There are the things we do in our lives that are resume builders, that are ‘obligatory responsibilities,’ and that we do to live up to other people’s expectations. And then, hopefully not in this order, there are the things we do for ourselves. It’s in the things we do for ourselves, they way build our legacies through our passions that we build our lives. Last week I was reminded of this, again, when I grabbed coffee with a friend in Charlotte.
The first time I met for coffee with this friend was for a pseudo job interview a few years ago – an interview that quickly transformed into a passionate conversation about goals, the nonprofit world, community development, and the most frequent theme of our shared goals – strong women in business. Over the next 6 months we continued to meet for these caffeine sponsored existential refuels, creating a space for honest conversation outside of our everyday schedules and job(s), focusing on where we were going – in life. We would discuss our lines of passion, rather than the typical ‘lines of work,’ and these musings became the foundation of our friendship.
We talked about piecemeal resumes and employing what I like to call the ‘project strategy’ method of resume building; utilizing every opportunity to gain the experience necessary to eventually be qualified for the position that we have created in our heads. We overflowed with excited words and emphatic hand gestures when talking about the projects we were owning on our own time. We connected the small ways they inched us closer to our goals and mapped out our re-evaluated paths. The most substantial thing we did, however, was simply that we listened to each other.
By listening we created support, alliance, and most of all accountability as we shared aloud some of the goals that had only ever existed in the back of our own heads. It was apparent that slowly, but surely, we were evolving from building our visions to actually living them. At the time, we were both working for lululemon, trying to keep our eyes up to see what was really beyond the great wall of black yoga pants.
There were many take-aways from my time working with lululemon, but the most impactful was the concept of creating your own role. Look at your strengths, connect with what you love, create your ideal life, and do it now. Don’t wait for anyone to create it for you, just go out there and start doing it – Build YOURSELF. Embracing this part of the lululemon culture, for me, was a confirmation of possibility and an encouraging thought that maybe there was a method to my madness (‘madness’ as a seemingly ironic and choice word now that I too live in what was then my ‘future’ life). I had been doing it for years in my own way; selecting jobs for the learning curve, the skill set, and the opportunities that connected broadly with other groups and people; doing my best to maintain a trajectory that would land me where I wanted to be.
Had I never met this friend or ever ruminated over coffee I’m confident that we still would have been working towards these goals on our own. We would still be creating, dreaming, connecting, and pushing ourselves forward because that’s what makes us feel whole. We would be doing all of those things, but it might not have been the same; we may have hesitated longer before taking leaps, felt more obligated to prioritize work over life, or wondered if we were just out of our freaking minds.
As we caught up last week the conversation was much of the same, except for one big difference: it was no longer a conversation about the distant future. We finally reached the ‘future,’ and are on the brink of realizing some of our most substantial goals. We spent the last two years navigating through our own ‘project strategies’ to have reached the point where the passion collides with drive, where the future and LIFE begins. The only thing left to do is start.