Tag Archives: Goals

Shortcuts, and Getting Lost in Life

 

I think we can all admit that we’ve made some unwise decisions in our lives due to impatience. We want something and we want it sooner than later. We don’t want to take longer than we think it should take to get somewhere in life, be it a physical destination or a goal.

This weekend I learned about the story of the Donner Family, also known as the Donner Party. This was a group of approximately 90 American pioneers in 1846 who were to make their way from Illinois west to California. At one point during the journey brothers Jacob and George Donner decided to not follow the already established, tried and true path west, but instead decided to follow a supposedly new and shorter trail established by a man named Lansford Hastings. Let’s just say the shorter path ended up not being quicker, in fact, it didn’t even exist.

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During the journey the emigrants discovered the path had not even been cleared; instead it was all dense bush and rocks. Travelling with a caravan of children, women, and men of different ages, along with animals, and personal belongings made the trek even more difficult. To say the journey was filled with failure is an understatement.

Due to heavy snowfall the travelling party eventually became trapped in the Sierra Nevada, unable to proceed further due to the weather. Unprepared for the harsh winter they experienced hypothermia and eventually ran out of food.

Members of the Donner Party eventually turned to survival cannibalism due to near starvation; some turned to murder; and others experienced trauma due to the death of their spouses and children. Eventually some members of the party were rescued when the weather allowed a group of men to form a search party. Apparently roughly half of the party survived long enough to be rescued, the majority of them being children.

I share this extreme story of what can happen when we make decisions to take unnecessary short cuts to show the lengths some of us could be willing to go even if it meant risking our safety and well-being. It’s easy to look at the Donner Party and question how they could be so foolish and careless, but I’m confident we can all search through our past and find our own versions of impatient decisions which lead from one thing to another until regret, embarrassment, anger, and shame took over.

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Major areas in life where we are heavily tempted to take shortcuts:

Money. Be ware of risky habits such as gambling, buying lottery tickets if you can’t afford them, signing up to be an multi-level-marketing (MLM) rep if you can’t afford the start up costs and don’t have a large network to sell to, borrowing money from friends for things you don’t need, and using credit cards for unnecessary big ticket items instead of saving money.

Friendships. Making friends as an adult takes a lot longer than it does when you are in high school or college. Solid adult friendships take time. Avoid the mistake of thinking that frequently hanging out with people leads to meaningful friendships, it doesn’t most of the time. It might take years to build long lasting friendships with people you can trust, depend on, and genuinely care about, but it’s worth it.

Goals. Whatever your goal is, the way to achieve them is to commit to the work of daily discipline, learning, failing forward, sacrifice, and prioritizing. We look around and see successful people in person and on social media. What can easily be forgotten is how long it can take to become knowledgeable in your field and develop the skills that will keep you successful for the long run. People who take shortcuts to success are often people who have cheated others, stepped on people, fought a nasty fight to the top, and deceived someone somewhere. You want your goals to be achieved with integrity, honesty, hard work, and ethics.

Whenever you are tempted to take shortcuts in life remember this verse from Proverbs 21:5:

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

 

Judging without Judging

Life live to the fullest!

The title, it doesn’t sound quite right. Judging without judging others, how is that possible, is that even possible? Sounds almost like an oxymoron.

Over the past few weeks I had been trying to figure out how to deal with a very powerful peer who happens to be a highly judgmental, self-serving, vindictive, and bitter person (this description sounds judgmental, doesn’t it?). It has gotten to the point where a conversation couldn’t be had without her tearing down other women who work in our industry. It was an earful of listening to nasty comments about how these other women dress, what their husbands look like, silly gossip, and fantasies of taking her opponents down in the cruelest manner.

If this was a friend rather than an industry peer, keeping my distance would be easy. Speaking to her about the behaviour described earlier is out of the question. I have seen firsthand what has happened to those who have dared to do so; it wasn’t pretty. Unfortunately, I live in a mid-sized city and it is difficult to entirely avoid people who are in the same career field as you. Everyone knows somebody who knows someone. In the end I decided to forfeit having her as part of my career sphere of influence.

The Lessons

What I have been learning is that when you are close to a peer(s) and you distance yourself from these people who are emotionally toxic yet powerful and well connected, it makes more labour for you in terms of networking, getting connected with just the right people, learning the ropes, and having your work known by others; but in the end it is worth it.

Not having that powerful and seasoned professional by your side to give you the ins and outs of a cutthroat industry makes the struggle even harder, but I was alright with this, my personal values were more important.

If your career-based circle of associates requires that you cut others down, eliminate your competition with dishonest words or actions; and your emerging business plan includes a social media smear campaign against people you (or they) don’t like; take a pass, this is necessary. Your mentors and those who are part of your career circle heavily influence your behaviour, values, and personal work ethic.

Ask yourself, “what part of who I am as a person is being sacrificed in order to stay within this career based inner circle”?

Is the sacrifice and trade-off your…?

  • personal values
  • unnecessary time away from your family
  • money that you don’t have to spare
  • integrity and honesty
  • healthy character traits
  • long-time friendships (healthy ones)
  • your faith/religion
  • keeping up shallow and superficial appearances
  • constant emotional and mental fatigue that isn’t directly related to the production of your work
  • abandoning your own dreams or personal goals in order to people-please
  • decrease in quality of your own work

Count the costs, not just short-term, but long term as well. It can be difficult to set boundaries with people who have direct influence on your work, reputation, and income, but I encourage you to find a way to create a healthy distance between yourself and industry peers who have a spirit of spitefulness, revenge, pettiness, and exclusion. The slower path to career fulfillment will leave you with a clearer conscience knowing your achievements were obtained without having to sabotage peers, belittle the work of others, or step all over people.

When you take the more laborious and often longer path, do so because the other option was not a part of who you are as a person, nor who you aspire to become. Recognize that people who thrive from their toxic behviour are often personally scared and insecure, and might even have developed such ways of living due to past trauma. But remember, it is not your problem to deal with. Be willing to operate in a different way without seeing yourself as better than anyone else or allowing bitterness and self-doubt to permeate your mind and your work. This is how you “judge without judging”.

 

 

 

Sheepwalking Through Your Life

“I define sheepwalking as the outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain – dead jobs and enough fear to keep them in line. You’ve probably encountered someone who is sheepwalking. “ Seth Godin, in his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.

I think Seth Godin is correct, I bet we all know or have met someone who works obediently in a brain – dead, and possibly dead- end job. The reasons for people remaining in those jobs are varied. For some it is fear, for others, they simply don’t care, the job provides a pay cheque and that’s all that matters to them. For others, they stay in these positions because the right opportunity to leave or move into another position hasn’t happened yet.

A manager at my last job was a shepherd to sheepwalkers, let’s just say her and I did not jell well. Until she was hired I had a position that allowed me a lot of autonomy and flexibility. This position freed me to help low-income people by filling in some much-needed gaps in the service this organization provided. The newly hired manager had no experience in the industry yet began making sweeping changes as soon as she was hired. Amidst all these abrupt and ill-fitting changes, she awarded the sheeps who followed along without question and punished those who dared to ask questions.

During my time working with this manager I realized she made no efforts to include staff in the plans she had for her department; workers never knew when a sudden change in policy or operations would occur. Sometimes she even made up changes on the spot. Feedback, thoughts, and observations were not welcomed to be shared in team meetings; this was seen by her to be insubordination.

During my time working within this manager’s department I observed a very important lesson: if you are passionate about the work that you do, you will never be content with being a sheepwalker.

People who have a passion for their work, or those who are creative, resourceful, and vision oriented will eventually feel suppressed, unsupported, and unmotivated. Staff need a certain amount of freedom and flexibility in order to remain creatively productive.

Sheepwalkers don’t put their heart into the work they do, instead they focus on what it takes to please their superior. This type of work doesn’t even consider pleasing customers as their goal or providing patrons with a decent product; their only purpose is to make their supervisors happy.

I understand that not everyone can speak up or leave their positions, but I challenge people who are in these situations to think about what other areas of their lives have them sheepwalking or sleepwalking.

What are your interests? Are you able to freely feed this interest? This doesn’t have to be something major, it can be as simple as being free to choose what restaurant you and your friends/family are going to eat at, what movie you’re going to watch, being able to decide if you are going to stay home or go out, volunteering in positions that genuinely interests you, or maybe becoming a board member and providing your knowledge and skills to a non-profit organization.

What’s important to remember is that if you are in a work position where you spend 40 hours a week being a ‘sheepwalker’ you are going to need an outlet outside of your workplace where you can use your mind and feed your imaginative and creative self somehow; if not, there will be an important part of yourself that is not being fed. If you are not practicing this type of self care, you leave yourself vulnerable to burnout.

Check in with yourself periodically and ask yourself, are there other areas in my life where I am able to be creative or contribute my thoughts and ideas?

 

 

 

My Blog: New Year, New Name

 

I decided that for 2018 I would change the name of my blog from God, Faith, & Fitness to Feathers for Your Journey.

When I started this blog four years ago my interests were in losing weight, becoming healthier, and doing so while integrating my faith. After a short amount of time I realized I didn’t enjoy writing about fitness or weight loss, but for whatever reason I kept going and with each passing year I contributed less   posts to this blog.

In 2017 I was happy to go an entire year for the first time in several years without having to go for physical therapy, my pain remained, but it had decreased significantly, and I managed to lose some weight and keep it off (so far). I think 2017 was more successful for me in this area because I didn’t focus on weight loss, food, exercise. I turned to meditation and mindfulness and I believe this helped significantly.

I kept daily reminders to eat healthy posted within sight (in my day planner, on my phone), I was mindful of what I was eating, and regular (not strenuous) physical activity was based on things I enjoy. I decided I wanted my blog to focus on life, learning, and goals without being too narrow and specific.

I discovered the word ‘novaturient’ today; it is when you desire or seek powerful changes in your life, your behaviour, or situation. I learned that I lived in a novaturient manner during 2017. I listed the things I wanted to change, achieve, and eliminate for that year. The best that we can do in life is live with intention without being so goal oriented that you prevent yourself from being flexible. There will be times when your goals have to be altered, eliminated, or put on the back burner for a while.

There is another word I recently learned, it is ‘meraki’ [mey-rah-kee]; it means to do something with creativity, soul, or love. It is the act of putting a part of yourself into whatever it is you are doing.  I realized by the end of 2017 that I had lived with novaturient and meraki in my life. Not everything went as planned, but I was able to grow from unexpected changes and opportunities because I did things with meraki.

Three weeks into 2018 and time feels like it has flown by quickly. I won’t encourage you to make new year’s resolutions; I don’t believe in them. However, I will encourage you to live intentionally this year.

What values are most important to you?

What are your goals and desires?

Who are the kind of people you want closest to you? Who are those you want to spend most of your time with outside of work?

What does money and material items mean to you and how important are both of these in your life?

These are questions we can ask our self any time throughout the year. It’s important to check in with ourselves regularly not only during holidays, birthdays, and tragedies.

However you choose to live in 2018, I wish you all a year filled with pleasant surprises, blessings, spiritual growth, and success.