The Right Kind of Selfish

Last night, a group of my friends and I were discussing our work situations. Some of us have had some really great circumstances but majority of us had horror stories ranging from: unexpected lay-offs; bullying bosses that killed our confidence; businesses closing; black balling; being unable to move up; and managers lying to us about the job description so they can pay us less. Some of us have moved on to greener pastures, while the rest of us just felt stuck. But are we really?

After that conversation, I recalled something I wrote from two years ago regarding the cut-throat business mentality that seemed to dominate the area I grew up in. I was tired of being surrounded by selfish, “Machiavellian” type people. So I decided to move out of the area in hopes of finding a more honest, down-to-earth option for a career. To my dismay, I soon discovered that I was going to deal with these scenarios everywhere. At that point, I made a choice: I would stop allowing myself to be the victim. I needed to be selfish, in the right way.

I wrote the following about this realization and the things I learned along the way:

“I decided that there was a type of selfish that was fine- being selfish of yourself. Sometimes you need to put yourself first for once, as long as it doesn’t take advantage of other people. I started to care about myself and because of that, things changed for the better. I missed so many opportunities to fulfill dreams of mine because I was too busy putting other people first. This time, I didn’t let anyone hold me back and I’ve done so much because of it. I’m actually proud of the things I’ve accomplished because I finally allowed myself the chance to achieve them.

With each accomplishment came an increased sense of self-worth. I began feeling good about myself. I believed that I could do anything I wanted if I tried hard enough to make it happen. I learned how to make sure no one made me doubt my abilities or question if I was good enough. I became self-assured and felt that I was someone worthy of great things; that I had more to offer–that I was more than average.

With that self-worth, I was able to handle life’s curve balls: I learned that giving people the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean they won’t disappoint me. However, when that situation arises, I could now deal with things much better. I also realized that when something goes wrong, two things can happen: I can let the situation control me or I can determine the end result. Earlier in life I would get so wrapped up in the negativity of the situation that I’d be consumed by it. But now I know how to take it for what it is, figure out a solution, be proactive, and move along. There’s so much good out there, why would I waste another second on something that clearly isn’t?

This selfishness allowed me to grow as a person. When I believed I hit a brick wall, I now realize that there’s ways to get around it even if it takes a bit more effort. I learned that sometimes life doesn’t just hand me things and that it’s up to me to make opportunities happen.

It wasn’t until I finally took the time to care about myself that I realized not all selfishness is bad. This way of living has helped me become a better version of myself and, in turn, allows me to offer the best I can to those around me. Maybe if more people took the time to focus on themselves and strive to reach their personal goals, they wouldn’t need to use others to get ahead. Wouldn’t that be quite the concept?”

I know that many of you out there have had rough situations like the ones mentioned earlier. I know there are also plenty of you that are burnt out and beat up from lost job opportunities and dead-end interviews. Sometimes it’s hard not to question if you’re good enough if you’re dealing with rejection after rejection. It can also be hard on your confidence and ego if you weren’t even given the opportunity to be rejected. But you can’t let that define who you are. Otherwise, you’ll portray a lesser version of yourself and others will judge you based off of that because that’s all they’ll see.

Get your self-confidence back, that way you’ll be able to put your best foot forward in your next interview. Take a break from checking the job boards and take some time to build yourself back up. Set personal goals for yourself, even if it’s a small one. In my eyes, an accomplishment is an accomplishment no matter how big or small. Building that confidence back up could allow you to handle the set-backs better and know how to react in a way that can bounce you back in a favorable direction. I believe that you can find what’s right for you if you try these suggestions.

As of right now, I don’t know what the future holds for me. However, I am confident that if I take the time to do these things, then I will be paving the way to the greatest future possible.

Links:

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Putting Yourself Out There

As I was thinking about what I wanted to put in this post today, I realized that I’m surrounded by some pretty amazing people. Daily conversations with them have allowed me to easily come up with topics to write about. The theme of this weekend seemed to surround the idea of pursuing the things you want in life. Of course, going after the things you love and want can be terrifying and most people find ways to talk themselves out of doing it. However, sometimes you just need to put yourself out there and see what happens.

A few months ago I was talking to my cousin, Andrea Daniel, about work, life, and everything in between. She and I are a lot alike in the sense that we are the “wanderers” and “adventurers” of the family. She’s been a bit braver about going after the things she wants, though. She’s lived in multiple states, traveled a bunch, and even studied abroad on a cruise line to allow her to visit multiple countries. I’ve always been a bit more cautious for fear of failing, so I’ve always admired her courage to not hold back and also her relentless nature to roll with the punches.

In our conversation, she told me that if I really want to do something or really wanted to be somewhere, to just do it. She said to figure out a way to get where I needed to be and find a way to make it work once I got there. Going after the things you want in life aren’t always going to be easy and won’t happen overnight, but what kind of life would we lead if we never tried? Will there always be a part of us that tugs on our heartstrings, urging for more? Her advice has stayed with me and I’ve slowly started to follow it. Additionally, I’ve paid it forward and gave others the encouragement to put themselves out there.

First, I started with Jim Sweeney. Over the last six months I watched him get extremely excited about the idea to start a software development project that first specialized in apps and PC games, then eventually business software. He holds weekly meetings with the members of his group to go over ideas, recruit new members to fulfill different duties, and attempts to teach himself programming languages. I also saw him get a little deflated about the idea because he couldn’t find a programmer nor was he able to teach himself to be functional in coding on his own.

He was clearly passionate about it, seemed to love the idea of creating the software, and was trying hard to learn. So I asked him, “Why don’t you go back to school for it?” He told me that he didn’t have time to go back to school because he worked full-time. I wasn’t accepting that answer. I worked full-time the majority of the time I was going to school. I found a way to make it work by going to Thomas Edison State College. Of course, it took a bit longer to get my degree but I still got it.

Soon after our conversation, I introduced him to the college and now he is an enrolled student pursuing a degree in Computer Science. He will have his degree in about a year and I’ve never seen him happier. He knows that in 12 months he will have the capability to move forward with his project without having to rely on finding a programmer. It is empowering him to be able to make his dreams a reality from start to finish. Additionally, it would allow him to gain the skills to move forward with his current employer, Amazon.com.

Seeing someone who knows their dreams are within their reach can be inspiring. So, I took my own advice. Writing has always been a passion of mine but I never pursued it seriously because it always had a stigma that if you were a full-time writer, you would live the life of a starving artist (I don’t particularly like starving). Feeling like I would fail before I even started had me shy away from the idea in the past. But, like Andrea said, you need to just do it and make it work.

So here I am doing it. I haven’t been this mentally engaged or excited about something in a long time. Will the right person see this and offer me a job? Maybe. Will I end up paving my own way and make a career on my own doing this? Possibly. But even if neither of those things happens, the fact that these writings could potentially inspire even just a handful of people is enough for me. Making a difference in someone’s life by doing something I love is going to be marked off as a success in my book.

Now let’s fast forward to this weekend. My friend, Laura Grotzinger, just returned from a scuba-diving trip in Honduras. She was absolutely radiating with happiness and went on to discuss about how that trip got her back into doing photography and art. She went on to explain how she hoped to create photos, paintings, and inspirational posters using pictures from her travels and adventures. It was nice to see her doing the things she truly enjoys.

After she finally caught her breath from telling me all her wonderful stories, she took notice that I also seemed to have more of a positive demeanor since the last time she saw me. I told her about how I’ve been expressing my ideas through my blogging which has already allowed me to connect with some fascinating people who have introduced me to interesting concepts. I showed Laura how to use WordPress and she left my house even more ecstatic than when she first arrived (I didn’t think that was possible). She told me she couldn’t wait to create her own so she could display her art. Additionally, she planned on blogging about her other passion: travel. I watched her as she thoughtfully considered posts that intended on helping other travelers learn some tips for planning a trip. I hope her articles will help her land a dream job with Intrepid Travel one day.

So many people get discouraged from going after what they really want because those around them can sometimes be unintentionally unsupportive. The point of this posting is to show you that there is always a way and that it’s never too late. You can easily work on achieving your goals in your free time, step by step. It may be a slow process, but the fact of the matter is that you’re still doing it and that’s a win on its own. The first and most crucial step is to put yourself out there. Maybe those in your immediate circle aren’t giving you the support you need to take that step but trust me when I say that the world is big and you will find plenty of people to give you the encouragement and validation that you need. Give it a chance. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

With that being said, I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to my friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who have taken a moment out of their time to offer me kind words. That simple act of kindness and support has given me the courage to take that first step. I appreciate it beyond words.
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I’d love to hear more about your success stories or your plans to put yourself out there. Send me a tweet: @ashlaurenperez

Network with:
Andrea Daniel
Jim Sweeney
Laura Grotzinger’s Blog

http://laurasglobetrotting.com/
Companies/school mentioned:
Amazon.com
WordPress
Thomas Edison State College
Intrepid Travel

Inspirational Discussions on Ted.com

Today’s post is just an easy-breezy one. I came across a nice discussion posting on Ted.com that really got me thinking. I wanted to share it with you because it’s an interesting question that could really allow you to internally reflect.

The posting asks you to think about what advice you’d give to a younger you. There were some really great, insightful, and funny answers to this. I welcome you to think about this question and if you’re feeling adventurous, submit it on the link found at the bottom of this post. My answers are as follows:

  • Don’t focus so hard on achieving certain things (life goals, career goals, etc.) because you may blind yourself from things that are a better fit for you. Keep your eyes and mind open.
  • Don’t get down about the things that don’t work out:  you’ll be surprised at what opportunities come about once you stop being depressed about your best laid-plans that failed.
  • Stay humble- the only thing you can count on in life is that everything is bound to change at one point or another.
  • If all the doors of opportunity are closed, break through a wall and create your own passage to opportunities.
  • Disconnect yourself from anyone or anything that brings you down.
  • It is not your job to fix other people’s bad habits. Don’t get sucked down a dark road trying to do that. They’re perfectly capable of figuring out their own life.
  • Don’t let negative words get to your head. You know you better than they know you. If they can’t see all the great things you are, then find people that do.
  • Find a company that matches your personal values.
  • Find a company that has a company culture you will enjoy working in.
  • Trust your gut, it typically knows what is right or wrong before your heart and head confuses you.
  • Take chances when you’re young- this is the time you can afford to fail or mess up.
  • Don’t let anything or anyone take away your optimism no matter how ridiculous or naive it seems… at least you’re happy.
  • Don’t be scared to believe in something and make things happen, even if you’re going in it alone.
  • Don’t let the hardships of life make you forget your dreams and passions.
  • Don’t lie to yourself. Stay true and figure out a plan of action based on that.
  • Remember that it is a huge world out there and you can find the things that you hope for. And if you don’t, you have the capabilities to create it.

This post isn’t meant to make you think about the things you wish you could change in your past. It’s meant to let you recall these important life lessons you’ve learned along the way and apply it to your present so you can pave the way for a better future in your life and career. Happy Thinking!

Links:

Ted.com