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It’s been a hard Spring. As maybe some of you have noticed, I haven’t been blogging much in the past few months. Not only was it a tough winter in New England, but I had a bunch of personal challenges happening to me also that took up a lot of my mental energy. I’ve also been lucky enough that I’ve been getting a lot if new career consulting clients, so that’s kept me busy and away from writing.
Now that we’re finally starting to have consistent good weather here in Massachusetts, I’m starting to have the mental space to get my thoughts together. I’ve been working more at being consistent in my morning meditations and yoga practice, as well as get some reflection time in. It feels so nice to feel like I’ve got what I call “mind space” to actually be more responsive instead of reactive.
Part of that now is that I really need to take more time to be creative. I performed at the New England Folk Festival and it brought back to me that I need to do more music playing (and practicing) as well as doing more artwork. I set a goal for myself in 2013 to produce 200 pieces of art (a doodle in my journal counts. It’s about volume here, not quality). I’m up to 17 so I’ve got to kill the critic and just start producing.
Additionally, I’ve reconnected with a great muse who I’ve known for years, but we’ve started to look at ways that we can collaborate to a deeper extent. Tara Rodden Robinson is a specialist in productivity and coaching, and has a great energy (check out her blog and website!). In talking with her, I lamented that I haven’t been writing much recently, and her response was “Ken, you’ve got too much to offer. Get writing!”
So, with that, here I am again. So, Tara, this blog post is for you!
So, what do you need to return to?
Sorry I haven’t been blogging as often as I normally do. Between clients, presentations, the redesign of my website, the video project and other life issues, my focus has been on areas other than writing blog posts. I’ve been working on not beating myself up on these issues and just letting them be. As I’ve stated before about my work, while important, it’s not life or death. I say to my clients that they need to be kind to themselves when they’re stressed, so I try to listen to my own advice.
One new thing in my life is that I am now on Week 6 of wearing Invisiligns. They are clear plastic aligners that I wear all the time to reset my teeth. I chipped both my front teeth within three months of each other and my dentist suggested I get them. As my teeth have been moving together since I had braces when I was 13, and there just isn’t room for them all. It’s a little awkward and makes me be really more conscious of my eating, but supposedly I’ll have a brand new smile in 34 more weeks. I think it will be worth the wait.
I get a new set of trays every two weeks and each one works to move my teeth just a little bit each time (sort of like tightening your braces if I were to have the old metal mouth again.) The change from week to week isn’t dramatic, but the cumulative effect over the entire span of time should be impressive.
As you know from my writings, I always like to pull parallels from normal life and shine that thought onto career development. This made me think of so many of my clients that what to move toward a big new career or start a creative endeavor. Too often, they are paralyzed by the amount of effort it will take to get there, and don’t do anything. Any people want it now, and any thought that something will take a little effort I’ve a long period of time is completely daunting to their psyche.
I’ve been reminded over and over again that it’s the constant attention to the daily actions we have that really make the difference in our lives. I know when I lost a lot of weight, it came down to the decision every moment to not eat something. If you want to progress in your career, you need to take the small steps of learning a new skill, attending a professional meeting, asking for a new project, etc. It’s about being intentional in your daily life with your eyes on a goal. You can’t do it all now, but you can build a foundation brick by brick. Start your practice now!
So, what small steps are you taking today?
It’s January 26th, and the sun is in the same spot it was many years ago when I first arrived into this world. It’s usually the coldest day of the winter (some years, the high temperature is 6 degrees Fahrenheit!). It’s Australia Day (where it’s much warmer), and also Eddie Van Halen, Wayne Gretzky, and Ellen DeGeneres‘ birthday! Auspicious all around!
I’m right now riding a bus, returning from New York City where I facilitated a networking event (which went very well, by the way) and got to get together with some friends there in New York, and I’ll soon be having dinner with a number of friends as soon as I get back. I’ve also been blessed by social media by getting literally over 150 birthday wishes, and a number of people have stated how I’ve helped them either their career development, or been there for someway personally. It’s such a blessing to be a part of these people’s live and have them in mind. I’m counting my blessings.
As many of you know, part of writing this blog, in addition to promoting my ideas about how your spirit affects how you show up in the world, has been to try out some concepts that I’ve been trying to figure out. I’ve personally been trying to “walk the talk” and do a lot of personal development work, and get clear on past demons and other things that have been holding me back. I now feel like I’ve ended one chapter of my life, and another one is starting. I know what I want, and it’s time to move forward.
This birthday is a big even number (but not a momentous one with a zero at the end) and it just feels solid to me. I’m grounded, know what I want, and have a blank slate of life ahead of me. In my retreat in the Bahamas, I was able to get some clarity on some intentions for 2012 (as opposed to goals), and one of them was to be more adventurous. I need to stretch myself and do some more daring things, travel to places I haven’t been to, and to be bolder in my own life. It’s a brave new world, and I’m starting it now.
So, what bold new things are you planning for the future?
As I’m interested in all different aspects of the connection of spirit, passion and work, I’ve wanted to get some other voices in here to tell about their experiences of mixing these three aspects. The first one is Casey Adam Miller, who I met at the end of his cross country bike ride where he found that connection for himself.
Most of my life I have followed the rules.
I attended a private high school, graduated cum laude from a renowned college, and in 2006, obtained two Masters degrees from one of the world’s most prestigious universities in the world.
By the age of 31, just 5 years later, I had done what most people with my background thought we ought to: traveled the globe, built a company, and made some money. By most accounts, I was what I thought success should look like. Yet I was not any happier. And my life was certainly not any more meaningful. Like many people of my generation, I was stuck between the allure of capitalism and the painful realization that more does not mean better. I felt empty, even though my life was surrounded by wonderful places, experiences, and things.
In January 2011, after 5 years in Mexico City, I quit my job at the the energy company I had help to found. The existential pains I had felt most of my adult life made moving to San Francisco in the name of love an easy excuse, if not a mask for the deeper reasons for my move–I was fed up with the rat race and the sacrifices I had to make in order to live in this crazy world we have built for ourselves.
Then, just 4 months later, I was dumped on the Eiffel Tower.
Heartbroken, without a place to live, and unsure of the direction of my career, I fell into a deep depression. In retrospect, the perfect storm had brewed in my life, giving me occasion to reflect on what was important. Casually, I started asking people how they found meaning in their lives, considering the fact that at that point, I had absolutely none in my own.
My impromptu conversations soon turned into formal interviews. And before I knew it, I had declared to the world that I would ride my bicycle from coast to coast asking people how they found meaning in their lives (a particularly odd declaration, given the fact that I didn’t even own a bicycle nor ridden one since elementary school).
I quit playing by the rules entirely to find something I think all of us want, but many don’t know how to find: a life’s purpose.
On August 8th, I left San Francisco and nearly 3 months later, arrived in Cambridge, MA. Along the way, I interviewed over 400 people about how their find meaning in their lives and, not coincidentally, for the first time found meaning in my own life.
I am now in the process of writing a book that will inspire others to find meaning in their own. Over the coming weeks, I will be releasing chapters of my book that speak to the 6 1/2 characteristics that meaningful lives share in common.
I will be asking other writers from different perspectives to share their thoughts in the future. Let me know if you know anyone you’d like to see write about the Spirit-Work Connection.
So, How would you answer Casey’s Question? How have you found meaning in your life?
I started this blog (almost two years ago now) because I wanted to get out my ideas on the intersection of where people feel their passion and souls live and what they do in their lives to create meaning and support themselves. I’ve seen too many of my clients who are just blindly going through their professional careers who then 5, 10, 20 or even more years into it discover that they are completely unfulfilled and feel like they have been wasting their lives. It’s my goal to get as many people as possible to consider what’s important to them first before taking these steps. They might take the same actions, but this time with confidence.
I’ve also been doing a kit of personal reflection and study in my life and tried to share my learnings with all of you. Probably the greatest insight that I’ve had is one that I’ve read and heard for years, but I finally “got it”. As is probably apparent from my posts and my professional position, I’m a great proponent of planning and working your plan. I’m always looking for ways to be in control of what’s needed to be done (just look at all the posts that I have with the tags GTD, actions, goals, and the like). That’s my natural way of being and I can easily teach this to others. I’ve had to be a student of the other side, namely allowing things to happen.
I’ve been so driven to get things done that I’ve been impatient to allow things to happen. I’ve come to realize in a visceral sense (and not just intellectually) that there are too many variables in the world that I have no control over, and I have to learn how to just “be” in order to effectively deal with life’s challenges. As the saying goes “Life happens while you’re making other plans”. If I’ve been working so hard to get everything right, I’m not able to deal with what’s in front of me effectively.
In reviewing some of the data that I’ve seen from this blog, the #1 search term that brings people to my site is “human being versus human doing”. My first post on this is subject is one of my most read posts. I think that people have a great longing wondering if what they do has meaning and if there are other ways of being. As you can probably tell, it’s my work to answer that question with a resounding “Yes!”.
The first step is to practice “being”. It sounds cliche, but you have to work at slowing your mind down and just be present to the current moment. Our fast paced culture does all it can to keep us from bring present. This is not something I can just give you; it takes practice. You will screw it up a lot at the beginning. Keep trying. There are lots of different ways (yoga, meditation, prayer, serving others, etc.). Find the way that works for you and keep trying to do it and stay present.
Once you get that down, it will be much easier to actually take the action steps you need to make your dreams happen. You’ll have a focused goal and won’t have a lot if other things crowding your mind to keep you from the action steps to get them done.
So, how are you being today?
Everything has a shelf life: bread, yogurt, prescriptions, your body, and many relationships. As things change and morph in our world, the situations that brought things together are no longer there so strongly and we start to feel that this isn’t as comfortable or serving us like it used to. That’s when we start to get restless and start looking for something new.
While I think that this is a pretty natural process, many of my clients jump at the next thing instead of making a thoughtful transition. While you might feel in “Get me outta here!” mode, it’s best to first consider why you are feeling that way to make sure that you don’t go directly into another similar or worse situation (see my writing on The Foxhole Method of Career Development for more on this).
Usually you are frustrated in a position because there is some value that’s important to you that’s being squashed. Feel that your boss doesn’t listen to you? You probably value being respected and contributing.
I like to say this is when you’ve reached Kansas City Mode. Just like in the play Oklahoma!, it’s when you’ve gone about as far as you can go. If you’ve reached that point, it’s now time to really plan for how you’re going to make your next steps. You’re usually secure yet bored or frustrated. This is a great time to make a plan for the future instead of a knee jerk reaction. I’ve find that many people can handle any situation as long as they are making progress towards something better.
So, have you reach Kansas City Mode and what are you doing to move past that?
I am proud to announce that I have a new home base for seeing clients and holding workshops at the Theosophical Society of Boston, whose offices are at 21 Maple Street in Arlington Center. It has generous parking, as well is on four different bus lines of the MBTA.
I will be able to see one-on-one clients in a quiet, cozy setting, but also have the availability to run more workshops, which you will be seeing more of in 2012.
To quote from the their website:The Theosophical Society (TS) is a center of learning where people can explore, with freedom of thought and inquiry, many philosophies and spiritual practices. The TS offers a wide range of lectures, workshops, study groups, and meditation practices. The goal of the programs presented at the TS is to promote ways in which all of us can communicate and cooperate with each other. As part of this goal, we:
- seek universal truth;
- honor and respect other spiritual points of view as well as those who hold them; and
- recognize that each and every one of us are expressions of the same life and that our well-being is linked: whatever happens to one of us happens to all of us.
As anyone who reads this blog consistently knows, this philosophy is in line with what I espouse here on The Spirit-Work Connection. I’ll probably be providing some programming for them, as well as doing my other programs. They have lots of interesting programming there, so check it out!
While I’m thrilled to have a home base, I will continue to meet with clients via the phone, Skype, and in other locations convenient to all involved.
So, when will you be coming to see the new home?
Well, here’s the third of my pictures for the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge: Arlington. It’s where I live and this is at Spy Pond Park just off the Minuteman Bike Path. Spy Pond was supposedly where the ice harvesting industry started, and before refrigeration, they used to ship ice from Spy Pond as far away as India!
This one was easy for me. Where should I go next? What landmark should I take a picture next to?
We’ve finally gotten to the time when we cannot deny that summer is coming to a close (although the warm, humid weather in New England is doing its best to fool us). The Swedish ancestry in me is lamenting the sun’s slow decent into the sky and the earlier sunsets. I’m trying to hold on to one more day of wearing shorts, and planning my yearly winter retreat southward.
This is starting the time to go inward and reflect, and that’s something that most of us are reticent to do. We keep thinking that the answer is “out there” somewhere: the perfect job, perfect mate, perfect house, etc. The truth is: the perfect whatever is out there, but you can’t recognize it unless you look inside yourself to be able to know what it is that your insides are craving.
In a job search, I see too many of my clients take a “Fire, Ready, Aim” approach to job search. They panic without knowing what they exactly want to do, and just start taking action without a lot of direction. What comes out of this more often than not is frustration or a job that feels soul-crushing after 6 months.
Whether it’s your future career, apartment, partner, or vacation, it’s good to know what you really want and need before taking action. The darker time of the year is a great time to slow down and start thinking of that.
So, have you really thought about what you want?