I’ll admit it: I’m a chick flick fan. One of my favorite movies is Failure to Launch. It is funny and bittersweet—my favorite combo and it has more than a couple of stars from my beloved Lone Star state. But what really makes me love it is that it delivers some great lessons with a lot of love. (If you haven’t seen it and are a fan of ‘girly’ movies, definitely add it to your list!)
In the movie, Matthew McConaughey’s character is living at home with his parents. Well into his 30’s, he is way past his expiration date for living at home. Desperate to get him off on his own, his parents hire Sarah Jessica Parker, a self-described “launch expert.” SJP’s well-honed strategy to encourage him out of the nest involves dating him and helping him see how ready he is for independence. Her character has already done this a million times—since she isn’t in the market for a serious relationship, she’s the perfect “transition girlfriend” and the guys she dates typically go on to move out and develop great relationships.
Like Matthew’s character, we often fall into patterns that seem comfortable, but are really keeping us stuck. Since I believe that we are all here on this Earth so we can grow, being stuck is really an uncomfortable place to be. But we stay there because change and taking a chance can be scary.
Here are some of the ruts my clients and I have fallen in over the years—yes, myself included. (More on that in just a moment!)
Perfection. I am waiting for __________ to be perfect before I create the life I want. Okay, so you can fill in the blank there: timing, your relationship, your body, your idea, your house.
But here’s the thing: If X were perfect you would say it was something else. This is what I call “Dejá Doo Doo”. No matter where you are or what’s going on, you keep using the same old kind of excuses and nothing much changes.
This tendency often shows up as complicating the heck out of your plans, over-thinking or deciding that you need more certifications or degrees before you can really get started.
Guarantees. Many of my clients have never taken a big leap or even an itsy bitsy step without a clear view that everything will turn out exactly how they have planned it.
Well, that one doesn’t exactly make sense either since we don’t really get guarantees in life, professionally or personally.
Waiting for a sign. Now, I believe in listening to your gut. Some of my best decisions certainly didn’t make sense on paper. (Ask me some time about how I applied to graduate school at 23 with no money and no job—it didn’t make sense, but it worked out brilliantly.) But most of the time waiting for a sign is about stalling and when you stall, you lose all momentum.
Approval. I often hear in my clients’ voices a longing to be approved of—by a parent, society, professors or any number of individuals. So many of us have a need to get that gold star or that pat on the back. But even if you do manage to earn the approval of others, it’s fleeting. It leaves you empty.
If you don’t want to make a move unless you know it will get you a thumbs up from others, what is really stopping you is fear.
Fear of being seen as a fool, failure, a diva, devil or even fear of success. Fear of being more successful than your parents, someone you admire or even more successful than you think you can handle will stop you in your tracks. I have seen it so many times and even experienced this myself.
Other symptoms that you are in peril of becoming a failure to launch include:
– Blaming others, the economy or some other outside entity for where your life is right now
– Being in the same place for 6 months or more
– Constantly relying on others
– Feeling emotional, jumping to conclusions or dodging in different directions all the time
– Brimming with ideas, but not taking any actions based on them, or not taking actions with any consistency
I promised I’d tell you a little bit about the ruts I’ve fallen into. Here goes: When I first went out on my own as an independent coach, I tried doing business like everyone else. I got the corporate headshots of me smiling in a suit. I put all the letters I could scrape together after my name on my business cards. However, as I have continued to peel more layers of corporate life off, I’ve become more and more myself. Now when people ask me what I do, I say “I kick butt with fuzzy slippers.” The more I own who I am and what I like, I find that I am more effective. I find just the right clients with less effort. Perhaps best of all, I enjoy my work even more as I work with people in all parts of their lives, not just careers. Many of my clients leverage, change or relaunch professionally, in doing that, some choose to start a business or a consulting service.
Anyway, the good news is that even if you do have patterns that can lead to being a failure to launch, you can change them. The way out is leadership—taking the reins of your own life and making decisions that suit you. It happens for Matthew McConaughey in the movie, it has happened for me and it can happen for you too.
Are you ready to launch?
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.” — Confucius
I love this photo of my client, Camden, and me after a coaching session over coffee. Camden and I have been on a great journey together as coach and client creating a life she loves professionally and personally. Camden once lovingly said, “As a coach, DeAnne, your motto should be…‘GET A LIFE, JUST MAKE FOR DARN SURE IT’S THE ONE YOU WANT!’’”