Tag Archives: Reflection

Year of Intention

I wrote this post on top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with OneRepublic’s “I Lived” playing. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? It’s pretty much is and allowed me to pause and reflect.

My writing spot for the day

My writing spot for the day

It’s been a long summer, one where I repeated the phrase: “It could be worse,” nearly 100 times. Everyone moved, work was crazy busy and I found myself moving along without any clear direction. That’s not normal for me – I’ve always had a plan, a goal, a schedule so this way of life didn’t feel right.

If you’re not moving forward, then you’re going backwards right? I’m not sure. But what I learned this year is that over orchestrating my life puts too much pressure on me and probably those around me. Every day should be its own adventure.

I paused over the weekend and reflected on what I want the next year to look like. Normally, I would create a list of things I want to accomplish in the next year and highlight the best moments of the past one. But that’s easy for me. 25 feels like a milestone so it should be more challenging. This year is going to be the year of intention: setting intentions, putting more positive ones out to the universe and being more intentional with my words and my time. To start, my intention for this new year is to believe in the change. My journey in the last year has been shaped by changes that life handed to me not ones I consciously put into motion. I know I can do better when faced with new challenges and unexpected changes. Whatever is meant to happen will shape my path for the better…or at least make for an interesting story!

Will I totally give up my planning nature? Definitely not. Who I am at its core isn’t going to change nor do I want it to. But in the spirit of continuous improvement, I want to fageocus on getting better from here!

I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday over the next few days and making 25 the best year yet! I invite you to join me in my year of intention and to share your thoughts below!

The Lost Art of Storytelling

Think back to when you were a child. What was your favorite bedtime story, one you could hear over and over again? Now looking back, what was it about that story that intrigued you? The characters, a particular moral, a happy ending? Either way, it’s clear that stories, whether real or fictional, have the power to influence.

storytellingA few weeks ago, I listened to a presentation by Lani Peterson, an award-winning storyteller, author and public speaker. In her 60 minute talk, she spoke about how powerful personal stories can be if constructed correctly. Her main points are summarized below:

  • Stories need to be personal, emotional and connected to your values. If a story isn’t authentic, it loses its power. Having a powerful story positively contributes to your presence and identity.
  • As you’re telling your story to others, take time to step back and evaluate. Check in with yourself and others within your organization to ensure the story you’re telling is aligned to what others know or hear about you.
  • There is also immense power in listening, especially when you are new to a company and need to better understand their story and the motivations behind it. By listening, you can find common values between you and your colleagues or your company at large.

After listening to Lani, I reflected on what she said and really thought about my own story. I’d venture to say your personal and professional narratives are one in the same. You might need to tailor it to your audience. I asked myself the following questions to strengthen my story:

  • What do I want to be known for?
  • How did I get here/what did the journey look like?
  • If I wasn’t in the room and someone asked about Alex, what would I want that response to look like?

Your story is essentially your personal brand. It’s a tool you should use to build your credibility andbranding establish strong relationships with others. What I find challenging when developing your story is aligning it to your company’s values while also stay true to its meaning. Like Lani said, a story must be authentic to be powerful. But, it’s also important to message it correctly so it resonates with others within your organization.

As I move forward in my career journey, I plan to take Lani’s tips with me. I’ll also continue to evolve my story as I experience new things or challenges. How have you created a career narrative? Has it changed over time?

Cruising is a Girl’s Best Friend

I spent last week cruising the Caribbean with one of my best friends. I’m not sure what I was more excited about: my unlimited drink package or being able to lay in the sunlight for hours at end. I just couldn’t wait to get away and unwind.

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman

One thing we didn’t plan for on the cruise was spring break. Being a bit removed from the college life, we completely forgot that the March is when most colleges have their spring break. Lucky us! Our ship was filled with college seniors letting loose and partying one more time before graduation. Most would be annoyed by this rowdy bunch but I was intrigued. I never went away on spring break during college. I wondered if I was ever as carefree as the group of girls we made friends with. Maybe..?

One thing about being on a cruise: If you’re remotely friendly or social, you will have an entourage following you by the end of the vacation. We literally had all sorts of people hanging out with us throughout the cruise. What can I say; we’re a good time!

At one point during the trip, I believe our new friends referred to me as Oprah. What an honor! I was talking to them about life after graduation. There’s advice people beat into your head, mostly around finding a job, being financially responsible and not burning bridges. What they don’t tell you is that the hardest part about graduating college and becoming adults is transitioning your friendships. In college, everyone has the same goal: to make it out alive (aka to graduate). After college, those goals and priorities shift and look different for each person. You’re going to have friends who get married right after college, choose to go to graduate school and some who might be a little lost. I said this to my new friends from UGA and the reaction I

Some of our friends from dinner

Some of our friends from dinner

got was priceless. No one had ever said that to them. Admittedly, they are worried about their friendships, people moving away and life changing. As I talked to them with one of my college best friends next to me, I was honest: it’s hard, you’ll argue, breakdown, freak out and cry..a lot. But just remember, not everyone grows up at the same time. No one’s dreams should look the same. Understanding and respecting that is the key to holding on to those friendships post college.

I love vacations because it gives me a chance to reflect about life. If I didn’t meet these girls, I don’t know if I would have thought about how graduating impacted my friendships. I might not have realized how blessed I am to have friends who respect each other’s decisions and understand one another’s journeys. It wasn’t a vacation of a lifetime, but I got to push pause on reality, let my thoughts unravel, dance until the sun rose and unplug from technology.

Tell me about your most recent vacation! Any big revelations or did you make any new friends?

My favorite picture of Haiti

My favorite picture of Haiti

Life Lessons From A Knee Immobilizer

A couple of weekends ago, the ice got the better of me and I fell on my knee. I’ve been hobbling around ever since. Luckily, my icy injury has been getting better, but moving around quickly is still not in the cards.

It wasn’t until my knee forced me to slow down that I realized how jammed packed my schedule is. I’ve structured my life in a such that there’s no wiggle room for injuries. There’s not much down time or white space. While I like it that way, when something goes astray, it’s scheduling gymnastics to figure it out.

slow downWhat my knee has done is allowed for time to reflect, something I should do more often and will now try to build into each day. Below are a few of the lessons I’ve learned while being immobile the last couple of weeks.

  • It could be worse: I’ve had days where I felt really sorry for myself. How did I manage to do this? The timing couldn’t be worse (in fact, it could). And then, I realize it could have been much worse, like cracking my head open or chipping a tooth.
  • My body, my temple: When your body functions properly, you totally take it for granted. It’s after your body fails, even if temporarily, that you realize how important each moving part is. For me, this mean refocusing on my health and fitness once this knee heels.
  • Every bite counts: Since I can’t exercise, I’ve notice that every last thing I eat matters. There’s no room for cheap meals or cocktails when you’re not burning calories. Also, thanks to a colleague, I’ve realized how bad sitting all day is. I hope to bring an exercise ball to work as an alternative to sitting all day in a chair.
  • #Blessed: This knee thing is a momentary setback. Others aren’t as fortunate and have permanent, life changing injuries. I have a newfound appreciation for those people because it can’t be easy.

Thankfully, my knee will heal and I’ll be back to running, yoga and Zumba in no time! I am glad that I was forced to slow down and reflect, something I need to do more often. Have you ever had an injury that slowed you down? Share in the comments!

Don’t Talk About It, Be About It

Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to attend an event called P3: People, Purpose and Possibilities. When I signed up, I wasn’t entirely sure what the day would bring. Let’s just say I haven’t felt this inspired in a while.

Throughout the day, we heard from numerous speakers who had a variety of experiences. Robert

Dear World Meaning

The guidelines for all Dear World pictures

Fogary, spoke to us about his Dear World project and humans’ desire to be heard. Aaron Hurst from Taproot, talked about aligning purpose with career, how all work should feel like pro bono work and that purpose is a choice we make daily. Kai Kight, a violinist, wowed us with his amazing rendition of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. He talked about ignoring the standard and creating your own path, writing the songs of the future versus playing someone else’s songs of the past. Nadine Burke-Harris, founder of Center for Youth Wellness, spoke about adverse situations impact children’s’ health, that being in chronic fight or flight leads to major health problems. As you can see, we heard from a variety of people, too many to name, who each defined purpose differently.

I’ll admit, I left feeling inspired but not sure what to do with the wealth of information I just received. It took me time to process everything I heard and create an action plan or purpose statement. We will get to that but below are my biggest takeaways from the event.

  • One of the PwC directors reminded us that finding your purpose is a journey. It is okay to not be 100% certain about your purpose statement, especially if you are younger in your career. I’m glad she mentioned that because I’m not entirely sure but plan to be more self-conscious about my purpose across all aspects of my life.
  • I know my company invests in their employees but this event was the reminder I needed. Not many companies let you spend a day in reflection around what your purpose is and how it aligns to the company’s purpose.
  • Another PwC director put purpose in the context of “what do you want to be remembered for?” That’s a big question that could cause some to be overwhelmed. If you think of that question each morning and keep it in the back of your mind during the day, you’ll create a life driven by what you believe in versus just going through the motions.
  • Aaron Hurst gave us a few examples of where purpose could come from including relationships, something greater than yourself and personal growth/challenges. Again, I drilled this down to the daily interactions I have that align with what I believe my purpose to be. It’s also about stretching yourself to try new things that could inspire others. Andrew Yang from Venture for America also said there’s no courage or challenge without risk. For me, risk makes me a bit anxious so what he said really resonated. Without any risk or new experiences, you become complacent.
  • Another PwC director reminded us that our purpose, whatever it is, should be evident across all of life’s domains. So you should bring your purpose to work, to your community and to your personal relationships. If you feel like your work isn’t meaningful, talk to someone about how to change that.

After some reflection, here is my current purpose statement: I want to positively impact people and live an authentic life. I know this will evolve over time and plan to review it often. I’ve been trying to keep this in mind at the start of each day. Some days are easier than others. When I think about my job and how this is applicable, I think about each interaction I have: something as small as a thank you email or happily answering a question. Those small things matter and are a part of the bigger picture.

Dear World PicAs for the authentic piece, take a look at the picture to the left. That is my Dear World picture, which is intended to convey my story to the world. For me, I don’t want to just say I believe in something, I want my actions to speak volumes. Saying you believe in something is much different from actually going out there and living out your values. I want to show up as my authentic self, every day in every aspect of my life. Part of this is being more intentional with my time. If I say blogging or exercising is a priority, then I must intentionally dedicate my time to those activities. If at work, I say having an eye for detail is important, then I need to spend time reviewing each aspect of my projects.

Knowing your purpose and applying it to daily life isn’t easy. You won’t always get it right. But I challenge you to think more about it and your values. Please share your purpose statements in the comments section!

Motivation Mondays: Being Blessed

My apologies for being M.I.A for over a week AND for posting a little too late tonight. I was in California for work this week, so in my head, it’s only around 8pm. Much like the first time I worked this event, I came home with more insight about myself, how I work and who I work well with. I also built new relationships, some I’d even consider friendships with amazingly talented individuals. While I have a list of blog post ideas generated from my week away, today’s post is probably the most important lesson I learned in California.20130428-130305.jpg

One of the many amazing views in California

When I hear the word blessed, I immediately think religion. The priest blessed you, Jesus gave his blessing to the disciples, you get the picture. After a week of reflection on the current condition of my life, I felt overwhelming blessed. I have an amazing job with allows me to travel and work with the best of the best. My family is usually super supportive and I have the best friends anyone could ask for. I am truly blessed.

I could use the words fortunate or lucky but to me, those are feelings. Blessed is a state of being. Blessed is a mindset, a way to think about all the wonderful pieces that are part of your journey. As I headed out this morning to an overcrowded train on a rainy Monday, I tried very (and I mean very) hard to bring back the blessed state of mind I was in while away. At least I have a job to commute to.

I am not saying don’t complain. Everyone needs to vent; it is part of our human nature and is healthy. But, try to remember how blessed you are for the life you have. Even on the worst days, there is something to be thankful for. I know I am going to try harder to be humble and remember how blessed I am. I hope you will too and please keep me in check!

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