• Don’t Follow Your Passion – Do What You’re Good At

    I have heard that if you do what you love, you will never work another day in your life.  It seems to me that current think has twisted how you should apply that to your career. Current think will have you believe that if you do what you love, the money will miraculously follow. It will have you believe there is no way you can’t succeed both financially and as a contributing member of society if you just follow your dream.  But if you’re not really good at what you “love” or if you’re not a standout at your “passion” relative to all the other valuable people in the field/trade, …well then, the world doesn’t owe you anything.

    Understanding that I don’t necessarily need to do what I “love” has been a real epiphany for me lately.

    I went through a bit of a woe-is-me period not too long ago.  Because this “find your passion and the rest will follow” chatter has been so prominent in our culture lately, I had myself convinced that despite initially becoming a scientist because I found earth science fascinating, I needed to do something else.  I thought this because the popular advice I was hearing was that you should find the one thing in the world you absolutely love that doesn’t even feel like work.  Once you find That One Thing and then pursue it as a career, money and success will magically appear in its wake.  Did I embark on my career because I love sitting in front of a computer manipulating software in a windowless office for 9 hours a day?  No. OK, then.  So what do I love?

    Well, I’m excited by science.  I took a few geology classes and decided to major in it because I thought it was so cool.  The other things I love doing can be found on my About Me page.  I love hanging out with my cat and all animals.  Writing is something I do without expecting any pay (this blog).  I write because it’s a compulsion, and a form of self-expression and because I love the catharsis.  Other things I love are  being up in the middle of the night reading and philosophizing when the rest of the world is tucked away and then sleeping odd hours during the day.  And I adore hiking and yoga.  I love spending part of every day tinkering around in the kitchen.

    So this advice to do what I love had me really confused.  I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong that would allow me to incorporate all these things that allow me to get lost in time into my career.  So, here’s what my imagined career started to look like:

    We live on a ranch (near a city so I have access to the cultural center but also near the mountains so I can hike).  We have maybe three dogs, the house cat (Dove), and a barn full of other cats I have adopted from shelters.  I have a herd of alpacas, a couple of goats, and some horses.  So that’s my workplace – an idyllic ranch.  Doesn’t it sound so much better than an over air-conditioned skyscraper, I kept asking myself?

    So, I make a little bit of money from the alpaca fleece.  But what else?  What else am I doing that I love that is going to wondrously give me satisfaction, pride, and that pesky little thing called money?  Of course!  I will teach yoga and meditation.  Perhaps this could be a getaway spa-type place where people come for rehabilitation amongst the fresh air.  A bed and breakfast type place where I lead the stressed-out city folk on revitalizing hikes and feed them from my organic farm.  And then, on the side, I’ll write an amazing book and it will be a best-seller and will support me for the rest of my life.  I would hate to give up science, so I guess I will have to start a center, maybe an observatory, or perhaps be a guide at a park, a consultant on the side, a teacher?

    After contemplating and cultivating this dream career for many years, I slowly started to descend in to a period of malaise, a strong distaste for The Office Job.  I started whining to my sister about it during a weekend we spent together with my mom up in Vail (a place especially conducive to one imagining The Dream Life) and she said I should read a book our dad had recommended to her.  It is called So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.  He makes some really good points in the book.  One is that the world doesn’t owe you anything simply because you’ve identified your passion.  You need to create something valuable to give to the world after putting in the time to become good at it and only then will you receive something back.  In becoming good at something, that in turn stokes your passion for it.

    So maybe I can have my Land of Levity with birds chirping, beasts running wild and office refugees doing yoga, but the world doesn’t owe me that kind of life in the sense that it will “pay me out” as a career choice.  I could pursue the lifestyle, yes, but that doesn’t mean it will be the thing from which I earn money or be successful or feed my ego. The world has no career karma saved up for me just because I can envision my ideal lifestyle.

    So I have given up on this “dream career” for now. Why?  Because I’m a scientist.  That’s what I do.  It’s why I spent seven years in school and have arduously trudged up the learning curve in my field over the last nine years.  It doesn’t mean I can’t still find time to do yoga and read and meditate and spend time with Dove and volunteer and write when I’m not at the office.  And on top of that, I’m a good scientist.  I’d probably suck at doing the other things I imagine that I love, or at least suck badly enough that it wouldn’t earn me money because I’d be a novice, which in of itself would probably discourage me.

    I know what it feels like to be a novice in a field I know little about.  I know because I spent the first 10,000 hours of my career as a scientist (which pretty much just ended) until I passed over in to the “expert” category and feel proficient and confident (most days).  See Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers if you haven’t heard about this phenomenon.  It’s frustrating and it’s hard work to learn and prove yourself and grow both professionally and personally.

    And that is what I have come to discover.   Being good at something and having a coveted skill is what brings career satisfaction.  Being good at something generally requires an investment of time to develop that skill.  And you probably wouldn’t have invested in that skill in the first place if it wasn’t something you had a propensity for and an interest in.

    I now see why all these seasoned guys (okay, well maybe the seasoned ones are 5% women in my career…I discuss that more in this post on women in science) might really love their jobs and pop in to the office on their days off.

    If you love your work, great, but it is still something you are doing for yourself and/or your family to live.  Your work could be supporting you financially or psychologically, or both.  It’s still something you are expecting a reward from, whether monetary or pride or to feel valued to some extent.  If you happen to love every second of your career, you are still getting paid so it’s still technically work.

    Now, I’m not saying it never happens that someone is wildly successful at turning their passion in to a job or business.  All I’m saying is re-think what the world owes you.  Re-think whether or not it will feel like work if you throw yourself into something, passion or not.  And think about all those times that you started to enjoy something once you got really good at it.

  • Dream Land

    Something is happening.  There is a disturbance in my reality.  I can’t understand what but it is irksome and not quite right.  My world is being shattered.  Wait, it isn’t reality that is collapsing, it is reality encroaching.  I refuse to accept it.

    Can I not retain the preferable world, the one where everything being inside out and upside down is odd, yes, but understandable?  I prefer the world where existence is an enigma, incomprehensible.

    I imagine this is how it is in an insane asylum.  The drugged and sleepy state is the normal state.  This world is full of ghosts and potential worlds, possible outcomes.  Potential is the key word.  Reality quickly bores or deflates.  It’s better where everything is garbled.  I can fly and I can bounce.

    There it goes, that sound again, yanking me in to a place I don’t want to inhabit, like police sirens pulling me over.  I beg you officer, let me stay where I know new beginnings lead not to endings but to additional beginnings.  I don’t want to be taken some place where I am forced to adhere to a schedule and a finite space.  I want to keep moving up, eventually bursting through the clouds in to the great beyond. Let me have my own rules.  Let me see a vivid picture and believe my hallucinations.

    There it goes again…disturb me again and I will bash you again.

    And then reality implores me.  It glows and reveals the time.  The minutes in which to properly prepare for my day are slowly being consumed, cannibalizing the life of my dream self.  I long for it again, the nourishing and wholesome deliverance on the other side of my eyelids.

    At first nothing is important and then I realize there is something that might matter.  It’s today’s weather and no matter how comfortable my bed is, it might be a different story on the other side.  I will be kicked out of this warm nest and will need to be prepared for when I go soldiering out there in to the known.  I can forget about the other stuff this day might bring but I can’t escape this.   Is it raining?  Is it snowing?  Is it hot?

    No, none of it matters.  Let me return to where nothing matters.  I can’t. I musn’t.  It’s time to leave.  It’s 6:42!

    What are the four things that I must do in order to leave the house?  I need to get dressed.  I need a bag with things for the day.  I need some food.  I need to do basic grooming.  A pass of the brush will do.  But not the knot on the back of my head.  I want to keep that with me to remember Bed, the world I inhabited earlier.  I hope my dream world doesn’t change much while I am away, unable to shepherd the beasts and defy physics.  I loved it there.

    This is the dialogue I have had with myself every morning for approximately the last 25 years that I have had to awake with an alarm earlier than my body intends.

  • Girl’s Best Friend

    As far as I was concerned, he was my little boy.  My dad showed up with a new addition to the family when I was 10 years old.  As with most major purchases, he did it unbidden for the enjoyment and memories of everyone.  He opened the car door and a white English setter puppy with perfect brown spots emerged.  Like all puppies, his enthusiasm was unbridled and his body had not quite kept pace with development of his paws.

    Charlie Puppy

    Everyone in the family was instrumental for Charlie’s care, but I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility for him, a theme that would follow me for every other pet that was destined to bless my life.

    Like most persons who are newly responsible for someone, I became gripped by a fear that some harm would come to my darling boy.  In the way mothers go to listen to their babies to make sure they are still breathing, I kept my fast twitch leg muscles on standby.  I was scared he was going to get away.  He had a need to run, which I understood on an instinctual level.  His dashes were not to escape, but to seek a momentary freedom, to explore.  Charlie’s mad sprints in to the exponential horizon of the prairie were legendary.

    He was spotted but his ears were a silky fawn color. They smelled like kibble and I could not give him enough kisses there.  I loved the firmness of his belly beneath the sparser fur of his underside.  His coat was always a tangle despite my loving attempts to groom him daily as he watched me beneath his soft and eager eyes; his white lashes the signature of a northern adventurer. I admired his energy, his resolve, and his shenanigans that weren’t born of a desire to be naughty, but to attack life with gusto. These would all become traits I sought in other beings I loved as I grew up.

    He arrived to us late in the North Dakotan summer.  Summer is quickly consumed by a ferocious fall in that part of the world.  It was my job to tend to Charlie in the mornings before school.  He needed to be let out first and then to be fed.  After he had eaten, I had to wait to let him out again.

    I had a horrible peach chenille robe I would put over my pajamas each morning when I emerged from bed to take Charlie out.  Over that, I would throw on a down jacket, moonboots, a hat and mittens and take my beloved puppy into the backyard.  The yard was delineated by a split-fence and covered in thigh deep snow in the winter. The silence was complete, the snow insulating any sound that might have bounced across the 9th hole of the golf course we lived on.  The summer sounds of birds and golfers seeking our lemonade stand seemed like a dream from a faraway world.   Nocturnal Orion would shine down proudly from the sky, bidding good morning to me as he prepared for slumber after his heroic feats in the icy night sky.

    photo-1

    Note horrible chenille robe in background, Grandma Alice’s afghans, as well as a book I wrote entitled “Charlie” on my dresser.

     

    These dark and frozen mornings brought me a profound sense of peace. I love that indescribable freshness of morning on a land-locked tundra.  The cold freezes the sinuses and puts the body in to a conservative and meditative trance.

    After Charlie had peed we would go back inside and I would take off my cold weather gear, feed him and retreat to my favorite place in the house as he wolfed down his breakfast – the foyer.  I would take a break while he ate, fancying myself like an exhausted mother who deserves to flop on to the couch with a mindless television show while her baby naps.   In the foyer, I would fiend toward the heating floor vent and pull my big sleeping shirt around my whole body and toes, creating a tent for the hot air to rush in and warm my body.  I’d sit there looking out the window in to the dark morning of the front yard.  On the more exciting days, I might see the milkman or another neighbor crunching through the snow with his leashed dog.

    When Charlie finished his breakfast, it was back to the living room to ensure he had time before we all left for school to wrestle and cuddle and chew.  I would sit bathed in the light of the Christmas tree, holding his rawhide between my calves and allowing him to chew away with concentration, his paws resting on my legs.  My disgusting robe would be covered in the crust of the rawhide, Charlie’s fur and remnant bits of snow from our first outdoor excursion.  I worried that he was as cold as I was and would cover him with the afghans my Grandma Alice had knitted.

    When he was finished having a chew and a wrestle, I would groom his coat, brush his teeth and let him out again as the morning finally approached the inky light of dawn.

    Prior to Charlie, I had a system of stuffed animals.  I had each of the nearly 100 creatures/doll listed and wanted to be sure that each was treated equally so I had them rotate between my closet, a hammock on my wall, a doll bed and for their special night, my bed.  Once my living being, Charlie, joined the ranks though, the stuffed animals suddenly were less important and were only a few years away from being orphaned in a garage sale.  My primary focus was to ensure that all 90 pounds of Charlie was comfortable in my bed as I clung to the side and wrapped my skinny body around his for warmth and reassurance.

    I loved Charlie the way I have truly loved all the other animals in my life.  He taught me unconditional love, patience, responsibility and enjoyment of the present moment. He taught me that seeing someone else thrive is usually all the thanks we are going to get for taking care of them.  Animals take us outside of something we can’t understand and introduce us to a divine human emotion.  Theirs is a special kind of love.

    This was based on a writing prompt given to a novel-writing class I took at the Rice University Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, taught by Karleen Koen.  The prompt was, “Write about the first person you ever fell in love with.”

  • Les Petites Bonheurs

    Sometimes in life, we spend so much time looking forward to big events, or for things to be a certain way that we forget the little moments in between these achievements and disappointments.  The French have a word for these beautiful moments that doesn’t translate directly in to English.  They call them les petites bonheurs.  It translates to “the little happiness” and basically means that life is full of little pleasures.

    Experiencing les petites bonheurs is when you see beauty in the world for a moment and take that brief slice of perfection and realize life is a collection of these moments rather than the things we obsess about on a daily basis.  It’s about bringing these slivers of contentedness and connectedness and moving them to the foreground instead of letting them exist unnoticed in the background of life. Read more

  • Accepting Change

    The cliché is that the only constant in life is change.  But sometimes we don’t want to change because it’s safer for things to stay just how they are.  Well, “tough titty,” said the kitty when the milk went dry.    Change truly is a part of our universe, as can be evidenced by redshift indicating that the universe is expanding.  And that star we count on to deliver us a new day like clock work? Our distant reality is that someday it will become a red giant and swallow life on Earth.

    We are fortunate in that whenever we recognize this familiar fear, this balking against inevitable change by way of an overwhelming desire to dig our heels in and stay firmly planted as the world swirls around us, we are being told something.  Once we recognize this fear and resistance, it is up to us to accept that fact, and trust that our inner voice has warned us change is nigh.

    Often times the stronger the reaction we have, the highest priority those changes are.  What we are contemplating changing is truly something that requires our attention and efforts to focus on.

    If we are a brittle old tree in a windy world, we will be doomed to a dramatic break as the flexible sapling bends and continues to grow with the rain from the storm that is raining on our heads.

    We know that we have identified what exactly it is that needs to change when we feel  fear.  Then, it’s up to us to channel the fear we feel in to adrenaline and action, as fear is intended to do.

    What do we do when we feel fear?  It’s a fight or flight response.  Fear usually does not elicit us to stand still with our eyes closed and hope for the best but this tactic is often used in our daily lives.  And in recognizing that change needs to happen, to have that conscious thought and awareness, is most of the way toward enacting that change – recognition is the hardest part.

    It is our job to use this awareness to grow and to evolve.  Nothing survives without evolution to its particular set of challenges presented by the environment or changing circumstances.

    One very meaningful way to recognize this inner voice telling us change needs to happen is to write in a journal every day.  Write anything you feel, anything that has upset you, anything that has uplifted you, how specifically you are dealing with problems and what is getting in the way of you living your best life.  It might not be obvious at first, but if you look back on the thought patterns over a month or so, you will see where the obvious changes need to take place.  You might need time to accept it and you might need help to overcome these changes.  But changed you will be.

  • Risk & Regrets

    This post is in response to the following writing prompt: It was Erica Jong that said, “If you don’t risk anything, you risk more.”

    There are so many times in life that we have to take a leap of faith and build our wings on the way down (a quote attributed to an unknown source).  Of course, staying exactly where we are and never taking a risk feels safe.  It feels like the easiest thing to do.  All these questions pop in to our heads such as, “Will I have traded the devil for the witch?” or “Will I regret it?” or “Will I be indelibly changed after this experience?” And the big one, “What if I fail?”  Of course, what if you did?  Life unfolds exactly as it is supposed to.  Do you actually regret any of the decisions you have made that allowed you to move in a different direction?

    Regret is a funny word though.  I think we all have a few regrets.  There are certain things I’ve done or said that I dearly wish I could take back.  Yes, they have allowed me to eventually grow as a person.  Yes, they have given me the opportunity for introspection and the ability to see what I need to work on.  But I think so many people out there that say they have no regrets don’t mean it in this sense. I think what they actually mean is that they don’t regret the risks they have taken.  The biggest things I have ever been scared about the possibilities of, when it felt like I was risking everything are as follows:

    • Changing schools
    • Extracting toxic relationships from my life
    • Changing to a better job
    • Trying to have a baby
    • Getting married
    • Publishing blog posts

    Do I regret any of these decisions?  No.  Did they all feel risky? Yes.  But risk is a sign that you are pushing the boundary on life; that you are leering over the event horizon of possibility.  And as we all well know, once this new universe is glimpsed, it’s impossible to pretend we didn’t see it.  It tantalizes. 

    Read more

  • Define Your Character Through Your Habits

    “Habits are cobwebs at first, cables at last.” ~Chinese proverb

    I know, I know…resolutions and habits are a bit cliché for me to blog about on the second of January.  But I’m not proposing you instantly apply this to your New Year’s resolution.  I feel like the time after the holidays is a really difficult time to implement a resolution, which is essentially a habit we’re trying to get in to or out of.  We’re exhausted and hungover from the madness and it’s almost a cop-out to convince yourself that now is the time in your life for a change.  Of course you can’t go like you did last month all year long!

    I like to use these first few weeks of the New Year to just kind of  mentally rest and catch up on sleep and decide what is important in my life.  Which is why I took a couple more days off from work and am writing this post from a coffee shop 😀  I like to decide which direction I’m steering my ship and more importantly, WHY am I steering it there?  Do you feel fat and decide your resolution is to go to the gym? Maybe re-frame and ask what you are seeking…is it health, confidence, pride, energy?

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  • Emily the Strange – My Lame Adventures In Introversion

    We sit in the loft of my parents’ Minnesota lake cabin circa 1987, the old box fans covered in wet towels and lazily steaming out the hot air of mid-summer.  My best friend and I are sitting on one of the twin beds covered in a peach-colored comforter.  Our bare legs are tan from a day swimming in the fresh algal-smelling lake, rocking on an oversized inner tube to see who would crash in to the water first.  It was a wonderful day punctuated by padding up the pine steps for red Kool-Aid and Wheat Thins covered in Easy Cheese.

    Our conversation carried on as it had all day, incessant talk of the best way to get tan, which boys might be in our class the following fall and our grand plans for working on the fort in the mosquito-infested woods behind the cabin.  And then a familiar feeling began to rise in me again, like a yellow rubber duck in a quickly overfilling bathtub – smiling happily at me in the face of a grave threat.  For no discernible reason, I didn’t want anyone to talk to me anymore.  I wanted her to let me be before the fatigue of interacting with someone threatened to defeat me.  I wanted to be left alone with my thoughts.  I wanted to revert in to my own world with my books and daydreams.  I wanted to run, alone, in silence along the gravel road.  I made a hasty excuse and climbed down the ladder and made a nervous lunge at my mom, beseeching her with my eyes.

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  • Ask a Beautiful Question

    “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.” ~e.e. cummings

    I thought Thanksgiving Day would be a perfect time to publish a post that provides tools we can use that allow us to be in a grateful and appreciative frame of mind.  Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up asking ourselves dreadful questions…the “What if (insert worst-case scenario)?” and “Why am I so (insert self-deprecating comment)?”  It goes to follow that if these are the kinds of things we are focusing our energy and attention on, and these are the situations we are worrying ourselves with, we will inevitably throw off negative and anxious energy.  By sending this energy out, we only end up attracting more of it.  This works in much the same way that we can only find a song to listen to on an FM station if we’re tuning it to a FM bandwidth that operates in that particular region.

    One book I really liked was Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within.  In the book he lists a number of “Empowering Questions” to ask yourself each morning.  I have found these are some lovely questions to put me in the right frame of mind each morning to go through my day focusing on the positive.  By doing so, it allows me to avoid asking myself harmful questions that can only bring a slew of potentially negative outcomes to consider that have yet to even occur.  I essentially think of this as a morning gratitude meditation.   I also use it any time I’m having a “woe is me” moment.  His questions are as follows:

    • What am I happy about in my life now?
    • What am I excited about in my life now?
    • What am I proud about in my life now?
    • What am I grateful about in my life now?
    • What am I committed to in my life right now?
    • Who do I love? Who loves me?

    Try asking yourself these questions in the shower or on your commute and see if you can get some beautiful answers.  I keep these questions in a list on the notes in my phone so that they are easily accessible when I get overwhelmed, feel unappreciated, or ungrateful for all of the blessings in my life.

  • Prioritizing Our Personal Values

    “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” ~Annie Dillard

    Deep down we all know what we value in a vague sense, but very few people stop and consider what their core values actually are.  Recognizing what they are can usher success; not being aware of them can cause strife both internally and in relationships.  There are a lot of personal development books that address this awareness and prioritization of values.  Knowing what your values are can help you to arrange and spend your time in a manner that is most stimulating and rewarding for you.  If you’ve never really stopped to consider your values, do so now.  Some examples of what different values might be are as follows:

    • Love
    • Creativity
    • Success
    • Family
    • Spirituality
    • Passion
    • Fun
    • Athleticism
    • Wealth
    • Balance
    • Happiness
    • Growth
    • Faith
    • Achievement
    • Security
    • Health
    • Peacefulness
    • Power
    • Boldness
    • Charity
    • Freedom
    • Honesty
    • Adventure
    • Gregariousness
    • Activeness

    You get the idea.  This list is as diverse as the people that make up the world.  Most of us value all these things to some extent but certain values will float to the top for you.  Try and list your top 10 values.  Doing so will allow you to learn something about yourself.  Then focus on the top 5 values and try to prioritize them.

    If the way that we’re spending our days is not feeding our values, that is when we start to feel out of sorts and frustrated.  For example, if you love adventure and creativity, then working at a job that doesn’t allow you to live either value is going to cause some resentment.  This resentment may cause problems with your boss and/or co-workers and with the quality of your own work .  On the other hand, if you’re feeling frustrated by all the demands of home life, maybe it is because your values of freedom and balance are being tested.

    You should also note the order of these values and determine what your most important value is to help you prioritize and understand your actions.  For example, if you’re having trouble committing to a relationship and two of your top five values are intimacy/love and freedom, you might be able to see where this struggle is stemming from and then can think in an honest way about what is more important to you.  If your top value is family and your second value is success, you can come to understand why you feel so upset at having to explain to your boss that your child is sick today, yet again, and you won’t be able to make it in.  Knowing in your heart that family comes first makes it easier to deliver the news without feeling guilt.

    The other way the value hierarchy can manifest itself is strife between two people.  It’s helpful to know what your family members, partner or friends value so you can see where they’re coming from when you’re at odds.  For example, if one spouse is always craving to have people over for parties or loves going to big matches and events (values = excitement, gregariousness, competition, activeness) and the other spouse’s idea of a good time is taking a bath and reading an interesting book (values = peacefulness, personal growth, balance, tranquility), it’s hard to see eye to eye on whose activity will eventually win out without understanding where the other person is coming from.  If one person continues to “win,” these can stack up and build animosity.  It’s easier to discuss from a place where people can talk about their values.

    As an example, I keep my top five values in a list on my phone.  They weren’t easy to pick and I realize they could change if my life circumstances changed.  I visit them nearly every day.   They are as follows:

    1. Health
    2. Love
    3. Security
    4. Peace
    5. Adventure

    There are days I feel pulled in too many directions.  My friends or family suggest one thing and I want to do another.  Other days, I feel frustration as to what I’m doing at the office instead of at home doing passion projects such as tending to my garden, cooking up a storm, and writing a novel.  I question why I choose to sit under buzzing fluorescent lights 40 hours a week when I have the means to experience exciting adventures and relaxation in the great outdoors.  But then I realize how important security is to me.  I am one of those people that needs a reliable source of income and saving for the future is very important to me.  I strive for self-sufficiency and independence which are associated with my security value.  I can see that this need for security and this need for peace and adventure are something that I have to focus on balancing so that I feed portions of my day with all of them.

    There are days I wake up chiding myself because I over-indulged in wine the night before and feel crappy.  The reason I’m upset with myself is that even though I love adventure (and these hangovers are usually born of a grand exercise in spontaneity, adventure and companionship), I realize that I compromised my values of health and peace.

    There are times I feel guilty about having to leave work early or take some time off.  I am doing that to tend to my health, find peace or adventure, or to exercise my value of love to Chief and to Dove or to visit my family and friends.  If career success and achievement were in my top five values (instead of only my top 10), I might be there at the office with the workaholics who value success, pride, or status above all else, watching my precious Paid Time Off hours going unused.  I generally imagine that they just don’t like their home life as much as I adore mine, but who knows?  Perhaps family is at the top of their values and they are caring for their family the best way they know how.

    There are days these values shift.  Some times you have to put one in front of the other for the short-term.   But it at least becomes a tool for recognizing why I am feeling torn on those days.

    These values tend to be fairly different for genders, generations, personalities and for cultures.  I recognize that and I am at peace with that and am content to be who I am.