What Am I Going To Do When I Grow Up?

Posts Tagged ‘happiness

If you’ve been reading along in my series on going to graduate school, you might at some point in the process get overwhelmed.  That’s totally normal.

If it’s helpful, I get overwhelmed as much as the next person.  Thinking about life… career options… relationships… from the big picture to the smallest pixel… there are moments when it can all become too much.

From questioning where one might to live, work, study, or raise a family?  to considering what others might think?  how it might work?  or even what might happen if…? Sometimes, it can be good to pause, take a minute to breathe, and consider the larger purpose of why we are heading off to do something.

Just like anyone, I can get caught up in exploring the enormity of options, unknown variables, quantity of elements to coordinate, etc…that it’s just a seemingly never-ending pointless laundry list of tasks and duties and responsibilities…and it’s at that moment, especially if I find myself discouraged, frustrated, or wanting to just quit, one of the most powerful things I’ve found I can do for myself and others is to ask “What’s the Point?”

Try it.  Take a deeeeeeep to-the-belly-kind-of-breathe…hold in and sloooowwwwwlyyy–as slowly as you possibly can– but evenly…let your breath out.  Gather your focus in doing so.   Slow your heart rate by slowly breathing in and out.  Ask yourself: “What’s the Point?”

When I’m asking “What’s the Point?” it’s not typically in a despairingly dramatic “ohhhhhh woe is me….what is the point of living…” while swooning, gnashing my teeth, and falling on my heroic but trite sword of death, while whining that “it’s not faaaairrrr.”  Not typically.   but you know everyone has their moments.  😉

More helpful in asking “What’s the Point”, I’ve found, is that it calls for a focus on purpose or mission.  In  Breaking the Rules, A Visionary’s Guide to Effortless High Performance, Kurt Wright examines the difference between a goal and a purpose.  For example, going to graduate school or getting a job is a goal.  It is a specific (albeit large) task that can be accomplished.   Goals are great.  But, a goal without a reason is hollow, demotivating, and unlikely to be successful.

Consider any time someone orders you to do something.  It really typically doesn’t matter who it is doing the ordering: it could be your mom, your boss, your significant other or roommate; it could even be yourself, but almost every time, our natural response is “Why?”  Often that “why” question is a way to resist…or contest power…but that’s deeply understandable.  Anytime we commit our time, energy, and resources to a task, it it is more helpful to know why we are doing so, than to simply march forward with a 1000-yard stare into meaningless action.

So, in someways whenever we get overwhelmed, frustrated, or otherwise feeling grumpy about something, it can be useful to take a moment to consider that core “Why” questions because the answer is central to providing a motivating reason to each goal.  Providing context and purpose is key to swift action and to meaningful results.

“What is the Point?” is another way of asking “Why?’ and gets at the central motivating reason or purpose of the goal.    Knowing the purpose of a goal is much more likely to move me into action.  Simply telling myself “I have to do this or that” makes me actually resist or procrastinate action.  When, we know why we are doing something, we have the power of choice.

Yet, if it’s helpful for me to share, sometimes that all important “why?” question can simply be too confrontational, too personal, too combative, or too philosophical to be helpful in asking ourselves and others.  It’s a crucially important question to ask, but because it’s the most core question,it can be too much for us to address, especially at stressful moments in life.

For example, even people close to us…even when we mean no confrontation…even when we ask a simple curious “so, why’d you park out front, honey?”…and it’s not a deep philosophical issue that requires soul searching…people can snap at you when you ask “why?”

So, here are ways to ask “why” in more effective frames:

  • What’s the larger mission?  What’s the central purpose?
  • Where does the mission point?
  • How does the larger purpose or mission frame options?
  • When does the mission connect?
  • Who benefits?

Ask yourself these questions at any point along the way.  Asking and answering these can keep you going, as well as keep you focused and motivated.

It can also be a great tool in crisis.

  • So, if you haven’t yet articulated a specific mission and find yourself adrift, unfocused or unmotivated, this can be a great jump start.
  • Or, if you at one point were on a mission and then started to forget to keep checking in with your mission and begin to get frustrated and overwhelmed, this can knock you out of your rut.
  • Or perhaps like all of us, even when you are clear on a mission, certain days and experiences are just hell.   Being able to not get stuck there is key.

Asking great questions, creating mission statements, or reciting inspiring quotations  and the like are a powerful tools in controlling our thoughts, beliefs, motivations, actions, and are a few of the key elements of transforming our lives on our terms.

Sending fabulous energy!

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All of us want to be liked, but most of us feel it’s a bit of a random process of who likes us and who doesn’t.  We worry and obsess about whether or not someone might like us or not, but we often feel that it’s not something we can control.  That’s totally normal and understandable.

So, let me share a secret with you…and this is the honest truth: I was voted class introvert in high school.  Painfully shy and insecure, most days I felt like nobody liked me.   What I discovered over time was that feeling came from not fundamentally liking myself very much.  In that I discovered a bigger secret that can benefit us all.

So, want to know how to make people like you?  It works almost every single time…with all people and all situtations.  And, if it doesn’t, you will know that it wasn’t you.  That you’ve done everything you can do.  It’s a powerful tool and it’s very simple.

There are two ways to make people like you:

  1. Like them first
  2. Be helpful

There it is.  So, whether it’s a social gathering, a job interview, or first date….if you want someone to like you (and that is completely up to YOU) then start by just liking them first.

Find something about them that you can genuinely like. For some people that might be that you like their shoes, for others it may be that you have a shared interest in a cause or field of study, and for still others it may be that you like what they do.   The like has to be genuine for it to work or you will do more damage than good by being fake.

Then, if you want to build on that initial sense of like and create a solid relationship, focus on being helpful.

And, by helpful, I don’t necessarily mean you need to go tromping though someone’s life doing stuff for them.  Often there are things people do because they mean to be helpful, but aren’t because they are intrusive, bossy, or irritating.  That’s not what I’m suggesting at all.  Rather, adopting a spirit of helpfulness or an openness to being asked for help is more on target.

For example, after chatting with someone,  a simple “it was so very nice to talk with you today.  If there is ever any way I can be helpful to you, let me know”  can do wonders in building long term relationships.  It doesn’t matter who the other person is or who you are.   This offer of help resonates with people as deeply likable.   You don’t commit to anything in particular and of course reserve the right to say no if what they ask isn’t something you can do, but you hold out an openness to helping them but don’t assume you know what might be helpful.

All of that communicated very simply, honestly, and directly.  Likably.

So, just try it to see.  Smile at a stranger.  Talk with someone sitting by you at a meeting or in class.   Take a leap of faith and know that you are deeply likable and there is absolutely no reason why someone wouldn’t like you if you like them first and radiate helpfulness.   Life’s so much more fun when you like people. …  Starting with yourself.

What is the power of like?

Well, any guesses on the number one reason why people get hired?   I’ve been part of countless hire situations and the conversations about hiring always begins on things like degrees, experience, and skills.  But, it ends on like.

It’s not that degrees, experience, and skills aren’t important.  They are.  They put you in the pipeline as a qualified applicant.  The thing that will move you to “you’re hired” is the degree to which you are perceived as a “good fit” for the organization.

There always comes a moment in the hire process when the manager, recruiter, committee, or whomever is making the decision…and they decide who they like.  It can happen as they talk through the process or it can happen because they know the person who referred the candidate or because the candidate was already known by the company, but even when that’s not the case, there is moment when someone finally says, “I really liked her” or “He really connected with those on the team.”  It’s the moment when of all the candidates it could be, there is one that really is the one you can imagine sitting next to… imagine giving the keys or password to… imagine letting loose with clients … or even just sitting in a meeting and not wanting to smack!  🙂

And, ultimately, that is the candidate who will get the job…. and that is a very good thing.   Liking those we work with is really key to productivity, profit, and tapping potential.   Not liking those we work with is costly, draining, and rife with turf wars.  Not liking can destroy departments and whole organizations from the inside out.   None of us need more of that!

So, recognize and celebrate the power of like!  It not only will drive your career but also enrich your life.

For me, I got a flat tire. Yes. that’s right. I am celebrating a flat tire.

I am grateful because, even through it went flat on 270 in the middle lane after hitting road debris, I am safe. I pulled over successfully and had my cell phone so I could call for roadside assistance.

I am grateful because a state worker stopped and made sure I was ok.

I am grateful because I got my email read while waiting for the assistance to show up. Even though my spare tire was also flat and so the first truck they sent out couldn’t help me and we called a tow truck that took 45 minutes to show up, it was great because I had my wireless and got work done.

I am grateful because even though I missed a college fair I was going to in Newark, I got to spend time while my tire was being replaced updating a brochure I’m making on workshops and presentations for college-bound students.

So, it’s possible to have a great day no matter what happens if we choose to see the benefits of what happens.

Choose to have a wonderful day!

What if we could see life not as a series of arbitrary barriers preventing us from experiencing success?

What if we could believe that life is not a chronological time-line where we struggle, gasping through each day holding out for the mystical “someday” of calm security?

What if we can imagine  life not as a marathon run at spring pacing, where we never measure up to the insistent to-do list, and we perpetually aren’t good enough to enjoy happiness

What if instead we could choose to see life as a building process where learning from each experience, each relationship, each layer has purpose?

What if it was possible to believe that we create our solid foundation of success by living our values in daily practice?

What if we could imagine that we find success every day when we move with passionate curiosity?

How might the whole process become more meaningful, joyful, and successful, if we each had a purpose we could practice with passion each day in each relationship?

What if life is an improv dance? What if you could read through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyrical_dance and see how each element could apply to how we might choose to live our life? How might you apply the ideas of fluid movement or passionate expression in your life? in your relationships? in your career? What would it mean to see it that way?

Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVPKnNXWr9s for inspiration