Living in a Calculated World

Stories From a Country Girl

Its hard to believe it was 10+ years ago I first entered the world of blogging.

I look back on those days fondly.

{Now I know how most seniors feel when they talk the good ol’ days.. you know, those days before smartphones, technology and all this craziness}

But in all seriousness, even 10 years ago, the digital sphere was a different time.

(OK, now I definitely sound like a senior).  This may be the first blog post that ‘dates me’ as a human. Sigh.

Yes, it’s been that long since my ‘Stories From a Country Girl’ days for those blog readers who have so loyally followed me here all the way from then, to my Passionate Voice blog and now to my new home. Thank you to those readers for your continual support and readership throughout all these years 🙏 Even if there are only 6 of you 😉

I’ve been doing a ton of listening, conversing and reflecting throughout the month of January for work. It has me thinking of how we’re living in such different times than even a short 10 years ago from so many standpoints – in life, in work, with social media, technology, consumer behavior, disruption, the list goes on.

I’ve been thinking long and hard lately about the role of social media and the impact it has on our lives and our mental health. Its something that bombards us and inundates us both personally and professionally every day. We’ve never been properly trained in it and the research isn’t quite there yet to show the long-term lasting effects, yet we continue to use it at such rapid rates. I see firsthand and realize its benefits but I also see the cautions we need to talk about more, to engage productively and healthily with our social media feeds.

And this comes from someone who does social media for a living!

Even blogging 10 years ago was a completely different landscape. It wasn’t so ‘calculated’ as the entire world now is with blogging and social media. When we were blogging back in ‘those days’, we didn’t have to have well-curated graphics that had consistent branding with the ‘right’ fonts. We didn’t care about likes/followers, we just blogged about what we thought about and cared for and if the likes followed, then great but that wasn’t the end goal. We didn’t care about promoting our messages beyond our followers, trying to make our content ‘salesy’ for people to eat up and then buy from us. Hell, we didn’t even give the proper credit for graphics/photos when we searched on Google and used them for our blog posts.

Side note: If you previously read my SFACG blog when I first started, yes, the image above is my old header and no, I didn’t end up purchasing the image for $20 but I am at least giving image credit below 😉

I sometimes wish we had that type of freedom again.

To read blogs written in the ‘old school way’ of blogging. Or think in that easygoing way #FreeThinking. Or blog in the carefree way, whenever we wanted too, without the branding, the content calendar and the perfectly placed hashtags. Blogging in a world where we didn’t have to worry that if you said something that not everyone agreed with, you didn’t have to face the social media wrath you probably would today. I wish we all had that freedom to only care about ourselves and what we thought. And not in a selfish, narcissistic way, but a way that was healthy for us. A time where if you had something to say and wanted to passionately say it, you just said it (HECK YES!)

I really do wish some days we were living in a less calculated world. I miss those days of off-the-cuff randomness. Whose with me?

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The Sunday 7

  1. If only it was March right now and this beautiful sunny, Sunday was an indication that Spring was here. Unfortunately, looks like we may have to brace ourselves for some more winter weather (I mean, it is January still). In the meantime, I am enjoying as much time outdoors as possible and snapped this photo above on the city limits of Guelph overlooking the countryside #MyFavouriteViews #RemindsMeOfTheFarm
  2. I  can't wait to try out this Mexican restaurant in Waterloo that I read about in Toque magazine, a free amazingly-designed magazine I found (for free!) in my local Balzacs in Guelph.
  3. I purchased this refreshing face mist from The Body Shop over the holidays and I'm loving it! Its the perfect mid-day pick up.
  4. I also recently bought these beauties (thanks to Winners!) and can’t wait to get to wear these.. in bare feet, with warm, sunny weather.. sometime soon hopefully #dreaming
  5. This place in Prince Edward County for a creative genius retreat looks ah-mazing! Who wants to hit the road and go with me for a weekend of brainstorming, writing and no cellphones (only for photos of course!)
  6. How is it February in 4 days?! We have lots of exciting plans in store for the next month. To keep me organized (and happy every time I open up my laptop), I found this cute February desktop wallpaper.
  7. Bell Let's Talk Day is coming up this week on Wednesday, January 31st! Be sure to participate on social media if you can or at least watch some of the awesome shows that will be airing featuring real-life people talking #MentalHealth#EndtheStigma

Nothing Creates Spark Like Face-to-Face

I’ve recently been reminded, after a busy few weeks of meetings, just how powerful face-to-face meetings really are. The energy that exudes from people is infectious. Extremely engaging conversations around a table have motivated me to want to leave and do big things (all the meetings have been positive of course!).

Nothing, even social media and the most slickest of technology platforms, will replace the spark that is created in face-to-face meetings.

Full stop.

[Or.. it could also just be because this new mama loves getting out of the house to be around a table of adults sans baby, to discuss big ideas.... it gets me all energized and amped-up!]

One of the things I love best about being in meetings is when you’re in a room with not necessarily like-minded people, but people who are similarly as passionate as you are about a topic. Hearing their different opinions and how they formulate their thought process is so valuable. Watching and listening to them express themselves has provided a whole other perspective to learn how to see the other side of an issue. I think this is a skill that is becoming obsolete in today's society, don't you think? #Empathy #Understanding

What is the quote? "The path to gaining respect is paved with knowledge and empathy."

[Tweet ""The path to gaining respect is paved with knowledge and empathy." - Evan Brown"]

I also love how people around the table act as catalysts of inspiration for others. Hearing others share their ideas so passionately both through their words, their body language and their voice in person gets at me in a different way then watching people over a device for a meeting.

You can see it in people's aggressive head nods or that glimmer in their eye when you're discussing a topic, idea or issue that has really moved the table. The meetings I've been at recently, we've been able to productivity talk through issues, come up with solutions and brainstorm new ideas. These are things that are hard to do online when you're on a Skype call or teleconference line, where you feel isolated.

As an example, at a recent meeting, an older gentleman shared his progressive, forward thinking ideas when he, so deeply and eloquently, imparted a line that stood out to me:

“Experience doesn’t make you look forward, it always makes you look back.”

It was one of those 'ah-ha' moments.

I was reminded in the moment that you don’t have to be a millennial to think young (yes, there are baby boomers out there who are forward thinking and young at heart, millennials!). Social media couldn’t have provided that type of moment for me to learn and understand from someone like this. It was a brilliant thought from someone who clearly had years of experience and wisdom.

I realize technology allows for more convenience, especially from the comfort of your own home or office desk, but the next time you have the option, seriously consider bringing your team in or suggesting face-to-face.

Yes, meetings be long, feel daunting (while your emails pile up!) and something we all sometimes dread, especially if the moderator or Chair doesn't run an effective meeting by staying on time and on task with agenda items #petpeeve, but I guarantee, almost every time afterwards, you’ll feel good about the shared energy that came from a positive and productive face-to-face meeting.

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Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

November has been an eventful month. Both unexpected and welcomed news relating to life and work has made being uncomfortable somewhat of a new norm.

Oh and just throw first-time parenthood into the mix.

I think this is something millennials get criticized for often. Perfectionism. Wanting to always do things ‘right’. Not wanting to fail. Not wanting to step outside of our comfort zones to deal with the uncomfortable. Our predecessors think this is unrealistic of us.

I say this is just human nature. We all want to be comfortable.

And the more I’m realizing, regardless of age or gender, people don’t like to be unconformable.

Its why:

  • We don’t leave our jobs, even if we may not like doing them.
  • We may talk about the same thing over and over again, because we are familiar with the content.
  • We like to eat the same thing for breakfast every morning, because it becomes part of our daily routine.
  • Its why we vote the same way every time, even though we may not understand why we really continue to vote for them.
  • Its why we continue to listen to the same music from the generation we grew up in and don’t welcome new music. (Its why I’ve also heard so many people say they don’t like Taylor Swift’s new album because people weren’t ‘expecting’ her new sound. I think its killer).

Its why a lot of people don’t go out on their own to pursue their side hustles full-time.

Becoming your own boss is a perfect example of being uncomfortable. Knowing you are inevitably the reason you fail or succeed is all on YOU. Yes, there are going to be times of being uncomfortable when you’re your own boss. Things like being turned down for opportunities, approaching new clients for work, not making what you had budgeted or ruffling some feathers from a tweet or post.

These are things I’m still learning to get better at accepting everyday. And the more books I read and the more conversations I have with people, the more I realize this is NORMAL.

Being comfortable gets you no where. Being too comfortable leads to complacency. Its why I love being a millennial because I think we’re pushing the boundaries. Some may think in a good way, others may think its too much. We’re talking about the things that previous generations found uncomfortable to talk about. We want to pursue change at a faster speed than most can handle. Remember, no great ideas or actions were done in a place of complacency or being comfortable. Steve Jobs said it perfectly when he said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

[Tweet "“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do." - Steve Jobs"]

The most healthy, successful, optimistic people, both in work and life, know to expect the unexpected. They are resilient to what comes their way, both good and bad, expected or unplanned. They've learned to roll with the punches. 

They are comfortable with being unconformable.

And sometimes, when we least expect it and we’re forced to deal with something that makes us more uncomfortable than we could have ever imagined, we surprise ourselves by how we handle it. We become comfortable with it. 

I’m learning to be better at being uncomfortable every. single. day. Try it with me.

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Talk Is Cheap

Do you ever read someone's tweet that is getting a lot of attention or hear an idea your colleague has shared in a meeting and think... I already thought that?!

You came up with that same idea or thought days earlier or even months/years ago, yet you didn't do anything with that said idea or tweet?

You wonder why the hell you didn't speak up earlier, tweet the thought out or share your idea so you could get the praise that someone else is now getting?

Yup, it happens to all of us.

What is the difference from you did with the idea/thought and what the other person did? They actually DID something with it. They took action. Spoke up. Stepped out of the comfortable into the uncomfortable to see where the idea or thought would land, unsure if it would ruffle feathers or land well with others.

And that is where the difference lies.[Tweet "Some of us only talk about our ideas while others actually do something with them."]

We're all capable of thinking big things. There isn't a copyright on coming up with new thoughts or ideas. Unless of course, someone has patented the idea and then well, you've out of luck. I'm sure some of the best inventions were thought of way before they actually were invented. Like Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Iowa who in 1912 actually DID something with an idea and thought that slicing bread was a genius, convenient idea that would be the next big thing... and of course it sure was. Its why we continue to use the phrase, 'The greatest thing since sliced bread."

I joke about this often with Andrew. If we were to write down all the ideas we had in a year in a little black book and look back 20 years from now  to see if the ideas were invented, maybe we'd be upset with ourselves that we hadn't actually did something with those ideas #Millionaires? #OhWell

I've been experiencing this on Twitter lately where so many of my tweets are sitting in my draft folder, doing what? Nothing. And I wonder why I didn't share them if others are talking about things I had thought of tweeting about ages ago.

It makes me think about my #Blog452 goal I set earlier this year for my blog. It hasn't been an epic fail but I certainly haven't stuck to my commitment of blogging each week for 52 weeks of this year.

Where am I? 34 posts this year. So if we were evaluating this like a calculus test that you need to pass to get into University,  I would have got a 65%. A pass but not great.

Today's lesson on the blog - Talk is cheap. Its what you actually DO with your ideas and thoughts and the action you take that will separate you from the rest of the crowd.

What is my goal now for the rest of 2017? See if I can fulfill this damn #Blog452 goal I created for myself because what's the point of creating a goal if you're not going to stick to try and fulfill it?

So what's one of the first things I also did today that I haven't done this entire year? I started AND finished this blog post - writing, graphic and all - in one sitting. So excuse any grammatical or writing errors that you may find, this new mama is just happy she accomplished another first in 2017 and actually stuck to doing something from beginning to end #FeelingAccomplished #HappySunday

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