Perfect- Everyone’s Poison of Choice

It’s hard to explain social media to someone that doesn’t get it. And I don’t
mean answering “IT” calls during Scandal to tell your dad how to post a photo on Facebook. I mean for the people that don’t have the same urge to create, share, and interact on a virtual reality.

To the naysayers that claim social media is all perfect filters, planned poses, and only the best parts of our days…I don’t know what to say to you. Because you’re not wrong.

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Aka the best part of everyone’s day

I’ve taken an unintentional hiatus from blogging, journaling, and meditating. Just as I tell my yoga students as they enter the love/hate pigeon pose, it is where we are least comfortable that we need to be most. I have been avoiding what I needed most, because I didn’t have the perfect thing to say.

For the past four months, I have been answering the small-talk question “How are things? How is work?” with the small-answer that is expected, “Great!” Failing to mention that I was doubting myself on an incredibly regular basis.

My life is great, it truly is. Online and offline. With and without filters. But after we spend our whole lives going to school and training for a career, and when work becomes the focus of most conversations, it’s hard to have such a large part of one’s life stray from perfect.

Freshman year of college, when we were all home for Thanksgiving, I remember everyone always asking each other, “How is ____? Do you LOVE it?” There seems to only be one right answer to that question. Lucky for me, the answer was genuinely yes, but something tells me there were some filtered yeses reporting back as well.

Conversations about jobs were always focused on nailing the interview, getting hired, and how to negotiate salaries. But what no one talked about is that once the ink of the offer letter is dried, the welcome wagon is long gone, the real work begins.

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“Honestly, Andy, you’re not trying. You’re whining.” Favorite scene. Even more favorite movie.

Because perfect isn’t an option for 40+ hours a week. Perfect is too easy. Perfect doesn’t stick around for learning curves, trying things that scare you, and thinking outside of what’s been done before. Perfect doesn’t prepare you to be the one in the driver’s seat one day. Perfect stays behind the screen as we scroll by.

But when asked in passing, over vodka sodas and loud music, or following good news, no one mentions that. So we think—even if we don’t believe it—it must just be me.

Well team, you fooled me. I believed it was just me, and that I needed to make a drastic change to my career path. But figuring out the 5 Ws of that shift made each day in my current role more difficult. Turns out it’s really hard to move forward with one foot in and one foot out. To the point that I didn’t want the mess of my confusion and doubt written out on the pages of my journal, to dance around in my still mind, and I definitely couldn’t sort them out to make public.

I’ve realized through conversations with my true north confidants, attending the recent Minneapolis Mad Women event, and having more thoughts in a run than steps, that you can’t sabotage your career at 23. Doesn’t seem possible. I refuse to accept that as a possibility.

It wasn’t perfect opportunities that were catching my eye, it was the idea of how perfect it could be. A perfect opportunity is the one that allows you to overcome challenges, and keep trekking to the light even when the tunnel isn’t perfectly built.

There’s no need to fight or flight from the discomfort, or filter the imperfections. Rather, we grow when we stay in the present, and show that we can be a team player and choose positivity even when it isn’t easy.

And most importantly, when work isn’t our strongest (let alone the only) source of fulfillment, worth, and joy, it’s a lot easier to remember how truly-unfiltered-great life is. Knowing regardless of what the light or tunnel looks like, you are a damn good train, and yes, you can.

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How Did They Do That?

IMG_4986Always in amazement of Minneapolis Mad Women events, I’m not surprised I’m still sharing, connecting, and gaining inspiration from the March #HowDidTheyDoThat? session. Six women and one redefining-the-term-power-couple made up the panel that shared their journeys of how they got to where they are today.

Journey doesn’t mean read me your resume, for these speakers, it meant sharing stories of vulnerability, doubt, missteps, and embracing risk.

I could go on forever about the details of each stories (ask my friends, I have) but what sticks with me two weeks later is rather than checking all the boxes and moving through the motions, trust your instincts to follow your own path. Here’s a highlight of how they did it:

  • Kalei Grines, Business Engagement for Target Style, shared that she began her career hiding that she was a single mom, and later having her daughter think of the office as a second home. Once her daughter’s 10th birthday rolled around, Kalei realized she had crossed off all the goals and positions she wanted, but didn’t see her own work in who her independent, extroverted and gifted daughter had become. If something feels like it’s missing from your work/life balance, it probably is. Redefine success to include the life you want to live.
  • Jeremy and Krista Carroll, founders of Latitude, were inspired after spending time in Haiti to leave jobs they weren’t connected to and start their own business dedicated to elevating lives in third-world countries. For this leap to be possible, they asked themselves, “What’s the worst case scenario?” After confirming moving their family into Krista’s parent’s basement was indeed an option, the plan seemed less crazy. Krista credits Latitude’s success to purpose driving talent.
  • Pamela Brown, Brand Licensing & Partnership Management at General Mills, wrote a hilarious letter to her 22 year-old self that prepared her to reframe her career experiences that were to come. She called these “gifts wrapped in shitty ugly paper,” such as receiving a bad boss, terrible pay, no work/life balance; all of which helped her know what to look for in her next role. These shitty, ugly, gifts prepared her not to compromise on what mattered to her most.

After the eight panelists shared their stories, someone asked what their two non-negotiables are in a job. After brainstorming on the way home, and for the last two weeks, I’ve decided my non-negotiables are creative outlets and work/life balance

  • While I currently create content, webinars, graphics, white papers, that is not the only way creativity must show up for me. It’s thinking creatively as well— finding a new solution, trying things that haven’t been done— that make me feel like my whole self is coming to work.
  • Work/life balance isn’t actually a matter of balance. An amazing mentor once told
    me, “If something is in balance, it’s not moving.” So for me, it’s having an employer that allows for flexibility and life outside of work, and for me to be an employee that doesn’t make them regret that. I’m a better employee when I have IMG_4539time for early morning yoga, and evening hours spent away from screens.

I’m lucky that my first role and organization offer these two non-negotiables. At #HowDidTheyDoIt? I realized how many different paths and experiences people come from. We are all too unique to march to the beat of someone else’s drum, or cling to a set in stone five year plan.

For me, remembering that is like a full body exhale. Rather than worrying about being behind or getting ahead, get the most out of every experience and opportunity so you can one day be the panelist saying, this is how I did it.