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 17: - Believe in Your Abilities
I’ve always been pretty responsible. At age 12 I spent three days each week of my summer babysitting a young boy in my neighborhood during the normal business hours. I didn’t realize, looking back now, how young I was. I wasn’t about to let age stand in the way of anything I did, though. I simply showed up and did what I promised I would do – I watched the kid.
I’ve pretty much always just felt young. Every family function, every neighborhood party, every job, every friend group, every apartment situation. I grew very used to be the youngest – and maybe at certain points – using it as a defense mechanism.
I can remember chatting with someone at a formal function and being asked why I wasn’t drinking (also, a kind of bold question considering drinking is never a requirement for formal settings). I politely deflected with, “I’m 19…” and watched my conversation partner drift away in confusion.
All jokes aside, I’ve never minded being younger than most of the people I interacted with on the day-to-day basis. I never really thought anything of it. I just did what I said I was going to do. Much like babysitting, I never thought about whether I was “old enough” to be entrusted with a young person. I simply took my Red Cross Babysitting Course at the local library and then I was ready to roll.
Then things started to change a little bit. When I entered middle school and into high school, it was overwhelming for me to recognize all the horrible things that were happening in the world and for the first time in my life, I did feel too young. Too inexperienced. Too naïve. How could I fight back against poverty or hunger or violence or injustice? I was just a kid after all.
Now, I realize that is not a valid excuse. I started The Smile Project when I was 17 through a Facebook post. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew I had a moment of Happiness and I knew I wanted to share it. I could have never imagined what would come from that one silly moment of pure bliss.
When I give presentations about The Smile Project now, one thing I try to emphasize is how you are never too young to do something amazing. You have incredible resources at your fingertips. You have schools you can rally and friends you can coordinate with. You have more technology than our parents or their parents. You can change the world the second you make a conscious decision to. I tell them that it doesn’t even have to be anything “life altering.” Sometimes, just the daily action of sharing something that makes you happy can change someone’s life – can change your own life.
I’ve preached this message for years now. I believe it is wildly important to recognize that – though you cannot save everyone – you can save someone and someone is a very good place to start. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to share your gift and do the thing you love. That in and of itself changes the world. I digress.
And so most of my life has been spent being too naïve to think I could fail – being too bold to wonder if I was qualified or capable or really worthy of the task at hand.
And then it hit me last week, as I took on a really exciting opportunity (more on that later). And for the first time in a long time, I wondered if I was really able. I wondered if I could really pull this off. I wondered if I was up for the task that sat in front of me. I wondered if I was doing everyone a disservice by trying to do something that I might not be ready for.
Then I thought of babysitting at age 12. Then I thought of starting The Smile Project at age 17. Then I thought of moving to New York City without a job or an apartment or a plan at age 21. And I realized that so many of the most beautiful unexpected events in my life have come from the moments where I have felt the least “ready.”
If I was going to wait until I was “ready” to do something – I would never do it. If I were to wait until I was “qualified” I would have never applied for the stretch job. If I thought that waiting was best solution for everything I was afraid of, I would never get my feet off the ground.
Resolution #17: Believe in Your Abilities
There’s nothing wrong with a healthy level of caution – but to turn away from your dreams and aspirations because you are slightly insecure is ludicrous. If you have the heart and desire to perform on a project, you will… because everything you already have everything you need right inside you.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve flown around the sun, how many degrees you hold, or how many years of similar work-related experience you have under your belt. What matters most is the desire to learn, to work hard, to improve, and to give it your best. Every. Single. Day.
So I’m going to show up. I’m going to make it work. I’m going to dive straight in, even though it’s scary. Most importantly, I’m going to believe in myself. And then, I’m going to shake the world.