Shine Where You Are: Making the Most of "Here" Before You Get to "There"

Are you exactly where you want to be?

For most people the answer is probably “No.” Maybe it’s “No, not quite, but I’m getting there,” or maybe it’s more like “No way, I’m not even close!” Maybe you’d like a job you could enjoy more, or a bigger house, or a newer car. Maybe you’re single and you want a relationship, or maybe your bank account could be a little healthier. Maybe you could be a little healthier. Maybe you could be a little happier.

It’s okay to want more.

Actually, it’s important to want more. Wanting more is not the same as discontent. Wanting more is what spurs growth and progress. You can be perfectly content and comfortable with your present circumstances without them being your ultimate destination. You can have just eaten the most decadently delicious meal of your life… and still want dessert.

Acceptance is the key.

Not the kind of acceptance that conjures images of kneeling in deference or throwing up hands in defeat. Not the kind that melts you into helplessness or apathy or surrender. You don’t have to accept that your current state of affairs is your final fate. I’m talking about the simple acceptance that this is where you are. Right here. Right now.

This is your pivot point.

If you are experiencing discontent rather than acceptance, listen up:

When you accept where you are Right Now, you harness your power.

Moving from discontent to acceptance is like pulling a map out of your pocket when you are lost. Without consulting your map – having forgotten it is even in your possession – you are bound to wander and remain lost, never getting where you want to go. When you accept where you are, you can see the bigger picture and figure out how to get from Here to There. Then and only then can you decide what to make of your time Here, before you get to There.

You can’t avoid your circumstances.

You’re here. Now. And you can’t just poof yourself into a new life. That shift is bound to take some time and some effort, so you might as well make the best of what you’ve got. For example, I didn’t really want to be running a gas station in a tiny town like I was doing a few years ago. Hardly. But I was content. It was just around the corner from my home, it was decent pay, and I thrive in the service industry.

I called my assistant manager and myself “The Gas Station Gurus.”

Even on the morning shifts that started at 5:00 a.m., we had on bright smiles and we exuded a warm and friendly energy. It didn’t matter that the sun hadn’t come up yet, we brought the sunshine in with us! We greeted our regulars by name, and would often have their beverages or cigarettes ready before they even walked in. We provided inspiration and encouragement to those who needed it. I bought rolls of stickers to hand out to the kids and the kids-at-heart.

I even started posting a Thought for the Week on the front door.

And I kept that up for a whole year. I still have them all in a folder in my desk. Some of them were funny, some were philosophical, some were song lyrics… It might have just been a gas station, but between the two of us we transformed it into the positivity hub of our little town. We had customers who told us that they refused to go to any of the other three gas stations in town. (Yep. Itty bitty town, four gas stations. Don’t ask me to explain it.)

It was all about our attitude.

That store certainly wasn’t where either of us really wanted to be. But we turned it into something bigger, something better. We made it a place full of fun and joy and community. We made it “home” for as long as we were there, until we both moved on to the next leg of our life journeys.

And it wasn’t just good for the two of us.

It was good for everyone around us. Our bosses. Our employees. Our customers. Because of our efforts, everyone benefited. Instead of just fretting over the fact that I had a Bachelor’s degree from a prestigious university and I was managing a gas station in the middle of nowhere, I took what I had and I made something of it.

I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Not even close. But I accepted that, for the time being, that’s where I was. I found a way for it to fill hearts and to feed my soul. And the fact that I chose to shine where I was – instead of waiting until circumstances were perfect – changed the world. Or at least my little corner of it.



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books–written by men–barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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