encouragement

But I Don’t Wanna.

Too bad.  You have to. Choose, that is. You have to choose. I spent most of my adult life thinking that I could not only be everything to everyone, but that I could also do everything that my little heart desired. Here’s reality:  You can’t. That’s absolutely not pessimism. It’s reality. The good news is that you can still be a lot of things to a lot of people and you can still do plenty!

Here’s a little story about me.  I didn’t know (and quite frankly, still don’t) what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I had passion for so many things in life and it was hard to nail down ONE.  When it comes down to it, though, is life really supposed to be about what you want to BE (your occupation) when you grow up or is it supposed to be about what you DO (how you experience life)?  I’m going to have to cast my vote for “do.”  And that’s how I landed where I am today.  Yes, I still work for other people, but they don’t dictate my schedule.

You see, when it comes down to it, I can do pretty much whatever I want to do.  I’m a quick study and I take great pride in doing my work and doing it well.  I could be a janitor, a drummer for a band, a surgeon – any number of things.  I have absolutely no doubt about it.  Here’s what I know though:  Any one of those occupations, while fulfilling in their own ways, would nail me down – geographically speaking.  After much contemplating about what am I passionate about in life – it boiled down to one general subject: Culture.

I. LOVE. PEOPLE.  I love learning about the cultures of other people.  I love learning about their history, their faith(s), their traditions, customs, fashion, food…. and then there’s their language. *SWOON*  I’m a language FREAK. I love it, I pick it up quickly and I just feel this sense of community.  So it was then that I understood that it wasn’t what I did for a living that was important. It was that I needed to do something with my life that not only paid the bills, but allowed me to connect with people of all races, cultures, languages, etc…  No desk job will EVER allow for that.

My laptop and I can travel anywhere we want though.  We can engage audiences globally. We can post on behalf of clients no matter if we’re in London, Dakar – or even Alaska.  Do you need to like what you do for a living and be good at it? Yes, absolutely.  If you’re stuck behind a desk and want out, find a way. Your life is entirely too short to waste wishing you were somewhere else or doing something else. Get creative.

Warning:  This will NOT be easy.  I was having a conversation with a friend on Saturday after doing the Shamrock Beer Run.  I mean – what fun is running if there’s not beer 1/4 mile away?? Anyway, we were talking after the run.  She’s involved in martial arts. That is something that has always intrigued me.  Is it a passion? Nah. I’d like to do it for the fitness aspect and for self defense purposes, but it’s not a passion.  She told me that it wasn’t too expensive – blah blah blah (not to discredit what she was saying – just don’t want to bore you with the details.)  Truth is that I pay $20/month for my gym membership.  I train with a personal trainer 3 days a week.  I don’t NEED to fork out more money to anyone else for fitness reasons.  Not when I have goals of traveling globally.  That money is best put toward my goal. It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to say NO a lot more frequently than you’re used to most likely.  There WILL be reward though.  I personally find one of the best rewards is having that ah-ha moment when you realize you’ve grown professionally and just as a human.

Find out what it’s going to take to start that bakery and make it the best damn bakery there is.  Find out what it’s going to take to get yourself to be a certified personal trainer so you can start impacting the lives of those around you.  Whatever it is that you want – staying in that chair, making the same decisions day in and day out is only going to keep you… in. that. chair.  So move.

Stepping Stones

When you went to sleep last night, what did you wake up intending to do?  64% of us wake up 5 days a week and get ready to head in to work.

Since my divorce in 2005, I had been one of the 64%.  Prior to that, I’d run a successful Agency for public speakers.  As going through divorce often does, it tore my WHOLE life apart.  Not just the emotional side.  I lost the business.

Man I felt like a failure.  I was embarrassed.  I felt nothing short of defeated. Over the last 8+ years, I’ve allowed that failure to decide my (lack of) happiness.  I allowed that failure to keep me from following my dream.  Why?  I was afraid I’d fail.  Again.

So instead, I job hopped.  A telephone sales job here, a serving job there.  I was even a technology teacher at a charter school at one point.  About 80% of the time I was doing those other jobs, though, I was also doing marketing on the side or marketing was part of my job description.  I’d developed a few clients (and held them), but I was afraid to make this leap of faith.

There’s a certain sense of security knowing your employment is held by an employer.  They take care of payroll.  They take care of making sure clients show up.  They take care of hiring and firing.  All you have to do is show up and collect your paycheck every 2nd Friday.

Now, don’t get me wrong:  As a society, we need people to do this.  Without them, we’d have no medical workers, no legal workers, no public servants.  But there are those of us who feel like we’re merely stumbling through life, keeping our head down all the way.  We are the people who need to snap out of it.  Why aren’t you following your dream(s)?  What fears do you need to face to take your leap of faith?

Again, friends who love me gave me a nice little wake up call.  A gentle smack upside the head to first, wake me up… and then – we began planning.  In one single night, we planned what it would take for me to leave my “normal” job to begin this journey.  The difference is that this time, I began with a bag full of lessons learned.

This journey is mine and now I know one thing.  My past was not a failure.  It was just a stepping stone to my success.

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Knock Knock Knockin’ on…

Have you ever said, “I wish (fill in the blank).”  “I hope I …..”  “One day I’ll _________.”

While all of those things are nice thoughts, that’s all they are.  Thoughts involve no action.  If you want something badly enough, bust through whatever is holding you back (often fear of failure or rejection) and make that first step.  A step, on the other hand… that’s action.

About 3 years ago, I had gone through two cars, both lemons and was on my way to my third.  My aunt always talked about how she loved driving her car that was a manual transmission.  I secretly always admired the fact that she was coordinated (and cool) enough to drive one.  From the time I was around 23, each time I went car hunting, I thought about manual – but always ended up with an automatic.  Self-doubt.

“You’ll never be able to get this thing all the way home.”  “You’ll kill it 20 times, cause an accident and a traffic jam.  You’ll be all over the news, be a complete embarrassment.”  “You’ll get stuck on a hill, under compensate on the clutch and wind up eating someone’s bumper.”

All of these were possibilities.  But I did one thing that most people don’t or won’t do.  I asked for help.  My cousin went with me to get that third car.  A red, 2003 Mazda Protege 5.  She took me to a parking lot a few miles away, spent about an hour with me going through the basics and… voilà!! Three years later, I stalled in traffic approximately 10 times.  I rolled backward down 5-6 hills before learning how to work the clutch perfectly.  I even …. blew the transmission.  It’s true.  But I did it.  I made something happen that I’d wanted for 10+ years.  Now it’s mine.  And no matter how old my Bella gets (yes, that’s her name.  No, she’s not named after the Twilight character.) – she’s my girl.  

I’m well aware that taking thought and turning it into action involves the mind more than anything physical, but I think a particular law of physics applies here.

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Objects tend to “keep on doing what they’re doing.” In fact, it is the natural tendency of objects to resist changes in their state of motion.

So do SOMETHING.  If you don’t think you can do it alone, ask for help!  You’ll be surprised how happy people are to help you. Even if it doesn’t work, you’re moving.  You’re taking action.  Maybe that unbalanced force Newton spoke of will be enough of a force to push you in the right direction.  You won’t know until you do (not try.)

“Do or do not.  There is no try.” – Yoda