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About non-standard goals

Some time ago I had my first conversation with a new mentor. Predictably, she asked me which were my goals, where did I see myself in two or five years. I was speechless.

All my life I had been spoiled knowing exactly what I wanted and following that gut feeling. In parallel, I had been working hard on personal development, and for several years I hadn’t revisited my goals. The interesting thing is that I didn’t feel like I was walking in life without direction. I just couldn’t put it in words such as “in two years I want to become a director of pricing strategy and analytics for the European region”. My silence in this case bothered me because of not understanding what had happened to me and I reflected on this for the rest of the day.

Strikingly enough, on that very same evening, I came across an interview to Vishen Lakhiani that happened to explain what I was going through.

 

It turns out that without the structure of “experience”, “growth”, and “give back” -which I very much like- I am trying to work on things that matter to me. In other words, as much as I can, I try to distribute my time and energy in the people I care for, with the experiences that I care for, growing…

I invite you to join me setting meaningful goals and persevering in the chosen path, but without lacking flexibility in case that route needs correction.

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Adopting an au pair

At least in California, nowadays it is very hard for a family to rely on only one salary. Hence, it is very common to find both parents working full-time. We are experiencing it ourselves: no room for anything to go wrong. Our resources are limited.

Living with no buffer, we decided to explore alternatives to save some time and have more quality time as a person, as a couple, as a family. To have a back-up plan when children get sick, or simply if we need to finish a project. Our research and friends led us to the option of evaluating an au pair program. We weighed pros and cons, simulated expenses associated to different situations, played with our schedules… Every time it was making more and more sense.

We decided to give it a try. We signed up and started to look for a good match. My husband and I were aligned in what we were looking for, what our priorities were. The second interview was a match. And when we realized it was her, our perception about the program changed completely. It first started as a desperate call for help from our side, but then it transformed into the idea of us adopting a person into our life for a year. It was really an exchange program, with a deeper meaning than just getting help.

 

While our au pair has not arrived yet, and despite all the changes that will imply for us, despite all the unknowns, I have to say that we are very excited to get a new temporary family member in our lives!

 

Don’t take it for granted

Today, based on an incident with a happy ending, I feel humbled and thankful. Unfortunately it happens mostly with bad or scary experiences that we are reminded not to take anything nor anybody for granted in our lives- not even our lives. As of now, I can only sit in silence embracing my life, my family, my friends… thankful for having a roof, food, water, air… The list doesn’t have an end.

One of the things I loved the most when I lived in Israel was the way people live. In general, you see them enjoying every single moment as if it were the last. Some people call it intense. To me it’s more about wisdom. A beautiful way of showing gratitude.

 

My roots

Three years ago I had the privilege to be invited to participate at a workshop on soundscape representing South America. The meeting took place in the Netherlands. I was thrilled to be part of such workshop but what moved me the most was to arrive in Holland. Having landed I’ve recognized that familiar landscape. Arriving at the train station and feeling I’m at home. Getting to the hotel room and watching through the window. The smell. My favorite yogurt. I had found myself touched by being in my beloved Europe.

It turns out that many years before I lived in Germany, and I haven’t had the opportunity to go back for a long time. Being in the neighbor country made me realize how much of an important phase it was for me to have spent three and a half years in that country.

Following that thought, the other day I learned that two people from my time in Europe will be coming to the United States to visit, and we have finally managed to organize some plans to meet. As soon as I hung up from that call, I broke into tears. I was so happy! And once again, I hadn’t noticed how important it would be for me to reconnect with them and see them in person.

These two episodes made me thing that maybe what we call “roots” does not only refer to the place and culture you were born or raised in, but anything that marked you deeply. Today I came to realize that I have Europe’s, and in particular Tübingen’s fingerprint sealed deep in my heart.

 

Rewarding the good work

The other day I was observing my husband talk on the phone with some customer service representative. He has been working on negotiation skills for a couple of months now. Week by week I have witnessed his growth and silently my admiration was increasing.

Not only have I noted a change in the tone of the conversation but the results have been very positive. The other day, within a couple of hours he saved us $250 just with two phone calls. Pretty impressive. However, what touched me the most was his posterior attitude. When people would fix his problems, he would offer to talk to their supervisor to give a good recommendation. Some people were speechless and extremely happy. That made me smile and feel proud of the good heart I married.

But I also reflected on how many times we are focused so much on our problems or needs that we don’t think of our neighbor. How much does it cost us to stay for two more minutes on the line and reward the person who helped us? It means a lot to them!

This was just a simple example, but aren’t we always ready to complain? This world needs some more positive thoughts and good actions to be spread.

When a friend cries

Sometimes life surprises us in a good way; sometimes it hits us unexpectedly. I will call this last circumstance a “life accident”. But what if the person hit is a loved one? It can truly affect us. Almost as if we had that life accident.

When we get into that accident, something deep inside of us hurts or breaks. The dark night. And sometimes it is hard to find a way to help your loved person. More if there are many kilometers of distance between each other, such that meeting in person is not a reasonable idea. So I started reflecting on how I could impact positively onto my friend’s life. In the end I came up with a couple of things:

1) Despite the difficulties that she’s going through, I would like to provide her with a positive way to look at this once she recovers, at least partially, from that incident. The idea is to use this event or fact as an opportunity to look for or try something different… or even better. In other words, if what I deeply dreamed of ended up not being possible the way I wanted, maybe we can find something better. This exercise requires a ton of resilience, a mountain of creativity, and hope.

The coming example may sound absurd but I think it shows well what I mean. Wedding preparation can be stressful. Not to mention if you combine two different cultures merging into a third one. When my husband and I were transiting through wedding preparation times, there were lots of occasions in which we disagreed. Instead of getting angry or disappointed, we took those different ideas to come up with something better that we hadn’t thought of before. In this way, our wedding wasn’t very traditional in several aspects, but it was totally personalized. People still talk about some aspects of it. My point is: we used adversity to challenge each other to come up with new alternatives, to get to know each other better. We ended up being more excited about the solutions than we were with our previous ideas. I am suggesting to understand the real dream, and look for something else that will make you happy.

2) Give her the space that she needs and be there for her whenever she needs me.

Friend, if I could prevent you from going through this… I would. I haven’t gone through the same but I can truly empathize, from the bottom of my heart. I can’t even give you hug, since you are far away. But I am there for you.

And if you, on the other side, have someone you love nearby who is going through difficulties, please be generous with hugs. They are scarce nowadays, but they can help heal. 🙂

 free_hugs

 

Consistency between dreams and actions

My husband and I multiple times went through the enriching exercise of putting on paper what our dreams are, which kind of lifestyle do we want, what is important to us for ourselves and our family. Both of us are social human beings, who deeply enjoy spending time with friends. Inevitably, our schedule would get packed with social programs… and guess what? Bingo! Many of the items that had been written down over and over again as important aspects of life never came up.

And another deep marital conversation was born: We really want to exercise more. We really want to spend more time outdoors. We really want personal time. And how about a date every so often? How do we do this? Both of us work full-time, spend a fair amount of time commuting, have a two year old son and a four month old daughter… But we need to make it happen! We don’t have time! Let’s make time. If it’s important, we’ll find time.

So we agreed on a tentative set of goals, which could be changed with time, but at least we had a starting point:

Personal Time: 1 x week = exercise ( + 1 x month bonus, to do something different that we really need or want)

Family Time: 2 x week, includes fun activities with the kids, exercise and/or being outdoors

Couple Time: 1 x month, in which we go for dinner to a new restaurant or explore places in the city

We started scheduling for the whole month, blocking time slots with tentative programs, but flexible enough in case the weather doesn’t cooperate, one or more get sick, or something unexpected  happened. So, when it came to scheduling time with friends, we didn’t have as many openings as before, but so far it’s proven to still be enough to meet people and have a fantastic time. In parallel, we work on other aspects that are also important for us. While we only started this technique about a month ago, everybody in the family seems happier. We will see how it develops over time.

So the take home message of the day would be: If there are things important for you that you are leaving aside, be nice to yourself and make them happen. No time? Schedule it and you will be surprised. I invite you to at least try 🙂