Facebook was kind enough to remind me that several years ago, I was in a rough place, personally and professionally. I was working my way through an Associate's degree, and I'd shared my most recent semester grades captioned with "52 credit hours... Soooo close!"
Back then, a graduate degree and successful career seemed completely out of my grasp. I was pouring every bit of energy I had into just climbing that very first academic hill so I could find a job. I lived in a town identified by NPR as the "Epicenter of the Recession", and I'd been "downsized" from a position for which I'd just two years prior relocated my family thousands of miles away from anything familiar. Jobs were nonexistent. I was in the unenviable position of being simultaneously overqualified and under-credentialed. How was I going to feed the kids, pay the rent, keep the lights on... Hope was in short supply, and my primary motivator was fear.
I have since completed that degree (and a B.S., M.S., and 80% of an MBA ; soooo close!) and a number of professional certifications, too. I have a job I love, inspirational colleagues, and a career that allows me to Do Good Things in the world. My future looks significantly more positive when I shared that academic milestone, I have an abundance of hope, and my primary motivator today is making the world a better place.
The difference? It boils down to perspective.
Perspective is powerful stuff, and life has an interesting way of driving that point home. I was too wrapped up in fear and negativity to be able to see that even then I was light-years from where I'd started.
We live in a society where "Change as Usual is replacing Business as Usual", and while we can debate and evaluate the pros/cons of that, I really enjoy developing a wide variety of tools to help manage those changes for myself, my colleagues, my organization, and a few volunteer efforts, as well.
I’m grateful for opportunities (like that Facebook memory) to pause and reflect on the journey so far, both the accomplishments and the hurdles. Really, if I'm being fully transparent, without the hurdles I probably wouldn’t have worked so hard. First to overcome the hurdles, and then, with that momentum, to excel.
Have you paused lately and taken stock of your past accomplishments, current state and future goals? I encourage you to set aside a little time for reflection if you haven't. If you have, what insights have you gained?