Do You Focus on the Guaranteed Past or Future
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What we believe controls our lives. It reduces our choices. But it does not have to be that way.
Change your beliefs and open up doors you never imagined existed.
Choose to look at life differently and you can have the life of your dreams. Question everything. Especially question what you are “supposed” to do.
I was supposed to retire at age 50 after 30 years at IBM with a real pension and fully paid benefits. They were promised to us in writing every year. And that was my plan for 23 years…
Until the day the IBM CEO decided he deserved our pensions and benefits more than we did, converting our real pensions into illegal at the time cash pensions.
Suddenly, the guaranteed past and future were gone!
Someone Moved My Cheese
I had consciously traded hours of personal time as overtime and better pay elsewhere for what we thought was a stable retirement and benefits that had gone * poof * overnight.
A salesman who happened to have a degree in accounting deciphered the paperwork we were given and realized our pensions were worth only half their original value.
He rented a meeting room at a major hotel chain and word spread through the IBM grapevine that all were invited to hear the truth.
I would have to work the remaining 7 years plus 17 more years to earn back what I had lost – if they were not taken again. I had no confidence they would not be (and for the record, they were years later).
In my mind there were only two choices to be made:
- Become the “Norma Rae” of IBM
- Resign and totally change my life overnight
While I seriously considered the first option, I logically concluded that we could spend decades fighting the good fight, win a few battles, but be highly unlikely to win the war.
That was not the only reason. IBM was not what it once was.
From 18 field techs when I moved to Texas, we were down to only 3 of us who serviced mainframes, and I was the only one who would answer the phone at night and on weekends.
My phone rang nearly every night. I was adept at diagnosing the issue, ordering parts, and getting some sleep, putting calls off until morning more often than not – but exhaustion set in.
Marketing was short on personnel, too. I ended up managing a project (outside my training and job description) that had weekly meetings 4 hours away. I was overtime before I even got there.
Attending a meeting half asleep is one thing – running them quite another. I found myself waking up while driving not remembering the last ten miles.
Building My Own Maze
So I tried to resign…for weeks I tried to get my Manager to accept my two weeks notice. [I suspect he hoped I’d change my mind if he avoided me long enough.]
My co-workers could not imagine my choice. Just the thought of leaving terrified them! They said:
“You have 23 years invested – you can’t resign with 23 years invested.”
They were focused on the past; I was focused on the future.
The company had changed and the reduction in how overtime was paid, reduced pension and benefits were too little incentive.
Where my co-workers believed their only choice was to stay, I knew I’d rather build my own maze to hunt for my missing cheese than stay where half the cheese had gone missing and much of that was now moldy.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale
Why I Had the Confidence to Leave
I had no clear plan when I left; I only knew I did not want to stay. I was not afraid to leave; I was not stuck, and I knew why.
I would leave tapes playing continuously in the background, and they changed my life.
Instead of my mind instantly jumping to “what did I do wrong“, it was quiet and peaceful.
I had accidentally happened upon the way to reprogram my negative thoughts, what Zig Ziglar would call “stinkin’ thinking.”
I share this story in the hopes that others will reprogram their thinking so they can have what their heart most desires. Moreover, also so they can go freelance as I have.
No More J.O.B. (Just Over Broke)
Somewhere in my time online, I ran across a young man about 23 years old.
He asked me to edit some writing he had done, and he had the most unusual, but the compelling manner of writing. He finally admitted that the only books he had ever read were comic books, and he wrote in that style!
He told me his story about never having had a J.O.B. which he called “Just Over Broke” and never wanting one.
I agreed with him that I would not have another J.O.B. in my lifetime. I’ve been offered many jobs since I left IBM. A recruiter offered me a community manager job just recently.
But once you’ve decided to design your own maze, why would you ever want to be trapped in a maze of someone else’s design?
Jobs are fine for others, but for the free of heart freedom calls.
“All things are possible for him that believeth” ~ Mark 9:23 ~ Norman Vincent Peale
My best advice is to take the shortcut of finding a mentor willing to offer you guidance. Going it alone is possible, but it will take you a lot longer and delay your success.
Over to you –
What do you focus on – your past or future? Did you design your own maze to hunt for your cheese and experience the Aha!Moment in your life? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
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