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Would YOU have followed the white rabbit?

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Opportunities and my new found ability to second-guess myself.

Recently, I have found myself in a situation where I have been second guessing my talents and skills.  I’m not exactly sure why this has started.  I still am doing well in school, and I still have the unruly desire to learn any and every thing there is to know about programming.  But as I get closer and closer to finishing my studies, I have found that I have talked myself out of opportunities.  On a few occasions, I have decided not to follow the white rabbit.  This is opposite of my normal behavior and tendency to seize every opportunity and make something of them.  So, what gives?

The well-known enemies of Opportunity…

Although there could be many reasons as to why someone fails to grab hold of an opportunity, I personally believe that there are a few core reasons for this behavior:

  1. Self doubts – When an opportunity arises, we get into our heads sometimes.  The more unanswered questions we have, the more we may be likely to shy away from an opportunity.
  2. Lack of Confidence – For me, I am pursuing an entirely different career path than what I spent the majority of my adult life pursuing.  So, naturally, there is a confidence deficit that, if left unchecked, can become a bigger issue.
  3. Fear – This is an obvious one.  Fear of the unknown. What if the other people going after this opportunity are better?  What if I fail?  What if I’m not the candidate they are looking for?  Fear manifests itself an many ways and it’s important be able to identify fear when it occurs.
  4. Anxiety – very close to fear, but is really an underlying general apprehension towards situations in general, although there may not be a specific threat.  Varying levels of anxiety can keep a person from going after an opportunity.

Micro vs. Macro thinking…

Another issue that I’ve personally experienced, as well as, identified in my peers is the scope thoughts.  There is an assumption of there not being enough.  Therefore, by assuming there aren’t enough opportunities, people give up before even trying.  For me, I’ve had to reevaluate my personal views on the value that I add to a situation.  For years, I had a certain skill set that I knew that I could bring to the table.  However, after changing careers, I never reevaluated the value that I can bring to a team.  So, my self-perceived value went to 0 because my skill set (in my twisted way of thinking) was no longer applicable.  Finally, I believe that people sometimes fail to see the big picture.  Sometimes, we do not spend enough time day dreaming and thinking big.  Not enough time is spent on researching the end goal and breaking the big goal into small, digestible parts.  The big leap from now to the future that we seek can seem daunting if we don’t break it down into achievable pieces.

Ways to overcome our negative inner voices…

Ok, so Trinity tells you to follow the white rabbit… The next thing you know, there’s a knock at the door and BAM, there’s a white rabbit staring you in the eye. What do you do? Talk yourself out of the next adventure in your life?  Convince yourself that you were seeing things and no one really warned you to follow that adorable white rabbit? Or, do you grab your jacket and follow the white rabbit?  This answer isn’t as easy as making a decision, often times it takes a bit of preparation for our next big opportunity.  Some tips that I personally practice are:

  1. Surround yourself with positive people — I can not stress this enough.  Positive, like-minded people are always a great catalyst for being successful.  There’s also the benefit of possibly having someone nudge you in the right direction.  A friendly invitation to engage in a beneficial activity can go a long way.  If you don’t have someone physically around you to be that positive influence, find a digital source.  Maybe a group on social networking could be helpful, or contributing to a newsgroup, or contributing to an online project.  Regardless of the method, it’s important to get out of our comfort zones and expanding our network.
  2. Celebrate your victories! — No matter how small the victory, sometimes we are our worst critics.  We don’t take the time to congratulate ourselves on a job well done.  Sometimes with the demand of work, we finish something then rush on to the next project.  Take time to breathe, give yourself a high five for finishing a project on time, or for learning a new programming language.  It all adds up, and the more positive thoughts you can create, the more self-confidence you will generate as well.
  3. Help someone else! — I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been reenergized about a personal project after helping someone else with a project that they were working on.  There’s something about taking the time to help someone else that keeps us focused and gives us a small confidence boost.  Also, there’s the added benefit of paying it forward, you never know when you will need help in the future.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes — Sometimes our negative inner voices scream our fear of making mistakes.  But guess what, we aren’t perfect.  Often times the best way to learn is to mess up first and learn from our mistakes.  Also, don’t be afraid to learn from other’s mistakes.  If you fear making mistakes, research others that have made the mistakes and learn from that!

Don’t let the next opportunity pass without tossing your name in the bucket!

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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Self Improvement

 

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How I Raise My Spirits =^.^=

coderbug, umbrella, school, dreams, programming, education, life, vegan, lift your spirits, self motivation, college

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The past few weeks have been interesting.  A few things have happened, first, I got a part-time job.  One that I can do mostly from home and one that’s helping a family member as well.  I’ll be using the $$ I get from this job to fund a nice vacation for myself, considering I did not factor a vacation into my dubious plans to return to school.  I can not say that I have been in a rut lately because that is not quite the word.  I am still overly excited to be actively pursuing my dreams, and I am still on track to make my dreams come true.  The only word that comes to mind is “underwhelmed”.

Pursuing your dreams isn’t always as SEXY as it seems…

That just goes to show you that the movie montages of people finally making changes in their lives, make dream following seem a lot more exciting than it really is.  Case in point, have you ever seen “The Mirror has Two Faces”?  I’ll call SPOILER ALERT, only for courtesy, but really come on, it came out like 7 million years ago.  Anyway, Barbara Streisand’s character goes through this life changing period while her husband is away on business.  She starts to work out, eat healthily, and moreover, she starts to care about her appearance.  A period of 3 or so months are sped up to fill about a 4 minute time frame where she is getting her life in order.  Funky and somewhat motivating music plays in the background as she transforms.

Well, I do not have theme music following me around… but maybe I should…

After the first few weeks of feeling adventurous, I came to the realization that things just feel like business as usual.  Even when I consider that my life today is completely upside down from what it was a year ago.  It is odd how we can grow so comfortable, so quickly.  Although I am not glum, I’ve grown somewhat complacent in my current status and that thought scares me slightly.  I don’t want to be comfortable, I want to be on edge, ramped up and full of enthusiasm to push my life to a better tier.  To be better than I was yesterday and the day before.

I realized, this change is not just about my career, it’s about my life…

So, to raise my spirits, I did a few things.  First, I decided to be a vegan.  Yep… a vegan.  Why?  Because after doing a 3 week cleanse, I discovered that I had felt the best that I had in my entire existence on this earth.  I had a ton of energy and I just felt great about the wonderful vegetables, whole grains, and fruits that I was feeding my body.  I take vitamin supplements now and I make sure that I get protein and calcium from other sources, but boy, do I feel wonderful.  There’s also the added bonus of finding new and exciting recipes that really spark a fire under my creative side.  This change has been major for me.  Although I love and care about animals, I did this change originally as a cleanse and now I’m on this journey for the awesome change being a vegan has been.

How I settle my anxiety about my unknown future…

I tend to obsess over the details in most situations.  So, last night I sat down and mapped out the rest of my classes, down to the semester.  I even looked up pre-reqs and adjusted my courses as follows.  I now have a guide registration that will allow me to ensure that I will graduate by the time I want to.  For some reason, this has raised my spirits and I’m not as worried about school as I was before doing this.

Graduate School….

Finally, I decided that I’m going straight to grad school.  Two more years of being a full-time student is worth the investment, in my opinion.  Some options that I weighed were the understanding that grad school will most likely get pushed to the side if I returned to the workforce and picked up grad school in a few years or so.  Also, by going immediately, I will have the time to spend in the studio day and night if I please.  The idea of this really gets me excited to finish my studies.

Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals…

My mom always spoke to the effects of the company we keep.  I have been steering clear of those who are unproductive and spending much more time with people who understand my goals and push me towards them.  I have also been asked to help a friend 🙂 on a project that I’m extremely excited about.  This gives me exposure to my future field without the pressure associated with it.  I can also poke around safely (thanks to git lol) and see how a bigger project works.  I’m hoping this will push me to tinker on other things myself as well.

What do you do to lift your spirits?

Everyone needs those things that make us feel better overall and keeps us motivated.  I’ve spent a bit of time discovering those things that both motivate me but also keep me on track for my goals.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Self Improvement

 

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Following your dreams – Part 2 (Sorta)

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Behold, a New Me…

I have been fortunate enough to take some time from working and to return to school full time.  As I have discussed in previous posts, the act of me following my dreams has lead to me having some interesting, yet sometimes awkward conversations with my family and friends.  I have even had a family member say that they were joking when they called me a “deadbeat” now that I’m spending my time with my nose in a book and not working.  All of these interactions have led me to understand that I will never make everyone else happy, so why do I even continue to try? 

The Art of Not Giving a Fuck…

Recently, a friend of mine posted a link to an article called, “The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck“.  As anti-following-your-dreams as that title may sound, it is actual a great article about not letting what people think keep you from doing what you want in life.  I have spent so much of my time on this Earth concerned about what others think about me.  Looking back, I realize how I basically imprisoned myself through limiting myself due solely to the expectations of others.  While reading this article, I found myself nodding my head.  There were a few points that made me think a little deeper and a little harder, but I found myself agreeing once I really did a tad more self reflection. 

So, is this where I sign up for the “Follow my Dreams” train?

If given the opportunity, would you follow your dreams?  I’m curious because I have had friends who have had the opportunity to do more with their lives, but simply didn’t because they didn’t seize an opportunity.  I suppose a more important question would be, are you following your dreams today?  Right now?  If not, what is keeping you from doing so?  Sometimes I feel as though saying that I’m “following my dreams” seems airy and fluffy and leaves others no choice but to roll their eyes at me.  But it is what I am doing.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Self Improvement

 

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My Intermediate Programming Class: Makes me feel a little more like a programmer…

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No one ever uses semi colons properly anyway… 

Before I get to talking about my experiences in my new class, I thought I would share a semi funny story.  I had to do a mini research paper recently and I completely blanked on how to properly use a semi colon.  It looked out of place within my research paper and I stared blankly at my computer screen for a second before I started to giggle.  I have now turned one of the most underused symbols into something I use a million times a day now.  Talk about programming nerd problems LOL.  

I feel a lot more like a programmer… 

After completing my first Java course with an A+ I felt a tad bit victorious.  Considering I have never programmed anything prior to this class, I finished this course with a clearer understanding of programming and what it means to the world.  Programmers are essentially magicians with the capability to create any digital tool that they please.  I am not at the point that I am able to implement any of these magical things, but I have a level of confidence now that did not exist before.  After losing nights of sleep over my final project in my last course, and receiving a 100 on it, I realized that I will be successful, not because I am awesome, but because I am dedicated to learning whatever I can get my little hands on.  

Introducing Intermediate Programming… 

I just started my Intermediate Programming class and despite of the confidence that I gained after completing Introduction to Programming, I have to say I was intimidated by my professor.  He has some really high expectations, and although I am excited about his outlook, I also have a tiny voice in the back of my head that reminds me of my background and the fact that I am truly a fish out of water when it comes to programming.  My fear was recognized when I received an 80% on my first homework assignment.  In my mind, I felt the walls crashing down (right alongside my 4.0 GPA).  As usual, I slapped and reminded myself that the first homework assignment was just 3% of my final grade and that I am not out of the game yet.  The first assignment sets the standard for the professor’s expectations and I just had to dissect my feedback and move from there.  So, after dissection, I learned quite a bit about my professor and his expectations.  I say this only to report that on my second assignment, a project that was worth 15% of my final grade,  I received a 100! 

I am learning so much about myself that I did not know before.  

Primarily, this change in my life is more than just following my dreams, although that was the purpose for me doing so.  I learned that this change is huge in me readjusting what I think I am capable of doing.  I have had to push myself past preset mental boundaries in order for me to accomplish these new tasks in my life.  What happens in these moments however, is a dynamic that can not be ignored: 

The more I push myself, the more I know that I can do anything and the more I feel like a programmer and less like a spectator.  

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Programming

 

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I’m fortunate… Newbie – Day 4

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In my second post, I spoke to the people who say things that go against me following my dreams.  Whether they are the nay sayers or the ones who do not quite get it.  But then I realized, there’s another group of people.  Not ones that are trying to tear me down, but the ones that are completely baffled by what I’m doing (giving all of it up to follow my dreams).  To some, I was already following my dreams…

OH Boy, were they wrong…

Yes, I live in a nice place, I made (technically still make for a month) a decent salary, I have nice things, and I’ve worked hard to get to where I was.  But what I didn’t have was happiness.  This new group of people are fighting to get where I was, when I’m running as fast as I can in the opposite direction.  I suppose this thought frightens them.  They are wondering if there is something there that they should be concerned about.  By “there” I mean a sliver of success, a piece of the pie… I don’t have an answer for them… Maybe, just maybe, they won’t lose their soul in the process of making corporate happy.  Maybe

On a deeper level, maybe this new group of people, have a spark in them that says that they don’t want what it is they are going after either.  Maybe they too are caught up in the momentum of being successful and they aren’t stopping to really check to see if this is what they want out of life.  I pray that this isn’t the case, because the daily grind will consume their souls too.

All I can do is relish in the thought that it’s not too late for me… That I can learn, that I WILL change the status quo.  Exciting, to say the very least.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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