It started out as a typical morning, but it turned out to be a day that changed my life forever.
That day I was on my way from Los Angeles to be with the staff I managed in Orange County, about 30 miles away. I was stressing about a client who was not doing what we recommended. Should I call her now? Later? I was rolling along in my favorite lane, the far left, going about 70 miles an hour.
It was much later that I understood the chain of events that changed my life forever. But it started with someone making a bad lane change.
They clipped the front of the car next to me, then she moved to her left, sideways, towards me. I turned the wheel — too far. Then jerked it back, lost control and sped across all five lanes of traffic until I made impact with a propane truck.
I hit the giant tire of the truck a glancing blow and went airborn, landed upside down and began the worst journey of my life back across the freeway, headed right for the median wall, the roof of my car scraping across the concrete at high speed.
It was at that moment I said: God, if you have something I’m supposed to do with my life, something needs to change, fast.
The scraping sound slowed and my car slid to a stop, a couple of feet from the wall.
Miraculously, I hit no other cars coming or going across the freeway. Miraculously, I walked away from the crash with all of my bodily parts intact. But my brain was broken.
It took over a year to dig out of the pit that is PTSD, but when I did, I was ready to make my life matter.
Before that, I’d just been along for the ride, so to speak. I started college with no idea what to study, but like most people I meet when I do workshops and coaching, I ended up in a career that made use of my talents.
I got promoted frequently and if I didn’t, I moved on to another job. I was even able to use my experience to work abroad for several years. When I came back to the U.S. I was at a fork in the road — one direction I could do well at, the other I really enjoyed. But I needed a job, and the one I could do well at called first.
After a few years, it was soul sucking. Then I freelanced for a year or so, but ended up at a similar, but better, company. I loved the incredibly talented and creative people I worked with at that job, and they gave me unconditional love and support after the accident and all through my recovery, but in the end I needed more meaning in my life, and career is a big part of life.
That was when I decided to quit riding the tide and live an intentional life. I’ve never worked for anyone else since.
You don’t have to have a near-death experience to be ready to have a career of intention. You don’t have to have your own business, become Mother Theresa or run a non-profit. To me, a career of intention is simply this:
- Knowing what you want
- Understanding your gifts
- Sharing them with others
You can decide at any point in your life to be in charge, to be intentional. You may be at a point of transition, but transformation can happen even right where you’re at.
I’m at that point myself. I’ve helped a lot of people, and I can honestly say I’m proud of the work I’ve done in training, coaching, consulting and also with my team of designers and writers. I’ve been able to connect people to each other and causes to actions.
I’ve been honored to help people uncover their gifts and express their brilliance — to help them get the job that’s right for them and to succeed in that job by communicating in ways that are clear, compelling and authentic.
In 15 years of trying to live with intention, here are three things I’ve learned:
1) It’s easy to get off track.
Life happens. In ways good and bad.
A family tragedy, illness or other circumstances that require you to stay with the status quo. Time goes by.
A different opportunity comes along; you go off and explore it. That can be a good thing, and you may find that it’s not your thing.
You forget. In the day-to-day of living life, you just forget your intention.
2) A regular refresh can re-energize and re-focus.
Ever get interrupted while you’re in the middle of something, go off to handle that thing, and then say: now, where was I? You pause for a moment and remember.
A regular refresh can help you do just that with your life and career.
Often, people do this at the New Year. Many religious traditions have a time to reflect and reset: for Jews, it’s Rosh Hashana. For Christians, it’s Lent. For Muslims, it’s the Hajj. We all love the idea of a fresh start.
That the opening of baseball season coincides with the dawn of Spring is fortuitous. Whatever happened last season is over. We are starting fresh. Hope and optimism are reborn in the wake of a cold, dark winter.
3) Someone needs to know and honor your vision.
It’s hard to believe in yourself if you don’t have anyone who knows your heart and mind, your intentions and ideas.
It’s true that having an accountability partner can make you more successful. But I don’t think it’s just about being accountable.
It’s about being heard and believed in. Someone to say, yes, that iswho you are. Yes, that would be awesome. Yes, I believe you can do that, be that. Yes. You.
It all starts with intention. My intention now is to help more people get and succeed in the career they want. That means taking my coaching and training online. I truly believe when we’re doing the work that’s right for each of us and expressing our brilliance in ways anyone can understand, the world is a better place.
Grandiose? Perhaps. But even if I can only help you make your corner of the world a better place, I will be grateful for the opportunity.
Would you join me? I’ll be launching the first of my online workshops (working title: Creating Your Ideal Work Day) later this year.
To get you started now, you can download a worksheet I use to help people get clear on what they want the world to walk away with when they’ve said yes to the life and career you want.
After all, if you’re going to go for it, it’s a good idea to know what it is.