Being motivated

So what I am about to say is not earth shattering, eye opening, or new to anyone but I am going to say it as a reminder for myself- It feels great to live a motivated life.  I am amazed at how much more I can accomplish  in a day.  Things I thought I never had time for I am now doing.  I exercise regularly, read books, try new things (piano lessons), spend more time with my kids, started a long awaited house remodel, and most importantly, go on dates with my wife.  It has been a breath of fresh air in my life.   I feel like I am living life and not just suriviving. 

When I look back and see why I am more motivated I realized it has been because of the lesson I learned at the Energy Project conference I attended back in April.  The main speaker, Julien Gorden, emphasized that in order to change the most important thing you can do is identify the easiest thing you can do now that will have the greatest impact.  Here are some of the things I did:

– Signed up for a half marathon (started running more regularly as a result)

-Purchased babysitting hours at a silent auction (scheduled the hours and planned dates with my wife now that we were committed to a babysitter)

– Found a piano teacher online (now take lessons and practice a few nights a week)

– Found a book to read and placed it near my bed (now read each night) and placed a book near the kitchen table (now read each morning).

I am very grateful for that lesson I learned.  When I read my post from that conference I realized I didn’t even mention that lesson, now that I am 2 months removed I see what really stuck.  By small and simple things great things come to pass.  I really believe that to be true and see that happening in my life.

My Energy Project

The Energy Project

I had never really considered the impact my energy level had on my productivity each day but this week I have been at a great conference hosted by a company called the energy project.  I have learned more about myself and where I generate my energy.  It has been very inspiring and motivational.  The best part is that the learning is very applicable to my life.  It is more than motivational speaking.  I have learned tips that I can take back and implement in my life.  Usually I hear inspiring messages, make goals, and nothing changes.  This week I have learned the importance of identifying my mood, taking the time to refresh and rejuvenate to ensure I keep performing at a high level.  The most fascinating fact I heard today was that only 5% of our decisions on a daily basis are intentional.  The takeaway from this is that I need to create positive rituals and make them part of my life.  When I set goals I don’t have the will power to live up to them, but there are rituals that I have trained myself to do every day/week/month that I have no problem keeping (i.e. showering/brushing teeth).  Now that I realize this minor difference between a goal and a ritual I believe I can make the changes I really would like to see in myself and live with more energy. 

Here are some rituals that I will start to create more energy from my physical and emotional sources.  As I work on these and create them into rituals I look forward to creating more in other areas in the future.  Check out theenergyproject.com for more information about these sources of energy and other tips to help you have more energy and live and be well.

Physical

– Sleep a minimum of 7 hours per night 5 nights a week.

-Eat a healthy breakfast ( I usually eat cereal but will make the transition to a more nutritious and filling breakfast)

Emotional

– Show genuine appreciation to others on a daily basis through speaking kind words that recognizes a specific trait or act.

– I will sit down to dinner with my family 4X per week without any other distractions.

– I will take time to pray and reflect each morning and write in my journal the moods/feelings I encountered at the end of each week.

New Opportunity, New Skill

Since I took on a new role with my firm, it has been a great experience for me.  I have never been the greatest communicator, but this new role has given me great opportunities to improve.  Every day I find myself leading meetings with controller’s, deparment managers, executives, and one on one meetings with team members where I am forced out of my comfort zone.  As difficult as it was at first it has now become a natural part of what I do and I really enjoy it.  I love the learning, I love the challenge of preparing myself to be ready for whatever comes my way. 

So about 6 months ago the opportunity came my way to involve myself in winning new business and I got to participate in client meetings and internal strategy discussions.  It was a great opportunity for me to work with leaders in my market and as a result of the opportunity I became acquinted with great, smart people.  The proposal I was a part of did not result in a win but a few months later, a team member I worked with was part of a win and he wanted me to be apart of his engagement team.  I got to work with him in planning and preparing, and executing the audit.  It was a great experience that brought me to the great city of San Luis Obispo for 2 weeks.  For those 2 weeks I taught new employees how to audit, I worked with the client to develop the initial audit strategy, and overall had a great time working with new people who were engaging and interesting. 

I am constantly amazed at how important it is for me to have opportunities to grow.  Natural talent exists for many, but for me it comes through the opportunities that come my way.  I will always be grateful for the opportunities I receive because they really do make the difference in the person I am becoming.  The great part about serendipity, is that I never know when the next opportunity will come my way, but come it will, and I’ll be ready.

3 Things I have been passionate about that have kept me from blogging

So I started blogging with a lot of excitement because I was excited about documenting my thoughts, but then my actual life interrupted my thoughts and kept me from sharing.  So I dedicated some time tonight to share.  Here’s what I have been passionate about.

1.  Start-up Companies.  My excitement for start-ups hit me 3 years ago when Shark Tank first debuted on ABC.  I just loved the show and found it very refreshing to see ordinary people achieving their dreams, taking leaps of faith, and really just working hard to build something.  So two months ago I decided I needed to be apart of this adventure known as a start-up.  I dabbled with my own idea but realized I really need to immerse myself in the start-up community to get a feel for what it is like.  I became a mentor for start-ups in the Phoenix region and have met with two great groups of people who have great ideas for businesses and are just getting started.  One that is out there right now is called Saucy Pants and I am excited to help them out.  These two sisters are passionate about cooking and helping families enjoy better meals at the table.  I look forward to the experience of helping these companies build something great.

2.  Being with Family.  I reviewed my calendar for August and September and realized I only worked 2 Fridays in 2 months.  The past two months have been amazing for me and my family.  We vacationed at the beach, went fishing at a lake in the woods, stayed at a family cabin in the pines and enjoyed home made pie, danced the night away at a family wedding, held a garage sale, enjoyed a bike riding/train day at a local park.  Over the past two months we just had a great time together and it is amazing to see us growing up as a family and doing more and more things together.  It really is exciting to see your children grow older and do more and more things.  It makes me really excited for the years ahead!

3.  Projects.  I say this but I can’t really say I have been doing the projects but it is exhausting watching how hard my wife works.  This past month she decided to host a baby shower and that meant home improvement.  We redecorated the living room, found new furniture, pained a piano, upholstered a bench, painted a kids playhouse, steam cleaned furniture, and planted a garden.  I am sure I am forgetting things, but it is amazing to watch my wife in action.

It has been a fun past two months and realize I need to learn the balance of sharing thoughts and living life to the fullest because we did so much that I wish I could remember more of the details to share.  Once the election is over I think I will find myself writing more instead of reading random articles about polls, swing states, and who said what.

So for those reading for advice here is what I think you should do. Go support a local start-up in your community and getting to know someone trying to do something great for your community, surprise your family with some spontaneous fun, and start a new project (see pinterest for something really creative or dream it up yourself)!  Enjoy the fruits!

Familiarity and Happiness

I came across this post yesterday while I was blog browsing and found it interesting, especially in the context of successful serendipity.  To me, this study indicates that the more we are “out there” talking to people, making ourselves known, sharing of ourselves, the more opportunity we give ourselves to have something great happen in our lives.

Seems logical to me, unless we are “out there” in a really annoying way like those old “Head On” commercials.  Actually, now that I think about those commercials, they did make me laugh.  It always seemed funny to me to apply medicine to your forehead.

Familiarity and Happiness.

Remembering the Olympics

The past two weeks have been amazing.  I can’t believe the performances I witnessed.  Watching the olympics was an emotional roller coaster.  At times I was just in awe at what these everyday people were accomplishing.  Then at the next moment I was feeling the pain (albeit a little) these athletes experience when they fall short of their dreams.  Here are some of the emotional reactions I experienced as I watched the Olympics.

Energized

“I wanted a gold medal for each of my two girls on the way. They could come any day now!” ~ Mo Farah

Watching Mo Farah run the 5,000 meter final was exciting and as a novice to watching track, I was amazed at the strategy involved.  I don’t think I’ve seen someone run and work as hard as he did to win that race.  With as hard as he ran the last two laps I thought he was going to die out in the last 100 meters and get passed, but he had a strategy and knew what he was capable of.  I just could not believe how long he could run at such a fast speed.  That was amazing to watch.  This reaction is what I felt.

Inspired

“My mother used to tell us in the mornings, ‘Carl put on your shoes, Oscar you put on your prosthetic legs… So I grew up not really thinking I had a disability. I grew up thinking I had different shoes.” ~ Oscar Pistorius

I remember watching in disbelief the first day I saw footage of Oscar Pistorius on the track.  How on Earth was he able to qualify for the olympics?  I still don’t understand how a double amputee can even walk, let alone run as fast as world Olympic athletes.  Watching him run made me realize that people can accomplish anything they set their minds too.  I loved watching him for that very reason, he made me realize that I can overcome my obstacles.  There is always hope.

Heartache

“I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me again, it seemed impossible and unreal. My emotions just took  control and I couldn’t do anything but sit there and cry. It feels unfair.  I  was thinking of all the sacrifices I have made and the commitments I made to get  to the Olympics and to have such an opportunity taken  away from me felt cruel.” ~Morgan Uceny

So before watching this race NBC had just retold the story of Morgan Uceny falling in the world championships last summer and I was excited to watch her compete for a chance at redemption and to overcome the heartache of last summer’s loss.  The toughest part about watching her suddenly fall was that she was just at the point of trying to break free from the middle of the pack and push forward with the leaders.  I was beginning to think that she really was going to break free and win…Then smack.  She hit the ground hard and in an instant I knew that the Olympics don’t always mean happy endings.  I felt her frustration as she slammed her hands on the ground.  That was real pain, I thought how hard that must be to train and dedicate your life to one day compete in the Olympics and to then not even be able to finish.  It wasn’t as if she lost, she just got tripped.  I hope she realizes that it wasn’t about the medal, it was about being called an Olympian.  Who knows, maybe she’ll end up competing in the 2014 games on a bobsled team and become famous in Cool Runnings 2.

Proud

“It’s number one for me. The biggest win of my life, I have had a lot of tough losses in my career and this is the best way to come back from the Wimbledon final.” ~ Andy Murray

So Sunday morning I turned on the Olympics and saw Murray was already up 1 set and ahead in the 2nd set.  I have to admit I still thought Federer would come back and win.  I am not an avid tennis fan, but when I watch majors he is always tough and only 3 people come to mind when I think tennis champions- Nadal, Federer, Djokovic.  Just watching I could tell Murray was not playing for himself like he was a month earlier.  He was playing for his country and I could tell he really was supported by his country.  It felt different than a month earlier, there was real national pride and I was excited to see him win for his country.  It was a proud moment.

And lastly….

Entertained and humbled

“I’m now a living legend, I’m also the greatest athlete to live.” ~Usain Bolt

Has there ever been a more unassuming, humble Olympian to watch? What a character, hard to take your eyes off him.
Those are my 5 most memorable moments from the Olympics?  What are yours?

To act or to be acted upon

So the past two weeks I have been travelling a lot and have had a lot of time to reflect.  I have thought a lot about myself (that sounds weird writing that), but I have been thinking about how I would describe myself to someone based on what I think about and am ready to divulge.  I love thinking about the future.  The future excites me.  Mainly because it is unknown and I can make it whatever I want it to be.  Which also gets at who I am.  I am all about self-improvement.   I love making plans, setting goals, creating ideas.  I was recently described by a coworker as a “deep thinker” and when I first heard that it kind of took me by surprise that others perceived me that way, but now realize that is who I am.  I thought of some of the things I have done over the past decade that kind of support what I am talking about.

After I got engaged I felt unprepared for marriage and did whatever I could to get ready.  I read marriage books, attended marriage prep courses, and talked to my future wife all the time.  It was an exciting point of life and I wanted to make sure I was ready.  Coming from a family with 3 brothers and only 1 sister, I think all my prep helped me connect more with my emotional side.

Shortly after marriage I wanted to ensure our family would be financially secure so I bought a book– “Smart Couples Finish Rich”.  My wife and I immediately implemented the plans discussed in the book.  We established a monthly budget that we regularly monitored and discussed, opened retirement accounts, an emergency fund account, and paid down debt.  It was exciting to lay the financial foundation for our family.

After setting up retirement accounts handled by brokerage companies and realizing I couldn’t do anything with that money I got the itch to try out the stock market for myself.  I became my own investment manager.  I was teaching a financial reporting class at ASU all about how to analyze a company and assess its strength.  I became really interested in picking my own stock “winners” and unfortunately “losers” (thanks Cell Therapeutics and China Digital TV).  I started reading Motley Fool on a regular basis and for the first time became very interested in following the market.  My decision to start investing actively on my own didn’t bring me the financial rewards I expected, but it did make me a more knowledgable person regarding the economy and knowing current events other than sports.

Now my latest interest has been trying to develop the entrepreneurship spirit.  Being an entrepreneur was never something I aspired to in my early career.  I liked the security of being employed that didn’t have any pressure of wondering where the money would come from.  But after working as an auditor for the past 3 years and learning to manage my own schedule and handle responsibilities in all different forms I have become more fond of the amazing things entrepreneurs do.  An entrepreneur is always innovating, always building relationships, and able to handle so many challenges.  I respect that and find that type of work very fulfilling.  I feel like entrepreneurs act out their own lives and create their own destiny which is at the core of what I want.  I’ve realized that the way I worked the first few years of my career was not aligned with who I want to be.  I was not actively engaged in the type of work I was doing, I was acted upon and it was my own fault.  I didn’t have the vision to provide value to my employers in ways that weren’t explicitly outlined for me.  I acted based on the directions I was given.  Now I am realizing that I find more satisfaction with my work when I act for myself rather than being acted upon.

So over the past month I have lived and worked with more foresight, more initiative, and more action and my work has become more fulfilling.  Making the decision to start acting has allowed me to develop better relationships, try new things, and find out what I am really passionate about.  I may not be a true entrepreneur but I can work like one.  And that is my new plan, work like an entrepreneur so someday when I get the itch, I will be ready.

Life is a circle

Learning

This week I realized life is a circle.  3 years ago I began my career as an auditor for PwC.  I was excited to begin my career.  I had my masters degree in accounting and had just passed the CPA exams, so I started my first week on the job confident that I could contribute to my team and do great work.  During that first audit I realized I didn’t know how challenging auditing was.  I had taken a lot of classes about accounting and knew how to account for transactions, but auditing was a whole different story.  It required a deep understanding of the company (which I didn’t know anything about), it required strong business communication skills (which I didn’t have much experience with) and it required being highly organized (which I didn’t fully understand the loads of paperwork I’d be responsible for).

Impact of 1 audit

Suffice it to say I survived my first audit, with an emphasis on ‘survived’.  I learned that it was okay to not know everything, I was on a team for a reason.  Whenever I didn’t understand what I was doing,  whenever I encountered difficult issues, and whenever I needed help- my team came to the rescue.  They took the time to teach me about the company we audited, they offered advice on how to ask good questions, and they had frequent meetings with me to make sure I was getting through all my assigned work.  I learned that it wasn’t my audit, but our audit, and the only way you can complete an audit is as a team.

Takeaway

This week as I worked with a whole new audit team I realized that it was my turn to invest in my teammates.  I had the opportunity to sit with my team and explain intricacies about the company that I knew because of my experience.  It was great to come full circle- to know what my coworkers were feeling and to take the time to help them thrive in their new positions.  I don’t know what kind of impact I had, but I will never forget how uplifting it was to have a team there actively supporting me.  I didn’t have to ask for help, my team was just constantly there, they knew I needed their help and now I realize why- because someone was there for them too.  A team is always there for each other, no matter what, it is the culture of team work.  We are all connected, now I’ve just felt it on both sides.

Remembering

The time has come for me to enter the social networking world.  I put it off for so long.  At first it was because  I didn’t want to commit the time to it.  Then I realized I made time to watch TV and do other things I enjoyed and time was no longer an excuse. I became too comfortable just living my life and didn’t feel the need to share my life with the world.  That has now changed.

As the years have past I’ve realized I’ve only deprived myself from keeping in contact with good friends.  I knew more about my TV shows (24, Castle, Shark Tank) than I did about my friends.  So here I am.  I am still not on facebook, but I feel my blog is a good means for me to be connected.  I chose to blog because as a journaler I enjoy reflecting and learning from my life.  I have found that as I reflect on each day I remember things from my past that help me learn and live with more purpose.  A few weeks ago as I was driving to work the thought came to me that I could reconnect with old friends and make new friends by blogging about my life and some of the serendipitous events that have occurred and will occur that shape who I am.

My vision is to have my own serendipity blog entries as well as guest entries.  I’d love to make it a place for everyone to reflect and learn about how successful serendipity can be when it is recognized and remembered.  I think back to my days as a scout when I would widdle away carving a stick.  I never knew what I wanted when I started carving, but as I started to widdle, a vision would start to grow.  While widdling I would always encounter knots in the wood and make mistakes  in my carving and my vision was forced to change. By the time I would finish a carving some of those knots and slips of the hand became serendipitous events in what the final carving became.

As I think back on my experience with carving (which I was never very good at) I learned that  I can make the best of any situation and adapt to life’s circumstances.  I don’t get to choose the perfect plan.  With that said, I have started my blog and am excited to see how it unfolds and look forward to kindling friendships with old and new friends.

The beginning (and ending?)

Remembering

I’ll never forget my first day of college.  It was the first point in my life where I felt in complete control. I was no longer living at home.  I was free to set my own schedule, choose my own education, and ultimately do whatever I wanted.  The only problem, I had no idea what I wanted.  I had a general idea.  I wanted a college degree, but in what, no idea.  Since I was in summer school I only had a few classes.  Earlier in the summer I had signed up for the classes I wanted to get out of the way early and never think about again.  I chose two English courses- writing and short stories.

My writing class turned out to be a great class and I looked forward to it after day 1, but short stories was a disaster.  I still remember the feeling of sitting there for the two hours and knowing I didn’t belong.  I was in a class full of senior college students who spoke and thought on a completely different level than me.  I needed something different.  Right after class I raced to the registration office and found the schedule of available classes.  My options were racquetball or career explorations.  I really wanted racquetball but I knew my life needed direction.  I chose career explorations.

Prior to taking career explorations the careers that interested me were sports related.  I wanted to work with professional athletes as a coach or a sports agent.  I thought those careers would fulfill my passion for competition and adventure. Throughout the course I learned about a lot of different careers and learned what important factors I needed to consider when choosing a career.  But by the end of the semester I was still in the same position as when I started, undecided on a major. Except my time in that class allowed me to reflect on what I wanted out of life, what mattered to me, and as I think back on my college career, it is one of the few courses that I can actually vividly remember the assignments I was given.  It opened my eyes and helped me learn who I am.  I knew I wanted a life of happiness and success.  Those days sitting in career explorations I defined what happiness was to me- “Happiness comes when I can be myself and I am doing what I am supposed to be doing” and “success is fulfilling goals”.

Impact of 1 class

Now here I am today, more than a decade later and I feel happy and successful with the direction of my life. I was thinking about what choices I made in my college career that led me to where I am.  I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I remember thinking about a lot of different careers during my first 3 years of school.  As I took all types of different general ed. classes I came across a lot of careers that I thought were meant for me.  I thought I was meant to be a teacher, a coach, a pilot, a therapist, a statistician, a banker, a salesman, a stock broker, and my last career choice I made, when I declared my major in accounting, a CPA (5 years after taking career explorations).

Now here’s the  interesting part.  Today I looked back at my career explorations notebook and peeled the papers from the binders ( I guess that’s what happens after not touching it for 11 years) and found a personality assessment I took during the course.  This assessment was designed to identify potential careers that would be a good fit with my personality.  Of all the potential careers that this test identified for me as good fits, the career that was the best fit, was of course…a Certified Public Accountant.  I had forgotten all about that assessment.  I remembered so much from the course, but failed to recall the career that I was best matched with all those years earlier.

Takeaway

Years ago I sat in a professional seminar and heard for the first time the word- serendipity and I  fell in love with its meaning the moment it was explained to me- “A state of mind whereby a person is sensitive and aware enough to find something good while seeking something else”.  That’s how I feel I became a CPA.  During my college career I always looked for classes and jobs that would challenge me and make me excited for each day; and somehow as I sought these things, I became a CPA.  Now that I have been working as a CPA for 3 years I see the value in doing what I love.  My entire life feels connected.  When I have worked in other careers I have often felt like I was just putting in the hours.  Now I truly enjoy what I do and love who I am becoming because of my job.  I feel that my job makes me a better husband, a better friend, and ultimately a better person.  After typing that last sentence I feel like I need to clarify something (in the event that my wife reads this), working non-stop for the majority of the year and avoiding all conflicts with my spouse is not what I meant by being better husband;-).  My job has taught me more about the value of team work, constant improvement, understanding others, and yes- doing what I love.  The question I ask myself now is, did I really choose to become a CPA or did becoming a CPA find me?

Which is I guess the reason I am writing here, I like writing my thoughts… and hearing what other people think, so I ask, how have you come to know what was the “right” career for you or did it find you?