Why I still believe.

I believe.

I believe my life is richer and more interesting; not because of how much money I have in my checking account, but because of the people in it who come from all corners of the earth.

I believe that education, knowledge and experiences determine the course of a person’s life. I believe these are the best investments we can make, and we should make it wherever we can. This is why I support people and companies like a child in Africa, a school in Haiti, the Boys & Girls Club and Literacy Network. I’ve closely mentored a couple of teens/young adults and have been a foster mom. If I can, you can– we all can. Not all at once, but if there are seasons in your life where you can do more, do it. Someone’s life is depending on it.

I believe there is enough for everyone. While prosperity is a wonderful thing, it can also be a curse. I believe we will not be remembered for what we take, but what we give. Most importantly, be generous with your love. That’s what people need and most people can’t tell the difference between someone who listens to them and actual love. You just need to have ears that hear and a heart that cares. Time is what people want most of all.

I believe that many people are longing for connection. We have become a culture of human doings instead of human beings.

Labels make it easier for us to navigate– she’s in, he’s out, they can come, they need to stand outside. See the possibility and potential in others and not the limitations, then your world will grow exponentially. I believe everyone has something unique to offer to the world. I believe if we looked at everything with the curiosity of a child instead of the cynicism of an adult, we would be happier, making the world a kinder, gentler place to live in.

I believe we are living in an unprecedented time of communication. How will future generations judge our use of it? “Be the change,” as Gandhi so famously said. Use your words to build up instead of tear down.

I believe business and life are about solving problems. You get to decide which problems are worth suffering for, and which ones you want to solve. You do. No one else. Choose wisely. Invest in the things you really give a damn about. It can’t be all or you’ll go insane.

I believe in hard work, in taking risks, in trusting God even when it’s not going well, and in doing the right thing even when it’s hard.

I believe we each get to choose what we do with our lives and no one should choose for us. Had I listened to my high school counselor, my fiance’ at 19, or my parents, I would have been a secretary. I wouldn’t have written a book or started a business. I wouldn’t have studied business or marketing. I probably wouldn’t have done much of anything except play it safe, but there’s nothing safe about life unless that’s what you choose. I chose something else entirely. Always remember: you decide what happens next. It’s your life. It’s your story. Write one worth reading, remembering and living.

Last year, I received an award from the Governor, met Princess Katherine of Serbia, spent a day at the United Nations and taught my daughter how to drive. I also spent a day at the zoo that ended in a carousel ride with my life long friend Diane (totally uncharacteristic of her– not me). I spent Christmas Day with three people who would have otherwise been alone– myself included. Which of those things was most important? I believe the time you spend with the people you love matters the most. Everything else is just background noise….even big deal awards and experiences at the highest level. Trust me, I’ve done it and it’s nice, but it doesn’t compare to tucking my kids in bed at night or going for a long walk with a friend who knew you before you were anything. It doesn’t compare to being with someone who loves you just the way you are.

Recently, I chose to apply to Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses Program. I applied in November, submitted a mound of paperwork, did a few interviews and was accepted. Next week, I start a rigorous executive program at the most prestigious entrepreneurial college in the world. No one encouraged me to go for this. No one made me dinner while I worked on the application. No one was there when I found out I was accepted on full scholarship. No one said, “Let’s put some champagne on ice.” No one hugged me and said “I’m so proud of you.” That’s life. Real life. Not Facebook life that shows happy people doing fun things, winning awards or being a big deal.

I believe you are 100% responsible for you, your happiness and your life. Whenever I’ve given that power away, I’ve regretted it. Keep it. Own it. Be you. Be remarkable. Be an original. Sometimes that means you’re the only one on your team, which was one of my lessons from being the last kid picked in gym class. When you’re standing there all by yourself in the line up and it’s you and the girl that doesn’t shower, you better have something inside of you to keep you going. If all your worth is defined from something outside of you, you’re screwed.

I believe we need each other because our culture is in real danger right now. Technology connects us, but it also separates us. I believe the fight to connect is worth the struggle. I believe in friendship, love, hope and possibility. I believe in humanity.

I believe we can and should encourage each other every chance we get. At the end of the day, you get to decide what happens next. It’s your life. If you don’t like the way it’s going, change it. Maybe not a big shift, but a small one every day to move in the direction of your dreams. Just don’t quit. Persevere. Stay in there. Believe. Do one thing, take one step in that direction every day and in 365 days, you’ll be in a completely different place.

A year ago, I stood on a stage in front of 350 people where I was recognized as a Business Forum ATHENA finalist. They announced that one of my dreams was to study at a prestigious college. I remember thinking, that would be nice but I don’t see how it’s possible with work, my two children and the financial responsibilities I already have in place. But here I am, a year later, on full scholarship and going to Babson.

I believe in me, in you and in possibility. I believe dreams still come true. I believe in miracles and second, third, fourth and fifth chances. I believe we have everything we need at this moment to wipe out everything that wrecks havoc on our lives, and every social ill that keeps people from living up to their full potential.

I believe we can, because no one would have ever thought I would, and I am.

#180in120 – The Choice is Yours – What will you do with the next 120 days?

Laura Gallagher’s company The Creative Company is certified by the State of Wisconsin as Woman-Owned Business Enterprise. Laura Gallagher was recognized by the Governor in June of 2016 as a Trailblazer in Wisconsin at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Her book #180in120 – How to Recharge Your Business in 120 Days is available on Amazon and at 180in120.com.