You know that “thing” you want to do – write a book, travel the world, become a speaker…
Whatever your thing is – do you know way deep down at your gut level WHY you want to do it? It’s not as easy as you’d think. It takes a lot of “why’s” to get there.
Because I want to help others.
That was my answer when I asked myself why I wanted to write a memoir. Help others do what, and why do I want to help them? Who are these people I’m trying to help? How will my story help them?
When I was in Middle school, the weirdness of my life made me feel different from everyone else. It wasn’t one thing; it was several little things, like:
- Being raised as an only child knowing I had multiple siblings
- The parents who raised me suffered from deep depression and later hoarding
- I was in the hospital so many times I developed a great medical terminology vocabulary
- The Aunt and Uncle who raised me were brother and sister not husband and wife
The list grows to epic proportions when you extend it to present day. I’ll spare you the rest for now.
So what’s the big deal about knowing your Why?
It will be your driving force. The thing that keeps you going – especially when you have to do the hard work that’s not fun or sexy. Your Why will help you cross the finish line.
This is the progression of my Why:
Why do you want to write a memoir series?
Me: To help others.
Me: I know what it feels like to be different, and I want to make a difference.
Me: When I was nine, I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and it changed my life.
Me: I could relate to Maya Angelou’s story. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It gave me the hope and strength I could have a better life too.
Me: We all have a story to tell, but most of us don’t tell it. Maybe my story will give someone the strength or courage to take a step towards a better life.
Your dreams, ambitions and Whys are yours and yours alone. They have to mean something to you. It doesn’t matter what works for anyone else. You’re not them. You’re you.
Work on your “Why” and hone it down until it’s strong enough to make your “thing” a reality.
I’d love to hear your Why.
Because I care.
Does having a life you love mean you’re happy every minute of every day?
Of course not. If anyone tells you they are – run!
Those Internet ads with a guy grinning from ear to ear next to an exotic car with a mansion in the background make me laugh – then they make me grit my teeth and silently scream. The headline in big bold letters promises to help you become rich beyond your wildest dreams.
But will you be happy? How many people have won millions in the lottery and went broke soon after? Sure, some people would be happy with that mansion or car. But I suspect that happiness would wear off if you weren’t doing something that made you feel fulfilled from the inside out.
What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money? Travel the world, give back in a way that’s meaningful to you?
Building a life you love doesn’t happen overnight.
Creating that life requires digging down deep to identify what’s important to you.
What brings you happiness and joy? Several friends and former clients left successful, yet high-pressure lives and made a complete life change. One bought a farm. Another left to explore the world. No roots and no plans, just living freely as it suited her.
The thing I’ve always craved is freedom. While I was in corporate America, I enjoyed the people I worked with and loved my clients. Several years later I was recruited into another company, and then another.
Over time, I turned into a workaholic which left me feeling unhealthy and unhappy.
Working for someone for the rest of my life wasn’t something I ever aspired to. I wanted to be like my relatives who had their own businesses and the freedom to run it as they felt it should be. They worked hard, but they loved what they were building. They also had a life they built on their terms. Being a workaholic was filling a void I hadn’t come to terms with yet. I needed my freedom.
I have no regrets about any of the experiences in my life, even the ones that weren’t pleasant. They all led to where I am now. I have the freedom I sought. I’m young enough to enjoy it, and old enough to know I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I also know I love this stage of my life and it doesn’t feel like work.
Are you ready for change?
Don’t wait. If you’re not in a position to make a change build the foundation. Take a hard look at your life. What’s working, what’s not?
There are steps you can take now. If you want to start your own business, do your research now. Attend networking events. Want to spend your life traveling for a living – reach out to people doing that now.
Whatever your heart desires will take time, soul-searching and planning. You can do that for free now. Pick up a pen and paper or type away and put some solid ideas in place. Keep the momentum going and look for every opportunity to connect with others. Doors open as soon as you put your ideas into motion.
Are you willing to do what it takes?
Have you ever called yourself an idiot, or worse, when something didn’t turn out as planned?
Stop that! An outcome doesn’t define you or your worth.
The growth mindset looks at an unfavorable outcome as a learning experience, not a failure. It’s ok to feel upset, but it’s never ok to berate yourself.
Need to nail that pitch? Reach out to someone whose work you respect and ask for advice. It can be as simple as asking for tips on how they prepare to deliver a killer pitch. Most people love to help. If you don’t ask the answer is always “no”.
If you put in the effort, challenge yourself and stay resilient when things aren’t going the way you hoped – it will pay off. The growth mindset will help you focus on improving. A fixed mindset will make you focus on being judged.
Ask any professional musician, speaker or athlete if they still work on improving their craft.
Spoiler alert – the answer is yes. So, never stop learning and don’t compare yourself to others – learn from them and create your own style.
I’ve heard people at the start of their career say things like “Oh, I could never do that” or “I could never be that good” while observing someone who has invested years and thousands of hours practicing whatever it is they’re doing.
Be mindful of where YOU are in your own career or journey. Rather than comparing yourself, identify one or two areas where you’d like to improve. Make a list of all the ways you can enhance the knowledge or skill you you’ve identified.
Workshops, classes, and seeking a mentor are just a few ways to expand your knowledge. If you’re on a tight budget or tight on time, online classes and audio books are a great option. Instead of checking status updates on your phone, listen to or read something relevant to your goal – every tidbit of new information will increase your confidence and expertise.
Best of all, it’s the perfect way to train yourself to choose the growth mindset.
What are you working towards? Let me know in the comments below.
Shifting your mindset sounds like a secret Ninja skill. What does it mean?
According to Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success we either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
In the most basic terms, people with a “fixed” mindset believe we’re all born with a specific set of traits and intelligence that can’t change. In contrast, people with a “growth” mindset believe our intelligence and talent can change and grow through our efforts and experiences.
The fixed vs growth mindset gave a name to patterns I saw in my own family. The dramatic impact mindset had on their life gave me a first-hand look into the future. More on that in a later post.
For now, Let’s focus on one way to shift to a more productive mindset.
Better Done than Perfect
It might not seem like it, but perfectionism works against you. As a recovering perfectionist and workaholic, I can tell you that working an unhealthy number of hours to make everything perfect is a bad strategy. It leaves you drained and prone to errors. Without self-discipline and hard deadlines, perfectionism soon turns into procrastination and burn-out.
In my case, I had a twisted mantra that said the only thing worse than death was mediocrity. It created a mentality where every little thing had to be perfect and nothing ever felt good enough. I held myself back by not putting out work or ideas that felt less than perfect.
According to Dweck, the fixed mindset creates a need to prove yourself to others time and time again – a common trait of perfectionists.
A growth mindset always open to learning understands that ten good ideas that can be implemented right away are always better than one idea that took a year to perfect.
A closed mindset drives you to create unrealistic expectations that keep you from starting or finishing your most important goals.
Striving for excellence is different than making perfection the end goal.
Know the difference and keep yourself in check. To do this, find an accountability partner and create an actionable plan. Meet on a regular basis to review your progress.
Your accountability partner should be supportive and able to give you productive feedback while establishing realistic milestones. Commit to completing action items within the established timeline. Nothing will change if you don’t do the work.
If this is the first time you’ve worked with an accountability partner, look at it as a great foundation for building a growth mindset. Stretching yourself by trying something new definitely falls into the mindset you want to adopt. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
If you feel yourself becoming nervous or self-conscious in a new situation – remind yourself that you’re in a learning situation and perfectionism is not your friend. Allow yourself to be a student, keep an open mind and know that you are changing your mindset. And then, congratulate yourself.
I’d love to hear from you – what do you want to change this year?
Somewhere deep in your subconscious is the belief that resolutions are meant to be broken.
Try something different this year.
Reflect on what worked well for you and what you’d like to improve. Once you’ve identified that – create a plan with measurable actions, milestones, and a due date.
Once your plan is complete – share it with your accountability partner, or post it on social media for public accountability. Whatever your goal is, an accountability partner will keep you on track.
Surround yourself with supportive people – it makes a tremendous difference.
I belong to ShankMinds, an incredible mastermind group, led By Peter Shankman. The support we give each other fuels collective energy, creativity and momentum. It’s much easier to push through the tough days when you’re surrounded by people committed to your success.
Don’t pressure yourself to create goals you don’t feel committed to. Spreading yourself too thin slows you down. Focus your time and energy on the things that really matter to you. Rather than taking on more, take inventory of things that no longer serve you. Whether it’s your financial strategy or relationships you’ve outgrown, if it’s not working – it’s time to make a change.
It may feel daunting at first, but putting your life in order will release you from unnecessary stress. Best of all, you get to spend your time where it really counts.
What are you working on in 2018? Let me know in the comments below.
The story we tell ourselves about who we are and what we can do starts before we ever set foot in school.
Fascination with people and success came early in my life. It started with my family—wondering what made my dad want to work for someone else when three of my uncles worked for themselves at different points in their lives.
Our family dynamic and the world I grew up in gave me a lifetime of lessons and case studies in what we know today as “mindset.” In other words – I was a nerdy kid who loved to watch people and try to figure out why they did what they did.
My Dad was a creative at heart.
He loved art, music, and dancing. Dad was happiest with a paintbrush in hand, cigarette in an ashtray, and music blaring in the background.
He believed all artists starved, so he chose not to make it his living. With me – an asthmatic daughter to support, the health insurance plan at the factory was a no-brainer for him. Unfortunately, the job offered zero creativity, and it left him unhappy.
Uncle Joe was in the service during WWII. He had the discipline to get up at O’Dark thirty and the last thing he wanted was to take orders. Like Dad, he was a creative at heart. He could free-hand design plans, sculpt with clay, and was a singer before he lost his hearing during the war.
Back in the day, he started a local magazine and created all content, ads, design, and photography. The magazine filled a need, and he believed in it enough to keep it running for several years.
He continued to work for himself but over time drifted away from creative work into another love–restoring classic cars and then, the work that just paid the bills. The more he drifted from his creative side, the unhappier he became.
Uncle Frank was somewhere in between. His creativity came out in story-telling. That man could spin a yarn as well as Frank McCourt. He worked for GM in Quality Control and sold real estate on the side. That gave him the ability to control what he earned while getting the benefits GM offered and the stability of a regular paycheck.
He enjoyed and took pride in both areas of his work.
It allowed him to buy a cabin on the lake and the freedom to escape into nature when he needed it.
Each of the brothers grew up in the same household with the same parents yet each held a different belief of what they were capable of. Their beliefs drove the career choices they made, which affected their quality of life, which touched the lives of everyone around them—including myself.
In following posts, I’ll delve deeper into the thoughts they held and how they contributed to the decisions they made and my lifelong fascination with mindset. What belief about yourself has helped you the most in life? Please share in the comments.