My belief in the purpose of work.

Photo by Bethany Legg on Unsplash

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write. And as I write this… I feel so many emotions. I could nearly shed tears.

It’s been a really, really, really rough time for me for the past year and even more so the past 4 months and then really hitting a wall for the past month. I haven’t felt an ounce of inspiration and care to write for a few months now.

I lost my job earlier last month and I kinda thought it would happen, but I kept hoping and believing it wouldn’t so I didn’t put in the work to prepare myself a plan. With this huge fork in the road, my life stopped for a while. I didn’t know what to do with myself besides obsess over jobs and text and call people in my life excessively over my overthinking and worrying. It definitely made me focused though… focused to find a job. That’s about all though. My care for anything else slipped. I know what it’s like again to feel in a poverty state (even though yes, I have money and I’m not in poverty; it’s still a similar experience to the state of emergency and urgency that people in poverty often feel). At first it was sorta like vacation… then the 3rd week of unemployment hit and I’d had enough. I’ve found out through this that will officially NEVER retire. I’ll always work.

Work for me adds structure, purpose, ability to help others, it’s also a piece of my social life that I never knew held such a huge piece to me feeling at home, and it’s also a source of connection. It makes my life a whole lot more meaningful.

I had been used to working at an already established place of work, and I do think this allowed me to be in a baby blanket if you will. Because there’s people around, structure created already, rules, and it was just easy for me to take those things for granted and I’ve even rebelled against them in my past at times. However, I realize now that those things helped me to feel secure, safe, and connected. Unfortunately, I hadn’t built the skills and platform that an organized, established work place gives me for my own life absent of this work place. I lacked proper structure to my life. I’ve done stuff so freely, unbound, and so wrapped around my work that without work, I didn’t know how to be full and feel in place and put together. It’s sad, really. I never knew.

I can’t say I’m a mess; I’m not. I am being overly harsh (as that’s just how I am…. and well, that makes me a better human in the process too I think even though I need to learn where to stop and balance my self-criticism). I have learned through my dark times recently my belief in the purpose of work for my life. I want to serve, I want to work, I want to feel connected, and have structure. I’ve learned that I must create these things for myself though and that I shouldn’t just rely on my work to hold me together like glue. I’ve got to do a better job of building my own foundation absent of work. Work will always be in my life though, until the day I die.

I believe the purpose of work in my life is to help and serve others, create and find meaning and connection, and have something to get completely lost in doing that sets me into a flow state giving me the much needed reprieve from the world and into my greatest efficiency and craft.

Without work, whether in an organized, established workplace or not, my life isn’t entirely complete. Work can be many things… it can be things we don’t normally think of as work too. It’s simply whatever i’m doing that allows me to 1) help and serve others 2) create and find meaning and connection and 3) gets me into a flow state to produce my greatest efficiency and craft. As you can see… these are very general beliefs of my purpose of work in life, but they’re meaningful to me and that’s what matters. It makes even when I can’t formally work one day when I get old still meaningful work. Helping to care for my future grandkids when/if I get the privilege, for example, this could be my work. My work is what I make it and think of it in my mindset and through how I do and be.

I’m back, everyone! Back to work! 🙂

P.S. – I have found a full-time job again recently. My darkness is starting to disappear. I’m happy and can think of various things (like normal) again. 🙂

Tips to get an idea AND fruit action and success

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

How to get an idea? 

  • Don’t tell yourself you can’t come up with an idea. Do you think ideas are only to be made by someone else? If so, please visit this thought you have and change it into one that tells yourself you’re fully capable of coming up with an idea and 100% on your own if you choose. You’re smart. You’re worthy. And you’ve got what it takes to come up with an amazing idea. Don’t second-guess yourself or think you can’t… EVER. 
  • Be curious. Learn as much as you can. The world and our lives are our artist’s pallet and playground for our idea formation. 
  • What are you doing and seeing right now or hear others doing or seeing? –  how does this relate in similarity or differences to something you or they have done before or are doing? Getting an idea is grounded in being able to notice things and relate those things to ours or someone we know’s past, something they or you said, and/or things we’ve learned. 
  • Think. Plain and simple. Take time to yourself to think. Step away from people or yourself talking or doing things, and sit down and think about the world and yours and others lives. If you never give yourself a single second or minute or hour to yourself, and you’ve allowed yourself to be in constant action, you may not be able to think clearly or easily. Idea formation comes from 1) Doing, seeing, and noticing things & 2) Giving ourselves time to process things and think.  

Have your idea, now what?…. How to fruit action and success.  

  • Write it down. Get it on paper.  I do think the act of writing something down on physical paper does something that electronic devices or methods can’t. I think it embeds it in your mind in a beautiful way that no other method can and allows it to bloom easier and quicker. I don’t care how pretty it reads or looks. Write it down. However, if you can’t write it down on paper or would rather not for any reason, still get it out of your head someplace whether you do this electrically, on paper, or record yourself saying your idea. 
  • Protect it. Don’t dismiss it by telling yourself now that you have it that it’s awful and waste of time and space. DO NOT just toss it like garbage. You came up with an idea for a reason, usually. If you’re a person that would toss your idea or down-it in any way, shape, or form from telling other people and hearing their reactions or criticism, then keep it to yourself. I don’t recommend telling anyone or possibly just a few people you trust is ok, but I wouldn’t tell a bunch of people. This can easily cloud our positive state we’re in when we first get an idea. 
  • Give yourself time to think about your idea more. Make a schedule for yourself to sit and think. Whether that’s just 5 minutes a week or an hour or more a week, set time aside to think about your idea more. This is the difference between getting an idea and then it dying from not going further and fruiting action and success. This is crucial. You need an action plan and time to think to move the needle with your idea. 

Do and ask yourself the following (Again, I recommend you write these down on paper.): 

  • Think of 1 thing to do to take action on your idea and do it immediately (or at least within the 1st week of getting your idea). Wait no longer on this. You need to do at least 1 thing. Get something rolling. This is the difference between people who come up with ideas and those who come up with ideas AND fruit action and success. They don’t wait. They don’t think about things for too long before they make an action. They think about 1 thing they can do first and they do it (within the first week). The rest can come later after you do this one thing. I promise you, this is one of the keys to fruit action and success. 

Do 1 thing to take action now!

Now that you’ve done your 1 thing to take action on your idea… (Please, don’t skip this before you do the steps below!)

Ok, you’re ready now that you’ve done your 1 thing…. 🙂 

  • What are 3 other things I can do to take action on my idea this week?
  • What people do I need to help me with taking action? 
  • What things or resources do I need to help me with taking action? 
  • Collect all of these thoughts and action steps from above onto paper or electronically if you haven’t already and revisit them often. Don’t just think or do these things and toss it into the closet after a week or weeks or never revisit them. Keep going back to your thoughts and action plans and refine them, add to them, and keep this process going each and every week until you’ve fruited action and success. Do this for yourself. 

Remember: 

You’re smart. You’re worthy. And you’ve got what it takes. Don’t second-guess yourself or think you can’t… EVER. You need this mentality, positive thought, and belief about yourself to get an idea AND fruit action and success. Don’t lose this, or you likely will not succeed. Ideas and fruiting action and success with them is a mental process as much as it is anything else. This part of it is sooooo easy to not do and get yourself off course or stop you from success. You need to keep telling yourself this and believe it. Believe your idea is good and visualize yourself fruiting action and being successful with your idea. It does so much to help you. Believe me, you got this! 🙂 

The Time I was Trying to be and do Everything with Everyone… And Power of Saying “No”.

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

It was my junior year of college and I was involved in everything, working a lot, had my first upper level business classes, and decided to live in the freshman dorm hall because it was cheaper. I found I ended up with horrible grades, and I nearly failed one of my classes.

I had a roommate that took over the whole entire room with her never-ending things she had and upstairs neighbors that played music so loud that my dorm room shook. The next semester of my junior year I realized I needed to make some significant changes otherwise I was going to not do so hot in my college career and might go insane!

So, I took away all of the commitments that were serving me no true value or purpose by taking a closer look at what I really wanted and needed. I moved to another dorm room where I had my own room that enforced quiet hours in an upper classmen residence hall.

I could breathe again, and soon my sanity came back.

I realized from all of this that I needed to learn to be more selective with what I did with my time, who I was around, and again that my environment I was in either was demotivating or motivating.

Everything seemed to go to heck that first semester, but it all fell into place again once I made some hard decisions to get back to what I needed.

Time to smell the reality flowers and stop smelling the turds of imperfections… my people.

For many years now, when it came to starting a business of my own and creating action towards my entrepreneurial passion I’ve had since high school, I have sat in my own head creating endless loops of thinking and overthinking. Downing myself and putting away this passion as something that’s just not for me. Literally any excuse I can create for myself or hear from others, I’ve allowed to dictate my movement forward. I’ve finally decided…. I can do this and be this and I don’t care what my former self told me as true or anyone else for that matter, and I need to get out of my own head and move forward.

For years, I have sat around and thought and thought and thought and thought and thought about business ideas and written endless business plans and gotten excited and then, sadly, torched my own beautiful fires.

Mostly, it’s been myself entirely… my own insecurities not allowing myself to move forward with my own thoughts of myself. But, it has also been the people I’ve told my thoughts to over the years who have helped me to add to my list of endless excuses and crutches with moving forward.

There have been VERY FEW people in my life that have encouraged me and I mean really encouraged me to go after my entrepreneurial passions. They say, “Take the safe road, you’re not ready, you don’t understand the work involved, you’re an accountant – you aren’t going to be good at sales & marketing – why do you think you’d make it?, just wait – you’re young, laughing at me for my creativity for my business ideas because apparently they think this is just some funny shit to add to their entertainment and not something serious, that’s not good enough of a career for you, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc”. Mostly, I haven’t thought I actually WAS listening to them and taking those things to heart, but I was indirectly as much as I wanted to think I wasn’t. I figured, hey great they want to say what they think and offer me little golden nuggets that I can choose or not choose to use in my life. (Yea, I still think that’s true…. but what the bad part is about it is coming…)

What listening to everyone with all these crutches concerning moving forward did to me was that it slowly crept into accepting those truths about myself and they gave me endless excuses for myself even in ways my own mind couldn’t….. it just added to all the misery that kept me away from passionately and positively pursuing my own gems in my life.

I’ve been stuck in my own head… examining those worries or allowing them to be truths for too long. So, recently I decided…. you know, nobody – including myself – can stop me. I don’t care if I fail at this or not – I’m doing it. And I don’t care about perfection anymore.

People, including myself if I let myself, can hold onto every imperfection they see or think, or even smell from afar as a turd even if it truly smells like a beautiful flower in reality. Time to smell the reality flowers and stop smelling the turds of imperfections… my people. Go forth and get out of that head and everyone elses’s head too!… GO FORTH!

(Yeppp… Got into my real crazy, nutty writer’s head here on that last paragraph! LOL!!)

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Thank you to the Young Man Cleaning Tables Today – Good Reminder of Doing a Good Job & Being Proud of It

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Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

I went to a restaurant by me today for a bowl of soup. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather. There was a young man about 15 years old or so cleaning tables.

He didn’t miss any detail and was fully emersed in doing his work the very best he could. Nothing else mattered while performing the task and he was happy to do the work. No spec of dirt missed. As he finished every table, he’d look it all over and smile so proudly and humbly. It meant a lot to him to have those tables clean and tidy and do a good job.

This impresses me and makes me think of the little things in life that are so great. You don’t have to have a fancy job to do a job well and be proud.

Do things well and complete to the best of your ability in all you do no matter what that is. Be proud and humble too.

Thank you to the young man cleaning tables today. You inspire and teach us all very valuable lessons.

3 Tips for Grant Managers

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Over the years of my grant management career, I have found the following to be most useful to do my job the best possible. Hope these prove to be 3 tips you can take back to your office and/or share with those you know involved in Grants Management.
1. Anything and Everything you need to do or others need to do for effective grants management…Put it on a calendar.

 

In grants management, there are multiple deadlines. Those deadlines which are externally created AND those of which you should create yourself in order to keep yourself and others focused and on-task for completing the many duties you and others have to effectively manage grants.
If you do NOT have a calendar of some sort, you more than likely will be disorganized, miss deadlines, be rushing and in turn create stress for yourself and others, make errors, and you might stand a chance of ruining your reputation as a reliable grants manager.
I personally recommend Google Calendar as opposed to paper calendars or other types of electronic calendars. You can easily share the calendar(s) you create with others and if you use Gmail, of course, it integrates EVERY well with it to make your life as a grants manager so much easier and cleaner.
Look at your calendar every day and use it as a strategic planning tool for understanding what it is you should be focusing on due to many time-constraints. You want to be in the know of upcoming deadlines and plan your work accordingly.
Multiple articles could be written about strategic planning for grant management professionals, so I’ll leave it at this for now… Look at your calendar and plan accordingly.

 

2. Create structure and deadlines for all involved in effective grants management.

 

In grants management, you will often have to work with many stakeholders to achieve multiple objectives. DO NOT just sit back and think everyone knows what they should be doing, what they need to do, or when they need to do it. Of course, that statement depends on a lot of factors, but ultimately as the grants manager, things fall onto YOU to manage grants.
Thus, you want to be CLEAR AND CONCISE about what everyone should be doing and by when. This might include verbal communication as necessary, but one thing I’ve found over the years is that people forget if you stick only to verbal communication for grants management.
Therefore, write an email noting a list of things for each person to do (if there are more than one) and when they need to be done by. Give specific deadlines. If they miss a deadline or are nearing a deadline but you haven’t heard anything from them, FOLLOW-UP.
All of this creates structure and clear communication for all stakeholders involved in the grant management process.
3. When someone asks a question about grant policy and guidelines, PLEASE DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH. It’s also helpful to send a follow-up email with a link and/or picture of the direct source of where you found the information.
Grant managers WILL get many questions from multiple people regarding grant policies and guidelines. It’s important to always do a double-check of the answer before providing it to others. This is because in the grants management world…. things can change. You may THINK you know the exact policy and guidelines word for word and you’re a top grant manager in your field so why look, but don’t make this mistake. RESEARCH.
FIND the exact policy and guideline and send this to the person who asked you a policy and/or guideline question. You show that you know what you’re doing, you aren’t just making things up all on your own, and it can be used as a great means to teach others.
It’s important in grant management to always stay on top of the newest policies and guidelines and it’s important as well to ensure that others know that you do your job by the books. Grants Management is a very policy and guideline-driven career.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know everything without doing your homework first.

Embracing our Moments in Life

This week I had a work-related conference to attend to Baltimore, Maryland. Even though the conference was on Thursday and Friday this week, I came into Baltimore early on Wednesday and plan to leave late Sunday afternoon. I really want to take the time to enjoy the experience of being away from home and in a unique city.
Today I was reminded of just how much this embracing of the work-travel experience is different than some do. My colleagues all left Baltimore immediately after the conference. They had no particular reason to get home immediately. It seemed as if they merely only cared about the conference and that was it. In a rush to get back to their lives back home, it seemed.
Embracing the time we are given away from our natural surroundings can give us a different perspective on life. Embrace an experience beyond that required, and give yourself ample time to just enjoy the new experience. Feel the energy difference, people watch, enjoy good food, walk around the new city without a plan, and let life unfold, unbound by self-imposed time-constraints or expectations. I certainly feel that my colleagues are missing out, but I will not let this bother me. I share to show different perspectives on work-travel.
I met a 20-year old man on the light-rail into Baltimore this week. All this started by asking him if this was the right way to get into downtown Baltimore from the airport. A mere second of choosing to ask for help and kindly giving others a chance to interact with you can lead to a totally different outcome. We started talking from then on about Baltimore and simple information about ourselves. We found so much in common, and it was quite ironic. Somehow I wonder if we were meant to meet? Life is full of wonders, huh? Hmm…
He did clinical trial human subject participation as a living and made a huge amount of money doing so. Very unique and interesting work. It so happens that I administer grants and know about clinical trial work as well. We had such a great time talking. Our stop off the light-rail was at the same place too. We got off the light rail and decided to walk around Baltimore together. It was quite great! Normally, I might revert to my turtle, groundhog traits (haha!) and never, ever do something like this. However, again, I found that embracing the moment can lead to such different outcomes than had I stayed in my shell or put a time-constraint on my experience.
Have you embraced the moment like this before and the outcome came out totally different than expected? Life, I think, can be changed by our ability to allow these small moments to not be bound by time, expectations, and other limitations we set for ourselves.
I wonder… how would my time be here in Baltimore had I not taken 2 seconds to ask a stranger for help and what if I left immediately after the conference like my colleagues did?…
I stand positive that embracing the moment here led to an experience in my life that was much more interesting and will leave a memory for years to come. So, I think in life if we embrace the moment and not give ourselves such restricted time-constraints or expectations, we can alter the state of our experiences and life-memories for the better.

Inner Harbor – Baltimore, Maryland