I attended a delightful BCW (Brilliantly Connected Women) power-lunch the other week, an event which attracts about three men in support of their female colleagues, who in turn number about fifty. The aim is quite simple: empower women to connect with one another, learn from one another and progress in their careers. The speaker this week was a lady in sync with my own thought processes of getting away from yourself to find yourself. In her case, she embarked on an ambitious 800km pilgrim trek in Spain in which she reassessed her life and found a little bit of zen to boot. It’s a wonderful feeling.
She took two months off to pursue this adventure, a leap of faith for her as it was an insurmountable time off (for me, no!). In talking of her career and focusing on behaviour and attitude that got her to where she is today, this sparked a woman in attendance to question why she was always pigeon holed in her career. A programmer of some twenty years standing, she was bright enough to know exactly what she needed to do, but had got to a point of not seeing the forest for the trees. To close to the action to see the action, as it were. This made me think of the differentiators between us all: not just gender or appearance, but behaviour. What do others do differently in their approach to situations and life? Here are mine:
1.Television – For me, I barely watch it. If my housemate hadn’t brought a television, I probably wouldn’t have one at all. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, Vikings, never seen a single episode of Breaking Bad, or any series really right back to the Sopranos. I do though love films and adore going to the cinema perhaps once a month. I see day to day television of very little value. Same could be applied with computer games. . .
2.News – See ‘television’. The amount of news thrust upon us every day is staggering: 24-hour news to remain instantly connected with every human being on the planet about every single thing. Do you need access to such an amazing conglomeration of news? Probably not. Once a day is enough. I once went 7 months without reading a single piece of news: no newspapers, no internet webpages, no news channels. What happened in that 7 months? There was some flooding in Houston 12,000 miles away from where I lived. I think that’s about it. When news was brought up at lunch time, people were more than happy to explain what was going on in the world, most of it of little consequence.
3.Time – It’s the most important thing you will ever possess. Use it wisely, which is why the first two points exist at all. Don’t do things because you feel encumbered, do them because you want to do them. You don’t have to offer people excuses. Sometimes ‘sorry I can’t make it’ is enough, although if you have a family or partner, then sometimes you have to suck some eggs to keep the peace!
4.Excuses – Don’t be the person that says “I’d love to be able to do that”. Usually there is nothing that stops you doing anything you set your mind to, but you’re too distracted by television, the news or, let’s face it, being lazy. I don’t buy into the mindset that ‘oh I’m not a numbers person’ or ‘I’m not very creative’. Put in the hard yards. Personally, I’d love to be a travel writer reporting and exploring he world. But I know also that many, many people want to do that, and even if you make it, the money to be made isn’t that good. Very few writers actually make a proper living. However, I can achieve my aims of travel through working at a good, well-paid job (enough for me, anyway) I don’t love but do thoroughly enjoy – the aspects of training and mentoring others, of problem solving to find a solution – and I write in my spare time which I love. Having travelled extensively for long periods, I know that I would get tired. Would travel-writing as a job become a chore as opposed a joy if there was a deadline? Perhaps.
5.Don’t take your job too seriously – Most of us are in a position where if we perform badly at our job, people don’t die. I certainly am. And yet the stress we bring home because of an email or report or office politics is staggering. Find a way to leave it there. I have a thirty-minute walk to work and back. During that period I’ve stopped taking phone calls, checking my phone or reading emails, anything other than just walking. This relaxes me and gives me a good wind-down before I start or finish work.
6.Privileges - Financially people voluntarily put themselves into debt to have the things they want and believe they need. I have no car (or rather, before I brought my Land Cruiser for my antipodeanadventure.com, I had no car!), I don’t own a house, I have no debts, I save money where I can. I don’t gamble, drink or smoke – god I sound boring! - and actually, oddly, don’t really like possessing ‘things’. My laptop and camera remain my prized possessions, with various hard-drives for photos etc. But if push came to shove I could leave everything I have with a small bag. I like that. I enjoy the fact I don’t need much to be happy. I don’t think I’ll ever need the escape factor though! The more people depend on their income, the more rigid and less risks they can take i.e. I can’t risk losing my job because of the mortgage, because of the school fees, because of the car payments or credit cards. You then start to think ‘I’m luck to have this job’ rather than, as it should be, ‘they are lucky to have me.’
None of the above makes me better or worse than anyone else, it's just my path and what helps me along my journey. What are yours?
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