A few months ago, I was challenged to set a one-word intention for the year. While it was tough to choose just one word, I settled on strength. I chose this because it embodies grit, perseverance, and resilience in one word. After two years of dealing with a world pandemic, I found it hard to venture back into reality again. As a world, we hit a few big bumps in the road, and even in my personal life I have experienced strife that takes strength to deal with. I believe that not only do you have to embody strength in your personal life, but as a leader in the workplace.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the American Dream lately and what that means to me. The media and society portrays this as owning a home, having a family, and working a 9-5 job. But what if this isn’t really the true American Dream? What if we ourselves define the American Dream? To me, the American Dream is having the freedom to choose the life I want to pursue. The freedom of choice is something I am grateful and proud to have as an American.
I choose to depict this idea of the American Dream defying the boundaries we place it in. Growing up I wanted to live in New York City and work in fashion, travel the world like my Godmother, and be a professional dancer. These are dreams that have been pushed to the backburner and that’s okay. Some of my adult dreams include becoming a pilot, starting a non-profit, and writing a memoir. These are dreams that have not yet come to fruition, but hopefully one day will.
Everybody experiences forks in the road. These bumps in the road lead to the death of a dream or a redirection to something better. Three years ago, I experienced a huge fork in my road when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I feared that the dreams I had laid out for myself at the time would never come to fruition. I feared that my life was over. Ultimately I decided to acknowledge this fork and use it as a redirection in my plan, which has led to my current dreams of starting a non-profit and writing a book.
So sure, some dreams do die. And sometimes the fork in the road is too overwhelming to overcome, but having the power to choose which direction we want to go next is the ultimate reward. While I do still want to own a home, have a family, and work my 9-5 job, I choose not to confine myself to this standard. The American Dream means something different to everyone. I have dreams that have died, but that does not mean I cannot go back to those later in life. It’s time we stop confining ourselves to society’s standards of what a good, successful American life looks like.
As a manager and leader, I hope to embody strength in my everyday life. In business, it is almost inevitable that you will hit a few bumps in the road. To me what matters most is how you react to those bumps. Do you know when it’s time to walk away from an idea? Do you know when to persevere and turn that idea into a reality? I want to have the strength to know the difference between the two. I also believe as a leader you need to have passion for what you are doing and empower your team to believe in the mission. I want to be a beacon of light to the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) community and raise awareness about something that most people know nothing about. If I can reach just one person with my blogs and IBD support group, then I know I’m making a difference in the community I have grown to adore.
I am a firm believer in that doing the uncomfortable things leads to growth. I have learned to find hope in being vulnerable, to expand my narrow-minded business mindset, to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, and to pursue strength, grit, and perseverance as a manager and leader. Strength embodies everything I want to be and improve on this year. If only I could tell my younger self that she would grow up to be a total GIRL BOSS.
I challenge you to set a one-word intention for the year.
(hint hint: it’s not as easy as you think!)