What was your most significant expenditure in 2012?
It doesn’t have to be necessarily the biggest expenditure, just the one with the most impact.
What difference has it made to your life?
On November 30th, I bought my first car, a 2012 Nissan Versa SL Hatchback. Yeah, my first car was a new one and I bought it at age 37. I got my drivers license less than three weeks ago.
Since age 16, I’ve struggled with a deep anxiety of driving. Nope, never been in a car accident (someone suggested that I must have been in a past life- yes, she was crazy). Lessons in various periods of my adult life and therapy made little dents, and a big challenge was living in New York City since I was 20 years old. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it difficult to get comfortable driving in a constant video game. It also became a crutch for years as a reason I couldn’t leave New York because I was afraid I would never be able to function anywhere else.
I felt stuck.
Moving to Savannah was a perfect place to take this on. Don’t get me wrong- it was still not easy. But I hired a wonderful retired drivers’ ed teacher who took me out driving four hours a week during October and helped me get better and most importantly, manage my anxiety. I also worked with my coach Thekla on limiting beliefs around my driving issues. With the encouragement of a small group of loved ones, I finally took the dreaded road test and passed.
Beyond the anxiety, I felt guilt and shame about driving. Guilt came from having to ask people to give me rides, though Tina Fey’s Bossypants helped a little. Shame came from not seeming able to do something that even people who seemed 90% brain dead could accomplish. But the reality is that not driving didn’t matter as much as my fear led me to believe it did. I know lots of people who drive but they haven’t visited 28 states and 5 countries or flew 60,000 miles in a year. My biggest realization the day after I got my license is how little my life had truly changed, as well as people’s opinions of me.
I’ve lived in Savannah for almost a year and the resourceful NYer part of me finds it a place you can navigate fine without a car, but it was something I wanted for myself. The impact of owning this car is tangible for sure, including opening up more business opportunities in the Southeast. But the biggest impact of purchasing the car is probably the realization that stuck was a false emotion created by my brain and nothing more.
The Opportunities Project is on Team Rebecca Black.
This past Friday (how appropriate), I finally made a point to find out who Rebecca Black is and why everyone is talking about her on Twitter, Gawker and Jezebel. For those of you who haven’t heard about Rebecca, she’s the 13-year-old California girl who recorded a song and video called “Friday.” It was a vanity project that her parents paid for, though they say much of the cost was associated with retaining the rights to the song because Rebecca co-wrote it. Rebecca and the production company, The Ark Factory, uploaded the video to You Tube and Facebook, mostly to share it with friends and family. The video went viral and in a week, the video had 17 million views and is now ranked 32 on the ITunes Singles Chart. She sold more singles this week than Justin Bieber and Simon Cowell is her new biggest fan.
On the hateful side, people have left negative comments on her video and are tweeting what what an awful singer and dancer she is and even her appearance (“I hope you cut yourself and I hope you get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty.”). We know that the internet just has sucky people, but there are also relatively sane people contributing to the fire. People feel so personally offended that this girl is usurping some construct they’ve developed about the music industry’s rightful pecking order and outraged that a song that’s not pure “art” is becoming successful. Hmmm. Here is what I know and don’t know about Rebecca Black and “Friday.”
I know that the song is completely ridiculous, especially that part in the middle where she recites the days of the week. But most party anthems are ridiculous- Party in the USA anyone?
I know that “Friday” is extremely catchy- it has not left my head since I first heard it.
I know that she had a lot of fun filming the video- her smile is addictive. For people who thought the video was an elaborate joke, remember that this is a song and a video about a 13-year-old girl.
I don’t know if Rebecca is talented because the producers at Ark Factory Music overused auto-tune. She sounds a lot like Kesha and that is not a compliment.
I know that in 2011, Rebecca will likely make a lot of money because she did a project that she liked and “shipped.“
Not liking the song and video seems fair, but attacking Rebecca Black doesn’t. I read some of the media interviews with Rebecca and I think there are lessons that the adults can learn and apply to their personal and career development.
Lesson One: If you want it, take a calculated risk- invest in yourself and put yourself out there.
In addition to questions about her talent, many people seem upset that Rebecca’s family paid the studio to produce the video because they’re uncomfortable with the notion that she may have bought her way to fame. Her family’s take is that they paid the studio for work they did on the video and people don’t work for free. The price for the song and video was in their budget, and there was potential for it make money, so they felt that it was worth the investment for them and Rebecca’s dream. Seems logical to me.
What are you doing to investing in yourself? I’m a huge fan of Dan Miller and his podcast. He constantly receives emails from people who want to become writers, but say they can’t afford to spend a few hundred dollars for writing classes. He tells them if you don’t want it enough to save, invest, and even *gasp* take out a small amount of short-term debt to do that, he can’t help them. His point is that your beliefs and how you spend your money are entwined and you must see that.
It’s estimated that Rebecca’s family spent $2,000 on the video. That may be a lot of money for you- it would be for me right now as an entrepreneur. But what can you do that is in your price range this week to invest in yourself? Buy a $15 book on goal setting? Take a $25 workshop on marketing that you found on Eventbrite?
I also agree with this Chicago blogger’s thoughts: In America, we are so quick to jump to the defense of young people who are victimized, but we go out of our way to take down the ones who show strength and put themselves out there to win. What does that say about us?
Lesson Two: Stay in your own life.
“At first, when I first saw all these nasty comments, I did cry. I felt like this was my fault. And I shouldn’t have done this, and this is all because of me. And now I don’t feel that way.” After an hour of self-doubt and sorrow, Rebecca wiped away her tears and went to find her mom. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of making me take it down.’ ‘No, this is going to work out. I just want to let it go. Let it do its thing.'”
Too often, we spend our mental energy concerned with how other people are going to judge us. I’ve been working on a future blog post on the ego and how it gets in the way of success for 90% of job seekers I meet. It makes them go to great lengths to protect themselves so they don’t pursue opportunities, or when they hear something they don’t like, they spend all of their emotional energy defending themselves to confirm their place in the world. You can’t control how the outside world is going to perceive you. The only thing you can do is let that go and focus on what you can control- your own desires and how you develop yourself to achieve them
Also, self-doubt and sorrow are important emotions. Make a commitment to feel them when they approach. The important part is to shed them quickly the way Rebecca did.
I’m working with clients who are setting long-term goals and my favorite book on this topic is Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. It’s a powerful book and I just re-read parts to find ways I can better serve these clients. I came up with many insights during my re-read, but one that seems applicable here is remembering that being positive and proactive are different things. It takes great courage to face the kind of public criticism that Rebecca faced. Some of us can do that, and even let it go. Real resilience is when you do those two steps and then continue on your path because it’s yours and you want it.
And for all the people who are claiming that “Friday” is the worst music video ever made, you’re wrong. This is the absolute worst music video ever made and I get great joy from watching it over and over. Steve Perry, if they gave Oscars for music videos, you’d be a contender.
I spent most of #snowmageddon writing my posts for the Reverb10 campaign. I’ve done one post so far, but as a recap, Reverb10 is an online initiative to get people to reflect upon what happened in 2010 as part of their effort to manifest the best in 2011. I am all aboard the Reverb10 train personally, and as a career coach, I think everyone else should participate in it, too! As a coach, one of the best gifts I can give is to bring people toward greater self-awareness. Self-awareness can show you how others may perceive you in your career, but more importantly, show you what you really want in life and how to get it. Taking personal time to reflect and write about your experiences and goals is a great way to jumpstart the process.
Because I am late to the game, I am grouping many of the prompts into themes that make sense to me. I am also posting multiple times a day to publish as many as possible before the new year. Today’s first post is about my decision to start my company, and the realization that was a decision to also let something go. Since my company is relatively new, I still run into people in the city who have no idea that I am now a career coach. Usually they ask me “When did you decide you wanted to be a career coach?” or “Why did you leave your job at the New York City Department of Education?” Most people see them as the same question, but one is about adding and the other is about subtracting. Sometimes you need to do both to move forwards. My greatest lesson learned is that these decisions reflected conscious choices and I had abdicated my power to make choices for a very long time. This post also addresses one more reason behind Why I Do What I Do, another blog post series.
#Reverb10 Prompts December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)
December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?(Author: Alice Bradley)
December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)
The Wisdom in Knowing You Want More
My wisest decision in 2010 was a two-part one: (1) to recognize that I had a dream and the talent to become a successful coach, and (2) to act on my belief and start my practice.
The first part took place in very late 2009 when multiple people in my life asked me for my advice on their job search. When I worked with friends and colleagues to review their resumes and help with interviews, I saw my strengths in a new light and recognized how much I enjoyed working with job-seekers. I am not a huge “the universe is speaking to you” person, but I don’t think it’s random that people were coming to me in a moment where I was wondering what I wanted to accomplish in the next year, especially a milestone year since I’d be turning 35. I also had a lifelong dream to be an entrepreneur that I had put on hold countless times. Going back for my PhD in 2006 was part of my plan to become an independent consultant, but I came to realize that I didn’t need my PhD to own a mission-driven business, especially with ten years of experience in recruitment.
In January 2010, I started talking to coaches and attending business classes and knew that I could do it. In March, I started telling people in my life about my plans and asking opinions from people I trusted. By the end of the month, I told my boss on a Friday evening, feeling liberated… but walking out in tears.
Leaving A Role Behind
In the excitement of launching my new vision, I didn’t quite realize that leaving my role as “The Director of Teacher Recruitment” for the New York City public schools would be a separate hard and painful process. I was leaving something that I had poured all of my emotional labor into for almost a decade and the title had become as much a part of my identity as the color of my eyes. Even though time has passed, there is still a part of me that is in mourning for the team that worked with me, and the good things that came from being a member of an established institution and tribe. But ultimately, the role was not serving me anymore. It was not giving me intellectual and personal freedom, room to grow, or space to honor my own feelings about what it takes to improve our nation’s education problems, K-16. By ignoring those feelings, I was giving away control over my life and I had to let it go to grow, even if it meant leaving behind some good things.
As I fight the day-to-day battles of getting things off the ground, I forget the amount of courage and power both of these decisions took. It was easy to stay where I was rewarded with an excellent paycheck and benefits. But I desired to be an entrepreneur and coach and no one was going to start my business for me. The lesson learned is that if we want something enough, we must recognize our power to do it with conscious and deliberate action, and an understanding that success requires risk and at least a moderate tolerance for failure. No matter what happens, that I pursued it is its own accomplishment.
Are you ready to make a conscious choice today to make a difficult decision and/or let something go?