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Monday, April 16, 2012

A Change of Perspective.

Growing up, I always said I wouldn't take or keep a job just for the benefits of income. I had this grand idea that life with a career would be perfect. In my version, it would include me sitting in an office with a breath taking view of New York city as a magazine editor, flipping through fashion designs, jet setting to runway shows, and stomping around my ultra chic space in red Christian Louboutin heels, but what's the reality? The reality is that those careers are far and few between. Every girl has the desire to be the editor-in-chief, fashion model, stylist, actress, and I'm sure you can fill in the blank with some aspirations of your own. My question to you is,

How do you react and function in a job you never wanted?
The all too common response from the peanut gallery is "Just be happy to have a job." Really? I'm not sure why they think that statement is in any way comforting. To them I say kick rocks. (My little sister's favorite phrase). After dreaming your entire life to become a __________ (you fill in the blank) the last thing you want to hear is the previous statement. It's like someone's ripped your heart out and shoved it into a garbage disposal. In short, they're saying get over your dreams and just be happy, "you'll get used to it."

I promise you won't.

How do I know? I'll tell you. My dreams of becoming a writer were shredded when I got stuck in teaching. (Now before I go any further, I love my students and still connect with them on a daily basis. The problem was, teaching becoming about politics and teaching to the test. I couldn't be a part of dumbing down our kids.) 

Back to the topic, I say stuck because that's exactly what happened, but I'll save that story for another time. Anyhow, waking up every morning was a nightmare. I would hold onto my pillow and ask God, "Why . . . why must you torture me?" and for me it truly was torture.

I woke up at the crack of dawn angry, guzzled coffee to get through the day, and by sixth period (like clock work) felt like I'd been hit by a semi-truck. My attitude sucked, my days at work sucked, and I found myself living everyday counting the hours until the weekend finally arrived.

Sound familiar? I hope not.

The best thing is that you're young, and with youth comes the opportunity to try new things, improve your life, and explore. Consequently, in order to do any of those things, the first step you will need to take will be to change your perspective.
Perspective . . . what a funny little word. When someone told me I needed to change my perspective I had to resist the urge of punching them in the face. They didn't know me, or my situation. They didn't have my job! My responsibilities! How dare they tell me to look at things in a different way. As far as I was concerned, I'd tried everything and yet I was still miserable.

Beatings aside, I decided to consider it and I'm happy that I did. Instead of getting up everyday and asking God why, I asked Him to give me strength to get through the day and to see what he wanted me to do while I was there. Day by day I started finding little ways to make my students feel loved; whether that was through high-fives, hugs, calling their name out in the hallway, or simply greeting them each by name when they walked into the classroom. My goal was to make them feel special and wanted; I'm pretty sure it worked, they're my biggest fans.

From simply changing my perspective, I got inspired to leave teaching and start a non-profit organization that would teach middle school aged-students leadership, etiquette skills, goal setting, and the importance of dreaming and being determined. So my challenge to you is to change your perspective and see how you can take what you're already doing and make it better. It could change your life.

Here are some practical ways to start right now:

1) Take a personal inventory:
-What are some of your dreams?
-If you could do anything, what would it be?
-What's stopping you from your dream? Can it be removed? (I'm not referring to your husband here ( : ) Can a compromise be reached? Is it something you can do part-time until you're able to do it full-time?
-Are you willing to make the investment? (Not just monetarily, but time and socially; success takes a lot and everyone may not be onboard with your ambitions).

2) Ask yourself how you ended up in your current situation.
 -Was it supposed to be temporary? If so, what's keeping you there?
-Was it someone else's idea/dream for your life? (It's okay to deviate from their plan. After all, it is your life isn't it?)

3) Now that you have that answer, I want you to look at your daily job, what are some positives? (Come on, there has to be something. For me, it was being able to talk to my students about the things that concerned them).

4) Building on the positives, what can you do to change your attitude while you're at work? (Maybe that includes staying away from your co-workers who complain about their job. Negativity is contagious).

5) Now that your attitude is changing, now it's time to plan.
-Sit down and really consider your options. Does what you really want to do require a degree, if so, are you willing to go back to school?
-Set a time-line with realistic goals. (Try setting it at three month increments, that way you can measure your results. A change in attitude only takes a week or two). : )
-Be flexible and patient. (If the first thing you try doesn't work out, be patient and try again. Do you think people like Oprah or Mark Zuckerberg became successful simply by trying one thing? Nope).
  -Try to keep your plan under wraps. (You can confide in a few people close to you, but what I find is that they sometimes are your worst critics. They may not see your vision and unintentionally crush it).

6) And finally, believe in yourself. (I mean if you don't, who will?)