Happiness NOW

Been a while, eh?

It’s taken a while to realize that what I need to do here is not pretend I’m some expert, not think of this as espousing advice, but instead to talk freely and openly about my journey of self-discovery and to communicate to anyone who happens to feel similarly that they are not alone. I want to use this forum to chronicle my changing definitions of success and my efforts to achieve that success throughout my life.

Recently, I’ve been struggling a lot to find any success in my life. I’ve been in a professional situation for 2 years that showed no promise of changing and made me feel… stifled on even the best of days. My constant feelings of failure and impotence leaked stress into every aspect of my life, and I was unable to change my definition of success adequately to prevent this from continuing. I could have left, but I’m early on in my career and have no other experience doing what I am doing, leaving would have meant going back to doing what I had done previously, which I had no passion for. I had the misfortune of discovering a career  I’m passionate about in a situation where I had to either put up with misery for years to get some experience under my belt, or I had to accept that I was abandoning my passion. I never found the conviction to accept abandoning my passion for my own emotional well-being so I accepted the status quo.

I’m still here, you can see what I chose, but it certainly wasn’t an easy choice and it hasn’t been a good influence on the rest of my life. Now things are changing and I feel like there’s room for me to be successful in this position and I’m looking at all that I have sacrificed to wait it out.

Honestly, I don’t know if it was worth it because I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t made that choice. I can’t measure the impact it’s had on my relationships, romantic and platonic. I can’t measure the impact it’s had on my ability to accurately assess my own abilities. I can’t measure the impact it’s had on my career trajectory. It’s possible I’d have enjoyed more traditional success, and much faster, if I had given up and moved on early in this process, before I had convinced myself that waiting it out was the best thing for me.

Ultimately, none of that matters now, because I already made the choice and did the waiting. I made similar choices all through school. I have a long history of putting off my own happiness now so that I can chase my future happiness, as if that future happiness is somehow more important. Inevitably, by the time I reach the end of whatever is supposed to improve my future, I have a laundry list of things to work on for happiness even farther in the future. An endless cycle of “I’ll be happy later.”

There’s a lot I can’t tell you for sure, but I can say without hesitation that it’s time to wake up and establish much healthier boundaries before I get myself in yet another situation where I’m putting off my own happiness. Eventually your happiness in the moment has to override the importance of the future, and for me that moment is now. I’ve been granted a moment to breathe as things are finally improving in my professional life, and before the next thing comes along screaming “if you just put up with this now you’ll make more money later, you’ll be more successful later, you’ll be happier later, you’ll have more time later…” I have to build the resilience to look those things in the face and say “I want to be happy NOW.”

Sorry if this has been a bit of a ramble, but I’m processing as I go. Just be happy that my stream of consciousness is easier to digest than Faulkner 😉

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How You Say It…

I had a realization today that wasn’t altogether pleasant, but was definitely a moment to learn from. I’ve always know that how you say a thing matters more than what you say, but today it landed home that I am not paying as much attention to that as I thought.

My boyfriend and I were rearranging the apartment to make things more welcoming comfortable, and he asked a couple of questions. I asked him what he thought of the layout we’d managed so far and he suggested moving something. It made sense to me, so I said “ok” and started moving it.

He suddenly got very serious and said “Are we ok?” Apparently in my focused work mode I had been giving one-word answers for quite a while, and he thought I was upset with him about something.

You see, I’m not naturally good with people. When I’m not thinking about my delivery I fall back into thoughtless, efficient communication. In this case, as I’m sure has been true many times in the past, my body language and tone were coming off as upset or annoyed when I was neither of those things.

No good! Very Bad! 😦

So, we got into a bit of a conversation about it, and my love gave me some wonderful advice. Specifically, as it applies to avoiding having a similar misunderstanding of this nature at work in the future.

It was simple and beautiful. “Treat your coworkers like you would customers.” 

I have all the best intentions and regard my coworkers fondly, I simply have the verbal equivalent of resting bitch face. I get casual with my coworkers and stop focusing on my communication when I am really focused on my work. By treating my coworkers like I treat customers, I will be sure to talk to give them my full attention and, in doing so, not fall into the speech patterns that make people think I am annoyed with them when I am not.

A leader needs to be good with people, whether naturally or through a intentional practice, and this is something I work on on a daily basis. By taking my love’s advice to heart, I genuinely believe I can avoid my most common miscommunication.

Are you good with people naturally? Or do you have some tricks for getting along well?

*Credit for the featured image

Exciting Professional Development Update

Kicking off my Designing Learning Certificate through the Association for Talent Development today. Three days of intensive instruction about Instruction Systems Design, including foundational concepts like ADDIE and learning science as well as practical application and evaluation of learning impact. 

I’m really excited to take this information and apply it in my work to help lead my organization to further success. 

The Thin Book of Trust

I have been reading and working through a book called The Thin Book of Trust: An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work over the past couple of weeks. It was suggested by a podcast I listen to and I found myself very interested, thinking it could apply in my work but also that it could help improve my leadership skills if I understood trust and how to earn it a little better.

The book defines trust and breaks it down into 4 Distinctions of Trust in order to facilitate a better understanding and conversations about trust and trust issues. Each of the Distinctions are then defined and explored individually, including suggestion about how to increase your trustworthiness in each of them and facilitate a conversation if someone else is currently compromising your trust in them through their behaviors in those areas. Below are the lessons I took away.

Ultimately, I found the book very insightful and pragmatic. It’s scope is limited to the workplace, but the concepts are easily expanded to the rest of your life with a bit of thought and flexibility. I highly suggest it for anyone hoping to develop their leadership ability from any level of authority.
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Overcoming BLOCK: How I Moved Past the Mental Musak

When I have a BLOCK, it’s like the mental equivalent of hold music. I know there’s something there that needs to get done, but there’s no voice talking me through it, there’s just infuriatingly cheerful musak playing, regularly broken by static. Today that mental musak was broken by an epiphany.

Today started well, very well in fact. Yes, I stayed up too late and woke up a little more tired than I’d like, but overall it had an amazing beginning. Despite that, once I had shared a leisurely carb-filled breakfast with the family, this wave of lazy hit me.

Now, by now you all know I am the list lady. I have a list for everything: groceries, priorities for my spare money, tasks for the day, professional and personal development priorities, even movies that I’d like to share with my partner. When I write a list, I also decide which things are most important. There is some flexibility in the order I do things if they are of equal import, but once I have decided a particular task is the most important, I don’t do anything else until it’s finished.

Today, as it has in the past, that became a problem.

I sat down to write a few blog posts, as I mentioned, and I had major writer’s block. I keep a list of things that inspire me, things I want to write about. I seriously stared at that list for at least 10 minutes. I tried to start writing to see if I could get in the swing of things. I tried taking a break. I tried making more coffee. For nearly 3 hours, I tried to force myself to write so I could move on to the rest of my list. Of course, the more I pushed myself, the more frustrated I became and inspiration moved farther and farther from my grasp.

Until… SMACK. I had this thought: “I can move on. I can finish the rest of my list instead of wasting my whole day waiting for inspiration to hit.”

This may seem simple to some of you, even obvious, but for me it was an epiphany. I accepted that I couldn’t get this thing done, and just get something done.

This isn’t how all of my blocks work, and I have other insight for other types of block, but when I really hit an immovable wall, accepting that I should do other things was an epiphany I needed to share with you all. I know the frustration that comes with that BLOCK, and if giving yourself the permission to move on for now can alleviate some of those icky feelings, please give yourself that permission!

Priorities should only ever help you be more successful, never make you less successful. Don’t let your priorities stop you in your tracks.

Do you experience BLOCKS like this? If so, how have you moved past them?