This article was originally posted on Chip Conley’s Wisdom Well blog at Modern Elder Academy.
The overarching thing I realized in midlife is that it’s one thing to have a life well-saved for, and a whole other level to have a life well-lived.
I had no intention to shift away from what I was doing career-wise (in 2019 I had just celebrated my 20th anniversary as a wealth management advisor for C-suite executives), but rather, I felt inspired to build an addition right on top, something elevated, more impactful, more multi-dimensional, deeply meaningful, somewhat like a new flavorful layer (with frosting of course) to an already delicious cake.
And like many heroic journeys, my very darkest times inspired the addition. After experiencing a life not well-lived to the tune of three sequential, chronic illnesses (rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease and kidney cancer), I gave the well-being project my all to save my own life. I never forgot a promise I made to God and the universe while on the 4th floor in the UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital, up there by my (teary) self, looking out at the view: if I ever figured well-being out, I would dedicate the rest of my life to helping others do the same.
Along my behind-the-scenes healing journey, I experienced (to my amazement) turbocharged business success in my wealth management business, I learned that one can DO well and BE well simultaneously. In a society that prizes overworking to the point of burnout, I discovered that vibrant well-being actually DRIVES extraordinary success.
Although I set up a multi-dimensional platform (website, blog, social media), I really became impassioned about launching an impactful book– the one I wish I had during those dark years. Because I had always been an aspiring writer (I majored in Creative Writing in college) I gathered my healing process into a “Well-Being Wheel” structure, wrote some heartfelt essays about my journey, tapped into my connections to interview 18 well-being oriented CEOs and Founders (9 men and 9 women, including our beloved Chip Conley), sold the book to a major publisher and I handed in my manuscript for “Reinvent the Wheel: How Top Leaders Leverage Well-Being for Success” three days before my 50th birthday.
Maybe I was optimistically naïve, but I honestly thought, if not me, then who? Who could tell this story better? Who else is brimming with this much wisdom after going through this much hardship? Even if it sells only a few copies, hopefully it will change someone’s life for the better. To my delight, “Reinvent the Wheel” ended up on the Top 20 Must-Reads of 2019 in Forbes.
I believe midlife is an opportunity for sharing our deepest, hard-earned wisdom. That multi-layer, gourmet cake offering is an important aspect of a life well-lived. For me, rather than leaving parts of myself behind, it’s a layering, another level, offered with hospitality, love and truth.
Megan McNealy is an award-winning, Senior Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor at one of the largest financial firms in the world, as well as an impact entrepreneur and Well-Being Thought Leader. A Reiki Master and sunset-lover, she lives vibrantly with her two teen girls and labradoodle in Northern California.