Finding your place in the sun

Imagine yourself jumping out of bed excited and full of energy to start working on the things that you love. Wouldn’t that be great? Imagine being inspired and motivated every day.

Very recently, I realized, that to have this feeling every morning, we need to figure out what is the unique value that we can give to the world. This shouldn’t be some abstract concept, but very concrete service or product that others are willing to pay for.

Me and my brother some 10 years ago

Some lucky people know from their infancy what they want to become, and they identify with that profession for all their life. My brother is one of those people. He was interested in privacy and security since he got his own room in our house. I remember him convincing my parents to buy him a safety box at the age of 12. His favorite pages from the newspapers were the crime investigations where he was analyzing the security breaches that led to these unfortunate events. Today he runs a successful cybersecurity business in Canada.

In contrast, I found it very challenging to determine which profession would fit me. I was one of those kids who got good marks in school but didn’t have any preferences. The things I was passionate about were more in the social domain. I did well at talking to people and was extremely interested in foreigners and other cultures.

I remember coming back home, without notice, with two Korean girls, which I have met on the train from Ljubljana to Skopje, explaining to my flabbergasted parents that they should stay with us for a couple of days and that we should show them around.

Limiting beliefs

Somehow, I developed the limiting belief that exciting things are for your free time.
The things you do for money and your profession, you choose by other criteria, ones that meet the expectations of the society and your parents. Therefore, I have chosen to study computer engineering, like my brother. And again, I finished the studies thanks to my natural intelligence and hard work, but my passion and interests were outside of the IT domain, in the theater lessons and the language courses I attended, with my international friends, in my travels and anthropology books.

Me in the IT land

When I started working as a software developer, I knew deep down inside that this is not my profession. I was struggling to fit because I didn’t share the same passion as my colleagues and I felt I am delivering mediocre results.

However, nothing is black and white in this world. There were many aspects that I loved, such as solving problems, logical thinking, a good salary, and the availability of jobs all over the globe. Also, being a girl who could successfully navigate the nerdy, men’s world gave me some kind of prestige.

For many years, I kept this unfulfilling job and was satisfying my real interests in my free time. First I found a job in Ljubljana, then in Amsterdam, then in France. By being soaked in new cultures and friendships I have managed to tolerate the uncomfortable feeling at work.

All the same, the need to find my place under the sun, a spot where I would feel confident and proud, valued, and respected for what I am, for my unique qualities kept growing within me. Doing so during my free time only, was not enough.

The quest of finding out what makes me tick

At first, I thought I should leave the IT industry and invested in New Media Studies. However, after observing some colleagues I admired, I found a domain within the IT industry that resonated with me. That was the business analysis. As a business analyst, I needed to speak with customers who were looking for IT solutions to support and enable their businesses. I needed to have knowledge of the IT world, which I did, but I also needed to understand the business world of my customers.

I loved that I was able to bridge the gap between the business domain and the exciting world of digital technology! Expressing business needs and visualizing them for the business stakeholders felt great.

Find your place in the sun, perhaps Île de Porquerolles?

I felt more alive, but not there yet.

More self-exploration needed to be done! Once I got the taste of working with pleasure and passion, I wanted more of it.

I continued to pursue a series of new assignments and education programs in the fields of digital strategy, human behavior, marketing, and business and personal leadership. I was massively going out of my comfort zone, both financially and socially.

I regret none of it and I am convinced the best is yet to come!!

You should see my smile in the mornings, waking up to do what I love and what people appreciate.

Never stop searching for a sunnier spot!!

Do you have time for the things that matter?

Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilized? Have you ever caught yourself complaining that you have less and less time?
In addition, as we age, we perceive that time passes faster and the urgency to do something great with the time left increases.

There are far more interesting things to be done and opportunities to be pursued in this world than we have time to invest in. To help you focus on the things that matter to you the most, I am describing 3 practices which I find useful:

too many choices
Our world of endless choices
  1. Find your purpose
  2. Filter the opportunities
  3. Get support

By applying these practices you will be able to manage your time wisely and focus on the important and exciting things.

Find your purpose

For some people this might be totally unknown territory. Others consider finding their purpose as the ultimate and mandatory spiritual journey. I prefer to look at it from the practical side and regularly ponder these 3 questions to figure it out:

  1. What do I feel deeply inspired by?
  2. What am I particularly talented at?
  3. What meets a significant need in the world?

By finding the answers to these thought-provoking questions, we can start seeing how we can add value to the world by developing our talents and interests. In my opinion, this should be our purpose, finding the intersection of these 3 domains, finding our highest point of contribution.

We all have experienced that very special feeling when we were doing something we were passionate about. Do you remember the excitement, the lost sense of time, the feeling of being “in the flow”, the extreme focus, the satisfaction?

Once you have at least a slight idea of your purpose you can start filtering the activities and opportunities coming your way.

Filter the opportunities

All you need to do from now on is, ask yourself every time you are required or tempted to do something, “is this task/project/opportunity aligned with my purpose?”

Instead of working harder and trying to do it all and please everyone, your purpose gives you a framework to explore and evaluate different options before committing. You can deliberately choose to focus on the things that matter and leave the rest aside.

In my case, this was easier said than done. I was not able to choose, for example, between working on my passions on Sunday or spending time with my family. I would always underestimate the necessary efforts and try to squeeze both in my agenda, unrealistically hoping that somehow I can successfully manage both activities. My exhaustion was telling me day in day out, that my energy is limited and that I should change my approach. I am so glad I found a perfect way to deal with this concern in this engaging book:

Today when I am planning my day, instead of asking myself “What do I have to give up?” I reframe the question as “What do I want to go big on?”. This small change has a profound impact on how I perceive my spending of time. It enables me to embrace the inevitable trade-offs as strategic choices instead of ignoring them or even worse, letting them make me feel guilty and stressed.

Once you pick an option worth committing and you have accepted the trade-offs, you will experience peace of mind and freedom to go big on it, show your beautiful authentic self and make your highest contribution.

Get support

If you are serious about focussing on what really matters to you, I encourage you to read the Essentialist book I mentioned above. It is a treasure of tips and tools on how to manage yourself and your time better so you can focus on the matters that are important to you.

Obviously just reading the book will not do the magic. You will need to engage discipline in place and develop habits to consistently and rigorously keep cleaning your life from the non-essential clutter. You will also need to develop self-confidence and leadership skills to be able to say a deliberate no, for example to your boss or family, while continuing to be respected and appreciated.

I am so glad I do not have to do this on my own. Through my SFM membership I have access to a world-class education, talented mentors, and like-minded people to help me along the way. The SFM membership is much like my membership to the fitness center and for the same price, only it focuses on my leadership and digital business skills.

At the SFM, I am not only learning how to create time for the things that really matter, but also how to run a profitable online business from doing those things.
If this sounds attractive to you as well, then you can check the ALL-IN Package membership below.

The SFM All-In Package

Once you gain clarity of purpose, it becomes easier to determine and stick to the activities and efforts that really matter. You will be in control of your time and will have the freedom to make your best, authentic contribution. You will be experiencing joy, and tapping more of your unique potential.