Friday, October 12, 2012

Live to Work

My second speech for Toastmasters is coming up on November  1, 2012. This is what I've come up with so far... please leave any comments or suggestions!

As a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? How about as a teenager or young adult or even an adult for that matter?

Me neither.

Trust me, I tried fitting myself into a box. Firefighting, business woman, real estate tycoon, psychologist, teacher, garbage man, librarian, car salesman.

I've pondered a lot of different careers. But none of them seemed to fit. Or rather, I didn't fit into them. It's not from lack of trying either. Every time I would try one of those professions on for size as a young adult, I'd always have this underlying feeling of something bigger calling.

I was always inspired by those who found their calling and in many ways, I was more excited that they had aligned themselves with what they wanted to do then what they actually did.

When I started college at Western Washington University, I thought a business major suited me. It's what my mom majored in and I admire and look up to her. She was also extremely successful. As an incoming freshman, I got first pick on any upper level classes. So I promptly registered for Business Law and Accounting, both 300 level classes. And I failed at both of them, miserably.

I felt lost, again. Not knowing what to do, or where to put my energies frustrated me. Then I started thinking about what I dreamed of as a kid: motivational speaker, writer, and athlete. Those were professions that resonated my values and beliefs. I registered for communications 101 on a whim and I had to give speeches in front of the 100 person class. And although nervous at first to do so, suddenly school no longer felt like labor. It was fun!

My grades improved drastically and a couple of teachers and friends encouraged me to stretch and reach beyond my self imposed limitations.

I graduated in 2000 with a major in Communications and minor in Journalism and quickly found myself working at T-Mobile call center. Surprisingly, I failed the the new hire quiz after two weeks of hands on training. But the teacher saw something in me, realizing the test questions were skewed for specific inside the box answers and gave me a chance. Within six months the tables turned, and I was asked to teach new hire classes and travel the country to new markets.

While standing in front of a class in Thorton, Colorado, one of the new hires told me in front of the entire class, "Kid (she was 30 years my senior), you've got something. You're destined for big things."

Simultaneously I was pursuing elite level amateur boxing as an alternate at the first women's boxing world championships. I only bring it up because these amazing opportunities started to show up for me because I wasn't stuck inside of a box. I could beat the shit out of that box.

However, I still hadn't found my balance. When Ryan and I moved to Seattle after he graduated so would have a greater chance of finding work, I took a job teaching adults computer programs. Each 3-day course was evaluated by the students and my job security was based upon a number between 1 and 10. I disliked being judged by strangers based on boring how to use a computer program content. (Sorry Ryan - he was a computer programmer!) I knew there was more to life. I gave my two weeks notice and we traveled to Europe that summer.

What I did uncover was my willingness to speak in front of groups and also my ability to lead them. I also found was that unless being true to my passions and beliefs, everything felt like a job. I was working to live. And I desperately wanted to live to work.

In 2008, Ryan's death shook me to my core. It made me wake up from settling. I had a good paying job with enormous job security and lots of free time, but it left me feeling flat and empty. I found myself more than ready for change and ready to pursue my life's calling. But I still didn't know what that looked like.

Coincidentally, my friend Laura Todd who was instrumental in giving me my first break at T-Mobile sent out an email announcing she quit her corporate day job in pursuit of professional life coaching. I immediately responded reasoning, why wouldn't you want to have as many people in your corner as possible? I have big dreams and big goals and I knew I needed support to achieve them.

 Together we recognized where I was with my unbalanced and frustrating career and where I wanted to be. To honestly admit my dreams out loud and to be held accountable to pursue them was scary and thrilling all at the same time. I knew we were onto something.

I dreamed of moving to Colorado, writing a book, racing full time and putting my own desires first as well as discovering a rewarding and fulfilling career that would allow me to be financially independent.  I want to travel, observing the world and all is beauty.  I put my dreams and desires out there and within 6 months of working together, I took a giant leap and quit my job to move to Colorado Springs. Benjamin and I bought a house together 4 months later and huge opportunities continue to present themselves, as well as clarity on what I want to do when I grow up.

Sometimes it takes a while to find yourself and what you want to do. I wrote in my journal about moving to Colorado for over 10 years. Having a supportive nudge, whether that be from friends, coaches or the Universe can push you out of settling and into fulfillment.

So now, when you ask me, Jennifer: what do you want to be when you grow up? I will proudly respond someone who helps people get from where they are now to where they want to be. I'm going to help people live the life of their dreams so I can live mine.

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