Watch the Birds. Nine months ago I landed in New York City happy for a fresh start. I thought this new chapter in my life would silence the voices in my head that were telling me I wasn’t moving fast enough. “What have you really accomplished?” the voice would ask me over and over again. I thought that moving to a bigger city with a new job would prove to the voice that I had accomplished something. But sadly, the voice has only gotten louder.
The issue I see now is that I’ve always been stuck on trying to “become something.” I want to become a professional blogger. I want to become a successful coach. I want to become rich. But every time I try to “become something” I am neglecting what I’m supposed to be doing: which is simply “being.” This voice that nags me continually tries to take me out of the present moment by envisioning this future I’m supposed to be chasing. I see now that it’s a trap.
One technique I use to curb this tireless voice in my head is finding a queue in my day-to-day life that reminds me to be present. My queue? I watch the birds. Whether I’m sitting in a New York City park or walking down Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn, whenever I see a bird fly by I watch it – I really watch it. I see the wings flap, the head bob and it dart around trees all in a matter of seconds. It’s as if I’m seeing the birds for the first time. These magical moments suck me out of the suffering that exists in my head and I’m brought exactly where I’m supposed to be: in the present moment.
The more I practice this technique, the more the nagging voice subsides.The birds have pulled me away from trying to “become something” and have helped me to “simply be.”
Stop and watch a bird fly by today. See what happens. See what you feel.
Listen for Narrative Resonance. I used to be afraid to ask people for their time. Why would that executive want to talk to me for thirty minutes? Surely their time must be too valuable. But a mentor I had years ago told me that these conversations were the only way for me to figure out my next step. He taught me that each of these people represented a possible career path and through each of these conversations I should listen for pieces of their story that resonated with me.
Over the following years, I’ve made it a habit to set up these discovery conversations with as many people as possible. It’s these conversations that helped me uncover my appetite for joining a tech startup and for becoming a coach. Amazingly, these ideas were never on my radar two years ago. In each conversation my goal is to learn as much about the other person’s story as possible, almost like a detective trying to unlock the key to a great mystery. Within their answers I then listen for narrative resonance to see if what they’re doing today fits the type of career I might want for myself. With each conversation a new clue in the mystery is uncovered and I’m a step closer to my next career move.
Article to Read:
Unlearning by Derek Sivers. For the first 25 years of my life I thought I understood the working world and my role in it. I was taught growing up that I needed to go to college, get a job, and then work my way up in the company to find longterm prosperity. I was told that if I could just “get my foot in the door” then I’d be set up for success. But I realize now that my thinking was flawed. While this is a common path in America, it is far from the only path. Over the last three years, through countless conversations I’ve had with people who live alternative lifestyles, I’ve learned to unlearn this misperception and discover new potential paths.
In this article, longtime entrepreneur and founder of CD Baby, Derek Sivers talks about the need to unlearn in order to advance your life. As Derek explains, sometimes the strategy that got you to where you are is different from the strategy that will get you to where you want to be next. The key is to uncover any outdated thinking that you use in your life and find a way to let it go. It’s often times this type of thinking that’s holding you back from achieving what’s next. What do you need to unlearn?
Quote of the Week:
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius