Pursuing Life Goals. Two months ago I shared in the Impact Analytix Launch blog that I decided to pursue a life dream of owning my own business. Not everyone in my network reads my blog and I continue to get quite a few pings about “WHY?”. Why did I do this? Why not be a senior level BI or Analytics leader for an amazing company? What on earth am I thinking and on and on? Sure there are probably a hundred easier paths that I could take than to start my own business but I would never have excelled in the BI/technology world if I was all about the easy path, right? I thrive on challenges, enjoy helping people, do work that I truly believe makes a positive impact, like to do my own thing, enjoy exploring new technologies, and have an undeniable entrepreneurial spirit that has not gone away since I wrote my Life Goals list in 1991.
So let’s talk about Life Goals! I think everyone should have personal and professional Life Goals – set them early in life and continue to update them as life takes you in different directions. I set my Life Goals (see the wrinkled yellow paper above) when I was young, naive, and in college. I was in Business School and not in Computer Science. At the time, I had no idea that I would fall madly in love with data and technology – a direction where hobbies, passions, and talents ended up leading me after school. Of course over time, some goals are achieved, others change, new ones are added while some are removed. Some examples of goals accomplished include graduating from college, being able to support myself, paying off my debts, buying a house, working for Microsoft, volunteering to teach kids, coaching for a cheerleading team, traveling to Italy and Mexico, going on a cruise, and learning to scuba dive. An example goal that I decided after time just didn’t make sense to keep on my Life Goals list = being able to do a round-off back-handspring with a full twist. My body was never going to be able to do that after age 29 and in reality it really was unimportant in the bigger picture. I also ended up not having children. My husband was in the military during most of our marriage and our lives took very different directions than most people take. I studied and worked A LOT while he was out to sea when many other people had children and busy personal lives. That is not a bad thing at all – it is just a bit different life path. Instead of 3 children – I had 3 dogs that I deeply cherish type different. Some goals that stayed on the Life Goals list each year and NEVER seemed to change include: having an unlimited supply of Diet Mountain Dew, wonderful friendships, enjoying the great outdoors, traveling to Spain, Brazil, England, Australia and Japan, buying a red convertible, and HAVING MY OWN BUSINESS.
It is no secret but I also haven’t widely shared that my husband and I struggled with carrying two peak bought mortgages and a steep Southern California rent payment after the 2008 housing market crash holding us back from a couple fantastic career opportunities and putting our Life Goals on long-term hold. We did not see that market crash coming – it changed our lives forever. I will never forget that time and ironically I had a great job on a “keep the lights on team” helping a company in the construction industry survive the financial crisis analyzing data and scenarios that had never, ever been planned for in their business models. I was very lucky. My husband was not as lucky since his employer went bankrupt. We both put our Life Goals on hold to ensure that we could work to pay for food, our housing debt, and make it through the long spell of rainy days per se. We cut off TV and all other non-essential expenses just like many other people during that time. We also faced a variety of other challenges during those hard times but vowed to do the right things and we would get through it. We ultimately made the choice to leave a good career role to live in one of our two empty peak bought houses to stay afloat. We ended up landing nice jobs back home. I was further blessed to work in my Microsoft dream job the last few years and then finally we were able to sell one of those empty houses at a significant loss just this past March 2013. Loss or not, it was a huuuuge financial relief for us. Selling that house opened the door for being able to explore our Life Goals again.
There are many challenges that you may encounter in your life and career – health/illness, family member death, financial stress, job loss, failure, or many other things that may put your life dreams on a long-term hold. In my case, I kept that little yellow Life Goals paper and tightly held on to those goals and dreams. I never completely gave up on them, not ever, not for a moment…and it kept me going even in the scariest of times like that Fall of 2008. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
Life takes many unexpected twists and turns. I would advise all of you to reflect on your own life goals, write them down to remember them, continue pursuing them, and revisit them each and every year no matter what happens to stay true to your soul. My Life Goals list has been a wonderful compass for me to keep on going in the right direction in good times and in times of uncertainty or fear. I hope this helps clarify the why I am doing what I am doing and that it may also help you keep striving towards your own Life Goals. ; )