Christmas is less than a week away. Which means 2018 is nearly at an end. I don’t know about you, but I like to take this time to reflect back both personally and professionally. Part of me can’t believe that it’s already the end of December. And yet, another part of me can’t wait for January to begin.
A new year means a fresh start. And while a fresh start can often follow a rough finish, sometimes, a fresh start is an opportunity to build on the previous year’s success.
When I reflect back on 2018, I was fortunate to experience some positive professional changes, and some personal firsts. I joined LTi here in October, which was a much-welcomed change. Previously, I was working a job that was simply a paycheck. I needed it for a few years. And I worked with some great people. But the work itself began to wear on me.
Now, for the first time in my life, I’m actually working at a job specific to my personal interests and professional skillsets. As a writer and content creator, the harmony I have found doing something I actually enjoy has been pretty life-altering. And I hope I’ll be able to bring you content that you can get excited about in 2019.
My Invitation to You as Our Readers
In that light, I want to invite you as one of our readers to participate in what we do here next year. Being new to this team, this company, and this industry, I want to know what you are looking for from us. We have articles, videos, and even some interviews planned for next year. But what is most important to me is knowing how I can help you grow and develop in your business.
With that, I invite you to email me personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can use the subject line: BJ, Here is What I Want to See in 2019
Please tell me what you have enjoyed here in the past, what you like to read on other professional blogs, and what you would like to see more of here in the future. Our blog is your blog. It only matters if you get something useful here. So help us create a place where you want to come to learn, be inspired, and grow professionally or even personally.
Help us make something worth sharing in 2019!
It All Began with a Layoff
As a farewell to 2018, I’d like to share with you a personal reflection in hopes of inspiring you to reflect back on your own journey this year.
I can honestly, and thankfully, say that a decision I made 3 years ago has helped me find the professional harmony I was looking for. And I want to share this story with you along with a few lessons I learned as a result. Maybe there is something in my story that can encourage you in your own.
Back in 2014, I was laid off. At the time, my wife and I had a two-year-old daughter. So unlike past job changes, this one had a lot more at stake. I found a new job with a temp agency after about a month. The money was significantly less. But it was a paycheck, and we would make it work.
During my search, I had also met a financial advisor at a career fair. He told me I didn’t need any prior experience to be a financial professional, they would train me, and I could control my own schedule and income. This seemed to fit perfectly with my 2014 aspiration to “Find My Independence.” So I joined.
That year turned out to be one of the most stressful years of my life.
I worked full-time in my temp job while also training to be a financial professional. I had to study for licensing tests, learn the industry, and practice sales pitches. During the second half of the year, I began holding one-on-one meetings over lunch, in the evenings, and on weekends. Again, all while having a wife and daughter waiting for me at home.
I barely passed the training at the end of the year, which involved selling a certain amount of life and annuity policies to “graduate.” But one month into being on my own, and I had to quit. The office environment was unhealthy. And my direct manager, who brought me in, had quit, too. So, in early 2015, almost a year to the day after being laid off, I was jobless again. Fortunately, the place where I had done my temp work was hiring for a full-time, regular position. So I got back on my feet within a few weeks.
At this point, though, I had gone from being a photographer working collaboratively in a photo studio, to sitting in a grey-walled cubicle doing back-end commission research for other financial advisors. It was a hard shock to my system, and my sensibilities.
But it’s what I had to do for my family.
Choosing Myself for My Family
As the dust settled and the smoke cleared from the chaos of 2014, I did some serious self-reflection.
Who was I going to be now? What was my daughter going to see me do in the following years? Would I give up and accept defeat, working a job for a paycheck even though I dreaded my days? Or would this set-back set up my comeback?
For most of my life, I hid my true self. I believed that I didn’t have permission to do the things that I was passionate about. I felt I had to earn the right to pursue what really mattered to me. That was why I had attempted the financial services path in the first place. If I could make that work, then I would have earned the right to do what I really wanted.
It seemed like the right thing to do, the safe thing to do.
It never occurred to me that my passions could actually help me develop new skills, and that those skills could support my passions. I didn’t realize that my inner desire was the only permission I actually needed. But that needed to change.
So, in 2015, I joined a local songwriter’s group. I had harbored a secret dream to be a musician since I was in high school. My attempts at learning to play guitar fitted and fizzled earlier in my life. I believed that I needed some outside validation to give me permission to play. Since I wasn’t getting that, I had given up on my dream in my early twenties.
Now I was 35, unhappy, unbalanced, and desperately in need of a lifestyle change. I didn’t want my daughter growing up seeing a father who lived as a victim of his failures. How was I supposed to tell her that she could follow her dreams if I didn’t show her how?
The songwriter’s group was open to anyone who had any interest in, or love for, songwriting. No experience required. I was terrified. For the first time in my life, I was standing up for myself.
I was marching in the opposite direction of all those inner voices saying, “Who are you to do this?”
I knew I never would have allowed my daughter to listen to those voices. Never would I tell her she didn’t have the right to follow her passions and create a lifestyle that made her happy. But I was letting myself believe this. I hadn’t been living the possibilities that I wanted her to believe in. And look where that had gotten me. The year of my layoff didn’t affect just me. It took its toll on our whole family. When it was over, I cried in hopes that my daughter was too young to remember the turmoil of that year.
She deserved better. A better life than I had lived up to that point, and a better example of how to be an adult. She deserved to have a father who lived in harmony and brought peace and laughter back into our house. My job, now, was to become that better version of myself that she deserved.
When I reflect back on the decision to join the songwriter’s group, and the decision to keep showing up for a year-and-a-half, I can say unequivocally that it is why I am here today. I am literally writing this article here because I made that commitment. I gave myself permission to be who I had always been, and that allowed me to develop skills I had always wanted to have. Those skills included being a writer.
Making the Decision to Start and Not Quit
I’m not a musician now. I’ve still got a ways to go, and our second child forced the guitar back onto the wall for a bit. But I am a much better version of myself today.
That choice to let myself pursue music allowed me to make my next choice to start a fine-art photography business. That business allowed me to make my next choice to start writing a blog consistently. That choice allowed me to learn more about marketing and content creation. And that choice allowed me to develop a set of skills and experiences that ultimately qualified me to join LTi in 2018.
Reflecting back I can see how each decision fostered the next one.
All those decisions shared a common thread: I gave myself permission to start something new and not quit.
Even if there were weeks where I didn’t practice my guitar, I picked it up again as soon as I could and kept going. When there were weeks where I didn’t write a new blog post, or record a new video, I didn’t look back on those days as evidence of failure. I sat down at my computer the next chance I got and proved that I was committed to long-term success.
It didn’t matter how many days in a row I missed. All that mattered is that I didn’t stop. All that mattered is that my daughter was going to grow up seeing a dad who didn’t give up on himself. Even if I don’t reach the upper echelons of success, I want her to know I didn’t quit.
Fortunately, I can show her that success does live out there where who you are intersects with what you do. When the skills you develop are in harmony with your passions, you can make some really beautiful music with your life.
What do you want to be able to say about yourself next December? Are there any secret skills, secret passions, or secret dreams that you have been afraid to step into? What if you started today, and just didn’t quit?
What do you want 2019 to look like for you?
Content Marketing Specialist
LTi Technology Solutions
P.S. Take some time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go. Make the decision to take a new path this coming year, and see where you can end up. Tell me how we here at LTi can help you become a better version of yourself in 2019!
Subject: BJ, Here is What I Want to See in 2019