Doin' It Well

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I have a friend who is a little less than thrilled with his job, and he constantly talks about that one sweet day when he can bust up outta there and move onto bigger and better things.  He can't wait to blow everyone's mind with his skills and talent.  He can't wait to make a ton of money and maybe oneday rule the world.  

And all that is fine and good, I'm glad he has goals.

But when he tells me of these plans, I can't help but look at his performance at his current job.  He is certainly not knocking anyone's socks off in that role.  He's bored and disinterested.  He's cranky and distracted.  He doesn't give it his all.  He is most definitely not living up to his potential.

So my question is:  why does he think things will be different at a new job?

I have learned that the best indication of your performance at a new job is... wait for it... your performance at your current or former job!  

Every job, in fact everything in life, is going to suck at times, that's just part of it.  And it's how we deal with the hard parts that count.  If we're constantly shunning responsibility, deflecting blame, half-assing the task in front of us while we complain that no one takes us seriously, well then why on earth would we expect to be given more?

I've learned the hard way how important  it is to do the job that's in front of you to the best of your ability - even if it bores your brains out; even if you'd rather run screaming from your desk than draw one. more. single. line. in AutoCAD.  

Because:  guess what prepares you for the big stuff?  THE LITTLE STUFF.   

And if you haven't been applying yourself to the little things that allow you to learn and work through concepts and ideas, and lay the groundwork for bigger and better things, then chances are you will crash and burn when your time comes to do something big.  You will not have the background to support your Big Thing.  You won't have the work ethic to see it through.  You won't have built up your muscles by doing millions of tiny reps in preparation for that something big, and you will be more likely to fail.

It is so easy to get caught up in the habit of looking outside of ourselves and what we are doing and reaching for things that aren't ours, rather than looking inward and owning what we already have.  But if you really pay attention, the people that have the big things almost always started out with little things, and cared for and nurtured them to the best of their ability.

You have to be willing to treat it all the same.  You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and give as much effort to the crappy busy work that no on wants to do as you would to the big stuff that gets all the attention and glory.  In my opinion and my observations, that is how you become successful.  

If you treat everything you do with great care and attention, and you DO IT WELL, you'll eventually find yourself with more than you ever dreamed possible.  

What little thing are you doing today that could eventually lead to something BIG?  Are you doing it to the best of your ability and giving it all you've got?

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."  Vincent Van Gogh

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2017

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

 

Hairs the Deal.

My boss and I were discussing our hair troubles the other day.  We both have wavy, somewhat unruly hair, and we shared our constant struggles to tame the frizz.  We bitched about the need to blow-dry, opting instead for a simpler more natural look.  But I'm not gonna lie, when I let my hair do it's "natural" thing, it ain't pretty.  About as natural as I can get and still be willing to show my face in public involves either lots of smoothing serum or a big barreled curling iron.  We decided the ideal styling was to wash and then use a heat protectant and a bit of smoothing serum.  She opts to blow dry a bit, I prefer to air dry and then use a curling iron to smooth it out.

I was telling her how I have a constant internal struggle, not only with my hair, but with my style in general - part of me wants to be a polished and professional business woman in a short skirt and a long jacket and the other part wants to be an all natural outdoors girl with wavy hair blowing in the breeze... and so what I wear and how I fix my hair depends upon which mood I happen to be in that day.

But I've given this a lot of thought over the years, and I had to ask myself again after our conversation; does what I wear and how I fix my hair have anything whatsoever to do with what kind of person I am?  Or do I just use those things to construct an image of who I want to be?  Does my hairstyle really define me?  Can you actually tell how good someone is at their job by the clothes they wear or the way they comb their hair?  What about their loyalty?  Their compassion for others?  Their drive?

I've spent the past 11 years working in a professional office setting and there has been a lot of focus on the way we all look.  And while it's not as formal as it used to be (I've been scolded multiple times for my reluctance to wear panty hoes, or even worse, for the x-rated sin of baring my toes by wearing flip flops.  Oh!  the horror!)  I still have to show up to work each day in business casual clothes, sometimes a dress or blazer.  And some days I embrace this.  

But for some reason at other times, something about this doesn't feel quite right; it doesn't feel quite like me.  

I've gone through lots of phases in my life.  In high school, I dressed like a total weirdo, just because I thought it was cool.  My high school boyfriend and I would go to Goodwill, and each pick out the wackiest outfit we could find, then wear our new attire to youth group on Wednesday night.  I once converted a pair of my friend's Dad's work pants into the coolest jeans you've ever seen by sewing denim cut-outs of flowers onto them,  and slitting the legs up the sides to make them look like bell bottoms.  

Later on, I went through the outdoorsy phase.  I used to go white-water rafting a lot, and I would just gaze longingly at the care-free rafting guides, with their cool river clothes and grungy hair.  They were so rad.  I resolved myself to be that badass someday.  I did the same thing when I went to the rock-climbing center and hung out around all of those lean sinewy  types.  I so wanted to fit in with them.  

Unfortunately I spent quite a lot of time and effort in my younger years trying to design the person I thought I should be.  I collected images and clothes and hairstyles and make-up in an effort to fill myself up and paste together a collage of the "perfect" me, just like I tacked up artwork all over my bedroom walls and saved clippings from the Teen magazines I regularly devoured.  I was building an image.  I was constructing a facade.

But here's what I finally learned:  while there is nothing at all wrong with fixing your hair and wearing stylish clothes, or being inspired by certain types of people and the way they make you feel, those things do not a person make.  Those are shallow and superficial aspects of life, and if you never get beyond that stuff, you'll never get to the real you, and that's where the good stuff is.  All we really need to do is BE who we are.  I can't try to BE an outdoorsy, granola eating hippie, or a hard-core business woman.  What I can do is participate in those activities that make me happy, such as hiking and camping and white-water rafting and designing buildings and doing my best at work.  But those activities don't define who I am. They are a part of me, yes.  But not all of  me.  And besides, those things are constantly changing as I get older and wiser in this world.  Identifying my SELF with those things is a shallow and pointless endeavor.  It misses the point entirely.

Over time, I've learned not to put so much effort toward my image.  I've tried to focus instead on improving the actual content of who I am.  You know, stuff like how I love and treat others, how I love and treat myself, compassion, empathy, service.  

Because images will come and go.  I may be in the mood to dress like a biker chic today, and maybe next week, a gypsy.  But either way, I'm still me, and now I'm happy to say that I know exactly who that is. :)

And as for my hair?  Well, these days with a 5 month old, despite how I style it, it usually has spit-up and/or pee in it... not sure what that does for my image, but it's a good thing I no longer care.

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2017

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Decide What To Be And Go Be It

The Avett Brothers get it.  They say "decide what to be and go be it."

Maybe it's really that simple.

I've wasted more of my life than I care to admit floundering around, trying to decide what I was meant to do... what my purpose is... what my one true calling is.  

I'm starting to realize that that's all bullshit.

Maybe life's not really about discovering who we are and what our purpose is, but more about creating something of our lives and our selves.  

Maybe our passion, our talent, our genius could manifest themselves in a million different ways, but it's up to us to commit to something so that we can excavate the fullness of our potential.

Maybe it's more about committing to something, and having the patience and perseverance to see it through, rather than searching endlessly for that one thing that will finally fulfill us.

Maybe our calling is something that we sometimes struggle through, get bored with, and really aren't inspired by at times.  But we have made a commitment, and we keep our eye on the bigger picture so that we can make it through.  

Maybe world changing, meaningful work is not done in flashes of inspiration by those who will fizzle out before sundown, but rather by the slow and steady efforts of those who have committed to their craft or their business or their charity and who show up day in and day out regardless of their level of inspiration.  

Maybe we should understand that we must grow into what we want to be.  Maybe we're not capable of doing that thing now, but we believe in our potential to get there eventually.

Maybe we have to find the confidence in ourselves and our ability to grow into our purpose and our calling, before we can ever begin to achieve it.

Maybe we have to get a little pissed off by the fact that others don't see what we're capable of.  Maybe we have to make up our minds to show them.  Or maybe we have to say to hell with what anyone else thinks of us, and decide for ourselves what we want to be in this world. 

Glennon wrote last week about her daughter and her friends and how they looked around to each other when asked what they wanted to eat for lunch.  They sought outside validation instead of saying what they really wanted.  Glennon said she pulled them aside to have a little chat and told them that girls "need to figure out what they want, believe it on the inside, and speak it on the outside."

That's just about the best damn thing I've ever heard.  Decide what to be and go be it.

In Jeff Goins' new book Real Artists Don't Starve, he argues that artists aren't born, they're made.  This means we get to decide who we are and what we are going to do in this life.  First we believe it, then we become it.  Therefore, we face the task of constantly creating ourselves in this life, so that we can do the creative work that we aspire to.

I've seen this at play many times and it is always beautiful to watch.  When I get the opportunity to see someone who knows so deeply what they want that they will do whatever it takes to make it happen, I take notice because these are the people who will do great things in this world.  They're committed to a purpose greater than themselves; their vision transcends the everyday details of what they're doing, and that makes all the difference.

When we finally commit to something, we are willing to change, to grow, to stretch.  And even though we aren't what we want to become yet, that is a tiny insignificant detail.  No one is already what they want to be when they are starting out.  But they have a vision for themselves that they believe in.  They have an internal knowing that is far more powerful than anyone else's opinion of them, and that vision is what molds and shapes their reality.  That vision is what gets them through the tough times.  

Sometimes this may seem like we're trying to be something or someone that we're not.  But maybe, it's just us, learning to become what we are.

What about you?  Have you ever had the nagging feeling that the truth of who you are is buried deep within you, but your current circumstances just don't reflect what you know in your heart to be true?  Have you ever believed so intently in a vision for yourself that you were willing to do whatever it took to make it a reality?

Decide it.  Believe it.  Do it.  What are you waiting for?!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2017

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo by Aleksandr Ledogorov on Unsplash

 

Best Laid Plans

I'm a planner.  

I make lists and spreadsheets and fill Day-Minders and calendars with the tiniest of handwriting so that I can fit it all in.  I'm like a fiend, scribbling down the minutia of my life like a mad woman.  It gives me a weird sort of high.  Sometimes, I write down the smallest details of my day, just to have an excuse to make a list.  It calms me; makes me feel like I'm in control.  

6:30 am - wake up and get out of bed.  

6:32 am - brush teeth, use bathroom.    

6:40 am - turn on coffee pot, walk to refrigerator.

You get the picture.  

I have lists for my weight loss program with all of the milestone dates marked on my calendar and the exercises that I will do each day penciled neatly into their time slot.  I have lists of my period, my ovulation, my basal body temperature.  Lists of the foods that I consume each day and their caloric values.  Then there are the lists for my writing projects.  And the lists for my future art work.  Lists for my son's meds and doctor's appointments.  Lists for business ideas, what I want to do with my life, and, of course, the usual grocery and to-do lists.

One day, as I was in a mad frenzy to add a few things to my list, it dawned on me that I could just go ahead and DO the actual task in about as much time as it took me to write it down.  This struck me as hilarious.  I started to pay more attention to my list making habit.  It turns out that a majority of the things on my lists were no-brainer actions that I would get done whether I wrote the down or not. Like eat lunch, sleep, oh, and don't forget to breathe!  But even more interesting, a lot of the big, long range items on my lists were not getting accomplished.  I would just transfer them from list to list, never crossing them off, never actually getting them done.  Hmmm...  

It turns out that I was using my planning as procrastination.  By endlessly planning to do the big important things that I wanted to do in life, I was fooling myself into believing that I was actually taking action when in fact, I was doing NOTHING.  

I was spending time all caught up in my head, believing that all that thinking I was doing was actually going get me where I wanted to go.  But years later, my head was still spinning with thoughts of what I wanted to do with nothing real to show for all that mental effort.

I realized that Planning does NOT yield actual results. 

And Making lists does NOT equal action.  

Sitting around thinking about chasing our dreams does not get us one single step closer to achieving them.  At some point we have to stop planning and start doing.  

I have an amazing group of friends that I've known since high school.  These girls are my soul sisters, the kind of friends that you only find a handful of in a lifetime.  Back in high school, we were the good girls... straight A's, on the honor roll, didn't drink or party or cause our parents any trouble.  When we would get together to hang out after school or on weekends, the conversation usually centered around what we would do after high school.  How would we bust up out of LaFollette and make something of ourselves.  Where would we go to college and what would we major in??  This topic never got old, and the closer we approached graduation, the more urgent our discussions became.  I'll never forget when one of the girl's boyfriend at the time overheard one of our future planning sessions and said "you girls are so busy planning for the future that you're not going to have a past to remember!".

That comment struck me and has stuck with me to this day.  This guy was not the sharpest tool in the shed, but on this point he was absolutely right.  My friends and I were neglecting the great things that we had right in front of us because we were so anxious about the future and caught up in what might happen tomorrow.  We were trading today for the anticipation of tomorrow.  

I remember one year back in college, it was the first day of the new semester.  My anxiety had been mounting and I'd been in preparation mode for weeks... start going to bed earlier, and getting up earlier to get into the new schedule, buy school supplies, download all of the course syllabi... every dorky thing you could do, I was on it!  When the first day of classes rolled around, I was sitting in the classroom (10-15 minutes early, mind you), anxiously awaiting the professor's arrival.  Just as he got up to introduce himself and get class started, a group of girls that I knew casually came running in and grabbed seats at the back of the room.  I later found out that they had just returned from a back country camping trip.  Literally, just in time to drive to campus from the mountains, find a parking spot, and run into class.  They had no books, no syllabus, no Trapper Keeper.  They were not well rested and ready to take on the new semester.  They hadn't even showered!  I remember sitting there watching them with a mixture of envy and rage.  How dare they not even take the time to prepare for class!  But oh how I longed to be that carefree... to live in the moment and suck the last few drops of fun out of a summer vacation.

While it may not be in my nature to shun all responsibility for fun and games, I can learn a thing or two from those college girls and that high school boy... it is so important to take time NOW to be happy.  To just be where you are, and enjoy the things that have been placed in your life.  Slow down.  Engage with the present moment.  Have some FUN.  Over the years I've gotten better at this.  I've realized that tomorrow is going to come, and I'm going to be ok, whether I plan and anxiously anticipate it or not.  Tomorrow is going to happen just like it's supposed to and that is mostly completely out of my control.  And now, with my son, it is even more important to savor each and every moment that I have with him because they will all be gone so fast.  And where does all that planning get us anyway?  It usually gets me stuck in thoughts and inaction.  

So I've started to live my life in a different way.  I no longer keep a DayMinder.  I have a calendar for REALLY important events only. I have a single notepad on the refrigerator for groceries and sometimes a honey-do list.  Otherwise, I just do what I need to do and skip the writing it down part.  And guess what?  It all gets done!  And as for the big, scary items that i used to transfer from list to list... well, with commitment, a willingness to face my fear, and consistent small steps, I'm finding that those are getting done too!       

So lets throw our planners to the wind, shall we?

Burn our to-do lists.  Ditch our Day-minders.  Say sayonara to our spreadsheets.

Lets stop planning and start LIVING.  Let's make the most of this one wild and precious life while it's still ours for the taking.  Let's not reach the end of our lives and look back with regret at the moments we missed while looking ahead for a better tomorrow.  

"our weary eyes looking still, looking always, looking anxiously for something out of life, that while it is expected is already gone – has passed unseen, in a sigh, in a flash – together with the youth, with the strength, with the romance of illusions.”  Joseph Conrad

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2017

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Back to Work

I've been dreading this moment for decades.  Since back when I was young and carefree and single, when marriage was a distant dream and my son Lukas was just a tiny seed of longing in my heart.  Even then I knew that this would be hard.  Even then, I could sense how important this decision would be and how it would be next to impossible to make it.  Even as I was building my career, mostly blissfully oblivious to my fertility or any of the requirements of motherhood, I sensed this looming on the horizon.  I would sometimes wake up in the night, over the course of my 20's and early 30's, stricken by grief that I would one day have to make the impossible choice between my career and my unborn children.  Back then, I panicked at the thought of either choice.  Now the choice is a reality, and it's time to make it.

I've enjoyed 12 blissful weeks of maternity leave, but on Monday I must return to work.  Part of me is ready and eager to get back into a regular schedule, and start using my brain for more than counting poopy diapers and ounces of breast milk.  The other part of me gets nauseous at the mere thought of leaving my precious angel at daycare with a bunch of strangers.

But now that this has become a reality for me and not some distant daydream, I'm starting to realize that its not so much a choice to make, but rather a delicate balancing act that we pursue as we try to do everything.  And I'm left to wonder: can we really have it all?  Is it actually possible to have a fulfilling and challenging career while still providing our children the care that they need?  Can we hold onto the career that we've been building since college?  Can we dedicate as much of ourselves to our work as we did before the kids came along?  Or do we lose a piece of that the day that we decide to have children?

In the short three months of my maternity leave, I have been forever changed.  I walked out of my office on my last day of work before my son was born, thinking that I would return 12 weeks later and everything would be the same.  But in those weeks, everything changed.  Not on the surface, but deep within me.  My perspective and my priorities fundamentally shifted, without my even realizing it.  This tiny human that depends on Dan and I for every single thing in his little life now holds my heart.  I will do anything and everything for him, and I love him so fiercely that it sometimes takes my breath away.  My purpose is now first and foremost to be a mother.  Everything else, including my career, is just gravy.  

I guess only time will tell how much or little we're able to juggle the demands of both.  I'm guessing it's one of those things where you just do what has to be done in each moment.  Sometimes things are great, sometimes not, but you do the best you can each step of the way.  And I am very fortunate to have a husband who is 100% involved in Lukas's life.  With his support and encouragement, I know that we will make it work, whatever we choose to do.  We are both committed to doing whatever is best for him.  

But what exactly is best for him?

 My mom was a stay at home mom.  Dan's mom worked full time.  And we both turned out ok.  So how do you know what is best?  

I want to stay home with him 24/7 and take care of his every need.  I want him to grow up with the stability and the consistency of a stay-at-home parent.  I want to make certain that he is getting everything that he needs and that he is being cared for in the best possible way, and the best way to ensure that is to do it myself.  I want to be there day in and day out to see every single little change and development; his first step, first word, every single smile and laugh and tear.  

But.  I also want to continue pursuing my own career and personal goals.  I want my son to see a real live example of professional women in the workforce and to know that boys AND girls can grow up to be whatever they want to be.  I want him to have the kind of love that only a mother who loves herself and takes care of her own needs can give.  I want him to see his mother fulfill her dreams while she helps him achieve his.  I want him to see both his Mommy and his Daddy doing what sets their souls on fire, and I want him to know that he should settle for nothing less than the same as he grows and discovers himself in this world.

This is SO important to me.  And all of these ideals sound great, I'm sure every parent probably wants the same for their children.  But in order to achieve these results long-term, that means that I have to start doing the hard work today.  What that means for me, right now, is that I have to suck it up and go to work on Monday.  I can't have the reward without the sacrifice.  I can't teach my son ideals and values that I don't embody and exhibit in my own actions.  

For me and my family, this is what's right and true.  For now at least... circumstances may change, priorities can shift, but for now, this is the right thing to do.

So pray for us on Monday, friends.  I'm gonna need every ounce of positive energy that you can send my way! 

© Haley McManigal 2017

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Get Going

I get really freakin' pissed off sometimes.  At the world.  At myself. When others don't recognize or acknowledge what I'm capable of.  When I don't have the confidence in myself to tell them.

When someone blows me off or puts me down or belittles my dreams, I think to myself:  Just you wait and see... I'll show you!  Then I promptly brood for hours about how rude that person was and how I'll take the world by storm until I'm so exhausted that all I can muster is a nap or a Netflix binge. 

I feel like I have this great potential inside, but I have no idea how to excavate it, and even less idea how to nurture it so that it can become something valuable.  I believe we all have a special something, and it's our job here on earth to find and express it.  Elizabeth Gilbert says "The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them."  I worry that I'll never find the jewels, that they'll remain hidden and my potential will go completely untapped my entire life.

But what if, during these times of doubt and uncertainty, I could use this energy and anger as fuel to propel myself forward?

Every time I find myself in this situation with these thoughts and this desperate need to succeed - if I can get still long enough - I always come to the same realization: 

I just have to keep going. 

It's actually not about anyone else and what they think of me.  It's about my own dreams for myself.  I have to keep being true to myself.  I have to keep doing what I feel led to do, keep practicing, keep being humble and kind, keep honoring my truest dreams for myself, keep pushing myself, keep facing my fears, keep asking for help.  And I have to believe that eventually I will get "there", wherever there is.  I have to believe that it will all become clear as I move forward.  You know what they say: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  And faith is taking that first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.  And of course, if the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.  I could go on and on.  

So.  When the going gets tough, and I lack motivation or inspiration and I just want to give up; when I'm lost and confused and lacking direction - I try to remember how pissed I was!  And I try to use that to push myself forward.  Use that as motivation to do just a little bit more.  Use that as an excuse to keep working while everyone else is partying or sleeping or goofing off.

Don't get upset, depressed or unmotivated - GET GOING.

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Anxiety or Regret: Choose One

I've realized that I have a choice in life:

I can let my fears call the shots and play it safe in my life.  I can stay in my cozy little comfort zone forever.  If I choose this path, I drown in sorrow and regret.  I know I can do better, but I'm afraid.  I hate myself for being afraid, but I am not willing to face the fear.

OR

I can face my fears, and live life based on what thrills and excites and terrifies me.  If I choose this path, I'm riddled with stress and anxiety.  My eye starts twitching, I have trouble sleeping, I'm constantly "on alert" and rarely ever able to truly relax.  Peace and tranquility are distant memories. 

Neither is easy.

I listened to a podcast by Michael Hyatt recently, in which he urges us to set up camp in the Discomfort Zone, and to learn to live there.  I agree with him on many levels, but this is not an easy thing for an introvert like me.  I am easily overstimulated.  I need time to pull back from the overstimulation to process things or I become completely overwhelmed and unproductive.  I don't mind being in the Discomfort Zone, as long as I have a place to retreat to every now and then to catch my breath.

I admire and envy those who can run full force into their discomfort zones, and just chill out there while they figure things out.  Oh how I wish I could do this.  But this approach is not in my nature.  I am introspective and careful and I need to be alone to process, analyze, and reach conclusions.  I used to get upset with others for not instinctively recognizing this about me and helping me to put myself in the best and most productive environments.  Now I know that is my job, and mine alone.  Part of my job as a human being is to understand and accept my nature, learn to care for myself, and make sure that I communicate my needs with others.  Sure, I'd like to be different than the way I am sometimes, but we all have limitations, and it is my job to know mine and honor them.  Of course, it's still important to consistently expand the limits of our comfort zones, otherwise life becomes stale and depressing.  It's up to each of us to determine how much and how quickly we can expand.

This dynamic fueled a recent job change for me.  I went from being a project manager at my firm to the marketing coordinator.  My decision was based on several factors, some personal and some professional, but in the end, it was the best thing for me at this time in my life.  The decision was not easy.  I lost sleep over it.  I shed tears.  I questioned my motivation.  I questioned whether I really even wanted to make the change.  Finally, after weeks of careful deliberation, I went for it.  Then I questioned if I had made the right decision.  Was I throwing my career away?  What did others think?  It was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done.  But in the end, I had to be honest with myself, and the truth was that I was not happy being a project manager.  I was not working within my talents and strengths and passions.  Yes, I was in my discomfort zone and I was learning and stretching and growing every day, but I was also terrified every day.  I was lacking a sense of an underlying strength and overarching purpose to what I was doing.  I was stretching in the wrong direction.  And my body didn't like it.  I was stressed out, I couldn't sleep, and my eye was twitching constantly.  There was no relief in sight. 

And most importantly, there was no passion.

My new job brings challenges and Discomfort Zones of its own.  But it also brings what I call the BUZZ zone.  The BUZZ Zone is when you start to talk about something, and you become so excited that your head starts buzzing.  Literally.  Buzzing.  This happens to me during conversations about WHY we as architects do what we do, or how to best structure a project team, or how to best display our firm's strengths on the website and printed materials, or how to highlight our strengths in an emotionally compelling way in interviews.  I was explaining this to my friend Kate and she said, "of course. you enjoy telling the story of your company."  Yes I do.  This is my BUZZ Zone.  And I'm starting to spend more and more time here.  Of course there were some BUZZ-worthy moments in my time as a project manager, but they were few and far between. 

So while it's crucial to push beyond our comfort zones, we need to make sure that we're stretching in the right direction, that we're caring for ourselves in the process, and that we're spending plenty of time in our BUZZ Zone. 

Maybe it's not so black and white after all, maybe there is a middle ground somewhere in the shadows between anxiety and regret... I sure hope so.  If you find it let me know!

What about you?  Do you push the limits of your comfort zone on a regular basis?  Do you spend enough time in your BUZZ Zone?  In the comments below, let me know the last thing that you did that took you out of your comfort zone, and the last thing that you did that put you in your BUZZ Zone.  I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Spring Flowers

I have the most amazing ground cover in my front flower bed.  It's called phlox, and it blooms in these beautiful tiny flowers that look like fluffy lavender clouds.  It blooms in early spring, and this year, the flowers stayed intact for over a month.  It was breathtaking.   But now, mid May, most of the velvety purple cloud is gone, and what's left is a dingy green carpet.

So this morning, I was looking at the dingy green phlox and wondering if it was a good idea to have so much of it in my flower bed.  It bloomed so early, and now it's not so great to look at for the rest of the year.  I weighed the pros (gorgeous purple flowers in early spring) with the cons (dingy green ground cover the rest of the year).  And I decided that the beauty of it - though short-lived - was worth it to me.

I also rationalized that there were numerous other plants in my flower bed that would balance out the dying phlox, and would take the attention for themselves.  I'm definitely no expert gardener (in fact I'm surprised I haven't already killed all of my flowers) but I'm learning a bit here and there, and apparently the first rule of designing a flower bed is to include a variety of species that bloom at different times, as well as some evergreen shrubs to anchor everything year round.  Luckily whoever planted my front flower bed before Dan and I bought our house knew what they were doing.

As I was contemplating my phlox this morning, I realized that people are a lot like flowers.

I spend a lot of time thinking about people.  I like to analyze their personality types, their strengths and weaknesses, their contributions, their craziness level, what they give to a situation or an organization or a cause vs. what they take.  In these observations, I also note how people are accepted, embraced, tolerated, or shunned by others. 

It seems to me that, in most situations you have your evergreens, your phlox and your peonies. (I realize that there are probably more appropriate plant types to use here, but these are the ones that I have at my house, so just go with it). 

Evergreens are consistent all year round.  They never lose their leaves, and they are steadily productive and utterly dependable.  They are the bedrock of any organization and they set the stage for the other flowers to do their thing. 

Then there are the phlox.  These guys come in and immediately show their brilliance - covering the landscape with their beautiful pillowy purple blooms and wowing everyone.  But their brilliance can't last past spring, so they fade pretty quickly into the background and begin preparing for next year's show.

Finally you have your peonies.  These folks start out as a billowy green bush, which is nice enough on its own, and respectable like an evergreen, until late spring when we start to see the beginnings of blossoms emerging all over the bush.  But the blooms are achingly slow to mature... they still hold tight long after the other spring flowers have shown their colors.  Then finally, one day, when they are good and ready and given they have been in the proper conditions with plenty of sun and water, the most amazing and breathtaking blossoms emerge and the entire bush glows with beauty.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up with thinking that one kind of plant is better than the other.  When we're mesmerized by the brilliance of the phlox, it's hard to see the worth of the slow-poke peony.  But when the phlox starts to lose steam, and the peony starts to put on her show, it's easy to change our mind and favor the peony.  And in the dead of winter when all of the other plants are dormant, we may start to think that the evergreens are the only ones we can ever really count on.  But the fact is, we need all three.  We need the variety and the strengths of each person (er... plant) to have a successful and healthy team that will flourish year round.  And we need to be sure to put each one in the proper conditions to ensure that they become the best that they can be.

And just as I decided this morning that I was willing to accept the unsightly view of the phlox, because I so appreciated the beauty that I know it is capable of, we must also accept the less appealing aspects of others (and ourselves), because we recognize the beauty that they have within that will emerge when the time is right.

Which spring flower are you?  The brilliant early go-getter, the slow timid late-bloomer, or the strong, dependable evergreen?  Are you putting yourself in the optimum conditions so that when it's your turn to shine, you'll be the best that you can be?

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Fearless Friday Spotlight: Cat Neligan

Meet Cat Neligan.  She's a big hearted creative, a savvy entrepreneur, and a self proclaimed introvert.  And she's doing big things.  She has started The League of Creative Introverts, where she helps fellow creative introverts develop their business skills and find the courage to put their work out into the world so that it can get the attention it deserves.  Here's her story:

After quitting my job as a pixel-pushing web designer in 2013, I pursued my childhood fantasy to be an illustrator. Specifically, to spend my days drawing cartoon animals.

This wasn't exactly an easy way to make a living, but somehow I made it onto the Princes Trust Enterprise Program, and educated myself in all things online business, e-commerce, marketing and sales. Not exactly the creative dream I had envisioned, but it turned my hobby into an actual business.

I started to realise that other creatives around me were not having the same experience. Everyone was complaining about their jobs (much like when I was at my 9-5) and wanting to get their work - the stuff that came from the heart - seen and shared (and ultimately, sold.)

The cogs in my ginger head started to turn. What was it that was holding creatives back? What had held me back? My suspicion was not that they lacked the education (though, in many cases that was part of it) but the mindset.

Most creatives I know (mostly illustrators, graphic artists, animators and craftspeople) are introverts. We work best alone - and love to do so - and it's helped us master our art.

But when it comes to self-promotion or - god forbid - selling? It makes us feel a bit sick. And don't get us started on networking events...

Over the years, I've taught myself to use my introverted nature to my advantage. I don't believe we need to be extroverts to get our work out to the world, but I do believe we need to change our thinking around how we show up and connect with others.

I created the League of Creative Introverts as a way to teach people who are ready to take action and pursue their own creative fantasies, starting with mindset, and then moving onto skills around business, marketing and selling work online.

I start with mindset because I’ve found that once we start working out exactly what’s holding us back (fear of failure, self-consciousness, imposter syndrome…) we can really make progress with everything else.

So... that's where I am today. I still draw animals on the side, but my League takes up most of my time!

Long story short (hah!) I want to help people because I've struggled with this myself. I also believe the best teacher is 'experience' and I'm certainly still learning.

You can find Cat online at the links below.  Be sure to drop in and show her some love!

catrosedesign.com | twitter.com/catrosedesign | uk.linkedin.com/in/catneligan

Do you know someone who is out there doing great things, facing their fears on a daily basis, and living life in a big way?  Send them my way!  I'm always looking for others to spotlight here on Fearless Friday!

Till next time,

Haley

It's The Climb

When I was younger, I thought that life was a one-way road.  I thought that life was one huge mountain to climb, and once I got to the top, once I "made it", I would have arrived and everything would be easy from then on.

Now I know that when I get to the top of one mountain, there are only more and more mountains to climb.  As I reach the clearing, and turn the corner at the tip top of my mountain, I look at the beautiful view, and I stand in awe for a moment, but then I realize that, as far as I can see, there are only infinite more mountaintops.

When I finally came to this realization, it changed me.  I no longer saw the point in striving, in working so hard, and sacrificing everything to get to the top of this mountain.  I finally realized that, as cliché as it sounds, it's not about the destination.  Whatever is at the top of this mountain is not worth it if I'm not enjoying the climb.

I've also realized that life goes in cycles for me, and probably for all of us.  For me, the pattern seems to be:  work really really hard for a really long time, then sail for a bit; repeat, repeat.  Remember when you were a kid and you would go sledding on a snow day?  Remember how you had to climb up the hill, pulling your sled behind you.  Then you'd get to the top, jump on the sled and fly down the hill in pure bliss.  You'd reach the bottom in a fraction of the time that it took you to climb the hill.  But the high you got from coming down was so great that you immediately started back up again.  And again.  And again. 

It's the same with our mountain climbing.  We could stop when we reach the first peak.  We could just set up camp and ignore the other mountains.  But usually, the call to climb to new heights beckons us, and we can't resist the urge to feel the rush again, to stand in awe on another, higher mountaintop.  And so the cycle goes.  And this is all fine and good as long as we are enjoying the journey.  As long as the reward for climbing the new mountain is greater than the effort it takes to get there. 

Dan and I climbed Mt. LeConte last weekend, so the mountain analogies are fresh on my brain.  One funny thing that we noticed was how we kept passing the same people on the trail over and over again.  There was a large group of us who started at the same time.  Inevitably, some would go faster than others, so we eventually split up into several smaller groups.  But then someone would have to stop to pee, or take a water break, or have a snack, or bandage a wound.  And during that time, the rest of the group would pass them.  We played this game of leap frog all the way up the mountain.

Other people are inevitably going to reach our destination before we do.  That's just a part of life.  But eventually, we'll all get there, and we'll all be in the same place, and the timing in which we got there will be irrelevant.  The group sitting on the porch rocking chairs at the top of Mt. LeConte wasn't concerned with who arrived there first.  We were all happy to be sharing the experience of simply being there.  But sometimes it is difficult and painful to watch others arrive at our mountaintop before us.  And even more-so to watch them sailing down the other side effortlessly while we're still struggling every step of the way.  But it helps to know that everyone is at a different point on their journey.  And I can almost guarantee that if someone seems to be sailing effortlessly, an enormous amount of struggle and sweat and sacrifice have come before that.  So don't take that away from them.  Let them have their moment.  Eventually you'll have yours too.

What about you?  Have you found that as soon as you achieve one goal or mountaintop that another starts beckoning?  Or are you satisfied with what you have accomplished, and just want to settle in and relax for a while?  Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Signature of Responsible Adult

I took Dan to the hospital for a minor procedure recently.  When we checked in and completed all of the paperwork prior to the procedure, I had to sign on the line that said "Signature of Responsible Adult". 

This cracked me up.

How on earth did this happen?  How did I get here?  I don't really recognize this person sometimes... when someone asks for the responsible adult in the room, I look around, over my shoulder, then back in shock and say "Who, Me?"  It feels weird.  But its real, its happening whether I like it or not. 

I'm a grown up.  I have to deal with heavy stuff that I'd rather just ignore.  I have to take my husband to the hospital and be his "responsible adult", I have to deal with death and taxes, and the whole gamut of mundane grown up stuff.

I also have to take chances.  I have to make decisions - even though there is no guarantee that things will work out or that I am making the "right" choice.  I have to realize that sometimes there is no right or wrong, and I have to accept the gray areas.  And sometimes, when it is clear what the right thing to do is, I have to go ahead and do it, even if it breaks my heart.  I have to do things that terrify me.  I have to read between the lines, I have to accept things in myself and others that I would rather not accept.  I have to be compassionate with myself and others when I would rather scold or condemn.  I have to live with uncertainty, with wide open spaces, with complicated feelings and emotions.

But that's also the good news.  I get to live with WIDE OPEN SPACES.  I get to direct my own life, I get to say yes or no; to move in one direction or the other.  I get to experience life, I get to feel all of it, every little last drop of it.  I get to bask in my humanity - and I get to share that experience with other people.  I get to connect with them.  I get to help them - and allow them to help me. 

I get the good with the bad, the beautiful with the ugly, the roses with the thorns, the darkness with the dawn. 

So when the good and the beautiful and the roses and the dawn finally arrive, they are that much sweeter and I can appreciate them that much more.

I'm starting to see a new dawn on the horizon in some areas of my life that have been pretty dark for a while.  The past few weeks have brought answers for me. 

There are some things in life that seem as though they will never be resolved, that they are our burden to bear for eternity.  But then suddenly, one sweet day, the clouds part; the fever breaks, and a glimmer of hope shines into the darkness.  And from that moment forward, we know that every little thing is going to be alright.

It's fascinating to see how resolutions arrive and how they unfold in our lives sometimes.  They are certainly not in the packages that we imagined or ever dreamed possible.  You know,  God is one heck of a storyteller.  Some of the tales he spins are so bizarre, and the plot twists so unexpected that it almost seems like he's really having a blast up there with our stories.  And his timing is impeccable.  Sometimes excruciating for us, but always exactly right.  JRR Tolkien ain't got nothing on God. 

I think sometimes, God just finally looks down on us and says:  You've suffered enough.  I think I'll add a beautiful blossom to that thorny rose bush you've been tending to all spring.  Then he sits back to admire the story that he has written.

"This old world we're living in is mighty hard to beat.  We get a thorn with every rose, but ain't the roses sweet."   Stanton

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It's Yours If You Want It

PERSPECTIVE.

That's what this week is all about for me.

Sometimes it takes shaking things up a bit to make us realize how blessed we really are.

 

 

I've had a hell of a couple of weeks.

Some big things are going on at work, and at home, and I've been stressed to the max.

Sometimes we come to a crossroads in life.  Or in our relationships.  Or our career. 

Sometimes we have to make a choice.  Make a turn in one direction or another, or stay where we are. 

I had a choice this week.  A big one.  I was told "It's yours if you want it" regarding more than one opportunity.

I had put myself out there, asked for something that I believed impossible, and the response was:  "Of course.  It's yours if you want it."

Ummm.  This caught me off guard.  I had expected rejection or a flat out NO.  But instead I got the opposite. 

So now I had to answer the real question:  Did I really want it?

You know, I think that a lot of life is easier than we think.  When we put ourselves out there and actually ask for something, it's not always that hard to get. 

The had part is deciding what to ask for.  The hard part is figuring out WHAT WE WANT.

When faced with this question this week, I realized that I had no idea what I wanted. 

And that's ok too.

We're allowed to try different things, to feel our way around until we find our sweet spot.  No one is born knowing exactly who they are and what their purpose is.  Well, at least not most people.  So why do we think that we have to get it right the first time?  Why do I feel like I get one shot at life, then I'm stuck with whatever that is for eternity? 

But when I realized this week that I had no idea what I wanted, I panicked.  I thought that it was black or white, take it or leave it.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I didn't know.  News flash:  no one knows! 

I've been learning a lot at work lately.  And by a lot, I mean a mind-blowing amount of new information bombards my brain every second of every day.  I say something foolish at least once every 5 minutes and blatantly reveal my ignorance to everyone around me.  I struggle and curse architecture school and The stupid Fountainhead for ever making me interested in architecture in the first place.  I have a stack of books a mile high at my desk because I have to look up EVERY SINGLE THING I do.  ALL DAY.  EVERY DAY.  It's exhausting.  And overwhelming.  And painful.  These growing pains suck. 

And I'm tired.  I'm emotional.  I'm hormonal.  I want to sit and cry a lot.  I want to bawl my eyes out, gnash my teeth, howl and moan like a wild wildebeest.  I want to let it all out.  I am STRESSED.  I want to drink wine all day.  I want to complain to anyone who will listen.  I want to talk incessantly about myself and my hard times. 

BUT, when I put on my perspectacles, as Glennon Doyle Melton would say, I also realize that I am so lucky.  I am finally in the arena; I am facing my biggest fear in life, I'm struggling to develop into the architect that I know I'm capable of being... and I have an office full of people who support and encourage me every step of the way.  I have decades of cumulative knowledge within 10 feet of me.  My pals John, Randy, Jim & Donna are more than willing to help me and explain things to me and share their knowledge.  Sometimes I don't even have to ask... they sense me struggling and come to my rescue before I even know I'm in trouble.  What an amazing gift that I have been given!

So I try to control my howling and gnashing of teeth.  I don't let it all out...well, ok, maybe some of it.  But most of it I keep inside.  Why?  Well, because that wouldn't be very attractive now, would it?  And also because this is what I wanted!  This is what I've been waiting for.  This very opportunity to learn, to gain experience, to have my own project and be responsible for it's success or failure.  That is what I've been wishing and waiting and asking for for years, and I'm not gonna blow this opportunity now by complaining about every second of it. 

But now that it's here and I'm in the middle of it, I'm asking IS THIS STILL WHAT I WANT?  I'm allowed to change my mind, you know.  I'm allowed to try something and decide it's not for me, and move on to the next thing - guilt free. 

But do you know what I have decided?  Yes.  This is still what I want.  I thought I wanted the other thing, but maybe I was just trying to escape from the thing I already have because its hard.  And I wanted an out.  But I am happy where I am.  I'm learning.  I'm growing.  The stress and the struggle are worth it to me right now.  That might not always be the case, but right now, I'm exactly where I WANT to be.

So here I am, at the end of this stressful, emotional, exhausting week, in the exact same place that I started out on Monday.  But the difference is that I'm changed.  I have a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to my life just as it is, and I'm filled with gratitude for what I already have.  I don't need a change.  I just need to appreciate how blessed I already am.

Are you where you want to be in life?  If you had an opportunity to make a change in your life, would you take it, or would you decide that you're actually good right where you are?

Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Put Yourself Out There as a Highly Creative Introvert

I'm an Introvert.  I'm also a Creative.  I think the two are somewhat related.

Many introverts are also highly creative individuals.  It makes sense.  We have rich inner lives, we seek solitude, we observe and we listen.  And since we generally don't express ourselves openly and often with others, all of this information has to go somewhere.  If we don't find some way to release it, we will explode.  So we express ourselves in the things that we create.

I, like many other introverts, am content living in my own inner world a majority of the time.  I can get lost in my writing and my art for days on end before I start to feel the twinge of loneliness or realize that I should probably reach out to another human being.  During this alone time, I create.  I write my stories, I paint, I sketch, I design, I build.

And for a very long time, this was enough.

But eventually, I felt the call to start sharing my work with the world.  I promptly ignored this call.  It felt too risky.  Only wildly confident, extroverted, professionals put their work out into the world, right??  I thought:  I'm not a real writer, or a real artist.  I was just doing this for fun, I though it didn't matter if no one else ever saw my work other than my husband and my dog.

But it does matter.

Creativity is a force of nature.  It is a fundamental part of who we are.  And whether you and I like it or not, it is meant to be shared.

As introverts, we tend to avoid any form of over-sharing.  But as creatives, it is our duty to share our work with the world.

The likely result of this duplicity:  FEAR and PROCRASTINATION.

I found myself locked in inaction due to fear and procrastination for years.  I continued to create - in one way or another - throughout this time, but I could not find the courage to take that first step toward sharing my work with the world. 

The moment that I finally burst through the fear was when I asked myself this question:

When I am at the end of my life, and I'm looking back over all of the things that I did and didn't do, which would I regret more:  facing my fears by putting myself out there and risking failure and embarrassment, or playing it safe and not even trying? 

The thought of the latter was too much to bear, and terrified me more than anything else.

It was time to take action.

And so I did.  I started to put myself out there.  It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done.  I felt vulnerable, afraid, embarrassed.  But I also felt ALIVE.  At long last, I felt like I was really living, like I was finally in the game.  

Here are few things that I learned and insights that I gained as I started to put myself and my creative ideas out into the world.  If you are a highly creative introvert, maybe they can help you too.

1.  Start small.

I knew in my heart that the thing I most wanted to share was my writing.  But it was too personal and too precious to me to just throw it out there for all to see.  I needed to ease into this.  So I did other things to get warmed up.  I had a small side business decorating cakes and teaching cake decorating classes at the time, so that seemed to be  logical place to start.  I began by sharing photos of my cakes on social media.  I started decorating cakes for friends, and work events.  I started sharing my cake decorating skills and talents freely.  And it went great.  The feedback that I got was very encouraging.  It helped me see that when you share your skills and talents, others are grateful.  They appreciate what you have to offer.  

2.  Take the Plunge.

After several years of expressing my creativity through cakes, I finally got up the nerve to start a blog.  I had no idea how to start a blog, or even what my topic would be, but I knew that I had to do it.  So I set up a simple website, made a page for my cakes, another for my artwork, and finally... a BLOG!  I will never forget the day I published my first article, I was both terrified and excited.  I hit "publish" and did a happy dance.  But then it hit me:  NO ONE even knew that  my blog existed other than me, my husband and my mom.  Hmmm.  I realized that I was going to have to do more than just post on my website, I was going to have to advertise my work.  Oh God, no.  Self promotion was too much to even think about at this point.  I had mistakenly thought that "if I wrote it they would come."  

3.  Own Your Worth.

I finally got up the nerve to start sharing my blog articles on social media.  But still, I was reluctant to talk about it with others.  Anytime my blog came up in conversation, I would downplay it as though it was nothing.  Then I couldn't understand why others weren't at all interested in talking about it with me.  Well, I had hardly made it sound interesting!  Only very recently have I begun to talk about my writing and my blog openly.  I am proud of my blog, more-so than maybe anything else in my life.  I have worked so hard and poured my heart out in my writing, I've made my very best attempt to be honest and to help others who may be dealing with some of the same things that I am.  So I finally realized that it's ok to be proud of something that I have created and to share these positive feelings.  It's ok to talk about it.  Its ok to suggest that others read it.  That is not arrogance - it's generosity.  It's sharing something that I honestly believe will help someone else or make their life better.  I'm not helping anyone by writing or creating something and then hiding away and keeping it to myself, am I?  Neither are you.  Share your art.  Own your worth.

4.  Be Consistent.

I'm not gonna lie, some of what I've created is crap.  But some of it is gold.  And if I hadn't muddled through the crap, I would never have struck gold.  That's just how it goes.  So.  Keep on creating and sharing your stuff, even if it isn't perfect, even if it doesn't live up to the ridiculously high standards you've set for yourself.  Sometimes it is better to be consistent than to be great.  Especially when you are just starting out.  Also.  Just to warn you:  when you start putting yourself out there more and more, you are inevitably going to want to quit.  You'll hit "post" and become overwhelmed with feelings of doubt and shame.  You'll ask yourself how you could ever have been so stupid as to think that anyone would enjoy or appreciate your art.  You'll stress over how your family and friends will react to your stories.  You'll worry that you've offended someone.  You'll want to hide under a rock.  But then, a few days later, another seed of an idea will take hold in your heart, and you'll get excited about your art again.  You'll nurture it until it becomes something beautiful, then you'll share it, and the whole process will begin again.  And that's the good news.  Keep going.   

I hope some of this was helpful to you, dear introverted sisters and brothers. 

Now, get crackin'!  There's work to do - your creativity awaits!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit: Kiosea39 | Dreamstime.com

 

 

My Fearless Manifesto

I used to have a problem: 

I believed everything that the fear voices in my head told me.  I thought that the fear voices were my own voice.  I didn’t know that there was another voice – a gentler one – inside my head that spoke kind and truthful words that encouraged me and guided me toward my destiny.  I couldn’t hear this voice because the fear voice was so loud. 

I never thought to question fear when it told me that I was too shy, or too awkward, too tall, not smart enough, not thin enough, not outgoing enough.  I believed it ALL, and I thought that I just had to make due with the hand that I’d been dealt.  I thought that others – others who were out there doing the things that I longed to do – were just lucky or talented.  I assumed that they didn’t have these same fears that I had.  I assumed that they had it all figured out from the very beginning and they were just breezing through their charmed lives.  

Now I know the truth. 

Now, when I see others out there doing big things, I know that they have learned to face their fears.  Because we ALL have these same fears.  We all have the roar of self doubt and negativity running through our heads 24/7.  But, as I started to learn to listen to the other, gentler voice, I realized that just because the fear voice is shouting constantly, I DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT.  I don’t believe everything I read on the internet do I?  Well, I don’t have to believe everything that my fear voice tells me either.  The more that I listened for my gentler voice, the louder and clearer it became.  And I realized over time that the fear voices were just scared and hurt parts of me.  So I learned to look at them, and pay attention to where they came from and what they were trying to tell me.  And quite often, just accepting them and letting them be there without blame or resistance helped them loosen their grip, and soften their voices.

I don’t believe that there is such a thing as “No fear”.  That seems unattainable to me.  A more appropriate sentiment would be “with fear” or even better “despite fear”.  That’s how I have chosen to live my life.  I have made a conscious decision to pursue my heart’s desires despite the fear that I feel.  Let me tell you, this is hard sometimes.  And even after facing certain fears multiple times, they do not just go away.  Apparently this is a lifelong commitment.  It’s a way of life.  But in my opinion, it’s the only way.

This is what is in my heart to share here on my blog.  That is why I started Fearless Friday newsletters.  I realized that maybe I'm not the only one facing these fear voices, maybe I'm not the only one stuck in patterns of fear and self-doubt.  Maybe others need to hear the message that their fear voice is not their true voice.  Maybe others could benefit from a reminder each week that we must continuously face our fears in order to be happy and achieve our higher purpose in this life. 

To support this theme of facing fear and embracing creativity in our lives, I've assembled the following manifesto. 

My Fearless Manifesto

1.   I commit to feeling my fears and acting anyway.

2.  I will live my life by FOLLOWING LOVE, rather than AVOIDING FEAR.  

3.  I will not beat myself up for lacking the ability or enthusiasm to do things that are not in my nature.

4.  I will cultivate and practice self-love in all areas of my life.  I will learn to answer Yes!  to the question:  do you really love yourself.

5.  I will forgive myself and know that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.

6.  I will look for and acknowledge the best in others.

7.  If I can't answer with a genuine "Hell, YES!", then the answer is "no".

8.  I must make an effort to connect with someone I love every single day.  I have a reclusive side, and left to my own devices, I'll sit in my office and read and write and analyze my existence 'till the end of time.  I NEED to connect with others, even when I don't really feel like it.

9.  I will make time for the activities in life that feed my soul and I will build my life around those things.

10.  I will help others by sharing my gifts, talents and resources.  I will not hide what I have to offer those around me; I will give of myself freely.  I will let my light shine.

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

 

 

What's The Point?

Do you ever find yourself at work or in life wondering: What is the point of all of this?

I certainly do.  And I've spent countless hours, read hundreds of books, and poured my heart out in the pages of my journal trying to answer that question.  What's the Point?

I had a conversation with a guy at a bar years ago about our career aspirations and life in general, and he said something that I'll never forget.  "I always knew that I was meant to work on something special."

Although I had never put it into those words, I realized that I had always felt the same way - like a yearning and a knowing deep in my soul.

I want to work on something special.

I think we all long to do something special.  We all long to do meaningful work that makes us happy and makes the world a better place.  We all long to do something special in our private lives, to BE someone else's someone special.  We all want to feel love and acceptance and value.

The bar guy told me all about his job at a national security complex, and how he was finally doing his something special; he was living his dream.  Despite the trials and the difficulties of his work, he made a point to keep the idea that he was doing something special at the front of his mind.  I'm sure that was great motivation for him when the job got hard, or boring, or mundane... he just checked in with himself and remembered that THIS IS MY SOMETHING SPECIAL.

Sometimes I struggle with finding this kind of meaning in my day-to-day life.  I wonder WHAT'S THE POINT?  I want to help others, and have a purposeful existence.  I enjoy my work enough, but I don't always see an immediate connection between what I'm doing and how it is making the world a better place.  I have trouble sometimes stepping back and looking at the big picture of not just what I'm doing, but why I'm doing it. 

Last week, I was able to make that connection in a real and immediate way at work, and it felt amazing.

I met with one of my company's school clients to select interior finishes for their project.  The project manager and I sat with the school principal for hours, pouring over tiny squares of fabric and color, making sure we found just the right shade of gray.  As we got to each different classroom, the principal called in additional opinions.  The band director had input on what she wanted in her room - nothing to busy but something that hides dirt well; a splash of color on the walls.  Then the art teacher got to select colors for her new art room - she wanted black counter tops and tack boards to set the background for the student artwork.  She hadn't seen the design for her new space yet, so we walked her through it on the drawings.  She practically cried with happiness when she saw the new space that she was receiving.  This new school, this classroom, it was HER space.  She would spend eight hours every day for years to come existing in this space that WE created.  

At some point during this encounter, it dawned on me that something I had helped to create affects her happiness so directly,  and THAT is something special indeed!

I was talking with a very wise man this week, and he said to me:  "Haley, the Point is LOVE."  Our purpose in life and in work is to grow in love and acceptance of ourselves and one another.  It's that simple.  And the good news is that we can do that WHEREVER we are.  It doesn't matter if I'm designing skyscrapers in New York City, or picking out colors for someone's bathroom, or raising small children at home.  In any of these situations, I have the opportunity to love the people around me; to love myself; to accept myself as I am; to accept others as they are; to be compassionate.  No matter what situation I find myself in, the point remains the same:  LOVE.

What's your something special?  How do you find meaning in your day to day life?  Let me know in the comments below how you express LOVE in your work or in your life?  I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.