Friday, August 07, 2009

Birthday vows and congruent character

Around my last birthday, I made a vow to myself that, by the time I turned 27, I would be in a different place. A mental space different to the stressful, overly time- and energy-consuming one in which I lived. A place further along the path of realising the things I want for my life.

It is now a few days before that deadline and:
- I have changed my working arrangements
- I skipped town
- I live with a man who makes me incredibly happy
- The time and freedom I craved to pursue my passions is there for the taking (in practice, I have not yet fully disciplined myself in order to embrace this time and freedom. It has been interesting to learn that the acquisition of liberation too requires discipline).

One of the most significant things I have learned in this past year is that, articulating what you want is the most effective way of making progress towards getting it.

Sounds simple enough but, I have spent most of my life wanting so many different things and being unable to put them together into a plan that can be followed; a plan that I can do something about. Luckily I choose to view my experiences so far as having contributed somehow to a plan that was yet known to me (thank you retrospect). However, as of last year, knowing the direction I wanted to go, has been empowering in several ways:
- It wasn’t an end-point, merely a next step and so wasn’t too daunting and out of reach.
- It was vague enough not to restrict how I needed to progress towards it.
- It made clear where I didn’t want to be and thus the traps I needed to avoid.

In short, acknowledging a profound desire, that wasn’t spelled out in perfect detail, helped me to recognize and seize the opportunities that life presented; that were to help me move forward. Because I did not set out a regimented plan, I was able to be flexible. I did not use a tunnelvision approach which may have made me overlook unexpected opportunities. Instead, I was open to the signs and aids of the universe.

I am reminded of the Taoist teachings about the futility of striving,

And of one of my favourite mantras:
“By not trying to be, I realise that I already am.”

It is that powerful idea that, when we align ourselves with our rightful paths, the universe conspires to propel us along them. Everything seems to just fall into place. That once we mentally create space for this alignment, creation will rule.

On congruent character
This week I’ve been thinking about what vow I will make to myself for the next year of my life.

One thing that has come up a lot for me this year is values, in business settings and in personal ones. Indeed the barrier between those two worlds has crumbled for me in the context of values.

Values are uncompromising: they define us and all we do. It follows that they should not be switched off between nine and five. Surely to do so renders us impersonators – of our true selves and/or of others?

I went on an interesting Designer Breakfast some months ago. The topic of the particular session was looking at ways of working alternative to the traditional company structur, with a focus on partnership. Claudie Plen from Edge Thinking believed that key to successful partnership was an alignment of values, particularly the ones that are most important for each party concerned.

I recently went on a refreshing two hour walk with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years and values cropped up again. This time in the context of relationships and how a union between people with incompatible core values is essentially a dead-end.

All this talk of uncompromising values as first appears rigid and unrealistic. In life we often have to deal with people with whom we may not agree. However, keeping your values upfront can actually help rather than hinder. If everybody puts their values on the table, you can see where and how clashes may occur and you can then put measures in place to mitigate them. When you know what to expect, you can manage it better. That is, of course, if, despite the clashes, there is enough values resonance to make the partnership worthwhile.

Sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes relationships expire. Acceptance of this fact has many-a-time eased my flow along that path the universe is taking me.

Here’s to 27!

“Everything that we have been looking for has already found us. It is already waiting within us.”
— Michael Brown


Emily said...

I'm so lucky to know you, bring on 27!

MADD MAN said...

I hope all is well with where you are going. You are very fortunate to be open to knowing your path and acceptance of it. Many are not so lucky as to have such a gift....
Any ways happy birthday, woman. And maybe when you visit us in the states, Allison will come up out of the wood work.

me, Madd M Beyond Thunderdome.

Kishawi said...

Lol, mention the word "beach" and she'll be sure to emerge! I'm not sure I know who you are Madd Man (Mayo?). Sorry if I've blown up your spot!

Em, I'm lucky to know you too and to be able to explore your Head Space