Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy (3rd) Leaving Day!

It's been three years. Three amazing years of ups and downs, highs and lows... So I find it only fitting to check-in (sorry for not posting recently) and give you some insight from a 3-year perspective.

Let me first give you the short answer to the question I can only imagine you are asking: Yes, it was worth it; and yes, I would do it all over again!

I really enjoy reminiscing over the past 3 years. It allows me to compare the person I am today with the person I was 3 years ago (and before), and bask in the warmth of my (little) personal victory. Taking the "path less traveled" was, perhaps, one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It opened up so many opportunities and afforded so many possibilities. But most importantly, it offered me a way to look at the world — and the challenges we are faced with — differently. It used to be that when anything "bad" happened I would default into "victim-mode", self-pitying myself over an unfair outcome. Today though, I constantly look for the other perspective, which is mostly the silver lining. I've reached the conclusion that that's the only way to overcome, with the added bonus of bettering ourselves in the process...

But philosophy aside, here are some of the more important lessons I've learnt in these past 3 years:
  • Accept your past (or: start believing in yourself and your abilities).
    This must be the toughest hurdle to overcome. I don't know how long you've been in your family business but chances are your self-esteem has been trampled. Recovering is no easy task, but it is doable. It starts with accepting the past for what it was – a lesson. Acceptance allows you to start fresh, to break away from the past and the person you once were and start anew. The other option is to live in it, casting blame on anything and everything from the family business to your parents and the lack of support. This option — and I am sure you will agree with me — is completely counter-productive. Opt for acceptance and move on. Once you do, once there is no blame or self-pity, you'll be able to focus on yourself and your abilities, slowly healing and building your self-worth.

  • Decide what you want to do as soon as possible, then focus on achieving that goal.
    In other words, don't waste time. This is a relatively new lesson for me, too. If you find yourself saying: "I'll try this out for a while and see how it goes...", stop and answer this question: How does this help me achieve my life goals? (whatever those goals are, tangible or intangible.) You need to focus your energy and efforts, and the decision to do something (move across the country, become a better parent, open your own business, accept that job offer, whatever) has to be made consciously and not "by-the-way"-ish. I'm not saying that you can't make mistakes. On the contrary – make mistakes! But make them having weighed the options and making the best choice possible. Don't waste your time.

  • Time does heal all wounds.
    My dad and I are now back in touch. We are warming back up to each other after a long period of silence. When we first got back together, it was hell for me. Here was the person who practically disowned me (and my family) for wanting to chase my dreams; and here I was in his house celebrating his birthday. What a trip that was... But time has this magical trait to it: it dulls the edges. The memories are still there, but the pain and anger associated with them have faded. It makes having a relationship – all things considered – possible... I guess what I am saying is: don't let the family relationship weigh down on you too much. Yes, it takes a toll; but you'll work things out down the road.

  • Stay positive!
    This is, perhaps, the most important lesson I can share with you (and I am going to become "new agey" now). Everything happens for a reason. We are tested and challenged in life all the time. This happens because there is a lesson to be learnt about ourselves and our abilities, about people and their nature, about how things work. If you accept that the lesson is the reward (and sometimes you'll have to look real hard for the lesson, like when your new iPhone goes for a swim) you'll become a more positive thinker. And when you become a more positive thinker, you'll become more open to the opportunities around you. And when that happens... there is no limit to what you can do!

Happy leaving day!

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