The piece that has shaped my year.
After returning from my workout on the last Sunday in March, during a 3-week break to reconsider my vision for the year and for the next few years, I sat down and started to write. I typed on my iPhone in the DayOne app, a journaling app that houses every aspect of my life from the mundane details of what I did to the deep knowing of my soul.
Over the course of hours, everything unspooled into a massive 8,000-word journal entry.
No thoughts. Only pure emotion.
In my life, all major moments of change have occurred on the “2” year in every decade: 12, 22, 32. I was 6 weeks away from 42, and I knew this would be a year of epic change.
For as much as I write, I rarely allow myself to write in that way: Unfiltered. Unedited. Unrestrained.
When I finished, I left it there. I didn’t share it with anyone. But it changed me to write it.
In 8,000 words, I covered a lot of ground — superficial things like how I want to plan my grocery shopping better, ideas about what it really means to define a brand, thoughts about how the real estate industry and others are completely missing the point of what they should be doing.
But the heart of it was a reflection on my life. On what really matters.
I reflected back on a decade of work, on changes I was considering in my business and in my life. And somehow, as tends to happen when writing, it evolved into something else.
I veered to that place that can be difficult to face, but that helps us get clear on what is really at stake for us: the eulogy. Specifically, my eulogy.
For all that people talk about legacy, here’s some hard truth: we don’t get to choose our legacy. You can do the greatest work in the history of the world; you have no guarantee that people will remember you for that work. Our legacy is determined by others.
But I wondered what people might say at my funeral. And what would I want them to say?
Suddenly, words poured out of me. It was as if another being took over, writing about me, as if I wasn’t there, tapping my fingers on the small keyboard of my iPhone.
When I looked up, a couple of hours later, I had this piece, but I didn’t write it. It came through me.
From that moment forward, I endeavored to live more in alignment with what I wrote that day.
Reading that back today, as I continue with my year-end reflection ritual (no, not yet complete, and that’s perfectly ok), it struck me that this is what I want to share with you today to wrap up this year.
I offer this to you
No, not the whole journal entry. But a snippet of it.
I offer them to you, unedited, uncensored, and unfiltered.
I hope perhaps it gives you pause to think about what makes a successful year, or life. And where you want to head when 2018 starts.
Thank you for being here, for reading, and for witnessing.
There is more to come.
All I can do is move from where I am.
Remember 10 years ago I realized that there were only a few regrets I had, and they all were about things I didn’t do. I reminded myself then that even when I tried and failed, or something didn’t work out, that I didn’t regret it. Because at least I tried and I knew.
That’s what prompted me to get into real estate. I went in with the mindset that even if it doesn’t work out, at least I’ll know. I will learn things along the way. To try and fail will be better than playing it safe, always wondering in the back of my mind what if I had gone into real estate?
So that’s what I did. I’ve had some big moments of despair and failure. But I’ve never once looked back and thought, maybe I should have stayed in law. Not once.
And I have learned so much. I’ve learned about people. About myself.
Real estate opened doors for me to learn about business and human needs and psychology and my own temperament and strengths in a way I never would have learned if I stayed in law. It allowed me to develop a body of work that I feel strongly can serve people on a bigger level.
And I learned about what I need to have in place to support me on a fundamental level: the right administrative support, wellness support, etc. I’ve learned what is necessary to effectively create a business — not just a job where I work for myself.
And now I stand at the next inflection point. Where will I be in a decade?
I don’t want to wonder
What if I had given myself the opportunity to unleash my creative ideas and the value I add to others?
What if I had taken what I learned and used it to create a real business that is sustainable and saleable (if necessary and if I desire)?
What if I had not allowed the expectations that others have of me to stifle my voice and my creativity or dictate my path?
What if I had not been blinded by my love for my family and desire to live close to them and instead opened myself to the possibility of living in another place?
What if I had allowed myself to be carried by unwavering self-trust, instead of being crushed by self-doubt?
These are things I don’t want to wonder. In 2027, at age 52, at my 30 year college reunion, I want to stand tall in the story of a half-century of always having embraced the risks and made the big moves.
At my funeral and at the shiva visits, I don’t want the story to be about a girl and a woman who was so bright but never quite lived up to her potential.
I want people to speak about my courage and bravery: my big heart, my big ideas and my big moves. Even if I don’t succeed with all of them, I want them to remember that I was always willing to take a risk, that I acted to implement my big ideas even if they didn’t necessarily turn out the way I envisioned.
What might someone say in my eulogy?
She was so creative. And brilliant. She always had big ideas. She couldn’t walk into a room without seeing an idea for how something could be improved or tweaked. She had ideas for everyone for their business or life. Always wanting to help people make things better. She was passionate about it. To see people struggle or be treated unfairly or to know that they could have obtained a better result if they just made that one slight change — those were the things that ignited her fire.
She never traded her convictions for a life certainty. She could have had a stable income as a lawyer but she felt unfulfilled; that she was not serving in her true calling. So she got into real estate. She followed the calling of her passions and her convictions to help people live better in their homes, to advocate for them and to empower them with information and insights.
She wouldn’t settle for the status quo when she believed that there was a better way.
She sometimes failed spectacularly in her big moves, but she never gave up on pursuing her path. She was stubborn. She never stopped believing that she could do something, even if it had never been done before. She didn’t take no for an answer. She wasn’t afraid to leap even when she didn’t know how it would turn out. She believed from an early age that she had a role to play in making this world a better place, in bringing justice and fairness and truth to everyone, and she relentlessly pursued that path.
She never stopped searching for her role in that vision.
She was a force. At times stubborn, at times sullen, but underneath it all always motivated by pure love and desire to see everyone treated fairly and with dignity and realizing their full potential. She never shied away from the truth, from calling it like she saw it.
She never hesitated to offer an opinion or to stand firm in her opinion even if she was in the minority. In fact, in any meeting or debate, she would often take the position of devil’s advocate just to ensure that all sides of an issue were heard. Sometimes her words could sting, but you always knew that she spoke from a place of genuine caring; she was carried by her passion to make this world a better place and to help others become better.
And, to be sure, she reserved her harshest criticism for herself. If anything, that was her downfall. She could be unrelenting in her self-criticism and in holding herself to standards that most would say were impossible to meet.
Because most of all, she wanted to be better. She wanted to maximize her potential. And she wanted to show others what was possible. She pursued a bigger stage bc she felt passionate in her message and in her calling to serve.
I don’t think she realized how many people she touched and inspired; how many people she directly inspired or how her message and inspiration was passed on to others. If there was a tragic element to her life, I think it was in this: Not that she failed to realize some of her dreams or that some of her big moves failed to create the results she desired, but that she failed to see the impact she had on people.
She had this amazing ability to see the big picture of things, to see the field 100 moves ahead. She had incredible vision.
She was an amazing listener with a huge heart. She created and held space for people with remarkable patience and empathy. If you came to her with a problem or challenge, she approached it like a surgeon, with a remarkable ability to slice through the surface problem you thought you had to reveal what was really going on.
She could hear what you weren’t saying even to yourself.
And yet for all of her vision and her capacity for deep listening and hearing, she somehow wasn’t able to see the enormity of her impact. She didn’t fully appreciate how many people she inspired to raise their game: to persevere through a challenge, to get out of bed and go for a workout, to watch their self-talk language, to give themselves permission to turn off email for an hour, and so many other ways that people have told me that they changed because of what Renée shared with them or showed them.