5 Ways That 2014 Changed My Life
This past year was a successful and an insightful one for me. I completed a semester-long sabbatical with Paul Carrick Brunson, a naturally-recognized social entrepreneur who has worked with Oprah Winfrey and is the Host of Black Enterprise’s “Our World TV”. I graduated two Ph.D. students who are now postdoctoral professionals at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Arizona State University. I even won a Leadership Award in the College of Engineering at Purdue University. Despite these successes, I have found it necessary to reflect upon what happened in 2014 so that I can have an even better 2015. Below are 5 ways that 2014 changed my life along with some takeaways that will help you can to start your New Year off right!
(1) Resurrected Dead Dreams
After earning tenure in 2011, I asked my faculty colleague if I was now expected to engage in the same teaching, research, and service activities for the rest of my life. At that moment, I realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur AND a professor. I started my business, STEMinent LLC, in 2013. In 2014, I trademarked several aspects of my business and engaged in an Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy at Purdue that was absolutely life changing! I realized the importance of returning to the dreams that I had as a child and to being true to who I am.
Takeaway: My advice to budding pioneers is to reflect upon your innermost dreams. What are you willing to do even if no one paid you to do it? What ideas wake you up in the middle of the night?
(2) Hired a Professional Coach
Although I had general ideas about what I wanted to do in my life, I needed guidance about how to align my skills with actionable deliverables. More than that, I needed someone to offer me an outside perspective about ways to implement my professional goals. I now engage with my coach 2-3 times a month to discuss how my professorial and entrepreneurial goals align and how I can achieve my dreams of changing the world.
Takeaway: Whether or not you hire a coach, it is important to identify someone who has achieved what you hope to achieve and who can discuss ways for you to accomplish your goals. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can serve in these roles, make 2015 the year that you create your professional dream team.
(3) Removed Negative People from My Life
This was my biggest success for the year. In both my personal and professional lives, I identified the areas where I was being burdened- those places where I felt a heaviness after interactions or could not gain peace even after long discussions with people. Professionally, I began to collaborate with people with whom I thoroughly enjoyed working. I also found ways to fellowship with new people via coffee, lunch, and dinner dates. Personally, I realized that some of my closest family members were actually people with whom I had no blood ties. By removing labels, I began to add people to my inner circle who demonstrated unconditional support and love in my life.
Takeaway: Identify people who add value to your life, and find ways to connect to them in positive ways in 2015. At least once a week, engage in meaningful conversations or face-to-face interactions with people who leave you feeling peaceful, motivated, and positive about yourself. If you live in a small area, connect to others via social media exchanges.
(4) Laughed Much More
I can officially call myself a comedienne. My comedic side hustle began as a way for me to decompress from the professional stress on my job. Instead of internalizing comments, I would think about the funniest aspect of each situation and would laugh about it. Over time, I created a repository of jokes and vignettes that would make my friends and me laugh uncontrollably. In the same way, family drama that has occurred for most of my life became points of humor. Instead of becoming depressed, I became empowered.
Takeaway: In life, we can be victims or victors. You also can’t buy peace. Do what you need to do to keep yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually strong. This might include journaling, counseling, praying, meditating, exercising, or learning a new hobby. Regardless, do not allow the stressors of life to kill you. You have too much work to do!
(5) Agreed to Disagree
I don’t think that consensus is necessary in every relationship or exchange. I often work with people who have different values and opinions. Instead of hiding my views, I share them freely, realizing that they might be deemed controversial. A few months ago, I decided that no one will censure my thoughts. Although this has resulted in altercations and confrontations, I believe that the world needs more people who hold fast to their convictions and share why they think the way that they do.
Takeaway: Everyone has an opinion. Maturity occurs when you are able to listen to the viewpoints of even your worst enemy and still have a conversation with that person. Although it may be difficult at first, hear the person out while sticking to your convictions. If that person cannot engage with you professionally, you at least know that you have done your part to be civil.
In summary, 2014 was a wonderful year. I’ve had to make some tough choices, but I have no regrets. I look forward to 2015 and to the new lessons that I will learn.
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