Last night at work, I thought I had the opportunity to mentor a 23-year-old girl by giving her good advice on the career direction she should take. She has one daughter and lives with her father. She wants to better herself so that she won't spend her life working, working, working.
Boy, do I know that feeling!
She seemed very appreciative of my advice. I'm only 35, but the age difference is quite significant so that I was seen as an older, wiser person who is trying to steer her in the right direction.
Shortly after our conversation, she started talking to a girl who was perhaps around her age. This time, she was given some bad advice by this other girl. The other girl was telling her how to cheat the government, stating, "You think you're the only one cheating the system? Lots of people who make more money than we do are cheating the system."
To which the 23-year-old replied, "But, I'm not much of a liar."
The other girl replied, "It's not lying! It's called 'doing what it takes!' '' That is, doing what it takes to get ahead in life.
I was watching the 23-year-old listening and pondering the advice of this other girl while I was doing my work. After talking for a few minutes, the 23-year-old told the other girl, "You should be my mentor!"
Nevermind what the older, wiser, more mature person advised. Go ahead and listen to someone younger, immature, and who doesn't have her head on straight.
You know, this incident showed me that everybody is getting mentored by somebody, whether formally or informally. Someone is mentoring you right now and you probably don't know it. Who is this mentor and is this mentor steering you in the right direction?
Many of our mentors are the friends we hang around. Sadly, sometimes our best friends could give us the worst advise, while strangers could give us good advice. The thing is that we trust our friends more than we trust strangers, and we will end up getting burned in the end.
This poor, 23-year-old girl subjected herself to the advice of her friend, who was giving her bad advice. She may probably forget the advice that I've given her. The advice her friend gave would cause future stress, while the advice I gave would give her peace.
For instance, she applied for a job at Wal-Mart and has an interview. However, she has no car at the time and no babysitter for her daughter. And if she gets the job, she would have to worry about how to get to the job, plus have to worry about working two jobs. This would definitely interfere with her goal for higher education.
My advice? Set your sights higher than on Wal-Mart and apply for jobs that you don't think you could get as you may be surprised at what you may get. Since she's living with her father, I told her don't rush to leave home, especially since he's not trying to kick her out. Focus on her future education. Pretty much, do things the right way and don't rush it. She already has a job, and doesn't need the stress of juggling two. If she gets a higher paying job, then she needs to leave this job so she could focus better on her education rather than working, working, working.
Her friend's advice? Do whatever she can to get to that Wal-Mart interview and cheat the government to get daycare for her daughter. The 23-year-old seemed to have pondered her advice more than my advice!
But you know, we ALL ponder someone else's bad advice more than someone else's good advice. If someone giving us bad advice is our friend, we would consider it more than a stranger who is wiser and more experienced in life than we are. Sometimes (and this is the scary part), we don't realize that our friends are giving us bad advice until it is too late.
Think about a married couple having problems. The woman's friends tell her to divorce her husband and start over so that she could be happy. However, the preacher's wife of the church where this woman goes to gives her different, wiser, and more practical advice so she could save her marriage. The woman listens to her friends and files for divorce. Then later on, she regrets it, but it's too late: her man has moved on to another woman.
Think about the same married couple, but let's switch it up. The husband wants to hang with his friends just a bit too much, and often neglects the wife. The wife is giving him grief about it. He tells his friends that his wife wants him to hang out less with his "boys." Well, his "boys" told him to ignore the wife and do whatever he wants. His preacher, however, gave him wiser and more practical advice to improve his marriage. The man listens to his friends. Now the wife is filing for divorce.
While you may love your friends, this doesn't mean they always give the best advice. Heck, they probably NEVER give good advice, and their bad advice would cause you to burn later on.
This reminds me of a story in the Bible. King Solomon's son Rehoboam took the throne after his father died. One day, the people of Israel came to him asking to reduce the taxes his father placed on them as it was causing financial hardship. Rehoboam asked for advice from older, wiser men who told him to reduce the taxes so as to give financial relief to the citizens. Then Rehoboam went to his "boys," the young guys he grew up with. They gave him bad advice and told him to make life harder for the citizens -- and Rehoboam listened.
So many of us are just like Rehoboam. We go with the advice of people who aren't qualified to give it. When these people give advice, they give it knowing that THEY won't have to pay for any consequences for following the advice.
So, how would we know if we're getting bad advice? Here's a few things to look for:
Whenever you're asking for advice, ALWAYS get second and third opinions. NEVER go with the advice of just ONE person, because that one person may steer you in the wrong direction.
Personally, I believe that in general, good advice is practical, promotes peace of mind, and is beneficial to you and to other people. Good advice should NEVER encourage selfish gains, it should NEVER promote stress (at least not unnecessary stress), and it should NEVER be complicated to follow.
You could love your friends. You don't always have to appreciate their advice. I believe I'm rather wise, but my advice may not always be right for you. Actually, if someone asks for advice that I don't feel comfortable giving, I would try to steer them in a direction where they could find good advice.
You've suffer with your problems long enough. It's time to fix it.
No more excuses. No more feeling helpless. No more thinking that nothing can be done. It's time to fix your problems.
When you're having a problem that has been plaguing you for months or years, it makes you feel like a prisoner. You can't live your life because you got some problems that you can't seem to shake off. When you can't fix your problems, the problems only become heavier to the point where you will crack.
It's time to fix your problem.
We get caught up in talking about our woes. We like going on and on about how hard life is for us. But we barely focus on the solution, and because we don't try to find the answer for our problems, we would tend to sink deeper and deeper into despair until we lose our minds.
Sometimes, the answers are obvious. Other times, the answers are a bit harder to find. Either way, there is an answer for you -- you just need to be PERSISTENT in looking for it.
Whatever your struggle is, there is a solution. Maybe I can't tell you what it is. Usually, the person with the problem is the one who could find the solution. A person struggling with depression cannot get help from someone who doesn't struggle with it. A person who struggles with weight cannot get help from someone who doesn't struggle with it. Only YOU could help YOU fix the problem that YOU have.
Just like I cannot tell a child how to grow, I cannot tell you how to change your situation. My suggestions may not work for you, but YOU know a way that will work -- you just need to do it.
We could struggle with something only so long until we get tired of it. Once our bodies get fatigue with the struggle, our frustrations will pave the way for change. When you realize that you can't live your life because you allow the struggle to continue, then you will start seeing solutions. The alternative is to keep struggling with the problem, and you don't want that.
Speaking of, ask yourself, "How long do I plan on struggling with this?" Ten years will come and go, and you don't want to look back to see that you've been plagued with the same problem for all those ten years. There will come a point in your life where you would have to decide if you want to continue in the struggle or look for a way out.
When you try to find a solution, you need to be ACTIVE! You can't be passive about change. You can't just "let change happen." You need to "make it happen!" Your problems have no "problem" making your life a mess. Now it's time to turn the tables and attack those problems with passion!
It's time to do something. The right time is NOW. The worst time is LATER.
If you've been actively reading these articles, that shows that you're going in the right direction. But sooner or later, the motivation I give won't be enough. You will need to find a solution that only YOU could provide.
Go out there and find that solution! Take the next step. It's time to change. You've been fighting this battle for far too long. Let's do something about it now before the problem completely consumes us. The problem WILL consume you. It's only a matter of WHEN. However, if you take the offensive and attack the problem, then it's a matter of IF the problem will consume you. The answer is determined by how hard you fight it. The harder you go after that problem, the more victorious you will be.
A preacher told a story of a man in Hawaii looking in the garbage for food. He saw this man pick up a partially eaten hamburger from McDonald's. After getting this food, he sat down -- and before he ate it, he actually bowed his head in prayer, giving thanks for this food.
For that man, his particular situation didn't allow for him to look for food in more ideal places -- such as in a restaurant or in a supermarket. He had to either beg for food or look for it in the garbage -- and by looking in the garbage, he found some treasure that he was thankful for.
In your situation, sometimes you may have to look for answers in some of the most unlikely places. Just like with this homeless man, you may need to find your answers in places where you don't want to dig.
Just recently, I landed a full-time job working third shift. What's my job? Sorting. I sort through mail and packages from 9 pm to 4 am almost everyday. Getting this job was something I never wanted to do. My dream was to have a thriving, sustainable business where I could spend my time with my family and do something that I really cared about. But until that business happens, I'm stuck sorting through mail.
However, for my situation, getting this job was actually the answer I've been looking for. Since our income has been shaky, growing our business was a problem. Now that I have steady income coming in, we could actually start growing our business. My wife would focus her attention on business while I bring steady income in. While this situation was NOT ideal for me, it was the situation I was put in. The answer I was looking for wasn't going to be in an ideal place: it was going to be in "the garbage."
The "garbage" is the place where you don't expect to find the answers -- and it's the place where you don't want the answers to be in. Ask the homeless man if he likes finding nourishment in trash. He'd much rather eat IN a restaurant, not in a restaurant's dumpster. But for his current situation, he has to find answers in places where his situation allows.
Many of us are in non-ideal situations in life. But despite your situation, you could still find the answers that you're looking for if you're willing to look in places that you don't want to look in.
My sister is another example of looking in unlikely places for answers. She went through 9 months of training to be a medical assistant, but she cannot find a job in this field. She's working in home aide care hoping that it would give her some kind of relevant experience to help her get a medical assisting job. One day, maybe her working in home aide care would help her land a job as a medical assistant. But right now, her situation (which is having a lack of any kind of medical experience) only allows her to look for answers in non-ideal places -- which is to say, she has to look in "the garbage."
Some of you shop at the Goodwill, or some mission-type store that sells items at cheap, cheap prices. These places are obviously for the disadvantaged, and it doesn't always feel good shopping there, does it? But even those stores could have some really, REALLY nice items! No, you didn't buy that nice blazer or those cute shoes from Macy's or Bloomingdale's or Sak Fifth Avenue -- but nevertheless, you got what you needed in "the garbage."
Some of you live in apartments that you don't care for, or in neighborhoods that you don't care for. Some of you drive cars you don't like. Some of you have jobs that you hate. No, you're not living in a mansion in North Raleigh, or driving a Lexus, or working at your "dream job." Nevertheless, you have what you need because you went through "the garbage."
All of us, in one way or another, have to start off in the garbage. But here's the thing: you could still find treasure in the most unlikely places.
Ask that homeless man if he felt more nourished eating that hamburger that he found in the garbage. He'd tell you that he feels stronger now that he got food in his belly. Or ask me if I am able to pay my bills now that I have steady income coming in. No, neither of us found our answers in the pretty places, but nevertheless, we found our answers. We found what we needed, and what we find would take us to higher places. At the moment, I cannot get to that higher place right away, but I could get help getting there by what I find in the "garbage."
For some of you, maybe my ZUMBA fitness class is considered the "garbage." Maybe you'd much rather see yourself at a big box gym, but you just have no money to afford it. Or maybe you'd rather have personal training sessions, but can't afford it. Coming to my class is like digging in the garbage for answers -- but if you've experienced some wonderful results by taking my class, then what you found in the garbage has taken you to a higher place.
The next time you walk by a dumpster, just remember that everything in there isn't trash -- especially if you live in America. If you're willing to do some digging and get a little stinky, you might find something that will help you go to the next level in your life. Be willing to dig in the trash. Be willing to look for your answers in the unlikely places. Don't be so prideful as to think that some things are beneath you. But even if something is beneath you, just remember that stepping stools are beneath your feet and they could help you reach for something that you couldn't reach on your own.
Yesterday, I told my Sunday fitness class participants that I won't be teaching that class anymore after this month. After taking on a full-time night job, there are just some things I need to cut out. Sadly, that had to be one of them.
However, I've been thinking about dropping that class for the longest time. First of all, the pay is just low and the pay won't make any worthwhile contributions to my needs. Second, the class wasn't really benefiting me (physically) all that much anymore. It did at first, but after a while, the benefits decreased. Third, I hardly had any faithful people. I would have one or two who would show up consistently to that class, but everybody else were the "regular irregulars" -- that is, those who came only when they feel like it.
So overall, I thought that the class was just a waste of my time. I could easily replace that class with something else that would benefit me much, much better.
Another thing I cut out was my gig at Macy's. I just recently got a seasonal position there. However, the pay wasn't as much as my other job paid, and I would have to find time to work in the day. This would mean no sleep for me -- no sleep and with little pay. The job was another waste of time. So, I had to let it go.
At this time, I am just cutting out all things that don't serve me. If it just wastes my time, then it is simply extra baggage that is weighing me down and keeping me from better things in life.
So many of us carry around that extra baggage that is slowing us down. Some of this baggage could be zapping our energy so that we don't have the strength to do better things. However, we keep this baggage because we think that one day it would be worth it.
Going back to that fitness class, I had hopes that maybe teaching it at the gym would help build a business for me. Maybe I could get clients that way. Maybe I could be such an awesome instructor that people would ask me, "Wow! Do you do personal training, too??" After 4 years of teaching that class, I only gained one personal training client -- and she isn't a client anymore.
With the lack of faithful people, the lack of pay, and the amount of time spent to prepare for that class, I realize that continuing to teach it would just be extra baggage that I don't need.
The thing about extra baggage is that you never need it! When I go to the store to buy one small item, the cashier would usually ask if I want a bag for it. I would always refuse a bag because I don't need it. It would just be one extra thing to handle. Now, if I had many items, then having a bag would serve me well. But for just one item? Having a bag would be extra baggage: it would not serve me.
How many of you are carrying extra baggage? If you're afraid to let go of this baggage, ask yourself how much is this extra baggage serving you. Is it really doing you any good, or are you just holding onto it "just in case?"
I am a minimalist. I ABHOR clutter. I ABHOR doing too much at one time. I ABHOR being too busy. Having little means freedom! Having an open schedule means that I am available for those who need me. Having the least amount of stuff means having the least amount of worries. I believe that a little could serve me much better than having a lot.
Right now with having a full-time job (which I never wanted, but due to necessity had to get), I can't have a lot of stuff going on, especially if none of it will serve me. The same for you: if you already have a full plate, you don't need to add on anything else that won't serve you.
I truly don't understand how parents want to be busy with their children. In addition to both parents having full-time jobs and the children having to go to school full-time, parents want to put their kids in Boy/Girl Scouts, tutoring, sports game, music lessons, etc., etc. That is just too much activity for a family! How much of those activities are truly beneficial and how much of them are just wasting time?
Sometimes, we have to do a big "life cleanse." We need to take away all the stuff that is causing more stress than good and keep the stuff that is actually benefiting us. When you try to keep everything, you will have nothing but stress. You will always be on the go, and you will feel like you're "doing everything, but going nowhere."
Think about hoarders. You know, the people who hold onto EVERYTHING! Their houses are so cluttered that they aren't livable. They hold onto everything because they put equal value on everything. If the city learns the condition of their houses, the city would condemn the houses and force the tenants to live elsewhere until those houses are cleaned up. So because the hoarders held onto so much stuff, they lost their homes!
Don't be a hoarder with activities. Don't get involved in everything. Learn how to shake off all the baggage that you don't need so that you could make room for those things that you REALLY need. You don't need everything in life. You just need what will benefit you.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.