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Emma Tekstra > Mental Health  > Reflection

Have you ever heard the term a human doing (as opposed to a human being)? What about being a part of the rat race? I thought I’d take a moment to pause and reflect on this most unusual year for me when I left the corporate world after 30 years and became an independent consultant and author.

In the corporate world we tend to reflect and review constantly. How were our year end results? Did we make the sales target this quarter? What do we need to change, to tweak, to improve? Year-end performance reviews are a reflection on how you performed against objective, measurable targets (at least the good ones are). We set goals for the following year in terms of financials, team headcount, new products or locations, strategic initiatives. Are we taking the time to reflect on the arguably more important parts of our lives – our relationships, our purpose, and our values?

Are we taking the time to reflect on the arguably more important part of our lives - our relationships, our purpose and our values?

It’s been a tough transition to be sure. I no longer have a huge cast of outstanding people to bounce ideas off or help me with aspects of my work that I am less competent at. It’s rather lonely being a single player instead of a team within a team. The buck stops with me. I can no longer rely on someone higher up for guidance or to make a tough call. The cash flow is certainly tighter this Christmas!

But what I have lost has been exchanged for a kind of peace that I am exactly where I’m meant to be, living my purpose and making a difference in the world. I wrote a whole book and delivered all 300 pages to my publisher on time (more on that in the new year). It was the hardest thing I’d ever done: to focus on one single project day in, day out, for months. If you know anything about me, I get bored really easily and need at least 20 balls in the air if I’m going to function at my best. It turns out that was just the corporate me and not necessarily optimal for my health and wellbeing. 

Speaking of health – I took up kick-boxing! I just sort of fell into it when looking for a boxing gym for my son. Training three times a week has done more for my mental health than anything I could have planned.

It comes down to living intentionally. Quite the opposite of the rat race or operating as a human doing. You make only loose plans focused on purpose and values each day and then let the universe direct your steps. Reflection is still important. I continue to make lists (lots of lists!) of what I need to accomplish professionally and personally. Daily to do’s and quarterly planning are regular features. But this year’s performance review is more focused on the less tangible successes of which there were legion.

As Joshua Becker says in his insightful book Things That Matter: Overcoming Distraction to Pursue a More Meaningful Life, “When a distraction becomes a lifestyle, we lose control over the lives we are living.” For the last few years in my corporate job I lost control of the life I wanted to live and this year I have righted the ship.

My wish for you this holiday season, as you reflect and make plans for 2024, is to pursue the life you were meant to live and let go of the distractions that steal your focus.

I’ll leave you with another quote from Mr. Becker on how we get to the end of our lives with minimal regrets: “We choose well. We set aside lesser pursuits to seek meaning in our lives. And we do it every single day.”

Emma Tekstra
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