That One Piece of Paper: Step Zero

I’ll have to admit that before I wrote up the SMARTER goals for this, I had already done most of Step 0 and some of Step 1. I find that I often start projects with the best of intentions, but without putting a SMARTER list together and holding myself accountable, I rarely follow through. But blogging about this is definitely helping me to make sure I will finish all these steps.

I think that putting these exercises onto my blog from What Color is Your Parachute? is permissible because of the concept of “Each One, Teach One” that the book ends on — it says that because not everyone has these skills, it’s important that we who know about them pass them on. If I get a cease and desist letter, I’ll take down the exercises but I think my answers are mine to share.

The first activity is “Who Are You?”

1. Take ten sheets of blank paper. Write, at the top of each one, just these three words: Who Am I?
2. Then write, on each sheet in turn, just one answer to that question. And only one.
3. When you’re done, go back over all ten sheets and expand now upon what you have written on each sheet. Looking at each answer, write it below, why you said that, and what turns you on about that answer.
4. When finished with all ten sheets, go back over them and arrange them in order of priority. That is, which identity is the most important to you? That page goes on top. Then, which is next? That goes immediately underneath the top one. Continue arranging the rest of the sheets in order, until what you think is your least important identity is at the bottom of the pile.
5. Finally, go back over the ten sheets, in order, and look particularly at your answer on each sheet to What turns me on about this? See if there are any common denominators, or themes, among the ten answer you gave. If so, jot them down on a separate piece of paper. Viola! You have begun to put your finger on some things that your dream job or career, vocation, mission, or whatever, needs to give you if you are to feel truly excited, fulfilled, useful, effective, and operating at the height of your powers.

I modified slightly. I used old, out-of-date business cards that I had laying around my internship. This kept the project much more tactile for me, and helped me think I wasn’t wasting paper. But that was about the extent of the modifying.

Who am I? Here’s my top ten list & what turns me on about them:

1. A woman. I am a person! My body is amazing. The cycles, the way I can be active, the ability to gestate and breastfeed and give birth. My nurturing side, my vulnerable side; my dark, my light; my “feminine genius.”

2. An intimate partner. The safety, the companionship. Working as a team. Backing each other up. Friendship. Enjoying the same things. Having someone accept me for who I am.

3. A mother. A chance to teach her. To learn how to be positive and encouraging. To re-do things for the first time. Seeing beauty and wonder in her eyes. Knowing I am important to her.

4. A writer. A chance to create meaning. To create connection. To know about humanity more deeply. It is part of my connection talent.

5. A fangirl/critic (I couldn’t come up with a good one word for this.) I find joy in the creation of others, and also think about what meaning that creation puts forward. The dialogue of culture, the way it is an area of both protest and oppression.

6. A student. Formal studenthood has a goal, a deadline, an arbiter of right and wrong. But more broadly, this is an acknowledgement that there is much to learn from other human beings, my daughter, my partner. I like to reflect and assess and improve. I like to fail and try again.

7. A researcher. There is knowledge out there that needs to be found, understood and interpreted. Finding out the unknown. The joy of discovery, of putting together the puzzle pieces.

8. A Christian. The social justice. The movement towards a kingdom on earth, thy will as in Heaven.

9. An activist seeking justice. Because making the world a better place, through influence and policy and enforcement/administration is the key to meaningful work for me. Because we NEED change.

10. A healer. Tikkam Olam — I am doing the work of repairing the world.

The common denominators seem to be this:

  • the creation of meaning (writer, fangirl/critic, researcher, healer)
  • the want of or forging of connections with others (partner, mother, writing, fangirl/critic, Christian, healer)
  • wanting to be present and mindful and joyful where I am (woman, partner, mother)
  • wanting to make the world a better place (writer, fangirl/critic, researcher, christian, activist, healer)
  • being willing to fail and try again (mother, writer, student activist, healer)
  • creation and collection of knowledge (writer, student, researcher)
  • want of structure (student, Christian)

This is the page that’s going in my “permanent” file that will become my One Piece of Paper:

This doesn’t help me figure out how to network or search for the right job for me. It only has broad principles. Time to keep going!

What does your top ten list look like?

( PS: I’m rewarding myself with a new dress for my internship. It’s going to be this wrap dress in purple!)

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