Lauren Bacon is on a mission to help business leaders become more joyful and generous. A seasoned entrepreneur, published author, and business and leadership coach, Lauren coaches startups, entrepreneurs, and leaders of all stripes – asking lots of questions, and employing her unending curiosity to help people and organizations get clear on their purpose and realize their visions. Her writing on business, technology, and leadership has been featured on The Atlantic, Women 2.0, Quartz, The Huffington Post, and Fast Company – and her bestselling first book, The Boss of You, got props from both Bust Magazine and The Financial Post. Lauren’s e-book, Curious for a Living: How Asking Better Questions Makes You Indispensable, is available on her website. www.laurenbacon.com
What events led up to you deciding to take back your life?
I was in a relationship that was pretty good – good enough to have lasted ten years. We loved each other. We rarely argued. We had a comfortable life and we’d bought a home together.
(You knew there was going to be a “but,” right?)
But… if we rarely argued, I suspected it was because we so rarely touched the depths of what we were feeling. I spent months trying to forge a deeper connection.
Was there a significant event or moment that made you realize you needed to make a change? What was it?
One night, doing the dishes after dinner, I asked him what he’d do with his life if he found himself with only months to live, and money was no object.
“Travel the world,” he replied immediately.
I was stunned. We’d been together ten years and he had never once mentioned a deep-seated desire to travel. We’d been on a couple of trips, but he’d never exhibited wanderlust of any kind. But I was thrilled to hear that he had a secret longing.
“Great! Where would you like to go?”
And that was that. Literally. It seemed to me like there was no fire there at all. Looking back, I feel certain that he has plenty of fire; it’s just that our relationship didn’t draw it out.
Truth be told, it wasn’t drawing out my fire, either.
Was there a first step of action when you decided to take back your life? What was it?
We talked a lot. We considered relationship counselling, but he couldn’t commit to that. And a few months after that kitchen-sink conversation, I left – hoping fervently that the inner voice that kept telling me greater passion was possible wasn’t full of crap.
Since you took back your life, how have things changed for you?
I was in my late thirties when I decided to leave – not the simplest time to step back into the dating pool. When I told my mother I was thinking about leaving, she said, “I know – sometimes you’d rather be alone for the rest of your life than stay with the wrong person.” While I knew that feeling well, and appreciated her sympathy, I fervently hoped that I wasn’t signing up to be alone for the rest of my life!
At first, dating seemed unimaginable. Eventually, though, after sifting through the detritus of the love that had lost its lustre, I arrived at perfect clarity about what I wanted – and didn’t want – in my next partner.
I wanted someone who met me, fully. Someone who would never be intimidated or cowed by me at full power. Someone who called me forth and wished great things for me. Someone who would light me up.
Almost exactly one year after I left that ten-year relationship, I met that someone.
We met, unsurprisingly, in a professional context. My first impressions, in chronological order, were: Cute. Smart. *Really* smart. Interesting. Funny. Those eyes. Seriously smart.
I pursued him relentlessly, which was necessary because he traveled constantly for work.
We kept things light for about a year, both of us still tender from recent heartbreaks. Then we admitted we weren’t really feeling casual about each other anymore. A few months later, we moved in together. Three months after that, I was pregnant.
And now, six years from the day we met, we have two children together, two new businesses, and we still have a lot to talk about. He makes me laugh every day, and his eyes still slay me.
This may all sound like a pretty happy ending. It’s not, really. No relationship constitutes a happy ending, just a space for evolution. But I have found a wonderful partner to grow with – and *that’s* what I most dearly wanted.
What would you say to anyone who finds themselves in the situation you were in?
Ask yourself what needs of yours are not being met by your beloved. Then ask yourself if you can meet those needs on your own, or with someone else – a friend, a professional colleague, etc. We can’t expect our romantic partners to be everything for us. But we can expect them to meet the needs they’re capable of meeting – and to show up fully as themselves.
I wasn’t being met, and I wasn’t seeing my beloved in his fullness, for whatever reason. That was the dealbreaker for me. I wanted to be his confidant, the person who helped him fulfill his most sacred longings. If he couldn’t trust me with those – or work on figuring out what they were – then I couldn’t expect him to receive mine.
Also, don’t listen to my mother. There’s no such thing as “alone for the rest of your life.” There are people who will date you in your late thirties. There are people who will find you desirable when you are much older. What makes you desirable is you owning your power, your passion, and *your* desire.
What does ‘Fully Alive’ mean to you?
Admitting to yourself what lights you up, and giving yourself permission to do it.
For me, this means dancing, visiting art galleries, eating delicious food, having conversations that go deep, lots of belly laughs, claiming my career ambitions, learning and evolving, and connecting fascinating people.
Favourite Inspirational Quote
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman
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Take Back Your Life Month
Last year, I declared May 16th ‘Take Back Your Life’ Day, because that’s the day that I took back my life from that evil beast, Cancer. It’s so important to me that this year I’m declaring the whole month of May ‘Take Back Your Life’. Every Tuesday and Friday this month, be inspired by stories of everyday people who have transformed their lives. These are people who converted a moment of struggle into a moment of strength and revolution! (Read more here.) Check back here to read their stories & share your own on social media! #TakeBackYourLife