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The Timeline is a LIE

You’ve heard the saying, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Why, then, do we continue to allow ourselves to be compared and contrasted against a timeline that is not only a lie but continues to be less and less realistic and relevant to our lives?

From a young age, women are conditioned to believe in the “timeline,” a laundry list of life’s milestones not unlike the literal board game that sees us grow up, go to school, find a partner, get married, start a family, etc. etc. etc.

How many of us can remember being in our teens with this picture of a happy marriage, a white picket fence, and 2.5 kids by the time we were TWENTY-FIVE?

The first time I ever realized the timeline was a lie, I was consulting with a physician who told me either I had children now or not have them at all. I was younger than the timeline would suggest, and I didn’t have all my appropriate milestones lined up. Could I really “jump” the cue?

The next time I realized the timeline was a lie, I was sitting in my car, feeling numb after yet another board meeting at a Fortune 500 company, having had to tell my daughter for the umpteenth time that I couldn’t make the school talent show. Could I really walk away from the career I was meant to have at this stage in my life? Could I truly start over now? Reinvent myself? Begin again?

And again, when I found true love later in life than most would suggest is possible.

And again, and again, and again, each and every time I level up, re-imagine the possibilities… I didn’t wake up and start healing my life until I was in my 30s, and I didn’t have a successful marriage until I was in my 40s.

These things are not “timeline approved,” but MY life is brilliant now, beautiful in its design. Imagine if I hadn’t taken the chances I did because of the pressure to conform?

So, what is the timeline? It’s a grouping of artificial external expectations reinforced by others fears of not being accepted and limiting beliefs. It’s a social construct used to evaluate others worthiness and determinations of their successes or failures. The result for us, as women? Immense pressure to conform, and often settle, in order to meet these archaic “standards”.

Well, I call bullshit!

It’s not our fault we feel this pressure, it’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe in our entire lives (until now) – and there’s no magic “cure” to stop feeling it. I’ll admit that I still fall victim to these feelings from time to time. I see friends doing things I think I should have done or accomplished by now, and I let the feelings overtake me.

But I’ve learned something fundamental along the way … these feelings can either trigger you or motivate you. You can recognize that it is just an old reaction to a former belief that you need to match the timeline, and you can choose to, in that moment, say no – I desire more or different, and I am worthy of it.

Earlier this year I was talking with a group of women and the topic of my divorce came up. All of the questions I received were interestingly all tied back to the timeline. What did people say? How did family and friends react? How did I feel starting over at that age?

We also talked about how I rebuilt my life from that point to now. I shared about a recent luxury vacation I took with my now husband; I talked about the villa, the car service, and the private chef. And I did so unapologetically because I believe wholeheartedly that it is my purpose to motivate other women to design their own lives in this same fashion – one that works for THEM, full of happiness and fulfillment, timelines be damned.

I want to be the catalyst, the motivation, and if along the way that triggers some people, I can’t shrink myself or apologize for that. I also refuse to allow the trappings of the timeline to stop me from celebrating the successes of women that “go against the grain.”

Gone are the days when the only things deemed worthy of celebrating were weddings and babies. Honestly, I don’t think my daughter and I have ever talked about w