Career Choices We Make to Be Better Moms

Career Choices We Make to Be Better Moms

When was the first time you consciously said yes or no to a career path or job because you knew you wanted to be a mom?

The first time I distinctly remember making a career choice based on my desire to be a mom was in late 2004 (I was 26). Newly engaged, I started to think about what my life would look like as a mom and a wife.

At the time I had a job I enjoyed working for a boss I loved; however, I knew that to remain happy I needed to continue to move up the ladder. In my current role as Front Office & Guest Services Manager, my destination job was as General Manager of a hotel.

All the GMs that I knew were men, but that hadn’t previously entered into my calculations. I’d started in my first hotel job at 18 and by age 22 I’d already created and managed a Guest Services department of Bellmen and Valets, most of whom were older than me and all of whom were male.

I’d chosen hotel life, because I am a “people first” kind of person; I loved the hands on management of staff, and I loved facilitating an environment in which our guests knew they were important, valued and welcome in “our home.”

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links!

What Makes a Family Friendly WorkPlace?

Not long after I’d put on my engagement ring; I received a call from my Night Auditor. They’d had a fire alarm and some issues closing accounts. At 1 AM I found myself crawling out of bed in the cold of Colorado winter night (thankfully no snow) to head into the hotel and get things sorted out.

By the time we finished up it was 4 AM and I had to be back at 7AM to greet a group of British Tourists, so I stayed a work (a perk of hotels is beds are easy to find). The more time I spent with my fiance and his 9 to 5 job, and suddenly the flexibility and perks of hotel life that I’d loved as a young single, didn’t seem to me like a good job for a mom and wife.

For better or worse, I quit, heading back to school to get a masters degree and with hopes I’d figure out another path. Instead, I faced a good 6 years of indecision followed by several more years of figuring it all out, restarting and stopping several careers, and getting divorced. along the way.

If only I’d known what I know now back then, I probably would have actually been quite happy to stay at the hotel. In this it wasn’t my job that was out of alignment, but my ideas about what family life should look like.

Core Values are Crucial

On one hand, I was smart to listen to my gut, when she told me that certain things were not aligned with my values. On the flipside, what I didn’t know was that many of my values were societal “I shoulds” and not actually my personal core values.

Another mistake I made, is that I thought I had to figure this all out on my own; had I sat down and had an honest chat with my GM (the proud dad of three kids) I might of started to understand my internal conflicts in a different light, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I made big decisions based on what I thought I should be doing, verses on what I valued.

KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS

Not only was I operating on miss-aligned values, I didn’t actually understand why I was good at certain things and why other things were always a push, nor did I understand what I really wanted out of a job, which was flexibility.

Like many “smart” people, I attribute my success to my smarts and hard work, not the subtleties of the different activities.  And, when I got bored at work, I immediately started to lose interest.

I’d been successful in the hotel biz, because my core strengths are strategy, adaptability, and communication. I have high empathy and appreciate a job well done. I am also high on input and learning, which means I need to variety (good in a hotel), and the opportunity to continually learn (hence my rapid movement from PBX operator to management).

What I needed in a job was that ability to continually grow, learn and contribute to strategy, while also honoring my personal needs for healthy living (fitness), and family time. If I’d been honest with my GM about these things, I am sure we could have figured out how to make it work. He was that kind of guy.

Determine Your Clifton Strengths 2.0 (Buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test)

Job Crafting: Understand and Voice Your NEEDs

If you are a woman that is already a mom or has the possibility of someday being a mom on her horizon here are a few things you can do to save yourself a lot of discomfort and indecision.

First, get clear on your values, your strengths, your needs and your interests. Instead of finding a *new* job or career, maybe you can figure out how to craft your current path meet you in the middle.

The first step to doing this clarifying your strengths, and values, so you can articulate where you want to go and what you need — essentially be clear about your hopes for the future.

In my case, looking back, when it comes to working in a hotel, even as the General Manager, the job is terribly flexible and actually a pretty awesome job for a family person (mom or dad). In reality, I likely would have been very happy in the role for a time (or a long-time), but I gave it up because I didn’t actually understand what I wanted or needed.

What do you value? Time? Healthy Food? Being together?

I should-ed all over myself!

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

One of the beauties of life is that for the most part we actually have a lot of discretion to choose what we do and when. Sure, we may say I ‘HAVE’ to get X done by tomorrow, but really we chose to get X done because we value the outcome or the outcome is directly linked to something we value.

That said, often when we get stuck or that dreaded anxiousness or pressure in our chest when we think of something we need to do, it’s often because it’s something that we think we *need* to do to be a good employee, a good friend, a good mom, a good human, but it’s not really something we value.

The question is, do we really value the activity and the outcome?

Perhaps you just said YES to baking 120 cupcakes for the bakesale at your kids school, because you couldn’t say “no” and you think that is what “good” moms do. Now you feel an insane pressure, because you also have a report to do for work, need to take the dog to the vet and who knows what else.

You suddenly spiral into insane evil mom, snapping at her kids, honking at the cars around you and generally feeling like the world is caving in on you. There is so much going on and it’s all out of your control.

What would happen if you stepped back, outside of yourself and looked at this a couple different ways?

OPTIONS

What are your options?

  1. You could call up the school and say you can’t deliver on the cupcakes.
  2. You could go buy 120 cupcakes and save yourself some time.
  3. You could call up your boss, explain that you are excited to bake 120 cupcakes for your kids school, ask for a 24-hour extension and promise to bring cupcakes to the office.
  4. You could call up the vet and see if you can reschedule/drop off the dog earlier or ask a neighbor to help.
  5. You could take a deep breath and say, I love baking (so I said yes), I’ve got my report mostly finished, I only need to do X, Y and Z.
  6. There are probably some other options I didn’t list.

Values

The point is, if you can step back from your situation and identify how your values line up with your life. Go through your day and your life and see where you can replace “I should” with I value” or where you can replace “I have to” with “I choose to.”

I shoulds are what OTHER people value, not you. I HAVE TO is a phrase that removes your personal agency.

If you can happily swap in “I value” or “I choose to” you are on the right track. If you cannot — you’ve just made a super important insight into what in your life may be holding you back. Knowing what you value makes it a heck of a lot easier to say no without guilt and to set your boundaries.

If you want to do more work on values. Deep work on values, I suggest working with a coach or reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. Personally, I’ve benefited from both!

Strengths

Another big part of this puzzle is your strengths.

Many things that people ask us to do or that we think are easy to do, somehow tie back into our natural talents and strengths.

Maybe you always get asked to bake, because people know you love to bake, you enjoy baking, and you are GOOD at it. Maybe it’s EASY for you and you value good, healthy, from scratch cooking.

Maybe you always get asked to write reports, because you write good reports. You understand all the components, you make them easy to read, you structure things correctly, but you hate it.

Maybe you actually despise writing reports, but you value clear communication and a job done well, so you follow directions and you just happen to be a good writer. Maybe it takes you five times as long to write a report as it would for you to write a creative essay.

Maybe you hate the idea of someone else buying store bought cupcakes, but in reality your peace of mind and your ability to focus on the report for work is of more importance. Will the kids really care where the cupcakes came from? Or will they care more about the money the cupcakes raised to do X?

If you understand your strengths, you can start to understand why you excel in certain areas, and how even a strength in one area, can bolster your success in another. Integrate your strengths with your values and you start to see why some things bring you joy and others ulcers.

With my clients I use the Clifton Strengths 2.0. You need to buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test.

Gratitude

Another super powerful trick is to work your gratitude practice into the application of your values and strengths.

→ Maybe you can find more joy in writing a report if you understand that you value clear communication and you see that you can write good reports.

→ Maybe you can say “no” to baking 120 cupcakes and be grateful that someone else said yes, even if their cupcakes won’t be as good as yours.

→ Maybe you can do both and not be stressed, if you recognize that you made a CHOICE that is aligned with your values and your strengths; and that you are super grateful to have work you love and kids to bake cupcakes for….

The Magic of Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of play in the media, because there really is something to the “science of gratitude.” However, genuine gratitude is a real challenge to muster up when we feel we “should be grateful” and yet all we feel is the pressure of the “shoulds” and “have tos.”

Which leads to another distinction — there is a big difference between “being grateful” and “practicing gratitude.” I can sit here all day and say I am “grateful for this and grateful for that.” I am grateful I have food when others don’t, I am grateful I have a new car, I am grateful, I am grateful…

Having and practicing gratitude goes above and beyond the words. It’s a visceral experience in which are hearts are full and we get there by being clear on what we need, what we value, and in stopping to slow down and savor.

Practicing gratitude can look like slowing down as we walk down the front path, enjoying the warmth of sunshine, and the opportunity to take cupcakes to our kid’s school fundraiser. Recognizing that we made a choice and that we love contributing to something good.

Practicing gratitude can also be as simple as stopping to smile, say hello, holding open the door for someone carrying a plate of cupcakes. In this moment you can be grateful that you had an opportunity to for a moment, ease someone else’s path with a smile and a kind gesture.

My passion is helping moms to say ‘Goodbye” to stress and “Hello” to a more fullfilling life!

Three Good Things

Before I go to bed at night, I personally really love the practice of gratitude that asks me to think of three good things that I contributed to during the day. These “things” can be big or tiny, the key is that I think of how I participated in the good.

Maybe I helped my daughter draw shoes on her princess. Maybe I thank the technician for a job well-done. Maybe I took some time for myself to enjoy my coffee in the sun or to do a yoga class.

My two favorite side-effects of doing gratitude this way is that by thinking about how I contributed to what I am grateful for, is that it really sticks with me and gives vibe of positivity before bed. What’s more, when I wake up in the morning and I start to think about my day, one of the first things that pops into my mind, is the good from yesterday.

It’s like the magic elixir I need to start my day off with a smile!

The Original Book on Three Good Things and why it works.

What does this have to do with CHOICES we Make to BE Moms?

EVERYTHING!

Think about where you are today and where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. What are you currently doing that is lined up with your values? What might you want to change? What might you want to keep the same?

Where do you feel stuck because of a miss-alignment of values and or strengths? Where do you have alignment that could benefit from the practice of gratitude?

How could you craft the job you have today, to better match the life you choose to live as a mother?

How can you use this new self knowledge, to find deeper meaning and a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your life today?

What Next

Now, if you discover that in spite of clarifying your values, and your strengths, that even when you practice gratitude, your particular job or line of work, remains out of alignment?

Another great survey is the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If you find you *know* what you should be doing, but you have trouble taking action, understanding your tendencies may help you to complete the picture.

I am a “Obliger.” What are you?

Values, strengths, needs, gratitude, tendencies. Wow that is a lot. But what it makes is a foundation.

A solid foundation to explore what you want to build.

If you are not happy at work, you’ve got a good foundation to talk to your boss (even if that is YOU) about what you need in a job to be happy and about where you would like to go. Ideally, you can come into this meeting with a few constructive ideas to change your current work to better match your needs.

If you are happy with work, but want to be more intentional about your future, you again have built a solid foundation to set your vision.  

Maybe you read this piece not really knowing where you are or what is out of sync in your life. If that’s the case, maybe knowing your values and strengths has reminded you of a dream that you’d set aside, or decided wasn’t for you. Maybe now you want to bring this dream back to life or create a new one for the future.

Whatever you want to do, the underlying message in this piece is that it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for YOU as a mom to craft a job and a life that fits what you need and value. Once you’ve got your solid foundation laid, you can explore building whatever you want in this life!

Reality for Mothers in our World Today

As women we do live, as they say, in the best of times and the worst of times. Doors and opportunities continue to open to us and to our daughters that couldn’t be enjoyed by previous generations. At the same time, we deal with new stresses, new pressures, feelings of isolation and the belief that we have to do it all and do it alone.

The truth is that no one has to do it alone and all humans belong. And that in sharing our challenges, we can find a sense of relief and sisterhood.

If you can honor your strengths and values, if you can be vulnerable enough to share your dreams and your challenges, you open the door for another woman to do the same, and in it all we can share our burdens and build a new future that honors our values and respects our choices as women and as mothers.

As a career coach, I lean on the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, to help my clients flourish. What’s more, I know that each woman that I help, takes her joy and flourishing out into her community, creating that beautiful butterfly effect that truly has the power to change the world.

So ladies, whether you chose to be a mom or not, do what you value, know your strengths, and understand your choices.

Be powerful.

When was the first time you consciously said yes or no to a career path or job because you knew you wanted to be a mom?

The first time I distinctly remember making a career choice based on my desire to be a mom was in late 2004 (I was 26). Newly engaged, I started to think about what my life would look like as a mom and a wife.

At the time I had a job I enjoyed working for a boss I loved; however, I knew that to remain happy I needed to continue to move up the ladder. In my current role as Front Office & Guest Services Manager, my destination job was as General Manager of a hotel.

All the GMs that I knew were men, but that hadn’t previously entered into my calculations. I’d started in my first hotel job at 18 and by age 22 I’d already created and managed a Guest Services department of Bellmen and Valets, most of whom were older than me and all of whom were male.

I’d chosen hotel life, because I am a “people first” kind of person; I loved the hands on management of staff, and I loved facilitating an environment in which our guests knew they were important, valued and welcome in “our home.”

What Makes a Family Friendly WorkPlace?

Not long after I’d put on my engagement ring; I received a call from my Night Auditor. They’d had a fire alarm and some issues closing accounts. At 1 AM I found myself crawling out of bed in the cold of Colorado winter night (thankfully no snow) to head into the hotel and get things sorted out.

By the time we finished up it was 4 AM and I had to be back at 7AM to greet a group of British Tourists, so I stayed a work (a perk of hotels is beds are easy to find). The more time I spent with my fiance and his 9 to 5 job, and suddenly the flexibility and perks of hotel life that I’d loved as a young single, didn’t seem to me like a good job for a mom and wife.

For better or worse, I quit, heading back to school to get a masters degree and with hopes I’d figure out another path. Instead, I faced a good 6 years of indecision followed by several more years of figuring it all out, restarting and stopping several careers, and getting divorced. along the way.

If only I’d known what I know now back then, I probably would have actually been quite happy to stay at the hotel. In this it wasn’t my job that was out of alignment, but my ideas about what family life should look like.

Core Values are Crucial

On one hand, I was smart to listen to my gut, when she told me that certain things were not aligned with my values. On the flipside, what I didn’t know was that many of my values were societal “I shoulds” and not actually my personal core values.

Another mistake I made, is that I thought I had to figure this all out on my own; had I sat down and had an honest chat with my GM (the proud dad of three kids) I might of started to understand my internal conflicts in a different light, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I made big decisions based on what I thought I should be doing, verses on what I valued.

KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS

Not only was I operating on miss-aligned values, I didn’t actually understand why I was good at certain things and why other things were always a push, nor did I understand what I really wanted out of a job, which was flexibility.

Like many “smart” people, I attribute my success to my smarts and hard work, not the subtleties of the different activities.  And, when I got bored at work, I immediately started to lose interest.

I’d been successful in the hotel biz, because my core strengths are strategy, adaptability, and communication. I have high empathy and appreciate a job well done. I am also high on input and learning, which means I need to variety (good in a hotel), and the opportunity to continually learn (hence my rapid movement from PBX operator to management).

What I needed in a job was that ability to continually grow, learn and contribute to strategy, while also honoring my personal needs for healthy living (fitness), and family time. If I’d been honest with my GM about these things, I am sure we could have figured out how to make it work. He was that kind of guy.

Determine Your Clifton Strengths 2.0 (Buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test)

Job Crafting: Understand and Voice Your NEEDs

If you are a woman that is already a mom or has the possibility of someday being a mom on her horizon here are a few things you can do to save yourself a lot of discomfort and indecision.

First, get clear on your values, your strengths, your needs and your interests. Instead of finding a *new* job or career, maybe you can figure out how to craft your current path meet you in the middle.

The first step to doing this clarifying your strengths, and values, so you can articulate where you want to go and what you need — essentially be clear about your hopes for the future.

In my case, looking back, when it comes to working in a hotel, even as the General Manager, the job is terribly flexible and actually a pretty awesome job for a family person (mom or dad). In reality, I likely would have been very happy in the role for a time (or a long-time), but I gave it up because I didn’t actually understand what I wanted or needed.

I should-ed all over myself!

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

One of the beauties of life is that for the most part we actually have a lot of discretion to choose what we do and when. Sure, we may say I ‘HAVE’ to get X done by tomorrow, but really we chose to get X done because we value the outcome or the outcome is directly linked to something we value.

That said, often when we get stuck or that dreaded anxiousness or pressure in our chest when we think of something we need to do, it’s often because it’s something that we think we *need* to do to be a good employee, a good friend, a good mom, a good human, but it’s not really something we value.

The question is, do we really value the activity and the outcome?

Perhaps you just said YES to baking 120 cupcakes for the bakesale at your kids school, because you couldn’t say “no” and you think that is what “good” moms do. Now you feel an insane pressure, because you also have a report to do for work, need to take the dog to the vet and who knows what else.

You suddenly spiral into insane evil mom, snapping at her kids, honking at the cars around you and generally feeling like the world is caving in on you. There is so much going on and it’s all out of your control.

What would happen if you stepped back, outside of yourself and looked at this a couple different ways?

OPTIONS

What are your options?

  1. You could call up the school and say you can’t deliver on the cupcakes.
  2. You could go buy 120 cupcakes and save yourself some time.
  3. You could call up your boss, explain that you are excited to bake 120 cupcakes for your kids school, ask for a 24-hour extension and promise to bring cupcakes to the office.
  4. You could call up the vet and see if you can reschedule/drop off the dog earlier or ask a neighbor to help.
  5. You could take a deep breath and say, I love baking (so I said yes), I’ve got my report mostly finished, I only need to do X, Y and Z.
  6. There are probably some other options I didn’t list.

Values

The point is, if you can step back from your situation and identify how your values line up with your life. Go through your day and your life and see where you can replace “I should” with I value” or where you can replace “I have to” with “I choose to.”

I shoulds are what OTHER people value, not you. I HAVE TO is a phrase that removes your personal agency.

If you can happily swap in “I value” or “I choose to” you are on the right track. If you cannot — you’ve just made a super important insight into what in your life may be holding you back. Knowing what you value makes it a heck of a lot easier to say no without guilt and to set your boundaries.

If you want to do more work on values. Deep work on values, I suggest working with a coach or reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. Personally, I’ve benefited from both!

Strengths

Another big part of this puzzle is your strengths.

Many things that people ask us to do or that we think are easy to do, somehow tie back into our natural talents and strengths.

Maybe you always get asked to bake, because people know you love to bake, you enjoy baking, and you are GOOD at it. Maybe it’s EASY for you and you value good, healthy, from scratch cooking.

Maybe you always get asked to write reports, because you write good reports. You understand all the components, you make them easy to read, you structure things correctly, but you hate it.

Maybe you actually despise writing reports, but you value clear communication and a job done well, so you follow directions and you just happen to be a good writer. Maybe it takes you five times as long to write a report as it would for you to write a creative essay.

Maybe you hate the idea of someone else buying store bought cupcakes, but in reality your peace of mind and your ability to focus on the report for work is of more importance. Will the kids really care where the cupcakes came from? Or will they care more about the money the cupcakes raised to do X?

If you understand your strengths, you can start to understand why you excel in certain areas, and how even a strength in one area, can bolster your success in another. Integrate your strengths with your values and you start to see why some things bring you joy and others ulcers.

With my clients I use the Clifton Strengths 2.0. You need to buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test.

Gratitude

Another super powerful trick is to work your gratitude practice into the application of your values and strengths.

→ Maybe you can find more joy in writing a report if you understand that you value clear communication and you see that you can write good reports.

→ Maybe you can say “no” to baking 120 cupcakes and be grateful that someone else said yes, even if their cupcakes won’t be as good as yours.

→ Maybe you can do both and not be stressed, if you recognize that you made a CHOICE that is aligned with your values and your strengths; and that you are super grateful to have work you love and kids to bake cupcakes for….

The Magic of Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of play in the media, because there really is something to the “science of gratitude.” However, genuine gratitude is a real challenge to muster up when we feel we “should be grateful” and yet all we feel is the pressure of the “shoulds” and “have tos.”

Which leads to another distinction — there is a big difference between “being grateful” and “practicing gratitude.” I can sit here all day and say I am “grateful for this and grateful for that.” I am grateful I have food when others don’t, I am grateful I have a new car, I am grateful, I am grateful…

Having and practicing gratitude goes above and beyond the words. It’s a visceral experience in which are hearts are full and we get there by being clear on what we need, what we value, and in stopping to slow down and savor.

Practicing gratitude can look like slowing down as we walk down the front path, enjoying the warmth of sunshine, and the opportunity to take cupcakes to our kid’s school fundraiser. Recognizing that we made a choice and that we love contributing to something good.

Practicing gratitude can also be as simple as stopping to smile, say hello, holding open the door for someone carrying a plate of cupcakes. In this moment you can be grateful that you had an opportunity to for a moment, ease someone else’s path with a smile and a kind gesture.

Three Good Things

Before I go to bed at night, I personally really love the practice of gratitude that asks me to think of three good things that I contributed to during the day. These “things” can be big or tiny, the key is that I think of how I participated in the good.

Maybe I helped my daughter draw shoes on her princess. Maybe I thank the technician for a job well-done. Maybe I took some time for myself to enjoy my coffee in the sun or to do a yoga class.

My two favorite side-effects of doing gratitude this way is that by thinking about how I contributed to what I am grateful for, is that it really sticks with me and gives vibe of positivity before bed. What’s more, when I wake up in the morning and I start to think about my day, one of the first things that pops into my mind, is the good from yesterday.

It’s like the magic elixir I need to start my day off with a smile!

The Original Book on Three Good Things and why it works.

What does this have to do with CHOICES we Make to BE Moms?

EVERYTHING!

Think about where you are today and where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. What are you currently doing that is lined up with your values? What might you want to change? What might you want to keep the same?

Where do you feel stuck because of a miss-alignment of values and or strengths? Where do you have alignment that could benefit from the practice of gratitude?

How could you craft the job you have today, to better match the life you choose to live as a mother?

How can you use this new self knowledge, to find deeper meaning and a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your life today?

What Next

Now, if you discover that in spite of clarifying your values, and your strengths, that even when you practice gratitude, your particular job or line of work, remains out of alignment?

Another great survey is the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If you find you *know* what you should be doing, but you have trouble taking action, understanding your tendencies may help you to complete the picture.

I am a “Obliger.” What are you?

Values, strengths, needs, gratitude, tendencies. Wow that is a lot. But what it makes is a foundation.

A solid foundation to explore what you want to build.

If you are not happy at work, you’ve got a good foundation to talk to your boss (even if that is YOU) about what you need in a job to be happy and about where you would like to go. Ideally, you can come into this meeting with a few constructive ideas to change your current work to better match your needs.

If you are happy with work, but want to be more intentional about your future, you again have built a solid foundation to set your vision.  

Maybe you read this piece not really knowing where you are or what is out of sync in your life. If that’s the case, maybe knowing your values and strengths has reminded you of a dream that you’d set aside, or decided wasn’t for you. Maybe now you want to bring this dream back to life or create a new one for the future.

Whatever you want to do, the underlying message in this piece is that it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for YOU as a mom to craft a job and a life that fits what you need and value. Once you’ve got your solid foundation laid, you can explore building whatever you want in this life!

Reality for Mothers in our World Today

As women we do live, as they say, in the best of times and the worst of times. Doors and opportunities continue to open to us and to our daughters that couldn’t be enjoyed by previous generations. At the same time, we deal with new stresses, new pressures, feelings of isolation and the belief that we have to do it all and do it alone.

The truth is that no one has to do it alone and all humans belong. And that in sharing our challenges, we can find a sense of relief and sisterhood.

If you can honor your strengths and values, if you can be vulnerable enough to share your dreams and your challenges, you open the door for another woman to do the same, and in it all we can share our burdens and build a new future that honors our values and respects our choices as women and as mothers.

As a career coach, I lean on the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, to help my clients flourish. What’s more, I know that each woman that I help, takes her joy and flourishing out into her community, creating that beautiful butterfly effect that truly has the power to change the world.

So ladies, whether you chose to be a mom or not, do what you value, know your strengths, and understand your choices.

Be powerful.

Be you.


Be you.

How to Write a Resume like a Professional

How to Write a Resume like a Professional

This article is a recipe for how to reach your ideal job goal in the shortest amount of time.

In this article we will cover:

  • What Goes in a Resume
  • Job Targeting
  • Performance Profiles
  • Writing to Bots
  • Formatting
  • Do I really *need* a resume?
  • Career Coaches & Resume Writers
  • Templates

What Goes in a Resume

You may be an expert in your field, newly graduated, full of amazing ideas or the top sales professional on your team, you know how to get your job done, but you still don’t know what to put in your resume.

If this is you — you are not alone. I get messages all the time: “Help me! I don’t know what to put in my resume! What should I write in my resume? How do I highlight my achievements? What should I put for my skills? What? What? What?

If you find yourself, panicked, and at a loss the first thing you might do is to write down a few lists:

List 1: Your Values — what do you value and how does this show up in your work? Are you timely? A stickler for details? Do you think out of the box? Do you listen deeply? What do you VALUE?

To learn more about your values do this exercise on Core Values.

In the tool box look Core Values & Via Character Survey

List 2: Your Strengths — what do you really rock? What do you do really well? What kinds of problems do people come to you with? What can you do that is easy for you and hard for other people? What are your STRENGTHS?

To learn more about your Strengths take the Strengths Finder 2.0

Amazon affiliate link: make sure to buy a new book/kindle for online test code.

List 3: Your Interests — what do you enjoy? What are you doing when you find that perfect mix of challenge and pleasure? What activities let you get caught in a state of flow? What kind of problems do you love to research, solve or explore? What are your INTERESTS?

List 4: Your Needs — these might be financial (your salary and benefits), they might be your work environment (office, flexible, remote, requires travel, etc.), they might be intellectual or physical. What do you NEED from your job?

Not sure about your needs? Do this Wheel of Life Exercise.

Now find 3 to 5 ideal job postings on the Internet, go ahead and print them off and highlight all the skills, experiences, qualifications, tasks, job requirements and benefits that show up in the job descriptions. Circle the ones that also show up on one of your lists above.

Sketch out Your Resume

Your resume will have approximately 5 different sections:

  • Performance Profile
  • Key Skills & Experiences/Key Accomplishments
  • Work Experience
  • Education/Certifications
  • Technologies/Interests/Coursework

Your Performance Profile (see below) will match your values, strengths, unique skills, achievements and needs/interests to that of the employer.

Your Key Skills & Experiences functions to confirm for the employer that you can do all the required tasks have the necessary knowledge, the soft skills, the hard skills, the language skills or the technologies to get the job done.

Your Work Experience will demonstrate what you enjoy, what you have done, where you’ve learned or accomplished something crucial; and how this has played out in your previous and current employment.

If you’ve only got volunteer work or school projects, go ahead and list those instead, figure out what ties into your job search and highlight those details. Name the section “Relevant Experience” instead of “Work Experience.”

Your Education/Certifications shows that you’ve got the technical requirements for the job. Often the “education” requirement can be replaced by “equivalent work experience.” Legal Certifications tend to be less flexible (licenses, etcetera), but you may get away with showing you are studying/preparing to get them by X date.

Recent graduates list education right after the performance profile, experienced employees list it at the end of the resume.

Technologies and Interests: some resumes list hobbies and interests, or additional technologies, which is technically a waste of space UNLESS your hobbies and interests, or technologies relate directly back to the job you seek.

A clever way to use this section is to incorporate technologies or subject matter areas listed in a job description that you are still earning or to show the breadth of your experience, but which you do not feel comfortable listing under your “key skills and experiences.”

Relevant

When deciding which accomplishment stories, which metrics, which achievements, which skills and experiences to include on your resume, ask yourself: Is this relevant to the job I seek? Is this something that is required? Is this something that I enjoy doing and want to do more of? If the answer is yes, work it into your resume.

Just because you CAN or DID do something doesn’t mean it is relevant or wise to include it on your resume. Think of what an employer NEEDs to know to hire you: What kind of person do they need? What skills? What personality strengths? Make sure you answer these questions and don’t worry about leaving out details that are irrelevant.

Job Targeting

How to write a resume based on the job description:

Many job seekers want to cry when they learn that you most likely will not get hired by submitting the same resume to every job application.

Unfortunately, when 200+ resumes often get submitted to many job postings, the best way to ensure your resume gets pulled is not only to write a killer resume but then to also tailor it to each and every individual job description.

There are a few short-cuts that you can take to make this process easier and less painful.

Tip #1:

The first time you write your resume, write it so that it targets your top three job postings. This will help to ensure that you get the most important requirements, skills, and experiences in your resume and that it is well formatted for the work you seek. And you can use it to apply to each of these three jobs.

Tip #2:

Use my favorite resume scanning tool CVScan to re-match your resume to each job description. Your goal is to have a minimum 80% match; when I write resumes for clients I aim for greater than a 90% match.

When using CVScan take and copy both your current resume and the new job listing into the online application. Make note of the words and phrases CVScan highlights as red; when you update your resume to match the new job description, make sure to get these words into the first half of your resume. Rescan.

Tip #3:

When applying for jobs, write the job title EXACTLY as named in the job posting on the top of your resume above your performance profile. This will assure the bot and the hiring human that you actually want the job for which you’ve just submitted an application.

Note the difference in these titles:

PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Business Analyst

PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Business Process Analyst

PERFORMANCE PROFILE: IS Business Analyst/Relationship Manager

PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Test Analyst

Let’s say you submit an application for the Relationship Manager position above with a resume titled “Test Analyst,” maybe the skills required for these jobs are similar, but quality assurance tests are different from customer relationships and the hiring manager will immediately doubt your fit.

Take 30 seconds to update your resume and make sure the correct job title is on the resume header.

Tip #4

The first thing that often happens once you start applying to multiple jobs and customizing your resume to each one, is that you quickly lose track of which resume went where. This can result in an embarrassing conversation down the road.

To avoid this do two things: Save each resume using your Last Name or Initials plus the company name and the date you applied.

For example: Rakoto.HR Costco.15.04.2019

And then use a spreadsheet that tracks each job, resume title, date applied and any notes. Here is a link to an excellent online job tracking spreadsheet (no need to reinvent the wheel).

Performance Profiles

If you are looking to learn how to write a resume objective or how to write a resume professional summary, I recommend that you start thinking instead about your “performance profile.” Who are you as a professional and what do you offer an employer?

Your Performance Profile is easily the most important part of your resume. Your performance profile is a proactive and future-forward replacement of the “objective” and sometimes called a “professional” or “power” summary section.

Your “performance profile” tells an employer what you can do, it speaks to your values and your strengths, it aligns your goals with that of your employer and ties your past achievements into your future accomplishments. It shows how you will perform on the job.

Every kickass resume starts with a performance profile. Every. Single. One.

The performance profile is built upon a solid professional narrative. It is versatile, you can use it for your LinkedIn summary, as an elevator pitch and when you are networking! Write it once, but then modify the language slightly to match the keywords and phrases that show up in each individual job posting.

Your performance profile should be uniquely yours. It should not sound like a job description; you can even write it in the first person. Resumes that incorporate the first person are what we call “human-voiced resumes” and when done well they are highly effective.

If you are new to the “human-voiced resume” consider writing your performance profile in first person and the remainder of your resume in the third person.

Some recruiters advise against human voiced resumes and prefer robotic sounding text; my take on this is that if the recruiter wants to hire a robot, he should employ a robot; if he wants to hire a human, hire a human! I’ve used human-voiced resumes with clients since 2014 and since 2004 for myself!

Digital Marketing Executive Sample

With a growing passion for mission-driven technologies; I continue to value data inspired, and human-driven product design. In this, I anticipate working with a diverse set of high-level thinkers to collaborate and creatively solve business and user problems. Leveraging my experience to guide teams to generate brilliant and disruptive digital experiences around an organization’s core mission — the end goal — facilitating brands’ seamless and positive integration into people’s lives.

Software Developer Sample

Personable Senior Developer with twenty plus years of progressive experience, I delight in stuff that works. Committed to continuous professional development and learning: the pleasure is in doing the work, and in seeing the results. I enjoy collaborating with end users and maintaining open lines of communication with all stakeholders. Adept with requirements, solutions, coding, and communicating meaningful results, I am particularly enjoy testing and quality assurance.

Customer Relationship & Sales Manager

As a charismatic and results-oriented sales professional, I delight in solving customer problems with the best product or service. An early adopter of anything tech,  I am on top of current trends and I anticipate continuing to deepen my knowledge. I understand the importance of listening skills and customer empathy in finding innovative solutions. I look forward to contributing to a positive team atmosphere.

How to write a resume that will impress a bot

This isn’t actually a joke. Nearly all resumes get scanned by ATS (Automatic Tracking Software) before going to an actual human being. You need to write a resume that impresses both the bot and the human.

One of the most important reasons NOT to use a cutesy or unique or stylish or trendy resume template is that many of these templates are NOT bot-friendly. For the same reason, avoid using your mad design skills to create image boxes and fixed tables or include another image on your resume.

These things cannot be read by the BOT!

To write a bot-friendly resume you should do the following:

  • Create your resume in a format that allows all of your text to be read in the order of appearance on your page and in a single cohesive text box; for this reason avoid putting your name and contact info in a Header, instead create your first-page header in the body of your document. Multiple text boxes on a single page can result in gibberish and missed text when scanned.
  • Print off or copy the text of 3 to 5 job listings; now highlight the keywords and phrases used in each description and make sure to use these in your resume. Your jargon should match the jargon the bot is scanning for! This is a crucial reason you need to modify your resume for EACH job.
  • The keywords, activities, and requirements listed in a specific job description should appear in the first half the resume. If you want to create interest with synonyms and other technical terms, do so in the second half of your resume. Bots weight the first part of your resume.
  • If specific certificates or educational requirements are a must in the job description, make sure you list your education using the same language in the job description.

If you don’t believe me or someone has told you otherwise (so many resume writers are PIMPING Canva resumes), here is another article that discusses how ATS software reads (or doesn’t read) your resume. If you want to get hired you gotta pay attention to these details!

How to format a resume and get noticed

Writing a resume is hard. It sucks to dive in and dig deep, recalling all the things in our past and figuring out what is the most important or crucial items to list on our resume.

Our biggest fear is that we will come across sounding boring, robotic and just not-good-enough. Selecting a sexy resume template seems like an easy and clever fix to the resume doldrums, but I assure it is NOT.

Writing a resume is uncomfortable, so it’s really easy to lost searching out the perfect format. All the online templates created by apps like CANVA make it easy to put too much emphasis on the formatting and forget that it’s the content that really counts.

Yes, your resume needs to be readable and easy on the eyes, but unless you work in graphic design, you are not being hired for your design skills, the content of your resume is more important than a sexy template. And, as we discussed in the previous section you need to address the BOT!

To get hired, spend most of your time working to ensure the content of your resume is relevant, interesting, and that it tells a positive story about what you can do. Use your words and your experiences to stand out, not some fancy type and trendy color combos.

Your resume should look good, but it is the story it tells that people will remember and that will get you hired.

If you’ve got 6 hours, put 3 of them into writing your Performance Profile, 2 into writing the resume content and 1 into making sure the format looks good and that the grammar is correct.

Design DOES Matter: Top Formatting Mistakes to Avoid

That said, the design does matter. For this reason, I’ve shared a few simple, clean templates that you can download and use or modify.

The easiest to make mistakes involve fonts, colors, spacing, borders and the use of image boxes, some tables, and columns (often used with skill ranking systems).

Let’s look at these in detail.

Type Font and Font Color:

If you use an application to create your resume, choose common fonts, such as Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman or Helvetica. These fonts are common because they can be read by all types and ages of computer systems.

Article on type fonts: If you don’t believe me, go to MIT for proof!

You and your hiring manager will likely NOT be using the same type of computer or software; so, to make sure your resume can be read use a common type font and save your resume as a PDF.

When you select your font color (and your backgrounds) take time to think about what it will look like printed in Greyscale. You might format your resume to be bright and cheery, but trust me, a recruiter who prints off 100s of resumes a day won’t be investing in using her color ink to print YOUR resume.

If you want to add variety to your resume, you can use shades of blue or grey fonts that won’t change a lot on different systems. Beware of greens and red or orange as what looks pretty on your screen might look like puke or poop on another. Trust me, I’ve seen it!

Lastly, make sure your resume still looks good and is readable if printed in black and white!

Spacing & Borders

Resumes need to be readable and spacing issues can be awkward. Keep your borders reasonable (don’t go under ¾ inches (0.75) or 1.5 cm on the sides or ½ inch (0.5) or 0.5 cm on the top and bottom.

Double check that line spacing, period spacing (one), page pagination, and all that jazz is consistent and looks good. If you use block formatting make sure that awkward spaces don’t appear in your blocks.

If your resume goes onto two or three pages (for those of you in very technical fields or with 15+ years of experience) make sure your name and the page number are in the header of the additional pages.

Borders

In general, avoid using a border on your resume; different systems produce different results and it might be that your border gets off centered or moves over your header text or drops onto an additional unnecessary page.

Image Boxes, Tables & Columns

Image boxes cannot be read by ATS systems period. Don’t use any part of your resume from your name to any details in an image box or logo. The information will be lost.

Tables:

If you use MSWord, GoogleDocs or Pages to create a hidden table to list skills this is a good way to get extra content in your resume. Do this.

If you use a design template like Canva to create a table it is HIGHLY likely that all or part of your table may be missed by ATS software. Don’t do it!

Hitting Save As > PDF.

As with everything the best way to ensure your PDF lands in the format that you sent it in, is to save it as a PDF. All current versions of Word, Pages and GoogleDocs Allo

Resumes & Linkedin: Are Resumes Still Important?

With the advent of online portfolios, LinkedIn and other forms of social proof, sometimes a resume may seem like overkill; however, resumes ARE not DEAD.

Regardless of the sad number of dead trees involved, if I’ve got to compare 20 or 200 hundred candidates and share them with my colleagues, it’s a heck of a lot easier to share a stack of printed resumes than 200 links, which may all have different amounts of information and load time.

Write a resume that stands out and have it at the ready, ready to share if someone asks for it in both print and PDF form. And then have another version in Word, GoogleDocs or Pages that you can quickly modify to fit a particular job posting.

Luck comes from preparation, if you are not prepared, you’ll never be lucky!

Career Coaches & Resume Writers: Are they worth it?

The number one reason you might hire a resume writer and or career coach is to reach your goal in the shortest amount of time.

The second reason you might hire a resume writer and or career coach is to find work that meets not your minimum requirements but your ideal wish list.

And the BEST reason to hire a career coach and resume writer is to learn the skills and self-knowledge that will ensure you are on the right path for long-term career satisfaction and success.

Resume writing and job search skills are life-skills, the earlier you learn them, the better off you will be!

How to Pick a Career Coach or Resume Writer

First, I’d check out their LinkedIn profile and recommendations. Just because someone has a website and even testimonials doesn’t make them legit. In this day and age, it’s difficult to “hoax” your LinkedIn.

If your ideal coach or resume writer has nailed her LinkedIn, she can likely help you too. If she’s got reviews (and recent ones) that is also a good sign.

Referrals are another great way to find good writers and coaches, so if you’ve got friends that have just found new jobs, inquire if they got any help!

Writing a good resume takes time and thought. Any service that offers you a 24-hour resume return and for CHEAP is likely just going to play with your formatting and keywords. There is no way that anyone can get to know you and write an effective resume in that amount of time.

Career Coaching also takes time, so anyone promising you a quick fix, may not know what he or she is doing. Take the time and invest in your future. $200 or $500 spent today, is nothing when you consider how much it may increase your future income.

I recently coached a young man expat for an interview with an American company. One of the subjects I coached him on was salary; thanks to my coaching he got more than double the salary he’d been thinking of asking for…which means my hourly fee of $125 had about a 320x return!

Can I buy a book instead?

If you want to BUY a book instead of hiring a professional the only book that I can recommend is Knock’em Dead Resumes (Amazon affiliate link). The best thing about this book is that he walks you through a detailed process of questioning and identification, very similar to what I do with my clients.

If you put the time into this book and do as the author says, you’ll get a good resume. If you find yourself or you don’t have the patience to follow all his steps, you might be better off hiring help!

What about Templates?

Yes, I get that you want to take the guessing out of formatting your resume. A top resume search term is “Fast & Reliable Templates,” but the trick is that there is no simple formula.

Many resume templates are super attractive, but for the most part, they are difficult to manipulate and customize for specific jobs and many, such as templates created in CANVA often cannot be read by ATS bots.

If you REALLY want a pretty resume, then do a traditional resume for submitting to jobs online and a general “pretty” one to print off and keep on hand for in-person networking.

You can also use a pretty PDF template if you know for certain that your resume is going directly into a hiring manager’s inbox. Just remember to respect the font and color recommendations I discussed above.

Two Templates Just for YOU

Basic One Page Chronological Resume — modify as you see fit!

Functional Resume for a Career Pivot or to hide a GAP — modify as you see fit!

BONUS

Some Tips for Specific Concerns:

  • How to write a resume as a freelancer: write a resume that supports targeting your ideal client and that highlights the skills you wish to focus on; if you’ve pivoted fields, make sure you’ve got a narrative that backs you up.
  • How to write a resume as a consultant: this will vary depending on your field, but focus on keeping it relevant and using accomplishment stories. Don’t just use action verbs or power words; show people what you do and what you are like to work with.
  • How to write a resume as a stay at home mom: Focus on your strengths and values; don’t discredit volunteer work, describe what you’ve done, learned, managed (going above and beyond titles) over the last few years. Use the language that shows up in job descriptions and show both your drive, your motivation and your understanding of what needs to get done. Your performance profile is your ticket to success — create an image of the professional you can be before they read the rest of the resume!
  • How to write a resume before graduation (and after): Make sure you align your values with those of your ideal employer. Instead of talking about “my goals” or what “I hope to get” show how your goals, skills, drive, ambition will allow you do succeed in a role and solve the employer’s problem — honor your goals but write to the employer’s.

In Conclusion

Your resume is one of the most important investments you can make in your future. You may feel uncomfortable and even annoyed that you’ve got to dig deep and do a good job, but if you want a job you love, you need to put some love into your resume!

Shortcuts and quick fixes, too much of a focus on design and not enough focus on your content will just send you barking up the wrong tree or getting ZERO call backs. Be intentional and thoughtful with your design, making sure that your resume is READABLE by all!

Ready to Learn How to Make Your Own Luck?

Ready to Learn How to Make Your Own Luck?

And, How to Avoid Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Career while you’re at it?

In my experience, women, including myself, often feel like we need a Ph.D. before we can call ourselves an expert. Pretty much every woman I know has at some point (or daily) suffered from feeling like an imposter.

Many young women that want to have both a career and a family, have started putting off the “family” part until their career is “ready.” And or they make vital decisions early on in their career because they see that on a certain path they may never be “ready” to be a mom.

I hear women young and old say “I am not ready yet.” Or, “I need to do this first.”

And although right now, you may think this next statement is off topic, I’ve also noticed that very few women go around saying “Look how lucky I am!”

What women do, is just about any and everything we can do to gain control over our lives because we don’t believe in luck.

But maybe we should. Maybe we SHOULD believe in luck.

Let’s break this down.

What does it mean to be “ready?” Or be “lucky?”

In my experience as a career coach, you are “ready” not when you’ve amassed a particular pile of qualifications, earned your Ph.D. or achieved a certain balance in your bank account.

Being ready is, in fact, a state of BEING.

Note that we talk about being ready, not doing ready. You don’t have to DO a bunch of stuff to be ready or make your own luck. On the flipside not doing is a fast track to making the BIGGEST MISTAKE (and sometimes consecutive mistakes) of your career.

Similarly, we don’t do luck, we don’t be lucky, instead we make luck.

Yes, that is terrible English, but stick with me!

How do you BE ready? And, what MAKES luck?

First, you need to commit to something and you need to know yourself.

As a woman of the 21st century, you are likely aware of how advertising and images affect our images of beauty and idealize what it means to be successful (bling, shiny smooth hair, nice cars, etcetera).

Pretty much everything my 4-year-old daughter already idealizes are all the things that have infiltrated our brains and made us think that we should be anything but whom we actually are.

While you may be sensitive to the influence of the media on women’s physical appearance, you may not be aware of is how much of your personal values and your ideas of personal success have also been influenced by the media. What’s more, it’s not only you the media influence, but also your family, your friends, and society as a whole. Oh, and also by the entire movement of “influencers.”

Then add in the biases embedded in your chosen field of study or work and WOW that is a lot of noise telling us as women not only how we should look and act, but also what we should VALUE.

So, one of the first steps to understanding yourself, being ready and defining your own idea of success, is to stop looking OUTHERE and turn our reflection inwards. Answer the question, what am I committed to?

On August 25th, 2018 I had a life-changing experience. Caught in a riptide while swimming in waves that seemed to have whipped up out of nowhere, I found myself carried farther and farther from the beach, I had to make a decision. I could give in to fear and fatigue and let my kids grow up without a mother or I could will myself to keep treading water and breathing calmly. I chose life as a mom.

Realizing that my fatigue came partially from my panicked state, I calmed myself down and focused. I realized that occasionally I could still touch the bottom and if I could touch the bottom I could wave my arms.

With one eye on the waves and with the knowledge that you can tread water for hours (at least that’s what I’d learned in water safety at age 12), I kept myself afloat. And when I could, I waved a big X or help signal towards the beach.

Finally, a young surfer, Tantely (honey in Malagasy) saw me. He recognized my situation and paddled out. The current was strong and it took him forever to arrive. Once he got to me we both had to hang on to the surfboard and swim. The waves were so rough I got a black eye from the surfboard, but I kept swimming.

Eventually, other surfers on the beach made a “fire line” out to us and they passed me in. I made it up to the beach and back to my kids. Once I sat down I began to shake, but I didn’t cry until I was home in bed that night.

You don’t really ever believe that death might take you until it almost does.

That day, my mindset my commitment to live, my preparation (thank you, mom and dad, for the water safety classes) saved me, my ability to keep calm (thank you sports training & meditation), to signal for help. Combined with Tantely’s knowledge of the beach and his ability to navigate the water, Tantely and I made my LUCK. I am LUCKY.

What is your personal recipe for success?

First, let’s talk about what goes into your recipe: the average human recipe for human satisfaction and contentment aka happiness or feelings of success is made up of the following:

Values

Strengths

Needs

Goals/Direction

Values: Stop Shoulding on Yourself

The first step is to clarify your values is to identify all the things you think you should do or that you feel that have to do. Too many times I’ve worked with women who came to me believing that they know what they value; however, after a few conversations it quickly enough it becomes apparent that their values extrinsically motivated versus intrinsically motivated.

When your motivation and values are extrinsic it is really easy to get tired, burned out or even depressed. We start to doubt ourselves and question our self worth. We feel really unlucky.

The Values Cure

Take five or ten or twenty minutes and write down a list of all the things in your life and around your career that you think you should do or that you have to do.

Now try and rephrase the “I shoulds” to “I values” and the “I have to’s” to “I can” or “I choose”   happens. You may notice that a phrase that is easily written as a an “I should” suddenly becomes a “heck, no!” when you rephrase it to “I value.”

Now, head on over and do this exercise that implements Brene Brown’s list of Values. Once you complete this exercise, go back over your “I shoulds” and see what else you might change. Make a new list of the things you’d like to do in your life or that you need to do in your life and see how it feels to write only phrases that start with the following:

I value…

I can…

I get to…

I choose to…

I enjoy…

I am grateful to…  

and do the associated exercise on identifying what you value that I’ve created.

Recognize Your Strengths

Many times we underestimate ourselves when something comes to us naturally. Similarly, there are many things in our lives that we do or have, such as tendencies, habits, or solving particular types of problems that link right back into our natural strengths and talents.

When I work with career clients, I nearly always ask my clients to take the Gallup Strengths Finder test, which will give you your top 5 Strengths. Not only do these results give you insight into what you do well they also give you language to explain how and why you work the way you do.

The above link is an affiliate link to Amazon; however, I have no association with Gallup, only respect. If you do buy the book, make sure to purchase new or Kindle to get the online code for the test!

Read my personal Strengths Story.

A common mistake that women often make is to underplay and undervalue something that is easy for us, without ever considering that what’s easy for us may be extremely difficult for another person.

If you want to get ahead in your career and benefit from the confidence of a job done well, it’s vital that you own your strengths and that your professional narrative clearly highlights your strengths for your audience.

Buy the book (new or Kindle) to get a code that you can use to take the test online.

Needs

Needs are a HUGE issue for many women, from salary negotiation to time for ourselves to even doing the tasks we desire, we often put others’ needs before our own!

When it comes to deciding your career make a list of needs that covers topics like security (your income and benefits, for example), your personal care, your intellectual care, your spiritual or mindset care, your relationships, and your recreation.

A great tool for assessing where in our life we are meeting our needs and where in our life we might do better is called the Wheel of Life. There are several out there, but I like the 9 areas that show up on this wheel and exercise.

Once you’ve completed the Wheel of Life, set it aside and come back to this section on Goals and Direction.

To Make your Luck you need Goals/Direction

I’ve listed Goals and Direction after Values, Strengths, and Needs because to choose our path we need to understand what is important to us, what we are good at and what we need. From here it is easier to figure out which of our curiosities or passions connect us to our work and give us a sense of purpose or usefulness.

Indeed, the magic of luck is based on knowing where you want to go. Lucky people make their luck happen by being thoughtful about where they are going. How?

Synchronicity, Kismet and such show up because when we are aware of our direction and when the universe is too, suddenly the world seems to present” opportunities to us left and right. Most important in this little bit of “magic” however is the idea that we need to know where we are going, in order to identify those opportunities.

If you are one of those people who are terrified to set goals, because of a fear of failure or a fear that if you set a goal, you’ll be locked down and lose out on other “possibilities” let me help you see things through a different lens.

In reality, what happens when you set thoughtful goals that honor your values, use your strengths, and respect your needs, is that you create opportunities. Hope is in fact built on your ability to articulate what you want and how you hope to get it. If you can set a goal, you’ve got a vision, if you’ve got a vision you’ve got direction, and if you’ve got direction, you’ll be able to recognize and shake loose opportunities, you’ll be able to let the universe give you some luck.

It’s also important to note that goals are not like physical laws, you won’t be breaking anything or killing off anything by setting a goal. You can always choose to set a new goal if the one you pick doesn’t work out the way you’d hoped. The thing is, if you’ve set thoughtful goals, when you decide to set a new goal, you will be making your choice from a position of understanding and autonomy, versus feeling like a raft lost at sea.

Tell me Again What this Has to do with Luck?

Many times we think some people achieve their goals and their success through luck. We look these people up and down and say “I’ve got was she’s got,”  I’ve got her brains, her education, I’ve even got MORE experience. She must be a SUCCESS because she is LUCKY.

Here’s a little evidenced based secret: the research shows that lucky people create their own luck. What she may have in excess of you is some little combination of self-confidence, goal setting and belief in her path.

At the most basic level, you cannot win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.

At the more advanced level, if you don’t know what you want if you don’t know where you are going, if you don’t have clearly defined goals, and a plan, you won’t know when you’ve won the jackpot.

Similarly, if everything you do goes against what you really want, perhaps in other people’s eyes you are a success, but in your own, you have failed.

Perspective is HUGE when it comes to luck.

Are you luckier than you think?

What could you do to be more intentional on your path and increase your luck?

The Elephant in the Living Room

Let me illustrate with a story of my grandmother. When I was growing up she had this magical brass elephant coffee table. I’d never seen anything like it and it was super uncommon in the little western farm town that my grandparents had settled in.

My grandmother also had lots of other elephants: pictures, knickknacks, glass elephants, coasters, you name it, she had it in “elephant.”

I loved elephants too and so one day, I asked what had made this gritty western lady who’d never even flown in an airplane or left the country, love elephants?

Her reply? I don’t.

Back in the 1950s, some friends had traveled to somewhere far away for business. They brought her back to this elephant coffee table. Grandmother graciously received the gift and put it in her living room. The table stood out so much that everyone noticed and everyone assumed she liked elephants.

And for the next 50 years, people gifted her elephants.

The Elephant and the Rider

I like this story for two reasons. Firstly, because it demonstrates that if we need our own professional narrative. If we don’t write and own our own story, other people will write a story for us. Second, because in positive psychology we talk about the “elephant and the rider.”

The elephant is our emotional brain, it is extremely strong, big and in fact wise, but it often lacks logic or doesn’t understand the world. Our logical brain is the rider. This rider sometimes does what it thinks is logical and overrides the wisdom of the elephant. Often when we feel anxiety or uncertainty, it’s because our elephant and our rider disagree on the direction we want to go.

When we are clear about our values, when we recognize our strengths, when we understand what we need, when we own our story, when we trust our gut (elephant) suddenly, our elephant and our rider start to work together instead of against each other. An elephant and a rider working in tandem can achieve pretty much whatever they want!

Getting Help When you are Stuck

Maybe this all sounds well and good, but are you still feeling stuck and having a heck of a time figuring out where you really stand or what you really want or need?

If this is the case, maybe it’s not just an issue of getting your elephant and your rider to work in harmony, maybe you first need to get unstuck from your glass bottle.

If you think about it for two seconds, you’ll see that it’s really hard (if not impossible) to read a label from inside the bottle.

If you’ve done the exercises, but you still find it difficult to piece together your values, your strengths, your needs and use them to set your direction or pick a goal, it may be that you are trying to read your own label from the inside.

Sometimes you need to figure out how to get on the other side.

Who can help you?

Your partner or best friend is a good starting point. You could do a 360 review of your strengths and talk through your values and wheel of life worksheets. At the sametime, sometimes, the people close to us are also some of the biggest influencers in our lives, which can make it a real challenge to determine what we actually value, need, feel, think versus what we’ve been told to think and feel.

This is where a career counselor, career coach or a life coach might help. Although each of us wears a slightly different hat, individuals trained in coaching believe that you’ve got the capacity to find your own answers, and we can help you by being your unbiased mirror. Working with a coach opens doors and windows because it lets you see inside your bottle and figure out what you really want and need.

So how does this all help you make the biggest mistake of your CAREER?

Depends on you and your particular goals and direction, but it can help you avoid a couple of major mistakes.

Mistake #1:

Not taking a job or not following your passion, because you are afraid it’s not inline with your values.

Reality:

If your values are not aligned with your interests or passion, it’s most likely it’s not the values you’ve been told you SHOULD have; what you really truly value inside is most likely in alignment with what you are good at and what you enjoy.

Mistake #2:

Not taking a job or following your passion, because you are afraid it’s not a good job for a mom (even if you don’t intend to BE a mom for another decade).

Reality:

From Prime Minister of New Zealand to Olympic Runner to whatever YOU choose to do, you can do it, do it well, and be a mom. All moms have to make choices and decide what they value; all mom’s need to learn to ask for help; all moms need to learn to be okay with “doing our best.”

Mistake #3:

Not following your passions or pursuing a goal, because you “are not ready” yet; you may never be “ready” so dive in, do the work, take the risk.

Reality:

When surveyed near death, folks never regret what they’ve done; but they do regret what they didn’t do. What will you regret? DO IT.

My Favorite Personal Luck Story:

When I graduated from University at age 22, I wanted to join the Peace Corps, but I didn’t, primarily because I had a big student loan and I wanted to get it paid off. I’d been offered a job with a salary, benefits and a membership to a local health club, and so I thought I should take the job and work on my debt. Had I known it would take me 10 years to get it paid off, I would have joined the Peace Corps!

Finally, around the time I finally paid off my loan, I was already a stay at home mom, living in suburbia and wondering what had happened to my adventurous soul. As I started to crawl out of a depression, I decided to pursue a Masters In NonProfit Management and International NGOs.

I was now over 30 and I’d been in management roles, so I wanted to run an NGO, not just work in one, but it seemed like such a distant dream. I’d not worked in a nonprofit or an NGO (except serving on a board) for nearly 7+ years, so I started to volunteer, while going to class and learning as much as I could about the current state of affairs.  

I found an NGO working in Haiti and doing community development work in accordance with my values and interests with an office 5 minutes from my house. I started to volunteer, helping with filing, recording donations and writing in the newsletter. Soon enough I had a course in fundraising and we had to write a financial resource development plan for our final project.

I dove in head first to write a complete 3-year development plan for this organization, interviewing board members, reviewing goals, and talking to other similar organizations working in Haiti. Little did I know that this particular NGO was in the midst of a restructure due to a few misfortunate incidents; and part of this restructure meant that the Executive Director under whom I was volunteering resigned.

Well, as LUCK would have it, the organization needed someone with a plan to keep them moving forward, and there I was with a detailed 3-year plan, so I got hired. From stay-at-home-mom to my dream job in less than 12 months.

Synchroncity? Kismet? Luck? Maybe, but I had to put in a lot of thought, hard work and intention, to make it happen. A perfect instance of making my own luck!

Recap: Values, Self-Awareness, Confidence, and Direction = a Recipe for Luck

Are you waiting for your big break, a sign from the stars or that Kismet moment?

I totally believe in synchronicity, it’s been a hugely powerful factor in my life; however, lucky, kismet moments can only show up if you already KNOW what you are looking for and if you put in the work to start moving in the direction you want to go.

If you don’t know what you want, how will you know it when it shows up?

Not only do you need to know what you want, but you also need to know what you value.

Sometimes life presents us with great opportunities (like my first salaried job) and we feel that we must say YES!, but here’s the thing, an opportunity might be good, it might be great, but if it’s not in line with your long-term goals (or if you don’t have a vision for your future) it’s quite possible this opportunity might draw you off your path.

So, now that you know your direction and understand how to make your own luck, can you answer the question, “am I ready?”

Of course. You are ready today.

What is one little thing you can do today to move you in the direction you want to go?

What are the 10 things you could do over the next few weeks to move you in the direction you want to go?

What is your 6-month plan? 3-year? Set that direction, make your luck and adjust course as needed knowing that you are living out your values, using your strengths, taking care of your needs and joyfully being your authentic self! Ready to make a change? You can reach out to me today, I’d love to give you a hand.

Craving inspiration? Read this list of 50 Powerful [American] Moms. You’ll note that even a few of them had babies while things like working, writing the Ph.D. at Stanford, and being CEOs.

How to Succeed and Overcome the Fear of Failure

How to Succeed and Overcome the Fear of Failure

Let’s look at what it takes to design a career of purpose and freedom that delivers both fulfillment and allows you to create your own definition of success.

One of the most seemingly benign (or to some people annoying) and yet incredibly powerful questions that I ask of anyone struggling to find their direction is:

“If you could do anything and be assured success, what would you do?”

I get many different responses to this question.

Some people launch directly into their current path and goal. They’ve got an answer at the ready.


Some people pause, take a deep breath and launch into their dream vision, which they clearly desire and yet [currently] consider to be impossible.


Some people make an uncomfortable laugh and tell me something seemingly impractical, such as a desire to become Superman or be the first person to land on Mars.


Others give me a mixed story that hints towards their dreams and passions but is oddly undefined.


And some, you might be one, simply tell me they have no idea, they just want a good job with a nice work-life balance.

None of these replies qualify as the “right” answer, because there isn’t a single correct answer to this direction.

However, each response is telling, and as a career coach practitioner, it is sometimes the light in the person’s eyes, their choice of vocabulary, they way they make eye contact or avoid eye contact when they respond that is even more telling.

A Common Denominator

A common denominator in nearly all the replies, even the person who launches directly into their current goals, is that most people don’t really believe that they can do or achieve whatever they put their mind too.

Most adults qualify their goals based on what they’ve been taught is practical, logical, and safely achievable.

Society has led us to believe that a happy life is an easy life and that security is more desirable than risk and  that the people who dream big and succeed are simply LUCKY and that luck is not something that can be made or found, it just is.

10-Year Study on Lucky People

Happiness is not an Easy Life

And so, too many of us settle for a path of least resistance that meets our basic needs and that will supposedly deliver us happiness in the form of security, titles, and sufficient material wealth.

We are a “yes” culture that does as we’ve been told. We worry a lot about what we should or shouldn’t be doing or have or look like and then we wonder why, in our so called modern society, those of us living in countries ripe with freedom and success continue to see rising rates of depression and a culture that is terrified to fail.

And yet, life is not easy. Even those who succeed experience  pain and suffering in their lives. They lose loved ones, they fail, they get sick and sometimes they don’t want to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Success and failure are both perfectly human.

At the same time, to feel courage you must also experience fear.

To win big, you must take a risk.

Happiness is not easy, hope itself requires that you’ve got a goal in mind that you are “hopeful” to achieve.

Hope itself even requires that you have a clear vision in mind that you know what you want and that you understand what you must do to achieve your goal, combined with the belief that you can make it happen.

So let me ask you this question and I want you to answer with HOPE:

If you could do anything and be assured success, what would you do? What is your desired life direction? Where do you really want to go? Who do you want to be?

Direction

What is “direction” and why is this question so telling? Direction gives us both purpose and inspiration, it helps us to prioritize what is good in our life and say no to the things that distract us or lead us down unhelpful paths.

Direction is a vision for who we are and who we hope to become. Many people have trouble with this question, because for so many years their dreams have been squashed, either by people in their lives or by their own fears and anxieties.

When a 40 year old answers the above question with “drinking cocktails on the beach” or “becoming an olympic gymnast” or anything else that is not grounded in reality, I hear in the response that this person is a bit lost and could benefit from finding her direction.

This person likely has a private dream or desire, but she is afraid. She is frozen. She thinks the effort or the money, the sacrifices or the special steps required to achieve this dream make it impossible. She lacks faith in herself and the universe and she fears what might happen is she tries and fails.

Fear

Humans are biologically programmed to be fearful, we are naturally inclined to display a negativity bias, to be watching for the lion or the leopard that might gobble us up around the next corner. However, in our daily lives, many of our fears are really “worse case scenarios” and statistically not likely to happen. Most of us don’t have lions in our backyards (except in Colorado, where I am from…ha!)

Our parents, our friends, our insurance agents and in particular our TV broadcasters set our daily programming to worry “what if.” We live in a society that conditions us to want everything and at the same time to give up before we start.

Why then do some people succeed? What makes a boss? I let you in on a little secret, the boss across the street or running that yoga studio or rapidly growing start-up  isn’t different from the rest of us in that she is invincible, perfect or that she lacks fear.

She is successful because she has faith in herself, she has hope and she has set her direction. She is aware of her fear, so aware that she identifies it and she sets a plan in place to step into that fear, finding her courage, making a plan, and forging ahead.

You cannot have courage without fear and vulnerability.

Permission

When we step into our fears and anxiety, when we push through to the otherside, we do risk failure, but at the same time we invite success.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.”

You can dream and plan all you like, but if you don’t take action, if you don’t pick a direction, life will pass you by.

But as John Lennon also said, “You’re just a human.”

So give yourself permission to be human. No one expects you to be Wonder Woman. You might make a mistake or drop a ball, but that’s okay. If you drop a ball, it means you are playing the game of life, not just sitting on the sidelines watching life go by.

Plan of Action

Which takes us to PLANNING and ACTION. If you’ve got a direction, if you’ve acknowledged your fears and given yourself permission to be human, then the next step to your success is to make a plan and take action. Even one tiny action per day can make a difference.

Baby steps lead to toddler steps lead to kid steps and so on. If you’ve got a dream, if you’ve got your direction, what steps can you take TODAY to make this a reality?

Whether you plan out your next ten years or your next 10 days — there are definitive small steps to take that will add-up and move you towards your goal.

Sometimes our direction or our overarching goal seems so big and complex that a useful trick is to work backwards. First identify where you’d like to be in 5 years (or 10 or 20!). Then identify where you might need to be with this goal in 3 years and then 2 years, working all the way back to where you stand with this goal today. Now that you’ve visualized your goal in reverse, you can lay out the ground work to move forward effectively.

What can you do today to move you towards this goal? Maybe it’s research, maybe it’s a phone call, maybe it’s signing up for a class or making a budget.

Now, what is one tiny thing you can do every day for the next 10 days, to move you in the right direction?

Reflection

An important part of achieving our goals and successfully moving in a direction that meets our hopes and desires, is taking the time to reflect and adjust. Indeed,  intentional living and cultivating long term life satisfaction doesn’t mean that you set your course and forge blindly ahead, never stopping to learn, listen or make adjustments. .

Note that I used the word reflect, not ruminate. You cannot change your past, but you can create your future. You can reflect on what is going right and what you could do better. You can learn from mistakes, but if you want to move forward to avoid wasting your time ruminating on your mistakes leave them in the past.

Reflection questions you might ask:

What have you done in the past that worked?

What might you do differently in the future?

What fears or anxieties continue to hold you up?

What have I done that has brought me the most joy/satisfaction/feelings of usefulness?

Am I living up to my vision for excellence?

Take the time to reflect. Even to meditate. And to rest.

Your Personal Compass

Remember that the direction — the path — you’ve chosen to follow is your path. And you can change your path. Perhaps you’ve spent the last three weeks or the last three weeks pursuing a particular path, but upon reflection you notice that you’ve changed or learned something new, maybe you need to modify your path and your direction.

That’s okay. That’s even good. Self-awareness, the permission to be human, intentional decision making are components of self-agency. Your path is yours. Set the direction that you want to go and define your own success.

Your success might be making enough money at a day job to travel wherever you wish on vacation. Your success might be to figure out how to raise your kids and work part-time or to be a stay-at-home-mom with no regrets. Your success might be to start your own business and never have kids, or to start that business in spite of your family obligations.

The Story of My Father the Artist

Every person is unique. Every direction is unique. What we all have in common is the desire to set our dreams in motion and make them happen. To step into our fears and to feel that rush of courage. To try or learn something new, to feel the progress and exprecience the progression in our life.

So, if you could do anything and be assured success, what would YOU do?

Please honor me with your hopes, as your advocate and your champion, I want to know. You can either comment below or email me, whatever you choose, tell me your answer!


If you want to know more about this subject and my story you can read “Who are you meant to be?” or my about page!