How to work smarter

A few months ago, I had a friend ask: “How did you get here?” Although we’ve only recently had the opportunity to get to know each other better, our lives had crossed paths many times in the past ten years from my days dancing and traveling, to university in the U.S., and then back home in starting my career. We had been sharing stories about successes and lessons learned, but this question not only caught me off guard, it left me completely stumped. Ever since that night, I’ve been trying to find a way to answer that question; to break it down in a way that would be useful and beneficial to you, my readers. The question couldn’t help but resurface as I shared news of my new property and while answering it is still a work in progress, trying to take a stab at answering it is what this blog is about after all.

And while I wrote about dreaming and affirmations, which I undoubtedly still believe in, there was no absence of hardwork and determination that got me here and can’t be left unnoticed. For as long as I (and my parents) can remember, I have been diligent and disciplined when I set out to achieve a goal; my mind focused and my spirit relentless. I have always been driven to want more, to achieve more, and to be more, above and beyond the tangible things associated with success. It’s that energy that leads me to write my blog, work with Klas squared, and get to the gym or out for a run. But it can also be my downfall.

The interesting thing about growing up is that you never really change. The same things that made you who are you are at four, are the same things that will make you who you are at 40 and beyond. We are all given a unique skill set to work with; innate capabilities woven in to our DNA allowing us to live to our fullest potential. By identifying these strengths, I began to learn how to leverage what came naturally to me, finding clarity in how to go about achieving my goals. It wasn’t so much that these adjectives changed my course or had the magic to determine my fate, but rather kept me focused on what I could control. My strong will and determination has continued to lead me to make change in my life, work through challenges, and conquer goals, but not without a price.

I have always been an intense individual; unable to relax and be in the present moment, never satisfied with the status quo, contentment and happiness being elusive to me. (Fact: on my 10th birthday I had a breakdown because I felt that time was going by too fast, and I was going to run out of it before I got to do all the things I wanted to do in life). In other words, what has driven me to set goals, work hard to have the means and skills to execute on them, is also what creates the anxiety and stress in my everyday. It’s what gets me worked up over the small things, but allows me to stay calm under pressure for the big things. It causes me to pile unnecessary pressure on myself to get more done than is reasonably possible, which often leads to disappointment and frustration. But instead of finding myself down a rabbit hole of self pity when the to-do list gets too long, I’m learning to take a deep breath and, as my brother says, make it a “tomorrow Kirsten” problem. It is a constant struggle to find balance; to not let my strengths be my weakness. Every day I have to be conscious of how I let my strengths manifest and whether they’ll take me down, or let me rise to the occasion.

So while I sit outside writing on one of the few precious last days of summer, I’m taking a deep breath and ignoring the what ifs and should haves. I’m making every effort to acknowledge and congratulate myself for my success so far, instead of worrying about what’s next. And I’m reminding myself that this is only the beginning…