Hi, lovely ones. Welcome to episode number six. When your life and or business timeline is responsible for your dissatisfaction. And what you can do instead.
Psychologists are humans too
Before we dive into the complexities of life and business timelines, I want to take a moment to thank you so much for welcoming this podcast to the world and open hearts. It’s been a while coming and an interesting process in terms of offering up more of my own story to you know. In my training as a clinical psychologist, it was drilled into me that self-disclosure was best avoided. Or at least offered in a very minimal way in order to allow the therapeutic relationship to exist solely as a blank canvas for mirroring, reflecting and healing for the client. And there’s a lot of merit in this it prevents the therapeutic space from becoming about the therapist.
It assists in keeping professional boundaries in place, and it allows the client room to express themselves without having to manage the stuff that arises in conversation that belongs to the therapist. And this is a rare thing in the human world. Usually conversation isn’t equal exchange that therapeutic conversation is a protected space for the benefit of the client.
And while I believe in minimal self-disclosure, for the most part in the realm of clinical practice, I want to acknowledge that there are also limitations.
I’ve always been concerned when psychologists or any allied health or medical professionals are placed on a pedestal that assumes that they have it all figured out.
It’s easy to assume when you see a therapist or doctor who you know very little about, that they don’t suffer, and instead hold some kind of secret to winning at life that you are yet to discover.
But professional training in any health discipline is about the acquisition of knowledge and skills. It’s not about bypassing the task of being human.
I’m human first, and psychologist somewhere after my other life roles and identities.
And one of the reasons this podcast exists is so that I can share my humaneness with you in a more personal way.
Writing counts, but there’s something about hearing someone’s tone of voice and cadence of speaking, don’t you think? actually think that’s really important. Also, I’m a big believer in the teaching power of stories. So here I am wrapping my head around, talking about my humaneness in story format, so that we can share the task of living bravely and meaningfully. And for my creators and business owners and those of you putting yourself into the work you offer to the world, you know that every new release brings with it trepidation, and maybe a little self-doubt.
My heart totally made itself known in my chest over the past couple of weeks as I invited you to listen. And not only did you listen, but he wrote amazing reviews and sent me the most beautiful messages and emails and encouragement that meant that I actually quite literally cried at a few of them. So I want to start off this episode by shouting out ld 28. Who left this gorgeous review she says:
“I found Rebecca through a Facebook ad for her masterclass. I listened to every second of it, follow her on Instagram and saw she had a podcast. I have now listened to several episodes. It is wonderful to hear such a warm relatable and profound woman with such credentials. Talk to me and help me identify the parts of myself that I can work on. There is no failure, only learning. Regular subscriber here.”
Thank you so much l that means the world to me and for all of you who have taken the time to leave reviews, please know that I read them all and I’m so grateful. I just want to say thank you for seeing me, especially when I’m just over here winging it and figuring it out along the way, which is how we do most things in life, right.
Life and Business timelines
But in today’s episode, I want to talk about life and business timelines and how they create expectations that can leave us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction if we’re not mindful.
Life timelines are made up of a series of significant events marked by an arbitrary age in our heads, usually chosen unconsciously as a result of the conditioning from our culture.
The messages we received from parents and educators in childhood and the stories we absorb from TV movies and the media at large. The age by which you expect to have your first kiss, fall in love, get your driver’s licence, buy a car, move out of home, get married, have your first child, have your third child, complete your studies, be financially stable, pay off your debt, write your first book, get your dream job or promotion or career, or some kind of advancement in the direction that you want to go, etc, etc, etc.
Life timelines are ingrained within us. And they usually exist outside our awareness or at least in a time comfort zone of sorts.
We only become aware of them when we are approaching the age that we’ve attached to a significant event. If that significant event has not yet happened, you’re 25 and you’re not where you’d imagined you’d be. Now you’re 30 and it’s worse because you’re entering a new decade and you’re not where you plan to be. oops. Now it’s 35. And then God forbid you’re 40. And you’re still internally bracing yourself for the things that you’ve not yet ticked off your life business career to do list.
How does it feel?
Feels pretty shit actually think that’s the only way to describe it.
And I’ve been there a number of times, multiple times, actually, especially in my 20s. I think I was 26. I had actually spent the vast majority of my adult life single before I met my wife.
But I did have the odd relationship, a few kind of short term relationships. And I was dating this guy who lived Interstate and we’d actually spent very little time together because he lived Interstate and he started talking about getting married and having a child. And I was like, Dude, what, like I’m only 26 and I’m not even sure about you, let alone committing to some kind of marriage and children scenario.
30 and on the shelf
But then I found myself single 30.
So, to end that particular story, though, that relationship was going nowhere and now that I look back on it, like go me for not settling and making a decision that just because somebody proposed to me I had to say yes, he was absolutely not right for me.
But what happened was, then I aged as we do, and I turned 30 and I was single at 30.
Now 30 is a particular type of age for Western culture, where women are seen to be almost on the shelf, which just makes me furious.
But without the sense of self that I have now. Now that I’m 41 as we record this, at 30, I was still thinking that perhaps there was something wrong with me that I was still single and in fact on my 30th birthday, would you believe a woman very close to me, I won’t identify her, because I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t understand the impact that this had on me. She came up to me at my 30th birthday party and she said, So when are you going to meet a man and settle down? Like that was just something that I had full control over. And there was something about me that I wasn’t doing the right to be able to be betrothed bullshit, right?
Instead, what that comment did was actually sat with me for years afterwards, as I stayed single, and was convinced that I was left on the shelf because there was something wrong with me. And then, by 33, I was still single, and none of my life timeline had turned out the way I thought it would. I did not think that I was going to be single at 33. In fact, I don’t know when I thought I was going to be married. And when I thought I was, well, I never really wanted kids. So that didn’t factor in. But I definitely didn’t think I would be single at 33. And so I also didn’t think that I would be married with a child at 26. Because I said no to that man. And the idea of being committed to him actually made me incredibly uncomfortable. So that didn’t fit with my life timeline either. But what was more uncomfortable was that I hit 33. And I was still single. When we attach our life timeline to our sense of worthiness, this is when it can get really problematic.
We live into expectations that are created for us by our culture and the media, and what others really, really want for us, even if we’ve not had a chance to work out if it’s what we want for ourselves.
And what happens is that by carrying these expectations within us, we unintentionally set ourselves up for expectation plus pressure, followed by the potential disappointment if life doesn’t follow the rules that we’ve placed on it, that you should hit all these particular milestones by these particular ages.
It means that we miss risking opportunities that are different to how we believe life should go. It means we risk spending a whole lot more time focused on the future, rather than the present moment. And it means that we risk giving our inner critic the mic to shout us down at being unworthy, because we’ve bought into the idea that we can control exactly how things turn out.
When we can’t, we can actually control very little of what happens to us. And yet human beings like to maintain this false sense of control so that we can cope with the uncertainty that we face on a day to day basis. It doesn’t really hurt us until it does when we start to place those expectations on ourselves for how our life should go. And I put short in air quotes that you can’t see right now. And the same can happen in business.
You know, you can make decisions about how quickly you should be seeing a profit, you can make decisions about what other people are doing in their business that you should have done by now about how long it takes to establish yourself or establish a product or establish an audience.
And if you attach your business’s sustainability or viability or your willingness sustain that business to a certain timeframe or timeline, then what happens if you walk away right before you’re about to make it?
This is what can happen when we give away our expectations and control to this false timeline in our head.
The things people don’t talk about
You know, few talk about the years of effort and the financial investment and the mistakes and the failures, and the imperfect action that goes into becoming an overnight success. your expectations can be created by others you admire, but from whom you’ve only seen or heard one piece of the puzzle.
Because not everyone talks about the real truth of how hard they’ve had to work to get somewhere, or how long it took them to make the love of their life or how hard they had to try to actually fall pregnant. Because instead, all you’re looking at is some curated highlight reel on social media. And in an attempt to keep yourself motivated and reaching for big dream field goals. You listen to these one sided stories and apply them to your own business or your own life and then you measure your results against shiny six figure launch stories, or whatever the equivalent is for you and fall into a hole of why didn’t work for me. Maybe my work doesn’t make the cart. Maybe it’s fake. Or maybe I should just stop trying. And we all know this train of thought leads only to an emotional hole, shaped by self doubt, exhaustion and bitterness. And it smells strongly if I’m running out of time with notes of cedar and bergamot, and I may as well give up now.
Life and business timelines screw up our ability to let life unfold. They feed into our need for control, they leave no room for possibility. They leave no room for the things that are even better than we can imagine and therefore have no way of planning let alone making room for in the first place. life and business timelines fuel anxiety and fear of missing out and remove our sense of ease and flow. They leave no room for wonder and patience and individual timing.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a dedicated fan of well crafted realistic goals for shaping values directed action. But I’m not as loyal to life or business timelines because I’ve rarely seen the results in anything but disappointment for both myself and the people I’ve worked with. I think about everything that has unfolded for me that I had no way of predicting. Things that I thought I had missed out on, but by not occurring actually made way for something more aligned and often more wonderful than I could ever have known before I knew it.
You know, that woman that was single at 33 happened to meet the love of her life, about six months after turning 33 and I could have never have imagined that the love of my life was not a six foot four cowboy and was instead a five foot ring lead crowned museo chick. And yet, that’s who is the love of my life and I am happier today than I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams.
If the timeline kind of worked out in my head as I planned it and was attached to wish, then 30 year old me would never have known what 33 year old me was about to experience. Lovely ones I want you to reflect on how your life and business timelines are keeping you stuck in a place of dissatisfaction.
How are your expectations blinding you from what currently exists in your life to celebrate, to be grateful for?
I’m not saying this to invalidate anything you’ve lost or missed or grieving for. There is no existence that isn’t touched by pain and I honour yours.
And while I honour the parts of you that hurt, I also invite you to look around your life and the work you’re putting out into the world from a place of curiosity and wonder. When we let go of these timelines made for us by our culture and media, then we give ourselves the chance to simply be “In Progress”, instead of wrapping your expectations around your life and your business timelines.
5 Things you can do to let go of life and business timeline expectations
Instead, I want you to:
1. Allow your timing to be your timing. No other human being has experienced exactly what you have experienced in their lifetime. Things will be different for your because they have to be, to fit your unique contribution to the world. Comparing yourself to your best friend, your frenemy, or your favourite source of business inspiration will never account for the fact that things will infold for you as they are meant to. And that’s not just okay, it’s beautiful.
2. Integrate your focus to include not just the life you’re creating for future you, but also the life you’re currently living in the present moment. Yes, future you is a very important version of you. Future you has the power to shape present you by giving you a sense of long term perspective about what’s truly important in life. But if you’re constantly focused on only the results of goals you’re looking to achieve, then you’re missing the life you’re actually living while you’re in the process of achieving those goals. There here and now is all we have, and it’s very important to stop and catch your breath and celebrate how far you’ve come.
3. Consider what would be possible if you stepped into a place of trust, especially self-trust. Trust as a topic is a whole series of podcast episodes in itself, but in this episode, I want to simply flag the fact that you have the choice to choose trust. It’s a very different life when you consciously choose to trust that things are unfolding as they should, and when you choose to trust yourself and your capacity to make things happen, than if you stay in a state of distrust, which then creates scarcity-driven anxiety. That’s not to say that you will always feel trusting. It’s more like a practice of becoming aware when distrust is present and choosing to lean toward trust.
4. Consider what would be possible if you set goals, but stopped clinging to when and how those goals must be occur. What if you left a little room for movement? What if the goals remained incredibly important way points of being on the path that is in alignment for you, but there is room for them to evolve, there’s space for you to evolve with the goals (and change your mind or direction if necessary), and there’s no self-imposed pressure to reach them by a certain deadline? What would life be like with a little room to move?
5. Redefine your definition of success to being in progress one of the most transformative practices I use is the redefining of success as being in progress or in process. It doesn’t mean that the outcome doesn’t hold meaning and importance, it simply means that I’m not waiting for the outcome to celebrate my efforts, or tying my sense of worthiness or contribution up in a finish line rather than journey itself (which will always shape you more than any destination point). How would it feel if you were to allow yourself to be “successful” because you took brave action today?
In summary, lovely ones,
I want you to give your life and your work and your contributions to the world room to move, to unfold in the timing that is unique to you, and in ways that might be better than you can ever imagine.
And if this episode has resonated for you, and you’d like a set of reminders to refer back to go to Rebecca Ray com.au/free. That’s f r e e, and download a free printable I’ve created for you that belongs on your wall or desk to keep you in a place of trust and belief. I’ll catch you soon for our next episode on Hello Rebecca Ray, the podcast.
Lovely ones. Thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray.
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Success means “In Progress”:
5 Tip guide to managing life and business timelines and expectations
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