’t involve going to college?

One of my boys, in spite of being a straight A student, really does not enjoy school. He much prefers to be moving, having his hands engaged along with his mind. Now in 8th grade, I sense there’s a chance that he won’t want to go to college, and you know what? I’m perfectly OK with that!


Who says we have to go to college?

Who says we have to be married by a certain age? Have kids? Stay home with the kids or work an 8-5 job?

This list could go on for days– all the things we just assume we're supposed to do because that’s how things have always been done.

But what about how WE want to do things?

What if, like my son, school is not our passion?

What if we don’t want to be married?

What if our dreams don’t involve the security of a traditional 8-5 job?

What if we want to train dolphins or travel the world or live out of the back of a van or raise our kids on the beach in Costa Rica?


AND conversely, what if we DO want to go to college?

What if we DO want to stay home with our kids?


THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER, because there is no WRONG answer.


“The way things have always been done” is perfect for many people. My other son, also a straight A student, will likely spend years in post-secondary education. I see him with a strong wife, a couple of kids, 8-5+ job… that is exactly the life he envisions when he talks about his future.

The difference is allowing ourselves THE CHOICE.

The choice to decide FOR OURSELVES what success looks like for us, regardless of the way things “have always been done.”


My parents both went to college and earned degrees in Psychology, so it was assumed I would do the same. I never questioned it, I just did it. And then I was married, because that’s what people are supposed to do next, right?


The shift came when that marriage failed, and I had no choice but to break out of “the way things have always been done.” Because “the way things had always been done” did not involve being divorced at 27. (You can read my post about the incredible gifts of my failed marriage here.)


I will say it again:

There is no right answer, because there is no WRONG answer.

Something I tell my boys all the time is this-

“As long as you operate from a loving heart, can financially support yourself and anyone who depends on you, and are doing what makes your soul come alive, MAKE YOUR DAMN OWN RULES.”


Here’s the deal-

If our hearts don’t feel fulfilled…

We CAN break away from the way things have always been done.

We CAN create a new path, a path that is personal to US and OUR dreams.

We CAN do things OUR way.

We CAN make our dreams a reality.


It begins with being aware of our motivation for the choices we make for OURSELVES.

It begins by asking “why?”

“I should do XYZ.”

“Why?”

_______________________________________________


If our response is “Because that’s what I’m supposed to do,” THAT, my friend, is a red flag.


But if our response is “Because it lights my freaking soul on fire!” THAT RIGHT THERE is the breadcrumb that will lead us down the path to our dreams… OUR path… not the path of our parents, our friends, our great grandparents or our siblings.


In our hearts, we know what feels right for US. Making choices from THAT feeling will lead us to the beautiful place where WE want to be… regardless of how it’s always been done.


I’ll meet you there.

Xx Jen

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