Kids pretending to talk on a banana like a phone

This is part two of a 3-part series where we get real about what people most want from their work: money, meaning, and impact.

What is meaning? Merriam-Webster defines it as: significant quality especially implication of a hidden or special significance

Is meaning this big, grandiose, mystical thing that I eventually find or discover? Or is it right here in front of me and I am overthinking it like I do most things? Sidebar: if overthinker describes you or anyone else in your life, you’ll love this book !

It’s been my experience that meaning comes from living a life in alignment with my values. Meaning comes from doing stuff I care about with people I care about. Meaning comes from choosing to be a decent human when I can and encouraging others to do the same. As one of my former managers liked to say, “This ain’t rocket surgery.”

For me, there is meaning in the little things. Like talking on bananas like they’re phones at breakfast with my kids. Or wearing a funny t-shirt or socks that make me smile. Or greeting a stranger at the grocery store and chatting for a few minutes.

Maybe those things don’t seem meaningful to you, but they are to me. Quality time with my family and friends. Remembering not to take life or myself too seriously. Extending kindness to another human because we all need more of it.

It’s the special significance in each day that makes life meaningful. I could just as easily bury my face in my phone and check emails at breakfast, but why in the world would I give up a chance to talk on a banana phone?

So what about at work? Does my work have meaning?

Yes. I love teaching, coaching, and helping others get unstuck. I love sharing my enthusiasm and inspiring others to take positive action. I am using my strengths in service of others daily, and more importantly, it helps them get where they want to go. I transform careers so others can work authentically and experience joy on the regular.

The meaning I get from work is the same as the meaning I find in life: quality relationships and laughter and kindness.

We don’t accident into one giant meaning-filled existence. We intentionally choose to create it one tiny piece of special significance at a time.

#PositiveAction Not everyone has meaning in their work today, so please don’t feel like a failure if that’s you. Instead, I want to encourage you to think about what is the smallest thing you could change to create a small piece of meaning. And then add on another one. And another.

 

Want to dive deeper? Here’s a few of my recommended books on meaning (affiliate links):

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

The Art of Living by Epictetus (Sharon Lebell translation)

 

Photo by me, banana phone conversation not included.

Money Growing

This is part one of a 3-part series where we get real about what people most want from their work: money, meaning, and impact.

Most of us don’t want more money just to HAVE more money. We want to DO something with it. Buying a house, investing, getting the couch of your dreams, shopping local, helping a friend or family member, giving generously to a cause you care about. Those are the things we do with money.

And it’s a whole lot easier to do those things when we have more of it!

We go to work to get money in exchange for our time and expertise, but we use that money at home and out in the community, as well as in the broader global economy.

And even though money is a primary driver in us going to work (along with meaning and impact), we rarely talk about it in productive ways. Entire libraries of books have been written on money, how to manage it, how to use it, how to create more of it, how to change your thoughts and behaviors around it. The list goes on.

The place you work isn’t giving you money because they are generous. They are giving you money because you create value for them.

But if we try to talk about money (and most women don’t when it comes to negotiating or asking for more) we’re focused on the wrong part. We’re thinking about the money. NOT the value. So the conversation doesn’t go the way we’d hoped.

Instead, when you approach the conversation from a place a value it shifts the focus to what the organization is getting, rather than what they are giving. When you frame it from a value perspective, it’s a lot easier to see why you’re worth so much.

#PositiveAction Start or add on to a list of all the value you create for your workplace. You’ll be ready for the next conversation you have on money.

 

 

 

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

Ally Bubb at World Cleanup Day 2020

You know I talk regularly about strengths and leaning into your passions. Those are two keys to a fulfilling career. So today I’d like to talk about something else entirely.

In addition to participating in cleanups in spring and fall (like World Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 18), I regularly pick up trash on my walks through my neighborhood… and in parking lots, while crossing streets… pretty much everywhere, really. 

Is picking up trash one of my strengths? No way! I’m not great at it. I’d say I’m average at best.

Is garbage something I’m passionate about? Not really. I don’t like it and would prefer if it was reduced in amount and then that amount was stored in appropriate ways. That said, I don’t wake up thinking about garbage or go to sleep dreaming about garbage.

Trash cleanup doesn’t use my strengths and it isn’t something I’m passionate about (who dreams of trash, really!). So why would I do it? Because it brings me joy.

I love seeing a place that was covered in garbage magically transformed to clean. It makes my heart feel full knowing that plants, and animals, and people are all safer because of a little time spent. It makes me feel relieved to know that instead of getting paralyzed worrying about all the bad in the world, I can at any moment choose to reach down, grab a piece of trash, and do a tiny bit of good.

Let’s not forget to do the things that bring us joy. They’re often the first items canceled on our calendars, when they should actually be the first thing we schedule each week. And if picking up trash falls into the joy category for you, head outside and grab a little or a lot!

#PositiveAction Schedule at least 1 thing that brings you joy in the next week!

If you’re moving to a lifestyle that is less throwaway and more reusable, I highly recommend the quarterly subscription boxes from Life Without Plastic. It’s a great way to ease into sustainable products!

Photo by me, World Cleanup Day 2020

 

 

Lots of clocks

We think of the perfect solution to a problem we’re facing. Maybe a wonderful opportunity presents itself to us. A person offers to help us out with something… but we say no because it’s “bad timing”. Sound familiar?

It should. We’re all guilty of using timing as an excuse not to move forward. Before we take action we want conditions to be just right. We want to feel ready. We want the timing to be perfect.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as perfect timing.

I’m having some home improvements done at my house right now. Like any improvement project, it’s loud, disruptive, and requires a lot of time and energy to ensure it goes smoothly. And we’re doing this while my kids are virtual learning from home. And my spouse is working from home. And I’m running a business from home.

There is nothing perfect about the timing. It’s simply the only time we’ve been able to get this to happen over the course of the past year.

Sure, we could postpone the project further. But we also know that the project is exactly what we need to solve a few big challenges we’ve been facing. Rather than wait for perfect timing, we’ve decided to move forward. Waiting longer only prolongs the pain and extends the time we deal with those same challenges.

Deferring the work doesn’t create perfect timing. It only creates an excuse for us to not do what would be most helpful to us.

I want to encourage anyone right now that’s been holding off on making a career change because it’s bad timing because here’s the secret. It’s never going to be perfect timing. It won’t ever be ideal conditions. But starting now, imperfect timing and all, WILL help you get where you want to go sooner than if you wait.

Waiting for perfect timing only guarantees you’ll be waiting for a really long time.

#PositiveAction Start something you’ve been putting off doing because it’s been “bad timing”!

Looking to learn more? Check out When by Daniel Pink (affiliate link).

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

As a lover of tidying and organizing, spring is a fun time to do some cleaning. I love swapping out heavy comforters for lighter quilts, washing and putting away the winter clothes and getting out the raincoats. Ushering in spring with cleaning helps to move beyond the cold winter season and celebrate the warmer weather.

Of course, clothes and quilts aren’t the only way to do spring cleaning. Sometimes there are behaviors that are no longer serving us. We can do spring cleaning on those behaviors too!

Most of us have an easy time identifying bad behaviors that we’d like to improve upon (this is what New Year’s resolutions are all about!). It can be much more difficult to identify good behaviors that used to be helpful to you but are no longer helping you get where you want to go.

Maybe at work you’re known as the person who can get stuff done. It doesn’t matter what kind of stuff, you just get it done. People count on you. It’s your reputation (aka personal brand). That’s great! Unless what you most want to do now is lead people. You need to be known for motivating others to get stuff done, not doing the stuff yourself.

We all have behaviors that have been helpful to us and others over the years, but we need to be mindful to put our time and energy into behaviors that help us move forward toward our version of success.

Regardless of how you feel about cleaning in general (but how can you not love it?!?), doing a spring cleaning to make sure your behaviors support where you want to go is the best way to start seeing progress!

#PositiveAction What behavior do you need to let go of so you have more time to dedicate to a behavior that is more aligned with your future?

If you love tidying and work, then you’ll enjoy Joy At Work, the latest from Marie Kondo.

 

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

This blog post has been a long time coming (for the past year, really). As the sole proprietor of my business, I get to do a lot of things that I love. Unlike many of the unhappy workers that I coach, I truly enjoy the majority of the tasks that make up my workdays.

But just because I enjoy the work doesn’t necessarily mean every task is the best use of my time. And time has been at a premium since the pandemic hit. For a year, I haven’t had the luxury of uninterrupted time (not complaining, only stating the fact) which has made some tasks that I normally enjoy a bit more, well, challenging.

It’s easy to decide to stop doing something you dislike. Most of us are quick to quit those things whenever we can! It’s much harder to decide to stop doing something you enjoy. And blogging is something I really enjoy. I have been blogging on and off for the past 12 years! That’s why it’s been difficult for me to make this change, even though I know I need to given my present time constraints.

I need to apply a less is more approach to blogging, at least in the short term, so I can focus my energies on higher value activities. Starting this week, I’ll be shifting to a monthly post format. You’ll still get my helpful thoughts and ideas on work and life (plus interesting asides in the parentheticals!), but it’ll be on a monthly basis rather than weekly.

Choosing less is more creates extra space, whether you’re talking about physical stuff, activities and tasks, or anything else.

What are some ways to take a less is more approach to your career story?

  • Eliminate sentences on your resume that don’t show your best work. Remember, this is supposed to be highlights, not everything you’ve ever done!
  • Get more endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn. Wait, isn’t this more, not less? Well, you can sell yourself less when others are telling your career story for you and based on every client I’ve ever worked with, NO ONE enjoys selling themselves, so make this easier!
  • Apply to fewer jobs. I know, you’re on the job search and feel like you have to apply for anything! I’m proposing that you approach the search more thoughtfully. When you apply to fewer jobs, you’ll be more intentional about finding those jobs that are best aligned to your wonderful, authentic self.

Less is more isn’t permission to skip doing what you know you need to do, like building out a killer LinkedIn profile or writing a powerful and interesting cover letter that gets your resume read. Those are high value activities that you’ll want to make sure you do.

Less is more is about doing less of the low value activities, so you actually have time to spend on those activities that matter. Time is finite and forces us to choose (actively or passively) what we are going to spend the limited time we have on.

I am choosing to prioritize focused time with people which I enjoy, over weekly blogging, which I also enjoy, because it will allow me to have more quality time with clients, partners, family, and friends.

#PositiveAction Find one thing you need to do less of at work to create space for more of something else.

 

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

“What the worlds needs now is love, sweet love / It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…” Whether you’re imagining Jackie DeShannon, Dionne Warwick, or Burt Bacharach in Austin Powers, chances are you’ve heard those song lyrics (my apologies in advance that it will be stuck in your head the rest of the day!).

So if the world needs love, how do we put more love into the world?

It starts by being ourselves.

You were probably expecting a rant on being nicer to strangers on social media (you should!) or showing kindness to anyone that crosses your path (yes, do that!) or hugging everyone you see (nope, don’t do that yet! There are pandemic protocols!).

Instead, we can put more love into the world when we embody the amazing, interesting, unique people we all are.

Appreciating what makes you authentically you enables you to find meaningful work that perfectly aligns with you. And the whole point of all of that is to share wonderful you with the world! You can do this as an unknown, but no less significant contributor to the tapestry we all weave, or as the most famous person ever to walk the earth, literally known the world over.

As David Whyte so eloquently put it, “What if the world is holding its breath – waiting for you to take the place that only you can fill?” 

I love that question! Have you ever considered the possibility that the world is waiting for you, right now as you are today? It doesn’t need us to be perfect or successful or rich or a certain weight. We don’t need to change anything. We just need to be willing to offer who we are, strengths and flaws and everything in between, to the world.

There are lots of ways to do this including through your work, volunteering, raising a family, being a good neighbor, fixing something that’s broken, helping without being asked, saying a kind word at just the right moment, and so much more!

So be you and share that with others. It’s what the world needs.

#PositiveAction Anything, no matter how small, that puts more love into the world is the best thing you can do in any given moment.

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Have you ever been so excited about your day that you woke up early, with enthusiasm to get started? I remember feeling that way regularly as a kid. It seems the older we get, the more rare those days tend to be. Often it takes something out of the ordinary, like a special holiday, a special trip, or a special occasion for us to feel excited about our day.

Have you ever woken up that way thinking about work?

I shared last week that I believe everyone deserves to find fulfilling work that leverages their strengths and interests.

I also believe that work can be fun and enjoyable and if yours isn’t, it’s time for a change! I help people turn their job into joy because I’ve seen first-hand how our homes, workplaces, and communities are transformed when people love what they do.

It’s pretty simple, really. Miserable people who are grumpy about going to a job they hate have a hard time letting the miserable and grumpy go when they get home at night. Joyful people who are happy about going to a job they love have a hard time keeping the joy from seeping into everything they do.

If you don’t enjoy your work (and 70% of American workers don’t!), I want to encourage you because I’ve been there. It’s hard. Most days are a grind of surviving until Friday when you hopefully get a break. If you’re feeling stuck there right now, give yourself one thing to look forward to in the next week. Just having something small, like talking to a friend or getting a special coffee can make a huge difference when you’re struggling.

In order to find work you do enjoy, you need to believe that it’s possible.

Most of us are more than willing to settle for work that doesn’t excite us. We believe that responsible people go to work so they can pay their bills and provide for their families, without any consideration to purpose, which is a shame since that’s what our souls crave. We long for meaning in our work, doing something that matters and that lights us up inside. But we let another day, week, month pass in the name of being responsible.

I’d argue that the most responsible thing you can do, the thing that will have the greatest impact on your life (and everyone around you), is to instead find work you love.

#PositiveAction Search for one job posting where you would actually be excited to wake up and go to work!

My recommended reading on this topic: The incredible book by David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.

 

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

There are so many things I love about my job. Every day I get to educate and empower people to take positive action to transform their careers. I get to hear fascinating stories of the twists and turns careers take. I get to support and encourage people as they find work they love. It’s awe-inspiring and humbling to be part of my clients’ journeys.

One of the reasons I do what I do is because I believe everyone deserves to find fulfilling work that leverages their strengths and interests. More importantly, I believe that work is out there waiting for you if you haven’t found it yet! Yup. There’s a dream job for everyone (though it definitely changes over time).  

Guess what gets in our way of finding our dream job? We do!

There are two things I see repeatedly in my work with clients that are often a barrier to getting that dream job. It has nothing to do with resume format or LinkedIn profile skills or the usual things you would guess need to be improved.

It starts with strengths. First we need to know what they are, then (and this can be the hard part) we need to love our strengths.

Finding strengths sounds challenging, but it can be as simple as paying attention to the compliments you get or finally noticing what’s been in front of you. The important thing is to lean into those strengths when you discover them.

The harder piece for most people is to appreciate the strengths they find. And not just appreciate them, but to love those strengths because they are what make you authentically you! Even the weird strengths and the boring strengths.

I regularly work with people that don’t see the value in their unique strengths. I help them understand and appreciate how awesome they are so they can communicate that value to others. But it doesn’t happen until they find a way to love their strengths.

When we see the value and appreciate the value, we can share that value with others. If you’re thinking about starting a job search, start with love. Love your strengths and everything else that makes you authentically you. You’ll be amazed at how much better your career story is when you do this!

#PositiveAction What strength have you had the hardest time appreciating? Ask someone else to tell you about a time when your strength helped them.

And as always, I have a book recommendation if you want to dive deeper. I didn’t love it (see what I did there?) but it’s extremely popular and I know it’s been helpful to some.

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Hands in shape of heart

I always share my word of the year (sharing is great for accountability!) but this year I felt more awkward than usual in doing so. It’s a word that we don’t frequently use in the world of work.

My past words of the year felt safer to announce and talk about. Words like grateful, listen, release, enough, abundance.

For 2021, I had originally been thinking about a word like opportunity, since I want to be the type of person that is open and recognizes opportunities in all their many forms. But on reflection, that word felt too small and me-focused. It wasn’t the right word for my year. Then, I changed the question from “Where do I want to go?” to “What is needed most right now?”

As I thought about that question and the year we all just lived through together but apart, only one word came to me.

Love.

Love is what is needed most in my family, my work, and my world right now. It’s not that I don’t need or want opportunity, but I believe I’ll be able to create different and better opportunities through love. And one month in, I’ve already seen and felt a difference this year.

Love changes the way I respond to people. Love changes the way I show up for my clients. Love changes the way I assess what’s going on in the world, but more importantly, love forces me to take action to change what I can’t accept.

This is why I love (see what I did there?) choosing a word of the year! It permeates everything I do, both in ways that I expect and in ways I could never have imagined. Having a word of the year creates an intense focus and a growth that has been transformational for me over the past 6 years. There are many advocates of having a word of the year and you can’t really go wrong. If you’re curious, I started with Jon Gordon’s approach. 

#PositiveAction If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to choose a word of the year. You’ll be amazed at the giant transformation that can happen through one word!

 

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay