How does this darn thing work?

I twisted and turned it. I moved the levers from side to side. I turned it over to see if I missed a button on the other side. I banged on it. I shook it. I moved it from one spot to another.

“Why don’t you plug it in,” he said from the other side of the room.

Ohhhhhhh, plug it in. There’s a thought.

Have you ever been in a situation where you try and try again? Minutes, hours, days even weeks go by and you can’t figure out how you’re going to solve your problem. Then you mention it to a friend. In one short sentence, she says the one thing you needed to hear.

“Why don’t you try this?”

Oh.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Reimagining Your Life From Someone Else’s Point Of View

We’re all guilty of it.

It’s easy from the outside looking in. But when you’re caught up in the incredible “mess” of being you, its hard to see which way is up.

As a mom of a millennial who’s in college, soon to be in the work force, I read a lot about the Gen Y take on the world.

For many baby boomers and Gen X’s, they worry about the work ethics of this next generation. Will they actually come on board and get things done? Will they follow in our footsteps?

I read an interesting article over on Work Reimagined. In it they asked a series of questions to millennials, asking them how they would reimagine one of their parents careers. It’s worth the read.

One of them that stuck out to me was:

Ask: What Makes You Happy? “My mom left a high-powered law firm to open her own practice,” says a 29-year-old nonprofit communications editor. “Her career path was based on what she ‘should’ do to make money, as opposed to what made her heart sing. She always drilled it into me: Don’t rely on anyone else for security, get good grades, make your own money. Later in life, she got sick and had to stop working. For the first time, I heard her ask: ‘How do I want to fill my days? What makes me happy?’ People of her generation, class and education background weren’t given permission to ask those questions. When she stopped working, I saw a transformation. There’s a lesson to be learned: Whatever you’re doing right now doesn’t have to be forever, if it doesn’t fulfill you. Prioritize personal happiness.”

Wow.

If that’s what the younger generation thinks of the their Gen Y and Baby Boomer parents, we probably aren’t on such a bad track after all. Maybe they did listen and actually “got” what we told them, whether we thought they were listening or not.

You Are Too Close To It

You may or may not have a millennial child in your life you can try this experiment with. But I bet you do have a mother/brother/friend/student or someone in your life that you can ask. Or in some cases, you may not have to ask at all. It may be as simple as looking at your current situation through the eyes of your loved one, knowing very well how they would respond. Have you ever caught yourself saying:

“I know “Mary” would tell me to do it this way, but I just can’t motivate myself to take that kind of action.”

We often know the right way to do something, even on a subconscious level. Yet we let the muck get in the way, confusing ourselves in the process.

If you were to swap positions with that other person, what would they do differently? How would they change your current position? What would they do differently?

Start with these questions and think how people around you would view your current situation. What would they tell you to change?

What things are you doing because of your own internally made up deadlines? What holds you back because you’re afraid to say no?

Every day we run into our own internal deadlines that we think matter to the rest of the world. For instance, you might stay at the office until six, thinking the boss will notice and reprimand you if you leave earlier. Yet you’re also the first one in every morning, handling the phones for the first hour until the rest of your office gets in. Does your boss demand that you stay until 6? Or is your own internal wiring that’s keeping you from leaving at a decent time?

What would happen if you said no? What would happen if left when you were supposed to leave? In many cases its an internal issue completely made up on your end that holds you back from having more in your life. Do something that motivates you to take action and make a change. Sign up for a 5:30 yoga class two nights a week and keep to the schedule no matter what. Will people in the office notice?

What have you put off indefinitely because things work the way they are right now? What is this preventing you from doing now and in the future?

In many cases, we are afraid to rock the boat. For instance, maybe you can’t move forward because you have to keep your job because of the income. Your mind tells you that you need a certain income, so you stick with a job you hate. What if you bought a less expensive car? Or downsized your house and moved into a condo? Did you really enjoy the yard work involved with the big house anyway?

Just because something’s always worked a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to continue down this path forever. It’s okay to make a change for the better, especially if its better for you and the people in your life in the long run.

What don’t you understand? What could you do if you became more knowledgeable or savvy?

We have friends in the photography industry that we have known for years. I remember a number of years ago having a conversation in which they announced they would retire before they moved from film to digital. Then one day they made the switch. And to this day they amaze us with their abilities. They use Photoshop like experts. They have online presentations that wow their customers. They have more knowledge of online programs for helping them build a small business then they could ever have imagined from even a few short years ago.  Why? Because they embraced change rather than running from it.

It’s never too old to learn. And if you’re not taking classes or reading books, why not? Get busy, there’s a big world out there with lots of things to learn.

What makes you happy? How do you want to live your life from this point forward?

I’ve known a number of people that have fought cancer and lived in remission for years. They all change in one way after the process; they come out on the other side realizing how short life truly is.

Why do we have to wait until something dire happens to us like cancer? Why not realize now that you only have a few short months to live, and embrace what you have to do? If you’re 50, with a life expectancy of 84, that’s only 420 more months. What are you doing to do with that time?

What do you feel guilty about? Does it impact people in your life as much as you think it did or does? Do they even know you feel guilty?

Have you ever said something and had it come out completely wrong? Then you stew about it for days? I did that a couple of years ago, and because of the situation I continued to feel bad day after day, week after week. I even started avoiding this person because I felt so bad about what I had said. It took awhile, but I finally got a chance to sit down with her for coffee. I mentioned the situation. She looked at me and said, “what”? She didn’t even remember the conversation.

Too often we build things up in our own minds. We feel guilty about something. We let it fester thinking everyone around us feels the same way. Nope. Not necessarily. Get over it. If you feel bad, apologize. If something bothers you, find a way to move past it as quick as possible.

How do you define security? What will it take to put that into place?

Every one of us has our own threshold for security. Some people would define it as being debt free. Some would say owning a house. Some would say a retirement package. Others would say the support of family and friends.

How you define it matters only in how it impacts your life overall. If your sense of security demands you to be debt free, what happens when you don’t have bills? Would you feel better renting than owning your home? Does it also involve a certain number in a bank account?

If you’ve never defined what security means to you, sit down and put a definition to it. Sometimes seeing it in writing frees you up to explore other things. If you’ve achieved your definition, maybe it will give you room to explore things in a different way, knowing you’re in a secure place in your life.