Letting go

The Joy Of Release

To truly be free we need to let go.

I realized that I’ve been holding on to bits and pieces of my past lives, carrying them with me every time I move. They clog up my house, they take over my closets, they tie me to a person I no longer am. They hold me back from becoming the person I truly am and want to be.

It’s time to clean house. Literally.

Tonight I went through closets and drawers, ruthlessly tossing the “one day I might use this” stuff. Because I won’t. I chucked the “it’s perfectly good” stuff. Because it’s perfectly good for someone else, not me. It’s not my taste and not my style, so why do I insist on keeping it?  No more.  Out it goes.

Pretty teal sheets? Never use them because they feel scratchy.  Goodbye.

Expensive dress?  Looks like hell on me, actually.  Goodbye.

Writing desk that my mother hand-stained for me when I was seven, but even she didn’t really like?  It just takes up space.  Goodbye.

A barely opened tube of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste? My son is almost five. Goodbye.

I’m tired of opening up closets, cabinets and drawers and being confronted by things that no longer have a useful life here. Tired of paying penance daily for bad buying decisions.  Tired of so much… well, crap, quite frankly.  So into a legion of trash bags it goes, destined for the dumpster or the nearest Good Will bin.  Good riddance.

It’s amazing how good this purging feels.  I thought I would feel guilty about getting rid of all of this “perfectly good  stuff,” but instead I feel refreshed, cleansed, renewed.  Even with the closet doors closed, the rooms now feel somehow lighter and more spacious when I walk into them.  The weight of the past is lifted. I’m free.

I’ve let go of the past.  And now I’ve made room for the future to come in.

Have you?

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The First Step to Achieving Escape Velocity (in 6 easy steps)

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  – Albert Einstein

Acheiving “escape velocity” is something that’s being talked about a lot lately. Mostly it’s in the entrepreneurial sense; strategies for gaining enough support, cash flow and general oomph that allows you to break free from your current situation  and launch you onto your new career path of choice. Even Chris Brogan talked about it recently on his blog, which you can read here.  With escape velocity as anything else, you’ve got to start somewhere, and I think that’s part of the conversation that’s being missed.  How exactly do you start?  Well, you could learn more about your chosen path, talk to some people who have already gone that direction, start scouting out funding sources — all very valid suggestions.  But where do you really start?

One of the most important first steps — no wait, THE MOST IMPORTANT first step — in the process is changing your own mindset.  It doesn’t matter if you’re changing careers or just trying to break a bad habit, this is where it all starts. You need to stop thinking like a “_____” to stop being one.  Now I’m not talking about the overly generalized “think like a winner, be a winner” motivational pep-talk stuff, I’m talking about really taking a critical soul-searching look at yourself and where you want to go, and then creating an action plan for change. It takes time and it takes effort, but it is doable.

The first step to achieving escape velocity (in 6 easy steps)

  1. Create an avatar. Make up a fictional character, the embodiment of someone who has achieved “escape velocity” as you define it.  No, really — I’m serious! See this person in your mind in glorious detail.  Give him or her a name. Draw a picture of them if you have to, but make them as real as possible for you.
  2. Make a list of your Avatar’s traits and behaviors. Write down anything and everything you can to really flesh out a description of who this person is and how they act. Is your avatar happy and outgoing? Willing to help others? Well-read? Disciplined? Willing to take risks? How big of a risk? What kinds of questions does he ask? What kinds of people does he hang out with?  What does he do in a crisis? How does he act in particular situations? What time does he like to eat dinner? What does his diet consist of? How many hours of sleep does he need?  No detail is too small or bizarre to include at this point.  (Just keep in mind that we want this person to be awesome but still human – leave “ability to fly” and “can bend steel with power of thought” off the list.)
  3. Now make a list of your traits and behaviors. Do they match up to your avatar’s?  Of course not — if you were already that awesome you’d already be living your dream life. But don’t despair, because here’s where we start to connect the dots.
  4. Create a plan for change. Line up your traits one-for-one against those of your Avatar; you now have a working list of “disconnects” between the current you and the person you want to be. Now you have a concrete list of things that need to be tweaked or changed to move you from Point A to Point B.  Don’t be put off by the length of the list; we’ll get to that next.
  5. Slice your plan into actionable steps. Rank your list from quickest and easiest to those that will be the hardest for you. Also make note of those that will be most time/resource consuming.
  6. Blast Off! Start with the easy stuff — accomplishing a few changes and being able to check them off your list will help build your confidence and keep you motivated for more.  Also pick one moderately hard thing to start working on now; working your way through the challenge will give you a real sense of accomplishment.

As you work your way through the list, remember that change can be hard, and sometimes really uncomfortable. That’s okay — the more you practice the easier it will become.  The more you succeed, the more you’ll want to try. The goal is to get you unstuck and moving on that path towards the person you want to be. Don’t stay so focused on the end point that you miss the fun of the journey; no matter how fast or slow you progress just keep moving forward and you’ll get there.  🙂

Newton’s Law of Employment

An old colleague asked me the other day, what would be my perfect employment scenario?  Good thing he asked me via email, because I’m afraid if he asked me in person I would have blurted out, “Anything, anywhere, as long as it’s not HERE!!”  Very unprofessional, I know — but also not very far from the truth.

Over the last couple of days I’ve really been thinking about this.  What IS my dream job?  If the Employment Fairy flitted down right now and told me I could go forth and do anything my little heart desired, what would that be? Truth is, I don’t really have a good answer. (At least not yet, but I’m working on it.)  I’ve been “stuck” (in quotes because it’s my own fault) here for almost a decade, and I now realize that I’ve wasted far too much energy railing against the negative changes in this company that I can do nothing about, instead of funneling that energy into initiating positive change for myself.  In this case, finding another job. One that I like.  I mean REALLY like, not just tolerate in exchange for a paycheck.

Why do we let ourselves get stuck in these dead ends? Part of it is that it’s just easier.  It’s always easier to complain than to initiate change.  It’s easier to stay here where you are than face the uncertainties of going elsewhere.  It’s the law of inertia – a body at rest stays at rest.  This isn’t working for me anymore. I need to get restless.

So back to my “dream job.”  I don’t have a specific title or position in mind, but I’m pretty sure that I want to stay in design and marketing.  I like the creativity and the challenge, especially when I’m allowed to be creative and take on challenges. I want to be part of something big, even if it’s on a small scale.  I want to be part of a positive driving force that can make something bigger, better, faster or more; for the world, or the country, or the consumer, or the local retirement home. I want to take pride in what I do, and be able to take ownership of my work;  to wholeheartedly celebrate the successes of the company, as well as dig out from the failed attempts, shoulder to shoulder with others that share a common vision. I want to help shape that vision, help map out the route for our collective forward progress, and help build the roads we need to get us there if none already exist.

A body at rest stays at rest.  A body in motion stays in motion. Looks like my colleague gave me that one mental push I needed to start moving on. Where will I go? What will I do?  Not sure yet, but I’m really looking forward to the journey.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

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Give something of yourself today. Donate a few dollars to a local charity; take a few minutes to listen to someone who is largely ignored; teach a kid to tie his shoes.  Then go convince someone else to do the same.  It’s good karma.