Don’t settle for a relationship that won’t let you be yourself. – Oprah Winfrey
When it comes to change, people are more apt to do it for others than for themselves. It was no different for me when I morphed myself to be the “right” kind of friend, the “cool” girlfriend, or the “most dependable” employee. In each of those instances other people really liked me, but I didn’t like me very much…(read the rest)
Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn’t a good place to do it. In his talk, he lays out the main problems (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make work work. (Filmed at TEDxMidWest.)
eating whole foods (instead of junk foods) became normal
meditating every morning became normal
having less stuff and a simpler home became my new normal
reducing and eventually (mostly) eliminating sugar became normal
and so on: no car, walk and ride mass transit, do less, becoming content with myself, working for myself, etc.
In fact, you could say the last 8 years of my life has been a constant adjusting of what’s normal. Adjusting normal is my normal now.
However, for most people, changing is tough because there’s some pain in changing. When you have a problem, there is the pain it causes in your life, but there’s also a pain of trying to change it. When the payoff of trying to change is outweighed by the pay off of continuing the old way, people stick with what they’re comfortable with.
How do we overcome this problem of the pain of change? It’s the mantra of this site: Start small, start with one thing at a time, and make the change easier. You want to make changing the path of least resistance, because change usually isn’t for most people.
If you make a drastic change, it feels really hard and really different, and not something you can stick to for very long.
But when you make a change easier, it makes it easier to take that all-important first step. Once you take that first step, you have a bit of forward momentum. And it’s much easier to be consistent and stick with something for a long time.
Let’s take an example: I used to drink coffee with lots of added sugar. I used to think there was nothing wrong with that, but eventually I realized I was making an excuse for putting crap in my body. So I started by putting half a teaspoon less in my coffee. At first, it was slightly less good. But after a few days, it taste exactly like normal, like what I was used to. And then I took out another half a teaspoon, and it was slightly less good for a while, and then after a while it was exactly what I was used to.
Our minds tend to adjust over time. That’s my change process — I gradually adjust what’s normal to me. Eventually I didn’t need any sugar in my coffee, and it was just as good for me, I didn’t have all that crap, and I enjoyed it the same.
You can do this with anything — exercise, meditation, procrastination. Gradually adjust what feels like normal to you.
Here’s the process:
Start small. What’s the smallest increment you can do? Do this for at least 3 days, preferably 4-5.
Get started. Starting the change each day is the most important thing. Want to run? Just get out the door. Want to meditate? Just get on the cushion.
Enjoy the change. Don’t look at this as a sacrifice. It’s fun, it’s learning, it’s a challenge.
Stick to the change. Notice your urge to quit. Don’t act on it. Keep going.
Adjust again. When the change becomes normal, make another small adjustment.
This is the process of creating a new normal. It’s beautiful and simple.
"After a couple of years of self-doubt and continuing to work for other people, I realized that if I put my efforts into building my own business, I could be just as successful as I was making others.”
For a long time, I thought I had to choose one thing and just focus on that. I also fell into the trap of believing that I should get a "good job" and the rest of my life would fall into place. During my twenties, I worked as a Retail Store Manager and a Financial Adviser. I was good at my jobs but I wasn’t passionate about them. Although everyone considered me a top performer, deep down I knew I wasn’t putting in nearly enough effort.
When I became pregnant with my son, I took about a year and a half off to focus on mommyhood. I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be a stay at home mom because I missed being involved in business decisions. However, I didn’t want my son to spend the majority of his day in daycare. I was consulting on the side and began thinking seriously about doing it full time to become a work at home mom. After a couple of years of self-doubt and continuing to work for other people, I realized that if I put my efforts into building my own business, I could be just as successful as I was making others.
My other business ventures - writing, hosting and ministering - fit into my belief that you can have it all: personal, professional and spiritual development. Many women have been led to believe that they have to choose. You can’t be a sexy minister or you can’t be a ‘good’ working mom. I believe that it’s possible to be all the things you want to be if you figure out what is most important to you.
Finding your passion and/or being successful is no longer about society’s definition of those things but about what really makes you happy. At one point, people thought having a lot of money would solve all of their problems so the focus was on acquiring external things. I believe a shift is happening in our society where people are starting to refocus on internal fulfillment.
Why do you like it?
I love having control over my life. I love baking cupcakes for my son’s first grade class. I love sitting down and writing for hours. I love meeting new people and introducing them to the thousands of people in my network. I really love that I am in a place where I am being the person that I want to be. I may not have a lot of stuff or money but I have peace, joy, happiness and love. I have all of the things that money can’t buy.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up I wanted to be a lawyer. Although I graduated with a BA in Political Science from Vanderbilt University; I realized that I didn’t like reading as much as I loved to write. I do still enjoy a good debate, especially about politics ;)
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” – Thomas Edison
Your subconscious loves to do work while your body performs other tasks that are easy. I can prove this very easily by asking you how many good ideas you have had while driving or in the shower. When you are relaxed yet slightly distracted, your mind is often at its best.
Using subconscious requests will…
Improve your motivation.
Help you become happier.
Increase your emotional intelligence.
You’ll see improvement in less than a month.
My last request was…
“Please give me more patience when commuting to work and allow me to even enjoy my time in the car.”
Within a month I was enjoying my ride to work.
My latest request is…
“Let’s find creative ways to grow my blog.”
I took this approach because it’s going to take a request to my subconscious and action in my waking life to make this happen. This request is only a few days old, but it’s already working. Instead of just asking people to help vote for my blog on social sites that rate articles such as Stumble Upon and Digg, I’ve change my communication. I now friend someone, give a compliment (only if they are worthy) and tell them that they ever need any help to shoot me a message. They are much more willing to help me out.
My mindset is changing by setting my subconscious on a certain issue. I start to see new angles that I’ve never seen before. This subconscious request works for personal issues as well as work related concerns.
The 3 step request only takes five minutes:
Step 1: Before you turn out the light, close your eyes and take one minute to make a request to your subconscious. It can be anything. I would start small and make it open ended. I wouldn’t request to be an astronaut by the end of the month. Your subconscious is good, but not that good.
Step 2: Take two minutes to visualize yourself actually able to do this thing. Whether it is getting the motivation to jog before work or eating a healthy snack, you must visualize yourself doing the request that you asked your subconscious. Let’s say you want to jog before work: imagine yourself getting up a few minutes earlier than usual, putting on your exercise clothes and jogging shoes, and heading out into the crisp air. Then you start jogging, watching the sun rise over the buildings, the birds chirping, and you are feeling good.
Step 3: Take two minutes to imagine the feeling that will occur when you are able to accomplish this new thing. How do you feel when you walk back in your front door after a morning jog? Energized? Whatever feeling you want to achieves imagine that you have already created this emotion inside of yourself. Let it sink in, then go to sleep and let your subconscious do the rest of the work.
Your subconscious mind wants to help you improve your life; you just have to trust its vast resources and allow it to do its thing.
The Change Blog Recommends:
Action Makes Your Request Real
You may not want to go jogging after the first subconscious request, but try to visualize yourself going through the motions the first couple of weeks. Then just start putting on your exercise gear and go for a five minute walk. Taking these baby steps will set you up for your jogging routine. Then after a few weeks just go for it. Now that you have your emotions geared toward jogging it should spur you into action.
By allowing the emotional momentum to build, you can create motivation that will help you accomplish things that make you happier.
"It’s meaningful work that I am passionate about, that adds value to the world, that changes someone’s life for the better."
What do you do?
I am a career expert, author, speaker, professional blogger and podcaster as well as a business coach who helps corporate professionals excel or make drastic career transitions from corporate cubicles. In other words, I am a full-time entrepreneur but only after an engineering path followed by a decade long corporate career. I am living my passions every single day now and deciding my life’s path consciously and with intention. I have made it my life’s mission to inspire you to live life on your own terms, no excuses, no limitations, no exceptions.
I also run a popular show on iTunes, The Daily Interaction, which helps you learn how to communicate so effectively that you get everything you want in life.
How did you get there?
With a lot of hardship, and after taking a lot of wrong turns and hitting a lot of dead-ends. With a lot of perseverance and awakening and acceptance that I had made mistakes at first but I could turn things around with the right mindset and the right set of beliefs.
I only ever knew how to be an engineer and a good employee in Corporate America… for 12 years! Then I woke up to realize that I am following an empty shadow and my dreams are not in the highest ladder in corporate america but in doing my own thing. So I gave up my 6-figure cushy job and perks and started my own company in 2011. I did this by first starting a side-hustle for fun, which has now turned into my company, Prolific Living. I started doing what I had been curious about: writing. I wrote blog post after blog post, then I expanded to writing guest posts for other blogs, then I started creating ebooks and then self-published books and then my own products and programs and services.
It took a lot of preparation to build up my side-hustle and I did that while I still held on to my corporate job. I am now a published author, I speak at conferences, I write a professional blog and run a popular podcast. I coach people how to make drastic career changes, primarily how to either get promoted or get out of corporate america, depending on their desires and dreams.
I am also an expert in green juicing. In December 2011, I self-published my first green juicing guide on Amazon and it went on to sell thousands of copies. In November 2012, a traditional publisher approached us and less than 3 months later, I have a gorgeous hard-cover published book, The Healthy Juicer’s Bible, in all national bookstores and Costco’s, thanks to following my heart and my passion.
This past December, my business has grown so much that I had to hire my husband out of his corporate job. We made the most drastic shift from working in a safe company to working on our own without any business experience but with faith that we can make our dreams come true, that we will figure it out and be able to do what we LOVE to do. Now we own our own business, we travel internationally several times a year and we are making a difference with the products and services we create.
Why do you like it?
Because it’s meaningful work that I am passionate about, that adds value to the world, that changes someone’s life for the better. Because I love creating, whether it’s a blog post or a new episode for The Daily Interaction show or photography for my new product or writing my next book. I find it fascinating that we have so many tools and resources at our disposal now and how few take advantage of this outrageous opportunity in front of us.
And because I did not want to waste my life doing something that I was supposed to do and wonder for the rest of my days why that work is making me so miserable.
Because we have a duty to live our best, highest potential and if we waste it away and never realize it, I think it’s just a shame. So I love what I do because it gives me an opportunity to leave a footprint behind, and to be able to say that my life and my time was worth it! Maybe others can say that too if the work I leave behind impacts them in a positive way.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t know so much what I wanted to be when I grew up as much as I wanted to be free. I was born and raised in Iran and at the time of my childhood, there was a terrible war and a horrible revolution and our life was terrifying for a while until we were able to get out. All I wanted was freedom and happiness and my biggest dream was to come to America and to live in the land of freedom. I am glad to say that dream has been realized and I am immensely grateful for it.
Beyond that, I didn’t want much of anything. Well, I do remember enjoying clothing design a great deal, thanks to my fabulous grandmother who taught me. Someday, I still want to design clothes and take up knitting again but perhaps that’s a dream for another life. For now, I am quite happy living in my own reality.
You know those mornings when you wake up and your senses are not working properly and it’s as if the world is being transmitted to you through a layer of dirty cellophane? And what about your emotional state? Does everything get on your nerves, are you quick to anger, or do you feel like crying at the slightest criticism or suggestion? Do you feel like yelling profanities at no one in particular and going back to bed?
Well, maybe that’s just what you should be doing.
Let’s face it, we’re all busy. We live in a world where our value is measured by how hard we push to achieve our goals, by how many projects we have on the go, and by our ability to not let the stress of these pressures get to us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “give up on your dreams and let the world pass you by.” No. What I’m saying is this: if you don’t tick off the million items on your list today, will it matter in 20 years?
Let’s take a moment and look at the triggers that make it difficult to respond to everyday logic in the first place and why we are so quick to dismiss them? Often we are overwhelmed. Sometimes there are traumatic circumstances occurring in our lives. Sometimes we have simply woken up from a disturbing (or subconsciously informative) dream. Whatever the case, our ego can override our natural response to these triggers. We don’t want to be seen as weak, and we don’t want to let others down. But what good are we doing ourselves, or the ones we love, if we don’t acknowledge our own need for silence, inner reflection, emotional release, or down-time? In my opinion, not much.
Perhaps we need to learn from nature, whose very essence is defined by seasonal change and the balance between dormancy and production. Perhaps we need to forgive ourselves and pay attention to what our hearts and bodies are telling us. And perhaps we need to extend this same compassion to others.
There is no part of who we are that is not valid. When emotion stirs within our hearts, when we feel tired, or even angry, we are being signaled by our subconscious or inner Self. To deny these signals is to deny our totality. And no matter what, the Self will make itself heard. Whether it’s through our car breaking down, our child acting up, or our boss firing us (all of which can be seen as bad luck or simply the universe shitting on us) is beside the point. The fact is, if you are experiencing a string of “bad luck” you are probably not paying attention.
So put your jammies back on, climb back into bed, and read a good book. Let yourself cry for half the day, or go for a walk out in nature; whatever it takes to give you the time you need to listen. I guarantee you will wake up tomorrow feeling stronger and better equipped to face the challenges that come along with chasing your dreams.
Sokanu is the place to help you discover what you want to do with your life—and today we’re releasing updates to each of our careers that reveal what a career is really like. At a glance you can see what the future of a career looks like, how compatible you are, and the average happiness rating of each career.
Choosing the right career with Sokanu is about scientifically identifying your unique calling. Your happiness, fulfillment, professional performance, and unique abilities are all interconnected. See how you match up (or don’t match up) with each of our careers.
Read real reviews from people who have worked in a career—find out where they are now, how they got started, and why they liked or disliked it. Write your own review—or several! Your story might be the one to spark someone’s interest, clarify their direction, or give them courage. It’s amazing how powerful shared experiences and first-hand accounts can be.
How you decide which career is meant for you should be discovered in the most sincere way—from real people like you. With a more honest look at what a career is really like, we hope to get you closer to finding the perfect career.
"I find humanity to be forever fascinating and use film to uncover some of its secrets, sharing my findings with the world in hope that it might help them get closer to their inner truth and happiness in the process."
I am a film director and a screenwriter. I’ve also been known to edit and produce my own films, shop for costumes, hold lights, run catering, and expertly lie to the police about who put those cones blocking the street without a permit, amongst many other hats. Such is a life of the independent filmmaker. Any pride and ego you might have had coming in get trampled by the vision of making the best film possible, and as long as you love it, no task it asks you to perform is too hard or too crazy. Not even getting up at 3am on a freezing winter day to stand around in a park and shoot a handful of actresses dancing in gauzy dresses, praying they don’t get frostbite as the wind that whips them to tears also makes the images so damn beautiful you can cry.
How did you get there?
According to my mother, I just walked in one day, at the age of 8, and declared I was going to be a film director. My parents were business people, but loved and supported the arts, and never once told me I could not pursue my dream. I am eternally grateful to them for this, and firmly believe I would not be where I am now without them and their support. When I was 14, however, a war broke out in my home country of Bosnia and I found myself parentless for the first 9 months of my exile. Things could have gone many different ways, but my path lead to theatre. Realizing there was no magazine dedicated to it in all of Croatia (my country of refuge), I recruited a handful of friends and launched one, landing a job in a theatre company in the process. Bitten by that bug, I spent the next 10 years dedicated to perfecting my directing on NYC stages, but in 2003 my path came to yet another fork and I (yet again) chose the unfamiliar turn. The result was my first film, a feature documentary “Back to Bosnia,” which premiered at the AFI Fest in 2005, launching my filmmaking career. Seven years later and a number of films under my belt, I now have a fantastic manager and am looking to shoot my first feature film, “Summer Abroad,” this July.
Reading this, it all sounds so easy, but trust me not one step of it was. Sure, I was lucky in knowing what I wanted to do at such a young age, but that was just the beginning. Having the stubborn persistence in pursuing it, even when faced with war, exile, living on welfare, and not having any connections whatsoever in the industry, is really where that initial luck was harshly tested. All in all it was, and still remains, a hard path, full of twists and turns, but I would not trade it in for anything. At the end of the day, working this hard for something I love beats working much less for something I don’t. And I can’t wait to see where it leads me next!
Why do you like it?
Making films is one of those professions that gets you bonus points at cocktail parties. That is until the other person starts comparing you to Spielberg and all you can do is stand there and smile, wishing it was that easy. Sure, being a filmmaker has its glamourous moments, but for the most part it’s just hard work. Long hours, no money, and almost daily exposure to rejection and brutal criticism. So why do it? Because nothing in this world makes me happier than standing on the set of my film, seeing the world I’ve only dreamt of thus far, come to life. And then, many months later, seeing the audience’s faces light up or get teary, when they recognize this moment from my dreams as one of their own as well. I find humanity to be forever fascinating and use film to uncover some of its secrets, sharing my findings with the world in hope that it might help them get closer to their inner truth and happiness in the process.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Before that fateful declaration at the age of 8, my dream was to be a writer. I learned how to read when I was 4 and devoured books as a hobby. I wrote short stories and poems for the school paper and even a novella when I was 12. But I was also a passionate superhero lover and desperately wanted to meet Tarzan, so he could teach me how to be just like him. I still remember the day I was told that Tarzan was dead. It was my parents’ way of making me realize that the actor I was identifying with was just that - an actor. Who died. I sobbed for a week.
Start with a simple statement: what do you want to be?
Are you hoping to someday be a writer, a musician, a designer, a programmer, a polyglot, a carpenter, a manga artist, an entrepreneur, an expert at something?
How do you get there? Do you write your intention on a piece of paper, and put it in a bottle and launch it to sea, hoping it will manifest? No. The universe isn’t going to make this happen. You are.
Do you set yourself a big goal to complete by the end of the year, or in three months? Sure, but that doesn’t get the job done. In fact, if you think back on most examples in your life, it probably doesn’t work very often. How many times has this strategy been successful?
I’m going to lay down the law here, based on many many experiments I’ve done in the last 7 years: nothing will change unless you make a daily change.
I’ve tried weekly action steps, things that I do every other day, big bold monthly goals, lots of other permutations. None of them work except daily changes.
If you’re not willing to make it a daily change, you don’t really want to change your life in this way. You only like the idea of learning to draw/speak Japanese/play guitar/program in php/etc. You don’t really want to do it.
So make a daily change. Let’s dig into how it’s done!
How to Turn an Aspiration Into a Daily Change
Let’s name a few aspirations:
write a book
fall in love
travel the world
drink more water
take more pictures
read more books
How do you turn those lofty ideas into daily changes? Think about what you could do every day that would make the change happen, or at least get you closer to the goal. Sometimes that’s not always easy, but let’s look at some ideas:
lose weight – start walking every day, for 10 minutes at first, then 15 after a week, then 20 … once you are walking for 30-40 minutes a day, make another change — drink water instead of soda.
write a book – write for 10 minutes a day.
stop procrastinating – I can already hear the ironic (and original!) jokes about how people will deal with procrastination later (har!). Anyway, a daily action: set a Most Important Task each morning, then work on it for 10 minutes before opening your browser/mobile device.
fall in love – go somewhere each day and meet/social with new people. Or do daily things that make you a fascinating person.
be happy – do something each day to make the world better, to help people.
travel the world – save money (see next item). Or start selling your stuff, so you can carry your belongings on a backpack and start hitchhiking.
save money – start cutting out smaller expenses. Start cooking and eating at home. Sell your car and bike/walk/take the train. Start looking for a smaller home. Do free stuff instead of buying things.
drink more water – drink water when you wake up, then every time you take a break (once an hour).
learn Spanish – study Spanish sentences in Anki and listen to Pimsleur tapes 10 minutes a day.
take more pictures – take pictures at lunch (but dear jeebus, not of your lunch) and post them to your blog.
read more books – read every morning and before you go to bed.
You get the idea. Not all of these are perfect ideas, but you could come up with something that works better for you. Point is, do it daily.
How to Implement Daily Changes
This method is fairly simple, and if you really implement it, nearly foolproof:
One Change at a Time. You can break this rule, but don’t be surprised if you fail. Do one change for a month before considering a second. Only add another change if you were successful at the first.
Start Small. OK, I’ve said this two bajillion times. No one ever does it, though. Start with 10 minutes or less. Five minutes is better if it’s a hard change. If you fail at that, drop it to 2 minutes.
Do it at the same time each day. OK, not literally at the same minute, like at 6:00 a.m., but after the same trigger in your daily routine — after you drink your first cup of coffee in the morning, after you arrive at work, after you get home, after you brush your teeth, shower, eat breakfast, wake up, eat lunch, turn on your computer, first see your wife each day.
Make a huge commitment to someone. Or multiple people. Make sure it’s someone whose opinion you respect. For example, I made a commitment to studying/coding PHP at least 10 minutes each day to my friend Tynan. I’ve made commitments to my wife, to other friends, to readers of this blog, to readers of a newspaper on Guam, to my kids, and more.
Be accountable. Taking my programming example with Tynan … each day I have to update a Google spreadsheet each day showing how many minutes I programmed/studied each day, and he can (and does) check that shared spreadsheet. The tool you use don’t matter — you can post to Facebook or Twitter, email someone, mark it on a calendar, report in person. Just make sure you’re accountable each day, not each month. And make sure the person is checking. If they don’t check on you, you need to find a new accountability partner or group.
Have consequences. The most important consequence for doing or not doing the daily habit is that if you don’t, the people will respect you less, and if you do, they’ll respect you more. If your accountability system isn’t set up this way, find another way to do it. You might need to change who you’re accountable to. But you can add other fun consequences: one friend made a promise to Facebook friends that he’d donate $50 to Mitt Romney’s campaign (this was last year) each time he didn’t follow through on a commitment. I’ve made a promise to eat whale sushi (I won’t fail, because eating a whale is repugnant to me, like eating a cow or a child). I’ve promised to sing a Japanese song in front of strangers if I failed. The consequences can also be positive — a big reward each week if you don’t miss a day, for example. Make the consequences bigger if you miss two straight days, and huge if you miss three.
Enjoy the change. If you don’t do this, you might as well find another change to make. If the daily action feels tedious and chore-like, then you are doing it wrong. Find a way to enjoy it, or you won’t stick to it long. Or find some other change you enjoy more.
That’s it. Seven pretty simple steps, and you’ve got a changed life. None of these steps is impossible — in fact, you can put them into action today.
What daily change will you make today?
‘A year from now you will wish you had started today.’ ~Karen Lamb
“I was physically feeling the disconnect between who I was being and who I could be. That gap was much more painful than the stomach ulcers, migraine headaches and panic attacks I was experiencing from the stress of my job.”
I’m an acupuncturist and owner of a Chinese Medicine clinic, Thrive Holistics. I use acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy to assist my patients in achieving health and wellness goals such as better sleep, fertility, weight loss, and more balanced emotions.
How did you get there?
The path to my current career was a winding one, that’s for sure! Growing up I had a strong desire to help others. I originally thought that I would be a human rights attorney or a teacher, and I pursued both career paths in college. I wound up graduating from college and beginning a career in finance. I chose the path mostly because I was good at it, and partly because there was a voice inside of me that said in order to “make it,” I needed a career that would allow me to be successful financially. I am the first-born of immigrant parents, and I felt pressure to do something “safe” and lucrative, even thought I knew it wasn’t my passion. This decision was actually the most dangerous one I could have made for my well-being. I was working 6 days a week, at least 12 hours a day, and I was exhausted - but not just from my workload. In retrospect, I realize that I was physically feeling the disconnect between who I was being and who I could be. That gap was much more painful than the stomach ulcers, migraine headaches and panic attacks I was experiencing from the stress of my job.
A friend suggested I try acupuncture to help with my stress. I didn’t know much about acupuncture, but decided to try it out. It was during those one hour sessions that I was truly alone with myself, without distractions, and I could think clearly about the path my life was on. I knew that my current career wasn’t what I was meant to do, and a year later I made the decision to quit my job in finance and try acupuncture school. I was hooked after the first class, and graduated four years later with a Master’s degree and a professional license. I set up my acupuncture clinic shortly thereafter.
Why do you like it?
I love being of service to my patients and assisting them live with decreased stress and pain and increased joy and purpose. Alternative medicine is growing more popular each day, and it’s exciting to be on the forefront of these changes in healthcare. Many of my patients come to acupuncture after having tried “everything”, and the conditions tend to be chronic and / or difficult to treat with Western medicine. I get so much gratification from seeing my patients have dramatic results after living with their conditions for so long. Some of my patients have been relieved of lifelong digestive problems, gotten pregnant after trying for years, and gotten a full night’s sleep after years of insomnia.
Every day as an acupuncturist is different for me, and I consider that to be a huge perk! My patients constantly come in with conditions that challenge me to think and get creative in order to develop a treatment plan that will work for each person’s individual goals and lifestyle. I’m always learning, and never bored.
I love that when I’m with my patients, I can feel that I’m working and living in my optimum state of creativity and passion. I feel most like myself when I’m doing my work, and that’s how I know I’m in the right profession!
“When my wife and I moved to Florida for her career, I wasn’t sure how this older congregation would receive my spiky hair and outside-the-box personality, but they embraced me and encouraged my vision for the church and reaching out to young persons.”
I serve as the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Reddick, Fla. As the only staff of this small, rural church, I am responsible for preaching, worship, teaching, visionary leadership, pastoral care, evangelism and coordinating volunteers to help with our ministries. A regular week includes 30-60 hours of work. I spend most of that time researching and preparing for the Sunday morning worship service (including my sermon), attending to pastoral care needs and attending church events—such as committee meetings, fellowship gatherings and Bible studies. I spend the remainder of my time completing district and conference paperwork, preparing for weddings and funerals, managing conflict, preparing ordination paperwork and brainstorming/preparing for future events. I am blessed with great volunteers who I trust to prepare the youth and family activities and take care of the financial responsibilities, building management and marketing/evangelism needs. Even though I do not have a staff, these volunteers make my job much easier. Part of my job is to oversee their work, educate them on how to improve and continually celebrate the work they have done for the church.
How did you get there?
My senior year of high school, I delivered my first sermon at the youth Sunday service. This time (and every time I delivered a sermon after that), I received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the congregation. I knew that preaching was my gift, so I majored in Christian Education at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth to prepare to be a minister. I served as a youth minister at three different churches before becoming an associate pastor while I finished seminary at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. In The United Methodist Church, there is an ordination process to qualify each minister for a lifetime of service, and I am pursuing ordination as an elder in The United Methodist Church.
When my wife and I moved to Florida for her career, I wasn’t sure how this older congregation would receive my spiky hair and outside-the-box personality, but they embraced me and encouraged my vision for the church and reaching out to young persons. I have served in Reddick for 2 1/2 years now. In this time, the church has transformed from having an average of 15 during worship to 115. The church started with 5 youth and we now have more than 25. Before, the church was unable to pay bills without constant fundraisers and now we are self-sufficient and able to meet 100% of our conference apportionment payments. Now, funds raised help families in tough situations and help support the family, youth, and children’s ministries. We recently had 26 new members join the church in one Sunday. This is a testament to the excitement in our church, the motivation of the leadership and the joy that new, younger families bring to our congregation.
Why do you like it?
Tommy, Julya, and Luke Sims started attending our church when I first started my appointment in Reddick. I saw them every Sunday in worship, so I was surprised to learn that they were not attending church as a family at all before.
Tommy and Julya enjoyed my passionate and genuine sermons, and Tommy appreciated the fact that he could wear shorts to church. When Tommy’s lung cancer progressed, they asked me to pray for his upcoming operation. They informed me then that my sermons, leadership and attention to youth saved their family, their marriage and their faith.
Tommy died in September 2011 at the age of 42. At his funeral, I was touched to see he was wearing a wristband that says, “God is Big enough,” which I gave all of our church members during a sermon series I did on dealing with suffering. Julya told me he never took the wristband off. She said, “Russell, Tommy didn’t say much, but he definitely believed God is big enough.” There were more than 300 people at Tommy’s funeral, and we have many new church members today because the witness at Tommy’s memorial service touched them.
We had a mission trip in June 2012 where we helped local families with projects such as wheelchair ramps, yard work and home repairs. Julya and Luke both attended the mission trip to serve these families and do the hard, sweaty work in the middle of the hot Florida summer. Julya told me at the end of the week that this mission trip was the most transformative experience of her life and she felt that she could move on with her life after Tommy’s death. Twelve-year-old Luke broke down in tears one evening on the trip. He told me he knows he is going to be okay because his dad still lives within him.
I don’t just like my job; I love my job. To see the transformation of the Sims family in spite of tragedy is just one example of why I love what I do. There are countless stories of families and individuals who remind me of the eternal smile that a new life in Jesus Christ can bring. I continually have more confidence and passion to be a pastor in The United Methodist Church because of the inspirational transformations I am blessed to witness day after day.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
As a kid, I did not have much confidence. I felt like I was just mediocre at everything. I played “left out” on every sports team I was a part of, I didn’t excel in band and I wasn’t the brightest student. The only place where I felt special was in church. My youth group included my closest friends and nothing excited me more than to hear about how God can affect our lives. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I considered becoming a veterinarian or joining the military or working with computers, but I wanted a job that meant something to me.
After I delivered my first sermon, this was the first time I felt like someone special. This was the first time I felt like I could excel at something. I found the confidence to be someone through my church and my calling to be a pastor. I was the shyest, nerdiest kid growing up, but now every Sunday I stand up in front of my church and I know God gave me a gift. God made me to be awesome! I am humbled and blessed by the opportunity I have to serve as the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Reddick, Fla.I believe God made everyone to be awesome! My ministry is to empower people to do the ministry they are called to do.
Russell would love to answer any questions you have about his life or your own on his profile. Read more about his story and ask him questions on his Sokanu Profile
I’m a scuba diving instructor affiliated with two international agencies; individual and group adventure planner and leader; underwater photographer and videographer. I teach through private lessons, dive shops and local colleges, and have the qualifications to teach the sport anywhere in the world I am welcome.
How did you get there?
For the first 30 years of my professional life, I worked in the trenches of retail jewelry sales and management. Became a watch repairman —even put myself through the Gemological Institute of America to broaden my technical skills and make myself more marketable within the more specialized areas of the industry.
Most folks would think of this as a dream career, and it was up until the final few years, when things got a bit tough in retailing and Corporate didn’t seem to realize that our customers couldn’t simply opt out of the recession just because they decreed it. Going in to work was less and less of an anticipation and became more and more of a burden to be endured.
Realizing I had reached a crossroads after examining where I projected things heading, I resigned my last position on 24 December 2007 and have not looked back since.
There was no way around it; it was time for a frank evaluation of where I was in life, what additional skills I had, and what I could do to make certain that I never had to grade or sell another diamond again just to make ends meet.
So I followed the well-worn path others have before me and started listing the things I had done, could be doing and most of all—interested me in doing. I was looking for something outside the ordinary and mainstream that allowed me to take advantage of skills I already could identify and develop.
I hit on the unlikely thought of becoming a professional in the scuba industry. Since I was already a certified diver, I started enrolling in classes that brought me greater knowledge and training, and so began to move up the ladder.
I also lucked into a position with a maker of Dive Computers that helped me hone my technical knowledge even further, as well as my people skills dealing with Domestic and International clientele. (Thank you Cochran Undersea.)
Why do you like it?
Even as unfocused as I was in those early days of escape from the Company grind, I had started building the foundation that today affords me the joy of showing others the wonders of a world that most on Earth never experience—the 2/3rds of our planet hidden underwater. Life is enriching and exciting again, full of challenges to be met and overcome. I go to work in swim trunks and sandals, get plenty of fresh air and sunshine plus meet a variety of enthusiastic people who come to my classes from all walks of life.
As time has gone by, I found additional ways to take that initial scuba interest to new heights as a professional in the industry and to satisfy my desire to travel to far-away places and document in photos and videos the things seen and experienced by adding another title—Adventure Leader—booking and taking divers (and non-divers as well!) on journeys to places that will give them the same thrills that I have over the years from Australia to the Caribbean and beyond.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Someone people could look up to. I think I finally made it!
John Lewis is a scuba instructor holding active membership with two international training organizations, teaching through dive shops and his local community college. An Adventure Travel Planner and Leader, you can engage his travel services through the website www.aqualifeadventures.com and get to know him personally through his website www.johnlewisscuba.com or LinkedIn . His next major Adventure will be leading a group of divers to the Republic of Fiji in November 2013.
I have come to believe that high stress, constant anxiety over tasks and work and life, social anxiety … is all a part of the modern way of life.
Most people just don’t feel a sense of peace, of calm, of serenity, throughout their day.
I have to admit that I’m the same way some of the time, but I have learned a few things that have helped me create a feeling of calmness much more of the time than ever before.
It’s a series of habits that have developed over the last few years. I’m not perfect at them, but I do practice them, and they are always helpful.
These are habits, not a one-time change in my surroundings or work pattern. Changing your environment is great, but you can’t control the things that happen to you much of the time, and you certainly can’t control how other people act. The only thing you can control is your response — and this response matters. You can respond to the same event with anxiety or anger, or you can respond with peace and calmness.
Let’s figure out how.
The Habits of Calmness
These are the habits to develop that will help you develop calmness (based on my experience):
A calm morning ritual. Many people rush through their mornings, starting the day out in a stressful rush. I wake up a little earlier (5 a.m. these days, though that changes), and start with a little meditation, then a few yoga poses. I then start writing, before I let the noise in. Exercise is another component of my morning routine. You don’t need to do the same things, but find the quiet of the morning and make the most of it.
Learn to watch your response. When something stressful happens, what is your response? Some people jump into action — though if the stressful situation is another person, sometimes action can be harmful. Others get angry, or overwhelmed. Still others start to feel sorry for themselves, and wish things were different. Why can’t other people behave better? Watch this response — it’s an important habit.
Don’t take things personally. Many times the response (that you noticed in Habit 2) is to take things personally. If someone does something we don’t like, often we tend to interpret this as a personal affront. Our kids don’t clean their rooms? They are defying us! Our spouse doesn’t show affection today? He/she must not care as much as he/she should! Someone acts rudely at work? How could they treat us this way?! Some people even think the universe is personally against them. But the truth is, it’s not personal — it’s the other person’s issue that they’re dealing with. They are doing the best they can. You can learn not to interpret events as a personal affront, and instead see it as some non-personal external event (like a leaf falling, a bird flying by) that you can either respond to without a stressful mindset, or not need to respond to at all.
Be grateful. Sure, lots of people talk about gratitude … but how often do we apply it to the events of our day? Things are crashing down at work, or our boss is angry, or our co-workers are rude, or our kids are misbehaving, or someone doesn’t love us as we’d like … do these cause anger/anxiety/unhappiness, or can we be grateful? Drop the complaints, and find a way to be grateful, no matter what. And then smile. This unbending habit can change your life.
Create stress coping habits. Many times, when we are faced with stress, we have unhealthy responses — anger, feeling overwhelmed and withdrawing, eating junk food, drinking alcohol or taking drugs, shopping or otherwise buying stuff, going to time-wasting sites, procrastinating, and so on. Instead, we need healthy ways to cope with stress, which will come inevitably. When you notice stress, watch how you cope with it, and then replace any unhealthy coping habits with healthier ones. Healthy stress coping habits include: drinking tea, exercise, yoga, meditation, massaging your own neck & shoulders, taking a walk, drinking some water, talking with someone you care about.
Single-task. I’ve written numerous times in the past about single-tasking vs. multitasking, but I think people multitask now more than ever. People text while on the train, while walking, while driving. They tweet and post to Facebook and Instagram, they email and read blogs and news, they watch videos while getting things done, they watch TV while eating, they plan their day while doing chores. This is a great way to cause a level of anxiety that runs through everything you do, because you’re always worried you should be doing more, doing something else. What if, instead, you just did one thing, and learned to trust that you shouldn’t be doing anything else? It takes practice: just eat. Just wash your bowl. Just walk. Just talk to someone. Just read one article or book, without switching. Just write. Just do your email, one at a time, until your inbox is empty. You’ll learn that there is peace in just doing one thing, and letting go of everything else.
Reduce noise. Our lives are filled with all kinds of noise — visual clutter, notifications, social media, news, all the things we need to read. And truthfully, none of it is necessary. Reduce all these things and more, and create some space, some quiet, in your life.
Visit Zen Habits for more amazing and inspirational posts from Leo
Love and Success: How Supporting your Partner Can Help your Career
By Jeremy Newcombe
Working Together For Success
Almost a year ago, I left a job that I found was making me unhappy. It wasn’t a bad job per se, but I found it unsatisfactory, exhausting, and requiring a disproportionate amount of my energy compared to how it made me feel and what I earned. I decided to go back to school to learn the skills I would need to do something I actually enjoyed and had passion for.
Now, my situation is possibly a little bit different than most. Many people would love to be able to step out of their job and learn to go do what they love, but there are unfortunately many roadblocks along the way. I can tell you, I don’t think I would have been able to do this without the help and support of my wonderful wife. We were married last October, but for the years we’ve been together she has always been extremely compassionate and helpful in helping me find what I want to do in life. This post is about how our support and care for each other makes it possible to do what we enjoy.
What We Do
My wife works a nine-to-five in for a good company in a field she truly enjoys. Seeing her get satisfaction out of going to work is something I’ve always admired about her—she knows what she wants to do, she’s taken the necessary steps and worked hard to get there. On top of that, she’s very good at what she does, which makes her work all the more appealing to her. Personally, I find it very encouraging to see someone who works so hard be rewarded in this way, and watching someone work at a job that they enjoy is incredibly uplifting.
Of course, like any job, hers has its challenges. So does my schooling, for that matter, no matter how much I enjoy and learn from it. There are always hard days at the office, or exams to prepare for, and sometimes even doing what you love can make you feel beat. But this is where it fits together so well—our support for each other makes it possible for us to pursue our goals. My wife helps me in ways I can’t begin to describe, and I do whatever I can to make her life even just a bit easier.
How We Do It
For instance, I go to school at night. That gives me the day to prepare our meals, so that when she gets home (albeit always after I’ve had to leave for class) she has food ready for her. Conversely, while I have the time to do the cooking, I have a significantly hampered income while I’m back at school, so she ends up paying most of our grocery bills. This takes monetary stress off of me and allows her to ease up on her already busy work schedule. This kind of symbiotic relationship is incredibly helpful, and allows us to both live a little better (and eat better, for that matter. I have a feeling that without working together we’d both be living on a diet of Kraft Dinner and frozen perogies).
Of course, she isn’t just a sugar momma. I really don’t want to give that impression! Her love and support is not tied to her (or my) financial situation. The point to be taken from that example is how our strengths can compliment the strengths of the other. We work together very well, which is, after all, the reason I fell in love and married her.
I know I’m very lucky. I’ve been very fortunate to have such a fantastic support network—of whom my wife is a key member—that have let me go back to school to study and leave a job I wasn’t happy in. Through the support we give each other we’ve been able to spur each other on to live better and happier lives. I hope that anyone reading this can find the same in their friends and loved ones.