Inspirational Story: Beat Mental Clutter and Live Your Dream

live your dream

I 100% believe that there is nothing like living your dreams each and everyday that you are here on earth.  I also believe that many times the difference between the people that go for their dreams, and those who don’t…is mental clutter.

Most often when people think of clutter they think of papers on the kitchen counter or clothes that never get worn or all those knick knacks on a shelf.  But clutter comes in many different forms. 

We have clutter in our minds too….lots of it!  After 12 years helping people get organized I have realized one thing…if you can clear the mental clutter everything else will fall into place.  You will start to have a stellar focus and ability to set goals AND achieve them…thus leading you to a life you dream about.

The following is a conversation I recently had with one of my longest and closest friends Attorney Cynthia Pyfrom.  I met Cindy in college. We were two young girls that left our families to attend college in Palm Beach County (oh yes that was a dream in itself).  Since I have known Cindy she has been through some major obstacles including: finding her birth mother, her brother having an accident that left him a paraplegic, being disowned by her father for marrying a man of color and opening her own law firm (just to name a few).

The reason why I chose her for this post is because besides all that she has faced Cindy continues to stay positive (believe me she has had reasons not to be) and stay focused on her goals. Her life could have gone in a completely different direction had she let the “Mental Clutter” get the better of her.  

I hope you find inspiration in her story…
Tell us a little bit about how you grew up.
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised in Frankfort, Kentucky. I grew up in the country on acres of land with our own farm including cows, chickens, pigs and horses. I was a tomboy and loved playing outdoors whether it was on a tractor or a 4-wheeler, or out fishing in the creek. My father was the patriarch of the family and I was taught a “woman’s place” at a very early age, although I never really believed it. I played sports, made a lot of friends and never allowed other people’s assumed limitations to affect me. I received a volleyball scholarship to college at Palm Beach State College and moved down to Florida right after graduation from high school.
What was your deciding factor for taking the huge steps from Paralegal to Attorney?
I started working in the legal field in 1997 as a receptionist for a large law firm in West Palm Beach, Florida. I enjoyed the tasks I was given and always asked for more when I was done. After a short while as a receptionist, I moved up to secretary. From then, I continuously improved, moved up and took other jobs with better opportunities for growth. I attended college part-time and intended to become a high school teacher; however, when I reached the point in my educational journey where student teaching was a requirement, I chose to take time off to re-evaluate what I wanted to do in life. Ultimately, I decided to finish my Bachelor’s degree the fastest way I could and obtained my BA in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2004. I began working in the Family Law field in 2005 and fell in love. I could not learn enough. My employer in 2008 saw my potential and told me I should be an attorney. I honestly never even thought about becoming an attorney until she told me that. Once I heard that, I started realizing I could do it. I applied for law school at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida and was accepted in to their evening program. 
What were your biggest hurdles in making this transition?
My biggest hurdle was my own self-imposed doubts and limitations I placed on myself. Growing up in a small town, there were not a lot of successful women to look up to and aspire to be like. It had never even crossed my mind that I could be a lawyer. Once I made the decision to do it, I had to work extra hard on re-training my thoughts to believe that I could do anything I put my mind to. I found that when someone doubted me, or told me they didn’t think I could do it, that is when I truly found my motivation. I love proving people wrong!
Many times “Mental Clutter” keeps us stuck and doesn’t allow us to live bigger lives…what types of mental clutter did you face and how did you deal with it? 
I have some family members who never thought I would finish my bachelor’s degree, much less go on to graduate school! Especially because I did not decide to go to law school until I was 32 years old. Although they supported me and thought I was smart enough to do it, they thought at my age I would not have the drive, motivation or determination to get through it. I had to take the doubt and disbelief from others and turn it into fuel for my fire. I also had to take my own doubts in myself and realize that it could be the most damaging to my goals. Doubt in your own abilities is the worst deterrent to reaching your goals. Don’t doubt yourself, just do it.
What fuels you to stay focused?
Through law school I found that quotes were the most beneficial in helping me focus. When I felt overwhelmed, or defeated, I would seek out positive quotes to refocus and realign my efforts with thoughts of success. A good quote can make your whole day turn around for the better. Working full-time and attending law school at night proved to be very trying at times (many times)! I found that taking it one day at a time, one week at a time and one class at a time kept me from getting overwhelmed with the enormity of the entire endeavor. I would print out, or write down quotes and hang them all around my study space. I would make my background picture on my smart phone and my laptop a positive quote. It is amazing what a positive outlook, or one positive thought can do to change your entire perspective.
How we manage our time is one of the main factors between people who get things done and reach their goals and those that don’t…what are your best time management tips?
For me, managing my time was the most important task throughout law school. I used a notebook and would write down my weekly homework to ensure I accomplished everything I needed to over the weekend. Since I was working full-time, I had to do a week’s worth of homework on Saturday and Sunday in order to get through a week of night classes. I also used a planner so I could write down my deadlines (I.e. paper due, final exam, research, etc…). In fact, I still do this now for myself and my firm and it helps me manage my time over the next week so I know what I can and cannot do. It also ensures that I have plenty of time to handle my client’s cases efficiently while also going out and networking to get more clients.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my never-ending drive to do better than I did yesterday. I’ve always said, “I am not in competition with anyone else but myself. I just want to be a better me”. I think I’ve done a great job of doing that over the years, and I look forward to getting better and better as time goes on.
How does it feel to be living your dream?
I am honestly still getting used to it. I was sworn in as a license Florida attorney on April 16, 2013 and I opened my own law firm on January 17, 2014. I wake up every day with a smile on my face realizing that I am in control and this is what all of my hard work was for – I’m here! All of those years of working for other people have really paid off. I know more than I ever realized I knew. I truly believe I can do anything I put my mind to. I feel like my dreams are limitless and I’m just getting started. Make sure to check back with me in a couple of years and I’ll let you know how the dream is going. 🙂
What advice do you have for other people reading this that are dreaming but not living their dreams?
Don’t wait. Don’t make excuses. Free yourself from the limitations you are putting on yourself. You have to realize that now is the time. The longer you wait, and the more excuses you make, the longer it will take you to get there and that will just leave you with less time to actually live your dream. Take a leap of faith and truly believe in yourself, even if no one else does. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish!
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Hi there! I am Jennifer Ford Berry or some people like to call me "Life's Organization Expert". I am super passionate about helping people get organized and stay that way! I have written a series of books called Organize Now! I contribute my organizing tips to National magazines, radio and TV shows. I am here to help you realize that your life is not about is about living! YOU can live an organized, healthy and exciting life one baby step at a time. Let me show you how!

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