How To Be An Adult About Your Career When You Feel Like A Confused Kid

Around the time that exam results are released, high school students have this conversation with their parents.

Mom: Love, I’m so proud of you for getting that place to study medicine in Cape Town.

Child: But mom, I told you that I’m going to study acting.

Mom : Acting for who? What is acting? Are you a comedian now?

 

And so it goes. In a conversation that I had with a mother she admitted that she was resistant to her daughter studying to work in the tourism industry because she did not understand it. She explained how the women of her generation only saw themselves walking in one of two career paths: teaching or nursing.

As African countries gained independence careers that were previously closed doors of opportunity opened up. Parents who could not pursue medicine, law and accounting began to have those dreams for their children. They worked hard to educate and prepare for university where their children would take advantage of the many opportunities they were deprived of.

You feel pressured to choose the path your parents want for you. You are conflicted because you want to honour your parents but you also want to live your own life, not theirs. You feel confused because you suddenly have to make grownup decisions but you still feel like a child.

 

Four years ago I felt terrified of getting stuck in a career that I hated. I had just finished studying my first degree and had to decide if I was going to pursue a law degree. My dad had told me that he had always wanted to be a lawyer but could not. The truth is that I was pressuring myself. My parents had never tried to force me into a specific path.

I wanted to make them proud, but I also wanted to be happy. I was confused and spent months wrestling with it until I could make sense of the tangle of the fear of failure and the fear of success. I don’t have all the answers but I do have ideas that will change the way you think.

It’s okay not to know what you want to be when you grow up

I used to envy people who said they always knew what work they wanted to do, but then I found out that there are far more people who can’t decide if they want to be biologist or a belly dancer. Realising this freed me. My uncertainty did not make me a failure.

Think of your degree as an investment in yourself

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet said, ‘Invest in yourself as much as you can, you are your own biggest asset by far.’ If you’re a student, stop thinking of university as a necessary evil on the path to making money, think of it as an investment in yourself.  University will give you more than a degree. It shapes your worldview, it puts in place the foundations that you will build your adult life on.

Do your research

Never, ever make a career choice on a whim. Find out as much as you can about your options and make an informed decision. Google is helpful and websites like Forbes are a great resource, but talking to a person slightly ahead of you on the path you are considering is by far the best way to get the lowdown on any career.

Honour your parents

Honour and obedience are not the same thing. To honour your parents means to consider them better than you, to value and respect them. Instead of dismissing their advice as old-fashioned or oppressive, listen and consider it as valuable. Use the language of respect, don’t throw a tantrum because they disagree. Engage them in conversation, but remember that it is your decision to make and not theirs.

Understand that it’s not about what job you are doing but about the person you are becoming

Four years ago I chose to read for a law degree even though I didn’t feel certain that I wanted to be a lawyer. I realised that my career is not my identity, it’s not who I am. Rather, it’s a channel through which I can express who I am. If you spend your life chasing job titles and employee of the year awards, you are going to be an empty shell at the end of your life.

Ultimately the most important question you must ask yourself is: Who do I want to be when I grow up?

Zola writes to encourage you to live every day with intentionality. Subscribe to get more of her writing free.

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The Beyoncé Guide To Being A Powerful Introvert

At the end of a long day at work all you want to do is go home and spend the rest of the night in bed, nestling a cup of coffee and a book. But your department is going for a quick drink at the pub to celebrate Tumi’s birthday. You say yes because you’ve run out of excuses for turning down the after-work invitations.

Also, you’re 7 months into your first job and peer evaluations are coming up soon – you had one too many ‘antisocial’ and ‘not a team player’ comments in the previous one. There’s a huge pit in your stomach at the thought of another awkward conversation with your supervisor:

“Do you feel fulfilled in your role in this company?”

“Well, yes. I think I’m finding my feet.”

That’s what you said, but what you really meant was… I find the tasks challenging but the emphasis on group work means ‘big personalities’ tend to dominate. I’m frustrated at the fact that Mary the Motor Mouth gets all the credit for work done just because no one else can get a word in edgewise when she’s in the room. I feel discouraged because I know my potential but I don’t think that I’ll ever be given the opportunity to fulfil it.

You have brilliant ideas, great listening skills and are a focussed and analytical thinker. But your greatest fear is that you’ll be stuck behind the scenes for the rest of your career. You crave recognition for your work. You want to influence, inspire and change the world.

You want to be a rockstar but you’re stuck singing “woo-woos” for someone else’s show.

You’re an introvert and this is not a problem, it’s your superpower. In fact, your way of thinking, relating to people and doing things is exactly what the world needs right now. But if you’re going to maximise your power, you’re going to have to believe that too because ultimately the power is in your hands.

Beyoncé is a world class example of what this looks like. She has described herself as “an introverted kid”. If you’ve ever seen an interview of her she comes across as shy, reserved and quiet. I know you’ve heard that before. I also know that you’ve felt the pressure to be more of an extrovert. As if you can wilfully change something so fundamental to your personality.

I’m an extrovert who thinks introverted people put the Pow! in Powerful. Without introverts my life would just be …erful. Who would be in charge of the grammar and spelling police? No true extrovert has the focus to give that much attention to detail.

We need you powerful introverts so here are some practical tips for unleashing your superpowers!

#1 Use obscurity as an opportunity for growth.

Long before Beyonce was the rock star we know today, she was taking dance classes, performing at talent shows and entering singing competitions. No one knew or cared who she was and this was important because she needed this time to learn, to make mistakes, to grow without the pressure to be perfect and meet anyone’s expectations.

Do not despise the days of small beginnings, embrace them. Because while everyone else is concerned with exceeding their previous sales targets, winning employee of the month and juggling multiple responsibilities, you’ll have the freedom to centre yourself and consider what direction you want to take in your work. As an introvert one of your greatest strengths is your rich inner life, use this!

Your time of hiddenness is time to develop a vision for where you want to be in the future. Read authors that stimulate your thinking and inspire you to dream big. Search for biographies of people you admire, subscribe to a blog that motivates you to be awesome. Once you’re done thinking, commit your thoughts to writing. I recommend Michael Hyatt’s free book on Creating a Life Plan. And when you’re ready to turn your dreams into action, check out Jon Acuff’s book Start.

#2 Be collaborative but don’t be choirly.

Beyonce was part of the group Destiny’s Child which sold over 60 million albums worldwide. In 2003 after the group’s split 2 years before, Beyonce released her first album which became her bestselling album to date. Here’s the thing, had Beyonce decided to go solo from the start, I don’t think she would have reached the same level of success that she’s enjoyed post-Destiny’s Child.

At that stage in her career, working in a group was crucial, she needed to combine her efforts with like minded people. Beyonce was collaborative but she never fell into the choir/herd/mob mentality and she still stepped out of her comfort zone. She always distinguished herself. She was the blonde haired girl when the others wore theirs black, she wrote the songs and took the lead on the choruses.

As an introvert you prefer to work alone but often that choice is not yours to make. Instead of letting the extroverts control your interactions, encourage the group to prepare a group meeting schedule in advance. By doing that, you can carve out some alone time to relax and recharge before and in between meetings. Also, remember to maintain a separate identity, don’t be tempted to fit in or conform. Resist the temptation to let other people speak for you, find your voice. In a team one of your greatest strengths is your ability listen to everyone’s ideas, analyse them and from that point, help the team understand each other better and come up with an effective solution.

#3 Practise, practise, practise and then perform.

Before she goes on tour, Beyonce spends weeks with a choreographer, tweaking and rehearsing every move. Before she releases a song she spends months writing, arranging and perfecting the melody. Before we see the finished product, she’s been on that stage for hours practising and practising and practising until she produces a flawless performance.

If you’re going to fully harness your superpower, you’re going to need to put in many hours of practice. The idea that your work will speak for itself is a myth, don’t be fooled. If you’re tired of being misunderstood, practise talking about yourself and your passions. If you have a brilliant idea that could solve all of Africa’s problems, practise communicating it in a way that makes sense. If you struggle to articulate yourself in public, practise in private first. Do it in front of a mirror, record a video, ask a good friend to listen.

The trick is to do your practise away from what you consider a high pressure environment. If corporate presentations freak you out, volunteer to teach in children’s church. 3 year old are merciful and really don’t know the difference between a dramatic pause and an awkward silence.

You were made for more than pushing papers and living in the shadow of Mary the Motor Mouth. You don’t need a personality transplant before you can reach your full potential. You were meant to inspire, influence and change the world.

I dare you to commit yourself to trying any of these things Beyonce has mastered, starting now. Who knows, one day you could be the world class example that’s worth blogging about.

Get your free download of Creating Your Life Plan here: http://michaelhyatt.com/creating-your-life-plan

Buy your copy of Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1937077594?pc_redir=1406124641&robot_redir=1

And don’t forget to subscribe to Mukoko!

Honey love

Shulaxoxo

The Seduction of Inadequacy

There are two kinds of people in the world: people who live from a place of adequacy and people who live from a place of inadequacy. Most of us fall into the second category.

When you’re living from a place of inadequacy you don’t define yourself according to who you are. It’s always about who you’re not. You’re constantly comparing yourself to other people. You struggle to receive love or affection. You can’t accept praise for a job well done.

You’re never enough. You’re never good enough, never smart enough, never beautiful enough:

"My complexion had always been an
obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden, Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy."

LupitaNyong’o

The seduction of inadequacy. Believe it or not, some of the most over-achieving people in the world are driven by the seduction of inadequacy. Because as long as you feel inadequate then you always have a problem to solve and that problem is you. It’s the problem that motivates them to reach higher, acquire more and do better.

The seduction of inadequacy leads to an obsession with perfection. For Lupita, a dark skinned girl, perfection meant light skin. That’s what she aimed to achieve using skin lightening creams and make up. Like a lot of us, she was led to believe that to be exceptional or even just acceptable, you must be something other who you already are.

So even when she was confronted with the truth, Black is beautiful; you are beautiful, it was a truth she rejected because she had bought into the lie that she wasn’t enough. She even enjoyed living from a place of inadequacy.

When you’re living from a place of inadequacy you can never be truly happy. No heights of achievement, no amount of money can ever be enough to satisfy you. Your house is full but your heart is empty.

Today I looked at myself and said, Self (my self said, Yeah?), What you’re looking at is all you’ve got and it’s all you need. You are enough.

I dare you to do the same! You were created to live from a place of adequacy. That begins with accepting yourself as you are – unique, gifted, beautiful.

Honey love
Shulaxoxo

15 Super Cheap Ways To Make Fathers’ Day Super Special For Your Dad

How do you make Fathers’ Day super special when you’re super broke?

In this post, you’ll find out that you don’t have to have lots of money to create a memorable experience. All you need is a little bit of creativity. Here are 15 things that you can do, choose 1:

Make him breakfast in bed.

If you live with your dad then a surprise breakfast in bed is the thing to do. It’s so easy you don’t even have to leave the house. Keep it simple or make it elaborate. If you’re keen to make it creative, prepare a menu that he can order from, include his favourite breakfast food add a short thank you note.

Write him a letter.

This is your chance to get sentimental. Put pen to paper and say thank to your dad. If you struggle with words then keep it short and sweet.

Get him a CD.

You won’t have to sell a vital organ to make this one happen. It’s time to make the bargain basket at your local CD store your friend. This is where you’ll find the classic albums for super low prices. Unless your dad’s a One Direction, there’s a really good chance you’ll find something he’ll enjoy for a small amount.

Buy him a pint.

Look for a pub or a restaurant close to you that has a Fathers’ Day special on their beers. Remember that locally made beers are usually cheaper than imported ones. If you’re on a very tight budget then this one’s great because you can limit it to just one. And if you decide to spend a little more, make sure you have a designated driver!

Teach him to how to use his latest gadget.

So your dad recently upgraded from his dusty desktop laptop to a sleek tablet. Unfortunately, he hasn’t quite figured out how to open his emails. Instead of trying to convince him to hand it off to you, why not take some time out to teach him how to use the basic features? He’ll love you forever.

Allow him to have the remote control for the day.

A moment of silence for all the dads who have to endure Keeping Up With The Kardashians TV marathons.

Thank you.

Show some love and let dad decide what you want to watch for the whole day. Okay, fine, half a day.

Treat him to a pedicure.

You know he needs one. All you need is a shallow dish; warm water; a cloth; nail clippers; a nail file; some body lotion; and a whole lot of courage. You can do this.

Keep him company on his morning or evening walk.

Does your dad take an early morning walk to buy his newspaper or for exercise? On Fathers’ Day, ask if you can join him, he probably won’t say no. You may have to wake up earlier than usual and brave some freezing weather but it’s a great way to spend some one-on-one quality time.

Take him to church.

Fathers’ Day always falls on a Sunday so this is the perfect opportunity to take your dad to church. Why church? Firstly, because they’re probably giving away some awesome daddy-friendly freebies. Remember, we’re trying to do Fathers’ Day on the cheap. Secondly, your dad will be encouraged by a sermon that’s directed at dads.

Phone him between midnight and 5AM.

This is your chance to use your free minutes for a good cause! Tell your best friend that you’ll catch up next week. If your dad’s an early riser then an early morning call is perfect. If he’s a night owl then go for a time just after midnight. And if he sleeps early and gets up late then rather Skype call him at convenient time.

Hire his favourite movie for the night.

Again, if your dad is old school this will be a great money saving option. Older movies are always cheaper than the latest movies. If you have a few bucks to spare, add some popcorn and biltong (beef jerky) to the mix.

Give him a framed photo of you and him.

Choose a cute photo of you and him, get it printed and buy an inexpensive frame to put it in. He can keep it on the cabinet at home or at his desk at work.

Go shopping.

The key to getting this right is that you offer your expert advice, he pays. You advise; he pays. If your dad’s wardrobe is looking vintage (not in a good way) then this is your chance to get him some new duds.

Get your mom to chip in.

On Fathers’ Day, your mom’s your closest ally. Rather than borrowing your dad’s wallet for the day, ask your mom to sponsor a meal or part of your gift. What’s in it for her? You can negotiate for you to do some household chores or run some errands – make it worth her time and money!

Get his tear ducts going with a slideshow.

All you need is a whole lot of photos, a song and PowerPoint. Create a simple slideshow with photos of you, your siblings and your dad. Choose a song that takes you to Nostalgiatown and get PowerPoint to do the rest of the work. It’s something visual that he won’t forget.

These are some simple and cheap (sometimes free) things you can do for your dad on Fathers’ Day and on any day of the year. If you’re fortunate enough to have a dad who is still alive and was there for you when you needed him then don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate him and show your appreciation!

For those of us whose experience is different, choose honour regardless of who your dad is. Your decision to honour him flows out of who you are; not who he is or was.

Have a great Fathers’ Day everyone!

Honey love

Shulaxoxo

Don’t Psych Yourself Out Before You Start

When I was in university, swot week was the best of times and the worst of times for me. It was the week between lectures ending and final exams starting. Agony and ecstasy.

As exams drew closer I remember being gripped by a sense of foreboding. The law faculty had successfully ingrained the fear of failure in me. The standard was high and I was always afraid that I couldn’t make it.

Without fail, every year I talked myself into believing that this time, this time, I didn’t have what it takes to do well.

I did it with my final exams; maybe you do it in a different area of your life. You convince yourself that you don’t have what it takes to succeed and you give up before you try. It’s a defence mechanism. We want to protect ourselves from disappointment so we lower our expectations in advance.

We psych ourselves out before we start.

“If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t.” Denis Waitley

I want to pick up on the biblical account in Numbers 13 of how Moses sent scouts out to check out the land of Canaan. When they returned the feedback they gave was,

“We can’t attack those people; they’re stronger than we are.”

They’d sent 12 men out and all of them agreed that they would be destroyed if they tried to enter the city. All of them except one whose name was Caleb,

“Let’s go up and take the land – now. We can do it.”

If you were one the people listening to the reports you’d probably call Caleb crazy, arrogant and over-confident. And you would agree with the 11 because they were being realistic and logical. According to that story, the whole community would have agreed with you.

When you face a challenge you can have one of two responses to it.

Either, “Oh my word, I’m going to do die. I can’t do this.”

Or, “I can totally do this. *cue Rambo music*”

The way you respond to a difficult obstacle will depend on how much you trust God. Caleb trusted God at his word and believed that if God said that this land was theirs then it was. Some of you reading this are thinking, That’s not my issue, I trust God. The person I don’t trust is me. If you’re thinking this then you’re doing the same thing that the 11 did – falling into the trap of self-reliance.

Self-reliance takes your focus off God and puts it on you. When you’re faced with a situation that’s bigger than you, you feel tiny; like a grasshopper in front of a giant. What you need to do is to take your eyes off yourself and look up. When you feel inadequate, you need to choose God-reliance over self-reliance. This is what trusting God means.

It’s time to look up. It time to believe that you can totally do what God says you can do.

Honey love

Shulaxoxo