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

I was starting to ask myself a lot of hard questions, some of which had never occurred to me to ask before. Chief among them, “What does success look like?” You see, I knew exactly what success looked like in the corporate world. I understood the people, the hierarchy, the roles and assignments, as well as how to navigate those things to continue to move up the corporate ladder. Technically, that’s success. I was successful at work. I did great work and people seemed to like working with me. I knew the answers to the question “What does success look like?” at my corporate job.

However, the question changes dramatically with the addition of two words: for me. When I started to explore the question of “What does success look like for me?” I was initially at a loss for words. I had no idea, no real guesses, apart from some glib answer that people spout off when complaining about the job that’s making them miserable. It was some vague notion of not having to work anymore and laying in a hammock in the shade. Beach optional.

Truth be told, I’d never spent much time thinking about the for me part of the question. It was an unnecessary input. I knew what I needed to do to become successful at work and I set about doing it. As you can imagine, I was grossly underprepared for the shocking realization that defining success for me was actually WAY more important than how any company defined it.

I read every book on purpose and meaning that I could get my hands on. I was desperate to find my calling. The thing I was made for. The one true work for me. And for 20 years, I felt like one of the cast-offs on the Island of Misfit Toys in the Claymation holiday classic.

I didn’t find purpose or meaning, partly because I lacked an understanding of my authentic self. It was disappointing, frustrating, maddening even sometimes. Where was my one job? Where was my calling?

I kept on reading the articles and books that were telling me I could find it in 3 easy steps. But it never materialized for me. I had lots of interests. I had a great set of skills and strengths I could deploy. If only I could find that secret, one thing that had eluded me my entire life.

Finally, I had to call shenanigans and malarkey. This conspiracy has gone on far too long.

I don’t believe there is one job or one type of work for each of us. I know now I could take my strengths and talents and find lots of ways to deploy them meaningfully. I’d found a way to be successful as a telemarketer, a web developer, a waitress, a computer help desk person, a front desk clerk at a hotel, a project manager, a requirements analyst, a technology educator, a product manager, a team lead, a presenter, an IT leader, and plenty of other roles.

And that’s true for every single person on this planet. We can all be successful in myriad ways.

I’ll grant you that some individuals have managed to find work they truly enjoy that gives them meaning and challenge, pay and benefits, autonomy and the like, but according to Gallup surveys, that’s less than 15% of the global population. In an 80/20 world, finding your one true calling would be considered the exception to the rule, NOT the rule.

So, what to do when your purpose is as mysterious as how the flux capacitor makes time travel possible? The best approach is to do some more digging to discover or uncover your authentic self. Once I started to resurface the me that I had lost along the way, a funny thing happened. The best way I can describe it is a lack of resistance. Everything stopped being So. Unbelievably. Hard.

All of a sudden, things were simpler. I was still working hard and committed to quality work, but the obstacles in my path were cleared or were easier to get around than they had been in the past. The resistance I’d felt up to that point wasn’t there.

It was a strange sensation to be sure.

In the past, I’d figured out how to be successful in lots of roles in lots of ways, but never as defined by me. For all my roles, it was a lot of work to assess the people, processes, and systems and the corresponding definition of success for any organization. It was challenging and stretched and grew me in different ways. But it was never satisfying or fulfilling. It felt much more like a check-the-box activity rather than anything remotely enjoyable. It was a path filled with friction.

When I started to move toward the “for me” part of the question “What does success look like?”, the friction dissolved. It didn’t magically make everything easy without any challenges, but it did remove a layer of resistance that I didn’t even realize I’d been bumping up against my entire working life.

Defining success for me helped me move beyond the “one job for every person” fairy tale and into an exciting world of possibilities.

#PositiveAction Examine what success looks like for you in any realm where you haven’t defined it yet. Starting points could be career, exercise, parenting, free time, relationships, making a difference, etc. You’re awesome if you’re hanging out here, so I know you get the idea.

This was an excerpt from my bestselling book, Success Authentically: Unlock Excitement, Purpose, and Joy At Work. Loved it? Grab a copy below. 

 

 

Top image by Fernando Latorre from Pixabay

We got a ping pong table as a family gift for Christmas. So it’s official. Just like all those other fun workplaces with ping pong, we can be innovative now!

Oh wait, the ping pong table doesn’t actually create the innovation. It’s the humans. *Somebody quick tell all those companies that installed the tables!*

And innovate we have! It turns out that no one in my house is inherently good at ping pong (though my spouse is easily the best player here) so we need lots of practice. The balls spend more time bouncing on our unfinished basement floor than on the table. We were spending most of our time chasing them. Until we innovated.

We had a few random pieces of drywall that we were able to lean against some other items to create a ball blockade. They don’t go all the way up like a wall would, but they do keep most of the errant ping pong balls from rolling too far away. In some cases, the bounce off the makeshift wall is enough to get the ping pong ball back in play!

Sidebar: No, I haven’t checked the official ping pong rulebook to know if that’s legal or not!

We didn’t set up the drywall the day we unpacked the table. It took time and experimentation to see what was and wasn’t working for us. That’s usually the way innovation works. It’s not the modern furniture or the gaming tables that create innovation. It’s the humans that have the time and freedom to experiment that are fixing problems, big and small.

One of the most important questions leaders can ask themselves is what they should stop doing so their team has more time. Stressed, overworked employees can’t be innovative, no matter how hard they try.

If you want innovation, create the space for it. Ping pong table optional.

#PositiveAction What’s something that’s been annoying you at work or at home that you could fix today? Take a little time and experiment to see if you can make it better!

Photos by me. The first is a fancy portrait of the paddles. The second is the unfancy but functional ball blockade.

About this time, the crowds on the resolution bandwagon have started to thin. We’ve been looking at how to make resolutions stick. You don’t stand a chance without belief or support. But the odds are against you without the third component: accountability.

I know! Accountability isn’t sexy or cool or even interesting to most people.

Accountability is often the very thing we try to avoid at all costs! But I’m here to tell you friends, that accountability works. It’s the rocket fuel that will take your resolutions to outer space (or wherever it is you want to go)!

Of course, anyone who’s been around the blog for more than a minute knows that I talk a lot about the importance of using your strengths at work. New here? Check out all these strengths posts.

I go blathering on about strengths on the regular because they are a critical component of doing your best work, finding your place in a community, and getting more joy out of work and life. And who doesn’t want those things? Yup. It’s pretty much what everyone is looking for after funny cat videos.

Some people get stuck wondering what their strengths are, so here’s a really simple way to find some of them: think about what people compliment you on.

I told you it was simple!

Those things that people compliment us on tend to be strengths that we don’t notice because it came so easily to us. Those compliments can be about the way we approach our work, our work style, why people like working with us, or how we make life easier/better for someone else.

Sidebar: If you can’t come up with anything, start a list today of compliments you get and track them until you see a pattern.

One of the compliments that I regularly get is that I’m a good accountability partner. I never set out to weave accountability into the fabric of the lives of my family, friends, and co-workers. It just happened. I can’t even fully explain how I do it (another sign of a strength!) other than to say my brain seems to remember when other people tell me something important to them and I follow up to hear about the progress they’re making toward said important thing.

Sometimes when I ask people how their important thing is going they tell me how awesome it is! But more often, they get embarrassed and mumble about how busy they’ve been. And let me be the first to tell you that just because I’m a good accountability partner doesn’t mean that I never get stuck. Excuses are often a lot easier to come by than the simple action we know we need to take. We all need accountability to keep us on track.

#PositiveAction Find someone who will regularly check in with you on your progress toward your important thing.

Resolutions are hard, so I’ve got 2 things to help make yours easier.

  1. My e-book, Change Authentically is on sale this week. It’s exactly the boost of positive action you need to get your resolutions back on track.
  2. This is the final week I’m going to be offering FREE calls so you can make sure you’ve got the belief, support, and accountability to manifest your dreams! Even if you’ve been struggling with taking action on your resolutions, a call with me is painless, easy, and fun. And of course, free!

 

Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay