Sometimes You Just Have to Do What You Want

You should always spend time doing what makes you happy. Last night, I spent a great deal of time doing something I did not want to do, something that made me ultimately unhappy, and when I woke this morning and thought back on the wasted Saturday night, I was reminded of a point that I always try to aspire to: do what you want to do. Of course, there are situations in which we must attend unpleasant events or participate in less-than-thrilling conversations, but there so many times when we end up committing ourselves to do something we don’t want to do, something we could have easily gotten out of. When this happens to me (as it did last night), I feel anger and resentment not only to the other person/people and situation, but to myself. Afterward, I ask myself, Why didn’t I just say no? Why did I waste time doing something that didn’t bring happiness to my life? I often rationalize that I somehow got suckered into it or I couldn’t get out of it, but this time I am choosing to do something different. After waking and feeling resentment about a wasted Saturday night, I am not going ask why the time was wasted or think about what I could have done with my night. Instead, I am going to prepare myself for the future by taking these steps to make sure that, whenever I can, I am spending my time the way I want to.

1

Just say no. When I come across an invitation or a situation I don’t want to participate in for whatever reason (even if no one else could possibly understand my reasoning), I am going to say no. Of course, this means I will still have to go to work and meetings and do some things I really, really hate doing (like pumping gas and walking down the aisles of a grocery store), but there are also a lot of things I can say no to that I usually don’t. I usually rationalize the event in some way, saying to myself, Oh I haven’t seen this person in so long or I don’t have any other plans set in stone yet. Even if I have nothing better to do, I will still strive to avoid spending my time in ways that don’t feel positive to me.

2

Recognize what things don’t interest me — and don’t do them. Ever. We all have things that we know we don’t like to do. For example, I’m not a big fan of sports games. With the right people and in the right situation they can definitely be fun, but I have spent hours and hours of my life on boyfriend-of-the-moment’s couch watching football or basketball. And I have sat there resentfully, thinking to myself, I could be doing something else right now. I really don’t care at all about this stupid game. What am I doing here? That’s just my example though. I’m sure for other people, there are certain situations they know bring out negativity and resentment in them. My advice? Don’t do them. Yes, if you have a friend or significant other that really wants your support, sometimes you might have to do things you really don’t want to do, but you should seriously consider if participating in an event and feeling annoyed about it is really worth it in the long run. Maybe you can work out a deal with the person or maybe you can find someone who has interests more in line with your own. Either way, settling for a situation never brings about positivity in any relationship.

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3

Set aside time to do what you love. Sometimes it’s easy to remember what we love to do, and to find the time to do it. When you experience a situation in which you feel you have wasted time, often the things you would have loved to have been doing jump to the forefront of your mind. For example, last night I thought to myself, I wish I were writing right now. I wish I was finishing up the book I’m so into reading. I wish I could be in bed, turning off the light, about to get a few extra hours of sleep because it’s the weekend. Right there, I thought of three things that I really enjoy doing (yes, sleeping is one of them). That’s one of the few perks about doing something you don’t want to do — you realize all of the things you do want to do. Once you’ve figured out whatever it is really enjoy doing (which, actually, can be very difficult for some people so really take your time with this), you should set aside time to do it. Not general, maybe-this-weekend time, but actually time, such as blocking off an hour or two in your calender. In doing this, you will be more likely to remember and take time to do the things that interest you. In addition, you can easily say, “Oh, i’m sorry! I already have plans!” when an invitation arises that you are really not interested in accepting.

4

Realize that life is short. Cliche as it sounds, life is short. We only have a limited amount of time here in this life and we should make the most of it. We should spend whatever free time we have doing what makes us happy. It’s easy to get sucked into doing what other people want to do or justifying activities and saying that we “have” to do them, but this is unfair not only to us, but to those around us. People will be able to sense that you are not enjoying yourself (or, at least, people can sense when I’m not enjoying myself because I make it very clear). You will be resentful of the people and situations you spend time with and partake in because you felt you “had” to. You will miss out on all of the fun and excitement and joy you could have had doing what you really wanted to be doing. Our lives are short and we should all be living them the way we would like to.

5

Surround yourself with people who support what you want to do. This can be difficult at times, because not everyone wants to do the same thing and it’s pretty near impossible to surround yourself with friends and family members who enjoy the exact same activities that you do. However, you can choose your friends and you can choose friends that enjoy similar activities. You can also choose to surround yourself with people who make not like to do all of the same things you do, but who support the time you want to spend doing those things. Likewise, you can be the kind of person who, though you may not want to participate in a certain activity, fully supports those who do. People who are unsupportive bring negativity into their lives and the lives of those around them, so try to support the preferences of others and most definitely try to surround yourself with people who support you.
Some may read this entry and think, How selfish! We shouldn’t just go around doing what we want to do without thinking about the needs of others! This is true. I am not encouraging complete and utter selfishness, but I am, as always, encouraging positivity. We have this moment, this life, to live however we want to, and I feel like so often we take this for granted. We think that we can get to something later or, in my case, I rationalize things, saying to myself, Oh, I’ll always have time to read. But will I? What I know for sure is that we have this moment, this single moment, to live. No future is guaranteed so whenever possible I believe we should spend time doing whatever makes us happy. Between work and other commitments that we can’t get out of, we actually have very little time to do the things that make us truly happy. Think about what you really love to do — and do it!

Design Your Own Career: Part Three

“To love what you do and feel that it matters–how could anything be more fun?”
– Katharine Graham

In Part One of this series we learned how to target our dream careers and in Part Two we sussed out the skills required to start achieving it. In Part Three we are going to focus on increasing your appetite and ability for learning, and how this translates into a fulfilling career.

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Never Stop Learning

It is a common, often subconscious, belief that learning stops when you remove yourself from a traditional academic environment – be that school, college or university. But, for your dream career, this is absolutely not the case. You should always look at your career as a path, not simply a destination (if you saw the movie ‘Click’ then you’ll know the danger in that!)

However, this doesn’t mean you should constantly be striving ahead, rather than being content where you are – it is actually quite the opposite, it’s knowing that, when you reach a milestone, it is not the be all and end all, but merely a glorious bonus in a tapestry that stretches far beyond and around it.

When we stop learning, or being open to learning, in many ways we stop trying, we stop feeling challenged, we stop being creative and hopeful in our work, and therefore that work becomes dull, wearing, and a slog. Life is a continuous puzzle, and it should always be that way. The moment you feel you have it all sussed is the moment life becomes monotonous.

When thinking about learning within the framework of your dream career, it is necessary to look backwards as well as forwards – what type of learning got you to where you are now? What is the best direction to take the results of that learning?

Got a conventional education? Fantastic.

Just because you did what everyone said was the ‘sensible’ thing and got a qualification, doesn’t mean you aren’t still destined for a creative and unconventional career path. Standard curriculum education may have its faults, but it also has many benefits.

Take a wider look at your education – what has it taught you beyond the course title? Have you gained confidence, people skills, and a power for problem solving? If you start to look, you’ll realise there may be far more to your education than you thought, and you may start to see how those skills can transfer into a more creative, ‘designed’ career.

Not got a conventional education? No problem!

Learning is a personal journey, and it is certainly not found strictly within the confines of a classroom, or out of a traditional textbook. Find a genuine love for learning and you will find there are many avenues for self-education.

The likelihood is that you have built a wealth of real-life experience in place of a conventional education, and this can be just as much, if not more, value to your self-fashioned career than you think.

What Learning Looks Like

Learning comes in different formats. Learning can be alive and interactive and exciting – not just dusty equations on a blackboard. Learning is a frame of mind and, when you start to illustrate and intertwine your dream career into your life, you’ll realise there are lessons to be found all over the place.

Books – Fiction and non-fiction, books are perhaps the most straightforward way of gaining new insights within your field. Aim to read at least a book a month that is relevant to/impacts your career.
Internet – It’s easy to take the internet for granted, but we have more knowledge literally at our fingertips than we have ever had before. Take advantage of that.
Museums – Our culture, our ideas and our businesses are all built on our history, so educating yourself about the world you come from is a great tool for shaping the world you want for yourself.
Art Galleries – It is important to feel we are learning creatively just as much as it is to feel we are ingesting facts and figures. Gaining inspiration or knowledge from any creative medium can really help to inspire various elements of your career.
Film – Not merely a brain-dead way to pass a Saturday evening with a bucket of sweet or salted, cinema is a powerfully animated tool for teaching yourself about various careers, cultures, continents and more.
Music – Music and its history tells a story, it arouses our creative side and it is a thoroughly pleasurable way to learn about the world, so you’ve got no excuse to avoid it!
Travel and Real Life Experiences – These are perhaps the most valuable ways of learning as they remove you from your comfort zone, challenge you, and ultimately teach you about yourself.
People – That’s right, actual conversation and the ability to listen will pay dividends in almost any career. Always strive to learn from the people in your life, new and old; they have first-hand experiences you may never get the chance to live yourself.
Short, evening or residential courses – If you like the group learning environment then there are courses available within almost any niche. If you haven’t got the time or opportunity to physically attend courses, e-courses are becoming more and more popular.
Community Events – Getting involved in community events is the perfect way to tie together all kinds of forms of learning and, hopefully, build your career.

Putting Love into What You Do

So where does love come into all of this? Well, if you truly love your career, then an inherent hunger for improving within it is a given, and this is just another way of learning. Your dream career should feel fluid, organic and always fresh and exciting; that’s when you keep your appetite for it; that’s when you love it; and that is only achieved when you are open to learning.

The next and final part of this series will be all about making your passion pay – how to earn an income from doing what you love – so don’t miss out.

The Need in Speed

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Here’s the deal; the facts are in. At least 50% of marriages don’t make it—which, if you’re a gambler, is slightly better than a crap shoot – this is what I told RadarOnline, when asked for a comment about Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom’s marriage.

And it would seem obvious to many people that marrying someone you have only known a few weeks would increase your odds of failure…among other things. So perhaps a better question to ask is not what are the downsides, but rather…why? Why get married? So you can have a party? Show up your sister on TV because you are profoundly insecure or desperate for ratings? What’s the rush? It’s not like love has a shelf life. Unless one is deeply religious, which is not evident in this case (correct me if I am wrong; I don’t think so), there are so few reasons to rush into nuptials before we have taken time to do a minimum of due diligence.

What I do know about these two people is they know something about success. It takes discipline, skill and focus (and perhaps a little luck) to turn your desire into reality. Hence my concern, again, about their haste. I am not convinced that these two people understand the game they are in. I feel whatever their motivations for wedlock—“looks good, feels good,” ratings, or whatever—they would benefit by focusing on the fact that the same commitment, discipline and skill that supported their success is needed to enjoy a successful relationship; particularly a healthy, fulfilling, sustainable one.

With all due respect, if these two people love each other, or feel a strong connection and want to jump into marriage (which I likened to jumping out of a plane, considering, well…that they have just barely met), they should strap on a parachute. Which is to say, they should strongly consider checking under the hood to make sure they have what it takes to make the journey before Sunday. Many things are very difficult, if not nearly impossible, to re-negotiate after they say “I do.”

While celebrity marriages may seem qualitatively different than the average boy-meets-girl scenario, all relationships thrive best when they rest on a solid foundation. In some ways, the celebrity relationship needs to pay even greater mind to this, as their relationship is subject to stresses, pressure and scrutiny that on a good day most of us cannot even fathom.

So I would say to this couple, go for it! IF they have managed in this three-week period to establish the following, at minimum:

Their top three non-negotiables.

If this person is worthy of their unconditional devotion and respect.

A strong “out” clause or good consciousness agreement.

If they themselves are a strong, loyal, devoted, trustworthy partner.

They have revealed all their deep secrets or habits that have the potential to destroy the relationship if not revealed and healed.

They have cleaned up all their past relationships.

Have the capacity to tell the truth despite the consequences, and see the value of truth as a cornerstone of their relationship.

Love each other’s friends and current daily lifestyle.

Have agreed upon children and child-rearing responsibilities.

Understand and are in alignment about money.

They are confident in each other’s ability to negotiate their feelings and concerns responsibly.

Know what each other values most in life.

Have shared and are in alignment and support of their 10-year plan.

Have agreed to see someone (either within the family or outside) to act as an unbiased counselor, to help support the relationship should they get stuck or feel they cannot resolve any matter that has the potential to end the relationship.

This, I believe, would afford them a good start. While relationships are a great breeding ground for personal development, chemistry as a litmus test for the potential of a relationship is too often a crash-and-burn method & can be quite painful. Rather than each failed relationship being a lesson learned, the pain becomes either fuel for the next one or a barrier to intimacy.

In our 20s we are at a peak in some ways, in terms of learning about who we are and who we are not, and oftentimes get into relationships based largely on chemistry—without having acquired some essential relationship tools and turned them into skills. Life will teach them soon enough. The good news is, if they really want a healthy relationship they are in a position to develop these skills, provided they have interviewed each other and revealed their shadows and non-negotiables to each other. Some of these deal-breakers, like infidelity or drug or alcohol addiction, are things that you want to know before you get married, not after!

Hard to establish trust when you have had so little time to see if the person’s words and actions match up. If you are in a rush, and clearly Khloe and Lamar seem to be, I’d advise them to take some time before Sunday to drop in with each other, because having a success plan is important! Bottom line, at least half of marriages end in divorce. If you want it to work, make sure you are prepared and have what it takes to make that happen.

To Re-cap

Hard to negotiate your needs after the marriage ceremony; double check your non-negotiables, you two!
What do you want and expect from each other & the marriage: do you both want kids, how will you share your money, or not? I call this a consciousness agreement.
What kind of relationship skills do you bring to the table? Do you have issues with commitment and intimacy, do you have a track record of being able to stay and hang in there when things get tough? “Looks good, feels good” isn’t going to cut it when things get sideways…these things are very difficult to negotiate after you already have established a pattern. Talk about it. What are you committing to?
Happily Ever After is not a place, and chemistry is not enough to keep a relationship together. They say that, in unconsciousness, the thing that brings you together in a relationship will be the thing that pulls you apart. What is your foundation for your relationship? I recommend spirit, God or the divine, and having a real practice.
Love is a choice and a privilege, not a sentence, so act like it!

I recently explained my take on the Khloe/Lamar situation at a book signing. You can watch it here.