I learned a few things in 2014
A year ago, I was almost 30 pounds heavier, feeling disgusted with my physical body.
A year ago, I recited the “I love my job” mantra, trying to convince myself that my career was something I even liked.
A year ago, I was living a good life – one with a handsome husband, charming children and a decent job. All the while I was experiencing a relentless tug that perhaps the so-called good life was a mediocre one. Maybe even, I thought, a good life is the opposite of a great life.
I would sit in church and listen to messages about following God’s call, engaging in a small group, serving others. I felt like I needed to do something different, to get out of my comfort zone. Isn’t that term “comfort zone” interesting? Because after a while, living in my comfort zone felt like a limb experiencing restless leg syndrome. Comfortable was actually kind of miserable. I had to move.
Mike and I talked about the possibility of going on a mission trip. I tossed around the idea of starting my own blog. I was always keeping my job options open, just in case an opportunity that seemed more fulfilling ever popped up.
Obviously, I launched this blog. But I quickly learned that being on my own work schedule, without someone else imposing deadlines on me, was more difficult than I originally expected. I realized I had virtually no idea how to set and achieve goals, though I was beginning to learn that skill through my weight loss efforts and subsequent exercise routine.
You see, for 11 years as a working professional, I had relied on others to set deadlines for me. As an employee I have been trained to ask, “What’s my deadline?” when I receive an assignment. As a media relations specialist, the first question I asked reporters when they needed information was, “What’s your deadline?” Their deadlines determined my deadlines.
If the blog wasn’t going to fulfill me, what would?
A few weeks before the blog launch, a couple dear friends of mine told me they were starting a new project and began sharing some of the principles upon which they were building: entrepreneurship, leadership, dream building, goal setting. Not knowing what I was looking for or even where I wanted to go, I listened with an open mind.
Over the course of the next weeks and months, I learned some things.
I learned I had been asking the wrong questions. I had been saying to myself, “What do you want to do?” The questions I should have been asking were “How do you want to live?” and “How are you going to get there?”
I learned the answers to my questions were: I want my family and I to live a life of excellence and boldness because I believe God created us for more than mediocrity. And we are going to get there by working hard and smart.
I learned that, while I had been saying “I love my job,” it was quite ridiculous to love something that can’t love me back.
I learned that smart phone apps and TV shows and video games are nonsense. Even my beloved Grey’s Anatomy. It does not affect my future, so why should I care? I was amusing myself to death with Facebook, Words with Friends and Trivia Crack. I was a zombie.
I learned that I had been part of our culture’s glorification of busyness. I decided to no longer wear busyness as a badge of honor. Yes, my family and I are still busy. How can we not be with two work-outside-the-home parents and two young children? But we are working hard now to get un-busy, so we can spend more quality time together as a family.
I learned that having a job working for someone else is building that person’s dream. Mike and I want to build our own dreams – while encouraging our children to never stop dreaming – and to achieve our goals. We don’t want to wait until the traditional retirement age of 65 to truly live. We want to live a full life now, while we’re young.
I learned how to set my own deadlines based on defined goals, which are based on the vision Mike and I have for our family.
I learned how to clearly state our values, and those are driving our vision and goals.
I learned that having a huge dream, with a clear path to attain it, is absolutely necessary to be successful. Defining the dream was our task, and we sought out mentors to help us determine the path. We are willing and anxious to be coached – to be teachable, accountable students of our own business.
I learned that failure is unavoidable when starting something new. After years of staying in my comfort zone – where I was unlikely to make a mistake – I am embracing failures, viewing them as opportunities to learn and grow. Failure should be celebrated because it is probably life’s greatest teacher.
I learned that sticking to the defined vision and goals is extremely difficult, especially in the face of others who think our new mindset is weird or crazy.
I learned that I’m even weirder and crazier than I thought. I always knew I had an affinity for “going against the grain,” but diving into the world of personal growth and entrepreneurship – where we read books instead of watch TV or go to a training rather than play Candy Crush – is largely viewed as, well, for lack of a better word, weird.
If being weird means I’m awake, then I’ll take it. I would much rather wear the weird badge than the busyness badge.
I’m happy to be awake now. Awake to the truth that if my family and I don’t pursue excellence, mediocrity will pursue us. Awake to the truth that getting out of our comfort zones is really the only way to grow and change.
Much like exercising, our personal and entrepreneurial development adventures in 2014 were full of mixed emotions. As I wrote in March of last year, “Every day I’m learning that I’m capable of enduring the hard stuff because when I do, there is beauty on the other side of it.” I never thought I’d be a runner, and I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur. Now I am both, and I refuse to turn back now.
I know that 2015 is going to have even more adventures. Failures will inevitably be part of the journey. But we have too many goals to achieve to let them stop us.