success is personal: why i’m considering rosetta stone & med school instead of marketing books and MBAs
My mind has been in idea overdrive lately, and frankly I’m not hating it. Life felt a bit stagnant for a while and now I have more ideas in my pocket than time to put toward them. In the past week, I’ve thought about doing the following things:
- Taking a test. I haven’t figured out what test yet. Maybe a PMP test, maybe a personal training certification. Maybe some other test I can find on the internet. But I wanted to study for something. I wanted to join the cool people in Starbucks reading and highlighting on the weekends and sipping so much coffee they can’t fall asleep at night. I miss being a student.
- …I miss being a student so much so that I considered going back to school and seeing if there was a way I can re-enter life again and chase my lifelong dream of being a “baby doctor” (aka a pediatrician), now that I no longer hate anatomy and the human body. Financially though, that idea only lasted a second.
- I considered purchasing Rosetta Stone and chasing better fluency in Spanish. It would fulfill my yearn to learn, help me better experience all of the Mexican music I’ve been listening to since moving to Southern California and possibly save my life if I ever accidently cross the border into Mexico like I almost did 2 weeks ago. I thought perhaps it would make me less white.
- Inspired by the book I’m (still) reading, I thought about intricately creating my own bi-weekly or monthly self-assessment as part of this new found outlook on time management, organization and self-improvement. And then, I would even consider adding it to my website as a free-resource.
It was after that last thought that I put my face in my palm. My interests are literally all over the place. And now, instead of honoring my commitment to my nightly reading routine like I’ve been TRYING to do, I’ve stopped reading and instead filled up three post-it notes with additional ideas thinking about which one I may consider actually pursuing. (Re-learning Spanish and the monthly self-assessment were tied for first.)
We are taught that the most successful people have focus. They focus on a few things that they can do to progress and advance and they stick to things they are good and successful with. I stick to nothing (okay, I don’t stick to most things). I have the attention span of a flea. When I was 5 I wanted to be a baby doctor, then at age 14 I wanted to soundtrack movies and TV shows in Hollywood. When I was 16, I wanted to be a graphic designer/ artist and photographer. At age 18, a make-up artist and journalist. At age 21 when I had to choose a major, I chose Communications but then at age 22 I also decided to double major, because I found a serious love for studying how work and organizations were organized. It was like the engineering and design of the way people “do things”. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get that under my belt too.
And tonight….I couldn’t even focus on reading 20 pages, I was in Post-it note scribbling mode planning points for tomorrow’s blog post when I decided to just write tonight instead. Taking me past my bed time goal as well.
If you charted my lifelong obsessions, preoccupations and interests, they kind of look like this:
It looks like an endless cycle of getting obsessed and starting things, failure, quitting, re-starting something else, quitting or being disrupted by something else and there is not really a common thread that tie any of my interests together.
My blog even looks like this. One day I’m talking about self-improvement, the next day I’m writing a really technical piece about influencer marketing, another day I’m talking about organization techniques and some days I honestly feel about throwing in a dose of Elite Daily style love and mush, for practice. Just to see if I would be good! I don’t have a thing – my thing is everything. And I know better. When it comes to branding and marketing, if you try to be everything to everyone, you are nothing to no one.
But if you chart my obsessions and preoccupations a little differently, you see a different picture where I don’t look like someone who lacks focus, I look like someone who has experience and skills that make me well rounded and qualified for what I do. And actually… a bit accomplished.
These little obsessions and pre-occupations, no matter how long I focused on them, how big or small they were or how far I took them, culminated in such a way that you actually CAN find patterns in my interests.
You can see I’ve always easily adapted to technology, which makes me a great candidate to be working in the Social Media and Online Communications field. I’ve learned leadership and management of others, then leadership and management of myself – giving me the experience to have been able to start and organize a business and collaborate. I learned to take risks and hold myself accountable, a needed skill to further yourself in a field like Marketing, because technology is constantly disrupting and innovating and changing the way I do my job.
And lastly, the most common theme is constant recognition of how lazy I can be. Which was always an obsession for me too. I obsessed about my failures. I had to. I had to figure out why I failed Anatomy and why I was put on Academic Probation (Freshman year at good old RU) – and when it came down to it, it was because those moments proved to me that I couldn’t get by on just my talent and intelligence. It was only going to take me so far before I needed to prioritize actual STUDYING or putting in the work and time to learn the material.
My interests may be all over the place. And tomorrow, I could be looking at costs of Medical School or speaking Spanish to order my tacos – but either way, I won’t be punishing myself for a lack of focus or direction. Success does not have to be defined as a linear climb. Chasing a dream doesn’t mean that you have to chase one dream that you’ve had since you were a little girl. Success can be built off small and unrelated accomplishments that somehow string together to make sense – only in hindsight.
Being known for having such an impact on life like Steve Jobs would be cool. Being so good at football that you can flash 5 Super Bowl rings like Joe Montana would be really cool too. But so would the fact that you learned the sport of football – the way I did playing in the backyard with my cousins when I was little. As a girl. So would designing ways that people and brands could use Job’s creation too. Reading lots of books, that’s an accomplishment. Being bilingual, knowing different cultures, experiencing life in a different state is pretty cool too. Losing weight – really cool. Helping at least one other person lose weight too? Maybe I didn’t have Steve Jobs impact, but I had TRUE impact too.
Success can mean that you are happy with the way that you fill your life and happy with what you accomplish, no matter how big or small that may be. Success can mean bringing something further than you thought you would – the way I never expected to come this far as on a “non-corporate” / “entrepreneurial” path. Or being able to utilize skills learned from past hobbies a whopping 10 years later still. Success doesn’t have to mean being the best at something – because for some success is defined as just being in the game. Success can be just personal, constant improvement. The Hall of Fame is not everyone’s dream – for some instead, it’s just a life well spent.
Spanish may be real – Med School is probably not. And it’s very likely that at some point soon I’ll start incorporating a studying routine into my weekends. I’ll probably also design a bi-weekly self-assessment too. Even if it’s just to assess my Spanish, ya? The point of being so extreme in the article is to retaliate against the thought that to experience success, that all things we passionately chase have to be related. Because they don’t. Success doesn’t have to be relentless pursuit of one goal – they could instead be attaining unrelated small but intrinsically meaningful goals.
Albert Einstein sold this piece of advice on a napkin for $1.8 MILLION DOLLARS: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.”
True dat Einstein.