You’ve Landed Your Dream Job. Now What?

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You’ve found your passion and followed your bliss.

Here you are.  You’ve done your homework, soul searched and peered into the caverns of your subconscious to find the Thing You Must Do.  You know what you want to be and have made great strides toward getting there.  Maybe you’ve even found your dream job.

So when does the nagging question as to whether this bliss will last begin knocking around inside your thought stream?  And should you bother ensuring that it does last?  What if that long journey to finding your dream job is just the beginning rather than the end of the path to a lifetime of meaningful work?  Is it possible that there’s no reason to quit looking for the next injection of happiness?

It’s inevitable that even our most longed-for career path becomes tinged with the tarnish of reality.  Not only do we contend with our nature as humans who tend to become bored without stimulation, we are powerless to avoid life’s only constant- Yep.  Change.

So what should we do when we start squirming because we can see boredom on the horizon and our cubicle starts to feel like it fits just a little too tightly?

 

Keep going.

There is no reason to believe that any path leads to a permanent utopia, and no reason to settle for just one passion.  Should a sense of restlessness make an appearance in the daily waves of your emotions, pay attention.  Rather than trying to ignore or bury this feeling, feel absolutely unbound and free to follow it to find out just where it may lead.  Run headlong into the uncertainty of it because nothing enhances the feeling of dissatisfaction faster than feeling trapped and without options.

Explore the possibility of braving new paths. All of them.  Allow yourself to seem unsettled and flighty.  Indulge in your curiosity and follow the flow of interests.  At the worst, you may find that the place you thought you’d permanently park your talents no longer suits you.  Give yourself permission, at that point, to recreate yourself and your interests.  You are not a fixed entity and humans don’t actually grow roots.  Move with what comes. You’ll either find a new gig, or discover that because you don’t feel stuck in the path you’ve chosen, you’re free enough to actually enjoy it.

 

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When Self Help, Doesn’t

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I get itchy in the self help section of the bookstore and generally avoid it even as I give the titles a sidelong glance.   The problem isn’t that I need to follow The Secret, and I don’t want to think about any Laws concerning Attraction.

What I’m looking for is a fresh take on this life.  But where does the dissatisfaction and desire from change come from?  If I’m honest, it seems to always have been on a slow simmer, the contents evaporating into a gray fog of discontent if I’ve remain stagnant for too long.  It’s an internal alarm system that the pot’s been on the stove too long.

I’ve come to see that alarm as a friend, but also signal that I’m at a crossroads.

That dissatisfaction is a negative state is a lie.  There’s nothing in life that stagnates and if there’s any truth to be relied upon, it’s that it moves.  Call it a move forward if you like, but direction is hard to tell.  Dissatisfaction is a word, a label we place on a stirring just before being propelled into the desire for something different.

The risk is that the interpretation short circuits into an undesirable one and that the desire becomes destructive.  If self help helps with anything at all, it’s to focus the desire on a non harmful outcome, and maybe even one that helps us flourish.  In truth, Self help ideas keep us from harm by holding a candle to ideals society holds as noble, worthy, and important.

But what happens when we don’t seek out the those “worthy” changes and instead head into a downward spiral?  Is it the luck of the draw?

Partly.

It seems that this spiral is a continuum and we are always teetering at the choice of moving in either direction.  We look for solutions of which we are offered two:

Escape
Facing our fears

While we often choose escape, even when it’s a reprieve into a glass of Chardonnay, we then fall prey to the need to repeat the cycle.  Facing our fears is the alternative, but there’s no plural tense of that world.  It’s really just a one time deal.  The trick is not to face all or even each of our fears.

The trick is to face Fear Itself.

When looking at the thing itself, the one that wraps itself around all challenging circumstances, we can dare to tear it apart and find out whether it’s got any substance.  With one good look, we can stop standing at a crossroads and expose the path we need to walk down, the one that doesn’t spiral into choices of constant escape.

One fear is all we need to face.  It’s the only self help ever needed.

This Clean Slate

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8:31 AM: Now I am really, completely awake.
9:06 AM: Now I am perfectly, overwhelmingly awake.
9:34 AM: Now I am superlatively, actually awake.
Clive Wearing, the man with the 30 second memory

Moment to moment and right now, there are no mistakes and no need to start over.  Life already does that for us.

Living radically in the present means that every moment is a fresh start without the albatross of a single piece of personal baggage.  We tend to think that this is just a nice idea rather than the actual conditions of our reality.  In that sense, we deny what’s happening within our present sensory reality and instead choose to live within fantasies and imagination we call memory.

What’s the definition of a imagination?  “Something that only exists or happens in your mind”, says Miriam Webster

It’s now been a bit more than six weeks since my job and I parted ways.  What’s been most challenging for my mind to wrap itself around is the fact that should I choose, I am completely free to reinvent myself as anything at all.  And I have to admit that working in contracting alongside my husband does have an appeal.  So does learning a new trade, or returning to school to complete an MFA in writing.  Because the world is wide open, I’ve actually had to be careful to make choices based not on habit and conditioning, but on the direction that comes from following the path to passion and purpose.  I’m learning to step into the rolling current of deep interest, meaning, desire, and purpose.  It’s a matter of stepping into flow.

 

What’s Past, has passed.

Memories don’t actually live anywhere, and neither do the habits they nurture.  There’s no physical address for my 16th birthday, though snipping away at parts of the brain is said to short circuit recall of specific events.  Since no one’s been rooting around in my head lately, my memories and habits are most likely intact except for a bit of decay as they fade from the limelight.  I have no way of telling whether that’s true, though, because there are no witnesses to my point of view.  In that sense, these they’re ghosts I tend to cling to as if they are real, or as though they actually exist somewhere in present reality just because I recall them.

They’re not.  They’re wisps of images, uprisings of associated emotions, and probably easily disputed.  My only reason for hanging onto them is not because they’re necessary to navigate my current situation, but because they are my stake in the ground.  They are how I define the image of myself, for better or worse.  Mostly for worse.

A Clean Slate

In truth, I am a tabula rasa, free to take a new turn along any well worn path, or to not drag our past along with me.  The memories have no shape or form, and no hands to grasp or cling.  I no longer need to mistake their appearance for their substance.

In taking a good look, they have no hold and in my future, there are only possibilities.

How We Become Brave

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Bravery is not just for the courageous.  It’s a subjective idea defined when we break habitual ways of thinking or being.  Most often, it’s a matter of going against the grain in small and large ways.  And sometimes, bravery is actually fear in disguise.

Have you ever done something that friends or family told you was brave and courageous?  Were you surprised to find that when you viewed the situation from their perspective, your actions definitely seemed brave, but courage was the last thing on your mind when feeling compelled to do it.  You may even have done the thing out of fear and avoidance of an outcome.

You quit your job because you felt that the company might be struggling to stay afloat.

You dove in front of a car to save a toddler.

You moved to a new country to avoid stagnating in your current situation.

You went to war to defend your home, or avoid more terrorizing.

Bravery is a label we tend to place on actions which are out of the ordinary and not aligned with what your friends and family, or those in your immediate circle, think is the ‘usual way to go about it’.  And it often happens when we’re compelled toward an action we take to avoid what we see as a more negative circumstance.

But besides avoidance, there’s another way to grow what looks like active courage.

Our friends and family shape our lives through their proximity.  We become what we and the people in our environment always do, always see, or think.  And if we don’t actively seek out new circumstances, we have no exposure to new activities, new ways of thinking and being.  This means that the easiest way to what looks like bravery is to seek out the people who are doing what it is you’d like to try.

Does skydiving appeal to you?  Find an online group of skydivers.

Want to learn to compete in salsa dancing?  Join a group of locals who compete already.

Do you really wish you could move to another state?  With social media’s ability to bring people together based on interests rather than proximity, this should be an easy task.

Want to keep your country safe?  Join the thousands in the military who know how to train you.

If there’s anything you’d like to do but see as a risk because none of your friends and family do it, go find the people who do.  Hang around them until you feel comfortable with their language and terminology, with their situations, and their advice to newbies.  Let them carry you in their flow of ideas and ways of seeing the world.

For anything we’d like to become brave enough to do, there are others out there already doing it.  We just haven’t been exposed to it enough yet.

It’s guaranteed that those in your current circles will find your new interests to be bold and brave.  And they will be.

In the meantime, the first step of finding your tribe is the leap, and your newfound friends will help you shape your new experiences into your new norm.

Day 29 of 30 – Fear Itself

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
Jim Morrison

“All that ever holds somebody back, I think, is fear. For a minute I had fear. [Then] I went into the [dressing] room and shot my fear in the face…”
Lady Gaga

I’ve heard it called The Great Impostor and do have to admit that fear has all the qualities of a ghost in that it can’t ever be located.  It’s not what it seems.  All fear does is to bang the chains of doubt around in your head and terrorize by doing nothing more than making a hell of a racket. It’s a self-induced restraint for your dreaming mind and comes with its own brand of GPS, the kind that starts rerouting as soon as you do anything out of range.  Want to quit your job to start a new venture?  Rerouting…  Make a U Turn.

Fear

Just reading the word brings on a small tightness in the back of my throat. But what is it?  And how does it stop us?

 

Punching it in the Throat

It’s an exercise I have to repeat, like strengthening a muscle, but when fear unexpectedly crops up in the middle of an otherwise bright and shiny outlook, I try to take a close look to find its color, shape, and substance.  Rather than examining what it is I’m fearful of, I try to get a handle on what fear IS.  Because in all the times I’ve done this, I’ve never been able to find anything that I could point to.  Instead, fear’s been a slippery little demon that dances away as it morphs into its next form in an ugly mental game of terror tag.

I don’t think I shut the oven off.  Should I turn around and go back to check?  Ugh.  What about the unplugging the iron?  And Did I check the back door?  Today’s the day I get the test results.  What if there’s very bad news? What would he do without me?   I can’t believe I signed up to jump out of that plane.  What if the chute doesn’t open?

When this loop is in full effect, this mental dialogue comes in a rapid fire staccato nearly without pause.  It does back flips and impressive looping somersaults, but the mental chatter never actually lands.  And never, ever have I found the center of the loop- the fear itself.  I’ve found only the symptoms.   The behavior.  The thoughts.

Fear is actually just a habit, a mental pattern circling an empty black void.

 

The only thing

Through the famous quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, FDR pointed out the recursive nature of fear stories.  We tend to rework the same theme time and again, swapping out just the small details.  What we actually fear, is the experience of fear itself.  But standing right up to it exposes the fact that its never anything more than a story.  Like vampires and zombies at Halloween, they appear in full costume but once we get beyond the props, the illusion is exposed.

Days 26-28 (The Weekend) Cycles and Change

On Saturday, I painted a garage floor.

After earning a living from manipulating ideas for so many years, it was delicious to taste the sense of accomplishment that comes with affecting tangible physical change.

There’s something deeply satisfying about watching transformations.  Shapes form and rework themselves into new form. Fat becomes thin, wrinkly relaxes into smooth… it’s always the metamorphosis that holds me transfixed.  My guess is that they are soothing because they provide an illusion of control and planned change.

So on Saturday, I briefly became master of my universe and affected planned change upon a rusted and oil stained floor.  The chipped paint was restored to a smooth, glossy, and monochromatic surface.  Any evidence of wear and tear disappeared.  Order was restored from chaos, and the world was set right again.

But change is constant.  As I made my modifications, life also continued with its own.  The paint immediately began to change in composition.  As it dried, it darkened, and in hours past the first application the oxidation process was already underway.  In a year, it would be stained.  In a few more, chipped.  And I’d need to begin again.

The cycle of a painted garage floor is not different than other cycles of life.  Nothing escapes change.

Day 25, 30 Days – Tools to Get to The Happy Place

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Getting to my happy place.

Lately have begun to see that there’s no such thing.  Instead of needing to go somewhere or some place that’s happy, I’ve been able to just stand around snatching up tiny bits of goodness no matter where I find myself.  I’ve had to watch for them, though, because they ride on the backs of what looks like Really Very Not Happy.

We all have times we look back on… days or weeks we don’t want to revisit because times were not good.  Maybe really bad.  And sometimes the bad covered 100% of our state of mind at the time.  Those are life’s singularly heart wrenching days.  They leave scars that we need to honor, and they’re the circumstances we’d do anything to not find ourselves in again.

Never bury those too deep.  They shape us in ways we can’t see and burying them just means we can’t see the contours of ourselves.

But for many of us, especially those of us reading blogs on expensive laptops or smartphones, our lives aren’t regularly interrupted by the most relentless tsunamis.  Yes, we have less than stellar days, but they’re probably not in the majority.  Small slip ups.  Accidents.  Okay, sure.  There are even times that try our patience and very sanity.   We also call those ‘awful days’ but to attribute it to an entire day is a kind of lie we tell ourselves.

Breaking Down The Bad
I remember my first big teen aged breakup.  Absolutely certain I was about to die because my heart was rasping against my chest, ripping it out seemed the only option.  Had I been asked, I’d have pronounced Life Itself as AWFUL.

Of course, I now understand that it was a completely self-centered perspective.  Oh, it was true enough if you were to take inventory of my mood during those days, but it was not the reality of how I actually lived for most of that time.  Because in the days after the breakup, I met some of the most unselfish and amazing new friends who kept me entertained and preoccupied during one of the most fun filled times of my life.  I still smile at the memories even though life was supposed to have been terrible, heartbreaking, and awful.  Cherry on top?  I also met an amazing guy  though at the time was too busy sulking to recognize how wonderfully accommodating he really was.

My loss was that I was also too self absorbed to notice his attempts to inject wonder, awe, and lightness into my so-called torn up life.

But what did I just write about?  A memory I framed as a very unhappy place and time.  Even when there was an incredible amount of goodness woven throughout nearly every moment of it.

See how that works?

How I Find the Happy Place – Hint:  It’s Everywhere

Here’s an exercise.  I use it when I find myself bemoaning the horror that is my day (car’s in the shop, tripped and broke my favorite shoes, had to drive an hour out of the way, was late for every appointment, made a HUGE mistake.).  Hope you find it useful too.

Call it out.  Write it out.  Just get the Bad Day Defined.
Hold it out so you can see it.  Go ahead and have a field day listing exactly why the day was horrible.  Don’t squash or bury the feeling because it’s an honest one.  It’s there.  You feel it.  And it’s perfectly okay for it to be there.   Do not try to fix it in any way.  Scream.  Kick your feet.  Shake your fist at the heavens.  Throw dirt.  Cry and ruin your makeup. (don’t let it take longer than it needs to.  Just get it done.  Thoroughly.)  But don’t splash any of it on social media where it can live in perpetuity.  Please.

Next, review the day.  Look for one small good thing.  Then another.
They’re there, and you’ve got to list them out too.  This is a gratitude exercise, except what you’ll also need to notice is the timing of the good and small things.  When did they happen?  Was the good mixed right up into the bad stuff?

Did you splash hot coffee all over your new shirt only to have a  volunteer jump in to hunt down spot remover?  Who and how many people held doors open for you?  How many strangers smiled and said hello?  Find anything good or kind.

This part’s important.  Remember the details as vividly as possible and relive them.  Post what you’re thankful for on social media by creating a “gratitude project” on your preferred sites.  If you do, the good in your life will live in perpetuity.

Be sure to note whether the good things happened all at once, or peppered throughout the day.  If you need to write down the times when each noteworthy good and awful thing happened, do that.

Next, look at the patterns.  And the frequency.
Which category did most of the events fall into?  Chances are that even on the bad days, there was more good than you initially remembered.  And if there wasn’t, then use a bigger sample set of data.  Map your week.

Note how the bad things seemed to be so personal, and the good, less so.
We have a habit of seeing ourselves as victims of ugly circumstance when things don’t go our way, and yet ignore that we are also victims of kindness, caring, helpfulness, and consideration.  Or just plain serendipity.  We especially ignore the kindnesses when we’ve zeroed in on things “all about us and our sad story”.

In the end, no matter which of the two lists above we ultimately choose to focus on, it’s still just a story we tell ourselves.  We shape it and can change it.

Tell the one that hurts less.

Day 24, 30 Days – Why We Can’t Get Ourselves Into Flow

One surprising lesson I’ve learned this past month is that it’s entirely possible to grow unbelievably bored with anything at all, no matter how amazing it seemed at first go.  Yes, that’s true even of the dozens of palm tree and sunrise instagrams I’ve posted each morning. I’m already feeling a real need to find new ways to capture their jaw dropping beauty.

A basic life rule of engagement is that it forces us to evolve in some way, whether it’s through thinking, creating, or learning. It’s the novel we’re after, even in the midst of the routine. Because the nature of life is to move forward and change, trying to remain safe and stagnant is the fastest way to bore yourself to death. Even when it’s doing something you love. If you’re not pushing some envelope in some way… if you’re not learning new things or learning more aspects of what you already love, your passion will die.

You will have killed it.  Sobering enough thought?

It’s a strangely dysfunctional kind of dynamic we’ve got at play. On one hand we feel driven to inject interest and passion into our lives with the novel, and on the other we feel a nagging pull back towards what we know. We cherish the memories and the past even as we become increasingly restless with the desire to get away from it. The juxtaposition of those two drives makes up the push me-pull me that tugs at us at every turn.

No matter what we do, we feel most comfortable when we’ve got a good mix of simultaneously standing in the familiar, yet pushing at the seams every day. This is the natural world’s most prevalent pattern, and it’s found everywhere.  The crest of beach waves.  Nautilus shells.  Plant growth patterns. The cosmos.   It’s the result of the two forces… one in its push for outward growth, while the other likes staying within the existing pattern, and it looks like this:

collage-spirals

To be overtaken by that very dynamic is my definition of Flow.  It’s a personal definition.  If you’d like to know more about how the idea started, you’ll want to know more about it’s grandfather, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.  And it’s ok if you can’t pronounce his name because I can’t either, but I can clearly see what he saw as the state of happiness.  Though he wouldn’t talk about it in the way I’m about to, words don’t matter.  What matters is the experience.  Let’s dive into that.

When was the last time you got lost in anything and forgot what time it was, or even where you were? At the moment it began, you were likely straddling the familiar territory of having done the activity before, but had come upon a brand new way of approaching it. Walking that particular tightrope brought on flow. Welcome to your passion.

A secret to flow is that it happens when the focus entirely shifts from a perspective of “I’m doing this” to just the activity without the sense of anyone making the effort. All of the thinking moves to creativity and what’s being done, and active reflection upon a doer drops.   Why? Because the doer is entirely comfortable and absorbed into the habitual and reflexive aspect of the activity.

Nirvana! And when it happens, we become so absorbed that it may not even register until later than we had been drooling, or standing with mouth agape, experiencing complete joy. And that joy can be defined as the absence of self.

What’s happened is that self-consciousness or self-awareness has naturally fallen away. On its own. That means that it’s a state that can’t be forced, and so all of the articles that tell you how to “get into” it probably miss the mark. So why not approach it not from “how can I get into flow”, but from the opposite paradigm of “when is flow not experienced”, then watch for the circumstances where we naturally back into it.

To be self-conscious interferes with our sense of ease. But have you ever wondered why our sense of ourselves can fall away? Or why we’re more content, and even experience JOY when it does? Because when it disappears, life is fully exposed, uninterrupted. Colors pop, patterns dance. Light falls more beautifully. Movements are natural. There is ease.  It happens because the conditions have appeared to allow it.

Part II: How and when I fall into flow, and a hint for watching for your own.

The best part of taking as many photos as I do each day is that when looking through the lens, the focus becomes what’s in the lens rather than what’s behind it. “I” escape myself because I’ve instead become enthralled with the view and how it’s being captured. This carries over to times I don’t have a camera in hand. Every moment that the focus is not behind the camera, things begin to seem unbelievably more rich.

Photography is the way I fall into the pattern of seeing the sense of self drop as the focus moves to rest of the world.  The final secret to my being able to remain in the state of ease throughout the day is to keep learning more about how to better capture the sunrises. Or even to fall into the minute details of how they appear. In short, to fall in love with the dance between familiarity in watching and photographing them, and the impulse to push further into the creativity of the capture.  To focus outward.

What’s your path to flow?

What do you like to do as a routine activity and what happens when you become enthused about finding new ways to do it?

 

Note: This isn’t the only definition of flow, but it’s mine.

Day 23 of 30 – Rising Suns

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Day 23 is here and this 30DaysofChange has lived up to its name, though I’ve only barely brushed up against the edges of seeing how habit keeps us locked into an invisible box.  It’s no wonder our hearts always seem to want to break it wide open.  There’s not a lot of room for really big dreams in everyday living mostly because the lack of free time obscures the walls of our own confinement.

The biggest gift this month has been in regaining long hours of life.  But it’s not just the hours, it’s the room for perspective.  I’ve located and started to push at the seams of the box.

Luck and Fate
I’m one of the most fortunate people I know.  And I mean that.  Despite this crazy ride, I’d say that things seem to work out.  There’s an argument to be made in saying that maybe it’s because I don’t hope for too much.  True.

Some of my experiences have been humbling enough to make me see that there’s a lifetime of value in our ability to truly sit in awe of the good when we see it, or to focus on the times we touch people’s minds and hearts, and more to the point, allow them to touch ours.  When our daily grind leaves us heavily tasked, the richness found in those exchanges tends to fall off the radar.  In that regard, being jobless is the same as the idea of ‘vacation’.  It’s all just a reset of our priorities.

Fortune’s Reason
And yet, I’m excruciatingly aware that the way I live is on the best side of “lucky”.  And I remember, on a daily basis, that there are friends, family, and people I’ve had the privilege of guiding, for whom life has not worked itself out.  Bad things, and the worst things, have come to be.  It hurts.  They more than hurt.  And the irony is not lost on me that in order for my life to become as good as it is, and for my husband to live, someone is now living through the worst of their nightmares.  That sacrifice is also what has propelled this project forward and made me thankful for the reprieve from work.  Four years later, it’s given me the time I need to process this inconceivable gift.

Sharing Connections
What’s becoming like crystal during this project of 30 days is that finding what I’m meant to do appears to be to connect through writing, and to just share stuff.  That’s the crux and brass tacks of it.  And if we’re going to put it in the context of lofty ideals like “finding my life’s work”, I can’t believe I haven’t seen this path before because it’s what has been shaping up for a lifetime.   Whether or not there’s an income involved, I have spent most of my free time with people as they look at life’s questions.  Even when we look at hard hurt.  Even when it’s a simpler struggle of not being able to see and relax into life’s flow, or just finding the (really not so) elusive “Passion and Purpose”.  Besides writing to share tools I’ve found, I want to meet with people, and I want to listen to the amazing lessons they’re offering up.

So yeah.  This is the shape things appear to be taking, and have been for a long while.  I just needed time to pay attention.

Patterns of Change
Breaking habits and welcoming change, I’ve been looking at the patterns which are woven into idea of what is ‘me’.  And I’ve realized for four years now, that whatever it is that surrounds me, is what I “am”.  It’s what the self becomes.  For this reason, doing anything that does not sing with resonance means that I’m not living life with appreciation for the possibilities it offers.  It’s not a matter, though, of forcing life to happen.  It’s a matter of allowing old or worn habits to naturally end and be replaced with the fresh and new.  The old ones will end anyway, and entirely of their own accord,  but will always be replaced with newer experience.  I’ve learned that we need to trust life to mend itself that way.  Because even when things shatter around us, life’s foremost objective appears to be to heal by moving forward.  It’s the sense of a fixed self (my life, my stuff, my plans) that grabs onto the past like roots jutting from a cliff.  We can hang on for a while but eventually have to admit that we’re unbelievably tired.  Too used to hanging tight, we can’t remember what it’s like to just let go.

Here’s to softer landings.

Yes, it’s hard to loosen the grip of what we were and what we believe our lives to be, but when we don’t, life unceremoniously lets go for us.  I’m still working on seeing the pattern of resistance, how to stop it from grating, and shaping words and tools so that I can share that work.

Day 22, 30 Days – Holy Prognostications!

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One of the benefits of writing consistently is that you can actually see the arc of

purpose in your life.  I recommend you try it out even if it means journaling squiggles in the privacy of your own Moleskine rather than blasting it out to the anonymous masses.

I’ll give you a For Instance as to why it can help you see that the path you walk today is the temporary Omega to a series of your Alphas.  See, my post for today is actually an old one.  I’d written it in 2009, long before I’d even heard of Eckhart Tolle or the Buddhist idea of anatta.  It’s light years ahead of my learning to guide people to seeing that they’re not a small, separate thing in a big, wide world.  It came before imagining ImaginedSelf.com or my current unemployment stint, and prior to my serious consideration of writing as a full time, paid gig.  And just look at how it lives as a mirror of EXACTLY where I find myself today.

Unbelievably, it starts off with those same two words we’ve been talking about for 21 days.  Yes.  Change and Purpose.

And to think I thought it was all very new.

~~~~~

April, 2009

Your Next Big Idea: You.

 

Here’s a snippet from a comment left on my last post on how to screw up your next Big Idea:

“How do things change if the purpose of your big idea is *you* and not *the idea*? “

What an excellent question, and my assumption is that the writer is asking about promoting their personal brand. Well, it’s quite obvious from the long hair on my head and the fact that I don’t have my own action figure that I’m no Seth Godin, but I don’t think the rules should be changed one iota whether you are asking strangers to look favorably upon a person, place, or thing.

I’m an advocate of promoting things, Big (and small) Ideas, and even people, by the artful weaving of damned good stories. We already know that storytelling is how we most authentically connect to each other. Advertisers who spend hours crafting even the smallest tagline are attempting to condense an entire story, relying on common knowledge to fill in the rest. Do we give that same energy to our own tagline?

As an experiment, write out the story you tell yourself about yourself when no one is looking. While most of us throw a lot of negative self-talk around, why not indulge in crafting yours out in its entirety, then when you’ve finished your masterpiece run back through the tale and toss out every negative point you’ve made. Take out the part about how you always say something stupid in the meeting, trip on your high heels, or miss the error in your blog post. Remove the lens of clients, family, and friends, because if you look at yourself through their eyes, that’s when you’ll have the tendency to describe what you do in cliches.

Rather than: Senior Database Programmer

You are: Knowledgeable in the craft of finding meaning in random bits of information. Weaver of bytes. Restorer of order from data chaos.

You get the idea.

Take your new story from the reworked positive pieces. This is your forward-facing personal brand.

Use it to tell your new story often, and tell it consistently. Create your blog, dream up your posts, write your 140 character tweets, and pimp your LinkedIn profile with this new tale in mind. Let it go viral whether through word of mouth or your social media bio. Append as your story grows and allow everything you publicly post filter through it. That’s how you live the Big Idea that is You. Now, I’m off to take my own advice.

So, what’s your story? Because that’s the Biggest Idea you’ll ever have.

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Read more of my old stories at www.elevenser.blogspot.com