It’s my belief that now more than ever, everyone needs a Plan B. Yes, that means you too, Mr. or Mrs. High Powered, Corporate Vice President with million dollar P&L responsibility, and a team of 10+ people to manage! Wow, did that sound bitter? Maybe it’s because I’m really yelling at my former self. You see, I was Ms. High Powered Corporate VP. I NEVER thought that my job would ever be in jeopardy. I sold millions of dollars of consulting work each year, managed a nice sized team, and made great money. Each year, I was rewarded with bonuses, promotions, etc. I was on the fast track – the youngest VP in the company, then promoted to the youngest Managing Director in the company – my career was on fire!! I was arrogant, dare I say “well off”, and not paying attention to any of it.
I was living unconsciously. Living unconsciously is like living in a trance. You’re not 100% aware of your actions. You’re going through the movements without thinking. I remember seeing an episode of Oprah where she placed three couples, all suffering from seemingly insurmountable amounts of debt, on a “Debt Diet”. I noticed that the one thing that all of the couples had in common was that they were completely oblivious to their problems and how they got there. They spent money each day with reckless abandon, all the while not paying attention to the mound of debt that was building around them. They were spending and living unconsciously.
So, what’s the cure? Unfortunately it usually takes an earth shattering experience to literally wake someone up and force them to pay attention to their life. To paraphrase Oprah, “God starts with a whisper” in order to get our attention. If we don’t pay attention at that moment, He takes extreme measure to ensure that we “get it”. For these couples, it was impending home foreclosures, automotive repossessions, and public airing of their dirty laundry. For me, it was the collapse of the financial systems in September 2008 (and the demise of my client roll), the release of my golden handcuffs by force and the realization that someone else was dictating my life and determining my worth – and apparently, since my clients were in dire straits, I wasn’t worth much.
I’m going to give you homework (I’m famous for that). I encourage you to examine your life. Are you asleep at the wheel? Are there any parts of your life that are on autopilot? What are you doing to proactively live the best life that you can? Write down the answers to these questions every week to ensure that you stay focused. Life is too short not to savor each moment.