I Would Like At Least Two Please

When I was about five or six one morning my mom took me to her work and introduced me to the girls in the office. One woman had a candy dish on her desk and asked if I would like a piece of candy, to which I replied, “No – thank you; I would like two please.”

At that time my mother did not correct me or tell me that I was being rude for asking for more than what I was offered, she was too busy blushing from the laughter of the ladies in saying how very polite and forward I was. At the time I did not see how this was a societal error because in my young mind I answered the question honestly and I said please.

My grandmother worked for a company eons ago that at one point moved to another location. She told her boss that she would be changing her working hours because she did not want to deal with the rush hour traffic. Any clue where I get my personality? Anyway, I remember hearing my mom talk about how she couldn’t believe my grandmother was so forward in making this statement. Again, being young, I did not understand why it was a bad thing – it made sense to me.

So often we grow up with very well intended people in our life that continually tell us to be grateful for what we have, don’t ask for more than we deserve, and how millions of kids are starving in a third world country. These messages are meant in a positive way I believe; however they really do us some major harm as adults.

I never used the starving kid’s line to get my son to eat anything – honestly he didn’t care about anyone but himself as a child so some obscure guilt trip was not going to work. Instead I got creative, like when he didn’t want to try brussels sprouts – he was very little and just learned he could control and create certain body noises/functions. So I told him that they made him fart and he ate them all up.

I do believe we should be thankful for what we have – absolutely. I am blessed with so much in my life and everyday I give a tremendous amount of gratitude for the here and now, and for that which I am striving for. If only our parents had modified those statements just a bit just imagine the difference. “Be thankful for what you have and what you are going to achieve next.” It would have formed the opinion to accept that we want more and to develop the courage to go for it.

So often I talk to clients who, after coaching, it is uncovered that they really want more than where they are; but they were embarrassed to admit it. The first reason why they have such hesitancy is they think it is beyond their reach. Once we break it down to show that they have the skills, abilities and tools to accomplish that goal the real reason comes out – they don’t think they deserve it. In one way or another there is an overwhelming sense of not deserving better for ourselves.

Whether it be because we feel if we want more than we are not being appreciative of what we have, which is in no way a direct correlation; or that we have always been discouraged from giving ourselves the freedom to think big. But if it is going to make you happy and it does not cause harm to anyone else then how on earth can it be a bad thing?

It isn’t, we just psych ourselves out.

This happens across the board in personal and business arenas. “I’m just a (insert title here) I don’t have the experience/education/skills… to be a (insert dream title here).” Well, you have to start somewhere. If you don’t have the education, go get it. Maybe you do have the skills you just haven’t looked at it from the dream job perspective to see that you have been using them all along.

“Oh, I could never (talk to/ask out/be with) that guy, he’s way out of my league.” According to whom? My family is such a mixed bag of personalities and professions that I was blessed to know them as family, not as titles. Whether it be the top level executives of a powerful company to the front line employee – I love each member of my family unconditionally and thus learned to get to know people for who they are, not what they do.

Years ago I went to Keeneland for the races and was given the box passes – you know, passes for the so-called hoity-toity section. I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman with whom I had the pleasure of spending the entire day. We discussed the races, the weather and did a lot of people watching. At the end of the afternoon when he gave me his card and told me that the next time I was in town to let him know and he would secure our places in the boxes. When he handed me his card it was only then that I learned of his title – the president of a very prestigious bank.

Over the next few years I made several trips to the area and the races and we spent many lovely afternoons watching the races and talking. Turns out that the bank presidency was a slowing down position for him, he had served on the SEC, been an advisor to some of the foremost experts in the financial industry – he was a living legend; but to me, he was my friend Gene.

The first time I introduced my son to Gene I did not tell him about his great successes, I wanted him to know him as Gene. After getting to know him, I did tell my son of Gene’s background and he was quite impressed, but fortunately, he just saw him as that neat old guy that got us in the place with the good food.

Allow yourself the opportunity to want more for yourself – to allow yourself to accomplish your goals, be happy and have that which you want in your life. Whether it be a better job, the person who makes you smile without effort or a material item. If these are the things in life that make your life better than don’t just take the one offered, go for at least two please.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

New Year’s Resolutions – Ain’t Gonna Happen!

“Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” ~Oscar Wilde

“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” ~Mark Twain

I love these two quotes – and they pretty much sum up how I feel about New Year Resolutions – I don’t put a lot of stock in them.

I do not make them – ever.

I had a friend who regularly made New Year Resolutions; once during a light debate about making resolutions he told me with pride that one of his resolutions he made eight years ago still sticks. That’s great, glad you don’t bite your nails anymore. Ick.

But one big list one time a year?

That really does not work for me. And why January 1, New Year’s Day? The Chinese New Year does not even start until January 23 so that throws a little wrench in things.

By the way, 2012 will be the year of the Dragon which is said to be bringing blessings of harmony, virtue, riches, fulfillment and longevity. Yea Dragon! Bring it on!

Why not make them on your birthday – after all, logically, that is when your personal new year starts? Just a thought.

Back to my original thought; I don’t make New Year Resolutions because I have some illusion that I need not change anything about myself – trust me, I’m fully aware of habits I need to modify!

It is a pressure thing. I have enough pressure in my life why on earth would I add a list that I am forced to come up with in two days and feel the need to complete it starting RIGHT NOW? I do not need that kind of stress.

Don’t put that kind of stress on yourself – it is not healthy. If you feel the need to make a resolution make it because it is truly something you want to change, not because some weird social pressure to accommodate a tradition that is effectively vacated within 30 days.

So all you fellow rebels out there join me in effectively thumbing our collective noses at resolutions!

I will not make the standard resolutions of working out, eat healthier, break a bad habit or two or change my entire schedule. I will not set myself up to fail because I am honest with myself and know the following:

1. Although I love a great work out, I have to get to a point at which I can’t stand it anymore and finally throw myself into it. Kind of like cleaning a certain room, you can let it pass for so long then one day it just sends you over the edge and you go through with a flame thrower.
2. I’m that annoying person that gets so consumed within projects that I forget to eat – seriously. So my main thing is to remember to eat period. Think I’m kidding? Yeah, well, this is why my best friend, son and another friend regularly ask me if I have eaten each day.
3. I still enjoy my certain bad habits and have no desire to change them so therefore I know I won’t.
4. My day is not typical and you cannot force a square peg in a round hole so making myself conform to a stringent exact schedule would be torture and immediate failure for me. Why would I want to make myself feel like a failure? Seriously.

So if you feel the need to make a resolution, do yourself a favor and be honest with yourself. If you didn’t have the ability to complete the task yesterday what makes January 1 a magical transformative day that now you can? Set yourself up for success.

But, I do have friends that insist on asking, “But if you did make a resolution, what would it be?” Apparently nothing I had said to this point sunk in, so it is easier to just play along. So, if I were to make a New Year’s Resolution, I guess it would be just one thing:

Be more tolerant.

This is also something that I wish more people would adopt, the world needs more tolerance. It seems so simple, but in my world it is much more complex.

More tolerance for myself personally: what I mean by this is to remember to accept myself and not feel the need to apologize for who I am. I could not say it any better than Marilyn Monroe:

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

More tolerance for others: I judge others not by their words or intentions rather by their actions. I’m a wordsmith so I know how easy it is to come up with just the right thing to say, but the importance is in presentation, implementation and completion – i.e. action. I wish to be more tolerant of others in accepting their inaction. Whether it is by choice or inability is not mine to determine, just accept. I will let go of the need to defend, analyze or hope for anything different than what others chose to do – that goes for family, friends, colleagues and clients.

Family. I’ve had family that have made decisions that I do not agree with and tried to help or influence; I will accept that these are their choices and I can support the person without supporting the decision and be tolerant of the person that they are, not who I wish or know they can be. They love me despite my stubbornness, impatience and every other nagging quality – it is time I am more tolerant of their qualities and love them as a whole.

Colleagues/Clients. I’ve had potential clients that could not pull the trigger, could not commit to embarking on something that would bring them great personal and professional benefit. I will be more tolerant in understanding that commitment comes from within; no matter how much I want to help, I am not able to do so until they open the door themselves. I will no longer take this on as my own – it is not something that I could say or do differently, they will be ready when they are ready.

People in general. Sometimes I think people act intolerant of others due to lack of life experiences. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own little world that when we feel someone acted unjustly to us we take it personally. I refuse, I choose to give the benefit of the doubt and let them and myself go on living our lives without placing importance on insignificant acts.

So if there were to be any New Year’s Resolutions, my wish would be that we all give ourselves the gift of tolerance – learn to accept and love ourselves and others as we are, not as we hope to be, but as we stand right here right now. From that we can gain peace, joy and strength to then move forward in modifying behaviors or habits to bring about the things that give us the greatest happiness.

Blessings for the new year!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

So I’m an Optimist – Bite Me.

I choose to be an optimist and I also choose to stop apologizing for it. My best friend Jackie and I had a conversation yesterday about growing up. We concluded that she is, in fact, adopted and I grew up with a very naive view of the world. I think that growing up thinking that everything was just as it seemed and everyone did things because their reasons were just and has really shaped who I am. We are optimists in a world of pessimists and we’re done apologizing for it.

The older I get the more I am not only okay with this, but very comfortable with it. When my ex-husband and I would talk about things that I wanted he would tell me some things could not happen and I would always ask “Why not?” His response was something to the effect that that’s not how the world worked. But… why not? Who made this way-the-world-works rule and why can’t it be changed? Maybe it just takes a few optimists to embrace their own world so let’s all stand proud. Accept ourselves and start asking why not and stop, for crying out loud, apologizing for how we are!

Today has been a crappy day, I will admit, however; I still choose to see the positive. I honestly have every right in the world to be upset, disappointed and angry but guess what, that’s not going to change anything. I think the normal path would be to behave or relish in those things, but remember, I am an optimist.

Sometimes things happen that are out of your control, it happens, so do not beat yourself up over it. The most important step is to decide how you will respond. Your spouse left, you lost your job, you didn’t get the promotion, your car broke down, your family disappointed you, you aren’t sure if you’re going to be able to pay the mortgage – life events. And they suck, no doubt. But guess what, the worse is over because you know what you are facing. Now how are you going to face it?

I think the status quo is the woe-is-me tunnel vision negative view. Take one incident and it consumes your whole day, week, life, identity. But try being grateful. When you get that sucky news take a moment to ingest it then stop. Stop and look around at exactly where you are and what is around you and find the good. Find the blessings and things to be appreciative for that is around you right now. For example, I am sitting in my office with three of the five dogs. The big boys are off playing somewhere.

Brutus is sleeping in the last bit of sunshine spilling onto the floor, Lexi is sleeping in the rocking chair and Micki is sleeping under the desk. My office is a bright green with white and purple accents and I love it, it is bright and energetic; the sun is shining outside, coming in on the three violets in the windowsill. I have India Arie and Norah Jones playing on my Ipod and the room is filled with the scent from my favorite candle. I am healthy and have all my senses, I can enjoy each and every sight and sound around me. I am so very fortunate that I am here in this moment able to see, appreciate and enjoy the beautiful things around me right now.

The day still sucked but now recognizing the things that are around me right now and having a best friend that told me to get off my butt and get my work done helps put things into perspective.

I cannot change today’s news but I can control how it affects me. For anyone telling me that I am being “too rosy” or unrealistic I say “Bite me”. Unpleasant events in life are going to happen and they help define who you are as a person. I can honestly look back and be grateful for the experience because it has helped shape me into the person I am today, and optimist and damn proud of it!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.