Going My Way?

Earlier this year I picked up a book called The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer.  His articulation of intention is far from our conventional understanding of the term.  It is rooted in support from the Universe rather than a personal inclination.  Around the same time I revisited the practice of using switch words.  Do people actually believe that all of these ideas work?  I gave it a shot and noticed that things began going my way.

Big City Tricksters

If you have ever spent time in Manhattan you may have noticed men of East Asian descent wearing long orange gowns to pass off as Buddhists.  They approach people asking for donations to build a Buddhist temple.  When I first moved here I fell for it and offered a couple of bucks.  My offer was refused as the man wanted more than just a few bucks.  At that point I took my money back and wished him a nice day.  Since that time I notice these men harassing people in all of the major tourist areas of the city.  When we witness gimmicks like these it trains our brains to be skeptical of everyone, at least a little.  Unfortunately, too many incidents like these create a skepticism that hurts more than it serves us.

Like most people, I am weary of new trends and get rich quick schemes.  If I have learned anything in my adult life it is that you reap what you sow and hard work is the only way to achieve glory.  Still, there has got to be something to these mystical strategies that continue to grow in popularity.  Admittedly, I have always been intrigued.  Earlier this year when I found myself unemployed and ready to throw myself into something authentically aligned with my purpose, I needed help.

The Conscious Shift

I began to think in accordance with abundance and intention.  With no paychecks coming in I lived as though my finances were not an issue.  Switch words also made their way into my days.  Within weeks I began to book paid speaking gigs.  First one, then another, and then another.  I was overjoyed at manifesting the prosperity I was visualizing.  I know this sounds too good to be true but it’s an honest account of the order in which things played out for me this year.  In recent months I dropped the habit of thinking in abundance and using switch words, and my gigs have dried up.

All of this could be a coincidence but I stopped believing in coincidence long ago, and so should you.  Be open to the possibility that reality is greater than that which we perceive with our limited senses.  If we heard a blind man tell us that the world is dark simply because he cannot see it we would call him a fool.  Similarly, believe there is more than we understand out there.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!  Be skeptical when you have something to risk.  When you don’t, open your heart and your mind and allow miracles to enter your life.

I am going back to aligning myself with the power of intention and incorporating the mantra of switch words in my life.  There are other ways of commissioning metaphysics to get where and what you want in life as well.  As they present themselves to you, either through a friend or through book, embrace them.  Practice them with love and positivity.  Per the direction of the late Bob Marley, don’t worry about a thing cuz every little thing is gonna be alright!

The Good, The Bad, and The Comedy

There is only one word that could sum up the past two weeks: tumultuous. While I was wasting time worrying about trivial things like steady income, health insurance, and permanent housing, something terrible happened. I experienced the death of a young member of my family.

A Period of Contrast

If there is anything that pushes the reset button on our plans in life it is loss. Suddenly, the important things seem trivial and the things we overlook come to light. In this particular case my life was in stark contrast. I had started a comedy workshop around the time I find out about my cousin’s passing. Here I was mourning a young life taken too soon while attempting to write comedy material. None of it made sense, but all of it made sense. I wanted a challenge, and boy did life deliver.

I have been feeling a lot of pressure to think positive, despite my fragile circumstance. My husband lost his job just last month and I lost mine earlier this year. We live in a cramped apartment with a baby. I believe that the universe is benevolent and delivers what you believe you deserve. If I think about what I am lacking, I will lack it even more. If I am grateful, I will receive abundance. Thinking positive has started to feel more like work than a natural state of mind. Fear has no place in the paradigm of abundance. I must think positive and eradicate all fears in order to make progress! But what if I am afraid that I don’t have what it takes to think positive? Ugh, this is hard.

Still in the Storm

After the passing of my cousin I’ve started to find myself being present more often. I am genuinely grateful for the little things and I do believe that as long as I am alive, there is hope. It is all still very fresh and I find myself feeling deep sadness on one hand, and fearless on the other. Death has a way of liberating those left behind. What is the worst that can happen? When it has already happen, we tend to ease up on the little things that barely matter in the grand scheme.

I finished writing a five minute comedy set and performed it in front of my class today. My teacher said I am ready to take the stage at a comedy club this Friday. I never thought I would be able to do comedy while mourning the loss of an amazing human I was lucky to call family. But maybe that’s just the thing. Comedy is rooted in genuine emotion but delivered as a farce. The stark contrast between the inspiration for the material and the delivery is what makes comedy so engaging. Laughter is the best medicine.

Here’s hoping I can deliver a healthy dose of it this Friday!

The Power of Focus

Confidence

In 2014 I was hiking with my husband in Northern Thailand.  He was trailing behind attempting to take in the moment in many ways:  through a go pro, a point-and-shoot camera, and of course his own two eyes.  I cautioned him to focus on where we was walking and be careful.  My words fell on deaf ears.

Suddenly, I heard him scream and turned to witness him rolling down the side of the mountain.  I began to panic and screamed myself until I heard a thud.  Fortunately, he only fell about 15 ft.  When he got up he seemed okay to walk but was covered in fire ants.  Fortunately, we weren’t too far from a waterfall where he was able to wash them off.

When you juggle too many things at one time you will eventually crash or, in this case, fall off of a mountain.  Focus on one thing at a time.  This way you won’t overburden your body or mind.  A good way to do this is to make a list each morning.  You can write down the order of priority and start working on each task one by one.  A strategy for setting priorities is something I will go into detail about in a future article.  Making lists helps you keep track of things without fearing you will forget something.  Otherwise you will be engaged in one activity but your mind will be elsewhere worrying about all the other things you need to do.  Relieve your mind of that burden and allow yourself to focus on one task.  If that task is hiking a mountain you will thank yourself for it!

Master Your Craft

Another risk of doing too many things is that you may not do them all well.  When you don’t do them well you might think that you lack ability when what you truly lack is focus.  If you want to learn to play the guitar, become fluent in French, and learn to sail, I say do them all!  But do them in sequence.  Master one, then move on to the other.  By dedicating yourself fully to something you are giving it, and yourself, a fair chance.  Building upon your mastered skills is encouraged, but trying to master them all simultaneously can prove counter-productive.  Ultimately, it could adversely affect your confidence.

I have seen this myself in life as I was a habitual multi-tasker.  At any given time I would be bartending, producing a TV show, working a 40 hour/week job, and planning a vacation.  My entire 20’s were spent in the pursuit of many things at once.  In my thirties I was given sage advice to focus on one thing at a time.  By following it I have achieved success in many areas and cultivated greater confidence in my abilities.  Self-confidence is the golden key to expanding the landscape of your hopes and dreams.

If you are reading this article then you have a thriving curiosity that will take you far in your pursuits.  I encourage the desire to learn to continue burning, but suggest honing in one one feat a time.  Focus, focus, focus!  It could mean the difference between being a ‘jack’ of all trades or a ‘master’ of all trades.  Be the master!

Opportunity in the Pages of a Book

I received a book titled ‘The Irish American Tradition’ in the mail from its author.  The story behind this event is inspiring and sheds some light on why I chose to become a professional speaker.  I will be opening for the author at his book signing in Manhattan this Friday.  This post is about how booking this opportunity changed the course of my career.

The Revolving Door

About six months ago I was working a job that I did not enjoy.  I would spend every evening after work looking for other ways to make a living.  I had spent 1.5 years working for a company that had little value for the employee and much value for the bottom dollar.  While this is not rare, it is not my idea of a fulfilling way to spend the majority of my days.  Still, I managed my responsibilities and kept the companies client’s happy.

Then, out of nowhere, I was laid off.  My boss told me the company was downsizing and management was the first to go.  I went from a full-time employee earning a solid six-figure salary with full benefits to unemployed.  The situation could be perceived in one of two ways : look at it as the loss of a job, or look at it as gaining the freedom to do something I love.  I chose the latter, and joined a site where I could book speaking gigs.

A Positive Sign

Within 24 hours I booked my first gig.  I took it as a sign that being laid off was a gift of opportunity for me.  Since that moment I have wasted no time in honing my craft as a speaker and an MC.  For the past 10 years I have booked speaking gigs for television and various social events, but never thought to make it a full-time business.  It was only when I was faced with a situation where I had nothing to lose that I decided to give it a sincere shot and take it to the next level.  This is a prime example of how one door closing leads to another, more gracious and inviting, door opening.

I have booked other gigs since that time, but the first gig that I booked takes place this Friday.  It is indeed a very special occasion for many reasons.  Not only is it a prestigious event taking place in a historical city landmark, but it is a reminder to me to look for opportunity in every tough situation.  I share this as a reminder for you to do the same.

 

The Benefits of Kindness

 

Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt like they gave you a big, warm hug just by how they treated you?  It probably felt refreshingly good.  What do you give to people you meet?  Whether it’s your first time meeting them or your tenth, there is a piece of your essence that you give to them.  It’s what leaves an impression.  One meeting could change everything for the better, or for the worse.  The next time you meet someone leave them with something they can’t deny: kindness.  The benefits of kindness are greater than you might think.

Kind Credentials

I am an extrovert.  I can spark up a conversation with anyone about anything and sincerely enjoy it.  Even when I am not feeling my extroverted best I will make a concerted effort to talk.  Why?  Mostly because I want the other person to feel relevant.  I’m not sure where this all began or if it has always been in me.  I remember being about 5 years old sitting in the trunk of my parents station wagon with my best friend waving at everyone in their cars.  It felt good seeing smiles on people’s faces and I am sure, in some ways, it made me feel significant.

Alternatively, when I was in the ninth grade I had a few friends who were bona fide snobs.  For the sake of this article we will call them ‘the snobs’.  I recall walking to class with less popular girls and the snobs actually pulling me aside and saying ‘ew, why are you walking with her?’.  When a boy would crush on me the snobs would spare no expense in making fun of him.  Looking back now it was pretty pathetic.  The snobs were who they were but the pathetic part is that I lowered my standards and called them my friends.  From that experience I learned what kind of person I did not want to be.

 

Cold As Ice

I was born in a very racist city and era in Canada and was frequently referred to as a ‘paki’.  My parents were from India but to white Canadians we were all pakis.  Being too young to understand that it was not politically correct, I accepted the fact that we minorities were inferior to white people.

I recall being 10 years old and being on an ice skating trip with my school.  I skated up to a caucasian boy and girl who were in my class and the boy said ‘get out of here you paki’.  That was the first time it felt wrong…because it hurt.  There were a few other incidents such as this one that caused me pain.  Knowing how bad it felt to be mistreated I could not allow myself to bring that upon anyone else.  I suppose I could have taken another route and projected that pain onto others, but that is not how we evolve.  When we feel something is wrong, first-hand, we are getting a lesson.  We are being given insights into what behaviors cause what feelings.  There is no need to perpetuate them.  We can break the cycle and push more goodness out to the world.

One Person Welcome Wagon

In college one of my friends told me that I am like the welcome wagon for any newbie who joins our group.  She told me that I have a warmth that makes people feel invited.  I didn’t understand why this was a unique quality, since it didn’t have to be.  We have a choice when we meet someone.  I never forgot that comment as I continue to hear similar remarks ever since.  At work I was the person that everyone could count on for a smile.  In my social circle I was the shoulder for my friends to lean on.  While this might sound draining, it was just the opposite.  I felt empowered and it instilled in me the confidence that I could make a positive impact on another person.

Kindness ‘Kampaign’

Being kind is not a weakness.  It is a virtue of strength.  Your cup has to be full if you are going to be able to share its contents with someone.  I realize that the more I share the more gets poured back into my cup.  Try it.  Choose kindness and compassion the next time you meet a person or an animal.  Be sincere about it.  We are all going through life and dealing with struggles in the same way.  Sometimes we just need another person to make us feel important, welcomed, and respected.  Be that for someone else and watch your confidence grow, self esteem improve, and cup start to overflow!  The end result for me is that I have strong and healthy relationships with friends and family, as well as strangers I meet for the first time.  Who doesn’t want that?

Check out 5 key benefits of kindness summarized below:

  1. You will gain confidence and your self esteem will improve.
  2. The world will become a slightly better place because you positively impacted someone.  It is highly likely that the person you impacted will pass on your kindness!
  3. You will become more attractive.  Like bees to honey, people will flock to you because of your kind demeanor.  The right people, anyway.
  4. You will have more fulfilling relationships.  When kindness is at the core of any interaction then it is bound to be a positive one.
  5. You will leave a lasting impression.  Just as people remember when someone has done them wrong, they also remember when someone has made them feel good.  This could lead to a number of opportunities and opened doors!

Wherever you go and whomever you meet you can can always give the gift of kindness.  It costs you nothing and pays you back in multiple ways.  So, keep it kind folks!

10 Practical Ways To Transform Your Life

There is a species of turtle in South Africa that is born with immense pressure.  Specifically, as soon as the turtles are born they must dash to the ocean before predators get to them.  There is very little time to do this and, even if they make it to the ocean, they are still at risk.  The turtles are born with instincts which guide them in the right direction yet many do not make it.  The need for survival overshadows all other needs, including the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams.  Humans, on the other hand, have a much better survival rate upon starting life.  We have plenty of time for hopes and dreams.  Why, then, do we appear so lost when it comes to determining what they are and how to fulfill them?

Rebellious Beginnings

I was a bad student in High School.  I skipped class any chance I could and dreaded bringing my report card home to my parents.  My grades, especially stacked against my A average siblings, were pathetic.  It’s not that I had a learning disability or that I was lazy, I just wanted freedom to learn about things that interested me.  Instead, I would sit in Algebra but dream about Archeology.  Keep in mind that this was the 1990’s.  There was no internet available to satiate my thirst for knowledge about fossils and ancient artifacts.  My friends were the reason I enjoyed high school at all.  We would exchange notes between classes, save each other’s seats in the cafeteria, and clean gym mats together during detention.  Good times!

Now that you have a picture of the kind of student I was try to imagine me choosing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life as a career during that time.  I was too busy trying to learn how to forge grades on my report card to think about what to do for a living!

Despite my unscholarly habits during high school I managed to graduate at the young age of 16.  This was my first taste of succeeding at a big dream.  My grades were okay, and my SAT score something my siblings would torture me with for years, but I would dream about going to college and found a way to graduate High School in the eleventh grade.

I selected a major, started a career, and on the side continuously searched for something I was passionate about to replace my career.  I started a speed dating business, produced short films, recorded a cd, and performed in TV shows.  Every step of the way I heard this little voice in my head question ‘isn’t it too late to do this?  Don’t you think you are over your head?’.  Unfortunately, another little voice would reply ‘probably’.  Just like that, I killed my own little dreams, my South African turtles, before they had a chance to thrive.

From Detention to Dreams

In recent years I have learned to modify the dialog that goes on in my head.  I made tangible changes in my daily life which helped me understand myself better and take charge of my actions.  Since then I have learned to live more authentically and dared to dream.  I also learned the grand secret that for anything to come to fruition one must sincerely want it with all of their heart.  This in no way undermines the value of hard work, as that goes hand in hand with desire.

The following are 10 practical changes to help you get started on your path to manifesting your dreams.

Thinking big is still just thinking

1. Turn Off The TV

I read somewhere that ordinary people seek entertainment, while extraordinary people seek education.  I was not a good student when I was younger because I resisted being standardized.  My mind was curious and I was full of energy.  School was limiting for me as I wanted to be free to experience life and learn on my terms.  Now I can, and the more I learn the more empowered I become.  Timing is everything, and time is precious.

Seize The Day

Around 2008 I moved into a new place and decided to forego cable.  Frustrated, I didn’t quite know what to do during the late evenings.  It was during this time that I started to understand how big a role television played in my life.  I would eagerly anticipate episodes of shows and allow ideas of characters and Hollywood gossip to linger in my mind.  I was spending countless hours watching celebrities who were living out their dreams instead of investing in mine!  After a few weeks of no television I began to read books.  Then I started to meditate.  From then on I refused to give in to television as a means to help me pass my days.  I no longer wanted to pass my days.  I was ready to seize them!  Letting go of TV was the beginning of my transformation.

Mass Brainwashing

Television consumes valuable time, and the things you watch play a bigger role in your life than you realize.  As humans we tend to emulate behaviors we witness.  Television has set such a low standard for humanity, not to mention it is overwhelmed with advertisements telling you to buy things that you probably don’t need.  Picture 10,000 people in one hall all watching the same programs for 5 straight hours.  Imagine their eyes fixated on a screen and their mind quickly absorbing everything they are being fed.  Now imagine those same 10,000 people outdoors in Central Park on a sunny day enjoying one another’s company and sharing ideas.  Big difference, right?  We place so much trust in television networks that we allow ourselves to sit and become brainwashed.  It is called programming for a reason!

Protect your precious mind and let it be inspired by real life.  Pick up a book which is focused on a particular subject, or take a walk in the park.  Observe the brilliance of nature and watch how quickly incredible ideas awaken in your mind.  You will start to understand your purpose and uncover your dreams.

2. Meditate

I know many people cringe at this suggestion so let me make this easier for you.  Pay attention to the thoughts going on in your head.  When you stub your toe, listen to what you tell yourself.  You probably think something along the lines of ‘Oh, I’m such an idiot!’  That’s it.  Just observe what you are thinking, because you ARE thinking.  In fact, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day.  With that many thoughts it is difficult to control the quality of them.

Find A Meditation Class

If you are anything like me then you could be thinking one thing one moment, then see a squirrel, and be completely onto another train of thought the next moment.  I sometimes joke around that I have ADHD when really I just have too much going on in my noggin.  I used to have difficulty falling asleep at night because all of the world’s problems would make a grand appearance in my mind the moment my head hit the pillow.  There had to be a way to eradicate the number of thoughts and cultivate productive, positive ones.  I found a meditation center in my city and began taking their free classes.  Once I learned the principles I began practicing them in my daily life.  Not only am I able to fall asleep within a few minutes now but I have become a more calm, patient, and conscious person.

Like the darkness in a room that is chased away with light, becoming a witness of your thoughts will decrease their quantity.  You will find peace and wisdom in the spaces between them.  You will also be able to transform negative thoughts into fierce, powerful, positive ones!  This will alter the course of your entire life and breathe energy into your dreams.  The next time you stub your toe you might be gentle with yourself and laugh it off.  It is possible!

Be Present

Another way to become meditative is to be present.  Focus one by one on each of your senses and take in the moment.  Too often we find ourselves consumed with the past or worrying about the future that the present moment evades us.  Be still and acknowledge the beauty in the now.  A great online resource for practicing being present is Find Mindfulness.

3. Think About What You Would Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail

I wish I made this saying up but it is actually from a magnet.  The magnet is on my fridge as a reminder that the fear of failure is no reason to not start something.  Failing is a part of learning.  Failure teaches humility and enables us to identify what we need to do better in order to succeed.  Personally, this saying makes me feel invincible!  Keep it as your mantra and read it every morning.  Let this be the tone that  guides you through your day.

4. Picture It

Visualization is gaining popularity, and for good reason!  Every action is rooted in a thought.  Visualization is like the prototype you are working towards.  Think of something amazing that you want for your life and hold onto that picture in your mind.  From there, begin taking action.  Visualization and meditation go hand in hand.  First you observe your thoughts (meditation), then you replace the ones you don’t like with positive ones (visualization).  Just like all matter in the universe, dreams are derived from energy.  Channel your energy into the direction of your desired outcome.  You lose nothing in attempting this!

5. Believe That You Are Worthy

This idea became clear to me a few years ago when I was sitting in a raw vegan cafe with a friend listening to her complain about her sad love life.  She could not seem to hold on to a relationship, even though she was the ideal ‘catch’.  She was beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, adventurous, and very grounded.  After listening to her I realized the problem.  She wanted something (a good relationship), but deep down did not believe that she deserved one.

It was an acute awareness for me as I realized I tend to be the same way.  I my professional career as Project Manager I was being paid around 20% less than my counterparts.  I was happy with my salary and didn’t feel as though I deserved more.  My managers and the consulting firm I was working for at the time had awarded me several honors and emails recognizing my work, yet I never got a raise.  There is a thin line between being humble and just plain hopeless. I was hopeless.  After that contract ended I changed the rhetoric in my mind.  I began to believe that I was worth at least 25 thousand dollars more than what I was getting paid at my previous job.  Within 5 months I found a job paying me exactly 25 thousand more.  That is the power of self-worth.

You Can Walk The Moon

Have you ever met someone who constantly complains and plays victim in their own life?  Have you noticed that things continuously go wrong for them?  Now try to think of someone that has everything going for them.  Imagine their attitude.  Is it positive? Do  they exhibit an unusually high level of confidence?  If you want something, I mean really really want it, you have to remind yourself that you are worthy of it.  You are just as worthy as anyone.  Do you think Neil Armstrong thought he was not good enough to go to the moon?  Of course not.  His subconscious and conscious mind, as well as internal dialog, all aligned to convince him that there was nobody more worthy of walking on the moon that he.

Neil Armstrong was just a man. He was not born extraordinary.  Just as he was able to manifest his dreams through a strong sense of self worth, plus hard work, so can you.  Again, you lose nothing in attempting this.  If you find this one difficult then I suggest you write down affirmations each day stating what you want and that you are worthy and deserve it.  It is a life-altering exercise!  My next suggestion can also help.

6. Surprise Yourself

Pushing your own boundaries is one of the most transformational things you can do.  It is scary, but not impossible.  When you were younger you probably learned to ride a bike.  The first few times it seemed like an impossible feat, but eventually you were riding into the sunset!  After learning to ride the bike maybe you attempted to learn how to ride with one hand, and then no hands.  With each obstacle you gained confidence.  It is not about what others think of you, but about what you discover about yourself.  This is another reason I let go of television and other forms of mass media.  Much of the programming depicts success as being rich and beautiful, when truly it is about becoming the best version of you.

In the eighth grade my parents moved us to a new city.  Being the new kid in school I slowly made a few friends during the first month.  Elections were underway for student government and back then it was all a big popularity contest.  Out of nowhere I grew some cojones and ran for Treasurer.  I don’t think more than 5 people even know my name but I wanted to break into the new school as a member of student government and leave a legacy.

Big Bangs and a Long Shot

My opponent was a beautiful, popular girl named Biljana.  She wore trendy clothes and used a lot of hairspray to get her bangs to make a sort of rainbow over her head.  I, on the other hand, wasn’t allowed to use hairspray and my clothes were from K Mart.  Election Day arrived and I walked onto that stage and delivered the best speech I had ever written in my 13 years of life.  I walked off with a few light applauses and a pretty good idea that I wasn’t going to win.  I lost by a landslide. Biljana and her bangs just had to walk on stage to get an auditorium full of applause.  I wasn’t mad though.  It was a long shot and I felt proud of myself for just going through with it.  To this day I push myself and try my best, leaving the results in the hand of fate.  I focused on the courage I had in eighth grade rather the results. Six years later I would run for Secretary of a student organization at University and win.

Commit to Something

If you want to start a business but you are afraid to meet new people then you need to sign up for a networking event.  Commit to what you are afraid of.  You have from now until the event to figure out how to muster up the courage.  If you want to be a motivational speaker but are afraid of public speaking then you need to sign up for Toastmasters.  Whatever it is that you know is good for you but you are afraid of, do that.  When you succeed at transcending your own boundaries you realize untapped potential.  This potential is limitless!  It is exactly what you need to gain confidence and know that you are worthy.

7. Be Unique

In life we are surrounded by influences.  Whether it is the lyrics in a popular song or our best friend trying to get us out of our apartment and to a party.  We tend to go along with whatever is suggested because its just easier to be ‘normal’.  Here is a newsflash:  There is no such thing as normal.  If you take a look around you you will notice that most people dress pretty much the same, use the same slang words, and behave in similar patterns.  This is called conditioning.  It feels easier to fit in and sail through life unnoticed.  And yet depression and anxiety are amongst the most prevalent illnesses in our society.  Something does not measure up.

Most people are so entrenched in the fabric of what is considered ‘normal’ that they overlook extraordinary and unique qualities inherent in them.  Don’t be those people.  Follow your instincts and live life authentically. As a vegan I can attest to being off the grid when it comes to my diet. I have faced opposition in various forms but I know that I am living my truth.  Slowly, I am witnessing others begin to change direction and join me in the vegan lifestyle.  When you march to the beat of your own drum you will inspire others to do the same.

Authenticity

If you can acknowledge the influences around you then you will begin to overcome them.  At that point, try to be cognizant of your own behaviors and understand if they are truly a result of your desires, or the conditioning of your environment.  This can sometimes be a painful awareness, but once you transform into the most authentic you, you will feel liberated.  You will be ready to move steadfast towards your life’s goals.

8. Invest in Yourself

I have heard this advice many times growing up but I never quite understood what it meant.  Does investing in oneself mean spending time on your goals or does it mean spending money?  I have come to the conclusion that it could mean both.  Do not be frugal when it comes to fulfilling your dreams.

I consider myself responsible with money.  At 22 I had a house mortgage and managed to pay it off in 7 years.  I would spend on things that I needed but tried to save as much as I could.  When it came to pursuing my dreams I would cut corners and hope that my hard work alone would do the trick.  It is no surprise that almost everything I wanted to do back then was short-lived.  I did not financially invest in the tools I needed to take my dreams to the next level.

Depending on what you are trying to do hard work might be enough but, if it isn’t, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.  When I moved to New York I wanted to make films.  I was in a new city and didn’t know anybody who owned a camera, so I went out and bought one.  Within one week of purchasing my camera I made 2 short films. I finally had the tool that I needed to reach my goal.

If you want something bad enough, but are struggling financially, then I suggest you try to save up for whatever it is you need.  Look at where you are spending frivolously and cut back.  In circumstances where this is not possible then try to work with others doing whatever it is you want to do.  For example, if you want to make films but cannot afford a camera, then offer to help other filmmakers with their shoots.  This way you will earn the money you need and gain experience as well.

Online Fundraising

Another option is to start an online funding campaign.  Companies like Kickstarter and GoFundMe have revolutionized the fundraising process by enabling anyone to solicit funds for their projects.  If you can put together a slick fundraising campaign and/or target your community of friends and family, you may just get the financial help you need to get moving towards your dreams.

9. Don’t Measure Your Purpose Against Anyone Else’s

I refer to dreams in a general sense because they come in all forms.  The common denominator is that they bring you a sense of purpose and make you feel complete.  Dreams can also change.  For example, you might want to be lawyer, but halfway through law school you take a class that inspires you to become a police officer.  That is ok!  As long as you are working towards something you have the opportunity to discover what you truly want, or don’t want.

I know a woman who feeds the squirrels in the local park every day.  I met her a few months ago and we have since become friends.  The other day she admitted to spending upwards of $300 per month on nuts for the squirrels.  She was an actress and had some success in her career, but at this stage of her life she gets satisfaction and a sense of purpose out of caring for the squirrels.  The furry rodents drew her in and she is now considering getting her Wildlife Rehabilitator License.  She moved to Manhattan with a dream of becoming an actress but found her purpose in caring for squirrels.  It really is a beautiful thing.

Whether your dream is to be the next President of the United States or to get your license to care for wildlife, own it.  No dream is too big or too small.  It need only give you the sense of purpose you yearn for.

10. Make A Plan

Every dream needs a plan.  Without a plan we risk getting lost in the minutia and making a lot of headway but no results.  You need results.  In my professional capacity I am a Project Manager so I get paid to make plans and ensure that a project is completed on time and within budget.  Corporations large and small pay top dollar for people to manage their projects.  Why?  Because without someone to oversee the schedule and bring a project to life they risk losing their investment.  In the same way you also need to treat your time, and anything else you put into your goals, as an investment.

Milestones

If your dreams are long-term then break them out into short-term milestones.  This way you are accountable to making at least some progress.  If you are a procrastinator then it is especially important to put several milestones into your plan.  An example of this is someone writing a feature film script.  They may have a 6 month goal to finish the script but they can break that time into shorter segments.  The first step in writing a film script is developing a treatment.  A treatment is an outline of the story.  Completing the treatment could be the first milestone and they could schedule one week for this task.  The second milestone could be to have 10 pages completed within five days.  When work is segmented you increase your chances of staying on target and not getting overwhelmed.

Charting Tasks

In a practical sense you need to open up Excel, or some other type of spreadsheet software, and create a chart.  The chart should include all of the tasks you need to complete in order to reach your goal.  It could also include a list of resources that you could reach out to for help.  It’s okay to ask for help!  Next to each task you can make a column for your Start Date and a column for your End Date.  You need only estimate these dates, but I suggest you review your plan weekly to make sure you are on track. You could also add another column to track what percentage complete you are with a task.  The possibilities are endless, but the idea is to make a plan and review it regularly.  A great resource for managing tasks and staying efficient can be found here.

When you master any or all of these techniques you will see an improvement in your life.  Whether you are working on discovering what you dreams are, or you have several little ones, I urge you to keep moving ahead with the knowledge that anything is possible.  The only thing left to do is figure out what you will do once you achieve them!

That Time I Took a 90k Pay Cut

That time would actually be now.  I am going to chronicle my journey from working at a job that opposed every value I stand for to working for something I believe in.  Oh yeah, the dream job pays about 90k less than the other.  I repeat, it pays a generous full time salary less than what I was previously earning.  Why did I do it?

Happy Job, Happy Life

When I was 18 and a student at the University of South Florida I got a part time job on campus for an organization called Soberride.  Soberride was created to safely drive drunk students home from bars.  It was the Uber of the 90’s, except it was free.  I loved that job.  Every time I clocked in for my $5.25 an hour gig I was excited.  I not only got to drive a 12 seater van all around Tampa for 4 hours but I got to meet some really interesting, and mostly drunk, people.  I credit that job with keeping me sober for many years to come.  Because my job was enjoyable it enabled me to balance everything else in my life.  And then I graduated and entered the dreaded real world.

For the next 12 years I would endure painful commutes, irate bosses, and cubicle hell.  My only solace during the early years of my career was the move Office Space.  At least I knew that someone got it.  I remember finding a lamp in our jumbo office supplies magazine that mimicked daylight.  Basically, we were cut off from sunshine so this was the next best thing.  Now you might think, ‘why didn’t you change careers or find something else to do that you loved?’.  The answer is simple.  I am a Canadian citizen and was on a temporary visa that would be revoked if I did not stick to my software career.  Basically, it was suck it up or get deported to Canada.  Yes, there is such a thing.

Possibilities and Roadblocks

Eventually, 17 years down the road, I got my green card and the ocean parted before me opening up a path to do just about whatever I wanted for a living.  And then I got laid off, married, and pregnant.  Suddenly, the responsibility of a baby overshadowed everything known to man and I needed to find a job as soon as possible.  And I did.  I was hired as a Senior Project Manager for a small consulting firm, working from home.

I was doing great, learning new technologies and managing the firms entire internal staff as well as every project and client.  I worked long hours and treated each client, even the nasty ones, with the utmost respect.    When I let my employers know that I was pregnant their initial response was ‘you know we don’t offer maternity leave, right?’.  Yes, I know that this is the USA.  The only developed country void of maternity benefits.  Here I was working for two guys who cared about what most corporations care about:  the bottom dollar.  Suddenly it was a scramble to find an interim replacement for me, which I assisted with.  I worked up until the day I was in labor.  I actually was in labor but finished my work day before heading to the hospital.  I recall feeling a bit of guilt when I emailed my bosses informing them that I was in labor and would not log in on Monday.  As if I didn’t have other issues to worry about?!  I felt so dependent on this job and afraid of not having steady income that I made it a priority over my mental and physical health.  I know that I am not alone here.  Fear is destructive.

After having my baby I returned to work and the projects continued to pile on.  I worked long hours, making sure that my managers, our staff, and all of our clients were happy.  Then something happened.  A client asked me to report the hours we were billing against a project, and I did.  The owner of my company found out and berated me over a phone call, stating that I was never to disclose our actual hours.  He was asking me to lie about the number (50% more than actual) so we could bill them for more time.  It was evident in my tone that I was not on board with this practice, and two weeks later I was laid off.

The Shift

This was 4 months ago, and since that time I have not worked.  I was relieved to be out of that unethical company but stressed out about income.  I began to scale back on my spending, eating all of my meals at home and cutting back on travel (a big part of my life!).  After a couple months of clearly not enjoying this well-deserved time off I shifted my perspective.  I looked at my present moment and realized that I live in a nice place, have clothes to wear, food on the table every day, and family and friends.  It occurred to me that I am rich.

After gaining this new attitude of gratitude I began to live as I was before.  I allowed myself to indulge in good food when I was out, buy a new outfit since I was finally losing my maternity weight and, in general, let go!  Something amazing started to happen around that time.  I began to land gigs.  Not just any gigs…PAID GIGS!  One after another I was earning money through work I could do in the evenings at home.  Coincidentally, I decided to pick up and read a book I had bought last year called The Power of Intention by Dr Wayne Dyer.  In his book Dr Dyer describes intention as a force in the universe that we need only tap into.  He explains that the Universe is benevolent, and whatever you put out is what you receive back.  I could not believe the words I was reading as I had just witnessed this phenomenon in my own life!  It was my reassurance that I was doing something right.

New Opportunities

Now back to the title of this post.  Since last year I had been working, pro bono, on a movement started by a team of working professionals.  The founder is a long time friend of mine and I believe in him and his vision.  Since I was laid off I began putting more time and energy into the movement and last week we had our soft launch.  Because I have done so much for this movement and continue to work hard on it, the founder asked if I could continue working on it for a few more months.  At that point we could determine if the movement is a success or not.  If it is, I would get fairly compensated for my work.  In the interim, he offered to pay me out of his own pocket.  I wasn’t expecting any compensation at all, as this movement could very well lead to a better world for all of us.  I didn’t even consider getting paid for making this happen.  So, what sounds like a massive pay cut (specifically, 90k less than what I was previously making), I look at as a lot more than nothing.

What is the alternative?  Find another office job working for people who probably don’t want to work either?  Sure, my bank account would continue to grow but my soul account would be depleted.  I have already proven to myself that when I enjoy the work I am doing, and I work with purpose, there is no such thing as hard work.

I am also starting to pick up more speaking gigs!  That is where I flourish.  I had a successful event last week, which I will document in a separate post.  For now, I want to share my testament to the idea that attitude is everything.  It’s not the amount of money in your bank account but, rather, the quality of your life and your thoughts.  Like attracts like.  I will continue posting about how this journey unfolds.

 

Words Get In The Way

What’s in a name?  Companies have taken words that once had meaning in our lives and used them to brand their business and products.  Not only that, but they have copyrighted these words so that nobody else can use them for their own business.  Language has become, essentially, for sale!  I was born in an era where I thought the names of products were just that; the name of a product!  It’s only when I grew older and began hearing those product names in sentences that I realize they actually had meaning.  Take, for example, a shampoo called Finesse.  When I was younger I would see commercials for this shampoo and it consisted primarily of beautiful white women waving their hair around and rounding up with a bottle with the word ‘Finesse’ on it.  I thought finesse was limited to the brand of a shampoo.  I bring this example up because I received an email from my boss last week asking me to use finesse when dealing with a particular client.  The first thing that came to my mind when I read that request was shampoo.  

Modern Language

Language is undoubtedly the most powerful and influential medium of our time.  We use words to express our intentions.  This could be anything from telling a story to disciplining our children.  Words have the ability to uplift as well as destroy relationships, yet we have created mechanisms to distort language to suit our perceptions.  Take, for example, texting and email.  How many times have you sent an email or text only to have it misinterpreted?  People will only perceive written words based on where they are, emotionally, at the time of reading.  We have bastardized our primary form of communication by taking the feeling out of it and leaving much to the interpretation of the recipient.  
How can we begin to overcome this in our modern life, when the proliferation of communication is actively at play?  For one, we can use more emoticons!  These seemingly silly, playful little pictures are far more effective and conveying a response while mitigating the risk of misinterpretation.  Why do you think they have become increasingly popular over the years?  It’s much easier to send an emotion across than to try to wrap every little feeling up in words.  Lets think about non-verbal communication.  Have you ever just sat around with a friend for hours and said nothing, yet ended up having the best time of your life?  If you haven’t, try it.  Schedule some time with your best friend, your significant other, or even your SELF, and don’t say a word.  A shining example of the effectiveness of non-verbal communication is the beautiful relationship we have with our pets.  Sure, we talk to them sometimes but most of the time we are just in each other’s presence, fulfilled with the idea that there is mutual love and non-judgment.  I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) the other day in the Ancient Egypt exhibit looking at hieroglyphics.  Egyptians used pictures to covey messages and we are now moving that same direction.  Just look at the popularity of instagram and snapchat.  Twitter might limit your character limit on a tween but pictures, and videos, are worth a thousand words!  

Social Media Rockstars

Instagrammers and Snapchatters with ginormous amounts of followers have come to be known as ‘Influencers’.  I learned this last winter when I was enjoying some coffee inside the lobby of the Ace Hotel talking to a friend about another friend who was looking to hire a social media manager for his newly renovated hotel in Times Square.  A young man sitting nearby overheard our conversation and chimed in stating that his brother is a social media influencer and looking for full time work.  This was the first time I heard this term and was intrigued.  If you amass a great following on social media you can actually sell out your authentic self online and get paid by corporations for influencing those who follow you.  Circling back to my claim that corporations are trademarking words, they are also buying out some of the more popular people you might follow on instagram and other related social media applications.  People know this, yet they are not bothered by it.  Like any good marketing campaign, the money goes into making sure you don’t realize that you are being programmed.  When you scroll through a feed and see something related to marketing for a brand you are, on a subconscious level, being fed a message.  

From Follower to Leader

We now have a problem not only with words being capitalized upon but our social media heroes.  What is a person to do?  A good start is to be aware of this.  If your influences change from authentic to corporate you could find others.  They may soon sell out which brings you back to square one.  In this case, why not be the influence?  Why not self-educate and live to your fullest potential so that your life becomes one big hodgepodge of super videos, pictures, and status messages?  You will be living so large that you won’t have time to follow anyone.  Instead, people would follow you.  You can be that good.  I believe in you!

Progress and Human Consciousness

I grew up before we had the internet.  I recall being a Freshman in University when I first learned about the world wide web.  It was fascinating, and completely out of control.  Web sites were ill-designed and obnoxious while IRC chat rooms unleashed the keyboard warrior in many a introvert.  It was indeed a very interesting time.  I would equate it to walking into a candy store with more candy than you could ever conceive and not knowing where to start.  As we began to get our bearings with how to utilize the internet the technology jolted ahead at full speed.  I remember writing papers in college about various technologies that were obsolete within a few short years.  Social media platforms like Friendster and Facebook refined the interface and processes of IRC, including the ability to add pictures.  This resulted in us being more connected as a planet than we had ever been before.

Playing Catch Up

Although technology has advanced it still feels like we are struggling to understand how to use it.  Now that we can access the internet on our mobile phones there is really no getting away from the abundance in the web.  Every day I learn about a startup company designing a new app that is meant to make our lives easier and more convenient in some way.  Laziness is the fuel for these innovative designs!  The world wants so much more without having to work hard for it.  Is this a blessing or a curse?  Are we headed towards a society that is completely dependent upon technology to function?

Tribal Times

It was only 400 years ago that humans who inhabited this great country were deeply connected to nature and in tune with its song.  Communities thrived as the expansion of human consciousness was revered.  The tribal warriors of that time relied on their potential.  They cultivated what was needed for themselves and their tribe from within and lived a life of awareness and glory.  The men of those days protected their women and made every effort to provide for them.  Nowadays I see men getting pedicures and speaking about women as though they are objects.  I am not placing blame on men for this transformation, as it works both ways.  I am simply pointing out the dramatic change on every level that can take place in the matter of a few centuries.  The rate at which we are advancing now can either mean that we will be completely void of intelligence, honor, and emotion in the next 400 years, or else we will implode.

Beginning of the End

I had a breakfast meeting yesterday with a man who runs a very successful Project Management consulting firm.  We found ourselves spending around ten minutes talking about President Trump because it is just simply hard not to.  His take on the condition of the world today is that we are reaching our lowest point.  He said we are reaching ‘Kali Yuga’.  This is the last of four stages the world goes through, according to the Vedas.  Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga.  It was an interesting point, and not an uncommon one.  I continue to hear from people that it has to get worse before it can get better.  Perhaps our technological advancements are a diversion.  Perhaps if we run fast enough ahead we will miss the finer details of the Kali Yuga phase.

Human consciousness is evolving for some but the mighty dollar is still God for many.  While 50 million lonely people are swiping their lives away on Tinder there is a demise in progress.  Technology and the internet have become a knock-off pair of rose-colored glasses and we can’t help but keep them strapped on.  What is the alternative?  Something to think about.

You and the Internet

We are living in a very interesting time. Whereas once we relied on an Encyclopedia to get information, now it’s at the tip of our fingers. Literally, you can type anything into a search engine and get more information than you bargained for. We absorb in every direction: the internet, billboards, magazines, television, movies, and social media sites. We have morphed into sponges, taking in every fact, alternate fact, opinion, instapic, snapchat, tweet, and everything in between. Has this made us more productive? Walk into any coffee shop and you’ll see at least a handful of glossy-eyed patrons staring into their laptops. What are they looking for that they haven’t found yet? What is in that abyss of a screen that promises answers, solutions, and escape? Just…about…everything.

Curiosity Complete

I think it’s great. I think access to information and social networks and insights is a wonderful thing if one can use that information and make a contribution with it. I am not talking about donating to charity type of contribution. I’m talking about learning something constructive and then utilizing that to give something back to society. For example, nowadays one can learn to pay an instrument via Youtube videos. That is amazing! I remember wanting to learn the violin when I was in high school but my parents couldn’t afford lessons. After learning the violin you could volunteer to play at a retirement home. That is a contribution! You have absorbed and contributed and mastered the overflow of information rather than allowing it to master you. Alternatively, if after you have learned the violin you move on to learn another instrument right away, or spend 8 hours/day on a social media web site, then you have been overtaken by the information.

Take a career student for example. This is someone who has the ability to spend 40 years in college picking courses at random just because they want to learn. After 40 years they may know a lot about a lot of different subjects, but they haven’t contributed what they have learned to society. When we use what we know constructively with the objective of impacting our society in a greater way we have created purpose for our lives. In the process we have improved our world. Who doesn’t want to improve the world? If any of you have kids or plan to have kids then I would hope that improving the world is on your agenda! Even if you don’t have kids, don’t you want to live in a better world?  Imagine if the Wright brothers learned to fly and then kept it to themselves. Not only would they hold the rest of us up from starting to fly but they themselves would not be able to continue flying. The impact you have on the world, like a boomerang, comes right back to you.

Search, then Act

You are living in your society so it is in your best interested to contribute to it. We are all students of life, and these days of the information super highway. We have the capacity and the ability to learn massive amounts of information in a controlled fashion. We all can be heroes as we are unlimited in what and how much we can learn. It is up to us if we want to remain a sponge and simply absorb everything or if we want to take stock of what we know and start contributing. Bring what you learn to life outside of your screen and share your knowledge with the world. We are drowning in information so lets pause for a moment and step away. Let’s assess if we have absorbed something that we can share. It might not be the violin but it might be an inspiring story that we read about in an online article. Share that story with your family at the dinner table. Bring awareness to yourself when you spend time on the internet and become allies with the information available to you. Strive to balance the act of absorbing and contributing.