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Author: Ayanna Castro

Circumstances Come and Go, Character is Permanent

Circumstances Come and Go, Character is Permanent

“It’s not my fault if he/she/they didn’t do…..then I would be in this situation now.”

The most frequently used excuse for not owning up to taking responsibility for your life.

It is an easy cop-out to say that you are a product of your environment. It’s easy to blame someone else for your current state of affairs. It’s even easier to blame someone else for your anger and anguish. You are not a product of your circumstances but of your decisions. You have a choice to be happy. You have a choice to see positivity instead of negativity. You have a choice to rewrite the narrative as the victim. Making decisions is hard because then you are the one who is ultimately responsible for its outcome. But imagine for a moment, where one decision can change your trajectory for the rest of the day or the next month and maybe into the next few years? Make a decision that supports your dreams. Make a decision that supports building your character. Your circumstances will always change, but your character should not.

With love,

Look Back To Move Forward

Look Back To Move Forward

When I was younger, I remember my mom and my grandmother talking about how the years just “flew by”. Now that I’m older and I understand that a year can literally fly by when you are busy doing the work that you are called to. Did you realize that we are down to the final 32 days of 2017? I don’t know about you but I feel like this year absolutely flew by. 

Over this past year, I know you have made some amazing accomplishments and reached goals that you once thought were unattainable. I also know that your accomplishments did not come with some disappointment or heartache. What if you looked at your failures positively? Think about it. If you didn’t fail, if you didn’t hear ‘no’, if you didn’t stumble, if you didn’t fall…how on Earth would you learn the lessons required to be extraordinary?

Many of you might be in the process of creating New Year’s resolutions or creating a vision board for 2018. In these final days of 2017, take an opportunity to look back over the year and list your biggest accomplishments and your biggest failures and list the lessons that you learn from them. You might be surprised. The revelation might change how you shape your goals for 2018.

With love,

Little Bit of Motivation

Little Bit of Motivation

Occasionally everyone needs a little bit of motivation. Here are a few of my favorite quotes that I refer to when I need an emotional and motivational pick me up. I’ve placed these quotes in my daily planner, my wallet, and my desk. What motivational quotes do you refer to when you need an extra push of inspiration? Share them with me on Twitter (@WorkYourPackage) and Facebook (Work Your Package).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With love,

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Have you ever noticed that when things are going well, you have to deal with what I like to call inconsequential nonsense? While it might be an issue, if you take time to think about it, it will not really matter in 5 weeks, 5 months and certainly not 5 years from now. The inconsequential nonsense may present itself as something that can have a profound impact when in reality it’s only there to provide a lesson. However, when you focus on it for too long, it takes your eyes off the “prize”. You have the choice to say, “Ok, I’m done. Lesson learned.” You do not have to stay in the midst of inconsequential nonsense because you want to have the last word or want to prove a point. The point of nonsense is to learn a lesson. Which by the way…may have NOTHING to do with the issue you are dealing with. Imagine that! Sometimes the only purpose of the nonsense is to teach you a life lesson. Like, don’t expect everyone to understand your vision, dreams or aspirations. Speak up, even when it’s unpopular. Mistakes themselves do not define you, it’s your unwillingness to admit them that does. 

I know, it is so easy to get consumed with the nonsense, especially if you are surrounded with people who thrive off of negativity. Baby love, nothing positive can be birthed from the soil of negativity. We’ve talked about this before. If you aren’t surrounding yourself with people who are going to 1) Encourage you to do and be better and 2) Hold you accountable…then you are around the wrong people.
Keep your eyes on the “prize”… whatever that might be for you. Whether it’s a well-deserved promotion, another academic degree, a house or a bigger house or my favorite “prize” of all…opening yourself new opportunities that continue to push towards being extraordinary. Stay focused. You’ve worked too hard to allow something minor keep you from your “prize”.
With love,
One Size Does Not Fit All

One Size Does Not Fit All

You are a one of kind.

A designer original.

#1 in a batch of 1.

There’s just you.

That’s it and that’s all.

Here’s a reminder from 2013 that everything isn’t for everybody.

With Love,

 

 

Face The Music

Face The Music

“I love that you have wild ambition but don’t get in your own way.”

“You are a titan, but you are like a bird with no place to land.”

“You know I support you but do you have time for this?”

I won’t go into detail about what prompted the statements and question but I will share this: If you cannot fearlessly share your goals and challenges with the people on your personal board of directors, you are surrounded by the WRONG people. I declared that I was going to take a little bit of a break. That break lasted for about a week. My people will not let me off the hook that easy. My people have called me out on my nonsense. They held up the mirror and forced me to see my hardheaded ways. Don’t laugh. I’m willing to bet you have hardheaded ways too. Are you turning away from the mirror? Are you ignoring the calls and text messages? Are you telling yourself you just have to get “everything under control” and things will be better? The Perfectionist Trap is real.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to write down everything that is currently on your proverbial plate. Be honest with yourself and if you have a hard time doing that, ask a member from your board of directors to “remind” you of your commitments. Are you overcommitting yourself? Success is awesome but you won’t be able to enjoy it if you are a hot mess.

With love,

 

I Felt Naked, But Not Afraid

I Felt Naked, But Not Afraid

Have you ever allowed yourself to be so vulnerable that you felt naked? That’s what happened to me while I delivered the closing keynote at my fourth annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference. I spoke on the topic, “Your Life. Your. Story: What to Do When You Have a Story to Share”. It was the second time that I had spoken on the topic. The first time was for a webathon hosted by Lucy Brazier, the editor of Executive Secretary Magazine. However, this time was different. This time I wasn’t alone in a conference room with my laptop. This time I was in a room full of women that I am honored to serve and affectionately and proudly refer to as “Mavens”. These women have their own stories to share but there I was sharing mine. And I felt naked but not afraid. Sharing my story was cathartic and allowed me to be unapologetic about who I am. Being vulnerable is liberating because it erases any preconceived notions of perfection or lack of challenges. Being vulnerable is an act of acceptance of oneself. In the article, “Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable” by Daniel Wallen, here are the benefits of being vulnerable:

1. You will learn to appreciate the quirks that make you unique. Being vulnerable will help you embrace the strange (interesting) and quirky (unique) things that make you special. While you might call certain personal characteristics are “awkward,” they are only awkward if you don’t accept yourself, and consequentially feel uncomfortable in who you are. We are all crazy in our own ways; and if you’re going to be weird, you might as well be confident about it.
2. You will make peace with troubling memories from your past. Being vulnerable will help you get rid of pent-up baggage that bothers you. While it isn’t easy to deal with painful memories, it is better to confront your past than it is to hide from it. We all have made bad decisions we regret, so don’t even think about judging yourself; search for a lesson or takeaway that will help you prevent similar mistakes in the future and let it go.
3. You will attract the right kind of people into your life. Being vulnerable will help you understand what types of people you can most relate to. While you might be tempted to hang out with whoever crosses your path, it is better to choose your friends carefully. We all have made the mistake of telling something personal to somebody we shouldn’t have, and ended up getting hurt due to backstabbing or betrayal; it is good to love all people without question, it is best to only put total faith in true friends worthy of trust.
4. You will find it easier to empathize with the struggles of others. Being vulnerable will help you develop empathy for others. While it’s easy to throw a fit when something terrible happens to us, it is a lot harder to demonstrate compassion for the struggles of another person. We all have been guilty of getting so caught up in our own lives that we forget the world doesn’t revolve around our needs; before behaving like an upset infant, remember that many people face hardships that you couldn’t begin to imagine.
5. You will earn the trust of people at work. Being vulnerable will help you grow closer to the people in your workplace. While you might think you deserve a raise just because of your hard work, you need to remember that no amount of book smarts can make up for a complete lack of emotional intelligence. We all have complained about getting “passed up” for a promotion; before assuming you’re “under-appreciated,” take an honest look at your ability to communicate and work together with your fellow co-workers.
6. You will strengthen your bond with your romantic partner. Being vulnerable will help you bond with the person you love most. While you might be afraid to reveal your deepest and darkest secrets due to a fear of judgment, doing so will put your mind at ease. We all have put up barriers to protect ourselves from getting hurt; but if you hope to spend the rest of your life with a particular person, don’t you think it would be best to be forthcoming with the important truths that they would like to know?
7. You will humanize yourself in the eyes of others. Being vulnerable will help you demonstrate that you are an approachable person who is kind and considerate. While it isn’t easy to find the courage to reveal our true nature, there is no better way to encourage others to accept themselves. We all have fought with a lack of esteem at one time or another.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.

Dr. Brené Brown – Daring Greatly

With love,

Eye Witness vs. Life Witness (Part 2)

Eye Witness vs. Life Witness (Part 2)

What I’ve come to notice over my four decades and some change here on this Earth is that people are hard-headed. The elders have a saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.” I’m going to take a risk and probably offend some people but know that I do it from a place of love. I’m not the type of person that can see someone going to the waters’ edge and know full well that they can’t swim and they don’t have a life jacket. So when I dispense advice on things that I am a “life witness” to not an “eyewitness” to, it’s discouraging and sometimes infuriating when you’re met with a know-it-all attitude. Yes, you can have in-depth conversations about the what-ifs but until you’ve actually experienced something for yourself, don’t dispute it with someone who has gone through what you’re going through. Don’t base your argument on a hypothetical situation that probably will not go as scripted or may never happen. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. As parents, we tell our kids not to touch the stove because it’s hot. What happens? They touch it anyway. Why? Because they don’t know what “hot” means. As an adult, if someone is trying to help you by imparting “life witness” experience…accept the help and heed their warning. Unfortunately, women can be the worst culprits (raising hand). We are a bunch of Type A, cape wearing individuals who believe that we are always right. News flash. We are not always right. While we might be very intuitive and in tune with our surroundings, there are some things that we just don’t know.

Since when has it become a sign of weakness to say that you don’t know? Since when has it been a disgrace to say ‘I am not sure’? Since when has it become profanity to say ‘I need help’? Today I want you to think about where you need help. I want you to think about the things you have been struggling with and are too embarrassed to ask for help. Listen, no one likes a know-it-all but most people love to help.

With love,

Big Task? Plan Backward.

Big Task? Plan Backward.

Are you stuck looking at a huge task, that you haven’t taken the first step? Starting a big project can be overwhelming if you are looking at it in its entirety. You might be wondering, “How am I going to get this done?” The trick is plan backwards while you keep moving forward. The second habit in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is, to begin with the end in mind. Planning in reverse helps you imagine different scenarios, figure out the what ifs and come up with solutions. In other words, going backwards can help you put the “meat” on the “skeleton” of your plan.

Today I challenge you to see your success and then create the plan in reverse. To get to D, what do you have to do C, B and A. Start with A and be confident in your success.

With love,

 

 

 

 

P.S. Registration for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference closes on Saturday, September 23. Register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com.

 

The Hard Decision

The Hard Decision

Sometimes the hardest decisions that you have to make are the ones that involve what you are passionate about. In December 2013, I floated the idea of hosted a women’s conference. In April 2014, the inaugural Work Your Package Women’s Conference was held followed by two more in 2015 and 2016. On September 6, 2017, I shared with The Maven Network that the 4th conference would be the last…for awhile. As much as I love producing the Work Your Package Women’s Conference, I realized that while I was capable of saying “no” to others, I struggled with saying “no” to myself. The internal conversation started months ago and I ignored it for as long as I could. The myriad of emotions ran the gambit from disappointment to relief. I questioned myself and my motives for having a conference in the first place. The moment of truth came when I realized that by continuing to produce the conference, I was being a hypocrite to the foundation of Work Your Package by:

  • Ignoring the little birdie
  • Ignoring the loving advice from my personal board of directors
  • Not managing my 168
  • Not following through my goals

Why am I sharing this with you? I don’t want you to make the same mistake. Listen, I want to you to pursue your passion. I want you to continue to invest in your personal and professional development. But if it “cost” is too high, make the hard decision and hit the pause button. Remember, you didn’t have to find your passion. It’s been with you all this time. It’s not going to go away. You won’t lose it. Pausing, taking some time to reassess and regroup will not (I repeat…will NOT) be a detriment to your life’s work. I dare say that it’s a bonus. After you have taken time to shift your focus, you will open yourself to new opportunities to share your passion.

You are not your passion but the gifts produced from your passion cannot exist without you. Focus on you first.

With love,