I shall not regret what I didn’t know. Or, I wouldn’t recognize. That’s going to be my mantra with this one.
Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones isn’t going to instantly dry up the river of anxiety that flows through my DNA. But it certainly is a kick in the pants to my ennui.
I’m going to be 53 next month. I’ve spent nearly my entire career as a communicator going with the flow and not super-motivated to do more and be more, not because I didn’t care about myself or my career, but because being a mom to my three kids took absolute precedence. Still does. If one of them, even now they are all in their 20s, needs me, then yes I will drop what I am doing to put them and their emergency first.
But like any lazy perfectionist, I’ve spent the last few years sliding into a mid-life conundrum. Not crisis, conundrum. I don’t question where I’ve been or if I am or am not happy with current state. (For the record, I am.) But I have wondered, how much of that not wanting more for myself has held me back from achieving better personal satisfaction in my career, or in my writing. And as the kids have grown, that sense of “I can’t use them as an excuse” has grown stronger.
Which then, in turn, feeds the conundrum. Now that I may have more time to focus on a career, is there still time? Do I care? Would I be just as happy in my current state five years from now?
What do I really want?
Jones’ second book, a followup to the NYT bestseller, “I’m Judging You,” applies to anyone of any age looking to shake off the rust that forms when you’re sitting still too long and it’s been raining. Don’t know where to start? Try writing your mission statement. Try writing your very own Oríkì. (Buy the book to learn more. But it’s badass.)
By laying out the book in three parts, “Be,” “Say,” and “Do,” Jones takes the monumental task of re-imagining a better future for yourself professionally (though a lot of this text is easily applicable to personal goals) and breaks it down so that it all doesn’t feel too much. (Pro tip: This was a library read for me, but I highly recommend buying it, which I am going to do, because you’re going to want to revisit sections for a little rah-rah-rah when you need it.)
Everyone will have something different that resonates with them — this was mine: “Change is necessary. To be the same person you were last year or last decade means you’ve learned nothing new and you’re doing things the same way and at the same level you used to. It means that you’re not growing, and what’s not growing is dying … Things are constantly changing around you, so why should you stay the same? … a lot of times the things that we have to do, the people we have to be, the places we have to go will require us to change. We can’t be sorry about it.”
This book is full of truth telling. FULL. And it’s going to give you permission to tell fear to take a hike. To stop worrying about what others think. To know the difference between being nice and being kind. All good lessons, whether you are at the beginning, middle or in the twilight of your career.
Breathe this book in. And then go be a troublemaker.