I've been in a new job for just over a year now, and the first year was filled with anguish for a variety of reasons. I had to learn a new (complicated) company culture, and find a way to navigate within it while working remotely from home. When the opportunity for this job first came to me from a certain persistent former manager, I didn't think I was up to the task. I honestly didn't see in myself what he saw in me, and I felt as though I would be found to be a fraud. At some points during the last year I was convinced that I would only stay for a year, that working remotely from home was just too isolating and that I would go find a safer, easier job somewhere local. However at a dinner with a colleague in England, after a few days of both of us complaining about all of the things that were terrible at our workplace, something shifted in me. I can't remember which of us said it, but we came to a mutual understanding that we were not going to complain anymore. We acknowledged that we were sitting there together brainstorming just how awesome our products could be, and we had to double down to put all of our efforts into making them so. We've held each other to it too, it can be cathartic to complain at times, and we do still vent, but we stop each other before we go down that negative path. That dinner changed me.
Just this week I sat in a long painful meeting discussing progress on a project that I have known in my gut was the wrong project for us to invest in from the start. I listened, I answered questions, and I took away some action items. At the end of the meeting instead of fulfilling my action items I just looked at the notebook page I had written them on. I crossed them out, and wrote "cancel the project" underneath them. I asked myself why I was letting myself work on something I knew to be the wrong way forward. I had excuses of course, I had attempted to convince my manager that this was the wrong project from the start and had failed at doing so. I hadn't tried hard enough though. That feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you that you are on the wrong path should not be ignored - even if you've been told to ignore that feeling on multiple occasions. I ended the work week yesterday by convincing others that we needed to stop the project. There will be fallout from that decision of course, so there is more to do, but I stood up for what I knew was right and that feels amazing.
I watched Brené Brown's TED Talk about vulnerability and shame and courage at some point last year, which led me to her second TED Talk, and then to read two of her books (The Gifts of Imperfection, and Daring Greatly). It also led me to start watching Super Soul Sunday on OWN. I'd been on a spiritual journey already when these messages came into my life which is why I know I was ready to hear them - but I thank my version of god every day now that they did. I feel awake in a way I never had been before. I put a post-it with one of Brené Brown's quotes on the wall (and then the desk because it isn't sticky enough and kept falling down) in my office so I can see it when I'm working. It says: "You can choose courage or you can choose comfort you cannot have both." When I'm working and tempted to take the comfortable path, the quote kicks me a bit and challenges me to be courageous, to be vulnerable, to shake my perfectionist tendencies that stop me from getting my work out there. My counselor, whom I've seen for various reasons for some long stretches at a couple of different points in my life uses the word comfort a lot too. She says something along the lines of just because it is comfortable doesn't mean you like it, or that it feels good, just that it is what you know. So here is to 2015 where I choose to be courageous more than I did in 2014. Here is to a thousand little decisions every day in which I choose to be brave and find the strong way forward, instead of the well worn path of what I know.