Tag Archives: change

You Can Always Start Over

The scales of justice

It’s always interesting for me to talk with people about their jobs (or the jobs they hope to have one day if they are still in school) because the views on work are so wide-ranging depending on the individual.  One common theme that I always seem to come across is a sense of trepidation about finding just the right career.  I can certainly understand why.  I was utterly focused from my senior year of high school on that I wanted to be a lawyer.  Nothing could possibly dissuade me from that mission and, truthfully, no one really tried to anyway.  Why would they?  Despite all the jokes to the contrary, being an attorney is widely viewed as a very respectable career choice, so it was all systems go.

Well, it took me less than a year of actual law practice for me to realize I simply hated it… and that’s a pretty ugly feeling when you’ve spent the previous 8 years studying and preparing for that role.  Now what?

I think a lot of people fall into that same fear – what if I don’t like it?  What if I put in all that time, effort and money to pursue this career and it just doesn’t work out?  Believe me… I understand that trepidation and sense of caution.  Ohhhhh how I understand, gentle reader!

What got me thinking over all of this was an interesting piece at MSNBC about high profile career changers.  It’s actually quite the list and for a number of them, I never knew they started off doing something else beyond what they are so known for now.

What’s just so striking to me about the list?  The number of them who started off as lawyers and moved onto something completely different.

I suppose that really shouldn’t be all that striking to me after all.  While there is still a certain amount of glamour and sexiness to being an attorney, I can hardly count the number of conversations I’ve had with friends of mine from law school or just in the legal profession at large who talk a lot about how they wish they could get out.

From the billable hour pressures to the often soul-crushing nature of certain kinds of legal work (seriously, some of it is numbingly repetitive) to the cut-throat style of many larger firms, there are a just a lot of lawyers who wish they were something else.  And I don’t blame them one iota.  The worst part for many is they are locked in by the golden handcuffs.  They make an absolutely great salary, but their lifestyle is right up to the edge of what they can afford… and if they want to leave for something different, many cannot afford to do so.  Crazy situation to find yourself in, eh?

It’s obviously not every lawyer and I know a fair number who love what they do and find true meaning to their efforts.  Kudos to them for sure.

However, the point is not just about lawyers… that’s just an easy jumping point for me since that’s my own background.  Heck, I’m not sure I ended up getting completely away from the law given that I work within a corporate legal department now.

The point is that you always, always, ALWAYS have a chance to start anew.  It was really liberating for me when I did and heck, maybe I will again some day.  Even having gone through it before, there is still that scary moment at the edge of the precipice where it looks like a 1,000 foot drop to certain doom… but really?  It’s an illusion.

It’s actually more akin to that moment in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” when Indy has to take a leap of faith step across a yawning chasm… only to realize that there is a bridge there, cleverly hidden to blend in with the canyon below.  It was just a matter of steeling himself to take that step in the first place.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about taking that step is that if you truly need a change… if you really see some other path that utterly calls out to your heart and will not be silenced… the step is scary until you take it.  Once your foot lands, you would be surprised how quickly the ensuing steps will come.

John Calvin: The Original Buzz Killington

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This distinguished-looking fellow on the left is one John Calvin and let me tell you something… I’m never going to invite him to a party at my house for 2 very important reasons.  First, he’s dead.  That truly puts a damper on any real chance of an invite to Chez Kuzia outside of some kind of freaky-deaky seance… and this guy doesn’t play that game.  The second reason is despite his importance as a historical figure in the Protestant Revolution, a major tenet of his philosophy was that of predestination.  So, in other words… your deeds and actions in this world really don’t mean squat because whether you will end up in Heaven or Hell was determined before you were even born.  Yikes.

So it’s not that I don’t invite people with differing views over to have a cold beer and watch a game.  Au contraire.  But a philosophy built around the notion that your actions in this world are for naught?  That’s not how to liven up an intimate gathering of friends, you know?  The guy was the original Buzz Killington (you know… the OTHER distinguished gentleman depicted in this blog).

In my wacky view of the world, there are meaningful choices to be made at almost any point in your life.  You can really choose any moment to change things up.  Sure, the change can be hard as hell to pull off… but it’s still there as an option to embrace if you make that decision… and not the LeBron James kind of “Decision” where you get to go on TV and wallow around in your own self-involvement.  Yuck.

I know that, for myself, change is never that easy of a thing, depending on what the contemplated change may be.  Obviously the bigger the change, the deeper the level of hemming and hawing on my part.  Even in the midst of all of that, I still find a tremendous amount of comfort and, dare I say, hope in the fact that choice and free will are always within my reach.

Take today, for instance.  I decided enough was enough and finally got my lazy-no-blogging-keister in gear and got this post up.  It became a matter of just making the decision to stop putting off blogging, stop accepting what (in the moment) can seem like perfectly fine excuses not to do it and just do it.

The funny thing is that my decision stems mostly from being generally fed up… a condition that find is perhaps one of the best catalysts of change.  You just need to hit that point of “Oh for the love of God… I can’t take it any more.  Let’s get cracking.”  That’s where I found myself as I returned from my work trip last week to Oregon, which went very well from a work perspective, but which was completely dismal from a sasquatch-spotting perspective.  I mean seriously… I was there Tuesday through Friday.  Not even a glimpse out of the corner of my eye?  Anyhoo, the reflection time during the travel gave me some impetus to get this blog back up and going.

Plus… you have to admit… it’s pretty awesome to juxtapose John Calvin and Buzz Killington together… and to use the word “juxtapose”. +1 for me.

“Blank” Something Different

In thinking over my previous post on breaking a funk and reclaiming my rightful mojo, I knew some action needed to be taken outside of… well… just writing a post about it.  While writing is certainly a form of action, it’s often more the declaration of desire than the actual exercise of change and movement.  I don’t believe this diminishes the importance of the writing, but it certainly clarifies in the grand scheme of change, improvement and all the other goodies this blog seeks to focus upon.

So what kinds of actions will be on tap for our intrepid blogger?  Well, a few notions (nothing overly radical) designed to break me out of my routine if nothing else.  Why is this important?  I see it basically this way:

If you are in a funk or a rut, you are clearly following a path of well-worn grooves that you’ve created for yourself.  It’s a routine and while it’s clearly not a good routine, it’s likely become comfortable nonetheless.  Therefore, to at least begin that critical process of being released from the funk, change is needed.  It can be a change in venue or perspective or habit, but until action of some kind that is just plain different takes places, you are working from a very difficult spot to free yourself from the rut.

A few short term plans to shake things up:

  1. Move something different.  I plan on making a bit of a resvision to my current exercise/training plan.  I really do enjoy the lifting scheme I use (Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1), but I have been doing it for quite a while now.  I have had great success with it, so instead of scrapping it all together, I am using his brand new 5/3/1 for Football to give myself a shot in the arm.  It’s not going to be a wholesale change in what I do, but then again, I don’t want it to be here because this has at least been going well (God forbid).
  2. See something different.  Sometimes you just need to just pause and take in in some visual inspiration at a museum and it’s been a while since I’ve gone new-britain-museum-of-american-art to a museum to soak up a little art.  It really is one of those things I always enjoy when I do it, but then I never do it often enough and then eventually catch myself think, “Huh… haven’t really been to a museum in a while…”  I always find it funny that I have several activities I really like to do, but then I never do them all that often.  They just seem to slip my mind so effortlessly.  But late Saturday morning will be spent at the New Britain Museum of American Art taking in what they have to offer.  It’s not a museum I have been to before, but I’ve heard excellent things about it.  My hope is that a little exposure to creative works will provide a jolt to my own creative juices.  I plan on having a post all about this experience on Saturday or early Sunday.
  3. Think something different.  In a sense, I will likely get this from #2, but I know that in order make a change, my mental approach needs to vary and adapt.  As I’ve written about before, I sometimes can be someone more-than-a-little leery of change… but I can also feel very invigorated by it.  If it’s self-created change, it tends to feel a little bit better because I can at least give myself that momentary illusion of control in the situation.  But in order to think differently, I might need to vary up my reading list.  This can be magazines, blogs, books and all of that good and wonderful written material the world has to offer… but I need something outside of my comfort zone.  I’m not 100% sure of where that is just yet , so I am open to some good and useful suggestions, i.e. while a book on acetylene welding techniques is certainly different… umm… that might be a little TOO different.
  4. Deal something different.  I’ve also decided I might make a deal with myself as a bit of motivation.  My home computer is seriously on the wane and I’ve been thinking of a replacement.  I’ve got a little money tucked away in some savings and I plan on hanging onto it… but I am also considering picking up a MacBook Pro whenever Apple decides to launch their newest version (which is allegedly soon, but who knows what decisions will be made by High Priest Steve and friends).  The deal would be if I do it, then this blog has to become a daily minimum.  In fact, I am thinking about waking up 45 minutes to an hour earlier each day and trying to use a bit of a morning energy to crank out a post or two.  This may be precisely the change I need, so stay tuned.

Time to stretch a bit out of the comfort zone and see what the end result may be.  Stay tuned for the mayhem to follow.

From Whence Shall Come Our Catalyst?

I’ve mentioned before that a lot of friends, family and co-workers will ask me variations of the question “How can I get into better shape/health?”  It’s pretty much the most popular question I get… you know, besides “Do they sell elite-level handsomeness like yours in a bottle?  Because I would totally buy that.”  The answer to the 2nd question is, sadly no.  This is just how God made me.

Truth be told, the 2nd most popular question I am asked is “How do I get started on getting healthier?”  This is a trickier and much more fundamental question than the first one entirely.  The first question assumes a level of action or momentum whereas the second question is looking for something to begin that momentum.  Essentially, the person asking the question is looking for some kind of catalyst to get things moving.

I found the following definition of a catalyst over at Chemicool:

A substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not consumed by the reaction; hence the catalyst can be recovered unchanged at the end of the reaction it has been used to speed up, or catalyze.

The more detailed discussion on the definition goes on to say that a catalyst acts  to lower the amount of energy required to cause activation in a chemical reaction.

Isn’t that really what someone is asking about when they want to know what it takes to get off the couch and get going with a better lifestyle?  Some way to ease the transition from one state to yet another by lower the barriers and resistance?chemistry

I know it may seem like I am getting off into semantics here, but it’s an important point and why I think the catalyst concept is so important for people who feel like they want to change, but cannot muster up that first push.  The catalyst helps get things going by making the transition from one state to the next easier and it does not get consumed in the process.  After all is said and done, the catalyst remains.

So where does that get us for those looking to make the move?  Here are my tips and thoughts on that.

  1. Get pissed off.  No really.  There is a substantial amount of power to be tapped from a complete sense of being fed up and dissatisfied.  I am not suggesting you turn into a wall-punching lunatic, but to take some time to think about why you are even considering a lifestyle change.  Maybe you were playing with a grandchild and were getting winded easily and had to cut short the fun.  Maybe you are sick of your lower back feeling like it has daggers sticking into it every time you want to go dancing.  Maybe you think wistfully back on the days of being an athlete and wonder why you replaced quick feet for a beer gut.  Or maybe you saw your doctor who shook his head disapprovingly at your stress levels and blood work results.  Give some time to really think about whatever it is that got you thinking about making a change.  Many times, it will make you a little more restless… and that’s good in this case.
  2. Start small.  It’s not necessarily the case that you need to make a full 180 degree change from how your life was before.  That approach does work for some people, but for others it’s just a quick path to hitting huge roadblocks, stalled progress and eventually giving up.  But some action is absolutely better than none and as any high school physics student can tell you, an object in motion tends to stay in motion.  If you are even doing something small, the barriers to moving onto the next step are not going to be nearly as great.
  3. Go after things of interest to you.  I can give someone all the advice in the world about weight training and interval conditioning, but if they simply are disinterested in that, it’s of no use.  I think that points gets lost on some people providing advice – they treat it as an all-or-nothing kind of thing.  I am a strong believer in the power of a proper resistance training program, smart diet and good conditioning to make a big impact not just on your health or bodyfat, but your quality of life.  But I also know it’s not going to interest everyone, so I am not going to force feed anyone my philosophy.  I will try and seek out what is the area that someone may have an interest to seek out.  Again, the catalyst is all about lowering the barriers to make the reaction change occur.  If someone used to be a dancer, they might like to try a dance class.  Then the ball may begin rolling along and they branch out from there, but the key is to seek out that thing of interest first and make the push there.

I only went with 3 tips because what I considered as a 4th option is not really a tip so much as a fact: it’s your own personal decision to take action in the end.  There are a lot of wonderful ways to ease that decision, but it will still be ultimately up to you to make that choice.  The trick is that when you are in a long-term state of inaction, the choice can seem massive and curling up on the couch with some Cheetos to watch Jersey Shore is a whole lot easier if that if what you’ve been doing… and if that is truly what you’ve been doing, God help you.  That show is crap.

So from whence shall come your catalyst?  Look to thine own self.

Now I need to go spend a few minutes thinking why I lapsed into sounding like the King James Version of the Bible.  Hoo boy.

Giving Good Ideas Their Proper Credit (Even If They Make You A Bit Sad)

One of my absolute favorite memories growing up were Saturday mornings – shocker eh?  I had my own little routine of coming downstairs, popping on the Superfriends and pulling out my big bag of Legos to spread out on the floor and create whatever came to mind.  As corny as it sounds, it was kind of magical and just one of those moments that puts me in a good state of mind whenever I think back on it.

Today, my primary outlet for Legos is through my nephews who have inherited the obsession with these fantastic building bricks from Denmark.  I tell ya, if something’s rotten in the state of Denmark, it ain’t Legos.  I will confess a certain amount of jealousy about how freakin’ cool the new Lego sets are, especially the Star Wars stuff (which my nephews go bananas over).

But Legos are going in a bold new direction in the very near future, one that I am both fascinated and a little saddened by.  Lego Universe is coming and the little bricks will never be the same:

I first saw this over on Gizmodo, a really cool tech and gadget site.  Lego Universe is basically the idea of virtual Legos wrapped up into a MMO (massively multiplayer online game – think along the lines of World of Warcraft, but more for kids).  You create characters, adventure through the game to earn all sorts of bricks that you take back to a creation area and build whatever you want.  According to Gizmodo, there may even be the option of getting your creations delivered to you in real life so you can go old school and play around with physical Lego bricks.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually been giving this concept a lot of thought as to whether I like it or not.  While it makes me a little wistful to imagine kids not playing with Lego sets all spread out on their family room floors, I’ve come to the conclusion that this new development can only be a good thing.  It’s interactive nature will only serve to deepen the entire Lego experience for kids (and for adults too… oh right, like I was not going to get in on this when it comes out – COME ON!).  Plus, kids who want to play computer games are going to play them anyway and I think this is a smart move by Lego to keep itself relevant in an increasingly virtual world (at least for entertainment).

Personally, I cannot imagine that Lego bricks will just completely go away anytime soon.  As great as video games can be (and I’m certainly a big fan), there is a completely different experience with building something with your own two hands.  I think of Lego Universe being an extension of that experience and not a replacement.

The lesson from all of this is that it’s not just pointless to shake your cane angrily at the young whipper-snappers with their crazy new ideas, but it’s also the surest way to miss out on something new, creative and mind-expanding.  I can tell my initial reaction to this of “Whaaaaat?!?!?!?  Why would you replace real Legos?!?!?!?” was the classic fear of change.  I mean, I loved it when I was younger… they are doing something different with it… and different must be bad.  How can you improve upon something I love and cherish so much?  Well, maybe you can.

One way or the other, none of this will ever change those wonderful memories I have from growing up.  Now please excuse me… I have a sudden urge to go lay on the floor with Bioncles and play DVDs of the Wonder Twins.

Don’t fight the future… ’cause ya ain’t gonna win

Throughout the news these days, it’s become all too common for those who bring us the news to actually be the news.  Traditional print media is taking a complete beating these days because of a fundamental failure to evolve.  Newspapers were killed by free classified sites like Craiglist’s and never figuring out a good way to make money with their web sites, where they typically gave away the same content as their hard copies for free.

But this is interesting to me:

Sports Illustrated really looks like they could be onto something.  I mean, in terms of “WOW!” factor, this has it.  Everything you love in your favorite magazine, automatically updated to a slim device you can bring everywhere?  With video?  And sharp photos and color?  Bring it my way.  I am already ridiculously in love with my Amazon Kindle (which if you know me, you know I can hardly stop talking about it at times).

But here’s why I am talking about this in the blog.  Three reasons really.  First, I am a sucker for ideas that seek to push the envelope from what we commonly accept as “the way it is” and seek to do things bigger, better, cooler and so on.  Great ideas are endlessly fascinating to me.  Second, whether or not this device ends up panning out, it’s those who seek to bring forward these ideas that I give a ton of credit to.  It’s easy to see all the questions that go along with this tablet: What will be the price point for the device?  How about for the magazine subscription?  Will I be able to get other magazines besides Sports Illustrated on it?  What kind of competition will this bring out and will the competitors do it better, cheaper or both?  But to go ahead and push forward with a product that changes the way we understand a commonly-accepted item to take them in entirely un-thought-of directions (iPods with music, the Kindle with books, Google with search, me with dead-sexy bloggers… you get the idea) is the inspirational piece to me… even if done by a gigantic media conglomerate like Time Warner/Apple/Amazon/Google.

The third reason has to do with the subject of the post.  I think we all seek to fight the future in some ways because change can be pretty scary.  I had lunch with a good friend today and we both talked about how we struggle with that at times.  I find change both scary and thrilling… it just depends on the kind of change.  For instance, when I see chances within the workplace to tear down old ways of doing things?  I am all over it.  Love it.  Gets me fired up.  But if you suddenly asked me to do the same, but uproot my life and move far away?  That’s when you would probably hear the longest “Welllll….. seeeee…. the thing is….” ya ever heard in your life.  The change might be great for me, but my appetite for it may be in the small tossed salad with a nice house dressing zone as opposed to the 32 oz. cowboy cut ribeye zone.

The moral of the story for me?  Go for the steak, baby… go for the steak.

Walking away from it all

Could you do it?  Up and walk away from everything in your life that your family and friends may associate with who you are?  Your job, money, status and prestige?  What would it take?

This is what Jonathan Fields, author of the book Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love went and did.  He up and left his huge salary, high prestige job with one of the best law firms in the country to become a personal trainer and entrepreneur.  Pretty scary eh?

Jonathan is someone I have only learned about recently and have not had the chance to read his book, but he has a great post about what caused him to make a leap most would describe as “freakin’ insane” as well as the challenges in doing so. But here is the quote that grabbed me:

I’d realized what makes me happy isn’t money, power and prestige, but rather the opportunity to:

  • Engage in activities that make me come alive,
  • Surround myself with people I can’t get enough of and
  • Earn enough to live well in the world.

Short, sweet and one pretty darn good list, wouldn’t you say?  What’s fascinating about it is I think most people would have a hard time arguing with it.  What’s not to like?  It’s practically motherhood and apple pie.

So then why do so few of us actually do this?

From my own perspective, I would say because I make it waaaay too easyfor myself  to get distracted by 1,001 other things.  Does that make it OK?  Aww hell no.  Every time I stop and reflect, I want to kick my own behind from losing sight of it… again.

One thing to keep in mind with the list above is that you don’t need to up and leave your job, move to some brand new place and make a hugely radical change at all.  While that does work for some people, that kind of sudden shift is not going to work for most.  What we can all do (me too!) is begin to figure out our end point of happiness and begin to redirect towards that goal. Maybe it’s some small changes where you work and how you interact with your boss and then making more time for those activities you love, but just seem to neglect.

But then again, you could just trade in your wingtips for flip-flops  I’m just sayin’.