Had to do – Have to do – Will do it – Did it!

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How life goes…
• I had to do it – my first job after I graduated and it was not what I wanted
• I have to do it – the conversation with yourself when you realize you were meant for something else
• I will do it – the conviction you hold when you decide to move on
• I did it – when you listen to your inner voice to move on and actually do it…or this one does not get realized if you don’t act on it and you go back to the first step again and again and again.

Life is a progression and often times you don’t get to the last step of ‘I did it’ until you have gone through the trial years. You almost need those trial years to help you realize what you ‘want to do’ over what you ‘had to do’. Unfortunately, we sometimes feel like we are stuck in life because we either don’t know what we want or we are focused on where we are and don’t like where we are and feel that our current situation is reflective of what we are to be doing.

In my case, I graduated from university with a degree in business and political science and as I walked across the stage, I thought to myself, “who is lucky enough to get me?” Well, my realization was that I was not ready and did not know who I was or what I wanted and after a pile of rejection letters, it became, “am I ever going to even be lucky to get something!”

My first job was related to entry level government as I became a janitor in a hospital and mopped floors, emptied rubbish bins and cleaned. It is what I ‘had to do’. I needed something to grasp on to start feeling that I added some value to myself and work. Instead of feeling negative about this situation, I thought to myself fortunate to have this and pulled three life lessons that are still with me:
• No matter what I do, I have to put pride and quality in everything I do and as a result, there was no floor cleaner than at the end of my shift and no rubbish left full after my shift. If I could do that as a janitor, what can you do with what you have presently?
• There were times I would get on the elevator with doctors, nurses and administrators and I would not even be acknowledged. I know what it feels to be isolated or ignored so I will never treat people like that and will talk to everyone.
• It is easy to deal in absolutes. I have my degree and on the wall and I am mopping floors, how terrible the situation is? Instead, I told myself, “what can I learn from this situation?” I took the time to learn so it helped me to move forward.

All of these points helped me to re-calibrate and start to look within myself and move forward. I needed this opportunity (notice I said opportunity because that is what it was). It started to create my base and it helped me to move forward.

I now have many conversations with people who are at the ‘had to do’ point and want to move forward but are not sure where and how to start. We are almost afraid to let go of the wall of comfort and what we know and to venture into the unknown area if we can’t see where this will all lead. At a certain point though, something happens and we have a conversation with ourselves to say that it is time to move on…but how do I move forward? That is where the following can help:
• Find a champion and enabler. Someone who will ask you questions that will help you to vision the path and how to move forward. They are not there to tell you what to do but rather to ask the questions so you can start to shift and pivot to the ‘want to do’
• Embrace all the experiences you gain and don’t dwell on the fact you are stuck. You are only stuck if you think you are and only look at your present tasks as dead end.
• Realize you have these amazing experiences and people around you that are there to support you. Start doing an inventory of all the things you did (do) and the people you know. No matter how superficial a task might be, put it down and after a huge list, and start to compress the list so you have some key words emerge.
• Once you have the key words, you are able to consider some options on the next step.
• Build up your skills and abilities in the direction you would like to go. You can’t just leap into a new opportunity if you have not taken the time to build your skills, abilities and presence in the space you would like to venture in.
• Life is a series of steps. Stop looking at the end goal and how far that might be away. It is alright to know what the future might look like but focus on the small steps you need to do to get where you need to go. Realize that all this takes time and you can not rush the process.
• Don’t be afraid to start the conversation to move your life and career along. This is the most difficult part. The time where you realize and tell yourself it is time to move on.

Now that you realize it is time to move to ‘want to do’, what are you going to do? What are you putting as the first steps to help yourself? Who are you going to sit down with to share this?

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