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  They may not be published, but they are growing by writing regularly.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.

A Dream Remains a Dream Without Determination!

We all have dreams.  Those wonderful ideas that brighten our spirits.  The ones that we can see as though they are tangible and right before our eyes.  We have those dreams that are so much a part of us that we would no longer recognize ourselves without them.  The key is how to make those dreams a reality.  The truth is, a dream can remain a part of us until we cease to exist, but it will never be given life unless we have the determination to make them come true.  With determination, we must have true passion, knowledge, and tenacity.  This is what sets the dreamers apart from the entrepreneurs, the artists, writers, actors, executives, innovators, and more.  The people who succeed have what it takes to make their dreams real.

How can you become this person?  Here are a few steps to get you on your way to success!

1.  Know what your dream is and what it will take to attain it.  This requires a great deal of work because we can all say we wish to own our own business, but if we do not know what kind of business, who the target market is, what location will be the best, and have a detailed business plan, this business will never get off the ground.

2.  Make a list of steps with milestone dates to get you to the end goal.  This will have to be adjusted as the plan becomes more detailed, but it will give you a start and having items to check off will help to keep you motivated.

3.  Make a list of rewards that will come from your dreams.  This is crucial because it will be needed when challenges and setbacks occur.  Because, setbacks will happen, and if you have a list like this, it will help you remain focused on the end and maintain your determination.

4.  Build a support team.  You will need the best people you can have to be behind you each step of the way.  Working towards a goal like being a published author, or an executive requires a great deal of support at home.  If you have kids, you will need it even more.  You will need someone to listen to you, and someone to escape with when things get tough.

5.  Finally, remember to find fun time.  It is easy to get lost along the way while you work towards your goals, and if you forget the people you love, or the life that you have already, you will forget why you are working so hard.  Make time for fun because work will always be there.

Now, get started!

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.

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!

Pursuing Your Potential!

Many people live in the past, spending a great deal of their time regretting decisions, and considering where they went wrong in life.  Others spend time in the present, working to achieve short-term goals and to pay the bills.  Then, there are those who live in the present without truly living.  They barely get by, and they do not work towards anything.  Finally, there are the few who see the long-term goals, the potential they have to achieve something great.  These people are the ones who have big ideas, who dream big, who think big, and have success written all over them.  This is a great place to be, but without the motivation and drive to actually pursue your potential, you will never get to those beautiful long-term goals that shine like stars on a lonely night.

Depending on the goals you have, you may have a great deal of work to do, and if you plan to be successful, you should plan to have a lot to do.  It takes hard work and dedication to reach a goal, and it must be something you believe in or have passion for or else you are more likely to give up.  Here are the three steps you should take to begin when pursuing your potential.

1.  Determine what potential you truly have.  In fact, go beyond determining and decide if this potential lends itself to a specific goal you have, and if you are truly passionate about this goal.

2.  Make a plan!  Figure out what your goal is, and make a plan to help you reach it.  This includes timelines.  You need to know when you will start, what steps you need to take, and what your goal date of completion is.  You should think of the challenges that may be faced, and how you can best deal with them.  You need to determine if you need contacts, if you need money, and any other important elements that will get you there.  Sometimes, this may mean education, or work experience.

3.  Push yourself to take the first step.  Make the calls, enroll in a degree or certificate program, determine the loan you may need, seek investors, network with other individuals who could be helpful, and be ready to sell yourself.  Sometimes, you will need to boost your social media presence to reach a goal, and this can be time consuming.  Prepare for the amount of time you will need to invest and stick with it.

It can be difficult, and only a small percentage of people truly pursue their potential.  However, the work put into it can be incredibly rewarding in the end!

Why Failure is Fundamental to Success!

Failure!

This is not a word that brings happy thoughts.  In fact, it is something we avoid so much that we often miss opportunities because we see the risk of failure that is attached.  Failure is something we all must face at some point in our lives.  From grades, to relationships, to careers.  We will climb, and we will fall, eventually.

The ugly truth is we can fear failure so much that we spend more time focusing on it than dreaming and creating.  We may not take a high powered job because we are afraid we cannot handle it, and we will fail.  We may trade one major in college for a safer one because we are afraid we will fail if we are challenged too much.  We may not stick with relationships long enough to let them flourish because if it fails, we will be heartbroken.  In fact, we have given the fear of failure a great deal of power over our lives.

If there is anything I have learned, it is that I would not be the strong, confident, and intelligent woman I am right now if I did not take risks.  I used to hide in fear, not believing I could do the things I wanted to do.  It all boiled down to my fear of failing myself and the ones I respect and love.  It took some major failures for me to find out that I was stronger than I thought.  Then, it took a great deal of risk to get to where I am now.  I am not even close to done as I know I will continue to risk failure because each time I do, I grow, learn, and discover even more about myself.  I now know I must fail many times before I will succeed a few.  I also know, the success is worth it because I will have earned it.

The next time you consider turning down an opportunity, or cast aside a dream, think about the reason behind it.  Do you not want the opportunity, or are you afraid you will fail?  Take more chances, aim for more dreams, and when you fail, try again.

Looking to the New Year Ahead!

The day has arrived.  A shiny new year has begun and people awoke with a buzz of excitement, nursing hangovers, and dreaming of accomplishing newly crafted resolutions.  I started my day like any other, but ideas, plans, goals, and dreams have been carried with me in my thoughts through the day.  I know I have an exciting year ahead, and a challenging one.

I will be graduating this May with my two bachelor’s degrees, and I will begin my journey into a career.  It is hard to describe the feelings that come to a soon-to-be-graduate because there are too many.  I have an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, knowing I have worked hard to achieve this goal.  In fact, it has been a six year process.  I also feel as though I have been provided invaluable skills and knowledge that will lead to an ability to move into a career.  I know the first half of the year will be full of classes, craziness, and sadly, the last semester of my undergraduate career.  I will maintain my expectations of myself, and I will graduate summa cum laude.  I will walk across the stage at graduation with a mix of pride and sadness.  A lump will fill my throat as I realize I am leaving behind the sights, sounds, and familiarity that has become a second home to me.

I will embark on a journey into the the world of job searching, learning the lingo, prepping resumes, and preparing for interviews.  I will carry the confidence I have gained with me into the workforce, knowing I am smart, strong, and capable.  I will perhaps consider graduate school, and finish my novel.  I have so many things that will fill my year with joy and achievement.  My educational and career goals will be a main focus for me this year, but there is something that must be considered in all things.  My family.

I love my family, and my son has had a challenging year with school and his behavior.  His mental illnesses have spun out of control, and it has been very difficult to work with him.  I will continue to get him the help he needs, but I will also work to help him to see his worth and potential because that will hopefully give him the strength he needs to change the path he is on.  The challenges I have faced as a mother with special needs children has been overwhelming at times, and I plan to continue to write and blog about advocacy issues because there are so many people who struggle with this problem.

I am truly excited to make this an incredible year, and I would love to hear the plans of others.  Please post any goals you may have or what you are most excited about in the coming year!

New Year’s Series: Resolution Planning Time

Now that we have completed the exercises over the past few days, you should have a list of your toughest lesson learned, the successes you have had over the past year, your past goals and dreams, and a SWOT table with your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  This is a lot of information, but it will help you to plan resolution like never before.  The reason it is hard to stick to resolutions is because we tend to come up with a general goal and give ourselves a year to complete it.  There is no real plan.

Your first task is to go through your lessons learned because if one of them is that you need to cut toxic relationships from your life before they drag you down, and you want to resolve to make a toxic relationship stronger this year, you need to remember what you have learned in the past.  After making your resolutions , you will revisit this list to make sure your previous lessons do not apply to any of your new resolutions.

Next, you need to look at your successes and study them.  Did you succeed a great deal in one aspect of your life like your career, but not in your personal life?  Perhaps you want to continue to build on these successes, or perhaps you want to balance things out and add resolutions that will focus on a different aspect of your life.  Think about what made you successful for everything on your list.  Perhaps you were passionate about these things, maybe you accomplished more in the first half of the year when you were thinking about your goals for the year, or at the end when you realized you had not accomplished what you wanted to yet.  This is important because it helps you to see how you think, plan, and work.

The next step is to look at past goals and dreams that were left behind.  Are any of these still relevant? Did you give up on them because you were not ready, you were scared, or perhaps it is a path you left behind and would rather leave it in the past.  We all change as we grow, and this includes goals and dreams.  This is where you should break out the highlighter and highlight any goal or dream you would like to rekindle.

Finally, go over your SWOT.  You should see what your strengths are.  Will these help you achieve your goals, and is there anything missing that you should try to develop?  With your weaknesses, it is important to know what they are and if you can try to change that aspect of yourself.  Opportunities to enhance your life, and make changes to yourself, to grow and learn, can lead to resolutions.  Finally, threats, what threats do you have to your success, and how can you work through them?  You should always be prepared for these threats and for the task to overcome them.

This in-depth look at yourself should have helped you to come up with some resolutions you may not have considered before.  Your last task is to make a list of everything you would like to accomplish in the next year.  For each item, you need to consider if a different resolution should come first, if it should be within a certain period of time, and if it should be during a specific time of year.  Each resolutions should have a date to start, and an expected date to finish.  You should try to spread your goals out and make sure this is something you incorporate into your schedule.  Most of us use a scheduler on our phone, online, or a planner.  You can add the dates for your resolutions to it, and even reminders.  If it is a big resolution, create steps to help you achieve it.  This should also be added to your planner.  A more detailed plan like this allows you to carry your goals through the year and gives you a timeline to work from.  Once you have your completed resolution plan, think about your lessons learned, make sure they still apply, and think about your strengths that will help you achieve your goals.

Now, you can begin the year right, with a plan that will help you to find success.  I wish you all the best of luck in this coming year.  2015 has the potential to be a magical year if you work hard!  I hope you will all update me as we near 2016, and let me know if this worked for you.  I would love to hear about successful resolutions!  Happy New Year!!!