Today we will continue thinking about how we will shine in 2010. It is true that the introduction of this topic coincided with the new year, but this work is in not like the same old empty resolutions you have made in the past. Shine 2010, is an experience designed to help uncover some of the things standing between you and your dreams and to begin chipping away at them.
Shine 2010 is less about resolutions and more about how to live your best life.
If you are excited by the possibilities, but haven't joined us until today, revisit posts from January 4, 5, 6, 7, and the video from January 8.
We'll start today's activity with a short personal story. It will help illuminate a point made in M.J. Ryan's chapter titled, "What Need Is Being Served By What You Are Doing Now?"
I lived in a house with loving and devoted parents. My father was an English teacher and my mother stayed home during most of our formative years. Later she worked as florist in a New York City. Somehow my parent's were able to make most things work on their modest wages. There were piano lessons for my sister Ellen, dance lessons for Ann, school uniforms, summer camp, cultural experiences in the city, healthy home cooked meals, braces, and the list goes on.
Money was a stressor though. I knew it was, because I could hear my parents talking at the kitchen table long after they thought we were asleep. I overheard phone conversations where money was a topic of conversation and, though young and self-centered, I understood that the expense of Ann's ballet, Ellen's private college tuition, and my after school activities amounted to more than most teacher salaries could handle comfortably. They worried about money, so I worried about money.
In retrospect, I think my childhood experience taught me to believe money is scarce and that I should be thankful for what I have.
My parent's experience with money has shaped me and even influenced my decision making. I grew up appreciating my steady job in higher education. I knew I might never get rich in my chosen career, but rich was in no way what I was striving for. Like my father, I was proud of being an educator and enjoying the modest, but stable benefits of working in education.
It worked for a while.
In 2007, a move from Kentucky to Texas meant leaving my job and being unemployed for the first time in my life. Surprisingly, when I left the job I was not upset. Time in the field slowly made me more impatient and more discouraged than when I first started working. I was ready for the break.
Then I met all of you. I started this blog and realized I loved being creative, I loved writing, and I loved being the impetus for people coming together in community. I loved reading in the morning, writing in the afternoon, and generally controlling the way I spent my days.
But how impractical. Money is scarce and I should be thankful for the opportunities I've been given. I needed to look for a job. Besides... it's work that matters, it's steady, the insurance is good, and higher education is what I received all my formal training in.
I began pounding the pavement and, after a only a few disappointments, found a position in higher education that I believed would be a good fit. And, for the most part it was.
At least for a while.
Slowly I realized my days as part of the administration were filled with more red tape than writing and my creativity was more about circumventing systems than it was about creating value. I grew increasingly aware of the disconnect between how I was spending my days and how I wished I could be spending my days. Time made it more clear that, my ideal career was no longer as part of the administration. It really is as a consultant, teacher, trainer, writer, and researcher.
How impractical, though. Money is scarce and I should be thankful for what I have.
Still, I left my job for the chance to build my dream career. This time by choice and fully aware it would mean doing without extras afforded by a steady paycheck. I am nervous, but I am also more invigorated than I have been in a long time. I wake up each day ready to read and write and committed to turning my decision into my dream. The Year of the Book.
Now to the point of Ryan's question - What need is being met by what you are doing now?
There were a number of needs being met by my career in higher education - the chance to work with students; believing I was shaping future citizens; working with smart, motivated people; driving up to work on a college campus every day; the status of holding titles valued by others; the ability to relocate easily if interested, and, of course, a steady paycheck with little chance of ever being unemployed.
As pointed out by M.J. Ryan, in her book, This Year I Will...", we unknowingly do things that run counter to our goals and dreams, because our actions fill some need. My returning to work and staying in the position for as long as I did, filled my emotional need to feel financially safe and secure. Ryan explains, "Because we are not conscious of what we are doing, the strategy we chose to solve the problem eventually becomes a bigger problem than the original one."
Here's what that looks like for me...
"Because we are not conscious of what we are doing, the strategy (taking a stable job at a university) we use to solve the problem (stability over pursuit of passion) eventually becomes a bigger problem than the original one (fear of not having enough money)."
Understandably, some of you will want to dismiss my example, because you are stuck on my having the choice to leave my position and pursue something different. Duly noted.
So, forget about me and my Year of the Book. Let's make this about you and your year.
What need is being served by what you are currently doing... but that you hope to change in 2010?
Phew! That's a workout.
Signing off until tomorrow...