Friday, June 29, 2012

Find What You Are Looking For

I have been writing a lot about dreams lately and here is another post for your reading pleasure. Next week, I will move on to more topics, but I think this is important. The biggest mistake we can make in life is to start chasing things that aren't our dreams. Instead of doing what we know we should be doing, we go after the money, the fame, the prestige, the American Dream. You can have all the money and toys in the world, but unless you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, you aren't going to find what you are looking for.

This is a hard lesson to learn, because it isn't what we are taught. When we are children and asked what we want to be when we grow up, no one ever says they want to be a struggling artist. No one says they want to struggle at all. There are a lot of answers of doctor, lawyer, princess, cowboy, etc. None of the answers are bad, if this is what you are supposed to be doing. We need doctors and lawyers and princesses and cowboys, but not everyone can be one or is driven to be one. We have to get better at teaching children to listen to that little voice, the one we have learned to silence for so long, and to do what is going to make them happy, not just wealthy. The struggle is what makes us great.

We tell the children they can do anything they put their mind to, but we then make them behave and sit in nice straight rows and speak softly and not daydream and conform and stop being so imaginative. We drill them with facts and numbers but continue to take away time and money from the arts. We get them on a schedule and convince them getting A's in every subject is more important than doing anything else because they have to get into a great college to be anything. Unless they are prodigious from an early age, we push them away from the arts, because there isn't any money in it anyway, and convince them to become doctors or lawyers or bankers because they can make money and live a nice life.

Why? Are you happy doing what you are doing? If so, is it because someone forced you to to conform and stop dreaming and buckle down to do the work you are doing? Or did you find your passion? If you are unhappy, is it because you let them force you to conform and stop dreaming and buckle down to do the work you are doing? The people who are doing great work today are usually doing it in spite of what others tried to force them to do. They dreamed their own dreams and blazed their own paths. They didn't believe the BS being force fed to them. Shouldn't we be training the children to do this? Shouldn't we want more for them? Shouldn't we be teaching them to think for themselves and to chase their dreams?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Will You Give Up?

Where will your path lead?
There are lots of people (myself included) who will stress the importance of chasing your dreams. We talk about why you should chase them and how it will help you lead the life you are supposed to lead. Most of these people leave out the part about having to give up other things in order to chase your dreams. For some, this may be an obvious fact, but to others, this may come as a surprise.

In some cases, you will know exactly what you will need to give up. If you want a dream career and you start chasing it, you will have to give up the job your currently have. If your dream involves getting in better shape to do something, then you will have to give up some of the food your currently eat. Obvious, right? But, to get in better shape, you will also have to exercise a lot more, which means you have to give up something to have the time to do this. Will it be watching TV or some sleep or reading or going out with friends? For everything we decide to do, we will be giving up things.

If you want to be a great writer, then you need to write every day. Most of us don't have tons of time we are looking to fill in our days, so something has to be given up. The same is true with any dream requiring practice (and the vast majority do). These decisions aren't always easy, either. When we have been doing anything for a period of time, it is difficult to give it up to start something else. What are you willing to give up to chase your dreams? Money? Sleep? Friends? Hobbies? TV?

You may look at the previous list and think you wouldn't have to give up your friends to chase your dreams. Once you start chasing them, you will realize there are people who just don't understand the new direction you are taking. There are other people who feel slighted because you aren't spending as much time with them because you are chasing your dreams. Some people will drift out of your life, but the true friends will still be there, even when you don't speak with them for extended periods. When you start chasing your dreams, you start moving down a path you haven't followed before. You will never see what is along this path until you start moving down it.

No one ever said chasing our dreams is going to be easy and many of us didn't realize we would have to give up so many things in order to chase them. They wouldn't be real dreams if they were easy, now would they? The greatest things in life are often the hardest to get. To chase your dreams, you will have to make some tough decisions. You will have to stop doing some things you enjoy doing. Some people will be unhappy. These are your dreams...what's stopping you from chasing them?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chase Your Dreams

Dreams are amazing. Now, I am not writing about the dreams you have at night where you are a pirate or running around a school full of missiles and guns or being chased by some crazy person in a mask. The dreams I am writing about are the ones we have when we are awake. These are the dreams of where we want our life to go or what we want to do. The most important dreams we have are the ones when we are awake.

Dreams give us hope. Dreams give us goals. Dreams motivate us. Dreams are what help us slog through another humdrum day. Dreams allow us to yearn for something bigger or better or different. Depending on the day, dreams can change. Some days, I dream of owning a food truck and other days a book store/coffee shop. Some days I dream of being a working writer and still in others, I dream of owning a quaint vegan bed and breakfast on the beach. In the same way food fuels our body, dreams fuel our mind.

The difficult thing about dreams is they require action. Without working towards our dreams, they become something different, something darker, something mocking. If we choose to do nothing, to not attempt to capture our dreams, they become bitter and steal our hopes and motivations. The dreams become something we can't envision reaching and we become cynical towards them. They point out our flaws and laugh as we convince ourselves we could never reach them. They take away everything they once gave and it is our fault.

We may not be able to do everything we dream of doing, but we can damn well try. Our dreams can change, but they should change because we have moved on to another dream realizing the one we were working on isn't quite what we wanted. They should never change because we gave up believing we could do it. We've all had dreams we gave up on. For many of us, they still haunt us. We should know how much it hurts to give up on a dream and strive to never do it again. We don't want to be haunted by an ever-growing litany of dreams we never really chased.

Your dreams can shape your life. You can continue to give up on them or you can start spending your time chasing them. You can work towards your dreams or you can stay where you are at. Chasing your dreams will give you experience and hope and motivation. Giving up will give you nothing. Chasing your dreams is much more difficult, but will reward you with moments in time emblazoned in your memory. Giving up is easier, but will give you nothing. We can talk about chasing our dreams all we want, but until we start acting on them, nothing really changes. The question you should ask yourself is: "Which dream will I start chasing today?"  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Be Yourself

If you take nothing else from my blog, take this: Live your life in the way that matters to you. We spin around and around and claim we want to do great things, but rarely get off our ass to do them. We listen to the lies we tell ourselves that keep us from taking chances, from trying new things, from doing great work. We listen to the criticisms of others and start to believe them. We do what we are expected to do, not what sets our souls on fire. We berate ourselves for stupid reasons and start to believe these complaints are valid.

Live your life. Be who you are. Don't do something because you think it is expected. Don't beat yourself up because you are messy or unable to learn something quickly or make a mistake or do something wrong. Know this happens to everyone, learn what you can and move on. Don't think of yourself as ugly or fat or dumb or anything else negative. If you want to improve something, then improve it, but always, always love yourself. You have more to offer the world than you can ever imagine.

Control your anger and frustration. Do yoga, breathing exercises, exercise, meditate, whatever it takes, but don't let anger and frustration run your life. Force yourself to smile when you wake up each morning. Life is going to give you what you look for...if you are negative, you will focus on the negative. If you are positive, you will see beautiful things around you. The more you focus on doing what you are meant to do, the more positive your days will become.

Be true to yourself. Take chances and fail often. Don't be so hard on yourself and do things you love every day. Believe in yourself and share your gifts with the world. The world will be a better place with them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Anything is Possible

The only things you can not do are those you believe you can't.

Impossible must be removed from your vocabulary. Have faith that you can do anything. Believe in yourself. Do what everyone else thinks is impossible. Be bold. Be daring. Anything is possible, all you have to do is try.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Play By Your Own Rules

When you look at your life, what do you see? Are you happy and satisfied with the things you have done, knowing you are doing exactly what you should be doing? Or, like most of us, are you constantly searching for something more? Group one is playing the game of life with their own rules, whereas group 2 is playing by someone else's rules. You are never going to be happy with your life until you start living it in the way you know is right.

Society shows us the people in charge are the ones who get to make the rules. Their rules will fit them well, but they may not work for you. You can see this played out every day in our Congress. In our own slice of life, we can see this in the companies we work for. In nearly every company, you will find an employee handbook telling you what you can and can't do. Many of these have become 50+ pages long and these are the rules you have to follow to play the game. Deviations from these rules can lead to your termination, no matter how trivial the rule (not to mention the question of whether it should be a rule to begin with).

I'm not saying that there should be anarchy and everyone should do whatever they want whenever they want. There have to be some rules in place to hold people accountable for heinous acts, even though the vast majority of us wouldn't commit them in the first place. But, and this is a big but, we have to write the rules for our own life. We don't have to follow the path society tells us we should follow. We don't have to crave the things society tells us we should crave. We don't have to behave in the ways society tells us we need to behave. If we want to stand out, then we should stand out. We have to figure out what matters to us (easier said than done) and then go after it. We have to follow the path we were meant to follow, no matter how difficult and different and stop following the path everyone thinks we should.

You are going to have people in your life who don't understand why you can't be happy working a 9-5 corporate job. You are going to have people in your life who don't understand why more responsibility doesn't make you happy. You are going to have people in your life who don't understand why you are not content with the life you are living. You are going to have people in your life who don't understand why you don't want the newest and prettiest toys like everyone else. You are going to have people in your life who don't understand why you would give up so much for what appears to them to be very little. You are going to have people in your life who just don't understand. That's okay, but you have to stop listening to them.

Your life is more important to you than anyone else. You know more about what makes you tick than anyone else. You know what your secret dreams are. You know what you want more than anything, even if you don't yet realize it. You know what scares the shit out of you. You may not know exactly what you should do next, but you know when something isn't for you. When you realize this, what do you do? Do you listen to the people who don't understand or do you figure out what you need to do to get you a little closer to your goals? Do you continue to play the game with someone else's rules or do you start playing your own game, by your own rules?

You are responsible for your actions and your happiness and your success. You get to define your happiness and success. You get to decide what sort of life you want to lead. You get to be who you want to be. No one else gets to make these decisions for you. You can try to fit your life into someone else's idea of what a good life should be, but deep down, you will know you aren't doing what you should be doing. You will constantly spin your wheels and yearn for something more.

Is playing by your own rules scary? You bet your ass it is. You are going to fail at something. You will work harder than you have ever worked in your life. You will take responsibility for you. You will learn to ignore the naysayers and become amazing at not letting people convince you that you are wrong. You will have to be comfortable with the people you hold in high regard not always supporting your decisions. You will need to stop worrying what other people think. You must become comfortable with forging your own path without a map, because you are going someplace no one else has.

This is your life. This is your happiness. This is your success. These are your dreams. Embrace them and start playing by your own rules.

Friday, June 15, 2012

You Get Out Of Life...

What you get out of life is equal to what you put into life. Every day, many of us wish we were getting more out of life. We want more happiness or more money or more experiences or more free time or more freedom, but we don't do anything differently than we have before. We hope something will change, yet we don't do anything to cause change.

If you want more, you have to do more. If you want something different, you have to do something different. Happiness, success, money, experience, free time and freedom are not going to fall out of the sky and land in our laps. We can't sit around hoping that things will change or get better.

If you sleepwalk through life and spend most of your time in front of the stupid box, then you are going to continue to sleepwalk through life. You are going to continue to complain about the things you don't have that you want. Yes, we hear stories about people who win the lottery or receive amazing windfalls without seemingly doing anything to deserve it, but these are the exceptions, not the rule. The chances of you getting everything you want without doing anything are minuscule. Doing nothing to change your life is only going to cause nothing to change.

We have to be bold. We have to go after everything we want. When we dream big, we have to live big. We have to fight tooth and nail to go after the things we want if we are ever going to have the chance to get them. If you want to be a writer, then you have to write, a lot, and put your writing out there so people can read it. If you want to be famous, you have to work your ass off to get in front of a camera or an audience and do something great. If you want to have more money, then you need to figure out how to work smarter to get it.

If you want something new, you may have to cut out something else. If you want more free time, then turn off the television and make more free time. If you want to focus on your art, then you may have to give up the job you are working and the money you are used to. If you want to be happier, then you have to find what makes you happy and do it more. If you want your life to be different, then you need to change the life you are living.

This isn't going to be easy for any of us. Every great reward comes from doing the hard work. The things that really matter to us take time and effort. You won't wake up one morning being an accomplished writer or knowing a foreign language or having lost weight or being able to run a marathon. Can you do all of these things? Yes, but you have to put in the work to make it happen. No one ever said life was going to be easy. We aren't given everything we want. The overnight success worked for years to get there.

Today is the day you stop wishing everything would work out the way you want it and instead start making it work out. Do something new. Try something different. Boldly push forward and see what you can get out of life when you put in something different. Instead of just dreaming, go after your dreams. Be bold. Be daring. Be different. Do something that really matters to you and start fighting for what you want. It's the only way you are ever going to get it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What Will You Learn Today?

Life is about learning. Each day, we should all strive to learn something new. Every interaction we have is an opportunity to share and gain knowledge, but we have to keep an open mind. By setting aside our ego, we open ourselves to the realization that everyone, no matter how different, has some knowledge we don't.

In this age of technology, we have opportunity at our fingertips. With the Internet, we can do things our ancestors were never able to do. We can have immediate conversations with people we will never meet. Through websites like Duolingo, we can learn foreign languages in ways that our convenient for us. With the proliferation of blogs, we have the ability to learn from an assortment of amazing people. Major universities are putting many of their courses out there for anyone to take. The amount of knowledge we have access to is astounding.

Even with all of this, we can still learn much from the people we meet each day if we set aside our judgments. It is impossible to learn from someone if we go in to each interaction with preconceived notions about who they are or what they know. We can't label people and expect to learn anything from them. You never know what these people know or what experiences they may have. The barista in your coffee shop may have a Ph.D. in physics. The man playing the violin at your subway station may be a virtuoso playing on a multimillion dollar violin. You just never know who you are going to meet or what knowledge they can impart.

A hunger for knowledge allows us to grow. Trying to learn something new can also be scary. We are not going to be good at everything we try, but with practice, we can get better. I will never learn Spanish unless I try. You will never have your beliefs challenged unless you open yourself to new ideas and new ways of doing things. If we choose to keep our minds closed and to believe other people have nothing to teach us, we stagnate. We will not grow. We will not learn. We will not get any closer to the truth. What will you learn today?

Monday, June 11, 2012


I give myself permission to be happy.
I give myself permission to be myself.
I give myself permission to do the things that scare me.
I give myself permission to live the life I am supposed to live.
I give myself permission to stop caring about what other people think.
I give myself permission to do the things I enjoy.
I give myself permission to follow my dreams.
I give myself permission to take chances.
I give myself permission to make mistakes.
I give myself permission to change the things needing to be changed.

Many times, if we really look at it, we are doing things other people want us to do. We are living the life other people want us to live. We are following the dreams of others. We care too much what other people think about our choices, our ideas, our dreams and our beliefs. We are afraid of what they think when we speak up or challenge an idea or do anything that may differ from the norm. Instead of living for ourself and finding our happiness, we do what we are supposed to do and feel what we are supposed to feel. Life doesn't have to be like this.

We are in control of ourselves, no more and no less. With the ability to only change our piece of reality, we have the choice to either do so or keep things as they are. We have the right to be who we are and do the things we want to do and follow our dreams and make mistakes and take chances and be happy. We have the right to live the life we are supposed to live. Will this make everyone around us happy? If it does, who cares? If it doesn't, who cares? If you are anything like me, it is time to stop living life trying to make everyone else happy and start figuring out how to live the life that will make you happy.

We are all creative and intelligent people who bring to this world a unique view as no one has ever had the same experiences we have. We have a lot to offer and it is imperative we offer it. All great things start with someone taking a chance, overcoming their fear and doing what they believe needs to be done. We learn from our mistakes and stop caring what everyone else thinks. We live our life in the way we believe is right. As we hit our waning years, we are going to look back on life and remember the things we did or didn't do, not what the people around us thought. I want to look back and smile, don't you?

Friday, June 8, 2012


I had written another post about stress and didn't like what it was becoming, so I deleted it. Truth be known, it was mediocre and I couldn't stand the way it bounced around without a real theme and didn't really say anything. You, dear reader, deserve better than that. 

We often push out mediocre work because it is just easier to do. We go to work and just do the minimum needing to be done to get through the day, allowing us to collect a paycheck and come back to keep producing the minimum. We don't take pride in what we do and greatness isn't expected. As long as we show up to work on time (which is a whole other issue) and are present more than we are absent, many of us are considered good employees. What does this say about our society?

This mentality starts in school and continues on into the workforce. We aren't ever expected to be great, so very few of us ever do anything great. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and we spend most of our time dwelling in mediocrity. Those who produce great work often do it in spite of their environment or what is expected of them. They are the outliers and instead of looking to them for guidance on how to be better, we label them as anomalies. 

What if we went to work each day and actually tried to produce the best things we could? How would the world be different if we strive to produce the best products, offer the best customer service and dream of things better than before? Where would we be if we just held everyone (and everyone held themselves) to higher standards? Imagine a world where labels like overachiever had positive connotations, instead of negative ones. How about one where quality mattered more than quantity? 

What do we have to do to produce our best work on a daily basis? How much better would life be if we were energized to show up to work instead of counting the hours until it ended? The change has to start in each and every one of us. We have to find passion in what we do, even if it is just the passion of doing the best work possible. Mediocrity should no longer be acceptable. Once we change our mentality, we can start changing the environment at work.

Stop settling and instead start creating something great. Hold yourself to a higher standard than you are being held to. Come to work and produce the best products and offer the best service you can. Just produce exceptional work every chance you get. Be an anomaly and do more than is expected. Encourage everyone around you to do the same. The world doesn't need more mediocrity. The world needs greatness. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Problem With Advice

Everyone you meet is going to have some advice to offer you. Every last one. They may tell you how to live a better life or be a better leader or do something in a different and better way. The thing is, you don't have to follow any of it. Listen, think about it and then do what you think is best.

All the advice people offer is from their perspective, not yours. They think they know what is best, but often forget what is best for them may not be best for you. What one person thinks is a great leader could be what another thinks is a terrible one. What someone else thinks is a great life may feel like prison to you. These people aren't trying to be mean. They are only telling you what they would do if they were in your shoes. They're not.

You are on your own path and doing what you think is right. There is rarely only one "right" way to do something. Between right and wrong, there is a vast spread of gray. What is right to you can very easily be wrong to someone else. This doesn't mean it has to be wrong for you, too. These differences are what makes life interesting. If there was only one right way, life would be incredibly boring and we would all be the same. We're not and you don't need to feel pressured to do things in a way others think you should.

Be yourself. Be unique. You may not be the greatest leader out there, but if you are leading your team well, does it matter if others think you are doing it wrong? Does it really matter if someone thinks the life you are leading is wrong? Because they think it, does it make it true? Following the path someone else thinks is right is only going to lead you to the destination that works for them. This isn't your path and only your path is going to lead where you need it to lead.

We have to stop worrying about what other people think and stop feeling as if we have to do something in a way others think we should. Do them in the way you think is going to work best as you are the only person who sees things the way you do. You have your own ideas and thoughts and know better than anyone else what is going to work for you. By all means listen to the advice of people you trust, but always remember this is your life. Live it is such.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What Do You Really Want To Do?

Look around at all the people you know. My guess is most of them aren't doing what they really want to do. Do you know why? Doing what you really want to do is hard.

No one said life was going to be easy, but many of us never realized how hard it would actually be to do the things we want to do. There are bills to pay and obligations to meet and jumping off the bandwagon is scary. We dig our ruts in work and outside of it and we are afraid to get out of them. We convince ourselves we are comfortable in the life we have dug and we learn to silence the voice saying there is something more, something better out there, if we would only try.

Forging our own path is hard. It's scary. There is the chance for failure around every corner. We may offend people. People may think we are crazy. People may talk about us. We will have to take responsibility for ourselves. Our mind screams "I don't have what it takes" and we constantly wonder what will happen if things don't work out. We imagine the worst case scenario (while not ever imagining the best case scenario). Filled with fear and doubt, we convince ourselves it is impossible. We quit before we even start.

How do you get past all of this and do what you really want to do? First, stop paying any attention to all the crap in the last paragraph. Figure out what you want to do and start doing it. This doesn't mean you have to completely change your life, but work on what you want to do. Picture the best case scenario and then start. Keep doing whatever it is. You don't need to have a full plan in place, you just have to start. Your plan would change overtime, anyway. Start taking steps and see what happens.

What is it that you really want to do? Forget about all the doubts, all the fears, all the worries and just start doing it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Slow Down

All too often, we spend most of our time doing the monotonous and what we think we have to do. Of course there are going to be boring things needing to get done, but as a society, we have become really good at giving ourselves busy work. There are many causes for this...our education system, our work, all the technology at our fingertips, fear of boredom, the destruction of imagination, etc.

We feel we have to be multitasking all the time. Go to the kids' soccer games, but do work on our cell phone. Write a paper while listening to the radio or watching TV. Work on seven or eight different things at the same time. Have a conversation while checking e-mail. Not only does this "multitasking" cause us to do less than great work, but it also makes us tired and unhappy.

I know there are going to be a lot of people who disagree with this last statement and that's okay with me. I know the road to happiness is going to be different for everyone, but I also know we all need to slow down a little. Enjoy your child's soccer game. Have an actual conversation with someone without doing anything else. Focus on one task at a time before moving to another. If so many of us are stressed so much of the time, doesn't it make sense to try something else?

This life is short. It may not always feel like it, but it is. We all have tons of things we want to do, but very few of us will ever actually do them. We spend too much time doing the tasks we think we need to do and very little time actually doing what brings joy into our lives. Do the things that you really need to do, but stop giving yourself all the busy work. Focus on one thing at a time and be okay with doing "nothing". Do something that makes you happy and don't give a shit what other people think. Maybe they will actually learn something from you. Would you rather be the person stuck doing the busy work or the person who understands life? What's makes you happy?