Book Club – Alison’s Turn

Carve Your Own RoadCarving out advice from Carve Your Own Road
The tagline of this book, “Do what you love and live the life you envision,” first had me worried it was a book on Scientology. But, when the first sentence of the book talked about one of the author’s aversion to camping over luxuriating in five-star hotels, I knew I found a good book club selection for the month.
This book is a study in how people all across the United States carve out their own roads and find a way to live their dreams, and it also offers advice on how reader’s can apply these various principles to their work and their own lives.
It starts with a simply statement of most people’s view of The American Dream today – to go to college, have a family, own a home and be able to have and buy what one wants. The problem with our view of The American Dream – where’s the happy? It’s not even listed as an afterthought!
Pumpkins 1Sadly, it’s only when we start to suffer from the effects of working toward The American Dream – 16-hour days, divorce, anxiety attacks, Diet Cokes for lunch, etc…. – that we really begin to take a good, hard look at our dreams and realize something is missing.
“Carving your own road is about creating a path that is uniquely yours…” wrote the author.
BUT – this does not mean we all have to quit our jobs and move to log cabins to find ourselves!
In fact, there are several ways to create your own terms within the corporate structure of your life. The first is to determine what you consider “freedom” within the confines of your life. Some recommendations:

  • Not being at work, but BEING your work
  • Not living for retirement but living every day doing something you love
  • Creating a reality that is your own, not dictated by other people telling you what is real
  • A connection to your work anywhere, not simply in the confines of 9 to 5

The book also talks about finding your “Shiny Thing” – something you are so excited about that you feel compelled to take action on it. The problem? Many of us bury our shiny thing so deep inside of us, we forget about it.
For many of us communication professionals, the answer is easier than we think. Why did we choose this profession? More than likely, the answer is you like to write, you like to talk or a combination of both! So, think about it…deep down, your shiny thing is probably a variation of writing a book or screenplay, or being on the stage. RUN WITH THAT!
How does HMA run with it? Two immediate examples come to mind:

  • Scott Hanson, a former broadcaster and sports fanatic, is the president of our company by day, but seems able to keep his “things” shiny by volunteering as a host on PBS and reffing high school sports and playing a couple on his own. He lives his passion for writing with us, lives his passion for public speaking with PBS and lives his passion for sports on the field with guys half his age.
  • Abbie S. Fink, who has been fighting for people’s rights since arranging a protest to get her school to put on a dance, fights the good fight in her work life by taking on clients such as the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living, where she fights for the rights of people with disabilities; and in her home life by volunteering with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, where she fights for the rights of children and teens.

Scott’s example shows that you don’t have to find all of your passion from 9 to 5, but throughout the day and in as many ways as you see fit! And Abbie shows that if you inject your passion into your work, it is never really work at all!
Pumpkins 2But not everyone is as lucky, or passionate about their work and home lives, as Scott and Abbie. Some of us, myself included, need what the book calls a “hard stop” to see the light. Some examples include the work-a-holic mother who developed breast cancer and finally found a way to slow down, and the Wall Street Banker who got caught in a financial nightmare and was forced out of what he thought was his career for the next 50 years.
My favorite? The trailblazing public relations professional who amassed a highly successful New York City firm, only to give it all up to work from home in a virtual office to be closer to his friends and family. Unfortunately, it took his wife developing MS to help him see the light.
His advice? Use technology to your advantage. Computer technology, social networking and even smartphones don’t HAVE to keep you chained to the office. In fact, they can actually help rid you of the chain altogether! Embrace technology and everything it can do for your company, and your life, the book recommends.
So, how can you carve your own road in your work and personal life? It requires a change from the inside out. The book carves out seven components to this process:

  1. Clarity – let go of preconceived notions of who you are and what you think others want of you. Search your soul.
  2. Setting Big Goals – when your goals are big and exciting, they propel you forward.
  3. Immersion – reach toward your goals on a daily basis and in a systematic way.
  4. Take Inspired Action – after taking time to immerse yourself in your goals each day, create an action plan to move closer to the goal.
  5. Reflection – at the end of your day, instead of focusing on all the things you may not have gotten done, focus on your “wins.” What did you do today to move closer to that big, exciting goal?
  6. Evolution – as you build momentum, you should receive feedback. Learn from it and ask for more.
  7. Letting Go – this is the hardest part. You have to find a way to let go of others expectations of you, or expectations you built up in your head in order to achieve what really makes you happy.

For me, the book was filled with great anecdotes on how other people found their own passions. Some of them, sadly, had to deal with tragedy or crisis to do it. However, by the book’s end, I was still searching for specific ways to help me find my passions above and beyond what I already do. It helped me to realize I need to continue to search for my passion – something hard to do in your late 20s when you are still trying to establish your career, new marriage and everyone else’s successes – and move on it when I find it.

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at Oct 12, 2009

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