This week’s DYL features Brigitte of the blog, Covet Chicago. I first met Brigitte via comments and email, and later in person when she stopped by Macy’s during one of my trunk shows. We hit it off right away and I am incredibly grateful for the insights Brigitte had for MML. Before speaking with her, it never occurred to me that I might need to do a quick recap on how I found my purpose. And thanks to her suggestion, many people feel like they understand my story much better now.
I also had a feeling that Brigitte’s own personal intentions would be helpful for MML. And this single line from her intention to “know when to draw the line” is going to stick with me for quite a while, “my actions matter more than my intentions.” What a true statement. No matter what we vision boards we make, mantras we repeat, or businesses we dream about, until we put one foot in front of the other to make those goals become reality, we are going to sit as Henry David Thoreau said, in quiet desperation. Thank you for this awesome insight, Brigitte.
DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Brigitte of Covet Chicago
Live Your Values Daily
I admit…this first one sounds pretty vague. But it’s the most powerful of my intentions, because by forcing myself to sit down and define my values and map my life goals according to them, I have a roadmap for life. I read the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People at a time that I was on the path to conventional success (good job, rapid promotions, increasing salary and responsibility) but utterly unhappy. As I read, I really worked the book, dedicating my precious free time to the exercises. One that was particularly powerful for me came early. I had to envision my funeral and write my own eulogy. In imaging what I’d like my family, friends and colleagues to say about me after I lived my (hopefully long) life, I was able to clearly define my values. And I knew that if I wanted other people to describe my life according to my values, I’d have to live them every day. So my first and more important intention is to revisit my values every year and hold myself accountable to them.
Act Like Nobody’s Watching
I am the classic perfectionist, complete with the intense fear of failure that often accompanies this lovely trait. I cannot count the times I have passed up opportunities, because I was afraid to make mistakes, be the worst in class or simply to avoid scrutiny. On top of this, I was bullied as a child. I think that all adults who were once bullied hold onto a feeling that others are constantly watching them…waiting for them to slip up so they can exploit your failure for a laugh. About five years ago, I had a supervisor bluntly tell me, “It’s not all about you. No one cares one way or another.” I was liberated! No one cared if I succeeded or failed. My family would love me regardless, and other people…simply wouldn’t notice. So many of my current passions and hobbies were made possible by that simple, incredible statement.
I’m not quite committed to radical honesty, but I come pretty close. If I don’t like something you say or do, I won’t smack you in the face with it, but I won’t lie and say, “Ooh, I love that” or “I agree” when I don’t. Generally, I just keep my mouth shut. This makes me the worst person to fish for compliments with…because I’ll only take the bait if I actually believe in the compliment I’m giving. On the other hand, my friends know that they can come to me for the truth…and I’ve been told it makes my compliments that much sweeter.
But despite this habit in my daily life, I’m much more reserved when it comes to my writing and even how I define myself. Right now, I’m testing my personal limits, and I’ve let loose a few posts that feel like I’m crossing some sort of line on the public/private divide. But I’m finding that the posts that make me feel twitchy are the ones that I’m also most proud of. So…I’m daring myself to be as brazen in my writing as I am in person.
…But Know When to Draw the Line
This is where I admit that I’ve suffered from low emotional intelligence. I went all the way through college not understanding why some of my friends were “so sensitive.” One friend, in particular, would try to explain to me why my words were hurtful, and I simply didn’t get it. Of course I was kidding when I said xx (I really was). And, no, I guess I wouldn’t like her to point out yy fault of mine (but I only did it for the good of our friendship). I honestly couldn’t understand where she was coming from.
It took me 28 loooong years to figure it out. Some things just don’t need to be said. And whether or not I understand why something is hurtful (because it wouldn’t upset me) simply doesn’t matter in the end. My actions matter more than my intentions.
Always Offer a Helping Hand
When I was starting my career in PR (since abandoned!), I was helped by total and complete strangers. People I’d never met before went out of their way to meet with me, give me advice and introduce me to yet more strangers. I will never forget their generosity. That’s why, if someone asks me for my help, and I truly believe I can be of service, I don’t hesitate. I’ll review resumes, run through my rolodex or simply share some of the tricks that have worked for me. I’ve also worked an annual giving allowance into my budget, which is my way of saying thank you to the universe. And I’m ALWAYS willing to help a friend move or paint if there’s a slice of pizza and bottle of beer on the table.
Choose Joy for Yourself and Share it with Others
Would you believe me if I told you that I used to be a total drama queen? And a pessimist? I’m proof that you can change your outlook on life, simply by choosing to live the life that makes YOU happy. Not the life that others prescribe for you. I’m still a snarky girl (and I wouldn’t give it up even if I could), but I’m also a profoundly grateful and happy girl. I know that I can choose to seek out activities and books and even blogs that make me smile…or ones that trigger my heightened sense of outrage. Jess’s purpose in life is the makeunder philosophy. Mine is helping others realize that there are no safe choices…only ones that resonate deep within you and those that don’t. Always choose joy.