Think As Inc was my first foray into coaching (in 2000). So even when I formally launched SixFigureStart in the fall of 2007, I continued with Think As Inc separately. But with SixFigureStart growing by double digits since Connie and I started, it has been increasingly difficult to populate both blogs.
I already started putting more life coaching content on SixFigureStart when I started Inspiration Fridays — a weekly entry that features quotes with coaching thoughts and questions to ponder. I was invited to contribute to the Work In Progress blog for Forbes.com since September 2010, and the mix of career and life issues there overlapped with Think As Inc as well.
So, this is my last entry to Think As Inc, and from now on, I will be posting exclusively to the SixFigureStart blog, which also includes links to my columns at Forbes.com and CNBC.com.
To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself. – Soren Kierkegaard
Do you dare take a chance? Are you playing it too safe in life or career?
This doesn’t mean investing all of your money into a new business or quitting your job to join the circus. It does mean thinking creatively, trying different things or at least leaving yourself open to the possibility that things will change.
You will change. Your interests, circumstances, and goals evolve over time. Do you dare to do things differently and step into your new self?
Passion costs me too much to bestow it on every trifle. – Thomas Adams
Passion is expensive. It takes your mental focus, your emotional energy, your physical stamina. Are you frittering yours away?
Are you expending precious energy worrying about small details of things that really don’t matter?
Or are you doing the opposite: numbing yourself down, doing everything halfway, going through life defeated and apathetic?
Take back your passion. And if you have it already, don’t waste it on trivial things.
When I hear this quote, I think of falling in love. You’re swept away. You’re losing control. This is bigger than you initially thought.
Can you fall head over heels in love with your business idea, job search target, or 2011 resolution?
Can you push yourself to think bigger and do more than you initially thought?
Can you lose yourself (and therefore lose some of your limiting assumptions)?
Today, I guest posted on Laura Vanderkam’s blog: http://www.my168hours.com/blog/. Laura is the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, a book I very much enjoyed, so I see Laura as a kindred spirit in the Think As Inc movement.
Career choices are also financial choices. Can I do something I love and still pay the bills? Can I make a career change without taking a salary cut? Can I afford to wait for that perfect job when I’m unemployed and need to make money quickly? Some jobs pay more than others. Some offer faster salary growth and bigger bonuses. It is not practical to make career choices without considering the financial repercussions.
That said, deciding your next job and career path requires additional considerations apart from financial planning. Ideally, finances are one criterion of many by which you plan your career.
Here’s how to think about your money and your next move:
Read the rest of my guest post at http://www.my168hours.com/blog/2011/01/09/guest-post-your-finances-and-your-job-theres-more-to-work-than-money/
I’ve seen a statistic that people gain about a pound a year just from slower metabolism. So just to maintain your weight over time you need to stay active and eat less. If not, you’ll be like me — close to 20 pounds heavier after close to 20 years out of college.
20 pounds is when it gets noticeable (at least to me!) so I really was determined in 2010. I started jogging, having previously only done walking or low impact cardio. I worked out more regularly. At one point in the year, I had lost 5 pounds. But at my weekly weight check this morning, I was back at my 2010 starting weight, my 5 pound win evaporated.
Here’s why I didn’t lose the weight: I spent a total of 104.5 hours exercising in all of 2010. That’s 2 hours a week, not even the half hour a day minimum required to maintain weight, much less lose any. When I lost baby weight after two pregnancies, I logged in 6 hours of exercise per week, or almost 3 times as much time.
Now, I know there is something to be said about quality of effort. I could definitely improve there too. But there is also quantity of effort. I didn’t lose the weight because I didn’t put in the time.
I have the same goal in 2011 as 2010 — I want to lose the 20. I’ll keep you posted, but my first step is putting in the time. So far, I have exercised the first 2 days of the year, so it’s a good start. But I need more quantity, and then of course I need to up the quality.
I will continue to meticulously log and track my efforts. Tracking is really the only way you can measure quantity and quality. Otherwise you will overestimate if you tend to go easy on yourself, or underestimate and give up too soon.
Put in the time. Measure your effort. Wish me luck on the road to weight minus 20 for 2011!
You give holiday gifts to nurture and celebrate family and friends. Don’t forget to nurture and celebrate yourself! Here are 10 holiday gifts that will advance your future career and celebrate past milestones:
- Restaurant gift card. I’ve written before about the power of networking over meals. If you have a crazy schedule and can’t do full-out lunches, get a Starbucks card so you can at least grab coffee with colleagues and friends.
- Clothing store gift card. You need a professional wardrobe whether it’s from a specialty store like Ann Taylor or a general department store like Nordstrom. 80% of communication is non-verbal, and appearance is a significant part of this.
- Professional association membership. This is an investment in your networking as you deepen professional ties and meet new people. This is also an investment in your training as you stay abreast of the latest industry news and innovations.
- Business magazine subscription. In addition to your specific area, it is helpful to know about the broader economy. Yes, you can get some of this from general news, but a dedicated business magazine often has more in-depth market analysis and insight.
- Beautiful journal. Make it a gratitude journal and celebrate your blessings. Make it a scrapbook of everything you have achieved. Make it a repository for ideas.
- Professional headshot. Speaking engagements and press mentions are ways that recruiters find you. A great shot can also enhance your online profile.
- Electronic reader. Keep all your business and career books in your Apple iPAD or Amazon Kindle, and never have an excuse for not reading.
- Multiple business card holders. I wish I had a nickel for every networking event I attended where someone had switched bags and therefore forgot her cards. Have nice business card holders in multiple quantities for all the bags you bring to professional events, and keep each stocked with your current cards.
- Private coach. This could be someone who specializes in something directly career-related such as communication skills, executive coaching, or career change. Or maybe you need an image consultant to help with your brand or a personal trainer to get more energy.
- Tuition. You don’t have to get another degree. Learn a foreign language, improve your digital media skills, take an improv class to improve listening and spontaneity.
This post also appeared on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/work-in-progress/2010/12/22/ten-holiday-gifts-to-give-to-your-career/
A few weeks ago, I completed a stand-up comedy class and blogged about it for CNBC: Five Things Comedy Class Teaches You About Job Search. When I took the class, I didn’t intend to find parallels with job search but it was an unexpected benefit. This often happens with planning — you expect one result but other things (sometimes better things) happen.
I got really close to my comedy classmates, and we are producing another show together. I’m spending more time on comedy than I anticipated, which doesn’t seem like a good idea given that I have a business to run. But it feels right, and it’s still flexing my marketing muscles just in a different way. Sometimes it’s good to veer off an initial plan as long as directionally you are still going where you intended (and it feels right).
Plans are often neat. Execution is often haphazard. There’s something haphazard about my adventures in comedy so far. I took the class rather unexpectedly (why I took the class is fodder for a future blog post!). Now I have my second show within two months, and I am co-producing a show early 2011, learning all about producing on the fly. This is not anything like I planned, but my goal has always been to remain active in creative pursuits and this is how things have unfolded. Don’t be so focused on the plan that you miss unexpected opportunities to get the goal some other way.
If you are curious about watching my comedy adventure in action, you can see me at Comix on Wednesday, Dec. 29 at 7p. Call 212-524-2500 and mention my name with your reservation to get in for a $10 cover (normally $15-$20). There is a 2 drink-minimum.
In a recent column, I offered a career checklist. We also have important but not career-related appointments and responsibilities we know well in advance. Whether you have a day runner or electronic organizer, schedule them now. Next year, you have an automatic reminder and a ready to do list.
Haircuts and spa treatments
Annual income tax filing
Estimated tax payments/ accountant check-ins
Investment portfolio review
Company benefits and insurance review
File purging and reorganizing
Birthdays and anniversaries
Special dates with significant other
Finally, assign those ad hoc, must-do household projects to specific days in 2011. When you set a specific date, you actually do it!
No one wins a game by playing defense. However, good defense gives the offense the chance to do its job. Defense, therefore, provides the foundation for success.
Playing defense in your job search means giving yourself enough time to stay in the search for your efforts to pay off (maintaining your cash flow by judiciously using your severance or taking temp work to make ends meet). It means pacing yourself (making sure you do something towards your search every day rather than in periodic but unreliable bursts of inspiration). It means protecting yourself from the wear and tear of a long search (e.g., burnout, settling for less out of fear).
Playing defense in your career means building a solid foundation (adding skills, increasing industry and functional expertise, growing a nest egg). Some of these steps also fall into your offensive strategy, as increased skills and expertise may lead to promotions or better jobs. Increased savings may encourage more risk-taking. But they are also defensive moves because a foundation of skills and expertise keep you necessary to your employer’s team.
Playing defense in your life means protecting what you already have, so that you can focus on your dreams. No one becomes rich from owning insurance, but medical, disability, and homeowners insurance may prevent unexpected poverty and give peace of mind so you can concentrate on your game. Maintaining good health is good defense – as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Fostering good family and social relationships is a defensive strategy. You’re not trying to win anything from them. But you are building a foundation of support and love from which springs the confidence and inspiration to go for your goals and succeed.
It’s December, the end of another year. Do your annual insurance check. Renew your gym membership. Send out holiday cards. Maintain your foundation.
Regardless of where you are on your current career path, there are certain steps that every career-minded professional should take to grow their career:
Check your current career goals. What companies do you want to work for? What is your ideal job description? What is your perfect day? What is the legacy you wish to leave professionally and personally? Now, how does your current job match up with these answers? You want to do an annual check-up of your career goals because your assumptions, ideals, and needs change. Make sure that you are on track with where you want to go now, not where you thought you wanted to go ten years ago.
Update your resume. Does your resume reflect your most recent accomplishments, title, and responsibilities? Is it still tailored to your career objectives? Are there items that are no longer relevant? Do other items need to be highlighted as your career goals have changed? Even if you are not in job search mode, updating your resume forces you to take an inventory of your career to date.
Maintain your existing network. The best time to network is when you don’t need to network. Block the next few months of the year to call and/or email everyone in your database to update contact information, catch up on summer vacations, and wish happy holidays in November/ December.
Grow your network. The easiest time to network is when you don’t need to network. Block one lunch per week to meet someone new. Join a professional organization, or ask friends and colleagues for introductions. Have fun. Focus on the relationship. Go with the intention of just making a connection (not achieving some grandstanding professional goal), so there is no pressure.
We all know how important networking is. For job search and career advancement, networking enables you to hear about the unadvertised jobs or the plum projects that could propel your career forward. But a strong network is beneficial for day-to-day personal needs as well – finding a good doctor, checking on a contractor, discovering a good place for Mexican food.
How do you know if your network is strong enough to support you professionally and personally? Every few months, you should test the strength of your network:
If you had to contact someone for professional reasons – e.g., “do you know anyone at Pfizer? They posted a job that may be right for me and I want to learn more about that group” – how many people would you feel comfortable calling right now?
If you have fewer than 25 strong professional contacts you could reach out to now, your network is too small. You might have deep connections with a small number, and this is a good start.
But you also need quantity in your network. You should prioritize meeting new professional contacts. If you have the quality and the quantity but you don’t feel like you could reach out today, then you have an issue with maintaining your network. You should prioritize following up with people you already know. A bonus test is how many people you could contact for personal needs. Look at the quantity, but also the variety in your personal network.
When was the last time you had lunch or a Starbucks with a contact outside your day-to-day colleagues or closest friends?
If it is more than a month or you can’t remember, this is a danger sign that your networking is too insular. You are not exposing yourself to diverse perspectives. Remember the above point about how important it is to maintain your network. Setting aside some lunch hours is a great way to follow up with your network.
Do you have mentors and supporters?
When you need some off-the-record advice or candid feedback, do you have people that you can go to who understand your role, your company and your industry? If not, then you’re not taking advantage of mentorship in your career. Mentors are not just very senior people who can move you to the next level by sheer influence.
There is a place for that type of powerful mentor. But mentors can also be at your peer-level. They can be colleagues who have an insight you don’t have and are willing to share it with you – maybe they’ve been at the company longer and have a great sense of the politics, maybe they are super strong presenters and can be your practice audience before you have a big meeting.
Networking is not something that you can cram last-minute. A strong network is built over time and with deliberate attention to both quantity and quality of the contacts. Ask yourself the above three simple questions on a regular basis (set your Outlook to remind you quarterly!), so that you consciously tend to your network before it becomes a crisis situation.
No one likes the person who only reaches out when they need something. No one wants to be the person who needs something but feels all alone. Build a strong network so that you can make requests without imposing. Build a network that is strong enough so you don’t have to go it alone.
This post also appeared at my Work In Progress blog on Forbes.com: