The Struggle is Real

In a perfect world, things would be perfect. In a perfect world, there would be no stumbling blocks or obstacles to get in our way of working on our goals.

Not only do I not live in a perfect world. I live in a world that is also inhabited by two cats!

Today I was determined to finally record a video to put on my “About Donna” page. I wanted to share the story of a horrible experience that transformed my life.

I got home from work, put some breaded haddock in the oven, and set up my camera. I had to find a place in my small condo that would be suitable as a background without doing a lot of cleaning. I found a spot. I set up extra lights and moved the camera trying to find the best spot to record my story.

The timer went off on the oven. I stopped what I was doing to eat dinner. Good thing, otherwise you might have heard my stomach grumbling!

Once my dinner was finished the cats started meowing to be fed (again). I thought, I’ll give them a little kibble to keep them quiet. Wrong! The crunching noise seemed to echo in my living room.

Sigh… I waited for them to finish.

I pressed the record button on the camera and moved into position. That was when I noticed Earl’s cat, Ocarina, was poised above me on the stairs.

Sigh… photo bombed by a cat.

I decided to ignore her. I started speaking. She jumped and raced up the stairs. I couldn’t help but laugh. I kept the camera recording, but started from the beginning of my story.

Mocha, my cat, chose that moment to express her opinion, “Meow. Meow. Meow” about something–probably my talking too loudly.

Sigh…

A video project that should have taken no more than 30-45 minutes to record, had moved beyond the 1-hour mark. I ran out of time.

Tomorrow I will try again, with the wisdom of what I learned today. Basically I learned where to put the lights, where to place the camera, and where I would stand.

As for the cats, I am not quite sure how I will handle them tomorrow. Most likely I will use the next 24-hours to try to accept that they will make an appearance, big or small, audio or video, in my videos.

I need to be okay with that; otherwise two cats will keep me from achieving my goals. That is just not acceptable!

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The backstory to my dream

Do you have a vision for your future that just doesn’t go away? I do.

Do you feel like it is your destiny to do more than what you are currently doing? I do.

Do you resist the pull of that dream? I did.

In order for me to explain where I am today, I need to tell you where I started.

It was a couple of week before Christmas in 1997. My mother-in-law asked me to read a poem she had written to honor my husband’s grandmother at the family Christmas party.

I said, “No.”

She said, “But you have such a pretty voice. Please won’t you read it?”

“No.”

At that moment I was adamant that I would NOT be reading ANYTHING to ANYONE out loud! The only reading aloud I did was with my children.

Judy accepted my refusal without further comment. Our visit that day continued as normal, but I felt worse and worse. This woman had asked me to do something so simple, so seemingly easy.

What she couldn’t understand was that I was terrified at the idea of being in the spotlight. My face turns 1,000 shades of red at the slightest provocation. The thought of doing this reading paralyzed me.

But I couldn’t stop feeling like a heel. You see, this woman was amazing! Each year she created the dream holiday setting for my children to enjoy. I knew there would be a mountain of gifts and an abundance of yummy food for children and adults to enjoy. I knew she would devote hours of time and hundreds of dollars on making this holiday special.

And she had asked me to help with one small thing. One seemingly small thing. She had no idea how much her request scared me.

You have probably figured out that I did end up agreeing to do the reading. You probably think that all went well and that I was proud of myself for overcoming this fear.

You would be wrong.

It was a horrible, traumatic, embarrassing life-transforming experience!

The pain of that experience lingered long after the holiday party was over. It festered within me. My fear of talking in front of people was debilitating. I had noticed it in my workplace. I had noticed it in social situations. This fear from my childhood was still hanging on well into adulthood.

Three months later I found the courage to address this fear. I attended and joined a Toastmasters club. My life changed almost instantly. Well, not instantly, it took about two months before I started finding my voice and overcoming this fear.

As my speaking skills developed, I started envisioning myself encouraging and supporting people who want to find their voice, achieve their goals, and make an impact in their world.

I started dreaming about being a professional speaker. I registered my name as a internet domain name and wrote a monthly inspirational newsletter called “A Swan’s Song.” I started getting speaking gigs and enjoyed standing on the stage–in the spotlight!

But then I lost my passion for it. I’m not exactly sure what happened or why it happened. The best I can come up with is that moving forward with that dream started to feel heavy. Fear moved in again and I wasn’t able to deal with it. I let other activities and life demands move into the space I had once set aside for building a speaking business. I stopped speaking. I stopped  writing.

Recently, the fire in my heart has been rekindled. I am tackling the fear head on. I’m putting myself out in this seemingly big and scary world. Why would I do that? Because I believe in my heart that the world is NOT big and scary. Most of the people I know are supportive and encouraging.

Of course there will be naysayers, but I am ready to deal with them.

This is my dream. I may have taken a sabbatical from pursuing it, but the vision of success has never left me. That is why I am starting over again.


What dream/goal have you started and stopped in the past? Are you currently in high gear moving forward or have you stalled in the road? Let me know what your greatest struggle is so I can try to help.

Getting Started Again

What do you do when you have a dream? You turn it into a goal and start working to make it a reality. For the past two months, that has been a primary focus for me. Today I am one step closer to making that dream a reality.

Let me take a step back, though, and start at the beginning…

There are two main reasons people set goals. The first is to improve their current circumstances. The second is to escape from difficult or unpleasant circumstances. My reasons are a combination of both.

Let me explain. Currently I earn a decent salary working as a production supervisor for a manufacturing company here in Maine. Supervising people is a difficult job. Managing the workflow of a production line is stressful. For three years I found both tasks challenging, yet fulfilling.

I found great success in changing work processes to make tasks easier on the employees I managed. I loved the challenge of better organizing work areas. I excelled in the challenge of introducing meaningful changes to a work crew that tended to resist change of any kind.

In recent months, the changes that used to be an exciting challenge to implement, became more stressful because of the sheer number of changes needed in short periods of time. Physical space to store and separate materials used in our manufacturing process became more and more cramped. Many a night’s sleep have been interrupted by worries of our customers’ safety.

When I started this job almost 5 years ago, I thought I had found my calling. I even started calling my job a “career.” That honeymoon period with this new employer probably lasted longer than it does for most.

About two years ago my opinions about the leadership team started to change. I watched as promises to employees were broken. I watched as low performing personnel were rewarded, while high performing workers were treated as equals to those poor performers. I watched as this company that claims they “promote from within” created new positions but never posted job listing for all employees to apply for them.

My dilemma for the past couple of years has been, do I stay or do I go?

Thus far, I have decided to stay. My primary reason is because I have a financial goal that my current position will allow me to reach. As I have searched for and interviewed for other jobs, one thing I have found is that there is hesitation on the interviewer’s part when we start talking about salaries. That suggests to me that my current salary is on the high end of what my local area is paying.

Financially I could afford to take a pay cut to remove myself from a toxic workplace, however, it isn’t quite that bad yet. I believe I can hang on for the next 23 months to reach my financial goal of paying off my mortgage.

That is my back story. That is the reason I am writing this first blog entry. Everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone with a dream, with a goal, needs to take the first steps to make that goal a reality.

What is my dream? My dream is to become financially independent. I know, most people have that same dream! That’s why I needed to turn it into a goal or series of goals!

My goal is to become a full-time writer and podcaster. My goal is to support other people who have dreams and goals but keep getting distracted from achieving them.

To achieve my goals, I need to break them down further:

For the month of November 2016, my goals are the following:

  • To write 1000 words each day–these will be blog entries
  • To record two short (3-5 minutes) podcasts each week
  • To complete post-production work on the two podcasts

Accountability plays a huge part in attaining your goals. Life does get in the way at times. But when you have an accountability partner who is not afraid to say “Bullsh*t” at your flimsiest excuses, you start to get things done.

What dream are you ready to transform into doable goals? Tell me about it in the comments section!

If you are interested in joining me on my journey, and learning/applying the lessons I’ve shared, please sign up to receive automatic notifications of blog and podcast (when they start running) updates.