Archive for category Life in all its glory

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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Ready to Give up? Don’t.

Me and my mom, January 2000

*I dedicate this post to the memory of my mother, Shirley, who taught me a lot in a short time.  Two lessons stand out: Be the best you can possibly be. And don’t give up on something that you really want; find a way to make it happen.

I had another post planned  until, as it has before, my e-mail from TED interrupted my thoughts. If you don’t know what TED is, you need to educate yourself. It’s the portal for online inspiration in the form of speeches by amazing people.

I ended up watching a video about Charity Tilleman-Dick, a young opera singer who was diagnosed with a rare disease that affected her lungs and heart. Charity came as close to death as one can get without tumbling over the edge.

As young adults we do not often think about our mortality. We assume that death is for old people, or that it is something very far away, and distant.  And some of us learn very early, that life is so fragile. One of the most remarkable things about Charity’s story is that before she fought for her own life, Charity lost her grandfather, and tragically, seven weeks later, her father, died in a car accident.

I was stunned. I can only imagine how much pain she was in physically and mentally. But she kept going. She did not give up.

She did not give up.

Watching this girl, who moved around the stage with such a nervous energy, reminded me to remember that giving up is never an option. That we must all fight until the very end to live the life we want.

Charity underwent a lung transplant to save her life, and in the process, she almost lost her voice. She didn’t know if she would ever be able to sing again. Her passion, the thing that made her feel most alive, she almost lost it.

I needed to  hear that story today. I needed to remember that I can’t give up.

I hope that I was able to remind you too.

Happy Friday.

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Does “Paying Your Dues” Equal Years of Cubicle Imprisonment?


By now you are starting to doubt it’s validity. And you are seeing many people, including your peers, openly mocking it on the web, in coffee shops, and even in the checkout line. It’s become a topic of disdain in certain circles, and one of dismay in others.

“Get good grades. Good to a good school. Send out a resume. Land a good job. Keep it.”

For many of us, this has been the party line since birth. It’s the one you will continue you hear every time you press the “send” button on Monster.com and, and it’s the one that you are starting to think is wrong, wrong, wrong.

There is this idea that you have to spend years toiling away at the bottom of the proverbial career ladder, or rotting away in a cubicle doing someone else’ dirty work (If you can even get inside the cube, in the first place) before you can move on to bigger and better things, more freedom, and perks.

It’s total crap.

Why do you have to wait until you are middle-aged to create an awesome (not decent) life for yourself?

Now, I don’t believe anyone can rise to the top of their field without experience, or without knowing something about what you do. I’m not saying that at all. But do I believe you have to trudge through muck for years just to “pay your dues” for the sake of paying your dues?

Hells to the no-no.

Look at the guy who has changed how we communicate, Mark Zuckerberg  the CEO of Facebook. Beyond wearing hoodies to work (did you see his Person of the year Profile in TIME magazine? He was totally rocking a hoodie and Converses),  Mark is slick ruling the world. And he’s 26.  What would his life be like right now if he had told himself to wait until he was 35+ to act on his dream?

He would probably be working for some corporation. Choking on the company kool-aid, making plans in his head about when he would start REALLY living. And we’d all still think MySpace is the ish.

If you are like me, you value personal freedom. And you are starting to realize that working hard and having no life, do not have to be one-and-the-same.  And if anyone tells you otherwise, I dare you to challenge them.

The most interesting (and scary) thing about Gen Y is that we are on the verge of a.) creating a revolution, or b.) submitting to total failure.  Most of us are running around confused because things are not going according to plan.  The rest of us have gotten it. We know we need a new plan, but we have no idea where to start.

My idea? Take a deep breath, and then take one step forward towards something. Keep moving in  a new direction.  You may have to figure it out on your way. But keep it moving! What are you dying to create?  Do you have an idea for something totally innovative? What’s stopping you?

Personal entrepreneurship can be as small or as grandiose as you envision it to be.  Perhaps, you want to gain some skills or contacts  from your day job before you try striking out on your own, or maybe your calling is to do such great work for an organization that you care about, that they have no other choice but to listen to you when you say to them, “Hey, I want to work from home for two days each week.”

It’s all about how it fits into your life.  The most important lesson of personal entrepreneurship is realizing that your time belongs to YOU, and doing what it takes to stand up for that.

Now, you go forth and be fabulous dammit. And don’t forget to share your thoughts!

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