Life Lessons, Mindset, Self Growth, Self Reflection

Why I Am Successful

I haven’t thought about it much. I’ve just been doing and doing and doing. Now I’m starting to slow down and reflect – especially since it’s the holidays. This is part ‘why I am successful’ and part ‘my authentic self’. Both go hand in hand. To be one, I have to be the other.

Change is hard. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s utterly necessary to be successful. I used to be anxious. I used to be depressed. I used to have a lack of fulfillment in my life that I would often fill with alcohol and fake friends – people I didn’t even really like, but called them friends anyway just to have something. I changed all of that. I went from accepting the fact that depression was always going to be a part of my life to waving goodbye to it through a rearview mirror. I went from feeling anxious all the time – especially around other people – to just having stress here and there about major things. I went from fake friends and relationships to authentic ones. I went from unfulfillment to complete fulfillment.

Each change I made was uncomfortable. Each one was hard, and some were downright painful. But they were worth it. I went from a miserable career to one that brings me joy. I went from one terrible partner after another to the best partner anyone could ask for. I went from unhealthy relationships to healthy ones. I went from putting on a major facade all the time to being my authentic self.

I remember my therapist telling me that I was one of her favorite clients because after each session I would go and act on the things we talked about and I would come back with new barriers to tackle. I learned, I grew, I worked on myself, and I made painful realizations and worked hard to correct them. I read books, I had deep conversations with friends and coworkers, I did a lot of self-reflection, and I met with my therapist regularly.

Realizing I was co-dependent was painful. Facing the fact that my parents fucked up was even more so. I got angry, I laid blame, but ultimately I decided it was my responsibility to fix it because I’m the one that it affects. By the way, co-dependency is not what you think it is, and most people are a little bit co-dependent. As funny as it sounds, I highly recommend the book “Co-dependency for Dummies.” It really helped me learn what it is, what kind I was, and how to SET BOUNDARIES (something I never learned from my parents – but I’m not salty about it, I swear). Making decisions based on what I wanted and not what I thought others wanted was also part of it. Along with not taking on other people’s problems as my own. All of this was a major step towards me becoming more authentic. I stopped acting in a way that I thought would please those around me and just did what I wanted. I stopped feeling stressed and responsible when someone talked to me about their problems. I stopped saying things I thought others wanted to hear and said what was in my heart. I was becoming more and more my authentic self. I lost fake friends and gained real ones. And I met the love of my life.

Changing careers was scary. Telling my parents I was switching from engineering to teaching was uncomfortable. Telling my boss was even worse. I almost threw up I was so nervous. Changing jobs was part of becoming my authentic self. I didn’t like standing at a desk, reading specs, calling clients and vendors, and checking CAD drawings. I wanted to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I wanted to build a better community. I wasn’t doing either as an engineer. I have very high patience when it comes to helping others. I have very high patience when someone is learning something new. And I can explain things in different ways. I am caring and passionate and it just made sense for me to use my skills to be a teacher. So, I made the switch, and I have never looked back.

Moving is also uncomfortable and difficult, but new places always come with new opportunities. When I moved to Texas to be closer to my love, I got way better training and preparation for becoming a teacher than I could have dreamed of getting in Florida. It was like the pieces just fell into place.

My next thing to try is also scary and likely to be uncomfortable, if not downright painful the first few times I try it, but I am going to push through and do it anyway because I want to continue to be happy and successful. I am going to try a PBL (project based learning) in my chemistry class after the break. It is going to be very different than any other way I have taught before and has a lot of components. I took a training over the summer and have resources that I’m currently culling through, but ultimately I will not be successful at it if I don’t give it a try and actually DO it. I’ve put it off for an entire semester and that’s long enough. I’ve got to keep pushing myself into new, uncomfortable things because that is how I grow and learn and succeed.

What do you do to be successful? What is the most uncomfortable, yet ultimately rewarding situation you have pushed yourself through? Did you grow? What will you do next?

Please share your thoughts, stories, musings, or reflections. I love to read them.

Mindful, Mindset

Fixed vs Growth Mindsets

Many people go through life thinking they’re smart or they’re dumb. That they can do a thing or they can’t. That they get it or they don’t. That they’re strong or they’re not. This is a fixed mindset and they don’t see the opportunity to try and improve. They see that either someone has a talent for something or they can’t do it at all. From their perspective, when someone works hard at something, it’s because they’re not good at it. If someone is studying hard it’s because they’re not smart.

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t born knowing how to walk and talk and solve math problems. I worked hard to develop the muscles and motor skills to be able to walk. It’s easy now, but it did not start out that way. I struggled to learn vocabulary and how to say “mom” and “dad”. Taking is mostly easy now, but again it did not start out that way. In order to be able to solve math problems (that I find easy now), I had to study and practice a lot. Just like a master at the piano started off struggling to read music and play at the right tempo. But with a fixed mindset, we don’t think, “oh wow that person worked really hard to be able to play that well. I bet I could be that good one day too if I put in the work.” Instead, we think, “oh wow that person is really talented at the piano. I wish I could play like that.”

Having a growth mindset means understanding that you can always improve at something and you can gain any skill or knowledge you want if you put in the effort. Just because you burned your dinner the first time you tried cooking doesn’t mean you can’t cook. It just means you need to figure out a better temperature for cooking that meal. Just because lose at chess the first time you play doesn’t mean you can’t practice and learn and become a chess master. Having a growth mindset means understanding that you can’t do something yet, but with effort, you can do or learn anything.

How can you change your thoughts and words so they reflect a growth mindset and not a fixed one? By adding “yet” when you hear yourself say, “I can’t do that,” or “I don’t know that.” By looking at the famous painter and saying, “s/he must have put in a lot of effort to become that good.” By telling yourself over and over to just try and you will get it. Remember, walking was once hard for you too.

Which mindset are you?