Archive for category Just Because

Question EVERYTHING. Or the way you avoid the complacent life.

For the past few days I have been obsessed with reading “Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It” by Gary Taubes.  Straight-up: reading this book will shock you. Gary basically turns all the things we have learned about food, and dieting on it’s head (calories in, calories out? Nah folks. It is NOT that simple, and the food pyramid is a sham, btw.).

I’m still reading the book (and becoming more shocked as the days go on), but the thing that has impressed me the most (besides the wealth of eye-opening info) is that Gary has no problem taking on conventional wisdom. He questions the data that health-promoting organizations have reported for years.  In fact, he said he is willing to risk his reputation with this information. The man is a relentless researcher. And we all know, good research starts with a good question.

Naturally, I am applying this thinking to the issues (career, life balance, general confusion and disillusion) that Gen Y is facing today. One of the hardest things we have to get over on our quest to build the fabulous life that we want, is our aversion to questioning the things we have been told.

Most of us grew up following instructions. We were told that if we followed a strict, set of rules, life would be good for us. We never questioned it. After all, what reason did we have to do so?  When you give us a task, and spell it out for us, we will complete it with “rock-star-esq” like results. We take directions, and follow them. Giving it all we got because we want the praise that comes at the end. (Yep, we were also raised to be praise-whores, too.)

And now, we are discovering that this model of following instructions blindly, and never questioning things, is not working for us. Some of us are stuck. Others are disgruntled. We are all slightly confused.  And if we don’t figure out how to make sense of what is happening in our lives (the eternal battle between what we are told we SHOULD do versus what we really WANT to do) we will rapidly become more jaded as the years go by until we turn into THOSE people.

You know, those people who are not happy with their meager existence, but have become too complacent to do anything about it.

Nope, peeps. We DO NOT want that to happen to us. But the older we get, and the more we just kind of “accept” the things that happen in life versus proactively making things happen in our lives, the closer we get to succumbing to a life of settled average-ness.

Yuck.

So, by this point, you may be wondering what is the solution? What EXACTLY can we do not to become one of THOSE people. After all, we’re Gen Y.  We would like a list of directions, and if it has bullet points, we really wouldn’t be mad at it.

But there are no bulleted-lists involved in this answer. Because the key to avoiding average-ness, is to  QUESTION effing EVERYTHING. ( I don’t think I’ve used caps so many times in a post before, but hell, this is important.) Don’t just accept what you’ve been told. There is absolutely nothing wrong with questioning conventional wisdom. Life isn’t a+b+=c. There is a lot of room for discovery, and how will you know what turns you on (and I mean this in the most PG of ways) if you don’t go explore?

Which conventions do you think we should question?  I would love to hear YOUR ideas.

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Forget a 5-Year Plan.

How many times have you heard this question: “What will you be doing 5 years from now?” Yeah. If you are like me,  you probably just cringed when you read that.
We live in a constant state of panic about our future. Parents want to know about our five-year plans, future employers want to know where we see ourselves five years from now, and even friends will demand that you play the “5 Year Game” with them too.

And if you are one of many young professionals that really have no clue about what your 5 year plan is, then this question can be a major source of stress. After all, shouldn’t you have an answer?

Nope.

I think it’s okay not to know what your 5 year game plan is.  Hell, five years is a long time. And a lot can happen in five years.  If you are one of those people who need a plan, don’t skewer yourself if you find yourself straying off course.  It happens.

For the rest of us who are more free-spirited, I have a compromise: The 5 month plan. Thinking about your life in 5 month increments works for several reasons:

5 months is a short enough amount of time to make you feel like you are planning for your future without forsaking happiness in the present.
Think about it.  What can you accomplish in 5 months?  In that short amount of time, you can take a class in a subject you have always been interested in. It’s enough time to do research about a new career field. It’s enough time to plan and save for a trip for personal rejuvenation. It’s enough time to start a new hobby.

Most of us are not about to experience a life-changing event in 5 months (marriage, or childbirth),so it’s enough time to just plan your future without factoring in major life events.
Eventually a time might come when your future will include a significant other and little dependents, but for most of us, that time is not NOW. Why work yourself up over worrying about whether Ms./Mr. Right will pop up in the next 5 years? Plan your life for you right now, and factor in the things you enjoy doing, or the goals that you want to accomplish before you have to think of the needs of others.  And who knows, that art class you decide to take in the next 5 months, might be where you meet your new boo!

Your accomplishments in the next 5 months can give you some insight into what you might be interested in pursuing in the future.
Think for a second about the last time you accomplished a goal. How did it make you feel? If a huge smile just erupted across your face, I’m with you. Accomplishing a goal feels good! It is an amazing feeling to you achieved what you set out to do. This does not have to be a fleeting feeling. It can happen again, and again. Five months is enough time to make sure you can taste that rush of accomplishment again. Let’s say you do join that art class. Five months from now, you will know something about yourself: Either you are really into art, or you are not. You will know that you have the guts to try something new. If art turns out not to be your thing, try another subject you have been curious about. If you find out you love art, take the next class. Hmm… suddenly it looks like you have a 10 month plan.

In the next 5 months I will be planning my first trip West (Portland here I come!)  I just started a creative writing class, so that will keep me busy for the next 3 months. And this weekend I am moving to a cheaper apartment so I can save money for more travel.

What do your next five months look like?

Happy Friday!

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Push the Limits: How eliminating certain beliefs can help you move forward

On Friday I shared an exercise that had you examining the things you love and hate about your life. Today, I want to shed light on something that may be behind the things on your hate list: your own limiting beliefs.

Day 11 of the Happy Black Woman challenge lead us to examine some limiting beliefs we may have. The top three limiting beliefs most people have according to the ReCreate Your Life website ( I know, there really is such a thing) is:

-I’m not good enough
-I’m not important
-Mistakes and failure are bad

I believe limiting beliefs can be pretty simple, or they can run really deep.  All, I think have some type of connection with the list of three beliefs above. Let’s look back at some of the things on my list to see how my limiting beliefs are letting some of these “hates” survive in my life.

One of the things I said I hate is only semi being a part of my really good friends lives because I live so far away from them (they are in Tennessee, I am in NYC). What is the limiting belief I hold behind this? I don’t have enough time.  When I feel guilty about being out of the loop, I tell myself (and sometimes them) that it is because I don’t have enough time to talk to them.  I admit, living in New York can complicate communications with people outside of the city. But let’s analyze my limiting belief further.

I often feel as if I don’t have enough time to have an in-depth conversation with my friends. So what happens? I neglect to call them period.  Is it obvious how I am limiting myself?  I am telling myself that the way in which I can communicate with my friends is not good enough.  I’m only giving myself a limiting “all or nothing” option.

I am limiting myself by saying that I don’t have enough time to talk to my friends. While it is true that a lot of things demand my attention in NYC, making time, or finding time, rather, to talk to my friends is possible.  Once I let go of the belief that “I don’t have time” it frees me to start thinking creatively about how I can keep in touch with the people who are most important to me.

If I spent more time making short calls to people when I have a spare minute (the time I spend walking to and from the subway), I wouldn’t have to try to talk to someone for an hour or two to catch up because I would be more clued in to their lives.

One thing I might do is create a list of the people I most want to keep in touch with. Then I could pick two every Sunday whom I can call while I am doing boring Sunday tasks (folding clothes, cleaning the apartment).  I can text people and have a mini convo when I am busy. I can write on more Facebook walls. I can send post cards. I can do a lot once I eliminate the belief that there is only one way to communicate with my friends, and that all other methods are not good enough.

This is just one example of how finding the limiting beliefs that are holding you back, and actively eliminating them, can help you progress towards having more “loves” than “hates” on your list.

What beliefs are you harboring that could be limiting your progress toward leading a passionate and purposeful life?

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