"Employers will not be with you at your death bed. Loved ones will. Spend after-hours with those who don't pay you to be with them." ~ Kris Harty
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English major? Cover your eyes.
Adulthood ain't for sissies. Graduate or not, ain't wins out over isn't right here, right now.
Adulthood is like that. General rules are everywhere. So are exceptions.
Some basic truths or rules can soften the blows that most of us experience along the way, or help to extend the good experiences even further.
Whether graduating from high school or college, or in the midst of an advanced degree in living, the following five formulas for living well are culled from my own experiences. If they can make yours a bit easier, then my work here is done.
1. Your work is never done. You could work 24/7, and to-do lists and requests will continue to collect in the corners of your cubicle. Employers will not be with you at your death bed. Loved ones will. Spend after-hours with those who don't pay you to be with them. Call it a day at a reasonable hour - preferably before dinner - and live your evening hours with what and who is most important to you.
2. Death: get comfortable with it. Seriously. We live in a death-phobic culture. (A blog for another day.) And that causes us to live life far too cautiously and too seriously. I'm not saying be stupid and careless. What I am saying is don't worry so much about things that truly don't matter in the end. Life goes by quickly. Appreciate the cycle of birth, death, and all the good stuff in-between, and make the most of it while you're here. Acknowledge that you won't be one day.
3. Life is not linear. The people who want you to create 5, 10, and 20 year plans, and only consider it a success if you stick to them, aren't living in reality. They're likely not much fun, either. Yes, it's good to have a general roadmap and to think about what you might want to accomplish in life. But really, unless you're a Steve Jobs, don't hold yourself to it. Taking unexpected paths and pinging from one current interest to another is part of the adventure of living, Don't short change yourself. The people I've known with the most interesting lives are the ones who grabbed opportunities as they presented themselves. Surprisingly, most previous unrelated experience comes into play later on for the most unexpected reasons and purposes. No experience is ever a waste.
4. Live your life for you, not someone else. If your parents want you to be a doctor, or run the family business, or swear allegiance to a political ideology or belief system, or eat broccoli upside down on Tuesdays, because that's what's been done for generations, find it within yourself to say no, if no is what your soul screams for you to say. The sooner you say no, the better. I've seen too many people who live the role put upon them by obligations to others (see above; also as spouse or parent), who never live for themselves, or wait until they're 40 or 50. Kudos for late-changers, and kudos for those who don't have to change because they followed their heart from the start. It may be challenging to juggle relationships and multiple responsibilities to self and others, but there is always a way if you want or believe something strongly enough. Be strong. Be bold.
5. Make mistakes. The more, the merrier. The sooner, the better. You now have permission. Try ideas, jobs, work, relationships, and adventures, and fail. And then learn. Figure out why it didn't work, and try it again smarter. Or don't try it again at all. If it was a poor decision and your actions hurt someone, apologize, and do better in the future. In any case, move on. The best way to learn is to screw up. When you do, don't be too hard on yourself. Don't accept others being hard on you, either. Know that one fail - or 20 - does not define you. You are more than that. You are a life adventurer. Life adventurers follow a path of do, fail, adapt, succeed.
So there you have it: a starter kit of five life truths.
Look forward to the adventures ahead. Don't be scared. Don't be nervous. We're all in this together and we've all been right where you are. And we survived. You will, too.
Speaking of, I'll share about surviving my own graduations later this week in my video blog. Hear about one of my life's goals - which is on no timeframe whatsoever, but maybe you can help make it happen. Yikes - now I'm committed.
As you face decisions about next steps, don't stress over which paths to take. Any one path is seldom ever 'wrong.' There is no perfect path or perfect life, even if some people's lives might look perfect from the outside. (That's a freebie sixth bonus point, just for reading.) We're all flawed human beings doing the best we can.
So go forth into your fabulous future, flawed human! I'll meet you there, flaws and all. And we'll celebrate being the daring life adventurers that we are.
About Kris Harty: Kris is founder and CEO of shortCHICK, llc, She helps smart people like you move from overwhelm and obstacles, to over it and moving on, in life and work, Step by Step. She's a speaker, author, podcaster, and creative, giving voice to hope, joy, encouragement, and wisdom.
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Handwrite a note to your loved ones today. I encourage you to leave a tangible meaningful note for the ages. Here's why.
Love unspoken speaks volumes, even when we're unaware as it happens.
He did it when he carefully shaped Mickey Mouse ears onto Sunday morning pancakes.
He did it when he held my tiny pre-school hand when navigating unfamiliar terrain.
He did it when he exposed me to his love and appreciation of nature, history, and travel.
He did it when he brought me new pajamas and a necklace with my birthstone in it when I was confined for three months to a hospital bed in first grade.
He did it when he teased "Is that the best you can do?" when seeing my all-As report card.
He did it when cheerfully greeting me with "Hello, Kristiner!" when arriving home from work.
He did it when playfully admonishing me for not liking his favorite sauteed mushrooms on the grill.
He did it it when reprimanding me in his former Marine drill instructor voice when I deserved it.
He did it when he revealed that he'd once been told after an accident that he'd never walk again, in an effort to encourage me to keep exercising my weakened arthritic legs..
He did it when he brought a series of beautiful and tiny gifts home for me from his travels.
He did it when he agreed to pay for art classes for me during high school, when the budget would have said 'no.'
He did it when he gave me a big stuffed teddy bear the Christmas after my mom died, even though I was a college senior.
He did it when he made sure we had dinner together every night after Mom died, when it was only the two of us left at home.
He did it when he promised me he'd teach me to drive before I graduated from college, after I'd begged for years to get my license.
He did it when he quietly said, "That's really thoughtful" when finding a note I left for the next inhabitants of our home.
He did it when he confirmed, "That's very sensible" when I first shared my decision to move my physically-challenged body from icy cold Minnesota to a more temperate Colorado Springs.
He did it in his last hour, when he couldn't speak, but still tried to say "I love you," and then rested when I said it for him, and to him.
Although the words "I love you" never passed through Dad's lips, he did say it throughout the three decades we shared, whenever we had time together.
I miss you, Dad, I love you, too.
Happy Father's Day. Thank you for being mine,
I'm not much for getting involved in discussions that become political, but when we seem to continue to do ourselves in, in our great country, we must find a way to be better. We are better than the deadly shooting rampages of the last decades - aren't we?
Hate. Our world is full of it. The news is full of it. Sometimes you and I may be full of it, too - hate or something else.
Whenever the latest hate-induced tragedy strikes, one of my first reactions is often of overwhelming helplessness. The hate in this world seems so pervasive and intense that there is nothing I can do about it. And that no one else can, either.
Can hate ever be stopped? Law enforcement, politicians and theologians might provide the same answer, but from vastly different viewpoints.
To believe hate can be stopped in this world is to believe in a utopia or a Pollyanna perspective. I don't buy into kumbayaing in lieu of realistic actions or expectations, either.
Hate can not completely be stopped. There is and always will be evil, but that doesn't mean it can't be diminished, and at times defeated.
It also doesn't mean we have to wait for the other guy to stop hating to decrease the amount of hate in our world.
It seems there is plenty of opportunity within ourselves to diminish our own hate, whether or not we acknowledge we ourselves are haters.
I like to think I'm usually a fairly reasonable person, not given to extreme ways of thinking or reacting to other humans. But there are times I fail, including recently. My emotions get in the way. Menopausal hormones do not help. Just sayin'.
I'm working on it.
What can we do as individuals when our world seems at the mercy of hate-filled humans?
1. Don't jump on other people's bandwagons. Whether acknowledged or not, everyone has their own agenda, driven by their past experiences and perspectives. It may drive them to hate other individuals or whole groups of people. Their issues are not yours. If you choose to make them yours, first ask yourself why you feel you need to carry their banner. Maybe it's a legit cause; maybe it's not. If in doubt, repeat after me, "Not my circus, not my monkeys.".
2. Don't fall into group think. Think for yourself. Group think is such a pervasive and dangerous force in our country in recent years. It can turn otherwise intelligent people into robotic parrots. Unfortunately, it too often happens in political groups and religious organizations. In families, too. Group think can easily transform into group hate. There are times for cohesiveness, but there are times when group think simply seems to be the easy way to belong. Instead, ask questions, research issues from unbiased sources, and come to your own conclusions. Don't rely on a testimonial from the 'sales person.'
3. Don't lump all people into a negative category simply because you've experienced an example or two of supposed evidence that 'supports' your hate. There are good and bad people in every demographic and grouping. There are few people and groups who can fit neatly into 'all good' or 'all bad,' including me and you. Rude awakening, I know.
4. Do give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you don't have the whole story. Maybe you do. Until you dig into it and hear the other person or perspective, you may be creating issues where they don't exist, or don't need to exist. Maybe the person isn't capable of living up to your expectations, Keep an open mind when attempting to determine if their thinking or behavior was within their capability to control. We don't all have the same abilities. There is no reason to hate someone because they weren't fortunate enough to have your gifts and background.
5. Do examine your own outlook. Some people live with hate and negativity as their default setting. It may be hard to admit this one to yourself. But if it's true, you're doing yourself and everyone around you a disservice by not admitting it, or taking steps to change it. If this identity is the one you've adopted, you can un-adopt it and intentionally choose a more constructive identity. Everyone around you will thank you, whether or not they verbally express it.
6. Do detach. It's not all about you. People are far more interested in themselves than in you. By hating others, you willingly give them a place of importance in your life. You're thinking about them far more than they're thinking about you. All that time and energy spent on hating others means you're not spending that same time and energy more constructively on your own life or work. Bam. Instant productivity-enhancer.
7. Remember your own fallibility. You know those excuses you give yourself for your own behavior? Give the other person the same amount of grace - not hate. None of us has it all together, as much as we might want to give that impression, especially professionally. But underneath it all, all of us are glorious messes. There is someone who chooses not to give you grace for your screw ups. Be better than them. Have grace for others, and lead the way.
The world has enough darkness, negativity and hate in it without your contributions or mine.. To make a difference, do the difficult thing. Counter the existing negativity by not participating in it. The world needs you to help lead it into a more positive light.
One small flicker from a candle fills a darkened room with light. Be that. Do that. Shine on.
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Muhammad Ali left us with so many brilliant ideas and quotes. This one keeps ringing in my mind...and heart.
Toe in. Toe out.
That's what I've been doing for more than a decade.
Dipping my lil' big toe into - and out of - the waters. Which waters? Pick one. Speaking. Writing. Product creation. Radio shows and podcasting. But never all at the same time.
It's time to combine them all together, and to do this thang.
Big time. One hundred percent time. Toe all-in time.
It's not that I haven't wanted to travel this entire path at once. It's more that my belief in myself and in my talents and abilities never allowed me to go after it in a bigger way. I didn't have complete buy-in to my own awesomeness.
I finally decided to accept it.
Yea, I'm awesome.
When I say I'm awesome, I'm not saying I'm perfect. Anyone who knows me could point out a multitude of flaws. So could I.
I'm sometimes a much slower learner than I need to be. It took me way too long to believe in the awesome factor. But at 51 1/2, the years looming ahead are far fewer than the years looming behind, so if I'm going to believe it, I may as well start now.
I seem to have been being prepared for this venture throughout life. For a long time, I told myself I'd do it some day.
But "some day" has fewer options than it used to have.
I'm finally recognizing that God don't make no junk. We're only junkified if we choose to believe we're not more than that. I'm done with that lie.
In case you're wondering, you can be done with that lie about yourself any ol' time, too. Because you, my friend, are also friggin' awesome. Yea, you are.
We're not supposed to say such lofty words about ourselves. We're supposed to be humble and think we're not much. That's so not the way to make the most use of the talents and coolness that each of us has received, unique to ourselves. You can be humble while still recognizing your fabulousness.
We tell kids of their magnificence all the time. Somewhere along the line, they grow up, just as we grew up, and we stop saying and hearing this message. It's as if there's an unspoken agreement that adults don't need encouragement anymore.
Are ya kidding me? With all that's on our plates, and with all the ways this world repeatedly and constantly tries to squish us into a diminished form in work and life, adults need more encouragement than we ever did in our younger years.
So yea, I'm as awesome as the next person. That would be you. And yes, you can say the same thing, too.
Getting to this point in life has been a long, curvy road. It still twists around, but I'm grabbing my megaphone and sharing my message, anyway.
The message? There are a lot of moving parts, but at its core is the reminder not to let life wear you out or get you down. That ignoring negative voices is one of the best things you can do for yourself.. That the world of possibilities is open to you. That innovation and creativity aren't for other people only. That you are more capable than the world has said you are. That re-inventing yourself and living an intentional life is do-able for anyone. Yes, anyone.
I believed the lies that said I was less-than and not good enough. I always felt everyone else was better equipped for life and business; that they'd been given the secret sauce recipe, that they had all the confidence in themselves and their ability to handle whatever life threw at them. That they knew so much more than me.
And then I realized otherwise.
I realized that the path I'd been given in life, although challenging from an early age, gave me something so much more than it seemed on the surface.
Being diagnosed at age seven with severe Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and navigating its ramifications throughout life, has proved a difficult walk, figuratively and literally.. But it also provided me a strength and clarity that would serve me well in all facets of life.
I simply wouldn't fully realize it until my later years.
My later years? Are they?? Seriously? How did I get here?? Sigh. A topic for another day.
I've always been a late bloomer. But this is pushing it.
I remind myself that I'm in good company with other noted late-stage entrepreneurs and other people who didn't 'become' who we came to know them as, until they were in their 50s or older. This process of 'becoming' isn't always a straight line. Also another day's blog post topic in a bigger way.
Consider Muhammad Ali's journey in life. Who he started out to be is not who we knew him to be in the end. He took risks all along the way, including still pushing himself in recent decades when it appeared physically to be excruciatingly difficult.
"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."
~ Muhammad Ali
Maybe he was the greatest, in ways he never anticipated or recognized.
Yet another blog post topic.
That's enough for this first blog post. We'll get to know each other well, as time and posts go on.
Enjoy the journey with me. Come back here each Sunday evening for a longer post, and most days in between for shorter bits of encouragement and insight and usable content. Or make it easier on yourself and subscribe (see sidebar) to my weeklyish newsletter so each post lands in your inbox. Boom.
Until next week, keep going. Step by step.
Toe in. Definitely in.
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