My 19-month-old is really into Blue’s Clues these days. After what seemed the millionth time watching, I found myself singing the theme song, “Cause when we use our minds and take a step at a time, We can do any THING… that we wanna do!” When was the last time anyone told you that?
Probably elementary or middle school. How sad is that? It got me thinking, what other things from school-days-gone by are we forgetting?
1. You can be anything you want to be.
Yeah! It’s still true (mostly). If you reeeeeaaaalllly want to do something, you can. When did we stop believing that about ourselves? Probably when we started lying to ourselves about irrelevant factors such as: not making enough money, not having the skills, being too old or too young, not being ready. Lies. All of it.
A career and life that you are passionate about will get you the money you need, learning the skills will be a joy, and age is absolutely meaningless.
2. Try a little of everything.
Oh, I miss art class. In my senior year, I took ceramics. I had extra room in my schedule for an elective; I signed up having no previous experience in it. It was fantastic! Why don’t we do that anymore?
Get out of your rut by trying something new. Groupon/LivingSocial/whatever-deal-site has a ton of offerings these days. Why not explore some different sides of yourself? You might awaken a talent you never knew you had or revive a dormant skill. Have a great time, network with new people, and open your brain to thinking new things.
3. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you have to get a long.
You do not have to be friends with everyone.–you don’t have to have them on your Facebook, or go out to eat with them, or engage in their drama. You do, however, have to be able to work with people of all kinds. Be kind, be compassionate, and stay away from people who will bring negativity in your life. The more actively you design your own life, the more you will find yourself drawing the right people into your inner circle.
Why force yourself to try to fit in with that person you just can’t stand, be a part of a group who doesn’t represent your core values, or spend time with people who don’t appreciate you for you? Cut ’em loose.
4. Go outside.
Right? Every day, in school, we were sent outside (inclement weather aside). There is something to that. Vitamin D/sunshine, fresh air, different temperature, different sounds–give your body a boost by engaging different senses and a break from the florescent. Eat lunch out there, take a walk, have a coffee or tea (or wine after work) at an outdoor table.
5. Take a nap.
If you can, why not!? Man, I miss this… There are hundreds of studies that show how restorative naps can be be for your brain, productivity, memory, and more. The American culture never seemed to get on board with promoting naps for adults–but some companies like Google and Apple allow their employees rest opportunities. If you absolutely cannot take a restorative 20 min. snooze break, go outside and refresh yourself. Here are some hints about training yourself to take effective cat naps and the science behind them.
6. Participate in group activities.
Ugh… group work. I didn’t like it then, and my first reaction is still a hearty eye-roll. A group, however, can be an asset to your work-life balance. Think about the efficiency of having the right people working on different aspects of a project–effective talent management, increased creativity, and reduced overall workloads for each person involved. Now that we are no longer at the mercy of a teacher-assigned group, we can really reap the benefits of being in an effective team. Just make sure you don’t bring any lingering negative feelings about group-work into the group with you. Shed any old feelings and embrace the experience from an adult perspective.
7. Seek a mentor.
Hopefully, each one of us can think of a teacher that inspired us, left us with a lasting respect for a certain subject, or even coached us through difficult times in our lives. Mentors can do that for us now. We can have people in our adult lives who mentor us in different areas too: one mentor for personal changes, one mentor for career advice, a personal trainer for physical goals.
8. Enter contests.
Did your teachers ever have you participate in contests as a class or as an individual? Mine did this a lot. We would all enter a poster contest for the state-fair or an essay contest. Often, I would forget about the assignment once it was complete, but sometimes I won. The best thing about entering contests is that it gives deadlines, focus, and opportunities to dive into a project for yourself. Practice your skills or learn new skills.
Sometimes–you win. Try one of these and see what happens!
9. Join a club.
Did you join a club in school? Maybe you were on a team, involved in theatre, or gathered with fellow lovers of the same subject. Imagine how fulfilling your life could be if you found a great group to be involved with as an adult! We are too often focused on professional/networking organizations as adults. Instead, try seeking out special interest organizations, a community theatre group, or a volunteer opportunity for a cause you are passionate about. If you don’t click with the people–try another one. Imagine all the potential that could open up for you from friendships to career opportunities. Go where your passion is.
10. It’s not a fashion show.
There is a difference between dressing for success/looking your best and obsessing over your looks. Your mom may have told you, “It’s not a fashion show,” when you complained about not having the latest shoes or took too long getting ready in the morning! She was right. Life is not about judging people based on what they wear–so stop doing it to others and stop doing it to yourself. If you love that dress–wear it! If you feel like expressing yourself through fashion, wonderful. Understand that looking clean and appropriate for your work is what really matters. Stop looking at yourself thorough the judgmental eyes of the table of “mean girls” in the cafeteria! If they still exist in your life, as real people and are not just in your head, it’s time to cut ’em loose. See #3.