Thoughts About Daring, Passion, and Getting In Over Your Head

March 2, 2011 on 12:57 pm | In life coaching | No Comments

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?

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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.

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Get in over your head — Robert Donat of GPS Insight on the Inc 500 2010 list

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)?

Your finances and your job (there’s more to work than money)

January 11, 2011 on 6:49 am | In career coaching, life coaching | No Comments

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/

Here’s Why I Didn’t Lose Weight In 2010

January 2, 2011 on 9:03 pm | In life coaching | 1 Comment

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!

What Comedy Class Taught Me About Goal Planning

December 16, 2010 on 5:26 pm | In life coaching | No Comments

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.

Life Checklist for the Upcoming Year

December 9, 2010 on 1:35 am | In life coaching | No Comments

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.

Annual physical

Dentist appointments

Haircuts and spa treatments

Vacations

Annual income tax filing

Estimated tax payments/ accountant check-ins

Investment portfolio review

Company benefits and insurance review

Insurance payments

File purging and reorganizing

Family events

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!

PLAYING DEFENSE

December 2, 2010 on 1:07 am | In career coaching, life coaching | No Comments

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.

New Year in November

November 4, 2010 on 1:36 am | In life coaching | No Comments

The beginning of November marks the beginning of shopping, parties, and family get-togethers.  I also recommend we mark the beginning of November as the kick-off of next year’s goals.  That’s right:  outline your 2011 resolutions and start working on them in November.  This is not to add more pressure, responsibility, or expectation to what can already be a stressful season.  Rather, beginning your goals now will contribute hope, empowerment, and anticipation to what should be a joyful time of year. 

By outlining your 2011 goals in November 2010 you can piggyback off of holiday inspiration.  During Thanksgiving, we are reminded to be grateful.  During the winter holidays, we are reminded to be giving.  We are surrounded by family and friends, and the giving and the gratitude remind us of the true meaning of our lives.  Even at our jobs, we are working on year-end summaries and reminded of what contributions have impact.  This time of reflection is a great time for reflecting on what we’d like our next year to be. 

By starting your 2011 goals in November 2010 you have two extra months to start new habits.  In January, you’ll be too exhausted by the festivities that just passed to start something new.  Instead, use the adrenaline kicked up from holiday shopping to kick off now.  Start that exercise routine with extra laps around the mall.  Start that balanced budget with a sensible gift-buying strategy.  By January, you’ll already be established in a routine.

In this season of giving, we also have to give to ourselves.  Making time for our goals now is one way to carve out that personal time.  Making time for our goals now (rather than the revered January start) also reminds us that our goals are within our grasp today.  Change can start right now.

OVERCOME CAREER FEAR

September 30, 2010 on 6:17 pm | In career coaching, life coaching | No Comments

October is Halloween time with spooky costumes, ghosts and witches, and other fearsome things.  Career management may instill just as much fear.  And like Halloween, where braving your fear and getting out there means you end up with a bag full of treats, so does the proactive career manager benefit when you respond productively to career fears:

Fear of downsizing?  Then, find out from your manager how you’re doing.  Find out from your department head how your area is doing.  Read your company newsletters, annual report and trade magazines to find out how your company and industry are doing.

Fear of being stuck?  Then, look at where you add value and make sure your manager knows about it.  Sign up for training classes in areas where you’re weak.  Sign up for projects in areas where you excel.  Book breakfast, lunch or drinks at least once a week with a different person each week to ensure that you maintain your network.

Fear of living hand-to-mouth?  Then, focus on getting ahead financially.  Save something regularly, even if it’s your spare change that you then deposit at the bank.  Sign up for your company’s 401K plan or boost your current contribution.  Read a personal finance book or Money magazine or a biography of a person who seems to you to have it all. 

No one comes to your house to drop off Halloween candy.  No one is going to manage your career.  The best way to conquer your career fears is by doing something.  In the words of Paul Valery:  The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.

Focus On Living, Not Earning A Living

September 23, 2010 on 6:25 pm | In career coaching, life coaching | No Comments

There is a lot of anxiety on how to make a job the job of your dreams.  Entry-level workers want to find the career of their dreams.  Experienced professionals want to transition to the career of their dreams.  Everyone’s asking:  how do I fuel my passion AND get paid for it.

While that is truly the ideal – to earn a living while enriching your life — I think people put too much pressure on themselves to find this ultimate job.  People seem to think that every job should, not only sustain their financial and physical needs, but also simultaneously sustain their spiritual, mental, and emotional needs as well. 

If you find yourself in a job that doesn’t fuel your passion, that is definitely a sign to consider alternatives.  But, don’t beat yourself over the head if you’re just working hard, earning your keep, but still not finding nirvana.  Earning a living and actually living can be separate pursuits and should be separate depending on the circumstances.  In this chaotic labor market, it is difficult to maintain a current job, much less initiate a career transition.  If you have a creative dream (e.g., acting), it might not always be possible to rely on earnings from your art to get the bills paid.

This isn’t to say that you don’t pursue your passions.  You just don’t have to do that in the context of every paying job or at least your job right now.  This ultimate job is your long-term, not necessarily immediate goal.  First, try living outside of how you earn a living.  Take a class in something interesting but unrelated to your career.  Make seeing your friends a priority.  Spend time with yourself – to catch a game, to visit a museum.  Once you get going on this small scale, you will be renewed, and it will have an impact on your life and career.  These small actions might encourage you to make bigger changes, even a career change.  Or, you might realize that the way you earn a living is just fine, and you can just continue living outside of your job.

Honoring Small Dreams

September 2, 2010 on 6:22 pm | In life coaching | No Comments

Last week’s post entailed listing 100 dreams.  The large number was meant to encourage you to stretch your mind and your memory to capture all things, big and small, that you wish to accomplish.  This month, pick five of those dreams that are small dreams.  By small dreams, I do not mean insignificant, but rather dreams that can be accomplished with only a small amount of planning or financial commitment.  For example, one of my 100 Dreams is to visit Wave Hill, a garden in the outer boroughs of NYC.  This would be an afternoon’s time and very little money (potentially free since many institutions offer free admission during certain days and times).  Pick five small dreams and do one each week over the next month.  The purpose of this exercise is twofold:

First of all, it will give you a taste of discipline and follow-through, especially if you pace yourself over one month rather than all at once.  The process of following through with small dreams is the same as with big dreams, only on a smaller scale.  If you practice it now, when resources are not committed and the stakes are not high, you have created a fun and rewarding way of learning a critical skill that you need with your big dreams.

Secondly, achieving your small dreams will give you a taste of what is truly meaningful to you.  These are dreams that you have picked for yourself.  Because they are small, they are probably not associated with long-range professional, family or financial gain.  They are likely just satisfying in some personal way to you.  Getting in touch with what is truly meaningful and satisfying to you is another skill that is critical for going after big dreams.  This is why I recommend not picking dreams where there is even a chance you might not follow through.  The impact of this exercise depends on your feeling that satisfaction from YOU making YOUR dreams (albeit the small ones) come true.

Many of my clients are life changers.  Some change careers.  Some change lifestyles.  In all cases, the leap from the original life to the new one seems large.  However, the process is actually made up of small steps, each very doable on its own.  Thus, the leap can be made, not by jumping at all, but rather by staying grounded, as long as you move continually in the right direction.  By honoring your small dreams continually over a set period of time, you practice this small-step progression and you inspire yourself with the satisfaction of fulfilling your own dreams.

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