So Humbled…

A few times a year, I send out an update to a small circle of personal friends who live around the world. It’s my way of keeping in touch with people who I may not be able to call or see on a regular basis.

As per my custom, I sent out my end of year reflections and after doing so, I thought these also might resonate with you. So here is my personal sharing on what I’ve been learning on the balance between being proactive and yet staying humble to the reality that we’re never completely in control–and that’s OK:

My learning has centered around three main themes:

  • You never quite know what will happen so it’s important to enjoy and accept each moment as it is.
  • Life is a cycle of Comfort > New Challenge > Struggle > Fulfillment > Comfort.
  • Authentic living requires greater vulnerability, which sounds like truth and feels like courage.

You Never Quite Know….

As someone who naturally likes to have things planned out, to have closure, to know what’s happening next, the idea of not knowing sounds annoying at best, threatening at worst. But in the course of the past year, God has given me more of the ability to accept the truth that I really do never quite know what will happen—that’s OK. This acceptance bears the fruit of humility in recognition that I don’t really ever know what will or will not happen until the moment it occurs. It also produces a deeper sense of rest because there’s less of a need to try to control situations or to feel obligated to anticipate and guard against every possible thing that could go “wrong.”

Life is a Cycle

Along the same lines as accepting the dynamic nature of life, I’ve come to a deeper acceptance that life is absolutely not a straight line progression. That you don’t just “lock in your gains” along the way and build from there. Instead life is a circular pattern of Comfort > New Challenge > Struggle > Fulfillment > Comfort.


Once again, this produces a deep sense of humility because you realize that you’re never “set,” you never can just coast or know how things will be. But when you embrace this cycle instead of resisting it or denying its existence, you can experience freedom from fear. This in turn allows you to surrender to the process and to experience peace in each moment. Alternatively, if you resist the cycle and try to make the dynamic nature of life stagnant, you never experience peace. For example if you hold on to comfort longer than the acceptable time, like over ripe fruit, it rots. If you hold on to struggle beyond the time when it’s needed, you never enjoy the fruits of fulfillment. This time a year ago, my book coming out was the biggest thing on my mind, now the book launch is a distant dot in my rearview mirror. Earlier this summer, being on ABC World News was my big thing, now it’s come and gone and I look forward to what’s ahead in the new year.

The fruit of surrendering to this cycle is to experience greater compassion toward myself and others: “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”~ Pema Chodron

Authentic Living

I recently read a fantastic book called “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.” It was very intriguing to me because it helped me understand a lot of how I’ve been growing. Over the past four years, I’ve made enormous strides in terms of being vulnerable and sharing what I’m actually thinking or feeling on the inside. But over this summer, I’ve progressed to the next level in terms of taking courage and expressing what’s right for me even in the face of knowing that may make someone unhappy. (A very difficult task for someone who naturally likes to please people!)


However what I’ve found through this process is once again a freedom from fear—when you let go of the pride that you think you actually could possibly make everyone happy, you can live more freely. Also, I’ve found that this process leads to true peace: the type of peace that can only be won after fighting a brave battle.

So that’s where I’m at. Another year done, hopefully another year wiser, and excited to see what’s in store for me next!

About Real Life E®

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished through an exclusive Schedule Makeover™ process. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through custom training programs.


McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals. She was selected as one of the Top 25 Amazing Women of the Year by Stiletto Woman.



  1. Tom Laue says

    Hi, Elizabeth–

    Do you remember Tom (me) and Sue Laue, along with our two sons, Chris and Drew? Especially when all the kids (you!) were young, our two families got together a few times in Evanston. I remember well your girlhood home on Crawford. We’re still in town on Springfield Ave. where we’ve lived a quarter century now. I put out a Blue Cross & Blue Shield newsletter for Medicare customers in five states– appropriate since I turned 65 last July. Sue does a lot of “social and emotional” training in quite a few school systems around the area, including the Chicago Public Schools system. Chris, 31, lives in North Carolina (Research Triangle where he earned his mechanical engineering degree); younger guy Drew, 24, is a flight attendant for an American Airlines regional carrier. Enough about us!

    When I saw you’ve published a time investment book in your family’s Christmas letter, I dashed out to buy it and I’m now using it to help guide me in renewing my exercise routine. Regular exercising lapsed when my BCBS work tied to the Affordable Care Act became (Here’s a word you and your colleagues know well!) — overwhelming.

    Hard to believe (but very gratifying) to see the little neighborhood children all grown up now and making big contributions to the world! Your book was the trigger for me not to just “plan” to get back to exercising but to actually “do” it. This, even though my work continues to swirl madly around the marketing of the Affordable Care Act.

    So for that, I thank you, Elizabethe, and I wish you continued good fortune in all you do as your adulthood unfolds. Please tell your folks hello for us — if they remember us after all these years!

    All Our Very Best,
    Tom and Sue Laue

  2. says

    Hi Tom-

    Yes, I remember you from growing up and I’m so delighted to hear that The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress had a positive impact on your life. That’s wonderful!

    Kudos to you for committing to investing your time well and taking care of yourself.

    To your brilliance!

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