Vail on purpose: If you feel stuck, just fast forward
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –“I’ve had a great week,” Nancy began our coaching meeting. “My sister was in town. We had a great time. I miss my family.”
Noticing the depth of what she said I asked, “Tell me about your family.”
“There are four kids in my family and I have a special relationship to each of them.” Nancy glowed as she talked about her siblings.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“I grew up in San Francisco. My parents still live in the house I grew up in,” Nancy said. “All of my siblings live within a 50-mile radius of my parents’ home so they spend lots of time together. I’ve been thinking of moving back.”
“What brought you here?” I asked.
“I moved here for two reasons,” Nancy said. “First, I was offered a job and second because my daughter, Mattie, lives here. I moved here nine years ago, which was the year they had their first daughter. They’ve had three more since – the twins who are five and the baby who is three. Needless to say, Mattie is really busy.”
“How much time do you spend with Mattie’s family?” I asked.
“Too much,” Nancy responded. “Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with them, but lately, they’ve really needed my help. The more I give, the more they need. Even though I work full time, I’ve become their ‘go-to’ baby-sitter,” Nancy explained. “When my sister was in town, I realized that I miss my family and would like to move … but I feel I can’t leave Mattie.”
“It sounds like you enjoy being a grandparent, but may feel overwhelmed,” I said. “You also would like to explore the possibility of moving back home. Is that right?”
“I know I want to move back,” Nancy said, “but I feel like that would be selfish. I see how tired Mattie is and know that I should help in whatever way I can.”
“Let’s separate the two issues,” I said. “Would you be happy here if you didn’t feel responsible for helping your daughter?”
“It’s hard to say,” Nancy said. “Even before things got so hectic with the kids, I wasn’t happy here. When I traveled home last summer, I reconnected with my friends and went to the bay. I loved living there and I miss the ocean.” She had a sad, longing in her voice.
“It sounds like there’s a question about what is more important, your needs or Mattie’s,” I asked.
“I think mothers always ask this question,” she began, “and there isn’t a right answer. I’m either selfless and help my daughter with her kids or selfish and do what I want to do and move home.”
“Let’s fast forward a year,” I suggested. “What does it look like now?”
“In a year, the twins will be starting kindergarten and the baby will be starting pre-school. I remember when my kids started school and how much that eased my schedule. Things for Mattie will be busy, but easier next year.”
“What does it look like in two years?” I asked.
“The oldest will be 11 and will be able to help Mattie and the little ones should be more self sufficient,” Nancy said. “I guess I was getting caught up in the busy-ness and neediness of right now. But things change – it won’t always be like this.”
“It’s easy to get consumed with what’s happening now and think that it will last forever … especially with kids,” I said.
“Maybe if I decided to move, but extended my time frame out to allow the transitions in Mattie’s life over the next two years, I could move home and not be selfish or selfless. I could be neither and both at the same time.”
I smiled at the irony and wisdom of what Nancy had just said and knew that her realization would help her to move forward.
Coaching Challenge: If you feel stuck and frustrated by a situation, do a “fast forward” where you project the situation sometime in the future. By looking at the situation at different time intervals, it may help you see the depth of the issue and give you a better perspective from which to make choices today.
Sheri Fisher is a life coach who lives in Grand Junction, Colorado with her husband Tom and their three sons. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. If you have topic suggestions, Sheri can be reached at email@example.com or for more information, visit: http://www.coachwithsheri.com.
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