Saturday, February 25, 2012

Your Call

Choose to be strong and transform...
There is a fragile moment between the time you face an unforeseen life event and when you decide how you are going to move forward.

Whether it is experiencing the death of a parent at a young age, getting cut from a team's roster, going through a divorce, being laid off from your first real job, or receiving a cancer diagnosis, this moment can be raw, unnerving, and just plain uncomfortable. And here's why:

The future you were heading towards no longer exists.

Unfortunately, in this moment some people decide to hold onto the previous vision of their future and end up in a prolonged funk thinking about what might have been. With nothing left to live for these people will often make decisions that go against the same values they held prior to this defining moment. They may even search for ways to numb their feelings with drugs, alcohol, or other abusive behaviors and spiral further away from leading full lives.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

This moment can be harnessed to reset the vision of what you want to get out of your life and be used to propel you into a future with more personal accomplishment that you could have ever predicted. Once you accept that the previous vision of your future will never be the same, you will be ready to move on in a constructive manner.

You can make the hard choices that escaped you in the past...

You can stand up for what you believe instead of staying seated...

You can start doing the things you always wanted to do that were being stifled by the old future you were moving towards...

And here is the kicker:

You are no longer concerned about the future you are heading towards because you know it could be gone in an instant.

Instead of living in the future or in the past, you are living in the moment making decisions based on what's most important for you and those you care about most.

Speaking from personal experience, prior to my cancer diagnosis I was chasing someone else's dream of what a future was supposed to look like based on what my peers, classmates, and society in general dictated. Shortly after my diagnosis, after a walk with my Mom through a forest preserve near my house, I decided that I was going to use my cancer journey to learn as much as possible about myself and transform my life into one that was in line with my values and beliefs.

And man is it awesome.

Unforeseen life events can be devastating or they can be transformational.

It's your call.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Year of Daily Lift Tips

Besides eating, breathing, and sleeping (maybe…), what is something you've done for the past 365 days in a row?

Back on February 9, 2011, I began writing Daily Lift Tips on my Twitter account (@LiftLiving) as a way to translate some of the lessons I was learning as I transitioned onto a path that will lead me towards more fulfillment in my life.

Originally, I set out to "simplify some of my thoughts and insights on ways to Lift your life" (read my original post HERE), but as the year wore on I realized that this quest to find a Daily Lift Tip made me more aware of the lessons that were right in front of me all along. Only instead of passing by some of these gems on my old path towards a concept of success that was defined by my peers, generations before us, and an evolving society, I was in tune to the inspiration I'd always searching for and it was in my own daily life!

There was the time my son was rummaging through a box of old CDs in our den and stumbled on a recording of a gig I played back in 2002. I was let go from Arthur Andersen 9 months into my first job and shortly after, during a night involving a lot of liquid courage, I got up at an open mic and played No Such Thing by John Mayer. The open mic host and bar owner asked me back and I ended up supplementing my unemployment income with tip jar money playing covers all night around bars in Chicago. Naturally, I started writing songs of my own and my son found the only evidence they existed from a gig at McDunna's (formerly Hog Head McDunna's) in a box in my den 9 years later. I popped in the CD and as we listened to my original songs, a lyric I wrote and forgot about jumped out at me leading to Daily Lift Tip #71:

DLT#71: "It's not what you don't have, it's what you can't live without."

Then there was the period of time where my wife and I were potty training our son, and as any parent can attest, there are plenty of accidents along the way towards the end goal of a diaper free child. During our potty training days I slowly realized there were parallels in my son's potty training journey with my transition into a different approach to life as my true self. Only instead of wet underwear, my accidents involved falling back on old habits I was trying to break free of that were leading me towards a life of average fulfillment. On the day I connected this parallel, Daily Lift Tip #103 almost wrote itself:

DLT#103: "Making big changes in life is like potty training. You will have accidents, but ultimately you're sitting on a new throne."

Or when I recently started to travel again for work and was taking off late in the afternoon in a light rainstorm from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of four consecutive nights away from my hot wife and son and the weather wasn't helping my mood. When our plane broke through the cloud layer I was greeted with a beautiful sunset that reminded me of the one that graced our wedding day in Marco Island, FL back in 2006. Suddenly my mood changed to one of peace and gratitude and Daily Lift Tip #350 was created:

DLT#350: "When there are clouds over your mood, know that the sun is shining above them."

With the exception of DLT#195 and DLT #216, all of the Daily Lift Tips were original thoughts of mine based on an experience or concept that struck me during the day. While the process of finding inspiration in my daily life and translating it to my Twitter account was sometimes stressful and at the 11th hour, for the most part it was very therapeutic and challenged me to create something new every day (DLT#312...).

I want to thank everyone that Liked / Favorited / Re-Tweeted / Commented on Daily Lift Tips I created over the past year. Knowing that something I was learning in my life resonated with what others were going through in their lives gives me the energy and confirmation that translating inspirational and motivational concepts is something I want to continue to pursue.

And I have a lot up my sleeve, so stay tuned...

With that said, I am going to heed the advice of one of my earliest Daily Lift Tips from my hotel room service menu in San Francisco, CA:

DLT#3: "Take time to celebrate your accomplishments. Even if it's a random donut break, you've earned it!"

Live Full,