I happened across a news piece online the other day that featured a man who was my boss some twenty years ago. Come to find out he had recently been appointed the CEO of a major LA media organization. I was very happy to learn how my former boss had risen to such heights in his career and reached out to him via LinkedIn to tell him so.
I know this man as being the salt of the earth. And there was something about the period of time that we worked together in a New Hampshire division of a worldwide publishing company that feels like there is a bond there. Most of us were in our early 30’s. We took our jobs seriously yet there was a lot of camaraderie and fun. My boss was beginning to make a name for himself as a magazine publisher and I was his second in command who ran the finances and operations.
I wasn’t surprised that within a few hours my former boss responded with a kind note. I was very happy to hear from him and the way he sought an update made an impact that has lasted.
“What’s your story?” he asked.
While collecting my thoughts to answer his question it struck me that my story is not simply what I am doing today. Rather it is an evolution best described by a few key highlights that has led me to where I am today. Sometimes those highlights have been highs and sometimes they’ve been lows. Being able to now see my story as a journey helps put things in perspective.
I may want to feel more successful in my business today yet I have to acknowledge where I’ve come from to appreciate how much I have accomplished. And if I am able to look at my life as a story I can imagine how I’d like the story to play out and make the appropriate choices. I feel more in control.
What’s your story and how might you like to change it?
I got a Facebook message today from a woman who was a close friend in my early high school years. She asked about what I have been doing in the 30 plus years since we last communicated. Once I got beyond the challenge of summing up my life in one paragraph, my mind stayed focused on the question–What am I doing with my life?
When I turned 50 a few months ago, I told myself that I would be more proactive in creating the second half of my life. So far, I’ve not done a good job with that. While I am doing pretty well with carrying out some short term business goals, I continue to let some long-held dreams go by the wayside. Are you guilty of this, too?
Make Your Dream a Priority
A couple of decades ago I made fitness a priority and began to schedule my life with workouts in mind. When a potential commitment makes itself available, the first thing I think about is how I might need to schedule my workout around it. Sick, maybe, but at least it works in enabling me to maintain my fitness goals. Why has it not occurred to me to treat my dreams in the same way? I know the necessary steps I need to take; I just haven’t forced myself to do the work because I simply don’t make the time for it.
In the scheme of life, seeing my dreams become my reality is far more important than my mission to keep away a few unwanted pounds. What’s up with my priorities? Add this one to my list of “What was I thinking??”
I celebrated Labor Day at the Sausalito Art Festival, where Jefferson Starship closed off the entertainment festivities for the weekend. While this particular festival is a world class art show, my boyfriend, Dean and I make our decision on what day we will attend by the music schedule.
As the day approached, I had been contemplating why the bands of my youth still held such appeal to me. While I looked around at the crowd today, many of whom were older than me, I got more in touch with the answer. The music is a part of our history. As we gathered there in Sausalito, it was like we were reclaiming a part of our soul. For that one hour while the band played, my heart felt an elation beyond the every day. It touched the spirit of what I felt in my youth–optimism, hope, joy of life, and most of all, a connection to those around me. We had all experienced a lot of life since we first heard those lyrics, yet despite all the changes, somehow the music reminds us of who we once were.
As I sit here on the morning after, I still feel a hightened sense of peace and aliveness. This experience has inspired me to strive to bring all parts of myself into my daily life so that the most precious pieces can live on and continue to touch me.
Today is my father’s 74th birthday. I recognize how blessed I am to be able to share it with him, and I don’t want to wait until he’s gone to reflect on what I’ve learned from him. In no particular order:
- Give help without being asked.
- Hard work really does pay off.
- It is possible to create a new life in foreign land.
- You don’t have to hold a college degree to be intelligent and educated.
- Love is expressed by what you do, not what you say.
- Having someone you can count on is one of the greatest gifts in life.
- What’s inside is more important than what it looks like on the outside.
- A strong commitment will keep you going when the road gets rough.
- Don’t ever assume you know how a person will respond.
- Don’t take your blessings for granted. Life can change in an instant.
Last weekend I went out in search of a book that could set me into the new year with an inspired focus on the unlimited possibilities that I know are true for all of our lives. I came home with Jack Canfield‘s The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. The title perfectly expressed what I was looking for.
Fifty seven pages into the read, the book has surpassed what I set out to receive. It’s not that the principles that Jack Canfield writes about are new, it’s that his ideas are a rare mix of spirituality and business. They’re grounded in practicality and yet they speak to the soul. He reminds me that it’s possible to achieve your dreams, but first you need to get in touch with those dreams, break them down into goals, and above anything else, believe in your ability to bring your dreams to life.
I sat down to do a couple of different exercises, and it blew me away to discover just how vague I am about what I really want from my life. How can I focus on building the life of my dreams if I haven’t focused on what my dreams clearly look like?
Jack Canfield has left me with a number of gems so far:
- Believing in yourself is essential to success. If you can’t believe in your ability to succeed with something, ask yourself why not? Identify what you need to do to feel confident about your ability to succeed and do it.
- Get clear on your vision and create very specific goals. The more definition you place on what you want to achieve, the better equipped your mind is to support the building.
- Make a habit of focusing on what you want to create through visualization and mental review of your goals. Keep your visions and the energy that supports them engaged and fully alive. Review your goals several times a day.
- Carry a written description of your most important goal with you. Make it a part of your life by reviewing it constantly.
If you haven’t already, take the time to create a vision of your ideal life, and break that vision into specific goals. You can never be too clear on what you want to create.
San Rafael Lighted Boat Parade
Eleven years ago I came home from my holiday shopping spree to discover a lighted boat parade happening along the canal I’d moved alongside two months prior. Boats decorated with lights in all colors and holiday shapes drifted through the water to the sounds of holiday carols and voices yelling, “Merry Christmas!” I’ve never been a parade kind of person, yet this event has since been a remarkable expression of joy that I never want to miss.
Last night I shared the event with the six people who are closest to my heart, and now I want to share it with you. Click on this link for a 2 minute chunk of holiday cheer. http://tinyurl.com/7qnl7c
For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow. — President-Elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008
One man can not move the energy of a whole country. Change is a product of each and every one of us.
- What can you change in your life to better contribute to your fellow Americans?
- What would you like to achieve tomorrow with this new hope we’ve been given?