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Hello blogging world!
I know, I’ve been a bit AWOL for a while. I’ve had an amazing summer where I was traveling a lot and had a lot of adventures. I went to New York State, New Brunswick, Provincetown (yes, there will be the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge post for that!), Kentucky, and New Mexico. I have not tended to be a big traveler, but this year was different, and I was trying something new. It has been a great experience with new learnings, and you will be seeing comments and pictures about them on this blog.
That being said, I’ve let you, and most importantly myself, down by not keeping up with blog posts. Writing down my thoughts and comments on spirit, passion, and career is not only a way to put my thoughts in concrete form and promote my ideas to you (and any potential clients), but also a spiritual practice. In the zen practice of every action you take can be mindful and promote your spiritual health, I’ve been blogging to keep myself focused and active in mind. I’ve been more active in body this summer with all the traveling, and I have gotten better with being more consistent with my yoga and meditation practices. That is a good thing, and I’m happy for that.
I can’t change the past, and it does absolutely no good to get down on myself for avoiding this, as I won’t be a better blogger now because I have a judgmental voice in my head. I can just be kind to myself and move on forward.
So, how are you being kind to yourself and acknowledging your past shortcomings?
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?
Being successful, whichever way you define that, can be a difficult thing, as there are so many variables in the mix. It’s a combination of you, what you have to offer, the needs ofothers, and the zeitgeist of the moment all aligning. While you can’t change the world situation (on the large scale at least), you can affect your own situation.
As was mentioned to me again this past weekend, you need to “put on your own air mask before helping others” and that all comes down to managing your own needs first and foremost. You need to know what the situation is out there (e.g. Is there a need or market for someone who sings show tunes while riding a unicycle?) before you know what parts of you you need to develop. That being said, you also need to know what’s important to you before you decide which people, companies and industries you need to investigate. No use in trying to please someone or something that isn’t important to you.
That being said, there are three different areas that you have to be sure of yourself:
- Head: Do you really know what you’re talking about? Are you sure the information is accurate? I’ve had too many clients take action steps because the “heard from somebody” that a certain job or industry would be a good choice. Do your research and get the facts.
- Heart: Is this something that matters to you? Are your insides feeling good about what you’re doing? You need to know what’s important to you before spending your time, money and energy pursuing something that you are going to throw away later. Granted, sometimes you don’t know for sure, but listen to yourself first.
- Guts: Do you have an instinct that you should do something? Not sure shy you’re interested in something but you know there’s a reason deep inside you? Our minds are complex and don’t always state our needs clearly to us (like our dreams). Again, it’s something to listen to.
We can’t ride on just our head, heart, or guts, but need to balance a great insight from one of them with wisdom from the others. Do you really want that great paying job that will make you travel too much? Are your dreams of Broadway stardom realistic given your mortgage? You need to consider all parts of you.
So, are you listening to your head, heart, and guts?
Note: If you want to another opportunity to slow down and listen to your body’s wisdom, please consider coming to my Alternative Black Friday workshop: Taking Stock of Your Life.
I just come back from an amazing vacation where I got a lot of personal and professional learning and it was absolutely amazing experience. I was really in need of a vacation and I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I posted last year but I think I just was in mental summer vacation mode as many of you probably have been.
One of the main things that happened to me was that I met up with David Thompson who writes a blog called Anchorhold. I have been following his blog for about a year but I didn’t know that I actually knew him. He specializes in making of rituals
At Easton, he had set up a altar play space which was just a large tent that he had lots of different things that you can put on the altar in the tent set up and thinking of different ways to set up sacred space. The purpose was so that you have what you need to try different objects to see if the resonate with you in creating your own separate space.
I have my own sacred space in my in my house but I haven’t felt like it was really serving me. It was a little bit stale and what I found from talking with him was that the space didn’t work with my way of manifesting sacred space. I have grown to use the term “spiritual fooling around”. It’s a more playful way of feeling my connection to something larger than myself in a more lighthearted way, and my altar had more of a venerated, stuffy air to it. The stale things there weren’t going to work for me. I got home and completely cleaned out that room, and made it one where id want to come on and play, do yoga, play music, and other things that feed my soul.
This gave me the permission that I can change my environment if I need to. Just because it’s one way doesn’t mean it always has to be that way if it’s not serving you. I do have the power to affect my surroundings and change them. It’s a simple thought but powerful once you embrace it.
So, is your environment (hone, work, friends, etc.) serving you? What do you need to change?
As I, and just about any other career professional, speaks about getting a job, the subject of networking comes up. This usually sets people onto fits and squirming. Some people naturally network like they’re breathing, and others act like they would rather pull their eyelashes out one by one than network.
I’ve found that this is often the case because people have this preconceived notion as to what networking looks like. Usually it’s the really slimy guy that shakes every hand in the room and gets as many business cards as possible. This guy is not interested in getting to know anyone but just looking for contacts to use later for his own benefit.
Let me tell you know: THIS IS NOT NETWORKING!
Networking is about the mutually beneficial social connections that you have with people. The example above is more like a drive through trip to McDonald’s: very fleeting and only memorable if they were a problem.
Real networking is getting to know people who have similar interests to you so you can share knowledge and show yourself in the best light. You do the same thing if you’re looking to get more involved in the model airplane club or getting into the latest startup. You want to impress people with what you’ve got to offer, and different people impress in different ways:
- Extroverts impress by energy
- Introverts impress by focus
To use an analogy that I find striking, extroverts are like bombs. The make a big noise and everyone knows they have arrived (speaking as an extrovert!). Introverts are more like a augur drill. They are on and consistent but they keep going. It is with the consistency of message and focus on particular people that really is the strength of introverts and make them shine.
If you know what your goal is, and continually work every angle (usually behind the scenes!), introverts can usually build trust very effectively. Here’re some examples of how introverts can network better than extroverts:
- At a “networking” event, figure out in advance what information you want to gain, and ask the staff at the reception table if they know anyone who has information on that and see if you can get an introduction.
- If there is someone who is a thought leader in your field who is writing in numerous social media, follow and like them, read up on their thoughts. You will then be knowledgeable enough to either retweet, comment, write about, and in other ways make yourself known in a subtle way. Keep at it!
- Ask for individual introductions to people who may know more people in the chosen field than you do, and might have great insights. You might have to go through the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” to get to the right person who is a hogging manager, but your persistence will pay off!
Note to Extroverts: These work for you too!
Get out there and practice. It’s the only way to get better at it. Make your 100 mistakes as soon as you can, so that you can have mastery over it.
So, what are the ways you network that are comfortable for you?
Been thinking about hiring a career consultant (namely me!) but been putting it off? You might not want to wait any longer!
I have not gone up on the prices for my services in eight years, and I’m as affected by the whims of the economy as much as anyone else, so I’m finally adjusting my rates as of July 1, 2011.
- Single One Hour Session $130
- Bronze Package: 2 Hours $240
- Silver Package: 5 Hours plus assessments $575
- Gold Package: 10 Hours plus Assessments $1100
- MBTI Assessment $140
The good news is that my old rates will be in effect until then. If you’re ready to work with me and make a proactive change in your life, purchase a package before the rates go up!
So, what changes do you want to make in your life, and what are you waiting for?
I was fortunate enough this past Friday to participate in the Making It All Work seminar instructed by Mr. GTD himself, David Allen. As many of you who read this blog know, GTD (Getting Things Done) is a productivity philosophy first explained in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity. The main goal of the process is to get ideas out of your head so that there’s room to think of more creative ideas and to live in the very zen-like state of “mind like water”.
I’ve been studying GTD for about two years and seeing how I can integrate it into my life. While I’ve read books, participated in online forums and study groups, this seminar was great in filling in the gaps and bringing things together for me.
Here are some of the tidbits that I picked up in this session, and I can say that they are applicable to just about every area of one’s life:
- The optimal state is being in control, relaxed, and focused.
- Concentration minus distractions = Power
- Getting something off your mind frees up a lot of energy, so figure out where to put ideas so that you’ll find them again. That’s why we put the trash next to the door so we’ll remember to take it out in the morning.
- What frazzled us most is when we don’t know what to do with something, put it down, and pick it up again not knowing what to do with it.
- People blow fuses because they don’t know where to start.
- “Trust in Allah but tie up your camel.”
- Fear = Fantasized Experience Appearing Real
- We have a stasis with what we are comfortable. The only way to change is to make ourselves uncomfortable where we are. Until then, we won’t move.
While there were lots of other things I got out of the seminar, that’s all I can process now. If you’re interested in learning more about freeing up your mind, here are some resources I’ve found helpful.
- David Allen Company
- GTD Starter Kit
- GTD Virtual Study Group (A great podcast by Tara Rodden Robinson. You can also here the episode where I was a guest speaker talking about using GTD in your Career Development.)
- 45 minute presentation by David Allen on GTD at Google
- All of my blog posts relating to GTD
So, what are you doing to stop the voices in your head?
As I described in my last blog post, many people do their job searches by doing the equivalent to sending bulk mail to the four corners of the universe, and hoping somebody offers them a job. In this newer, tougher job market, you are more likely to be in a crowded group of all the other people throwing their resumes into a pile for a hiring manager to review. Everyone looks pretty much the same when they are in those piles so I recommend that you choose which place you want to be so you have the time to know what those hiring managers want and you can then shine like a diamond in those places.
So, here are some things to think about when you are trying to narrow down where you want to be:
- What are the industries that interest you ( or at least don’t repel you): We all know that there are cultures to different industries and each if us is going to be more comfortable in some than in others. A biology lab will have a very different feel than a hotel catering office. Choose which are the industries that are most interesting to you and you think will be the best culture fit for you. (A key indicator of this is what I call the “Ooh! Shiny!” affect. If you look at it and it piques your interest, chances are there is something about it that will make you want to work there).
- Where do you want to work: If you ate currently in a place where you can’t relocate, you probably know how long a commute you are willing to consider. If you can move, you probably know which cities/states/countries really interest you. Whichever it is, look at a map and draw a line around the actual area that you would be willing to go to.
- What’s the overlap: Now, using your research skills (and if you don’t have any, ask a librarian), find all the employers in the industries you are interested that have offices in the locations that you’ve indicated. You should be able to find 30-50 companies. If you find fewer, it might be a more difficult time, but then you have to know these particular companies and employers better, since they should know you before the job even opens up.
So, have you done your homework and know the places you want to work for?
Spring has truly arrived in New England. Just this week, most of the trees burst out with buds, leaves, and best of all, flowers. In my walks on Boston’s Public Garden, I get to smell the flowering dogwoods (at least I think that’s the name of that tree!) and the scent is amazing. We’ve had a tough winter here, so we are all looking so forward to having nice weather.
In this area, it’s also the time when colleges unleash another batch of graduates from their studies. Most of these students have never had to look for a job, and they do the one thing that is easiest to do and that worked for their parents: send our a lot of resumes. It’s also the time when these same people fret that no one is getting back to them and giving them a job.
Looking for a job is a marketing campaign and you are the product. You need to identify who are the people who might hire you and let them know of your qualifications and give them enough context of your background to feel like you’re not hell on wheels to work with. Sending resumes is one way to do it, but not the only way (and not even the best way). If a company was trying to introduce a product and the only thing they dis was to send out mailings to every person possible, they probably wouldn’t get a great response. It’s not surprising that job searchers don’t get different results with the same tactics.
So, what do you do then? Well, what are some other ways to let people know that you’re great? First you need to know which people need to know. This might sound obvious, but it’s the biggest mistake I find job seekers making. When I ask them where the want a job, the commonest answer is “anywhere”. just like bulk mail, if you are spreading yourself too thin, you’re not likely to find your target.
Note: My next post will be about identifying your targets, so subscribe to the blog to find out when I post that.
So, do you know who needs to know how great you are?
Spring is finally coming to the Boston area. I’m still wearing a few layers (especially on a rainy day like today) but there have been enough days where warmth has shown itself to let me know that winter’s days are almost gone. The flowers are blooming, and the trees are budding out and flowering. It’s the time to come out of hibernation and know that we can start stretching ourselves.
It’s also time to pick up things that have dropped by the wayside. I had a lovely dinner last week with Zach Blurton, who has a great blog at pro(zach)nation, and he was mentioning to me that he noticed that I haven’t been blogging much lately and that he misses seeing what I have to write. Zach is a fantastic creative non-fiction type of blogger and I really wish that I could turn a phrase like he does, but he stated that he likes that I write about more “substantial” stuff, while he feels like he’s writing fluff. Just goes to show that you don’t always appreciate what you have to offer.
Anyway, I’ve been busy with a lot of craziness this Spring with traveling and other activities, which I’ve let get in the way of my writing. Just like anything else in life, you just have to get up again and do what you need to do. Consider this one more restart for me. Now, the issue is to keep it going!
So, what do you need to restart in your life?