Last month, Chelsea and Maddy of Redefine Real Life asked me to write my story for them about my “defining moment” [more accurately, they asked me a while back and I finally got it to them last month]. Because I think they’re awesome and totally agree with their vision, I wanted to share what I wrote for them, and their mission, here. If you want to see what they’re up to, check out their Facebook page.
Redefine Real Life
Our mission is to create a community of incredible individuals who are interested in: thinking outside the box, discovering their true potential, experiencing what REAL LIFE is and who are NOT ok with mediocrity.
We whole heartedly believe that an individual’s happiness is completely in their hands; that they themselves are solely responsible for building a life that they are happy with, and to change what they are doing to fix it, if they are not.
We want to show that there are alternatives to just about everything, if the individual is just willing to take a risk.
Finally, we have a philosophy of saying “why the f-not” rather than “no” and hope to inspire others to consider this also.
My “Defining Moment”
It was a simple question from practically a stranger. It wasn’t the question that shocked me, but how easily I knew the answer.
I was at a Colorado Rockies game (probably the best guess if you’re trying to find me in Denver in the summer) and I was chatting with Kelly, a work friend of one of my good friends. Kelly talked about how she had worked for a lot of baseball teams and shared some of her experiences. I was impressed. If you asked me 10 years ago what I would be doing, I would have told you I would be a sports journalist. I told Kelly this. My love for sports, especially baseball, is obvious to even the dimmest observer. So to find a way to make sports a job had always been appealing – to be a color commentator or write for a sports magazine would be ideal. I’d even been plotting how I could be more revolutionary than that – maybe I would pitch a regular sports column to a women’s magazine. Women like sports too.
Then she popped the question. “No offense or anything, I don’t know you, but if that’s what you want to be doing, then why are you doing what you do now?”
I was far from offended. It was like I was prepared to answer it. “Well, if I’m honest, because it’s easy.”
Not that the work I was doing was easy, or wasn’t challenging. But getting there was easy. I worked for the same company for just shy of 15 years. They knew me. They knew my work ethic. I knew them. I knew the company in a way that made me really valuable to my particular position. And becoming a sports journalist? So much work! And did I have the energy to pursue that in the evenings and on weekends while I worked my butt off at my 9-5? I was always waiting until I did; I figured as soon as I could split my time from my work and pursuing my career, that’s when I would do it.
We all know what happened, time just passed, as it does.
I felt really torn as I moved up in my organization – I had all these visions for my future, and this was a totally different path, but I was successful, and winning does feel good.
Months before I met Kelly, I reached a new milestone with my company in 2014 and started earning 4 weeks of vacation per year. I had 4 weeks in the can, so I decided to take a longer trip to clear it out. I went to South America for 3 weeks. During that time, I met some of the most amazing people, and again I was faced with questions. Most people I met traveling didn’t have jobs, so they were quite surprised to find out that I did and was just on holiday. When they asked me what I did, I struggled to explain it in a way that made it feel important enough. In the States, everyone knows the brand (I worked for a popular casual dining restaurant chain). Overseas, it’s a bit tougher. In my struggle to explain it in a way that made it feel important enough to warrant the effort I put in, I realized there was a gap.
I needed to be bigger than burgers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the restaurant industry and think it really is an undervalued part of the way that people connect with each other. How many people catch up over coffee, or get to know someone on a first date for drinks and dinner, or celebrate a friend with snacks and happy hour?
I got back and this feeling grew. And continued to tear at my feeling of taking the easy path. Kelly asked her question just emphasized what I was feeling. That’s when I started asking the questions. If I woke up in 10 years while on the same path, as one can easily do, would I be happy? I assumed so – I loved my job, friends and city, and I could only assume that would continue. But if I woke up in 10 years on the same path, would I be satisfied? Knowing I had all these desires to go in different directions, the answer was a clear no. I would wake up in 10 years wishing I had. Playing the “what if” game.
That’s when I knew. Trying and failing would sure be a better memory than wondering if.