Remembering my motivation

fortune cookie

In high school, the goal was to get into college and get scholarships. In college, the goal was to get on the newspaper, get internships, and get a job after I graduated. Once I moved to DC, I needed to find a place to live (a few times), find a new job (a couple of times), pay rent, let relationships go, and make friends and connections.

And for all of these things, I was motivated to do them because, essentially, I had to. You work to eat to live, and you find ways to make it all work.

In the year I’ve spent in California, I’ve been really lucky. I don’t have any obligations other than to pay a couple of bills. I still don’t even have a car. I don’t have to pay rent, and I’m still making money as a consultant. I’ve had the freedom — the privilege — to take my time and explore what I want to do with my life, and how I will get there.

But there’s a funny little thing about motivation: sometimes, when you don’t have to do something, it’s easier not to do anything.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been lazy. As I said, I’ve been working with multiple clients for a year, I’ve been working on my health and fitness (10 lbs. and counting down to prove it), and reconnecting with people from my past to feed my emotional growth.

What about THE thing, though? The whole “figuring out what I want to do with my life” part? That’s where it’s been easier, many days, to think and stew and be afraid, rather than to act. I’ve journaled, I’ve whiteboarded, I’ve talked things to death with family and friends, but the getting shit done part has been the challenge. Recently, I got the reminder (again) that there is no better time in my life than now to try to make my life what I want it to be — this is the big chance I get — the chance that many people never get. That ripe age of 29 going on 30 with no kids, no mortgage, no debts, no health problems, nothing.

What do I have? I have a lot of opportunity, and I have a lot of support. I have things I care about, but caring only goes so far. It’s time for action, and it’s time to act like I have to do these things — like there’s no other choice.

It may not work out, and then I’ll have to try something else, but like before, I figured it out. And what’s worse than trying and failing? Not trying and then never knowing and being stuck in a continual cycle of what ifs and self-doubt. That’s my motivation.

To all my motivators out there — thank you for reminding me why I’ve made these choices, and what I’m capable of.

The best time to move on…is when it’s best for YOU.

Taking a leap!

I feel like I’m playing hooky today. I’m not on vacation, I’m not taking a sick day, but I’m not checking email or doing work either. I’m in between jobs.

It’s been three and a half years since I was transitioning from one job to another, and this time, it’s a little different. It’s different because my second job, at the UN Foundation, was like a home to me for the last few years. Many of the people there became my family, and I made some friends that I will have for life. I also grew up in that job, personally and professionally, and although I am excited about my next chapter, it was hard to say goodbye to the people I worked and laughed with, to my cube, to my accomplishments.

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For someone who is very routine, very organized and very detailed down to a fault at times, I’ve had to think a lot more about being open-ended. I used to arrange my books and CDs not only by genre, but alphabetically by author or artist. I have to do lists on top of to do lists, and I like putting dates on the calendar years out. Although there are times when I say, sure let’s go grab a drink after work today, there are also times when I think, eehhhh, I need to go home and work out and make a healthy dinner.

All that aside, now is when I’m having to be more open-ended and open-minded about my life and the path it’s taking. Having a long-distance boyfriend about to start his third and final year of law school is a big part of this – it basically means that exactly a year from now, I have no idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to just follow him to wherever he gets a job – it’s a joint decision – know that now. But, there is a very real possibility that I could be moving to a place that isn’t near the top of my list, or taking on a job that I didn’t think about a year ago or even now.

At one point – that would have scared me to a ridiculous degree. I would have been making pros and cons lists of every factor going into this arrangement, and trying to pinpoint a date when my life would change and all the things I’d have to do between now and then. But now, I’m slowly settling into a different approach. I’m realizing that things may not be as I originally planned, and that’s okay. I’m realizing that I may not go where I thought I would, but that it may turn out for the best. I realize that when you choose to share your life with someone else, there are so many other things that come into play than just yourself – and I think that’s the thing that I struggle with the most. Me vs. us. Yes I might have always thought there would be an “us” in my life, but it doesn’t really hit home until you start getting to that moment.

I spoke to a close friend from college tonight who is getting married in a year. A year ago, before she met her fiancee, she didn’t want to live more than hour from home, she was nervous about traveling abroad, and thought she was a long way off from finding the love of her life. Tonight, she was glowing about living in her new apartment in a new city, looking for another new job, and preparing for a trip to Italy with a friend in coming weeks. She reminded me of a conversation we’d had soon after we left college, when I urged her to take risks, to not be afraid of change, to embrace change. Now, I see myself having the same conversation with my boyfriend – and honestly, I could listen to myself sometimes. I am no stranger to moving, to trying new things and putting myself on the line for something I want, but I’m realizing that a big risk is also going to be figuring out how to balance my needs and wants with that of the person I marry.

Anyway – many of you know that I’m a couple years off from marrying anyway, but again, as the person I am, I think about this stuff. I’m just working towards not thinking so much and just being and doing, and letting it be more of an open, dirt road than a paved one with mile markers and dotted lines.