The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 16: - Say Yes to Every Opportunity
When I first moved to New York City a little over a year ago, I quickly realized a few things: fire escapes are just as exciting as I knew they would be, parks remain as my favorite places in the world, and you can always squeeze one more person onto the subway cart. I also quickly realized that in order to survive the city, I was going to have to hustle.
I made a decision in January of 2016 not to turn down any opportunity that came my way – no matter how farfetched it seemed or how out of my comfort zone it tossed me. It’s that kind of thinking that led me to work at a breast-feeding resource center. Me, the girl who has never worked a day of retail in any city, was now working at a popular breast-feeding resource store. Me, the girl who hates bra shopping for herself was now fitting pregnant women with nursing bras. Me, the girl who is years away from having her own children, was now helping new and old mothers learn how to use a breast pump.
This was not a job I would have ever imagined I would have. This is not an area I had any expertise in. But I liked the owner and I liked the opportunity and with a smile and a grin, I signed my papers. I only worked at the store 2-3 days a week but those 2-3 days taught me a lot about pregnancy, breast milk, and myself.
I told myself not to shy away from opportunities and with that one single mental decision, I changed the entire course of my life. Rather than shrinking away from things that scared me, I learned to step up to the world around me.
I was talking to a friend recently, recounting how sometimes we think we have to have all the checkboxes before we do something. I’ll write the book after I obtain my English degree. I’ll apply for the job after I have a year of related work experience under my belt. I’ll find time to pursue that passion project when I’m a little older.
I’m realizing now that the check boxes are never going to be filled in. The truth is, I may never feel prepared for what I’m about to dive into but the beauty of that is the ability to adapt – the ability to immerse yourself in an experience and learn on the fly. There’s something beautiful about taking things one day at a time.
I can clearly remember the summer after my freshman year of college. Rather than return to the restaurant I had worked at through high school, I had taken a full-time summer gig at the local YMCA, working as a camp counselor.
On my first day of orientation, my 19th birthday, I nervously walked into the room, wondering why I had to put myself out there. I had a perfectly good job at the restaurant! Why was I about to try something new? What was I doing? Things would have been so much easier if I had just stayed with what I knew and stayed where I was comfortable.
That job turned into one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. But had I been afraid to branch out of my comfort zone, I would have never known the lyrics to “Baby Shark” or the exact right tactics to quiet a group of 2nd graders after snack time. I don’t regret the decision to become a counselor. In fact, I thank my stars every day for that experience.
Resolution #16: Say Yes to Every Opportunity
I’m learning more and more every day that life is a series of little moments that sometimes add up to really big ones. I’m starting to realize that all those seemingly insignificant decisions that I had made at one point or another regarding jobs or apartments or even ways I spend my free time have led me to where I am right now.
It might be scary to jump into the unknown, to swim forward when you’re so used to treading in place. But I promise you, it’ll be worth it.