Midlife

Stick to Your Lane

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"I'll have what she's having." ~ When Harry Met Sally

I often marvel at my successful friends. I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who are riding at or near the top of their game, continually reinventing themselves and expanding their capacities for the big lives they're meant to live. 

And, as a person who is continuing to unfold and evolve herself in midlife, watching them brings on a myriad of thoughts and emotions and actions. For one thing, it can be intoxicating! And, riveting. And, thought-provoking. 

And, inspiring. And sometimes I think, maybe if I emulate a few of the things they're doing then that might possibly work for me too. Maybe they know something I don't and should. "I'll have what she's having." 

Ever been there?

Where someone you admire is on a certain track and you wonder somewhere in your always-seeking brain, if you should be on that track too? 

The upside of that is that you can learn a lot: tried and proven tips and techniques to apply to your own work and career path.

The downside? It can lead to that never-a-winner game called Comparison. Where you start looking at your life, comparing it to that person you admire or a career path you might covet or even envy. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's also the thief of success and certainly of self-fulfillment. Iyanla Vanzant said, "Comparison is an act of violence against the self." It only leaves you in a puddle of dissatisfaction and frustration. 

Hey, it's human to go there. I was there recently, after rejoicing in a friend's big successes, I caught myself in the downward spiral of comparison. Then, it went on to other fabulous friends who are kicking ass too. I started to question what path I was on, if perhaps I should be refocusing in some similar directions. Questioning all things like timing and choices and that started to lead to tiny thoughts of regret. Ugh. 

Well, there's one I did know for sure, and that was this train of thought was going nowhere good.

So, I got quiet. I did some deep work around it with some comrades who held me to my own fire, kept me accountable. I went underneath it, digging for the truths I've relied on over and over again. Then, in the midst of the quiet, when the competing inner voices had been silenced, I got the message I was meant to hear.

And, it was loud and clear: "Stay in your lane."

Stay in your lane.

And, it was an aha. Because the truth is whenever I've ventured over into someone else's lane for awhile, the lane of another writer or creative businesswoman where I want what she's having, I find that, beyond being inspired by them, I'm left chasing my tail and spinning my wheels. Why? Because it's their lane. It's not mine.

As soon as I step back over into my lane I'm reminded of what I do and what I love about what I do. Stay with that, my higher wisdom told me. Ground yourself in there, in the loving impact of your own lane.

It reminded me of a piece I'd written a couple years about a similar topic: 

In a “60 Minutes” interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Award-winning creator of the musical HAMILTON, Lin-Manuel talked about attending a school for gifted children. He said he looked around and everyone was smarter than him, he was “surrounded by genius, genius kids.” The interviewer asked him, “So why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you and not one of your classmates?” He said, “I picked a lane and started running faster than anyone else.”

“I picked a lane!” That lane led to the intense hard work and dedication that made him a true pioneer, recreating the modern Broadway musical. And, man is he ever in his purpose. His lane just continues to widen and elevate him and everyone around him.

This time around, it made me think about how sometimes we can lose direction when we try to run in a lane that doesn't lead to our own purposeful work, so much so that we lose sight for a moment of what that was supposed to be. 

When I got that concise, powerful message I felt something shift in my thinking, back to what's in alignment for my truth. The simple truth is I don't want to be in anyone else's lane. No one should. 

It’s just so simple. We make things so complicated at times and comparison, that pesky devil, robs us of living our most intentional and satisfying life. When seeking outside of ourselves - outside our lane - we follow someone else’s lead down their road, ending up chasing a goal or dream that was never ours to begin with. Then, we lose our way, our path becomes less clear, albeit hidden behind something other than our own truth. We then try to override our most meaningful intentions by trying to make them fit a different outcome, rather than simply trusting the truth and power of our own lane.

So, how to get back there? Get still, find your footing again. Then, deal with what's right there, inside you and in front of you. Listen to your own wisdom. Remind yourself what you love and where you're amazing. Remember the reasons you share what you share. Discuss it with your support team, those who know you and have your highest best interests at heart. 

And, follow your heart's deepest intentions.

So, good reminder, yes? I say stick to your lane. And, I'll see you along the way.