If I could do one thing for every one of my clients, it would be to erase the need for approval from anyone, including themselves. I would find some way to magically inject a feeling of 'good enough' into everyone at the start of our time together, and let it percolate throughout their system until they felt whole.
What if every decision you made in life came from that place of wholeness, of good-enough-ness? What you never worried about what others thought or would say to you about your choices? What would you be doing, and who would you be? What if you really took care of yourself as though you mattered?
Most of us haven't figured out how to let go of the idea that we aren't enough, and because of that, other people's opinions weigh heavily on us. Even when the people close to us approve of our ideas, we still shy away from doing them because who are we to think we can get what we want or pull off a big change?
A long time ago I made the decision to follow a calling to pursue singing and salsa dancing by moving to the Bay area in California. I was lucky that very few people judged me to my face, although I'm sure they were worried about the fact that I knew zero people and had no job or place to live lined up. I'll cut to the chase- it all worked out. I stayed somewhere temporarily until I found a longer lease, I got a job to pay the rent where I met my soon-to-be band mates, and I got onto a semi-professional salsa team within 6 months. Was I saving for retirement? No. Was I in a meaningful relationship? No. Did I own a house? No. I don't even think I had health insurance. But I was so happy- nothing was gnawing at me to go, to try, to express anymore. I was pursuing my passions until they no longer pursued me. My life was interesting, relatively stress-free, and I was learning every day.
I have different passions now and one of them is security. But I still take risks because frankly, they've always paid off. One of my mantras is “feel the fear and do it anyway.” My other mantra is “Why NOT me?” Maybe you're considering a small change but it feels big. If it's been pulling at you for the last several years, guess what? It won't stop. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Even if you think you're not good enough. So what? Why not you, anyway? No one "deserves" success more than anyone else. Did Britney Spears deserve success? Does Donald Trump? Do you?
If you are being called to do something, change something, or feel something, it's for good reason. And maybe you'll never be 'good enough' in your own mind to make it happen. And maybe no one around you will understand why you're doing what you want to do. Maybe you'll even fail at it. But I'm here to tell you that you can be a full on bad person and still do cool shit. You can try something, fail miserably, and then tweak it a little and succeed. You can be yourself, whomever that is, and be different than who you were yesterday. Your life is of your own design. How much are other people or so-called “society” defacto designing your life right now? If you need support to make the change and no one in your life can do that for you, I'm here.
This is simply an invitation to ask yourself where in your life you may not be totally true to yourself. What could life look like if you acted on that little voice within? Who might be inspired by you? What might you learn? And how much pain could you avoid by simply going for it, instead of hemming and hawing for years on end? Because this is it, guys, this is your life.
I promise you, almost no matter what it is, someone has done it before. And they probably lived to tell the tale. The scary, messy, exciting, imperfect, not-good-enough-but-at-least-I-tried story of their life.
Once my clients get through the process of self-exploration, block busting, and researching their options, it's time to start looking for a job they will love. Here are some of the most common tendencies I've noticed that need correcting.
1. Looking for a job the same way you look at a menu.
Most people will check what's available online before figuring out what they want, in the hopes of finding something that will tell them what they want. This is backwards. When you're really young and don't have a great sense of where you want your career to go, this could be okay. But when you're mid-career it's time to take stock of what you really want, what lights you up, what kind of people you want to be around, and what sides of yourself you want to be able to express at work. It's okay to do a little soul searching in order to figure out your next move, versus taking whatever is available.
2. Not tailoring the resume to each position.
This one surprises me, but a lot of people still submit the same resume to each job, even though the key words in the postings are different. You have to include key words from each posting in your resume and cover letter in order to be found by resume scanning software. You also need to be a clear choice when a human looks at your resume, and putting buzz words from that company and/or that job opening will help you look like you fit the role.
3. Not having anyone proofread the resume.
I have yet to see a resume with no mistakes, even if the mistake is simply being too wordy, or not giving yourself enough credit for your accomplishments. Seriously, you've got to have fresh (type A, anal) eyes take a look at it. Things like inconsistent tense (writing some bullets in past tense and some in present), an ill-placed comma that makes your grammar sound weird, and spelling errors don't make you look good. Yes, you've looked it over 14 times. No, you didn't see that you spelled teacher 'taecher'. You're human, it happens.
4. Writing cover letters that describe why you want the job, instead of what you can do for the company.
It's not about you, in their eyes. Your resume's objective and cover letter should be about what you can offer the employer and why (prove it!), rather than why this is a good fit for you/your family/your schedule.
5. Not doing research to see if the place you are interviewing is somewhere you really want to work.
This one is particularly heartbreaking, because if you get the job and then hate it, all that work will have been for nothing, and you'll be back job hunting again. By doing informational interviews, stopping by a place to feel out its energy, and taking a look at what the company has been doing online, you can get a feel for how it will be to work there.
6. Not practicing the answers to common interview questions.
Do you know the answer to “Tell us about yourself”? No one does. It's important to take some time to not only think of what to say for common questions, but also to hear yourself say your answers out loud. That way you can self-correct before you're in front of the people who decide if you get the job or not. What's your greatest weakness? Tell us about a time you had a difficult co-worker. What are your salary expectations ? Why should we hire you? Think about it.
7. Not applying to something you want because you assume you aren't qualified.
This one kills me! I can't tell you how many times in previous jobs that I ended up hiring someone who didn't have all the skills I was looking for. You simply don't find the unicorn every time. Usually when hiring managers are crafting job postings, they put everything they want, kind of like a dream candidate. They don't necessarily all think they're going to find that person. Even when you don't have all of the 'required' skills or experience, if you really want the job and meet many of the requirements, go for it anyway. You simply never know.
8. Turning networking into a big stressful event, instead of a chance to be curious about what one person does for 10-15 minutes.
If you're on Linkedin you have many connections- why not reach out to one of them to ask if you can have a short phone call to learn about their company or field? A targeted approach that's one person at a time where you can focus and not worry about a public speaking situation is easier for most people. Take the time to find the right couple of people who can actually give you more information about a career or company of interest versus blocking out entire evenings for networking events. You'll save time, gas, and the hassle of having to talk to any and everyone who shows up. If you're not on Linkedin or it's not useful for your industry, you can contact employees of a company of interest directly with a kind, short message explaining that you'd love to learn a little about what they do. Many people are flattered or will pass you on to someone even better.
There are so many ways to go about a job hunt. Why make it harder than necessary? If you have any favorite job hunting techniques I'd love to hear them.
Lately I've been attracting more clients who want to work part-time. Sometimes it's because they need to be home with their kids during the day, sometimes it's because they are interested in a semi-retirement, where they can still enjoy the community of the workplace. Sometimes they are trying to get a business off the ground and need some steady income until that happens. But they all have one thing in common: they want health benefits.
For those of you reading this article outside the US, this won't make a lot of sense. Your health insurance or ability to see a doctor is most likely not tied to your job. But for those of us working over here in the dark ages, read on.
I wanted to find out just how likely it was that we could find part time options with full time benefits- turns out, the prospects are a little better than I thought. Not impressive, by any stretch of the imagination, but it exists. And it's not all at Starbucks and UPS (though those are still available options). The question is, will the work all be customer service oriented? Is there room to grow? Could the job be... meaningful?
When you work part-time, you already have work-life balance built in. You have time to do things that make life meaningful, like develop friendships, a business you care about, or take care of family. Perhaps your job won't be your main source of purpose. But there were a few “career jobs” I saw posted with full benefits at 20 hours or more where you would not be serving coffee. Still, most of what I found were lower-salary jobs.
The question to ask yourself is, what do I want out of work? If all you need is health benefits, perhaps it won't matter if your salary is lower. But if you need a high salary, part-time work, and benefits your search will be considerably tougher. If you can work a full 32 hours your options will improve dramatically.
Something interesting I found was that the companies who were generous with part-time benefits didn't stop at health insurance. I saw adoption assistance, tuition reimbursement, and will writing services a few times too.
Here are some of your part-time jobs with benefits options- by no means is this exhaustive: Whole Foods, Allegis Group, Costco, Lowe's, Nike, Land's End, Vohra Wound Physicians, Kaplan, Starbucks, Caribou, Chipotle, Macy's, UPS, Wegmans, Uhaul, JPMorgan Chase, REI, Shire
Notable Minnesota options for my local subscribers: Fairview, Pillsbury United Communities, HealthEast
Do you work somewhere with full benefits for part-timers? I want to hear about it!
Several of my current clients are in the phase of job hunting where they know exactly what role they're looking for, but not what company. Having been burnt before by toxic work environments (as most of us have), many are understandably wary of applying to jobs because they aren't sure what the culture will be like. Why leave toxic culture #1 only to land in toxic culture #2?
Luckily with a little detective work, some of that doubt can be cast aside. The trick is to have a few informational interviews with people who are not in a position to hire you (and therefore more likely to be honest, nor judge you for asking). You can find these people in a couple of different ways: Linkedin, on the company website, or asking someone you already know who works there to hook you up with a coworker in a department you're interested in. It's no longer necessary to ask to meet for coffee and make a big hour-long deal of it. You can simply call or email the person you want to interview and ask for 10 minutes of their time on the phone when it's convenient for them. If they aren't interested or don't have time, simply ask for someone else who might be able to talk to you. Your persistence at this stage will save you a lot of heartache and stress later on if you don't do your homework.
But what do you ask? And will they be honest?
While you can't guarantee honesty, you can let them know that you are very interested in a role/department that would let you _________ (make autonomous decisions, move up in a few years, travel less than 20% of the time, etc). What's important to you? Ask if the company is somewhere you can be/have/do that. Rather than making the person feel like they have to bad mouth their own job, by framing it as a 'if I need this, is this company likely to be a fit for me?' is a lot less icky than “How's the marketing management? Is it awful?” Big difference. And that will help the person on the other end of the phone be honest with you.
Now, here are some ideas of what to ask, but don't ask them all to one person! You know what's most important to you, of course, so focus there first. The following questions are what my clients most frequently express concern about, with additional questions inspired by this article.
Is the organization walking its talk?
Do you feel like you're making a difference? Doing meaningful work or more busy work?
How much do you work on a team versus alone?
What team accomplishments make you proud?
What is the onboarding process like?
Are people competing with one another, or are they united behind the institution or project goals?
Do you have mentors? Do leaders actively coach you?
Is there a clear path to move up or ability to move up? Do people stand in your way when you're ready to move up?
Do people know what’s going on overall? How transparent is the company?
Do people say what they think? Are they direct or indirect?
(If you're a parent) How is parenthood perceived? Is there a place for pumping? Can I leave work if my child is sick without repercussions?
Is everyone encouraged to participate in discussions and have dissenting opinions? Does the boss listen?
What is the ratio of men to women in the department/company? What about people of color to white people? Are people generally closed to those who are different from them, or open? (This can come up in many ways: at a religiously-affiliated institution when you aren't a member of that religion, when you're the only lesbian at the organization, when you moved from “the big city” to the middle of nowhere, etc.)
Are people avoiding or dealing with difficult issues?
What does success look like on your team?
How is performance determined?
How much time are people typically putting in each week? Are people expected to work evenings and weekends?
Is it frowned upon to come and go as needed or is that okay as long as the job gets done?
How is negative feedback communicated (privately and respectfully or publicly?)?
Are the right people involved in decisions at the right time?
Do you get to work fairly autonomously, or is someone else able to change the direction of your plans?
(If there was a recent change in leadership or a merger) How have things been since the merger?
Do supervisors have an open-door policy or is it rare to get any face time?
Describe the office environment (open concept, cubes? Dark and depressing, full of light?).
What do you wish you would've known before you started working here?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years (if they laugh and say “Not here!” that obviously says something. If they say, “Well, I'd hope to have moved up by then, but.... things move slowly here.” That also says something)?
Finally, listen for what isn't said. The deep sigh or the pause before answering. When you can tell someone is being polite because they don't want to say how bad something really is. Listen for energy- a feeling of excitement, accomplishment or purpose. You can often hear if someone is smiling, for example. These are all indicators of what working there will be like.
Do you have any cultural-fit questions you like to ask? I want to hear them!
In the final weeks of my 9-week Career Mastermind, several participants brought up the fact that they would love to change jobs, but worried about making enough money in their new career. This is about as common a concern as you can get, yet when I asked if they knew how much they really needed to make, no one was sure. This is true of most of us, really. We know what we currently make, but we don't know what we spend. This makes transitioning to anything else a guessing game, where great fields of interest can be dismissed out of hand simply because we assume it won't pay enough to cover our bills. But what if you don't actually know how much your life costs? How can you make an educated decision?
One of the homework assignments in the group was to take a look back at a full month of their lives (minimum) to see what it cost. Not just the bills-- the whole shebang. Drinks, dinners out, the babysitter, the gift you got your sister, supplements... You know, all the stuff we don't necessarily plan for, but spend regularly. It's important to include your partner's expenses if you share a home and bills. And it's important to include the cavity you had filled or the glasses you got, even though that seems like a once a year or rare thing. Believe me, every month there's a rare thing.
An easier way to do this than looking at every credit card and bank statement in a month is to use an app like Mint.com. It takes awhile to link all of your accounts, but once they're there, you can easily look and see what was spent in any given time period (excluding cash payments).
The funny thing is, we all know this. We all know about the importance of tracking our spending. But so few actually do it. Why? Because so many of us are afraid that we'll find out something bad and have to change. The bliss of ignorance really comes into play here, as a few participants noted. Why take a closer look when I've been doing more or less fine all these years? Especially if I'm saving money each month?
It's a fair point, until you are faced with the possibility of changing your income. Maybe it's because you're considering another degree or a new career. It's simply too easy to stay in a job you hate, say no to much better options, and yes to terrible ones (because they pay “well”), due to ignorance of what your life costs.
One of the best things about actually spending a few minutes tallying up a given month is that you may find out that your life costs less than you think. Really. It happens.
The other thing to keep in mind is that once you know the truth, you don't have to make any changes. You don't have to forego lattes and only shop at second hand stores. You can do exactly what you did before, but with the knowledge of what you really need to make to keep up that lifestyle. How empowering!
I'll be honest, when I did the math on my life I was surprised. It was higher than I thought it would be. What was helpful for me was seeing how much of those expenses will go away in time, and knowing that I can save that money after the expense is gone. For example, I won't have a car payment anymore next year. That monthly payment can be saved or invested until I need a new car. That's great news!
If the idea of taking a close look at your spending freaks you out, you're not alone. But you ARE the only one who can find out what you need to make to feel safe. And once you know, every other decision becomes clearer.
Did you bite the bullet and add up the cost of your life? I'd love to hear what you learned.
I was on a webinar with some other coaches recently when we were asked: “What's the one thing you need to do, or you will die trying to do?” My first thought was, didn't rapper 50 Cent bring this up like, 15 years ago? And then, is there something I need to do or will die trying?
Personally, I'm not sure there is one thing. As a multi-passionate person I live multiple lives inside of this one, and that's simply what works for me. But for sure my goal is to not feel like I'm trying. I have a sign up in my house that says “Effort. Less. Effortless.” This is because I often forget I'm a human being, and find my myself being a human-doing.
Ironically I have to try to stop trying. I was attempting a quiet few minutes of mindfulness last night when I found myself planning something in my head. I stopped that once I noticed it, and a moment later found myself plotting an educational facebook post. I was literally both planning and educating in my mind, alone, in silence, in the dark!
I find this so ridiculous, and so indicative of who I am. I freaking LOVE planning and educating. I have become addicted to it, to a point that I don't know how to stop. Not a bad addiction, but it can certainly be exhausting. And I have a sneaking suspicion it's a subconscious avoidance technique that I fall back on when I don't want to feel my feelings. When 'just being' feels scary or vulnerable, or simply boring.
Most of my work involves helping people come to terms with who they really are, and then how to authentically share that with the world in a way that supports them. This involves telling the truth, not just to yourself, but to others. It may take the form of applying for the job you secretly want, but previously wouldn't let yourself apply. It may be telling your best friend that you are finally ready to start the business you've been dreaming about for the last 15 years. Maybe it's admitting that your current work culture is unhealthy and you deserve better. Or even admitting you really don't know what you want.
Regardless, I believe the only real thing we should 'die tryin' to do is be ourselves. Learn who that is, and then learn how to live that in all aspects of our lives. This isn't some feel-good unrealistic hippie dream. If you ask yourself where in your life you're out of alignment with who you really are, there are probably ways you know to get back on track. We are ALL worried we won't be accepted for who we are. That's why junior high sucks so much. Junior high never really ends- we just get better at giving ourselves permission to be who we are regardless of who's around, and get better at finding and creating environments that are more accepting.
While I have great respect for people who have that thing that they are going balls-to-the-wall for until it comes to fruition, not everyone has that thing. Some of us simply are that thing, and what we end up doing is the extension of who we are. I, too, am learning to just be myself. All the time. When you can authentically be yourself, your natural gifts come out. And then you really are a human-being, not a human-doing. And there is nothing more you need to be.
Have you ever felt guilty about wanting to quit your job? I have. Especially when I quit my full-time job to start my coaching business. "But they NEED me!" I said to friends and family. How could I DO this to them?
And now I work with good people who are in the same boat... Sometimes too good.
How is being a good person a problem, you ask?
Well it becomes a problem when that good person feels like they can't leave the job that isn't serving them anymore for one of these reasons:
I've also worked with good people who ultimately didn't want to leave their company, but because of Tall Poppy Syndrome they also weren't going for the positions they REALLY wanted within the company. Tall Poppy Syndrome is where people of high status are resented, attacked, cut down or criticized because they have been classified as superior to their peers. Aka, let's hate the popular, powerful, or rich because we're jealous (cut down the tall poppies!).
Have you ever had one of these thoughts pop through your mind?
What's been going on with these Good Person and Tall Poppy beliefs is that they have you between a rock and a hard place. If you stay, you're resigning yourself to playing it small, not living up to your potential, not being recognized, and not making the money you want.
If you go, you have practically decided that means you're a bad person. I mean, really: If you leave and didn't fix everything, what does that say about you? If you aren't 'enduring' your work anymore, what does that say about you? If you make a resume that highlights who you really are, and not just what you have been trained in, aren't you bragging?
See what I mean? I wouldn't leave my job either. It takes an incredibly brave person to finally admit the beliefs and fears that have been operating under the disguise of being a good person and consider acting on them.
Here's the thing: You ARE a good person. And you're a good employee. Even if you leave. Even if you don't fix everything. Even if you leave your team in the lurch. No, really. You will still be You, the Good Person, even if you're unemployed! But You the Good Person deserves to feel like a valued member or leader of a team and get recognized for it. Don't you agree? People ask for a lot more than that every day. You deserve to be met at the level you're contributing, not working for other's advancement! Let's not martyr ourselves and stagnate our personal growth under the guise of being a good person. You don't have to prove that you're a good person to anyone, even YOURSELF!
You already know you're a good person. Give yourself permission to be a good person who acts out of what's good for YOU, not your company. You'll never regret leaving a position that didn't serve your highest good. But you will regret years lost to inaction because you were 'too good' to do anything else.
I never regretted my decision to quit once I left (and neither will you), because I was finally taking care of ME. You're never a bad person for taking good care of yourself.
The amount of times that I look up from my life and go... “Whoa. This is my job? Cool!” still surprises me. Right now I'm sitting at a cafe waiting for a near stranger to come and meet me to put their life plans at least somewhat in my hands. I find this totally awe-inspiring. The fact that this person (and each of my clients) has chosen vulnerability at this level is so humbling.
Here's what's going on under the surface in a typical first session:
Client arrives, wondering if this was a good idea or, alternatively, super excited to get started, and often not even knowing what I look like (I find them).
We talk about what they did since our phone consult, the homework I assigned. This, too, is amazing, that this person is putting their trust in me enough to do what I suggest.
The homework brings up issues and concerns. These can be very surface-level, or more core. The client decides how much they want to share with me as the sessions progress. I make observations about what may be limiting them or keeping them from success, but it's not therapy. We don't dwell on the past or spend much time wondering why things are the way they are. We systematically uncover their passions and purpose. We focus on moving forward with intention.
Then they start to make progress on their dreams. Often quite a lot of progress, which brings up more issues. What if I'm not successful? What if I don't get the dream job it took me the last two months/my whole life to figure out? What if my family doesn't support my choice to start a business? This is big stuff!
And the client presses on (with some encouragement, of course). And they start to see results. Their life starts to change, which is also scary. Change, even when it's what you've always wanted, can be unsettling. Routines change. Incomes change. The way you relate to yourself (typically with greater self-esteem and purpose) changes. It's... different. Exciting. Weird.
And I get to be there, for the whole thing. Amazing, right?
So here I am, at another cafe, waiting to embark on another exciting journey of vulnerability with someone.
He has no idea in what high esteem I hold him. And we haven't even met yet.
I have tremendous empathy for clients who contact me after a long career in an area that took a ton of work to get into. Nurses, executive directors, senior decision makers at corporations... So many years of schooling or strategic moves, only to “arrive” and dislike where they are.
These people are typically very eager to set up a consult, but not as eager for coaching. Why? Because agreeing to coaching is akin to admitting that all that work didn't get them where they thought it would. It's heartbreaking. For some, the consult ends our relationship, because it's obvious that by working together we would eventually move them into something they like better. Which sounds good, but also means giving up what isn't working.
Reframing “Giving Up”
But how could I leave what I've been pouring my blood, sweat and tears into? You ask. How could I do that? Yes, when framed this way it sounds like you'll have to betray yourself to get what you want- a career you love, that treats you better than the one you have. But who wants to betray themselves to get there?
Is this you? You haven't been happy in your job for a long time. You've tried every avenue to “make it better” from switching managers to changing your team. You end most days drained, no matter how many moves you make in the same company or field. You feel like there must be something better out there for you, but don't know what it is. And you certainly don't have the energy to figure it out at the end of another stressful day. When the weekend comes you just want to forget about work and try to get things done and enjoy what little time off you get.
So forget it! It's not worth stressing out about, right?
And then Monday happens....
And you're still unhappy.
What would it take to give yourself permission to get off the hamster wheel of unhappiness, even though it feels like you're going against years of effort?
What if you admitted that what's broken can't always be fixed?
First, let's acknowledge that you did a phenomenal job surviving and sometimes thriving in a very difficult environment. The bad managers, the total lack of recognition, the backwards culture or unrealistic workload.... You made it through that. You did what you could to make the job work for you. For most of us there is nothing else you could've done to change the structures that were imposed upon you. So first of all, I recognize you for all of the recognition you should've gotten and didn't. I know how undervalued you've been.
Second, know that you went through all of that for so long because you had great intentions. You wanted to provide for yourself and your family. You were hoping to help people, or build a great team, or do something meaningful with your time there. That's admirable, and some aspects of your goals did come to fruition, or you would've left a long time ago. Even if it just paid the bills, or gave you a new friend, the job did serve a purpose. You didn't simply waste all that time.
Now, it helps to ask yourself what you need your job to do for you that it isn't doing and can't do. Did you need it to give you a sense of purpose? Did you need the community of coworkers? What is it that you were hoping would happen and simply hasn't?
Whatever your answer, it's valid. It's okay to want that thing and look for alternatives when you aren't getting it. It doesn't mean you are abandoning your efforts, your team, or anything else. You are simply admitting the truth-- which is that you deserve to feel better with the waking hours you have.
Once you get very honest with yourself about what isn't working and accepting that it's okay to want more (otherwise you wouldn't be so frustrated by your work), your first step is to allow time to not necessarily know what's next, but consider the possibility that it could be much better than what you've been doing.
You Don't Have to Have all the Answers
If your first inclination is to ask “But what could be better?” You are in the majority. Most people need to know what's next to even consider leaving what they have. We need to feel safe to make big choices.
You don't have to have all the answers. You simply allow the idea that something else could serve you better... and that leaving where you've been struggling for so long isn't giving up-- it's opening up to what's next.
So what if you didn't have to figure it out all by yourself? What if your approach to finding your purpose work or dream job wasn't anything like the stress of your current job? Working with someone who is on YOUR team for once can be extremely freeing. Someone who provides the exact structure, information, and even connections that it takes to change career paths. Someone who knows that this isn't a process of giving up-- it's a process of lovingly letting go.
This is very different than simply “giving up.” We both know you aren't a quitter. You did try to make this job work for you. You aren't the type to walk out without giving notice in some kind of dramatic “F-you” to management. But you deserve better than this, and it might be time to lovingly let go.
If you're ready to create some space to consider the possibility of something better, let's talk. It's free, fun, and freeing.
I ask people to create vision statements all the time. For some, it's really fun and easy-- they know exactly what they want and they just haven't gotten there yet. For others, they take the assignment, look at it, have no idea what to write, and that's the end of it.
Sometimes life comes at us with such big waves of challenge or disappointment that we are simply reacting to the waves in an effort to stay afloat. Sometimes normal, daily life is overwhelming enough that the idea of dreaming up an alternative reality feels completely ridiculous.
If you are mired in the deep dark pit of 'everything sucks', this is for you.
So. Everything sucks. I'm sorry to hear that. Let's start there.
Maybe you have been out of work for over a year, or are about to get divorced, or have a health challenge that is overwhelming. That sucks. Sometimes clients come to me with all three of those things going on, or worse. I've noticed that those who are still able to actively seek a better future have something that others don't. They have faith that something else is possible. They don't know how, but they know this too shall pass... someday.
I don't ask those clients to put together a vision statement for their ideal life right away. There's nothing to write yet, because they are so mired in the yuckiness of right now. Instead, we talk about what IS working about life. What teeny, tiny, even meaningless thing might you be grateful for? Something you take for granted is a great place to start- like having a place to sleep indoors, or enough clothes to keep you warm. Did you eat enough today? What is working that you'd like to continue?
You may be tempted to write off these things as “things everyone has,” but we both know that isn't true. And you may be tempted not to count some things because they aren't as good as they used to be. But I know that just because I used to live somewhere warm and sunny doesn't take away from how awesome it is that I still have a place to live now.
Once you've identified some things to be grateful for, write them down. If you don't want to write, because you hate it and everything is stupid (been there), say them out loud. But find a way to recognize the things that are indeed working for you, because not everything is broken.
The things we place our attention on grow. I'm sure you've noticed this phenomena in the past, where if you worry about something, your concern gets worse. If you focus on what a great job your daughter did in math, the bill for tutoring becomes less important. Case in point:
Recently I stayed with my mother to help her when she needs to get up during the night. She's got some disabilities due to two brain surgeries. I'm a light sleeper and have a hard time going back to bed once I'm awoken. In the middle of the night she woke me up and needed some help. After I got her back to sleep, I went back my bed and laid there. I thought about how tired I would be the next day, and how much harder things were going to be without my usual energy. I wished things were different for her and for my family. And I laid there quietly hoping to fall asleep, alone, wondering when I'd hear her stir again, knowing it could be several more times. But then something great happened.
As I laid there I noticed the silence in the house. And how nice it was to be somewhere so peaceful. I noticed how warm I was in the bed, and how lucky I was to have my own bed at her home, in addition to my own at my home. I felt lucky that my mom was alive and loved me, and that I was able to spend this time with her. I laid there some more, and I started smiling. I no longer cared about how the morning would feel, or my to-do list, or how frustrating this whole situation is. I couldn't focus on that anymore, because my gratitude had grown to the point that it was all I cared about.
I eventually fell back asleep, and when I woke up, I was tired, yes. But I was so grateful.
What can you reframe today? What might you be thankful for, despite its challenges? I would love to hear about it. The more we focus on what's working, the greater our capacity to create more positive energy.
This time of year is hard for so many, but you aren't alone in that, and I know you can find something to be grateful for. And for those of you who aren't struggling right now but feel like there is more to life you'd like to start manifesting... I hope to see you at the Vision Boarding Meetup next week.
Life Purpose and Career Coach
Career Clarity Now