My TEDx Talk: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, Part 2

by Stacey on July 17, 2012

My TEDx Talk: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, Part 2When my life was on the fritz, here’s what I found when I looked under the hood…

I’ve always been the financial provider in my family, supporting my husband as he pursues his dream of writing the great American novel, but one day, I just wasn’t happy with it any more.

I had noticed, too, that what I loved most about my work as a midwife was talking with my patients about their hopes for their lives and their families. I realized that I was not only helping them give birth to their babies—I was helping them give birth to their dreams.

And then, three years ago, I had an epiphany. “These women need a midwife for their LIFE.” And my personal coaching business was born. I built it while I continued to work the same hours at my hospital job.

It required me to work a lot of late nights and weekends, but when my clients told me that I had helped them accomplish dreams they had all but given up on, it made it all worth it. In fact, it became all I wanted to do.

And so my business grew a lot over its first two years, but not enough to support my family.

So I should’ve stayed at my hospital job, right?

But I couldn’t do it.

I saw my friends being supported by their husbands as they pursued their creative dreams, and I looked at my husband, and I thought, “Why should they get to pursue their passions and I don’t? When would it be my time?”

It made me feel jealous and powerless and taken advantage of, and I couldn’t stand it. Yes, I want my husband to become the next JK Rowling, but I can’t wait forever. I was using food and mediocre television to fill the void of wanting what I couldn’t have, and that created more pain I didn’t need.

Suddenly I understood men who come home after a long day and need a Scotch or two before dinner. Quite frankly, it sucks to feel like your dreams are drifting away while you’ve got a family to support, and sometimes you just want to check out.

But I don’t want to be that man. This is my life, and I don’t want to check out for one minute. I don’t want my husband to be that man either. I want both of us to pursue our dreams and support our family at the same time.

You know, I talk with people every day who dream of quitting their soul-sucking job to do work they truly love.

And I ask them what they’re doing to achieve their dream and the answer almost always breaks my heart. There’s a huge discrepancy between what they say they want to do and what they’re actually doing.

If that’s you, if you’re one of those people who don’t know what your purpose is, OR you say you want to do your purpose-driven work, but you’re not taking action to get you closer to whatever that is, then you probably feel like there’s something wrong with you.

You probably think you’re lazy or unmotivated. Maybe you think you don’t want success that much, or that you are somehow broken.

Well, here’s what you need to know and I want you to remember it:

There is nothing wrong with you.

You are not broken. You’re not unmotivated. You’re not lazy. And it’s not hopeless.

Whether you know your purpose or not, I have learned from my life and from my clients’ experiences that the pain you feel as you compare your life to your dreams comes from having tried to achieve those dreams—and having failed.

You may have tried multiple times; you may have given your dreams varying degrees of time and effort. But all the other demands on you made you lose focus, or you met with a barrier that seemed insurmountable, and it didn’t work out. And when you think of trying again it hurts too much.

But here’s the thing: You’re in pain now. And re-engaging with your dreams may hurt even more—for a while. But it won’t hurt for as long as you think it will.

And the only way to make the hurt go away is to start now.

The REASON that you HURT when you think, “Who am I to want more? Why can’t I be happy with what I’ve got?” is because, quite simply, it is NOT TRUE that you shouldn’t want more and that you CAN be happy with what you’ve got.

You are here to give so much more and it is a disservice to your God-given talent not to. And that’s why it hurts. Because you are betraying yourself and your purpose.

OK, if I haven’t scared you off or offended you, and you’re still with me, you KNOW you have something more to offer, something really great, but you just don’t know how to get it out in the world.

Here’s what I want you to know: a breakdown is ALWAYS followed by a breakthrough. It’s always darkest before the dawn, you know?

And it’s actually Universal Law—you WOULD NOT be given the challenge without the opportunity for healing it, right in front of you.

Remember February of 2011?

I knew that I didn’t want to stay on staff at the hospital, but I believed that our family needed the “security” that my job provided. I thought my coaching business and writing career could support us, but I had no guarantees…which led me back to wondering why I couldn’t just be happy with my job at the hospital.

It wasn’t that bad, was it??

Those stressful thoughts are what led to my breakdown. I couldn’t believe I was in such a bad place—overwhelmed by doomsday scenarios and too scared to think straight.

But along with all the dark fears, I’d also get a moment of clarity when I knew I should give up my staff position. BUT then the moment would pass and my heart would start racing again and I would be in tears thinking that I couldn’t possibly leave.

And then I would get another flash of insight. It was like I was walking on a dark road and every once in a while a car would go by and its headlights would illuminate the path and show some sign, like a guidepost, and I would know again that I was on the right track. But the insights and the clarity always seemed so fleeting.

I would get them and almost immediately I’d be back in the land of fear and despair.

I couldn’t believe that I was in such an undesirable, untenable position. I couldn’t believe that I had been brought this far to fail. All I kept thinking was about what I didn’t want. At some point in the depths of that despair, I heard a small voice inside that said, “What do you want?”

As soon as I got clear on what I wanted, I received a gift in the form of a thought—a thought I want to share with you: I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I can figure this out. I will figure out how I can do what I love and support my family. No matter what.

It’s now been over a year since I quit my hospital job. While it hasn’t been easy, it has been possible for me to support my family from doing work I love.

What’s possible for you when you replace, “I can’t do it.” with “How could I do it?”

Well, that’s what I have so far! Any suggestions or advice would be great appreciated—please let me know what you think in the comments below!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz CezatNo Gravatar July 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

Hi Stacey,
Good luck with your Ted talk. I noticed that you dropped the reference to the event that caused you to leave your midwife position. I think that was very emotional and should be left in. People can relate to meetings and dumb, bad things said during them – but your experience seemed particularly damaging to your career. Yet, it was the springboard that allowed you to say, “Enough is enough. This can’t go on.” And you did leave. Your audience will be able to relate to that. I remember one guy who hated his job told me that after driving his regular 45-minute commute to work, his hands remained frozen on the steering wheel and he really had to think hard before he could pry them off and get out of his car and go to work that day. That was his wake-up call that he hated his job and had to quit.

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StaceyNo Gravatar July 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Hi Liz,

Thanks so much for your kind comment! I really appreciate your feedback and I will definitely supply more “behind-the-emotional-scenes” details in my talk.”

The meeting really wasn’t *so* bad (my colleagues didn’t think I was a “team player” and I understood what they meant), but it truly was the catalyst for me to evaluate what I really wanted to be, do, and have. Like you friend it was a true wake-up call.

Thanks again for your kind comment and I hope you will stay in touch with my email newsletter (if you don’t already receive it, just opt-in with box on the upper-right corner of my blog), and find out what happens with the TEDx talk — I should find out by August 15th. Fingers crossed! :-)

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