Follow Friday + Nicki’s Personal Updates: Week of January 04, 2013

Oh sure, I still will read JAMA. But nowadays, I also love reading Fast Company, Inc, Entrepreneur, and anything by Guy Kawasaki, Penelope Trunk, and Mark Cuban.

Happy New Year!

I’m a very future-oriented person.  When I was 13, I sat and planned my life out for the next 15 years.  I kid you not:  I had myself graduating at the top of my class at 18; getting married by 22; winning a scholarship to college; graduating from medical school at 26; having my first child by 27.  And, as one of my career role models Penelope Trunk can tell you, this is the right approach.  To some extent, life needs to occur by design, not by accident.  Professionally, techniques like goal-setting, visualization, and the routinization of hard work gets you moving up the ladder.  Personally speaking, more career-driven women in their 30’s are unmarried and childless than ever before (and not by choice).  It seems, as a woman in the 21st century, you need to take ahold of your future in order to succeed.

But then again, maybe not.  A New York Times article yesterday addressed the fact that we drastically mispredict what our future selves will want or even be like.  Though many preach the benefits of self-sacrifice and delayed gratification, the end result may only be worth it if you are the type of person who doesn’t change your mind along the way.  Otherwise, you may be better off doing what feels right and “leaning into it”.  As Chicken Soup for the Soul co-creator Jack Canfield says, sometimes you don’t know what exactly you want, so you lean into what feels right, one baby step at a time, until eventually you get to somewhere you like.

Me this morning. A little tired, but pushing through!

As for me, I’m a mixed bag.  I did graduate at the top of my class at 18; get a full scholarship to college; and was accepted into medical school at 22.  But there were also issues I didn’t account for:  At 23, my mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  As someone who is particularly close to her mother, it shook me to the core.  And even though she’s technically in remission now, that experience changed me.  On the other hand, at 27, I won a series of business competitions.  After some soul-searching, I decided to take a hiatus from my third year of medical school and embark on my unspoken dream of founding a start-up.  It’s been an unbelievable journey, incredibly fun and confidence-building and life-enriching, but not at all something I had planned.

So now I view life as this:  I am on a journey.  I have a map and an itinerary, in the form of a list of goals and a daily agenda.  But like any great traveler, I know how to stop when a bit of scenery is too beautiful to look away.  Or how to stop and fix a flat, help a lost friend, you know the drill.  I understand now that detours are inevitable, as much a part of the journey as the road and the sky.   It doesn’t mean I can’t live with passion and a sense of determination and purpose – I know I’ll get to where I want to eventually.  But the approach has made way for life to get in there.  And that’s perfectly fine with me.

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  • I’m the same way, I plan everything out, but of course it sounds like we can both make adjustments and re-plan, it’s not like we’re locked-into anything. I had a lot of different goals, now I’m moving in another direction and very happy.

    Your story hit me a bit harder, my father had bladder cancer too, and it has just returned. I hope he pulls through, his doctors think they caught it early.

    As the future unfolds we have to move with it, if we’re too rigid how can we ever be happy? We just end up stuck and alone.

  • It’s amazing that you planned so much ahead of time. I don’t think any life goes according to plan, but as one of the people who “baby steps” their way into things, I think we get better at understanding our own best way as we mature.

  • You are so inspirational!

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