8 Questions to Ask Yourself in 2015

Winter Trees_edited-1The New Year is brimming with possibilities to explore, good work to be done, and great things to be accomplished!  It is a terrific time to take stock of where you are in your career.  Are you happy with your present situation?  Is your work rewarding, fulfilling, and energizing?  If not, it may be time to consider what you really want to be doing with your precious time and talents and set some goals to make it happen.

Although I’m not a fan of resolution making, I do see the merit in setting goals as a first step to start making changes.

Here are 8 questions I find helpful to get the process going:

 

  1. What am I grateful for?As you review 2014, consider the good things in your life that you are truly thankful for.  What brought you joy or warmed your heart this last year?  What do you most value that you have in your life right now?  Is it your significant other, a loving pet, a fabulous climate, your family, your friends, peace of mind, good health?  When we get in touch with feelings of gratitude, it is easier to determine our priorities and start to create an action plan.
  2. What did I accomplish this last year?Often people make resolutions about what they failed to accomplish without giving themselves credit for their achievements.  Accomplishments don’t have to come in the form of awards or promotions either. Did you learn a new skill? Clean out a closet that had needed it for years? Get better at being on time?
  3. What did I intend to accomplish but didn’t in 2014?Instead of beating yourself up over missed opportunities, failed resolutions or missed goals, consider their relative importance.  So you didn’t lose the weight, get your dream job, visit the Grand Canyon, get a raise, exercise more, etc.  So what?  How important were those goals?  Are they still important to you?
  4. What do I want to accomplish in 2015?Are there unfinished projects or goals from last year that you want to focus on going forward?  (See #3)  Are there new things you want to bring into your life or accomplish this year? If you have a bucket list, it may be time to take action.  What are you waiting for?
  5. What is the benefit if I accomplish these goals?What is the payoff to you personally? How will your achieving these goals change your life/other people/the world?  Consider how achieving your goals will change your life.  Will you be happier?
  6. Am I making my goal or “resolution” for myself or am I trying to please or impress someone else? Answering this question requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves.  Often we make decisions based on how it will impact others in our lives.  It’s good to consider this aspect but at the same time, challenge your perception—is it really your goal or is it someone else’s goal for you?
  7. Am I basing my goals/resolutions on something I really want or something I truly need? What is your primary motivation for seeking change?  Is it long term fulfillment or short term gratification?
  8. What can I let go of that isn’t supporting me?We often put up with people, possessions, problems, and situations that aren’t serving us in a positive way.  What have you been tolerating that you can eliminate from your life?

 

Consider what needs to happen for you to live your life from a place of integrity and in alignment with your core values.  Then set your goals and take action toward achieving them.

May you do great things in this New Year!

 

Why We Fail to Find Our Life’s Work

Listen to your inner voice

Listen to your inner voice

I had a birthday this week and got to thinking about how quickly the years go by.  It saddens me how many people slog though endless days working at jobs they don’t like.  What stops them from leaving an employer or an occupation they don’t find satisfying?  Why do they grit their teeth and continue to go to a job that drains their energy and robs them of precious hours they could be using in pursuit of more joyous work? 

I’ve been re-visiting some to the books in my career coaching collection and in How to Find the Work You Love I discovered something I thought important to share.  The author, Laurence Boldt suggests that what stops us from pursuing a calling or finding our “life’s work” are the “Voices of Doubt”.  Here is how he defines these inner voices.

The voice of doom and gloom – You might identify this for yourself when your mind starts up about fears of financial ruin.  (Are you really going to become a bag lady if you quit your job?).  Is it really riskier to ignore your creative urges and stay in work that pays the bills but sucks your precious life force?  As George Bernard Shaw put it; “If you are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life…your reward will be that you will earn, but you will not live.”  I think sometimes we just have to feel the fear and move forward anyway!  You never know what opportunities may come your way once you start moving towards your ideal career.

The voice of conformity – Evidence of this voice occurs when you start worrying about others’ opinions of you.  For example, when I decided to launch my home based business 10 years ago, I got some negative response from people.  “You’ll never be successful, don’t you know most small businesses fail in the first couple of years?”  “You have no business in being in business! You don’t understand the principles.”  “Go get a steady job and get a regular paycheck like everybody else.” If I had succumbed to those opinions I would have missed out on years of fulfilling, heart engaging, and energizing work!  Just reading these old “voices of conformity” brings my energy down! Don’t let the naysayers undermine your intentions to follow your heart!  Trust your inner wisdom and go blaze a new trail.  You don’t have to do a certain job, you can choose differently.

The voice of self diminishment – This one is insidious and can derail your best intentions.  These are the messages we tell ourselves about not being _______ enough.  (You fill in the blank).  Don’t put off following your passions because you think you have to get more; training, practice, organized, money or whatever you feel is missing.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t do any preparation to realize your life’s work, it does mean you stop trying to talk yourself out of it because you are feeling inadequate.   Do some research and find out the truth.  For instance; do you really have to have a degree in business to start one?  (No you don’t)

The voice of idle complaint – Another name for this voice could be;  the whine and procrastinate process.  We all know people who seem to enjoy complaining.  You know the ones that love to share how awful their work/life/relations/situation/whatever is.  Please don’t do that to yourself!  Evidence of the voice of idle complaint appears when we procrastinate.  When we turn a deaf ear to the voice of our inner wisdom and come up with excuses to ignore it. For example you might say to yourself or others; I will make a career change when “I have enough money, my husband/wife finishes school, when my kids go off to college, when I get fired or laid off, when XYZ occurs.”  We wait for some external circumstances to change in order for us to take action to create our own future.  Write down a few actions you can realistically take towards making your dreams for fulfilling work come true and then do them!  

I am not suggesting anyone act irresponsibly and just assume if you leap off a cliff your wings will appear, but I am encouraging you to really examine your reasons for staying in a job or work situation in which you are truly unhappy. 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by the dogma –  which is living the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and own intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”  —Steve Jobs

Steve got it right.  He certainly blazed a trail and changed the world.  You can to!

Identify Your Skills and Talents and Find Your Ideal Career

glass squareAre you thinking it is time to get a different job or shift careers?  The first step is to identify your package of skills, talents, and natural abilities.  We all have abilities, life experience, knowledge, talents, passions, creativity, yearnings, interests, and skills within.  I imagine them as being different shapes, sizes, and colors–kind of like this picture I took of Dale Chihuly glass.

I find clients often assume that they are “stuck” in the same type job because that is all they have done in the past.  If we look beyond the job description and instead look within ourselves, we can discover a wellspring of transferable skills and hidden talents that can help qualify us for a variety of potentially satisfying jobs.  Let me give you an example:

Scott had been a master electrician for 15 years.  He climbed up ladders and crawled through ducts while wiring commercial buildings.  At 35, he was finding the physical demands becoming challenging and decided to explore a career change.  When I asked him what he liked best about being an electrician, he responded; “it is really satisfying to wire an entire system and then bring a building to life with the flip of a switch.” We began exploring how this could relate to other kinds of careers.  You see, if you start with what you really most enjoy about your work and look at where you can do something similar in a different environment, some times the ideal career reveals itself.  

After identifying his transferable skills and natural gifts, Scott decided to become a chiropractor.  He compared the work of being a chiropractor to his career as an electrician. In both cases he said; “you are working with the electrical system.  In the human body it is the nervous system but my role is the same.  Determine where the electricity is failing to connect and fix it.”  He went on further to say; “instead of working in a building with ducts and blowers to move the air and maintain the temperature and electrical wiring to circulate the juice, I work on the human body — it too has respiratory, circulatory and electrical systems.”

Today Scott has a thriving practice in Landrum, SC and says he just loves his work!  (He’s good at it too.  I often see him when I am visiting there.)

You never know what new wonderful career may be just around the corner.  Identifying your own skills and talents is the first step in exploring other kinds of work.   Need a nudge to start looking at your own?  Here is a list of Transferable Skills for you to select from.  After you identify the skills you possess, review the list and note those that you really enjoy doing.  Then mention those in correspondence with potential employers, emphasize them on your resume, describe them in interviews or launch a business built on them!  

YOU have a unique package of skills, talents and abilities.  Why not use them and live the work you love!

 

 

 

How to Have More Mindful Moments

Mindful blogLast week I facilitated two workshops on mindfulness for employees of John Deere Financial.  I was struck by how earnestly engaged the participants were in the process.  It was like they were hungry to explore mindfulness.  What a gift it is to give ourselves “time out”, to allow our busy brains to re-focus on the present moment as we did during those workshops.

For the most part, we move through our days on autopilot.  Scientists tell us that the average human brain thinks 70,000 thoughts a day.  Now if those were all empowering positive thoughts, imagine how different our lives might be.  

Unfortunately, we humans tend to ruminate on the past and imagine and plan for the future. We also tend to get in loops of repeating memories or patterns of thinking. Consider the times you have re-played a situation in your head and thought about what you could have, should have, or would have done differently if given a chance to “do it over.” The nice thing about using mindfulness techniques, is that every time you awake to the present moment, you have the opportunity to consciously choose how to move forward to the next one.

When you consider career paths, choosing wisely can make all the difference in whether you experience a job that is boring or stressful vs having work that is interesting and enjoyable.   The more consciously aware we are, the more control we have over the course of our lives.  Instead of being at the mercy of our mental default programs, we can start to wake-up to each moment, each choice point.  So how do we become more “mindful”? Here are some exercises you might try:

1.  Watch the mind move in time.  Take a piece of paper and draw a horizontal line.  At one end is the future at the other, the past.  In the center of the line make a circle and write in the word NOW.  Start with your finger on the circle and simply observe your thoughts for 5 minutes.  Every time you realize you are thinking about the future, move your finger on the scale.  Do the same thing when you realize you are thinking about the past.  Don’t try to stop the thoughts, just observe how your mind wanders in time.

2.  Focus your senses.  Pick up an object you find interesting and study it for 5 minutes.  Really look at it, touch it, observe every detail of color, weight,  shape, even whether or not it has an odor.  This is one method to bring you into the present moment.  It offers the additional benefit of increasing your power of sensory perception.

3.  Set wake up calls.  When I was in grad school, I was also a student in The Fourth Way work which was based on the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff.  One of the most interesting homework assignments we were given was called the doorway exercise.   Every time you pass through a doorway say to yourself “I am here now”.  When you realize you have sailed through a doorway without remembering your statement (in essence being on autopilot or asleep at the switch), go back through the doorway and say it.  While it may not be practical to actually go back through every doorway, for instance exiting an airplane, it is remarkable to see how often we are unaware.  

All these moments of mindfulness add up.  You start to realize how much of life you’ve missed because you have been riding around on your own thought train.   Increase your mindful moments and your life begins to change in some interesting ways.  Who knows?  That dream career, that ideal life, may be just around the corner…

 

Infinite Possibilities for Creating Change

field of infinite possibilities

field of infinite possibilities…

Are you yearning to make some real changes this year?  I’m not talking about making a list of resolutions, I’m talking about creating realistic action steps.  Does thinking about making changes in your life overwhelm you?  Is it something you tried to do in the past and failed at?  Maybe you are simply tackling too much at once. Try one small step at a time.

Start with an idea or a vision of what you want to bring into your life. What would it look like if you made some changes?  Can you picture your surroundings?  Let’s say for example, you want to experience more peace, feel calm in stressful situations, or just plain be relaxed more of the time.  What kind of environment are you spending time in? Are there changes you can make to promote a sense of calm?  Here’s an example of what I mean: 

I remember answering incoming calls in a tiny office space/storage room with no windows.  One day instead of lunch, I headed to a poster shop to find visions of serenity.  I came back with 3 beautiful photos of ocean scenes. You know, white beaches palm trees, unlimited horizons to gaze at – kind of like the Corona beer commercials. That one small improvement in my work space enabled me to “breathe” easier and put a smile into my voice in responding to callers.  It was a quick and inexpensive action step toward changing my environment for the better and resulted in my feeling more relaxed and optimistic in my job. That one small action step created immediate change for me!

What do you want to change?  Do you want to have more joy, peace, love, achievement, success, health, or wealth? Whatever it is that you want to bring into your life,  I challenge you to take a least one action step in the next 30 days to help it to happen!  (and I’d love to hear about it!)                        –Dee