Monthly Archives: November 2012

Featured Friday: “Good” and “Bad” Indecision

Today’s Featured Writer is Miguel Goncalves, a first-year student at Yale and immigrant from Caracas, Venezuela. A Bezos Scholar, he recently founded a student-run leadership and entrepreneurship initiative called the YELL (Youth Empowerment and Leadership Learning) Organization, which is now in its second year of helping Central Florida teens find their passions. He talks about the true potential of indecision, both within his life and beyond.

Anyone need directions?

Anyone need directions?

—————-

At the dawn of my college career, I was thrust into one of what would be countless discussions about future plans:

“So, what are y’all going to study?” someone asked.

Person A (I have intelligently assigned them a codename) replied enthusiastically: “I’m set on a double-major in Chemistry and Psychology with a Neurology track, plus a few music theory courses on top of that!” Person B, equally on top of their game, laid out what seemed like the rest of their life. “Since elementary school, I’ve wanted to be a theoretical physicist. Ergo, I’m planning on finishing an intensive Physics major by my junior year, with some breathing room for grad school applications and research grant proposals my senior year.”

And along came Person M: “Uh, I have no idea. I’ll get back to you on that…”

One of these answers is not like the others. In the event that my ingenious codenames have gone undeciphered, I am Person M. The killjoy of “life plans” conversations. Captain Indecision. The catalyst of the raised “AWKWARD!” flag in everyone’s mind.

Nowadays, it seems like fewer and fewer college students are like me. Indecision is increasingly seen as a conscious decision to delay progress. Even at Yale, an admittedly liberal arts institution, the pressure to specialize is palpable. Engineering majors, for instance, are all but required to start their majors as freshmen or risk not fulfilling their requirements, while combined Bachelors/Masters degree programs dazzle prospective students with the benefits of focusing their life paths quickly. In my experience, the paradigm of an exploratory undergraduate experience has given way to encouraging individuals dead-set on one of countless possible futures.

I, for one, advocate distancing ourselves from this ideology. Don’t get me wrong: if you happen to fall into the category of someone who is always dead-set on decisions, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. My point is not to make everyone question every choice they will ever make (leave that to the Skeptics), but rather to make it known that there is a place for indecision in our lives. There is nothing wrong with an “I don’t know,” especially when it has the power to transform you into something much more powerful.

I can see the waves of doubt likely propagating across many a reader’s minds. There are cases, after all, in which indecision is highly detrimental. How can it be okay?

The best way to answer this pressing question is with a phenomenon I call “good indecision.” My own lesson is that not knowing is a perfectly acceptable and even expected (gasp!) part of life. Depending on the situation, an inability to make a decision is intrinsically “good” or “bad,” depending on the soon-to-be decision maker’s mentality. Let’s take a look at two different scenarios to see what I mean:

………………………………………………………………..

  • Scenario 1

Faced with indecision on a college major and career path, Person M “hopes” he will have things figured out by the end of his college career. He enrolls in courses his friends are doing with the assumption that they will be more enjoyable with people whom he knows. He waits for an epiphany moment in which he knows exactly what he will do. When faced with the choice of meeting with faculty or other students in different majors, he refuses and argues it is pointless to talk to people about their field if he might ultimately not pursue it.

If asked once again about his plans, Person M might say, “I don’t know. I’ll figure it out eventually.”

  • Scenario 2

Uncertain about his college or career path, Person M plans out a course load that allows him to explore various disciplines. He sets a final deadline as to when he needs to decide on a major in addition to intermediate goals that have him sampling different courses of study, meets with faculty members to discuss his prospects, and charts out future class plans that allow for versatility before eventually making the unavoidable decision. He is proactive about seeking out new opportunities and uses them to create an working map of his life. Though he’s terrible at drawing, he’s still a pretty decent cartographer.

If you were to ask him about his major two months later, Person M might say, “I’m still not sure, but I’m exploring as much as I can to make sure that I know when the time comes.”

………………………………………………………………. 

As seen in the first scenario, what I call “bad” indecision is a disturbingly passive (and stressful) lifestyle. For me especially, “hoping” for a decision to reveal itself without any actual effort has proven to be a risky endeavor. As indecision leads to inaction, the “you’ll figure it out” ideology will apply less and less. At the end of the road is a black hole—an inescapable void replete with self-doubt. This phenomenon is exactly why people and societies alike seem to affix negative labels on indecisive people.

We now arrive at my central piece of advice: work to break away from this stigma, and turn indecision into something more! In stark contrast, “good indecision” in Scenario 2 involves an active effort to explore possibilities and actionable intermediate goals before the decision. Whether the final deadline is extrinsically (a paper due date, for instance) or intrinsically motivated (when you “feel” you should decide on a career path) does not matter.

In the second scenario, Person M is doing the best possible thing. Even if he is not entirely sure what to do by the time the deadline arrives, he will have gained enough insight into who he is to make a much more informed decision. Though his views could change at some point in the future and better alternatives could come up —the information we obtain today, after all, is never “perfect”— Person M has done all he can to put himself in the best position at that given time. He’s conquered the cloud of doubt; he’s done the not-so-impossible.

I end with a quick recap:

  1. Indecision is a normal part of life. Do not feel pressured by those around you to make a hasty choice.
  2. “Good indecision” in the kind of indecision that one actively strives to resolve, i.e., what ultimately turns into a course of action. The final decision may not be ideal, and almost always based on incomplete information, but once it’s made, the “good” that has led up to it has netted a fundamentally positive outcome.

As you chart your own journey and the darkness of uncertainty hits, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone, you will figure it out, and that with the right mindset, reaching the final decision is not as impossible as it seems to be. You are Person X, and the world is yours to explore! 

MG

—————-

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Return tomorrow for another article.

Advertisements

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Would Mozart have been as famous as he is had he not touched a piano? Probably Not.

Would LeBron James been a 3-time MVP if he had not touched a basketball? Probably Not.

You might not be Mozart or LeBron but like Mozart and LeBron you have talents that can take you far in life. Before Mozart graced a piano and LeBron a basketball court, they too didn’t know what they were capable of.

If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, what your talents are, or what you are passionate about it is okay. Try different things and see what flames your interests. You never know where they will lead you.

As nine-time NHL MVP (the most in history), Wayne Gretzky said, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” (Gretzky, by the way, started hockey on a rink his father made in the backyard of their house).

Tomorrow’s Featured Writer, Miguel Goncalves writes about “good” indecision and “bad” indecision and how “indecision” isn’t always a bad thing.

Exercise:

What hobbies, interests, or things do you want to give a try? Why aren’t you?

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Return tomorrow for another article.

Life is a Gift

One of the themes of my blog is learning to love yourself. One reason people have personal goals is to build self-confidence, but before goals will help you improve your self-esteem, you have to learn to love yourself.

This is one of my favorite proses, because it helps me appreciate life more, to get back up when I am down, and to not feel discouraged when my goals seem so far away.

(Words in [] are my additions)

Life Is A Gift

Today before you think of saying an unkind word– think of someone who can’t speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food– think of someone who has nothing to eat.

Before you complain about your husband or wife [boyfriend or girlfriend]– think of someone who is crying out for a companion.

Today before you complain about life– think of someone who went too early to heaven.

Before you complain about your children– think of someone who desires children but they’re barren.

Before you argue about your dirty house, someone didn’t clean or sweep– think of the people who are living in the streets.

Before whining about the distance you drive– think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when you are tired and complain about your job [or school work]– think of the unemployed, the disabled and those who wished they had your job.

And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down – Put a smile on your face and think: you’re alive and still around.

Exercise:

Follow the advice of the poem.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Return tomorrow for another article.

The MBA and the Mexican Fisherman (The Important Things in Life)

When setting and determining your goals, consider what is important to you. You might find it is closer than you think.

The following story has been surfacing on the web for many years and I thought…well you will see after reading it.

—————

The MBA and the Mexican Fisherman

An American businessman was at a pier in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied only a little while.

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked the Mexican how he spent the rest of his time.

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and, with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution.

“You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

The American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed, and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public. You’ll become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions, senor?” replied the Mexican. “Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

—————

Exercise:

What are your priorities?

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Return tomorrow for another article.

The Fighting Irish, the SEC, and all things NCAA Football (Making Slow Progress).

Credit to Kamoteus (A New Beginning) of Flickr

As I am writing this article, Notre Dame has just beaten USC to finish their football season a perfect, 12-0. While I am from the South and have SEC in my blood, I can’t help but admire what Coach Brian Kelly has done to turn around the Notre Dame football program.

For those who don’t follow college football, all you need to know is that four years ago the season before Kelly was head coach, the Fighting Irish went 6-6 (.500). After four years, the Irish are now ranked #1 in the country for the first time.

I bring up this story because I want to highlight one key point: Kelly and Notre Dame’s success did not happen overnight (or even more season).

Timeline:

2009- (6-6) – No Bowl

2010- (8-5) – Sun Bowl (win)

2011- (8-5) – Champs Sports Bowl (loss)

2012- (12-0) – BCS (TBD)

When you are working on your goals, keep your head up. Just because you seem to be stuck does not mean you will remain that way forever.

Exercise:

When you are frustrated at your progress, remember that not all goals are completed in one day/week/month/year.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for another article.

86 year old Gymnast competes in pre-Olympics gymnastics event

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about age excusitis (using age as a excuse for not completing your goal). Last night, I found this video that absolutely astonished me. In the video featured below, Gymnast Johanna Quaas, age 86, displays a grace and agility that would make people a fifth her age jealous. I will keep this article short because the video is all I need to demonstrate my point that age is only a number.

Video here

Exercise:

Watch the 1-minute video of Johanna Quaas

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Return tomorrow for another article.

Stay Motivated (What are you doing today?)

Credit to Jayel Aheram of Flickr

About two months ago, I wrote a post about breaking down your big goals into specific goals (I definitely recommend you read this short post, if you haven’t already). Since then, I had have people email and ask me how they stay motivated day-to-day. Even with deadlines on their big goal and their specific goals, they want to know how to make time and achieve those specific goals.

My advice for them was to re-read my post about specific goals and take it another step: break your big goals into small ones and break the small ones into a list of tasks that need to be done before you can achieve your small goals. The task can be something you do each day such as avoiding ice cream or something you do only do once such as buying a directory of scholarships.

My task-goals are promises I make to myself, but I treat each daily task as if they were commitments I made to a close friend or family members whom I would not want to disappoint. It is this mentality that I find helps the most ambitious people accomplish their goals. We make time to socialize, eat, and finish last minute essays. With this same mentality, we can make time for our daily tasks.

Having a New Year’s Resolution is nice, which means we have gone as far as identifying goals we want to accomplish, but this is where most people stop. Creating a plan for how you will achieve your resolutions takes goal-setting to another level and increases the chances you will be able to cross a goal off this year’s list and not just carry to next year.

When your dream is to big and breaking down your goal into specific goal is still enough, make an action plan and break down your specific goals into mini-task that you do on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.

No one can master Photoshop in a day, but everyone can begin playing with the brush tools and start.

Exercise:

With big goals break down into small goals and break those small goals into routine tasks.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for another article.

Featured Friday: Opportunity (Juan Cerda)

Today’s Featured Friday writer is Juan, who is returning for his second article (you can find first article here). Juan, who just a year ago, couldn’t even leave the country or apply for an internships is turning his life around one opportunity at a time. He writes about having no regrets and taking advantages of the opportunities that come your way.

Credit to markhodgins of Flickr

———-

My little truck lay stranded on the edge of the two-lane road, its motor puffing columns of steam into the dry summer air. Nothing I had tried to fix it worked; after hours of pointless poking and prodding, I slammed the truck’s hood down. Sweaty, dejected, and defeated, I limped to the edge of the road and sat down, head drooping. And there I stayed. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to notice the vehicles that sped past me, speedsters that I could have stopped to ask for help. Opportunities flew away. Roads were not taken. Help didn’t come. What was I to do?

Shaken by a tremendous rumble, I pushed myself off the ground and gazed into the distance. An 18-wheeler rolled down the road, its gigantic wheels raising large quantities of dust. I had very little time to react; I knew that truck drivers always go into town, where I could get tools to fix my vehicle.  I immediately began waving frantically at the truck, fearing that it would also pass me by. The truck driver saw me and halted. Thankfully, the trucker driver agreed to drop me off at the nearest town when I asked him if I could hitch a ride. I was able to get a ride into town that day because I took advantage of the biggest opportunity that came my way.

 Sometimes we wallow in situations where all we can do is wait for opportunities to come to us. We often stagnate in the same day-to-day routine, sometimes happily, other times miserably. But living in the same situation is not bad in and of itself; it is when we miss opportunities that stagnation is truly lamentable. We are often too preoccupied with how much our life sucks to catch sight of exciting prospects that we accidentally come across. We forget to look to each side of the two-lane road and search for cars that could potentially be our ride away from our broken present. Sometimes it takes the roar of a big 18-wheeler to snap us into action.

 You should look around to see where great opportunities are coming from. Friends, family, and acquaintances are mediums through which you can land your dream job, meet new people, or embark on adventures. Oftentimes opportunities will present themselves in the workplace, at school, or on a trip. To catch sight of these great chances for self-improvement, be ready to take risks and stay open to change in your life. Be alert for job openings, potential markets for entrepreneurship, dating matches, educational opportunities, community events, fun things, etc. The possibilities are endless!   

As a Yale undergraduate, I have many more opportunities to take advantage of. With new opportunities come new goals. I plan on studying abroad either during the summer or the regular school year, I hope to intern at a major financial firm in the coming years, I look forward to learning French next semester, and I am eager to receive deferred action this month. Without a doubt, my aspirations will increase as more unexpected occurrences happen to me.

Opportunities will come to you. Whenever you are stuck, all you have to do is look up.

———-

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for a Featured Friday article.

Creating your own luck

I used to think that it took being lucky to study at a prestigious university. I thought that only the smart, well-connected, or the privileged had any chance of gaining admission into a school like Yale and Harvard. On my journey of being admitted and my two years in college, I still believe that it takes luck to be where most Ivy League students are, but luck is only one factor. Perseverance plays a much bigger role.

A person with all the opportunities and luck in the world, but lacks tenacity is no better than someone with no opportunity. Someone with tenacity can turn a small opportunity into success. For evidence, look no further than a young Bill Gates who programmed wherever he could find a computer terminal or the early Beatles who took all the small nightclub jigs they could find.

Goals are completed because those who accomplish them didn’t give up when opportunities didn’t seem to present themselves. Steve Jobs didn’t turn Apple around because of luck. Winston Churchill didn’t lead the Allies to victory because of luck. Luck was a factor, Jobs had exposure to failure that taught him what he needed to learn the second time around and Churchill has the support of the U.S. but the rest was the result of their determination.

I cannot always count on luck to find me, but I can count on my perseverance and small opportunities. With those two things, I can always make my own luck.

Always remember the quote “Luck = Preparation + Opportunity”

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Tomorrow’s Featured Friday writer is Juan, who is returning for his second article. Juan, who just a year ago, couldn’t even leave the country or apply for an internships is turning his life around one opportunity at a time. He talk about having no regrets and taking advantages of the opportunities that come your way.

Exercise:

Next time you are presented with an opportunity you find interesting, give it a shot.

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for a Featured Friday article.

Benefiting from a Mentorship

Mentorship week:

Today I will talk about cultivating a mentorship relationship.

There are only three simple ideas you need to remember to have a healthy and prosperous mentorship-mentee relationship.

Let your Mentor know how they can help

When you begin a mentor-mentee relationship, most mentors don’t know where to start helping you. Let your mentor know your short and long-term goals, what you want to gain from their wisdom, and how they can help you achieve those goals.

Keep Communication Alive

Keep your mentors updated on your activities. If they do not know what you are doing or the progress you have had, they cannot help you. Send an email every now and then or arrange for a meeting when possible.

Show your gratitude

Although your mentor will have more experience in their field than you, this does not mean that your mentor cannot benefit as well. Stay updated with your mentor’s goals and current events. It can be as simple as introducing their book to your friends, sending them a Christmas card, or arranging for them to lead a talk for other people. When both sides are happy, the relationship flourishes.

This concludes my week on mentorship. In the future I will have a week on being a mentor and how teaching your craft will help you achieve higher goals.

Exercise:

How can your mentor benefit from mentoring you?

If you have any comments, suggestions for future topics, or want write contact me at findmymotivation@gmail.com.

My blog is updated daily. Come back tomorrow for another article.