Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is A Degree Really Necessary?

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Whilst at a function recently, I struck up a conversation with a young woman about what we do for a living. Her occupation – a social media guru of sorts – was rather interesting to me as it is one of those things I know I need to be better at. But it was the conversation about what I do that stood out to me, and not because I do anything particularly exciting. What she was interested in was the fact that I had been able to set up and run my own business. And do it without a degree. While I don’t think she is going to be running off to follow my footsteps anytime soon, just the possibility that you could have a successful career without going to university was obviously different than what she had been lead to believe.

We live in a society that values education, and rightly so. It is absolutely crucial that we all have access to the education we need and the choice to pursue the education we want. But at what point does it become education for the sake of it rather than a purpose? Our school systems, and society in general, place pressure on our young to achieve certain marks so they can get into university to get a good job. They are conditioned to think that their whole future relies on the choices they make at high school and that to succeed in life they must go to university. This is a problem in that many young people have no idea what they want to do when they leave school. Even in my forties I couldn’t tell you what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have some ideas what I want the next five to ten years to look like, but further than that who knows. I certainly don’t want to go spending four years and some twenty to forty thousand dollars studying something that may or may not come in handy. That might come at some stage, but not now.

If I do find I want or need to seek further education, I am very fortunate to live in a society that allows this. One of the many great things about the time we are living in is that the ways to obtain education are plentiful and we can do it at any age. And university is not the only form. Let’s not forget trades and service. Those are both really important parts of our society. We need people to make, fix and serve us the stuff.

Of course if you really want to go to university and are not totally sure about what you are going to study, but believe you can find something along the way great. But lets not pressure those who don’t know and want to live life a little more before they decide what they want to do. The lessons just living life can give you can be just as valuable. And if you do pursue education, it may be just as valid if it comes in the form of a diploma. Or maybe it is just a certificate of attendance. As long as it is relevant to you the holder and allowing you to live the life that means something to you.

Til next time…

Jo

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Lessons From My Nana

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I have been spending some time with my ninety one year old grandmother while she has been recuperating from surgery. While it is always great to spend time with Nana I feel like I have learned so much more about her, and even myself, during this period.  As she navigates this experience through the cloudy eyes of dementia, I see her dealing with it the same way she has dealt with things her whole life. Seeing things for what they are and making the best of them.

Nana’s life has certainly not been what you would call an easy one. Regardless of what has gone on, good or bad, she has just picked up from whatever has happened and kept on going, even now when the dementia sometimes leaves her very confused. With the exception of when she is in pain, she is still upbeat and will often tell us what a good life she has had.

We can all learn a lot from my Nana.

Life will give you what it will and it is up to you how you go on from that. Bad things happen to all of us. Sometimes events are forced upon us and we may need to find a way to adjust to our new normal. Then there are situations we bring upon ourselves so this may mean having to make amends to both us and others for our actions. But we must find a way to keep going otherwise life becomes merely an existence.

Once something has happened it is done, no matter what or who was the cause of it. Unlike how many things were for my Nana, we  have so many choices and opportunities, especially we females. We can choose where we want to work and however long we want to work for. We have childcare options. There are appliances that allow us the time to do the things we like to do. We can get a mortgage on our own. The world is open further than it ever was thanks to the internet. We have the option to change almost anything that we don’t like about our lives.

We certainly have a lot to make the best of.

During Nana’s last stay in hospital a woman who had shared the room with her commented on how good it was to see the high regard she was held in by her grandchildren and how that was often not the case. It is a testament to the person she has always been, the way she has lived her life and how highly we value her. I can only hope when I am ninety one my family think of me same way. Luckily for me I get to learn from one of the best.

Til next time…

Jo

Getting Out of the Way

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Excuse me, can you please get out of my way?

It is something we often want to say to people standing in front of us. But what if it’s us who are in the way of ourselves?

I know I am sometimes guilty of getting in my own way. I seem to have the ability to help others see things clearly, so it is rather irritating that I cannot always do the same thing for myself. Observations of myself and others have lead me to the conclusion that usually, the only person getting in the way of what we want to achieve or do, is us. We get so caught up in our own situations that it can sometimes be difficult to see clearly what direction we need to take. There are so many options, and that can be daunting. Often, inactivity ends up being the result just because we feel so overwhelmed.

I admire those who seem to have such focus and dedication to their goals. People like olympic swimmers for example. They usually gather a team around them to help guide and keep them focused. For us regular folk however, often there isn’t anything we want to do that badly, and even if there is, rarely do we have the team of experts on hand to keep us on the straight and narrow. We often end up with so many distractions that leave us questioning whether or not we are doing the right thing for where we think we want to head. If you are like me, sometimes the shiny new thing can look appealing enough to take you off course, even if it is only for a while, which means you then have to correct your steering and get back on track.

Fear that you may miss out on something if you give it up can also keep you in your own way, as can doing what you deem as the sensible thing rather than doing what you really want. For me this happens when there are parts of something that I really enjoy but other parts I could happily burn. It can send me swinging from feeling committed to something, to wanting to run as far away from it as I can.

The trick for me is to remind myself that it is really only me and the actions I take that will head me in the right direction. Not the thoughts I have, or the dreams and fears. It is the action I take regarding these thoughts, dreams and fears that will make the difference. Keep it simple. Do something that takes you towards what you want, even if it is a little step, and then do what comes next.

The difference between someone like me and the swimmer I was talking about earlier is that I don’t necessarily like to make detailed long term goals and then stick to them fastidiously. I like options. And perhaps because I am like this I am always going to get a little bit in my own way. But as long as I can move when I need to, I figure all will be ok!

Til next time…

Jo

Go Forth and Be Awesome!

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Looking at ourselves through other people’s eyes, we are usually way more awesome than we think we are!

Are you ever surprised when people are more impressed with what you do than you are yourself. I certainly am. I think what we do each day because it’s just what we do. We don’t admire ourselves the way we would others doing the same thing. Motherhood is one of those areas where we constantly beat ourselves up for not being good enough. Mother-guilt is a very pervasive beast so we never feel we quite measure up. But after a conversation I had recently about some women for whom having their children taken away from them by authorities is a reality, I figure that I must be doing ok given this has never been an issue for me. And then there is my work. People always seem way more impressed with what I do than I am.

So why don’t we appreciate how good we really are. Yes we are confident in our abilities to a certain degree, but we always doubt and compare ourselves to someone who we think is doing better than us. The reality is that whoever we are comparing ourselves to are more than likely comparing themselves to someone else. Funnily enough they are probably even comparing themselves to us. Apart from the narcissists amongst us, we generally never think we are quite good enough. Plenty of people pretend to those on the outside that they are confident in their abilities, but inside can be feeling extremely insecure. We worry that people will find out that we really are not as good as they think we are. I have heard this referred to as the Impostor Syndrome. A sad reflection really.

If you are doubting yourself, an interesting exercise is writing a covering letter as if you are applying for job, or even just writing a list of what you have done well in your life. You might just be surprised at how far you have come. What I find works really well is writing a list of what I have accomplished. I guess it is easier because if I have actually achieved or done something, then there is some sort of evidence that I could actually do it. It can be a really good reinforcement that you are on the right track. Think about what you have done over your career. You are usually doing something more than what you did for your first job, unless of course you are one of those rare lucky ducks who chose the right thing from the start. I am certainly doing more than making mellon balls. Yes, you read correctly. My first job was making mellon balls for mellon ball cocktails. Riveting. I guess you could say I have come a long way since then!

Go forth and be your awesome self!

Til next time…

Jo

Life on Purpose

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Do you sometimes wonder if you will ever find your true calling, your purpose? That one big thing that you are truly meant to do with your life. ‘Finding your passion’ seems to be one of the latest catchphrases. The reality shows are full of people declaring that whatever it is they are trying out for is all they have ever wanted to do. Sounds great in theory, but is one thing really enough for us? Apart from for a select few, I doubt it. Unless you have the ability to focus like an elite athlete, I think many of us would tire of doing the same thing, day in day out.

Gone are the days when everyone stayed in the same job for their entire working lives. Some American research I read recently found that we can expect as many as seven career changes over our lives. I am assuming they are counting the original few years in the workforce when we don’t really know what we want to be doing, but such things as the stern advice from our parents means that any job is better than no job. Thank goodness that the opportunity to change careers is relatively easy, otherwise this blogger would still be doing people’s hair, very unhappily I might add. I am fortunate to have been able to take advantage of new opportunities as they have presented themselves and have now added the journey of a writer to my pathway. While I don’t believe I am at my final working destination, my journey has certainly taught me a lot about how I work best, which does not it would seem, include working for anyone other than myself! While this is limiting in some ways, it is also very liberating to narrow down the focus to just following things that will take me in that direction.

I remember hearing a very successful woman, who had pretty much reached the top of her game in an extremely competitive industry, say that she still had at least one more career change left in her. And she was in her mid fifties. Now that we are going to have an increasing retirement age, it is even more likely that we will change paths as we will have to take the physicality of different roles into consideration. I do believe we are going to see more and more people take a self employed route, which has been made so much easier with technology. One can only imagine how much more advanced things will get in the future.

There are of course, many people who take jobs to pay the bills and don’t think too much more about it than that. I have met people working in the same jobs for many years who have no desire to go for promotions or change what they are doing in any way. They are quite happy with what they do and how they do it.

For me personally, I will go with what is currently calling me and look forward to many new calls in the future!

Til next time…

Jo

 

The Two of Us

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It seems that we have two versions of ourselves. Our ideal self and our default or actual self. Job applications and dating sites are full of people’s ideal selves. This is the one we would like others to see. The default one is usually the one we are actually living. We can, by the way, be just as good at convincing ourselves as we are others that we are our own ideal. It is probably why we end up in careers and relationships that we thought we would love, but end up being totally wrong for us.

Perhaps the saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ a reflection of us wanting to be a certain way but not actually being able to follow it through. So many times we make promises that end up broken or ignored. I wonder if this is because it was a promise that, as much as a person might think they want to keep, is not something that comes naturally. So without a huge amount of effort, it doesn’t happen. Another example is people always saying what they would love to do if they had the time. Usually, I think, this is the ideal self talking because if you really really want to do something, you can generally find the time. When you say you would love to go to the gym but can’t find the time, this is more than likely the ideal self talking because the actual self is probably saying something like ‘I want to watch Offspring on TV’. And guess which one you end up doing!

Sometimes we are right to want to move our default self closer to our ideal. More than once I have found myself responding to something in a certain way, only to ask myself why did I react like that because it certainly was not the way I would have liked to react. I think our default is set to a certain degree by external factors such as the way we were raised and events that may have happened to us, combined with our core personality. We tend to react to things according to these factors but often it is not the way we want to be. I am definitely of the opinion that we need to grow and challenge ourselves and without our ideal selves this would not be possible. I just believe that we need to keep it in line with the core values of our actual self. Unless of course those core values resemble a psychopath or the like, then the default button needs to be deleted!

So what is the best way to integrate your ideal self into your actual self? Slowly I would think. How many times do you see someone go on an extreme health kick and lose a large amount of weight, only to put it all – and sometimes more – back on again? Those who make weight loss a long term project seem to have more luck keeping to the new lifestyle. Take note of how you are actually feeling when you do the things your ideal self wants you to do. Are you really enjoying it or do you like what it represents. My ideal self would like to run marathons and go to the gym regularly – and does so in my imagination often. This self is fit and toned, rather unlike the actual self. The thing is, when it comes to exercise, my real self would rather wander around looking at the scenery and will happily do it for hours. Definitely not ideal – but it will do for now. Until my real self catches up with the imagined version anyway.

Til next time…

Jo

The In Between

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90px-Mali_-_local_transportWe have no control over when we come into the world and, in most cases, when we leave it. What we can control however, is what we do in between these times. Too often we are focused on what we think we should be doing, rather than what will truly make us happy. Of course doing whatever we want all the time is not always practical. There are certain things we need to do to survive – i.e. eat, and these cost money, so we must do some sort of work to get this money. And we do need to make sure we have plans in place so that we know we will be ok when we are no longer able to work.

What I am talking about is when we take these too far. People get caught up in things like building up an array of expensive toys and aiming to do fantastic things at retirement, but forget to stop and smell the roses along the way. We put off things like taking memorable holidays with our families and we don’t take risks that might otherwise make our lives better. We tend to think we have plenty of time to do these things later but time quickly runs out. The time you have with your children as they grow is precious and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Assuming you do put off everything until the end of your working life, what happens if you find you are not fit or healthy enough to do what you planned, or if you don’t get to live that long? When it comes to the accumulation of material things, what if you became sick or incapacitated and unable to sustain the income required to keep your empire of things going? When you can’t afford to maintain them, those toys can soon disappear. What are you left with then? Probably a lot of regret. Sure nice things are really great and I am guilty of more than one extravagant handbag purchase just because I liked them. It is very easy to get caught up in the always trying to have bigger and better trap, I know I have been guilty of this at times.

It’s a similar thing when people say I wish I could do this or I wish I didn’t have to do that, but then don’t do anything about it. The thing is, especially for those of us living in a country like Australia, there really isn’t much we couldn’t change if we really wanted to. It might mean sacrificing other things but except for the ones really outside of your control, you don’t have to stay in a situation you are not happy in. Imagine what someone paralysed from the neck down would say to you if you stood in front of them with your perfectly able body and say gee I wish I could learn to sail but I am far too busy making money to pay for my luxury car. Looking at it from this perspective the expensive car seems somewhat worthless.

So how do you want your life to look between the time you come into the world and the time you leave? Do you want to have a great empire full of stuff or do you want to have great memories full of awesome things you did with those you love? These people you love, by the way, should include yourself! The goal should be to aim for a balance between having enough materially and spiritually. It is a bit unrealistic to aim for the perfect balance all of the time. I guess it is much like the work life balance, sometimes you tip too much one way but as long as you find your way back to the other side regularly, that is a pretty good combination.

Here’s to a life of awesome memories and experiences!

Til next time…

Jo