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Life is no gift box

Recently I’ve had conversations with friends that further confirm that I’m an adult. If it was not clear already, it’s clear now. I won’t go into the details of the conversations, but I walked away thinking that life isn’t that perfect package that we dreamed of when we were younger. No one finds the man/woman of their dreams in a café in Rome, gets married, has two perfect children, has the career of their dreams, becomes rich all while maintaining the looks and body of a model. Well a small minority of people may have this life, but it’s usually not without some huge bump in the road.  Quite a few of my friends are divorced or going through a divorce. Some thought they were marrying the person of their dreams. Others knew the person was all wrong, but somehow ended up meeting them at the alter anyway. A few are on their second marriages.  Some with kids, most without. Then there is the recent transition from the influx of weddings to births. My Facebook page is full of baby photos of little one’s of family and friends. So now there’s another life in the world and what happens when your child is sick or disabled? All of the “plans” you had went right out the window.  That pretty package you anticipated now looks a little tattered and you’re not sure what to do with it. You don’t even know where to start because you never planned for this.

Many of life’s blessings don’t come in the beautifully wrapped blue Tiffany’s box.  Sometimes the package may be a ripped up brown box that was damaged in transit, dropped in the mud and wet from the rain. When you see it, you’re immediately turned off. You don’t want to touch it. It’s not the thing you want to bring into your house and muddy up your clean carpet.  But you’re not going to let it sit there for too long, because something’s inside. Someone sent you a gift and you want to know what it is. So you grab a paper towel and tear it open hoping that what’s inside isn’t as damaged as the package. Perhaps the sender took care and wrapped it in padding and plastic knowing the fragile contents might experience a rough trip before it got to you. So you cut open the tattered box and pull out the gift that’s securely taped in mounds of bubble wrap. You grab the scissors and cut through the wrap, popping bubbles along the way. The box is wrapped up so tightly that you get frustrated and put it down. You walk away. But eventually come back and see it sitting on the counter and can’t help but start cutting again. After a little time, patience and effort, you finally get down to the box inside. It’s not the blue Tiffany’s box…it’s even better.  This box is unique and even more beautiful than you could have imagined. All of this and  you haven’t even opened it to see the contents. Who would have thought that something this beautiful could be delivered in something so tattered? And to think you almost left it sitting outside. You almost walked away and gave up on it before you had a chance to explore what was inside.

Living in the AND

“You need to find a way to scratch that itch without completely jumping ship. – J.Forde

Recently a friend told me that I needed to find a way to scratch my travel itch without completely jumping ship. What she meant was that I need to find a more scaled down way to satisfy that need that is more closely aligned to my current lifestyle. This whole conversation began when I told her about an amazing opportunity that included moving to Johannesburg, South Africa. Needless to say I got so excited about this initially and for a moment considered uprooting everything and moving. I mean, why not? I’ve always wanted to live and work internationally.  Well, her comment made me pause because most people take one side or the other. Go for it…or…Don’t do it!  She was telling me to find a happy medium. Find a way to satiate my love and desire to see the world without abandoning everything that’s important to me and that I love about my life now. I needed to find the AND in this situation instead of the OR.   Find a way to travel AND keep the job that I already have and really like…..AND stay close to my family…AND….the list goes on.  Living in the context of AND is appropriate for this situation, but not all. The next step is to figure out what degree of travel will satisfy my need to see the world. I don’t know what that is just yet, but I do feel good in my decision to stay put AND create a plan to fulfill more of my desires instead swapping one out for another.

Are YOU your biggest hater?

Lately the world seems to be full of haters according to those 25 and younger. If you listen to music and status updates on social networking sites, you’d think that “hating on people” was a full-time, well paying job.  This is not a new profession, it’s just talked about more than ever.

Everyone is faced with a road block or negative energy when they’re trying to pursue something positive. When you’re clear on your mission no one can stand in your way unless you let them. Some people get so caught up in what other people are saying that they end up spending more energy trying to address “the haters”, than they do pursuing their goals. When this happens you end up working against yourself and losing sight of what’s important. The haters have been successful because you have become one of them.

Remember that for every one hater, there are 10 people cheering you on. Unfortunately, those people often get overshadowed. Rely on these folks for positive reinforcement to stay focused and keep it moving. Kick dust on the haters by not giving them the time of day. I can’t say that I have any haters because I spot them early in the game and then move as far away from them as I can. I only know the amazing  friends and family who support me.

Focus on your path. Jump over road blocks. Surround yourself with good people.

If it’s still on your mind, then do it…

I have this rule of thumb. Whenever I see or want to do something and the question, “Should I do it?” pops in my head, I wait two weeks to see if it’s still on my mind. If, at that point, I still want to do it, then I do it. This strategy works well because it keeps me from making rash decisions. It works in specific circumstances like when I want to buy something expensive or want to push myself to do something that I could easily talk myself out of .  So how does this play out in my head, you ask? Well I’ll give an examples.

I’m a financially conscious person, but I do like nice things. In my early twenties, I had two guilty, expensive pleasures: purses and sunglasses. Spending money on these things have grown less important as I’ve gotten older and it has been over six years since I’ve spent over $40 on either. Well recently I decided that I was going to buy a pair of designer sunglasses as a treat to myself. I decided this about a month ago and I haven’t really thought about it since. So that’s that. It’s not on my mind, so I’m not buying it.

Recently, two things have come about that made me really excited. In both situations, I created a master plan in my head for what to do. Within 24 hours, I had slowly talked myself out of doing either and didn’t take action on either. So here I am two weeks later and still thinking about one on a daily basis. So today I’m taking action. It doesn’t cost any money so I’m not losing anything by taking action. It just forces me to step outside my comfortable zone and take a big risk. Actually they both do. The two weeks has passed for one and I’ve decided to take action. Let’s see what I decide to do with the second.

Update: I bought the sunglasses! I know I said that they weren’t on my mind, BUT I found a cute pair on a designer discount site and could not pass up the opportunity to get a pair 65% off. It’s the best of both worlds. Yes!

The downfall of a “go-getter”.

“What’s unique about this situation is its something that came to you versus you going after it.” – Heidy Kwan

The above quote was spoken by a friend from business school 6 months ago when we were talking about my new job. At the time, I was on the fence about whether or not I should take the offer. It wasn’t something that I had gone after. It just came to me. It was just that simple.

Looking back, I think I was pretty crazy for being so apprehensive about taking the job, but it makes sense given the way I’ve “received” things in the past.  Up until I was laid off, I pretty much planned my career. Meaning I was a “go-getter”. I took the time to figure out what I wanted, then I went after it. I didn’t always know what the next step would be, but when I discovered it, I went for it. I have a drive and focus that is unmatched when I commit to something. I simply like to make things happen. But what I’m now recognizing is that by doing so, I might be overlooking things that were meant for me.

Have I been so busy running looking straight ahead, that I bypassed an opportunity waiting for me on the side? It’s been a year since I was laid off and that experience completely changed my line of thinking. I was able to slow down and just stop. Stop, and wait for answers. Wait for the next move or idea or trip.  Once I started doing this, answers started to come that were so far off from the things I would have planned for. It was slightly uncomfortable, but it was nice. Calming in fact.

I continue this line of thinking a year plus later and I like it. At work, I do seek a leadership position and want to get promoted, but I’ve decided to approach it a bit differently than I have in the past. I’m taking the time to learn the organization. I’m getting to know people. I’m learning about what leadership means in this organization. I’m taking a step back and waiting for the right opportunity. I am really enjoying my current role and am taking the time to enjoy THIS position before pushing for the next. It would mean so much more to me to get tapped for a position, than for me to apply for one. It would mean that the right position came to me versus me going to look for something that might not be right for me.  The potential downfall of the go-getter is that in the hasty pursuit to get what they want, they may end up with something worse. It’s a gamble. On the other hand, a bit of patience coupled with strategic positioning has a greater chance of getting what you need instead of only what you want.

The Zero Hour Workweek

“Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Many of us say that we would love to have a zero hour workweek without thinking about what that really means. Is it that we don’t have to get up and go to work everyday or that we’re getting paid to do something we love? I ran across this ebook called The Zero Hour Workweek, and thought it was worth sharing. The author proposes that a “zero hour workweek” is the later.  The author discussed how you can “get paid to exist” by finding the intersection between your passion and its market value. The author has some good concepts in helping your understand how to get paid doing what your love. He provides a few real life examples and shares his own journey. The ebook is heavily focused on technology and social media, and how to use each as a means to drive your value and brand in the market.  Check it out. The link is below.

http://illuminatedmind.s3.amazonaws.com/0HWW.pdf