5 Steps to Forging a Fantastic Future!

At some point in their lives, everyone hits a dead end, finds themselves in a rut, or feels trapped in a life they did not plan for themselves.  This is just one aspect of life.  It can be easy to let these periods in life stifle the potential you have, and this is why it is crucial to pull yourself out of the past.  Whatever it is that is holding you down can be managed, and there is always a way to make your life better.  It will not be easy, but it will be rewarding.

Here are 5 steps you can take to forge a fantastic future:

1.  Let go of the past.  If you hold on to mistakes, regret, or long for something or someone that is already gone, you will never see the road that is right in front of you.  If you are plagued by regret, realize that every decision you made had led to you become a stronger individual.  You have learned lessons from your mistakes and you need to forgive yourself so you can move on.  If you missed incredible opportunities because you were afraid, you are still missing them because you are spending time thinking about the ones that are long gone.  The only way to have a great future is to let go of the past.  The good, the bad, and ugly.  Learn from it, and move on.

2.  Determine where you are in your life right now, and why it is not working for you.  You cannot possibly know where to go next if you won’t accept your current position and what is wrong with it.  If you are not happy, something is wrong.  It could be your career, your family, your health, or your dreams.  You are the only person that knows what you truly want in your life, and you need to evaluate it thoroughly before you can make changes.

3.  Determine what your dreams and goals are.  Odds are that if you are not happy, you have at least one thing wrong in your life that needs to be fixed.  Most likely, there is more than one.  The only way to start initiating change is to understand what you really want in life, and to make a list of your goals and dreams.  These are very different.  I dream of being a successful writer, making enough money to live comfortably on, and speaking to people about social issues.  However, I need short-term and long-term goals to get me there.

4.  Prioritize your dreams and set dates to accomplish them.  You cannot commit until you put a timeline to something.  I can dream all I want, but my dream will never come true if I do not make it a priority and hold myself accountable enough to reach each goal along the way.  This is one of the most difficult parts because it requires a great deal of work and dedication.  You cannot expect the world to hand you success on a platter, and you must put everything you have into making your dreams happen.

5.  Reevaluate and remind yourself of your dreams regularly.  You need to check in every week, every two weeks, or at least monthly.  Look at your progress, make sure you are on track, and if not, remind yourself of why it is important to you.  If you change your mind along the way, that is fine, you can change your list if necessary.  If you run into complications, you may want to remind yourself each day.  Write it down, get a picture that represents your dreams or make a chart that you can look at each day.  Some people will need more encouragement than others.

The important thing to remember is that as you move along your journey, you are learning and evolving.  Your thoughts, ideas, and goals may evolve as well.  Do not hold onto something if you lose the passion for it, let it go.  But, when you do reach a goal and eventually behold a dream, enjoy it.  Be proud of each accomplishment along the way because they represent a person moving forward in their life, not someone letting life pass them by.

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Determining Your Own Fate!

It is common to fall into the hands of statistics, becoming a martyr, and following a predetermined destiny.  Many individuals look to see how likely those from the lower-income class are to go to college, what the statistic is for women to move from middle management into the executive level, or what the differences are of various cultures, races, and backgrounds when it comes to success later in life.  We can use these numbers to place ourselves into distinct categories.  We can play the game, calculating our likelihood of success at only 20%, therefore, a waste of time to go to college.  Or, we can determine our own fate.

I do not deny that those in lower classes have less access to the same tools and benefits that middle or upper class individuals may have.  This can cause a greater struggle, but I also believe there are those who will fight to rise above. Just as someone in a higher income family may turn to addictions or crime and lose everything.  The determining factor in the end, is choice.  While statistics can provide a great deal of data to help us understand the world better and to figure out what changes to make, there is something deeper that comes from within an individual that determines if they will follow the statistics, or become an outlier.  An outlier stands outside of the norms, and in many cases, this can be a great thing.  For those who are condemned to a life of poverty by statistics, being an outlier changes their life for the better, and can perhaps lead to a better life for their children.

I have been faced with numerous challenges, and I am still struggling through them, but I have pushed hard to get to where I am, and I now hold two degrees.  Degrees that ten years ago, I would have never believed possible for me to attain.  Yet, I have them, and I am now determined to keep moving toward my dreams and to be successful.  I know I will be, and I am an outlier.  I am proud to be an outlier.  I fully believe that people choose their fate.  I see more people complaining about where they are at in their lives on Facebook each day, and I wonder why they are not taking steps to change their life.

A degree can only take someone so far, it is the graduate’s responsibility to prove they have retained the knowledge and can use it in a career.  Someone who wants to write should write each day.  They may not be published, but they are growing by writing regularly.  Writing a blog can be beneficial to someone who needs to stand out for their writing, business, or to showcase photography, travel, food, or art.  There are so many steps people can take to shine, but these opportunities must be grasped, or they slip away.

I challenge everyone to stop letting statistics define their lives and futures.  Each life is an opportunity to make change, to give back, to contribute, and to become something.  Determine what you want your life to be, and go for it.  Confining yourself to the limit of averages does more harm than good.  Be an outlier.  Be the woman who is an executive.  Be the person in poverty that rises above.  Live the life you dream about, then give back.  Encourage someone else to be an outlier too.  It has to begin somewhere. And the glorious ripple that stems from positive change can make all the difference.

Why “Why Not” Became the Question to Change My Life!

It seems so simple to say those two words, “why not?”  I had never really considered the power behind these words until they were spoken to me in a new way, in the way that would change my life.  Everyone has an inspirational story, but it is the inspiration of others that helps us to grow and become more.

When I was in my early 20s, I was in a difficult point in my life.  I had left an abusive relationship, was getting divorced, and was a single mom.  I had to find my way out of the pit of depression brought on by years of abuse.  I had to find the strength to juggle work and caring for my child.  I had to learn how to go through the motions each day.  Yet, I knew I had so much potential that was burning inside of me.  It was there, just waiting for me to let it out.

One day, I was having lunch with my mother, and I was telling her about the Harry Potter series and how much it had inspired me.  I was always a bookworm, and I loved every genre.  From the fantasy worlds that gripped me with their magic, to the tragic tale of Les Miserables, I was devouring books as a child and teenager.  When I discovered Harry Potter, I escaped the monotonous life I was in and found my passion for stories again.  I told my mother how I wished I could take the stories I had in my head, and write a book like Rowling did.  Then, it happened.

She asked me “why not write a story?”

It took me a few moments to think about it, and I couldn’t come up with a good enough reason.  What was stopping me?  It was my disbelief in myself.  I never thought I could do it.  I did not believe I could possibly accomplish this feat of writing a novel.  So, I challenged myself to write a novel, and I did.  While the story is great, it needs work, and I realized I needed to go back to school, grow, learn, and pursue my passions.  Now, when I think I wish I could do something, I ask, “why not?”  This simple question has changed my life, and I hope it can inspire others to change theirs.

Thank you mom!!!

Moving From Victim to Victor!

Just about everyone becomes a victim at some point in their life.  In fact, many of us will use the victim role to avoid life, tasks, projects, or work.  There are various reasons for this, depending on the type of victim you have become.  If you were seriously hurt or injured, obviously, it will take a toll on you, but there are too many situations where something trivial occurs and victimhood seems eternal as it is drawn out for weeks.

Examples:

– A co-worker got a promotion that you feel you should have had.

– A paper that you put months of research into has been rejected or received a bad grade.

– Perhaps you have had a rocky road with relationships, and you let this become a failure that seeps into every other aspect of your life.

– You are broke and can’t afford the same things your co-workers have.

– Your car continues to break down and you can’t afford the repairs.

Not that these situations are good, but there is a point where one must move from being the victim to becoming a victor in their life. Everyone has bad moments, we are all wronged, and we all struggle at some point.  The difference is that those people who come out on top do not allow these moments to rule their life.  They deal with it, struggle, and find a way to fix the problem.  It may take years to fix the problem, but dwelling on it without trying to solve it will not get anyone anywhere.

Everyone has the choice of which direction their life will go.  Each challenge can make or break you.  You can choose to be strong, fight the situation, and overcome it, or you can wallow in self-pity.  Be the victor.  Do not let situations keep you from solutions.

5 Steps to Becoming a Genuine and Confident Leader!

There is an assurance of character that comes when we see someone with confidence.  Not the overbearing or arrogant confidence, but the confidence that expresses the belief in oneself that is rooted in a humble person.  This is the type of person we are drawn to, and the kind of person we should be if we choose to lead, manage, advocate, and inspire.  There is a quality of candor that shines from individuals like this because they do their job while remaining true to themselves.

How can you develop this type of confidence?

1.  Experience.  As you have more experience working through challenges, and life overall, you will learn who you are and what you believe.  You have to have a firm understanding of yourself, how the world works, and how you work in the world to get to a true and mature confidence in your abilities.

2.  Listening.  You need to listen to yourself, your needs, and your desires because this is part of what motivates you and defines your goals.  You also need to listen to the people around you.  How do they react to you?  Is there something that you are doing that works well when communicating with others?  Is there something that others do not respond well to?  You must be able to study human response well.

3.  Candor.  You need to be honest with yourself and others about who you are.  People do not want to find out you are artificial, a fraud, or not truly the person you claim to be.  You should be upfront about your goals, your life, you plans, your abilities, your strengths, and your weaknesses.  Sometimes it is hard to admit your weaknesses to others, let alone yourself.  However, if you are going to become strong and inspiring, you must be genuine and honest.

4.  Learn to accept your failures as easily as you accept your successes.  Everyone want to succeed, but you have to fail first.  You have to fail many times, and then some, before you get the type of success you really want.  This means hard work, repetition, analyzing your failures, and moving on.  If you can openly accept your failures, you will find that you will learn from them faster, and you will find success much more quickly.

5.  Be open to advice.  You have to be confident in your abilities, but also recognize that you do not know everything.  You will continue to grow and learn as you lead and inspire.  It is a never ending process, and it will help you to expand.  Learn from others, including the people following you, because those lessons may turn out to be the most fruitful.

Confidence is a truly necessary asset for leadership roles, but make sure you are genuine in your confidence.  Be the person that people admire, not the one who is arrogant.  Admit fault, claim success, and speak candidly.

How to Maintain a Positive Attitude Even on an Off Day!

As a leader, you are required to present a positive attitude regularly, even when you are not feeling it.  To lead and inspire others, they need to feel good about who you are.  You have to have charisma, and be someone worth following.  However, you are human, and you are going to have days that are less than perfect.  You are going to have personal problems that bleed into your workday and make you wish you were not held to such a high standard.  But, if you are in this leadership role, you will have to find a way to present a positive attitude that will carry you through the day.

How can you maintain this positive attitude on a regular basis?  The best way is to take measures first thing in the morning that will influence your perspective for the rest of the day.  There are many ways you can do this, and you will have to find what works best for you.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1.  Begin your day already prepared.  By making a list of things to do the night before, you have a productive start and a guide to your day.

2.  Decide to be positive when you wake up.  Force yourself to shift all of your negative thoughts to positive ones, and it will help influence the rest of the day.

3.  If you start your day with a shower, imagine any negative energy being washed away, and take on positive energy.

4.  As you get ready in the morning, think about 5 strengths you have and it will help you feel confident in who you are and what capabilities you have.

5.  Surround yourself with positive people if you can, and when you have to be around negative people, try to have a positive impact on them.

6.   While you may not be able to control the world around you, realize that you control your actions and reactions.

These are just some examples, but if you know that a cup of tea, a smoothie, or a protein shake will boost your energy and shift your attitude, make sure this is part of your morning routine.  If a morning jog or walk helps you to clear your mind before tackling the day, get up early enough to fit this into your schedule.  The bottom line is that while you are bound to have a bad day, you can take control, prevent the negativity, or at the least, reduce it.

How to Know if you are on the Right Path!

Sometimes, we hit a point in our lives where we wonder if we are on the right path.  Perhaps you have been let go from your job, maybe you are stuck in a position that does not make you feel valued or challenged, or maybe you are just feeling like you are not happy.  If any of this is true for you, you are probably ready to make a change.  In fact, if you are not happy or working on something that makes you feel like you are being true to yourself, you should consider making a change.

Now, this does not mean that you should impulsively leave a job that you have found security in because it makes you unhappy.  This means you may need to re-evaluate where you are in your life and where you want to be.  Once you know who you are and what your goal is, you need to make decisions on how to get there.  With the challenges in the economy and job market, security is important, but you can keep your job while making changes, gaining education, negotiating with an employer, or seeking opportunities.

The main thing is that you find what you are passionate about and pursue it.  It may take more work on your part if you have to start a book, build a business, or go to school while still working, but the people who find success are those who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and put in a hard day of work.  You will know when you are on the right path because you will feel proud, confident, and happy!

Ingenuity is Found in Imperfection!

We all strive for a level of perfection in our lives.  We desire a perfect relationship, the perfect career, perfect children, a well organized and perfectly maintained home.  There is a sense of pride and comfort that comes from perfection as we neatly tie our hair back, brush the wrinkles from our suit before a meeting, and make sure our grammar in a document is just right.  However, the world is not perfect, and as a part of the world, humans are far from perfect.  We can do everything in our power to remove the chaos from our lives and to tie our lives into a neat package with a bow on top, but are we being true to ourselves?

The truth is we spend more time trying to create the image we desire and we think others desire when we should spend more time valuing who we are.  We are all imperfect in a beautiful way that leads to diversity, unique creations and perspectives, creativity, and innovation.  The imperfections we have make each of us special and provides the ingenuity that makes us succeed.  If we can accept ourselves for who we are, embracing the differences, we can become confident and strong.  This leads to actions built on integrity, and we become genuine individuals which is what employers want.  Employers can be assured they are getting the person they can count on, not the one with a facade that must be broken down to reveal the truth within.

As you contemplate the direction you have taken with your life, consider who you really are.  What are you most afraid of, and are you being true to yourself.  Admit your flaws, and accept your weaknesses.  Be proud of what you have done, and make changes to become better.  When you are a genuine person, you will perform at higher levels because you are happy, you are grateful, and you feel complete.  This is what we should strive for in our lives, and the masks that we use to protect ourselves should be placed on the shelf because imperfection is truly the source for ingenuity!

Integrate Integrity Into Your Career!

Integrity!  This word is a powerful keyword used by businesses regularly when seeking employees and evaluating current employees.  Integrity makes up a percentage of the cornerstone of a good worker because it is essential for trust.  Employers want to know that the person leading 50 employees can do so while maintaining the standards, code of ethics, and values of the company.  This may sound obvious, but after sifting through social media posts of many people, it is clear that not everyone has the integrity we would like to think.  In fact, I have heard of many cases of employees on FMLA who are posting pictures of themselves partying, and people who call in sick to nurse the hangover from the night before.

Employers create a code of ethics because they need to ensure their company will run smoothly.  Co-workers depend on one another to complete operations, but one employee not adhering to the code of ethics can throw the whole team off course, and influence poor behavior in other employees.

How can you ensure you have the integrity to meet the demands of your employer?

First, know what they expect.  You should know the code of ethics, the mission statement, the values, and everything else that is pertinent to the running of and the behavioral expectation of the company.  Then, you should exhibit this behavior on a regular basis.

You should go above and beyond to show your employer that you not only know the expectations and can follow them, but that you actually care about them.  The employer who sees true integrity from you is more likely to trust you, and this can lead to a positive outcome for you.

Be the one to stand your ground on workplace values, and be a determined employee with an eye for what is right and best for the company.  Be the employee that the employer can trust!