The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Archive for the tag “work-life balance”

Doing What You Know versus Being Who You Are

Aha.

I had an aha moment and I want to share it with you.

My brother used to call me a “human doing” because, as a (sort of) recovering Type A personality person, I was always busy.  Going, doing, keeping busy.  My theme song might have been this quite wonderful song BusyBusyBusy by Kevin Kline (yes, the actor) on Philadelphia Chickens, one of Sandra Boynton‘s albums for children.  [You may not have know that the wonderful author Sandra Boynton had albums.  They are fabulous!  I…I mean, my son…loves them!]  

This is seriously one of my favorite albums. Where else can you hear some of your favorite artists sing silly songs?  Awesome is what it is.

This is seriously one of my favorite albums. Where else can you hear some of your favorite artists sing silly songs? Awesome is what it is.  http://www.sandraboynton.com/sboynton/boyntonmusic.html

Anyhoo, what I am coming to realize as I get old and sparkly (my hair is sparkly, not grey!) is that I stay busy doing what I know, but that doesn’t always coincide with who I am.  And if I am not being who I am, then I’m not really living the most fulfilling life I can.

A long time ago, I remember reading an article (in the pre-blog, tweet, post days) that talked about how compelling it is to ask people to answer a simple question and that their answer to this question reveals a lot about them.  So I’m going to ask you this question and–without thinking about it long and hard–tell me what the first answer is that pops into your head.  Or don’t.  No pressure.  Ready for the question?  Ok, here it is.  Remember, don’t think.  Just react…

Who are you?

What was your knee-jerk, gut reaction answer to that question?  It might have been something like:

– I’m a woman

– I’m a dad

– I’m a Christian

– I’m a free spirit

– I’m an accountant

Now think harder about the question.  Did you really answer “who you are?”  Or did you answer the questions “what you know?” or “what you do?”

Whatever your answer was or is (and you are welcome to change your answer now–I’m not the thought police), think about how you spend your time.  Are you spending your time doing things that make the most of who you are?  Or are you spending time doing what you know?

As an example, I know about crisis preparedness and legal issues for the meetings, hospitality, and tourism industry.  I spend a lot of time on those topics–researching, writing, editing, teaching, social media-ing (it’s my blog, I can make that a verb).

A picture of a more "real" me than I suspect some of my colleagues might imagine.  I was glad this day when my suitcase failed to show up at the resort with me as it gave me an excuse to wander around in a gift shop t-shirt and swim trunks.

A picture of a more “real” me than I suspect some of my colleagues might imagine. I was glad this day when my suitcase failed to show up at the resort with me as it gave me an excuse to wander around in a gift shop t-shirt and swim trunks.

But that’s not who I am.  I am: a writer, a mother, a wife, a stifled creative, an educator, a speaker, an anti-authoritarian…and a few things that maybe I won’t publish here lest we get off track.

My aha moment came when I realized that when I’m just doing what I know, I am less happy than when I am being who I am.  Which in turn reminded me of this wonderful quote:

“If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’?  And if not now, when?”Hillel the Elder

If not now, when indeed?

Carpe now!

Advertisements

Getting Unstuck–THEM

One of the biggest obstacles to getting unstuck, in my experience, is THEM.  You know THEM–well-meaning friends, family, and all-purpose lovers of the status quo.  The ones who think you are crazy when you tell them you are selling yet another house and packing up to move yet again (maybe to a city where you’ve already lived three times) yes–even though you’ve only lived there two years, yes–even though you have a good job, yes–even though you’ll lose money on that house.  Or going back to school…again.  Or (surprise!) having a baby at 42.  Ok, that last one was one of my better moves.

It’s the side-eye you get from your mother when you say you are thinking of just throwing out all but 33 items in your wardrobe.  It’s that judgmental over-the-glasses look you get from your son’s teacher when you say you are thinking of home schooling him.  It’s the wary look your spouse gives you when you say you think you might give up your lucrative career to become a popsicle-stick artist.

From  Courtney Carver's blog "Be More With Less."  Check it out.  It's awesome.

From Courtney Carver’s blog “Be More With Less.” Check it out. It’s awesome.

It’s hard to battle THEM because most of the fight is in your head.  I attribute a great deal to my husband’s single raised eyebrow.  That eyebrow speaks volumes to me.  In fact, it talks to me all night.  It argues with me all day.  And by the end of the day, I’m furious with the eyebrow.  Or I’m resigned to believe the eyebrow is right.  But 9 times out of 10, when I ask my husband for eyebrow-interpretation, he attributes some innocuous meaning for the raised eyebrow like “Wow, I didn’t even know you were a dog person.”  Or he has no idea what I’m talking about.  Or he confesses that he didn’t hear my question because he was wondering why people keep eating orange cheddar cheese when by now, everyone knows that’s not natural.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize.  Although opinions are like ***holes (everyone has one), people aren’t really that concerned with what I do.  Other people don’t spend vast amounts of their time thinking about me.  What I do with my life doesn’t directly impact them (unless they happen to be married to me or my son).  So while I can listen to their input, their collective input has to be given it’s proper weight–0.000427% of my decision-making factors.

GapingVoid.com @gapingvoid always knows just what to say

GapingVoid.com @gapingvoid always knows just what to say

And just like that, THEM (THEY?) don’t have the power they used to have over me.  Don’t give people more power than they have earned.  Don’t let them take up valuable real estate in your head.  THEM are only a barrier to getting unstuck if you let them be.

Carpe THEM!  I mean, carpe us…I mean carpe YOU!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: