The only work you have to do is find and do the work you’re meant to do. That’s enough; that’s always been enough. Just do that.
A Year of Yes: The three New Yorks according to E.B. White
“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.” ~E.B. White
Is there any more perfect description of New York and New Yorkers? I am solidly in this third group, someone who came to New York on a quest, who’s left several times, is back now, and is never leaving again. It took we a long time to learn to live with my passion for this place. That passion burned me up from the inside out several times. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to take a break, how to let my passion for this place fuel me and light me up rather than wear me down. It’s a process. Somedays I manage better than others, and I’ll say this: every day I get better and better at riding the wave here. And just when I think I can’t possibly love this city any more than I do, it does something magical that just makes me more passionate about working alongside other New Yorkers to make it a better place for all of us. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. This is home.
A Year of Yes: Follow your curiosity and passion
If you commit to following your curiosity and passion, the opportunities will be endless. The universe rises up to support bold visions and those with the courage to turn dreams into reality.
A Year of Yes: Life is a long shot
Everything in life is a long shot. Nothing is easy. Everything worth doing takes time, effort, and passion. And this idea is freeing, not stifling. If it’s all difficult, then you might as well do what you love.
A Year of Yes: The best lesson from Maya Angelou—I’m with you, kid.
“Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, ‘I’m with you, kid. Let’s go.’“ ~Maya Angelou
I’m so glad Maya Angelou got her stories down, that she left us with such a legacy of hope, encouragement, and the unbridled belief that ordinary people can chase down extraordinary dreams. This quote that she tossed out onto Twitter about a year before she passed continues to inspire me. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s the only place where she ever wrote it down.
It conjures up a mental image for me that’s empowering and action-oriented. The very best helping hands we have are at the ends of our own arms. Use them. Build the life you want. Yes, you can do this.
A Year of Yes: Take the next step
The first step of a new project is hard, but there’s a lot of encouragement out there about taking it. What’s just as hard, if not harder, and what rarely gets the encouragement it needs and deserves is the next step.
Maybe your first step was more like a stumble. Maybe the first step was greeted with joy, congratulations, and that often twinge-worthy question of “what’s next for you?” Whether your first step was successful or not, what you do next has a lot of expectation behind it. I’ve always found it takes even more energy and gumption to take that next step. Too few people take it. A lot of people start things; far fewer people continue something, and even fewer actually finish what they started.
All I want you to do is take one more step toward something you want to do. Make it a leap, or make it a baby step. Just do it. I believe in you.
2018: A Year of Yes
My 2018 resolution can be summed up in one word: Yes. My friend, Ria, recently told me about an article she read in which the author explained that when you commit to saying yes, your day ends up in a completely different place than where it started. And I’m all for that. Yes to:
- building a better city, country, & world
- helping others
I’m going to make 2018 the best year of my life so far in every way. And I’m going to lift others as I rise. We’re doing this.
In the pause: Find your door
“If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” ~Anonymous
Robert Spekman, my marketing professor at Darden, used to tell us that the only way you can feel better while beating your head against a wall is to stop.
Yes, you should absolutely work hard for what you want but if the joy goes out of what you’re doing, if you feel like it’s the battle of your life instead of the path of your life, then stop. At least for a moment. Sit back, close your eyes, and breathe. Is it worth it to keep going? Are you doing this out of obligation and habit, or passion and purpose? Sometimes the only way to find our door is to walk away from the one in front of us. We only have so much time. Let’s make every day, every action, count.
In the pause: You don’t have to compromise your financial wellbeing to be an entrepreneur
My dear friend, Kelly, sent me an article about Alexandra Kenin, the Founder of Urban Hiker SF and Editor / Writer at WordSmithie. Urban Hiker SF is her side hustle and Wordsmithie is her full-time job. (She’s also a Penn alum, which of course I love!) The article is another example that we can piece together a meaningful life and career that encompasses all of our passions. It doesn’t have to be one-dimensional, and we don’t have to compromise our financial wellbeing to pursue our dreams. It’s just a matter of finding the right pieces that all hang together like one well-tuned masterpiece, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
In the pause: What to do with fear
It was 8:30pm last night and all of a sudden I was in my living room crying. I’ve been pouring myself in my book this week and I have a cold, but that’s not it. As I close this current chapter of my life and begin a new one, there’s a certain level of fear mixed in with my excitement. For a moment, that fear got the upper hand.
I’ve been through loads of changes like this before. I’m moved to new cities, left jobs, left relationships, started companies, closed companies, dealt with the loss of loved ones, and had great fluctuations in my income over the years. And let’s not forget my apartment building fire, the bullet through my lobby a few months ago, and that small matter of my airplane being hit by lightning in mid-flight causing an emergency landing just before the wing fell off on the tarmac. Life’s a real kick in the pants sometimes.
The difference for me right now is that I’m so unwilling to compromise when it comes to how I spend my time. The only thing I seem to have any appetite for now is building a better world. We are facing so many challenges that I want to be a part of solving, and there are brief moments when that becomes overwhelming. Last night was one of those times.
And then J.K. Rowling flew into my inbox, like fairy godmothers often do. Her advice? “Stopping worry about paying the rent. Concentrate on your public speaking phobia.” Doing heartfelt work often requires us to take our fear and put it over there so that we can get back to what we need to do. Cry it out. Dance it out. Yell it out. Write it out. Hell, eat a donut if need be. Do whatever you have to do to exercise the fear. Then, get on with it. The world needs you.