I have learned that what I do is a reflection of who I am. In other words, my external results are indicative of what I possess internally. I am now realizing that I spent the early portion of my career stuck in my comfort zone. This extended season of my life reminds me of those dreaded reversible sweatshirts from the 80’s. Although I could turn the shirt inside out, I never did. Turning the shirt inside out could change my appearance; could add a new flavor to my existing wardrobe; could possibly offer a new experience. Unfortunately, I approached my career the same way I approached my reversible sweatshirt- I chose the path of comfort. Now that I know better, I enjoy turning my career inside out. In order for me to do that, I had to first conquer my biggest enemy- myself.
Plato said, “The first and best victory is to conquer self”. I made excuses and used them as barriers, which kept me trapped inside of my comfort zone for years. It wasn’t until I began to challenge my excuses that I saw a difference in my career achievements. I couldn’t start my business because I didn’t have enough money. I couldn’t write articles because I’m not a journalism major, I didn’t obtain a degree in communications, and I had no writing experience. I didn’t need anyone to talk me out of my dreams because I’d mastered doing so on my own. My career began to shift when I starting to think about what I could do and what I was willing to do. The change in my perspective allowed me to focus on the have’s instead of the have not’s.
“That which you focus on will increase” is one of my favorite quotes. Because I was focused on the wrong things, I couldn’t envision the results of my goals coming to fruition. It was easy for me to become discouraged when I concentrated on the difficulty of the task versus the actual results. Once I began to develop and follow the priorities that I’d outlined for myself, I noticed an increase in my self-discipline. This discipline is now a lifestyle for me, not a one-time event. The only difference between success and failure was my perception.
One of my greatest career lessons reminds me of an outdated fashion trend. My one-sided sweatshirt was comfortable which hindered my ability to do something different. My one-sided sweatshirt was common, which minimized my uniqueness and my ability to differentiate myself from others. Turning your career inside out can be uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth it to challenge yourself. Perhaps you are a lot like the former Ericka who would talk herself out of success. As long as you consistently guard your perception and govern your actions, you will see your career transform from the inside out.
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