Eat, Pray, Love — In Business Too

As I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert earlier today, two things dawned on me. One, I’m enjoying this book. Two, the concepts discussed apply to business as well as life (and no, not only for women).

Bring pleasure to your work space!

I bring pleasure to my work space with a couple of my favorite things: espresso and a dragon tree.

In Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert travels the world in order to examine three different aspects of her life — pleasure (in Italy), devotion (in India) and balance (in Bali). While we all may not be able to globe trot to find our way in life (or business), it is important that we understand how to achieve symmetry in these three key areas.

Pleasure

I’m not going to throw a cheap motivational poster at you, but you should enjoy what you do, at least most of the time. We all have bad days, even world-class athletes, kings and queens. I’ve never bought the “love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life” mantra, but it is far more pleasant to enjoy what you do. So whatever you’re in business for, I hope you enjoy it. If not, your true talents may lie elsewhere.

Devotion

You need to be devoted to something (or multiple somethings), so one of these might as well be your business. I’m not recommending that anyone be a workaholic, because that usually doesn’t work out in the long run. But there will be plenty of times that you’re up pre-dawn to travel to see a client or burning the midnight oil finishing up a project on deadline. You may want to be doing anything else during these times (such as sleeping), but devotion to your clients, to your craft and to your business will yield results.

Balance

There’s a lot of talk about work-life balance today. Some people believe it’s an ever-evolving work in progress, while others stick to a tight schedule. However you achieve balance, it’s important that you do. Focusing on only one area of your life for too long will leave you feeling out of sorts or unhappy. A vacation may not be on your horizon, but the smallest breaks can bring balance: sipping espresso on a patio, enjoying a night out with friends or taking a lie-in one morning.

While my goal is to one day enjoy gelato in Rome, you may have no interest in that dream.

What 3 places would you go on your own pleasure, devotion, balance journey?

Fellow Eat, Pray, Love readers, what’s your feedback of the book?

On my own journey,
Jaime

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Restless in Akron

I’ve been kicking this post around for awhile, but like everything else lately, I’ve had trouble deciding on a direction. This isn’t typically a problem for me. I make decisions and move forward — always reviewing and learning — but not regretting or living in the past. What’s the point, anyway?

I'm contemplating life

Contemplating life… what’s my next move?

But 2014 has been an interesting year thus far. It got off to a rough start, and has had numerous ups and downs. While I’m in a good place, lately I’ve been so restless — like I’m in the wrong place. Have you ever felt this way?

Instead of abating, it’s actually getting stronger. I feel like I’m waiting on something to happen — although what that is, I don’t know. To fall asleep and wake up in a different life? To be abducted by (kind) aliens? (Kidding, on the last one anyway.)

I love the community I live in but have long yearned for a more tropical climate year round. My house has felt like home since the first time I laid eyes on it. If I could take it with me, I would. I’m not consciously worrying about anything in particular or fearing anything. I just feel restless.

It’s almost like I’m working on a project, and I’ve reached a natural stopping point. I’ve finished this part of my life and am ready to move on to what’s next, only I don’t know what that is yet.

Any suggestions?

Do I need a major life change? Or is this simply some kind of itch that I can scratch by jumping out of an airplane again or jumping into a shark cage (high on the bucket list!)?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject, including any personal experience!

Restless in Akron,
Jaime

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Yes Virginia, It Really Is All About The Little Things

The Lego Store Display

It’s amazing what thousands of little Lego pieces can create!

I’m onsite with a client this week and have been reminded of an important adage as I delve into the company’s processes and systems.

It’s all about the little things.

It really is. The smallest pieces of data, minor decisions and ‘mundane’ moments make up most of our lives. If we learn to appreciate these seemingly irrelevant aspects of our being, we’ll be a lot better off. Processes will go smoother, relationships will work better and we’ll get more enjoyment out of life.

For example, I headed to the Mall of America while I’m in town and had to visit the Lego Store. Its impressive display on top of the store (pictured above) is amazing! Think about the thousands upon thousands of little Lego pieces it took to make this eye-catching display. If one piece was missing or the wrong color, it would stick out. Every single piece contributes to the finished product — a work of art.

This thought process applies to your business life too. Emails, reports and other communications help ensure everyone is on the same page when working on projects. The smallest pieces of data add up to provide crucial demographic information and reports showing return on investment. Branding, events, marketing, promotions, social media and sponsorship can all go right or wrong based on the most minute of details. Every part of the process, no matter how small, is necessary to achieve the desired end result.

So pat yourself on the back for a job well done the next time you take care of the little things.

Sound Off

What little things do you take care of?

How has handling a little thing led to a big moment in your life?

p.s. Have you been to the Mall of America? What’s your favorite part?

A devil for the details,
Jaime

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33 Lessons in 33 Years

I recently came across a fun post, 32 Lessons from 32 Years of Life. The timing was perfect as I was pondering what to post about on my birthday (Yep, Pisces here.), and I had actually been toying with the idea of this type of post.

I hope you find these short lessons useful, and please feel free to chime in with your own at the end. So, here goes… lessons I’ve learned from 33 years of living:

1. You’re only as good as your word. Don’t break it. (Read: If You Say You’re Going To Do Something, Do It!)

2. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you have.

kicking toward the finish line

Running makes me happy and clears my mind. What’s your favorite activity?

3. Own your decisions. You are responsible for you — not anyone else.

4. Pay it forward. Karma has a way of reciprocating. You’ll  benefit more than those you help anyway. Trust me.

5. Make time for you. It’s not selfish; it’s necessary to recharge and be at your best.

6. Some “vices” are OK. If you really enjoy something, do it (unless it harms others).

7. Pay attention. You’ll learn so much by being observant, in business and in life.

8. Learn from the past, look forward to the future, but live in the present. It’s the best show there is. If you’re constantly reliving things or worrying about future events, you’ll miss a lot of wonderful moments.

9. Learn to give — and receive — constructive criticism. (“This is terrible” or “you’re stupid” is not constructive.)

10. Listen, listen, listen. It will take you far in life.

11. Follow your gut. It’s your instinct for a reason.

12. Try new things — foods, adventures, travels. You never know what you’ll fall in love with. (Like ice skating, for me.)

ice skating

Snow, wind & ice. Lots of ice. Enjoying some time on the pond — the best part of winter.

13. Respect your values and beliefs. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, it’s OK to walk away. (Read: Gray Area: Do Ethics Still Have a Place in Business?)

14. An interview is a two-way conversation about an opportunity. Relax.

15. The devil IS in the details. Handle those and the rest will follow.

16. Do something special for yourself monthly, or more often if you can. Because you’re worth it. (Thanks, L’Oreal.)

17. Don’t project your bad day outward. Just because you’re in a bad mood, everyone else doesn’t have to be.

18. Social media’s great, but get social in real life too. (Read: Social Media’s Nice, But It’s Not IRL)

19. Embrace the mundane. It’s 80% of life. (Listen: This is Water, David Foster Wallace)

20. If you feel like getting dressed up to go to the store, go for it. Likewise, if you head out in workout gear, it’s no big deal. Life doesn’t hinge on what you’re wearing. (Granted, there are occasions where your dress is dictated by the occasion. Embrace it.)

21. Sometimes, you can buy happiness. Just don’t try it all the time.

22. Value those close to you. Don’t take them for granted, because some day they won’t be there.

Color Run Akron 2013

My sister-in-law, brother & I after Color Run Akron.

23. Make the extra effort. It usually pays off — even if no one’s watching.

24. Have a strong handshake, a genuine smile and a killer pair of earrings. (Gentlemen, I hear cuff links produce the same effect.)

25. Laugh a lot. It’s the best medicine, and you don’t need a prescription.

Yours truly, enjoying the moment

Yours truly, enjoying the moment.

26. Don’t waste too much time worrying. It really doesn’t change things.

27. Think through major decisions but don’t be afraid to act. Indecision can be paralyzing and leave you watching from the sidelines.

28. Be impulsive every once in awhile. Do something crazy at least once in your life.

29. Celebrate birthdays. Age brings wisdom and life experience. Appreciate them.

30. Think — every single day. It never goes out of style.

31. Listen to your body. It’s amazing what it can tell you.

32. “Never being satisfied” makes a great motivational poster but leaves you feeling empty inside. Always wanting more can leave you broke and alone. Enjoy your achievements and appreciate what you have. Remember, perfection is unattainable.  (Read: What’s your riddle?)

33. Be genuine in everything you do. It’s easier in the long run, and people will appreciate you for it. Eventually, you’ll even find people who like you for who you are.

“And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life…”  –Lester Burnham, American Beauty

stick em up!

Bonnie & Clyde… back in the day.

I’ve never really grown up (vertically challenged here), but I have learned a lot. Like a good hat can make up for just about anything, even a really crappy day.

Share Your Lessons

What lesson(s) have you learned?

Do any of these lessons resonate with you? Do you disagree with any?

Maybe we can all learn to navigate this crazy thing we call life a little better.

Cheers,
Jaime

Life lesson: Connect with others!
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Embrace the Suck (Because What’s the Alternative?)

Life sucks. Not to be a pessimist, but sometimes it seems that everything goes wrong. Sure, there’s always that saying that someone has it worse than you somewhere, but quite frankly, that isn’t always the most comforting thought in the world when you have your own problems.

a cat having a bad hair day

We all have bad hair days;
it’s how we handle them that counts.
Pic credit: Melissa West

Today, I decided to run some errands. I ended up going to three grocery stores (plus Target, Walgreen’s and the mall), buying a few things twice and taking much longer than expected. Then I came home to put a new battery in my alarm clock (which I went to two stores to find), and it didn’t work. The clock itself is dying, which should have been obvious because the battery is only a backup. You think I would have thought about this while holding the alarm clock last night while it was still plugged into the wall. (If anyone needs any CR2032 3 volt batteries…) Wednesday night, I took a nosedive on our beautiful sidewalks during a night run. Last week, I missed Trick-or-Treat. Seriously, I completely missed Halloween this year. (If anyone needs any candy…)

“Accept failure. Enjoy it, even. Embrace the suck, for the suck is part of the process.”  –A.J. Jacobs

So you know what I did? I threw the unneeded batteries in my drawer and went for a 6-mile trail run followed by 100 jumping jacks, 60 squats, a 60-second plank and 30-second high plank (with stretching pre-and post-run). Then I came home, made a green smoothie, had some trail bologna (a specialty in my world), updated the CCC Facebook page and sat down to write this blog post.

kicking toward the finish line

Running (and writing) makes me happy and clears my mind. What’s your medicine when things go wrong?

Life sucks. You’re going to fail, fall down and get beat. You have to deal with it and get up — again and again. Sometimes it’s really hard to do that when it seems like the odds are stacked against you. But I believe that we are all dealt a winning deck, eventually. If you keep working and working, things will work out. They may not be what you had planned, but they will work out. (For a real-life example, listen to Steve Jobs’s inspirational commencement address at Stanford in 2005 below.)

Honestly, this week has just been a microcosm of the past year and a half (and I left a lot out for brevity’s sake). I knew it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done to start my own business, be my own boss and and build my client base. It’s been even harder than I expected (which somehow I expected, if that makes sense).

A 6-month battle with insurance companies over a mistake in my medical records while setting up personal insurance. People not following through on their word time and time again. Anticipated projects (and the paychecks) never materializing. Working for free. Being asked repeatedly to work for free (subject of an upcoming post). Coming from a background and an area where nobody understands what I’m doing (or why). We all have things that beat us up every day. 

Are you feeling shitty? Down in the dumps? Do what makes you happy — whatever that may be. Don’t worry about what people think of you. If you’re a runner, run. If you’re a shopper, shop. If you’re a film connoisseur, catch a flick. If you’re a talker, call a friend. How long? Until the smile’s back on your face.

Cheer up. Yes, life sucks, but learn to embrace it. The suck is just one small part of this beautiful thing we call living.

What do you do when you need to cheer up?

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

p.s. If you need to vent and a friend’s not available, feel free to vent below or hit me up on a social network. Seriously, I’m listening.

p.s.s. If you’re having a bad day and can’t bring yourself to comment, just throw me a like so I know you’re there. 🙂

Embracing the suck,
Jaime

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I Am Me: A Retrospective

Ed. Note: Following is a character sketch I originally wrote as a 19-year-old on January 22, 2001 but never published. While some of the details have changed, this sketch still sums up who I am rather well. I’m thinking about writing a follow-up sketch to update some of the details. What do you think? 

I am me.

This simple yet powerful statement took me the better part of 18 years to figure out. From my bleached blond locks to my silver polyester shirt to my vinyl pants, I radiate style. Well, my style.

my teenage bedroom

My bedroom as a teenager… Priceless.

I am creative, eccentric, spontaneous. My orange and green bedroom walls are a direct extension of my soul. I read my Bible and Stephen King books. I love country music and rap. I love to laugh and make others laugh. I get impatient easily and hate to be bored. However, I can daydream for hours. I love to fly across the sky, where there are no red lights, stop signs and traffic jams. I want to ride across America on my Harley just to say I did it. I root for the bad guy in movies.

I believe in fate and destiny; I do have a purpose in life. I respect Elvis, admire Muhammad Ali and love Jesus. My biggest fear is being ordinary. I live by the saying “Life is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride.” When I die, I want people to look back and say, “Oh, she did.”

Your thoughts?

Happy Friday,
Jaime

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p.s. No, I don’t still have orange and green bedroom walls, but I am getting ready to paint them Key Largo and Sunwashed Blue. 🙂