Category Archives: Career

Prioritizing My Life List Goals

Have you guys heard of Go Mighty? It’s an incredible resource for goal-setting, created by power bloggers Maggie Mason, Amber Doty, Laura Mayes, and Sarah Bryden Brown. The idea behind Go Mighty is to create your life list there, attach “stories” to goals, and for Go Mighty members to help each other in any way they can to achieve goals. As someone with a life list on my own blog, a list that is constantly being culled and added to and edited, this appeals to me very much.

Over the last couple of weeks, Maggie has been running an online life list class that I’ve been participating in, and it’s had me thinking critically about what it is I want to do with my one wild and precious life. As a major planner, I always have goals but it’s the action where I often get stalled out. There is so much about my life currently that I want to keep building on. It’s been a long time in the works, but this year I finally feel this sense of inspiration and urgency about making some of these changes happen. I’ve already done two big ones this year… I replaced my junker car with the car I’ve been dreaming about for five years, and I moved out of the home I shared with a roommate into my very own two-bedroom apartment. But this is just the beginning. I want this year to really shake things up, now that I’m on a roll and I’m in a good place emotionally to ride the roller coaster.

I have many goals, and often get so excited about all of them that it’s tough to focus and do anything to move any single goal forward. One of Maggie’s assignments in the course was to select five of your goals as the highest priority, to make them happen within the next 12 months or at least get started on them. I have been working through the assignments in the virtual classroom, but I wanted to share this one over here too. The goals I’ve selected to prioritize over the next twelve months are the following:

  1. See Shania Twain perform live. I’m beyond excited to report that this dream for the last 15 years will be coming true next month when I attend Bloggers in Sin City in Las Vegas. My roommate there, Karlyn, and I will be having a good ol’ country night and going to see Shania together!
  2. Increase my annual income by $15,000. This is one that I won’t be talking about too much in advance, more in hindsight… but I have a coffee chat scheduled with a career mentor next week to discuss strategy and options, so that’s a start!
  3. Create outfit “uniforms” for work, upscale/glam, and casualwear. I will be posting about this soon.
  4. Run a seminar or workshop series. My best friend and I have a burgeoning idea for this already! I would be beyond thrilled if we could turn it into a side business venture.
  5. Take a culinary class with Dirty Apron Cooking School. I’m happy to report I’ve signed up for one in October, and cannot wait to attend! October can’t get here fast enough (that’s the first and last time you’ll ever hear me say that.)

So, they’re out there now! I’ve posted ’em in public and now I’m accountable for making these happen. Keep you posted…

What are some of your key goals right now? Do you have a life list? If you do, or you want one, please join me over at Go Mighty so we can connect and help each other.

Quiet: Insights to my Strengths and Opportunities

Image source: Goodreads

Image source: Goodreads

I’m currently reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and really enjoying it. I have long described myself as a “social introvert,” sticking that word, “social” in there to dispel assumptions others often jump to when they think of introverts. I’m not particularly shy or quiet. I’m not afraid of public speaking or public performances. I’ve conducted seminars at work and spoken to groups as large as 200, and I’ve acted with lead parts in school plays and excelled in those arenas. I like parties.

However, I do need time to recharge after social events or public speaking by spending time alone with a cup of tea and a book, my laptop or just my thoughts. If I don’t get that time, I am C-R-A-N-K-Y. That’s the biggest telltale of my true colours as an introvert, but there are others. It’s one thing for me to be the centre of attention onstage, where my role is very structured and defined, but I hate it in social settings. I’m fine hanging out in large groups, but I let others drive the discussion while I hang back listening and speak only when I have something important to contribute. I despise small talk and find it very difficult to get to know others who are not open to more meaningful topics right off the bat. (I’m one of those people who, upon meeting you the first time, can talk immediately about the fight you just had with your mother, but if you try to talk about the weather I’ll clam up after a few moments). I’m pretty terrible at persuasion; if my points don’t speak for themselves, I’m not someone who shows enough charisma, outward passion or confidence in my ideas or services to be able to convince someone who has doubts. This has been a career challenge in recent years as there has been a large sales element involved, and I prefer the control of self-employment to working for a company.

Not everything in this book applies to me, but I see a lot of myself in it. I have read a lot about introversion in the past so I wasn’t sure if I would learn much new in this book, but I like Susan’s angle of playing up the strengths of introversion. This is an angle I haven’t seen many places before. Introversion is usually described as a barrier to overcome, an obstacle to your success that you can learn to work with if you tame and mold it, but never is it seen as a shining light to be celebrated and embraced.

This passage’s excerpts (related to a surprising discussion of how Guy Kawasaki outed himself as an introvert on Twitter in 2008) was a particularly interesting insight to me personally:

On August 15, 2008, Pete Cashmore, the founder of Mashable, the online guide to social media, weighed in. “Wouldn’t it be a great irony,” he asked, “if the leading proponents of the ‘it’s about people’ mantra weren’t so enamored with meeting large groups of people in real life? Perhaps social media affords us the control we lack in real life socializing: the screen as a barrier between us and the world.” …

Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online… to say that they can express the “real me” online… The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of 200 people might blog to 2000 or 2 million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.

Though I’ve been a very inconsistent blogger who has not, in fact, shared much online in this little space lately, I’m pretty active on Facebook interacting with friends and organizing social events. I have a very active Pinterest page and adore Goodreads for sharing and learning about others’ book choices. I meet potential suitors almost exclusively through online dating, much to my (very extroverted) mother’s  derision, and I’ve never been able to explain why the Internet has been so important for my social life. I never would have pinned it on my introversion! And better yet, I love the implication that the computer/Internet as an intermediary in interpersonal relations provides an opportunity for introverts to thrive in leadership and sales roles where previously they may have floundered.

I wonder how I and fellow intro’s might use this insight to boost their careers. Can we thrive in sales by making a concerted effort with online presence? What changes can be implemented online to bring in new clients? Can we direct clients via a newsletter to a referral system on our website so we don’t need to ask in person? Some food for thought.

May 2013 bring prosperous wealth and personal growth to all, whether you’re introverted or extroverted!

The Moment the Light Went On

As anyone who’s been reading this blog since its inception will have noticed, I have been a very sporadic blogger at best.

Blogging is something I am meant to be doing. Frequently, that little lightbulb goes off in my head that says “this would make a great blog post topic!” and though I want to blog, and sometimes even intend to write that post when I get home, I nearly always have shoved the idea away, consciously, and have been avoiding this blog at all costs.

I haven’t been sure why until just recently.

A little backstory here to catch you up on my life at the moment: I’m currently on a working vacation in Hawaii. Vacation, because it’s been four years since I’ve taken a real holiday. Hawaii, because I have never been to a tropical beach location and have been dreaming about it for ages, and it fits the bill for the type of activities that jive nicely with a work retreat. And why am I working on vacation, most of all? Because I needed to work on my business rather than in it. To do that, I needed to get away from work and away from all my regular life distractions, so I can strategize… and if I’m going away physically, I’m killing two birds with one stone and taking a holiday!

I needed to do business strategizing because I’ve been unhappy with the process and results of two specific parts of my business, and I needed to find a way to make them work for me instead of feeling like I’m fighting against them all the time.

It’s become clear to me while working on this strategy that:

  1. I had resigned myself to mediocrity in my career due to my lack of solutions to these business processes that weren’t working.
  2. I’m not actually okay with mediocrity, however.
  3. There are still avenues I haven’t exhausted for new processes in the areas of my business I’ve been unhappy about, so I have no business throwing in the towel and pretending they’re unfixable. And, interestingly:
  4. While my primary focus with this strategic planning session on my day job, I’ve been hearing this clear voice that keeps telling me that blogging needs to be a regular part of my life. It doesn’t need to be part of my job strategy, but it needs to be a part of my life strategy.

And in seeing all four of these insights together, I realized that the avoidance of this blog has been due to my resignation to mediocrity. I may have settled in some aspects of my life, but I am really passionate about blogging (I know! I don’t actually even participate in my passion. The irony is not lost on me) and I was not okay with having a mediocre blog. And I think I had started to believe that I could do no better than mediocre, so it was easier to just not blog at all than to do it poorly. There’s also some fear that this blog will not measure up to the one I wrote previously, before starting my business. If you don’t try, you can’t fail, right?

WRONG. So, so, so wrong. Not participating in your passion = GIANT FUCKING FAIL.

Another thing I do that is pretty dumb, when I have the presence of mind to actually think about it? Believing that past results determine future results. It’s a sign that I’m a bit jaded and have been bashed about by life a little bit, but that doesn’t make it true. It doesn’t matter how many times I have failed or will continue to fail at things in the future, or how many times I don’t live up to my own hopes. That doesn’t mean I should lower the bar, and it doesn’t mean I can’t ever succeed at anything, though I’d say it’s pretty likely that I won’t if I stop trying.

In the words of Thomas Edison,

With Apologies to Sean Kingston

Photo credit: Life’s a Blog

Drive. Spark. Fulfillment. Joy. Fire burning, fire burning on the dance floor. It’s all about one thing: Following your passion. Can we talk about this for a minute? I have a beef with it.

Follow your passion, say all the career advisors and life coaches and self-help junkies. Do what you love and the money will follow. If your job is not related to your purpose for being put on this earth, you will regret it. It’s pinned all over the “words of wisdom” Pinterest boards, for Pete’s sake. And, cue eye rolling. It happens so often these days I’m afraid my eyes might get stuck back there like my mother warned me as a kid.

In my life, I’ve held 17 different jobs. 10, if you don’t count the ones I had for 3 months or less. In that illustrious collection of employers, I have had exactly one job that I genuinely loved. (Coffee barista, for the record). I hated one job so much, it left me with more damage than the emotional baggage accumulated by the combined sum total of my teenage years and the endings of three serious romantic relationships. Man, that job really was toxic to my soul. But the rest… well, meh. They were fine, I made some friends, and I was glad they afforded me the ability to do some interesting things with my time when I wasn’t on the clock.

One of those cool things I’ve been able to do is travel. And I’ve done enough of it to learn that people in most countries view work as a way to pay for the things you need and want in the parts of your life that aren’t spent working.

Somewhere along the way our culture has become OBSESSED with the notion that your paid work must also be your one true passion. And ironically, while we have collectively deemed this the most worthy way to spend our working life, we also accuse each other of “selling out” when we accept compensation for doing what we love. Maybe it’s inevitable that we’ll attack those who have managed to achieve the dreams we have for ourselves, as a way of offloading the jealousy without having to acknowledge it; I don’t know. Regardless, this business of following your passion during your working hours has become the new golden standard.

Now, a disclaimer: If you have a job that feeds your soul as well as your bank account, hats off to you. I’m not saying we should AVOID doing this for a career. But, I do think it puts a lot of pressure on people who probably already have perfectly decent jobs. I think it might be harmful to insist it is the only route to happiness (as though Happiness is some sort of destination with only one correct route… be careful, stay left at the fork or you might inadvertently end up in Hell! And you can’t retrace your steps if you go the wrong way, it’s all or nothing!)

What I’ve learned from my own work experience is this: the only REALLY important thing is not to spend half your waking hours doing something you actively loathe, that conflicts with your core values and makes you feel like a miserable failure with nothing to offer the world. Don’t take that job, and if you have that job, find another. You can take any other job, because you don’t have to get all your joy and fulfillment from the thing you’re paid to do. And I am SO SICK of feeling like my job is not good enough because it’s not my “calling.”

I have several problems with this, really. For the sake of brevity, which I’m failing at miserably with this post, let’s go with bullet points:
  • This notion of having just ONE true passion is silly. You can be happy doing any number of different things. (Guess what? I like my job just fine!)
  • I have a feeling that my “calling,” if I have one, is to be a mother. But the time is not right for me to have a child yet. So does that mean I should just crawl into a hole and not work until I have a child to care for? Does my work in the meantime have no value?
  • Tying your earning power to the activity you are most passionate about can put a lot of pressure on the object of that passion. Now you’re not  just doing it out of love – you are required to, even if your creative reserves or ideas are dry.
  • Some passions can only be monetarily successful if you are an expert (i.e. acting, writing, singing, cooking). If you are passionate about something for which your enthusiasm exceeds your skill, this may not make for a very fulfilling career.
  • The argument for following your passion as a career is often that it takes up half your waking hours. Well, what about the other half? What’s wrong with devoting that time to your passions instead?

In the end, this is all a very self-indulgent argument. We worry about these things because we are privileged enough that we don’t need to worry about food, water or shelter, so we have time to think about our maximum potential beyond just staying alive. But have you ever noticed that with options comes a lot of stress? The happiest kids are the ones kicking around a soccer ball in the dirt in rural Africa, not the ones being shuttled from piano lessons to baseball practice to a math tutor.

Don’t put so much pressure on it. Just have fun with your life.