Shame on you, not-knower!

Professional

I have toiled with the idea of becoming a professional of just about every field I have been exposed to. I hear about something cool and spend way too much time writing my story in the future…as a preparation for future interviews or documentary films 😉 about my great success.

My boyfriend and I were discussing today how we can get these stories in our minds that frame our experience. We can be told once that we aren’t organized enough, and then live our entire lives thinking we are not as organized as we should be, regardless of our level of organization. I was told when I was young that I could never have a regular job. I was told I wouldn’t be able to deal with office cultures or climbing the ladder. I would take personality tests that told me I might never fit into the world professionally. I had been internally and externally reinforcing the idea that me and work did not mesh, and we never would. I never thought to question this either. In actuality, I can work in any setting if I decide to, and I am able to fit into the professional world as well as the next guy or gal. I haven’t always known that, but it is true. And, it is crazy how much of my life I spent thinking that I couldn’t. Perhaps, it would be better to re-frame CAN and say ENJOY or WANT or even BE SATISFIED. But, I digress.

Maybe I want to be a UX designer or a bank manager, or maybe I really really don’t. Maybe I want to learn French and become a French teacher or a cooking teacher or a professional financial LEACH! Maybe…but probably not.

The truth is I don’t know. I have been so ashamed to admit that I don’t know that I have created a million narratives and worked really hard to believe them. I have primarily done this out of shame. I either took on the shame myself or allowed someone else to shame me for not having it all figured out yet. Well, you know what? I have NO CLUE, but I don’t want to feel shame surrounding it. It just makes it worse.

 

 

 

Day 22: Does surrender make a difference in your career?

My 500 Words, Professional

I wrote in my post yesterday about Eckhart Tolle’s perspective on presence in the your work or your career. And, most importantly, for those frenetic freaks out there like me, what surrender means for change!

I also mentioned yesterday  that I would let readers know some other ways that presence, mindfulness, and surrender has affected me in my professional search. First, surrender to the moment led to my dream (old dream :)) job working in Europe as a 22 year-old travel monster. Then, at age 24, I found myself traveling around Asia, MISERABLE, and paralyzed with fear and indecision regarding the future. I was really depressed, in hindsight to a worrisome level, and told G-O-D, in my saddest head voice, that I was done trying. I would allow whatever came next and I couldn’t fight life anymore. It was either that day or the next day, when I was pushed to go “tubing” so that another girl had someone to go with. We were in Vietnam on an island, and I fell off the tube into the water. When I emerged from the water, I could not walk on my right leg and had ripped the muscles in my leg. It was a miracle, in a bad way physically, but a necessary way mentally. I was on a plane home 1 week later…and on a healthier road to building a new life.

Approximately 1 year from that day, I found myself in another life predicament. I was really happy by this point and healthy. I had paid off debt and felt good about myself. I had interviewed for a flight attendant position with a major airline and was hired (at least to come to a 6 week training) for an Italian speaking role based out of the NY area likely. It was strange for me in a few ways. I was in some ways really excited. I would be traveling to Italy all of the time, which aligned with one part of me. I would also be paid like a big girl (kind of, but I would have benefits) and would finally get back out into the world. It felt like a positive step for me in the life development department, but it wasn’t what I wanted. But, I decided I had to do it.

As departure day approached, I packed my bags, said my goodbyes, and readied myself for a new adventure, even if it didn’t feel like my own. I got down on my hands and my knees and said to G-O-D that I had no clue if this was right for me. I wasn’t sure, but I was going to go. Then, I asked if the universe would intervene if this wasn’t my path. I said, “If this is my path, let’s do it. If it isn’t, I would be okay with that too…even if it means not knowing what is next.” And, I surrendered the outcome entirely. After this, I went about my business. Less than 48 hours before I was set to take off, I received a jumbled phone call from the airline. My offer was rescinded. They messed up and were sorry.

Surrendering took me from a path I didn’t really want but was certain to a path with a highway full of question marks leading in every direction. It was scary, but it was exciting. And, more importantly, I knew it was right.

Day 21: What is a Meaningful Career?

My 500 Words, Professional

I have become a pretty avid listener of Eckhart Tolle. He has some great advice that resonates with me, so perhaps it will resonate with you.

  1. Start with where you are. Accept the moment.
  2. Surrender. TRULY surrender to presence. Be present in every moment.
  3. Do one thing at a time at work, bringing in the possibility for space, whether it is a breath or meditation.
  4. Be grateful for the opportunity to be bored and the opportunity to practice presence.
  5. Do this and it might bring a greater sense of aliveness.
  6. Align yourself with the moment and power begins to flow through you.
  7. First the power flows into your routine activities, your relationships with colleagues, and often then change may come.

 

I love this! I have found this to always be true in my life, change has come after I have accepted exactly where I am, what I am doing, who I am loving, etc. Resistance feels like the winner’s decision, like you are telling the universe that you are better than the moment. In any case, you are making a value judgement on the moment, but the moment just is! You can’t argue with being! But, we try, and, heavens knows, I try, too!

I have done this with every job and have found that it stifles progress in my job, creativity, relationships, and just personal happiness, honestly. I cannot help but recall when I was 22 and working as a waitress. I was living with my parents after college, working at a bar/restaurant, and plotting for the future. My oh my, so much future plotting! After almost 9 months of obsessive planning and feeling trapped– the horror! Alas, I started to read more, to settle into my life, and to trust that it wasn’t forever but it was right now. I started to worry less, have more fun, build stronger relationships. I was lighter, albeit still dreaming and hoping but with excitement instead of panic.

Then, one day, right out of what seemed like the blue, a job I had applied to sent an email asking if anyone could be in Europe by Monday…as an intern had backed out of an amazing travel job opportunity. Without panic or worry, I responded that I could. The next day, we scheduled a job interview and I was on a plane the next morning. It was crazy and unexpected, but totally natural. I had aligned with my power and with the moment. Change flowed naturally through me and around me.

It was a life changing job for me, but it, too, had an expiration date. I have been trying to tap into this force of change since it happened, often without success. After the travel job, I was lost. I had lost my presence and my power. I had lost my way and found a lot of sadness had found its way into my heart and mind, originating both from the external and internal forces of life.

I will share more ways that I have found re-alignment with myself next time, but what I can share that is the theme is that the work is constant. Like losing weight, you don’t lose 30 pounds and then go back to your old ways without gaining the weight back. You don’t align yourself with presence and the power of the moment for one moment and then never again. It really is a constant practice, and practicing this more and solidifying better habits that root me to the now is my goal for 2019.

Day 20: The Mind Needs Problems

My 500 Words, Professional

I just went for a walk to break up the work day, lamenting all of the things that annoyed me about the day. I thought about Eckhart Tolle and the spiritual learnings I have been exposed to the past few weeks. I have been trying to tap into my “inner being” and separating my mind and its ramblings from my true self. I have found this to be a pretty useful exercise,

Conan O’Brien in a recent podcast he posted, mentioned that growing up, he believed that in order to be successful, you have to be miserable. This resonated with me. I grew up thinking that in order to be a good person, I had to suffer; I had to be broke and lose something in order to gain what I wanted. This is really not true. This is a limiting belief that can seep into so many areas of life. It can poison your mindset, your belief in what is possible for your life. The insidiousness of this thinking has been harmful to many of us. I have started just by writing affirmations of the beliefs that I want to have about myself and my life.

I have started to do this to shift my thoughts about work and my career path. As a side note, I write down my BIG goals all the time and revisit them. This is different and is in service of my bigger goals. I digress. So, I wrote down a few things that I thought would help me with work specifically.

Daily affirmations:
– I am so proud of my work.
– I am creative every day.
– I am doing meaningful work.
– I am present.

These daily affirmations were created to combat the negative thoughts that assault me in the midst of my work day. It seems that I am distracted and disempowered at times during my day. I created this “note” on January 18, 2019. I KID YOU NOT that this has helped me drastically. In less than a month, I have felt my job improve and rise to meet my expectations of purpose. This seems ridiculous, but it has been true so far, making me a believer. It might be my attitude, or it might be my reality has shifted. It might be some combination of both. In any case, I have had the best work month that I have had in a long time, maybe ever.

I feel more purposeful, challenged, and in alignment than ever. I have gone from menial and what I have found to be exhausting tasks to being asked to write, research, and learn within complex topics that help further the business and help better protect people. I don’t know what could be better. That is not the say that things have gotten easier. Work has actually become more challenging in the past month, but it has become increasingly worthwhile. I don’t know exactly what is going on, but I like it. I look forward to what is coming next, and I hope I remember to stay positive and to attract the job I desire, not that I think I deserve.

Day 19: Why are we so afraid to try new things?

My 500 Words

As I set out to write my day 19 post, I was wondering why so many of us are afraid of trying new things. So, to set things off, I just googled this very question to see what came up. Psychology Today claimed spot number 1 on google. According to this blog post, studies show that people fear outcomes that are uncertain more than they fear outcomes that they know will be bad. The unknown of a new situation is what we fear. Trying something new can cause us to grow and to change, and change is never easy. I wonder if what we feel when we try something new is the loss of an old self, the pain of transition, and the fear of an unknown, uncertain future. This doesn’t seem to go through our minds at the time, but I personally enjoy the poetic possibility.

Today, I decided to cook up some sweet potatoes on the stove along with cauliflower florets just to have some veggies at hand for meals this week. I was filled with SO many concerns and fears. I think about doing this sample kind of task all of the time, and I overthink it every time, usually abandoning the effort altogether. I have never been super comfortable in the kitchen. When I cook with someone else that fancies themselves a good cook, the experience elicits a lot of negative feelings. In my experience, someone sees how I am cutting a vegetable, holding my hand, or doing something else that a more experienced cook wouldn’t do, and I am shamed. I can honestly blame others for a lot of this. If I am going to burn something, let me burn it! Especially if you aren’t eating it and no one and no structure is going to get hurt in the process! More times than I like to admit, I have let situations that cause me to shrink away from a fuller, bigger, better life. I think many of us have.

Alas, in this case, I did decide to cook up the food I wanted to cook. I was alone, and it was really enjoyable. I loved it in all honesty. If I hadn’t been alone or if I thought someone else might eat it, I might not have done it. How sad is that! The food tasted really good to me, and I felt proud that I made enough food for the week and that it was food that I wanted to eat, regardless of whether someone else wanted to eat it. Sometimes I find it hard to focus on me, as I have mentioned in previous posts.

Lately, though, I have been working hard to prioritize myself and my wants. I don’t answer the phone if I am doing something I care about, and I don’t stop everything I am doing to nurture a relationship that might not do the same for me. I am also on week 6 of a workout program, and I haven’t missed a day! So, I am not perfect at this point, but I am getting better. And my sweet potato magic of this evening is just one more drop in the bucket!

Day 16: Effort Without Validation

My 500 Words

I have been thinking a great deal about validation and its connection with effort level. I often find it so simple to justify inadequate effort due to a lack of validation. What does validation do for us that we are willing to work or not work on its behalf? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines validity as the confirmation of one’s worthiness or legitimacy. The need for external validation is what drives some to seek unhealthy relationships with work or others.

I don’t think that I am terribly in need of external validation, but the appearance of a need does sometimes present. At times, I feel like I want to be appreciated for my strengths or my perceived accomplishments from people that don’t actually care about me. Why do I care what people that don’t care about me think? I can usually resist this need, but occasionally I find myself craving the approval of the world. Particularly, I find myself seeking validation in my career or job. I think this is due to an insecurity I harbor. I never focused on my career in my early twenties, seeking instead travel and adventure at all cost. By my mid-late twenties, I felt behind and like I had to jump in and land where everyone else had, even though they hadn’t necessarily prioritized what I had.

I find myself suffering from this line of thinking less and less everyday, although it can still creep in from time to time. I have found the solution to be painfully simple and have learned it in a few areas of my life already (i.e. health, fitness, money).  The solution is acceptance.

In order to further yourself in any way, you NEED to accept where you are. You cannot get from A to B if you don’t first accept the fact that you are starting from point A. If you don’t accept that your next step is A to B, you will spend all of your energy learning how to get from C to D. A lot of times our imaginations can get the best of us, and we are on to the next thing before we complete the last! This is normal; this is madness!

Maybe the answer is meditation, a spiritual practice, or giving up entirely. Maybe the race for validation and success is worthwhile and noble, albeit exhausting. I can’t say much for certain about that. But, what I can say is that if you are working towards a goal, whether pure or not, you have to start where you are. If you can’t walk a mile, and you are researching the best long distance running attire, you need to focus on the task at hand! Accept where you are, which is <1 mile, and start practicing. Incremental change brings great personal change and growth. We are what we do every single day!

I have found this to be true in diet, exercise, relationships, and work. If I don’t bring consistency and humble acceptance of my lot, I don’t progress. Do you ever feel like this need for external validation can derail your goals? I would love to hear from you and to know I am not alone in this feeling of stagnation from time to time.

Day 16 of #my500words! Woo!

 

 

Day 8: What is copywriting?

My 500 Words, Professional

Copywriting is the creation of text surrounding the publicity, sales, or marketing of a product or service. It is the words or text that strive to promote and persuade the target audience to engage, decide, or act in a certain manner. It is…everywhere. I found myself asking what exactly copywriting was after a conversation that started with me very sure that I knew what it was and ended with me googling it to be sure. I had always thought about copywriting and “copy” in terms of advertising campaigns, and it is. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about this nebulous term and to learn of its broad scope. I decided to sign up for some online courses and to download a copywriting podcast to listen to while I work.

I am learning a few interesting things, but I am struck by one general nagging thought. Copywriting as a profession seems to be devoted to knowing your customer or target audience and telling them in the most efficient and effective way possible how your product or service solves their problem. This spoke to me, as it is about communicating in the most effective way to a certain target audience. And, it sounded fun. So, I was implored to keep learning.

I learned some terms that seemed important as well: value proposition, direct-response copywriting, conversion copywriting, and the 100 audience formula. Why don’t we talk about the importane of copywriting and persuasive messaging more? This seems so critical to the sales and marketing success of an enterprise, but I have only heard it as a freshman year journalism student when kids talked about what kind of jobs they would be OK taking. I was confused then and now, even after many years attempting to understand the professional and regular world in all its weird splendor, it seems like we never talk about the things that matter. If this is a skill, it seems like it is an underdeveloped or at least acknowledged one. Sales is often seen as an ability, a calling, or a product of persistence or beauty. And, yes, perhaps it is all of these things. But, really, it is a skill. And copywriting, the messaging, and the mindset that goes into the creation of impactful words in strategic times and places can teach us a lot about how to sell.

I have been told at various points of my young professional life that I was great at sales, terrible at sales, should definitely make that my career, and should look elsewhere for opportunity. The room has been split. I have found ways to connect and do well and have found plenty ways to fall flat on my face. Luckily, my ego is bothered by the thought that I can’t do something well and especially that I just can’t do it. I like to try to overcome it. Maybe studying copywriting, which combines the need to sell, which exists in every business, and my interest and passion for writing. It would be great if this new avenue to explore might be a fruitful, or at least interesting, one.