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The Mashup … with Michelle Peña

The journey to peak fulfillment

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Michelle Pena

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in The Mashup … with Michelle Peña

On a recent walk along the winding path of Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin, I came upon the famed cherry blossom trees. A gift of friendship from Japan over 100 years ago, these trees are often said to symbolize the beauty and fragility of life, because once they reach peak bloom they only last a couple of weeks.

As I admired all of their gorgeous colors, a stunning variation of pink and white, and I considered how short-lived all of it was, my thoughts gave way to the transience of time. If you could live your life over again, would you do anything differently?



One thing I would do is break out of my comfort zone more often. I’ve learned when we step outside of that and take some risks, that’s when we genuinely maximize our personal growth, creativity and fulfillment.

As one example, although I started my career as a writer, I then also spent several years working exclusively as a graphic designer. Once I finally switched back to the editorial field, I actually rekindled my passion for work and realized that was truly my wheelhouse all along. I should have made the jump sooner.

The reason I didn’t was primarily because the design work had become so familiar and secure. The idea of getting back into writing and editing after so many years almost felt like a career change all over again. That fear held me back.

I shared this experience with a friend who spent part of his career working as a purpose coach. I found his interpretation to be incredibly empowering. “When we F.E.A.R.,” as he so aptly explained, “we Forfeit Experiencing Another Reality.”

A lovable and self-proclaimed science geek, my friend also advised that “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable” creates new neural pathways in the brain around fear that help us live more confidently and achieve goals.

Those words resonated with me deeply. It was then that I committed to changing the narrative of my life script and confronting the fears that I felt have stood in the way of my professional and personal fulfillment.

We’re halfway through 2018, and I’m determined to check off as many more boxes as I can and give life a healthy reboot. I will share these with you as the year progresses, and I hope you find inspiration in my story. I encourage you to start a conversation in the comments below, because I would truly love to chat and learn more about your journey too.


Michelle Peña is the senior editor of Office Technology Today and Small Business Tax Strategies. You can also follow her on Instagram @michymashup and LinkedIn @michymash.

MUSIC: "White" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorraine May 1, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Twenty-two years ago when I joined the Army, I would have insisted on Spanish guaranteed in my contract as a linguist (I received Arabic after basic training, which I failed and spent the rest of my contract as an Admin Assistant). My efforts to return to my original career choice of Spanish have resulted in the two best months of my entire life, however, I dropped out of grad school and have returned to the safety of an administrative job.


Michelle Pena May 4, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Lorraine, thank you for sharing! I came very close to working as a military linguist years ago, and Spanish would have been one of my languages as well. Circumstances also changed on my end, though, which redirected my career path. But even when things have not gone as planned, I like to believe that all the personal or professional “highs and lows” have served a deeper purpose. What we overcome in life is as valuable as what we achieve. And while job security itself is incredibly important and feeds our sense of purpose and fulfillment, I consider happiness the main narrative in life. On that note, I would love to share this quote with you that I’ve always loved, written by Denis Waitely: “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”


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