You Are Enough: How To Stop Feeling Less Than The Masterpiece You Are

You Are Enough: How To Stop Feeling Less Than The Masterpiece You Are

You are enough. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’ve heard this expression used in the last few years, but did you believe it? Do you believe it? 

Shakespeare got the idea as evidenced in his line, “To thine own self be true.” And, then in the late 1800s, Oscar Wilde coined the term “Be yourself everyone else is taken.” 

These famed poets got it, but clearly it’s an idea we’ve been fighting for centuries. 

And so the question remains, how do you and I overcome the limiting belief that thine own self is not enough?

From Perfection to Scarcity 

As an infant, despite being the cute button that you were, you probably didn’t showcase any star-quality abilities. For months, your roster of extraordinary talents consisted of crying, pooping, sleeping, and making your momma laugh. Yet, passersby awed over your angelic bundle of pudgy flesh and you were your parents’ pride and joy. You’d not done anything yet, you were celebrated simply for existing. You were perfect just because you were born.

Babies are delightfully perfect examples of a human being, we love them for being fat. For crying. For being angry. For voicing what they want and need. We are born knowing what we need…and being appreciated for that intuition.

So what exactly happens to chip away at our self-worth? Do you remember the day that you officially decided that you weren’t affluent enough, tall enough, plump-lipped enough, light-skinned enough, dark-skinned enough, pointy-nosed enough, funny enough, or intellectual enough or clever enough to be worthy of a joy-FULL human experience?

I don’t remember that day, but I do remember some painful moments along the path. My guess is you do too…

The Subliminal Scale Of Self-Worth 

It’s something everyone does, but you’re probably unaware of how often you do it. You’ve been pressing the figurative record button since childhood. Messages or your interpretations of circumstances that have occurred in your life are used to determine your level of worthiness.

Broken hearts, failed exams, supermodels, missed promotions, and the number of likes on your latest post all takes their toll. One day you feel like you’ve made it, and can live on your mountaintop forever. The next day, one comment or one misstep hurls you back down to the base. Your mind is a constant battlefield – one minute you are enough and the next your insecurities get the best of you.

Each failure you’ve encountered, each accomplishment you’ve achieved is used as ammunition to affirm your self-worth or knock it back. It’s a constant back-and-forth from the You Are Enough column to Something Is Wrong with Me columns. 

Just stepping out of the shower and facing a mirror every day, you are confronted by that nagging voice of judgment. It’s as though a sly, little troll lurks behind the toilet, eager to analyze your reflection. With his clipboard and checklist, he notes the tone of your arms and belly. He pulls a magnifying glass out of his trousers’ pocket to check for new wrinkles and stray grey hairs.

Once the thorough scan is complete, you are declared fit, or (on most days, ugggh) not fit. Outcomes the red stamp of disapproval –  NOT ENOUGH. You vow to make better choices around the sweets in the office lunchroom and to stop by the drug store to pick up an anti-wrinkle serum (or a bottle of hair dye) on the way home

Or maybe you scroll the internet and talk to your boss to see if maybe you should get another certificate, an MBP or a Ph.D., because, despite 20 years of experience, you just don’t know enough. Or do you?

Comparisons: The Root of Self-Doubt and The Enemy of Self-Worth

A substantial list of outside circumstances may have culminated to form your negative self-worth image. However, it’s important to recognize the dominating role your own ego plays in determining how you feel about yourself. 

Your ego, a.k.a. “The Queen of Comparisons” is continually on the lookout for opportunities to make you feel inferior or superior to others. Either way, you’ll want to learn how to silence this beast. She serves no positive purpose. Moreover, each time you fall prey to the need to judge yourself or others, you are drawn farther away from your ability to share peace and joy with not only yourself but with those you love.

Conducting Appraisals Has Consequences

In today’s world, society has created so many parameters by which to measure our importance. Women feel a massive amount of pressure to conform to a certain profile in order to worthy and accepted. You are successful and enough only when you can afford a Louis Vuitton before thirty, be married to the perfect partner who does his share of the housework, all while raising exceptionally gifted kids (who sleep through the night) by your forties and working a job, and be fit like Jennifer Aniston in your fifties.

Sizing yourself and others up to the world’s standards does not leave much room for being human. Basing your values on idealisms meant for romance novels and Hollywood movies, stunts our personal, spiritual, and even professional growth. The consequences of assessing your own value or the significance of others based upon society’s appraisal system are toxic.

You may not realize it, but every time you judge yourself it gets worse: 

  • You come off in a negative light, whether your feelings are of superiority or inferiority
  • You resent others and jealousy surfaces
  • Conversations revolve around gossip
  • You crawl out of bed unmotivated which only reinforces feelings of not being good enough
  • You become the prosecutor and judge of random innocent strangers (and even your real-life Facebook friends) based on exterior qualities or material possessions without knowing the real story behind the person

The ego gains more power and influence each time you let these thoughts and judgments compete for your attention on a daily basis. The signs of an ego in total control may not be obvious. Sometimes they show up as the tendency to shift the responsibility or blame on others, other times to carryout excessive acts to gain notoriety and recognition. The ego can also resort to bitter jealousy when others succeed, a voracious hunger for more or even a resigned form of depression — I should have, could have, if only I’d ______ fill in the blanks. 

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How to Conquer the Ego’s Urge to Compare

First focus on your own journey. There is always someone smarter and someone less smart that you. Every person has her own unique path, but in the end, all roads lead to the same place.To be blunt we all die.

To be kind, each fellow earthling, no matter how flawless his or her persona appears to be, experiences insecurity, fear, and criticism as you do. Peace comes from letting go of expectations, appreciating others’ talents, nurturing yourself, and living on your terms. 

Elaine Welteroth describes in her New York Times Bestseller, More Than Enough, her arduous pursuit in overcoming self-doubt and breaking traditional barriers. Her inspiring story of an ambitious bi-racial woman climbing the corporate ladder demonstrates how important it is to give yourself space and permission to chart your own course. An example of remaining true to oneself, the author discovers her best life by standing firm on what is right.

Accept imperfections.  As Brene Brown teaches us in the Gifts of Imperfection, seeking out perfection, in fact, holds us back. In spite of our vices, shortcomings, chin whiskers and all (I pulled mine out just last week), you are enough. You have an important gift to offer the world. Don’t let the things you cannot do distract you from the one thing you were born to do. Direct your attention to your strengths and ask for help, or hire a team to compensate in the areas you may be lacking.

Reacquaint yourself with your core values. Regularly reviewing what you value most is a good strategy to keep you centered and on track. This process helps you to recognize and serves as a reminder that all you need, you already have. Remembering this smothers the insatiable desire for more.

Practice being grateful and gracious – avoid gossip. Finding one thing to praise another for cancels the impulse to gossip. Building others up rather than tearing them down triggers a wonderful sense of wellbeing within the soul. Plus, you are a magnet and will always receive back what you’re sending out into the world.

Leave the past in the past. What good comes from holding onto the shame of failed relationships, embarrassing moments, or deferred dreams? Every event and outcome is a chance to learn – a refinement. The situations and conditions that you endure and believe to be setbacks, actually set you up and prepare you for a whole new level. At each stage, you become stronger, wiser, and more of your authentic character emerges. 

What It Means To Be Enough

There is no magical formula for achieving enoughness. You don’t have to lose twenty more pounds or learn to ice a Frozen-themed cake like Suzie’s mom. It’s not about being the founder of a successful business, or the post-nominal initials you grinded for years to earn. The titles, size six jeans, and thriving business are valid goals if they are YOUR goals. However, they do not give you more value as a human being. You are enough simply because you are.

That being said, knowing this truth does not mean you should exempt yourself from ever setting another goal. You do not have to resign from your quest for success, whatever your dream entails. Your journey will continue to shape you and cause you to evolve as a person. But you are now set free from the need to prove to yourself or others that you are worthy. 

Goals are important, but what is most important is what you learn about yourself on the journey.

You can make a mistake, be wounded by someone, or become the wealthiest woman on the planet. Yet not one of these circumstances can reduce or expand your self-worth. Take a moment to let these words sink in – nothing you do or that is done to you can increase or decrease your self-worth. You are enough now and nothing will change that fact.

You ARE enough.

Breathe, Trust, and Most Importantly, Be Kind

As sure as you are alive at this moment, sitting, breathing, and reading this, you are enough. From the moment you were conceived, an intricately crafted seed within your mother’s womb, you were a masterpiece. You are a one-of-a-kind specimen, created with distinctive features, talents, and attributes only you can offer this world. If this is hard to believe, start by understanding that the universe does not make mistakes. 

Just as the law of attraction and the law of gravity are irrefutable, your reason for existence is undeniable. You are a crucial part of the universal equation. Hence, if you believe gravity exists, you must also believe that the universe created you with precision and purpose. 

Next time you hear the familiar soul-sucking voice of condemnation, take a breath, choose to be kind to yourself, and trust the absolute truth that you are enough

You will feel freer, lighter, happier, and when the shit hits the fan, you will bounce back faster and brighter, because you are enough. 

And if you are ready to change careers, go back to work or start your own business, don’t hesitate, because you are enough. Indeed as this article at Power to Fly highlights, you can do pretty much anything you set your mind to, even change your career at any age!

How A Happiness Planner can be Your Key to Unlocking More Joy

How A Happiness Planner can be Your Key to Unlocking More Joy

Life happens, which means that to find more joy, to experience greater happiness, we need to be intentional.  Whether you are a seasoned goal-setter or are new to the arena of setting targets and objectives for your life, a Happiness Planner is an essential tool for getting the most out of every day. By utilizing the inspirational journal and time management planner for just a few minutes a day, you will begin to notice significant enhancements in all areas of your life.

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What Is A Happiness Planner and How Is It Different?

A Happiness Planner is more than your average journal or day-planner, it is a guidebook to the soul that encourages you to engage and grow your self-awareness. You likely feel like you are always chasing time, whether it’s an eighty-hour workweek, two kids in soccer, piano lessons, and dance OR all this and more. It’s likely you rarely find the time to stop and reflect. 

If you feel stuck, unfilled or wonder what you could be doing to find more joy, you are not alone.

In the time it takes to brew a pot of coffee, a Happiness Journal will guide you to plan your day and set yourself up to live with more intention and experience the success you crave. Motivational quotes beautifully inscribed on each page act as cheerleaders, reminding you that you are worthy and already have what it takes to achieve your dreams.

In addition, a precise system of checkpoints and self-awareness building questions can help you clarify your core values so you can keep in alignment with the path you choose to walk. As well, you’ll gain a better understanding of your weaknesses and learn to recognize and leverage your talents.

Gratitude exercises help to cultivate an appreciation for the past and focus on the present moment; revealing the positive, even in many challenging situations. With a daily task calendar built-in, the planner will enable you to finally find the balance you seek, making sure you can comfortably keep tabs on each piece of your life’s pie, while also facilitating the creation of life-changing habits. 

From struggling to heal past hurts to feeling overwhelmed by a financial mess or a crossroads in your life, a Happiness Planner incites answers from deep within, treasures that will cultivate self-awareness and dispel old fears that up until now, may be responsible for stunting your personal growth or your satisfaction with your life.

This thought-provoking agenda ‘formula’ will unveil insights, which you can use to face and overcome your demons and achieve your heart’s desires. There is something magical about a daily journal that ties your goals, tasks, gratitude, and hope into one little bundle.

Change Your Habits, Change Your Life

Another added perk that is unique to a Happiness Planner versus a regular agenda is the element of reflection at the end of the day. This journaling process encourages you to take stock of all of the things that went well throughout your day, along with those that didn’t have a positive outcome. 

As you take a moment to analyze each situation (the good, the bad, and the ugly) you are able to see what role you played in the end result. In this way, recurring themes or repetitive behaviors and patterns become clear. From this point, you can see what habits lead to your overall happiness and those that cause suffering. Over time you start to notice even the small things you accomplish each day that you previously took for granted.

Take Responsibility, Take Back Your Power

One of the most imperative habits to observe in the reflection process is your reaction to circumstances. Often we think “responsibility” is just another obligation, but in reality, it is the key to resuming personal power.

People experience a diverse range of experiences from small and annoying up to devastating things every day around the world. There is not always a clear answer or explanation that justifies these painful occurrences or actions, even the fact that what to one person may be small, may have a huge impact on a different person. 

It’s not uncommon to experience an underlying turmoil, which rages through your being for years, due to fruitless attempts to make sense of it all. We all to easily hold on pain, anger or regret, but when we do so, we become victims who feel stuck or like failures. 

If you allow it, these defining events can drain your hope and your passion. To escape this trap we need to see that we indeed have a choice. Although in the midst of despair or frustration over life’s injustices, it may seem preposterous, I ask you to consider the possibility that various events do not happen to you, but for you. Reframing your circumstances can be immensely freeing. 

By seeing things from a new or different viewpoint, your entire life to shift. A Happiness Planner (or gratitude journal) actively support us in seeing life events differently. 

If this concept is curious to you, you might enjoy the book, Change Your Mind And Your Life Will Follow: 12 Simple Principles, by best-selling author Karen Casey. In this book, she offers some of the best practical tools available for managing your responses to obstacles. Her pragmatic advice will open your mind and affirm that you can thrive, no matter what your environment. 

Where Your Mind Goes, Your Energy Flows

Indeed, something magical and transformative happens when you actively build self-awareness of your life journey within the pages of a Happiness Planner. As you consciously direct your concentration towards the silver linings in the clouds and to the celebration of small victories, you’ll realize that there is nothing that can stop you from achieving your best life. 

That which once seemed a distant dream or totally unrealistic becomes possible.  

As you learn how to own and manage the idea that everything happens for you, you acquire freedom. No longer in bondage or a victim of your circumstances, you will experience more peace, seeing that instead of obstacles, your life is now filled with opportunities that deliver a greater sense of satisfaction to your life experience. 

Your Road To Happiness Begins With a Journal

Journaling and reflection exercises help you pinpoint what thoughts, actions, and habits serve you and which ones you need to let go of. What fills you up and gives you a zest for life is unique to you. You may not experience the same exhilarating sensation from a dripping hot and sweaty yoga class that I do. You may find yourself crawling through the steam to the door two minutes in, and that is okay. Each of us is unique and your experience of joy will be different than mine, or than that of your best friend, your mom or even your daughter. 

Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages journals and practice have been used for over 20 years and are still a best seller on Amazon, precisely because journaling is so important, not only to artists but for all of us. 

Selfcare is not about dedicating hours a week to facials and massages. It’s about taking notice of the little things that make YOU tick. You may feel energized by baking a batch of [healthy or unhealthy] breakfast muffins or listening to a classical playlist at the office. You may feel fully recharged after a chat with your mom, or a wine night out with the girls. If you don’t know what brings you joy, then experiment with the new; join a book club, take a photography class, or travel somewhere you’ve never been.

Adding varied activities into your planner will prove highly beneficial when it comes to outlining your happiness roadmap. If you encounter a twinge of joy, make a note, and before you know it, you will start to understand why and how you are wonderfully unique. This process of reflection can take time, so don’t give up if you don’t have answers overnight, but rest assured that it is through self-awareness that self-compassion and real, solid, self-care develop. 

As you continue on the journey with your journal or day planner in hand, one almost perfect day rolls into an awesome week, which merges into your best year yet. Be patient with yourself and celebrate you, celebrate the journey, and celebrate even the tiniest hint of progress.

Core Values, Beliefs, and Goals  

Even if you’ve never set a goal in your life or your good intentions typically remain in the idea phase, setting goals is an imperative part of your happiness journey. Whether you realize or not, you’ve already accomplished things to be proud of. Have you quit smoking, or switched from sugary soda to bubbly water? Did you finally muster up the courage to say ‘No’ when you were asked to volunteer for the fifth consecutive year as Treasurer of the Board? Those decisions honor self and develop integrity. You learn to trust that guiding voice within.

Before you contemplate your goals, it is crucial that you decide what is important to you. Take the time to identify your core values and definition of success. Would you like to be heart-healthy for your family, or would you like a six-pack? Does making three million dollars in profits next year stir your excitement, or does the idea of publishing a short story light you up? 

Forget society’s ideals and the ‘I shoulds’. Those standards are not always in alignment with what you seek and you will set yourself up for failure. Determine your own vision of happiness and compose your list from this point.

Are Goals Really Necessary?

You’ve got this far in life without goals, so why bother with the list? The wide range of benefits that accompany the process of goal setting will surprise you. 

Regularly reviewing taking daily action towards your goals focuses your attention on what you are passionate about. When your thoughts are on the things that ignite your soul, you tend to be a happier person. With each milestone that is achieved, your confidence receives a boost. As you encounter setbacks and hardships, but continue to strive for success, you stay motivated and positive during the trials that will undoubtedly arise. This creates the assurance that you have what it takes to push through. 

Goals help you to hone your inner compass and to achieve what matters most to you. In a world that is inundated with distractions, dazzling opportunities in the form of a new position or project can take your eye off the prize. When you have a concrete goal on paper, you can ask yourself, ‘Is this opportunity going to take me closer or farther away from goal?’

Most importantly, having a purpose in life, a burning desire within your heart, gives you the inspiration to live purposefully, ultimately leading to your best life. Research has shown that a brain that is continually stimulated and challenged results in a more enlivened, dynamic lifestyle.

Setting SMART+ Goals

When sitting down to write what your aspirations for each area of your life, the acronym SMART offers a helpful guideline to follow. 

S – Specific. If the goal is too general – I want to be healthy – it will not be clear enough to motivate you to continue. Add defined actions and even a picture of your ideal outcome. For example, you might write down, I will work out three times a week for forty-five minutes and drink eight glasses of water a day for ninety days. Your mind has conceived a clear plan and you know exactly what you have to do to work towards your health objectives. 

M – Measurable. By including a definite target, you give yourself measurable steps so that you can celebrate milestones and small achievements along the way. If your goal is to open a wellness center, start with your business plan. Then come the location and interior design. Next, you would hire staff and finally your inauguration date. It is a timeline of tangible deliverables. 

A – Attainable. Are you truly willing to do what it takes to achieve your goal? If running a marathon is on your list, decide and commit to a training schedule that is required to be able to complete it.

R – Relevant. Take into account an appropriate timeline and consider if the goal is realistic. You may have to analyze and reshape your goal along the way based on the resources and the experience you have. You may have miscalculated a reasonable timeline because of a misstep or a problem you could not foresee. Adjust, but don’t give up!

T – Time-bound. Goals are not meant to be comfortable but push the boundaries of your comfort zone. They test and refine your true character. Be realistic, but put a date on your goal that will require you to rise up. If you recall, diamonds are created under pressure. The longer you wait, the less chance you have at succeeding. There is never a perfect time to start. Take time to map it out, but don’t be afraid to dive in. Your future self will thank you for it!

+ Accountable. What is your accountability plan? A friend? Your partner? A bullet-journal? A life coach? An accountability partner? Personally, I use a mix of all three. In fact, my accountability partner and I just celebrated our 2 year anniversary! We’ve never even met in person, but we message nearly every day via Whatsapp and this relationship has certainly helped me stay accountable to myself. I also leverage a personal coach and my planner.

These are real life pictures of my 2019 and 2020 planners. The pre-made one didn’t suit me perfectly as it restricted my creativity. I love the freedom of the dotted bullet journals. Whatever fits your style, use it! 

Choosing The Right Happiness Planner

With dozens of attractive Happiness Planners on Amazon alone, how do you know which one is right for you? Some are simple happiness diaries, while others are all-encompassing workbook-type agendas. In addition to happiness journals, there are 100-day planners, which aim to establish positive habits and lifestyles. Perhaps you would like to begin with the basics and work your way up to an immersive experience. 

For 2019 I used a premade planner called the Day Designer

For 2020 I’ve decided to design my own with a simple dotted bullet journal. 

Like any other product, it is important to read the happiness planner reviews to evaluate which features and added bonuses you think will generate the best results for you. If you are totally new to the idea, you might best go for a premade happiness and task planner like a Panda Planner (even the name makes you happy). 

Of course, you can create your own happiness journal. Simply getting your words on paper, setting goals and reflecting on your day is a healthy step towards becoming better acquainted with your highest self. However, if you want to take this journey one step further, each page of a Happiness Planner has been carefully curated to propel you beyond your limiting beliefs and your emotional safe zones. 

Think of it as using a personal trainer versus going to a gym and working out on your own. Most of us won’t push through an extra five reps when our arms are on fire, without someone nudging us on. Plus, a personal trainer is an expert at mixing up the workouts, which keeps things fresh and interesting. Unlike the mundane gym regimes, we fall into when we endeavor to get fit on our own. 

This is also one reason you might also want to hire a coach — we help you to stay accountable, build your self-awareness and get you to where you want to be faster. Curious to know more? Schedule a free “curiosity call” with me today. 

One thing is for certain, no matter which planner you choose, you are on the right track to unlocking the secrets to your potential and to your ultimate fulfillment. Change is never easy, but a Happiness Planner makes the process a joyful one. By planning your life one journal entry at a time, you plan for success and happiness. 

The life of your dreams may be just one-page turn and a colorful doodle away.

Can Knowing my Strengths Really Help me to live a better life?

Can Knowing my Strengths Really Help me to live a better life?

Can Knowing my Strengths Really Help me to live a better life?

Knowing your strengths gives you insight into how you work and certain tasks come easy, while others rub you the wrong way.

From the perspective of a job search, career planning or even mapping out a career calling, the greatest gift strengths spotting gives you is self-awareness and the ability to craft a value proposition that is attractive to your ideal employer or client.

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Often times we think of our strengths only from the point of view of our concrete education, skills and experiences. However, our most powerful strengths tend to relate directly back to our natural talents; you may not need a significant amount of skill or training to excel at something that is a natural talent. [Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put in the effort!]

Your natural strengths illuminate why you end up enjoying certain tasks more than others or why a certain activity might be supper easy whereas it’s a real headache for other folks. Understanding your strengths allows you to leverage them to create a career you love. 

When I leverage my knowledge of strengths to write a resume or LinkedIn profile, my clients often tell me things like: “Reading this is like looking in the mirror!” or “I feel like a new person, confident in what I can do!” 

Insert Awareness Image

Building Awareness from Strengths

In general, knowledge of our natural talents or strengths creates three crucial areas of awareness critical to career success.

PERSPECTIVE

The first is the perspective. Sometimes we have a strength that someone around us sees as a weakness or that they simply don’t understand. From this person’s perspective, often a parent or teacher, you are weird or your “strength” is an anomaly that needs fixing. 

For example, I worked with a client on the autistic spectrum with a strengths in deliberation, analytical and intellection. He’d been underemployed from age 18 to 25 and some people in his past had perceived his ability to focus on solving a problem as extreme — however his dream job was in cybersecurity and he turned out to be the perfect candidate. 

When he got the job, I as the coach got a lot of praise, but the reality is that the client was the perfect fit for his ideal job. What I did is provide him the opportunity to see his personality and interests as strengths and from a new perspective, which gave him the confidence to go after the job he wanted. He went from really feeling down on himself and his potential, to finding a dream career, simply by seeing his talents in a new light. 

Another common mistake that I see clients make is to assume that because a particular strength comes to them so easily — they assume is meaningless or not important. For example, a software engineer that excels at understanding abstract concepts and connecting the dots to create a new solution might not appreciate her skill; however, her peers may have to take multiple steps to grasp an idea she grasped instantaneously. Just because YOU think something is easy, doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. And if it is easy for you and you enjoy it — then you need to make this known to your ideal employer! 

Once you know your strengths you can appreciate your uniques combination of talents as a gift, which empowers you to intentionally leverage these to create a life and a career you love!

CONFIDENCE

The ultimate result of seeing our natural talents in a new perspective is the gift of confidence. 

Say you have a strength in strategy. You always see the big picture and come up with solutions, but you doubt your abilities because you think you don’t have enough “experience” or “education” or something else. 

When you read the profile for “strategic” you suddenly see that you’ve got something other people don’t have; this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on becoming an expert in your field, but it can give you the confidence to speak up for the patterns and the solutions that you see today. 

Recognizing that you are good at something and that you enjoy it is crucial to finding work you love — if you can demonstrate both confidence and joy in what you do — your ideal employer or clients will be knocking down your door to get you. 

Sharing your talents with the world is generous. Keeping it hidden is stingy. 

JOY

Yes. I believe you should enjoy your work. Perspective and confidence work together to deliver you work that you enjoy. And when you enjoy your work you feel joy. Why? Because when you find work that is both appealing to you and that you are good at you can find work that gives you the right mix of “challenge + skill” and this leads to experiencing flow. 

Think about times in your life that you’ve gotten lost in your work or another activity. When you get so engrossed in an activity (not sleep, or Netflix, mind you) that you forget time — this is called flow. And periodic experiences of flow lead to higher rates of satisfaction at work. 

Which brings us back to perspective — sometimes when we have a skilled at a particular line of work it results in promotion after promotion until one day you find yourself in a leadership-seat. 

For some people, this is great, because although they are good engineers or teachers or whatever, they also love to lead, to manage communication and to look at the big picture. 

But for others, it’s awful. 

Earlier this year I worked with a mechanical engineer who’d spent the last three years in management. He was drained and bored. He wanted his old job back and yet every time he applied for a job, he’d get told by the recruiters and hiring managers kept telling him he was “overqualified.” 

My solution? Together we went over his strengths and his goals and we constructed a new professional narrative. His new resume emphasized that he understands how to communicate with and support management, but that he is an engineer at heart. He got a successful bite on his first application with this new resume and in a few months found himself able to move back into a hands-on engineering position that brings him JOY and the opportunity to experience flow. 

He also understands himself better now and so the next time a management position comes knocking, he won’t necessarily feel obliged to take it. He will be prepared to negotiate for a position that fits his strengths and needs. 

UNCOVERING YOUR STRENGTHS 

There are a few different ways to uncover your strengths. I like to use a few different methods with my clients. 

  • Strengths Spotting
  • Strengths Story
  • GallupStrengths 2.0

When used together these three exercises provide a 360 vision of what you are naturally good at, what you enjoy, and what your peers and managers see as your strengths. Together they give you a platform to cultivate the perspective, confidence, and joy discussed in the previous section. 

Strengths 2.0

On the Gallups Strengths Center website they say this: 

“Each CliftonStrengths theme sorts into one of four domains. These domains describe how people and teams use their talents to work with information, make things happen, influence others and build relationships.”

If you’ve taken the [Gallup] CliftonStrengths test before, there is a good chance that you did it at work, because knowing an employee’s strengths has shown to lead to increased workplace engagement.

As an employee, if you know and understand your strengths, you can direct yourself to work in which you readily engage, maintain your motivation, and grow. If your boss or co-workers know your strengths (and their own) you can work together to optimize everyone’s contributions, increase engagement, collaboration and teamwork.

Why is this important:

Positive self-awareness through focusing on our strengths — what we do well — is a huge boost for our self-confidence. We naturally tend to focus on our weaknesses as a guide to what we cannot do or what we should do better. Knowing our natural talents gives us the vocabulary to describe what we do and the inner strength to embrace it.

Let’s use a sailboat analogy: If your professional self as a sailboat, your weaknesses might be compared to small leaks. You need to be aware of fill the leak(s), but if you put all your focus on the leaks, if you forget to put up your sail (your strengths) you’ll never get anywhere!

As is true with our character strengths, needs, and values, skill strengths and values also often overlap. If we value the skill of judgment and consideration, we may very well have strengths in intellection, analytical or strategic. You can think of your Strengths as your way of “doing” and your values as reflective of your way of “being.”

The best way to find our way of “Doing” is to take the Gallup Strengths Finder.

If you can find a hard copy (new) locally, I recommend doing so, as it’s fun and informative to flip through and read the book now and in the future.

You can also order a hard copy or Kindle* edition of Strengths 2.0 on Amazon or at your local book store; don’t buy a used copy as you will want the one-time ACCESS code include in the book to access the test. 

*If you order the Kindle version they will email your access code to the email associated with your Kindle. Make sure to watch your email and request a refund if you don’t receive it in 24-hours or less — it should be sent within a few minutes of your purchase! 

The standard report that comes with your book purchase is all you need to learn from your results. I do not recommend purchasing the more expensive reports as they can be a challenge to interpret without a full coaching session dedicated to the Strengths-Finder. For your purpose and mine, the standard results provide exactly the insight and information we need to tell your story! 

Disclaimer: The above Amazon link is an affiliate link, which means that I will get a portion of the sale. I do not have any other affiliation with Gallup. I use this test because it is informative and highly useful.  

Finding Your Purpose

My Story

My strengths combine together to create an entrepreneurial profile and a mentor or coach profile (surprise!). I am strong on strategy and easily connect the dots, find solutions and understand how to make things better. I am an individualizer and a maximizer. I naturally see what is right and what might be done better. I am strong in communication and discovering a clear understanding of how each individual works. 

In my twenties, I tended to “hop” jobs every 9 to 18 months as I got bored quickly. I’d start out loving a job, but once I’d learned all there was to know, improved a few systems, hired new and better employees, updated training manuals and had everything running smoothly I found myself bored and ready for a new challenge. 

I thought there was something wrong with me. My parents thought I was wishy-washy. 

My parents just wanted me to get a job and stick with it, so they could be confident that I was financially safe and secure. And then I did the Strengths Finder and I realized I needed a job that continued to present me with challenges. I went back to school to work on a master’s degree and got a job as the Executive Director of an International Nonprofit. 

 

That job was amazing. From the day I walked in the door, there were problems to solve, relationships to cultivate and nurture. Every day was new and different. I could have stayed in that job for years, had I not had to make a value-based decision to follow my husband to Europe (I couldn’t take my job with me). 

 

Knowing my strengths and understanding my values has been incredibly powerful because together they give me purpose. Whether it’s working with an NGO or as a career coach, I thrive when I get to help others succeed. Connecting the dots, asking powerful questions, supporting people to find confidence and joy in what they do thrills me. 

In the end, combining my strengths and my values, I am purpose-driven. 

How Can Strengths Help You Tell YOUR Story?

 

Whether you find your life purpose on your own or with the help of a career coach — you will find a deeper meaning in your work. You will feel empowered to choose your path and you will find that many responsibilities in your life now bring you either a greater sense of joy or you find it easier to say “no” to things that do not serve your purpose. 

 

The US Department of Labor has been tracking employee engagement for nearly 20 years and for the last 5 or so, LinkedIn has gotten involved. I won’t bore you with the precise numbers, but what they’ve found is that a good 60 to 80% of employees are not engaged at work. Worldwide Gallup makes the claim that only 13% of employees are engaged — as in 87% might jump ship at any moment for a better opportunity. 

 

And they are not particularly happy — they live for the weekends — and for their life outside work. As someone who has connected my life purpose to my work as a career coach, these results make me sad. However, they also inspire me to help people like you understand how to find and negotiate for a work situation that you love. 

 

Indeed, I find hope in their findings that employers who support employees in leveraging their strengths and job seekers who seek jobs aligned with their strengths fall into the category of ENGAGED and HAPPY employees. 

 

And so, the biggest gift you can give yourself in learning and understanding your strengths is that it can help you turn your job into a career you love and possibly even a calling. If we spend most of our waking hours at work, then we should enjoy and even love our work. 

Life Purpose and Career Coach

 

The connection between knowing our values (read this) and leveraging them alongside our strengths, is a foundational part of why I am a career coach. If you’d asked me at age 20 if I’d be a Career Coach at age 40, I would have laughed. This is because old school career counseling tried to put people in boxes. 

 

For example, it’s possible that towards the end of high school someone asked you to take a career survey that gave you report about possible fields fo work that you might enjoy. 

 

 RIASEC codes or Holland codes were created by a psychologist named John Holland. Supposedly these codes use your personality or psychological profile to tell you what type of job you might enjoy. What they fail to do is to address your values or your strengths. They try to put people in boxes and as a teen, they confused me terribly.

 

My RIASEC is Social Enterprising Investigative (SEI) and I’ve got my old tests in which they said I’d be a good Forest Ranger, Nurse or Attorney.  What? Sure, I love camping and nature, I like to help people and I love a good argument, but every time I tried to throw myself into one of these careers, I came up short. I had ZERO desire.

 

I was also confused by these tests, because the careers that did drive me, didn’t show up on my test (anthropologist, aerospace engineer or urban planner). I ended up studying anthropology and urban planning remains a hobby (in my dream world). 

 

Long story short — if you went to university to study one subject, but ended up in a totally different career or ended up bored, frustrated or un-engaged, don’t give up on career coaching. It’s just likely that you got a career coach who tried to label you. 

 

What I do as a career coach is to help you to understand what makes you tick, so that you can align your goals and career with work that inspires you and then I give you the skills to ask for the salary and benefits you need. 

Career of Life

 

Many career coaches, such as myself, say that we do ‘purpose coaching’ or ‘strengths-coaching.” As you can likely guess by now, this means we use surveys of values, strengths, needs, and interests to help you answer your own career goals. We won’t put you in a box. Frankly, each profession can have a wide variety of psychological profiles, and in fact, it is your strengths profile that dictates your success sometimes more than your “social” profile. 

 

Extroverts and introverts can excel in the same jobs for totally different reasons. The crucial component of your success at work is that what you do brings you personally a sense of meaning and purpose. We are happy at work when we feel useful. When we see that we accomplished something. When we get the opportunity to get lost in the “flow” of the moment. 

 

So, don’t let an old test like the MBTI or the Strong Inventory or your Holland Codes, put you in a BOX. Your life work potential is in your hands and knowing your strengths and your values, what you want and need from your work and your life, is what can bring you confidence and feelings of success. 

 

And so, if you are ready to ditch your fear of failure at work. Or overcome a fear of success (yes, that is a thing) then I invite you to find out about your values and your strengths. To even create a vision board for your ideal life and career. 

 

Insert becoming ou image

BECOMING YOU: Frame it and Claim It

 

As a purpose coach, as a life coach, as a career coach, I invite you to BECOME YOU. Liz Ryan, one of my mentors in the career coaching world says of your work history and your professional narrative “Frame it and claim it.” 

 

What she means is that you are uniquely you and that is what makes you an awesome employee. If you know your strengths and you are confident in your skills, then you can do whatever it is you believe you can do. And when we do things with confidence and joy, when our values are aligned with those of our company or our clients we feel alive. 

 

When we feel alive at work, we do good work. When we love our work, we are motivated to set goals, to achieve, to do more, and to recognize our own success. When this happens we’ve mastered the art of self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-care. We know what we need, what we want and what we can do. 

 

When we make a mistake or fail, we know that at least we tried, and we treat it as a learning experience. All this is part of becoming you. And you are the only person that YOU need to be!

 

Did this article you answers or did it raise questions?

 

Perhaps you are now wondering if you should quit your job or find a new career? 

 

If that’s the case you can take this quiz on Power to Fly. Should I quit my Job? 

 

Or you might read the book “What Color is My Parachute.”

 

Additional Recommended Reading

 

If this article has raised questions that you cannot answer simply by knowing your strengths you may wish to engage a career and human potential coach. Or you might benefit from doing some self-guided coaching and exploration. 

The classic book What Color is Your Parachute is useful for folks at the start of their career and those doing career pivots. It’s recommended reading from many retired military veterans and to those who simply feel “blah” about their current work situation. If you’ve done the work on clarifying your values and your strengths, but you are still unsure what career is right for you, check out this book.

Do you understand the magic in knowing and living your values?

Do you understand the magic in knowing and living your values?

If you cringe or wonder what’s up when you hear phrases like “value-driven”  or “live your values” you are not alone. 

For many years I ran away from the term “values” because I associated it with a political group from my childhood. That group used values to judge and condemn. They attempted to use their proclaimed values to disempower individuals with a different worldview. 

Today my skin still crawls a bit when I *ask* people about their values because I am afraid they might think I am going to judge. But I ask anyway because as I career coach I know that understanding and living our values is a highly personal endeavor that gives individuals agency and helps them to live a life they love. 

Knowing your values means that instead of forcing your worldview on anyone else you live your own values. Knowing your values means that instead of living someone else’s values, you live your own. 

Why is this important? Because when we let outside influences dictate our values we get stuck. We feel yucky, we lose our motivation and most of all, we lose our power to act according to our own internal compass. This increases feelings of discontent, stress, and anxiety. Values hit us at our core. This is why they are often called CORE values. And knowing them makes it easier to live our lives and make choices that work for us.


Values guide us and diminish our fear of deciding what needs to be done.

The Importance of Core Values

Core values drive our decision making and are intrinsically tied to the so-called “gut feeling.” When take an action or make a choice that is not aligned with our values, we get that dreaded sinking feeling, which over time can build into stress and anxiety. 

Working against our core values leads to problems at home and at work. Finding clarity about our values is so important because when we understand what we value and why it suddenly empowers our decision-making process. 

Values-based decisions are choices that empower us to do what we believe is best. The greatest personal achievements, the most wonderful feelings of accomplishment, and the best intrinsic motivation come from intrinsically motivated actions. 

Sometimes making values-based choices, even if they are not our “first” choice so to say, makes it totally possible to embrace the choice, because we understand why we are doing it. Values-based choices take us from feeling like we are “sacrificing” or being a “martyr” to understanding that we are in control and falling our chosen path because we value the outcome.

Core values drive our decision making. If we know what we value making a decision becomes a choice and we are empowered to do what we believe is best. The greatest personal achievements, the most wonderful feelings of accomplishment, and the best intrinsic motivation come from intrinsically motivated actions. 

The Oxford Online Dictionary gives the following definitions of intrinsic and extrinsic:

Intrinsic

Belonging naturally; essential.

Extrinsic

Not part of the essential nature of someone or something; coming or operating from outside.

Values for our purpose refers to principles and standards of behavior — what is important to you in your life. How you show up for others and how you hope they will show up for you. You can see with the definition of intrinsic and extrinsic, that if we want to feel and live authentically, our values should ideally be intrinsically motivated. 

As a career coach, I call these our CORE values. There are several exercises that we use in the coaching world to help people identify their core values. I like to use this Values PDF from Brene Brown’s Book Dare to Lead. If you’ve never done a values survey, I’d suggest setting aside 10 or 20 minutes to do so right now or when you finish this article.

Instructions: Complete your own Values Survey using Brene Brown’s PDF with this exercise. 

Stop “Shoulding” on yourself. 

Once you’ve completed the values exercise you can continue to use this process in your life. If you feel overcommitted and stuck or if you are having trouble with a particular decision or task try reframing it by switching up your language.

Which is more empowering?

I must bake a hundred cookies for the bake sale because as a good mom I should show that I care about the school. I have to bake these cookies tonight or I will look bad. I won’t get enough sleep, which stresses me out and I might wake up late and be rushed in the morning. I am already frazzled because when I wake up late I yell at the kids and we are all late.

OR

I need to say no to baking a hundred cookies for the bake sale because as a good mom I value the time that I have and so I chose to go to bed early tonight so I can get a good night’s rest and wake-up on time to get my kids to school and me to work in the morning without being stressed, rushed or yelling at my kids.

OR

I love to bake cookies and so I choose to stay up late tonight because I enjoy participating in my kids’ bake sale and I value making this kind of contribution. I know that this is my choice and so even though I may not get all the sleep I need, I will not be stressed in the morning, because I’ve already let my boss know that I’ll be 20 or 30 minutes late. This means that I can take the time I need to get the kids and cookies to school without being stressed or angry.

I must versus I need

I should versus I value

I have to versus I choose to 

Here is another example — I want to improve my health by exercising more. 

I must get up at 6 AM to exercise because my doctor told me I should. Remind me to set my alarm because I have to get up at 6 AM! And, then I feel like a sloth because I sleep in. 

OR 

I need to get up at 6 AM to exercise because my health is important to me. I value my health, therefore, I chose to get up at 6 AM to exercise. And, I do. 

 See the difference? Feel the difference? 

In positive psychology, we call this “stop shoulding” on yourself, because when you should all over you tend to end up feeling pretty shitty. When we feel shitty it tends to build and then we feel bad all around for not living up to our own expectations and also our perceived expectations of those around us. We think we let ourselves and everyone else down all the time when we “should on ourselves.”

Getting clear on your values and then using this to reframe the actions and activities that you take in your life allows you to be authentic to yourself and to the people that mean the most to you. Knowing your values alters your worldview and frees you up to love more and live better.

Worldview

Humans are meaning-making machines. 

Wherever we grow up; however, we grow up, we attribute meaning to the language and actions of those around us. We grow with the rules and expectations of our local culture. Sometimes the culture and rules we experience at home are different from what we get when we leave the house; sometimes we move regions and have to adapt to new rules and ways of doing things. 

One of the things you will notice about most publicly successful people and even privately successful people is that as they grow up they tend to exude confidence. Where does that confidence come from?

A big part is having a clear values system backed up by an active and conscious worldview. Conscious is crucial, because you already live your life with a worldview, it’s the being intentional about it that empowers us to live a life aligned with our values.

Your worldviews is a mix of what you’ve learned and what your mind, heart, and gut tell you is right. It’s the foundation for how you make choices and what lets your mind play mental gymnastics without anxiety or guilt. 

A strong worldview will let you know when you need to do the right thing for the wrong reason; or when maybe you should actually do the wrong thing for the right reason. For example, sometimes the best thing we can do is to tell someone “no.” Saying no can be a gift, in the same way, that discipline is love. 

Your core values are the foundation of your worldview. But there is another important component that varies for each of us and that even changes over our life. These are our character strengths — what we value in ourselves and others. Things like gratitude and an appreciation of beauty, or spirituality or honesty. 

When I work with coaching clients one of the first things I ask them to do is to take the VIA Character Strengths survey. 

VIA Characters Strengths

The survey and the basic results are free, so this test is accessible to anyone reading this article online. You can pay for a more detailed report, but for our purposes today, I don’t find that to be necessary. 

Here is the link to the VIA Character Strengths Survey and my career coaching exercises.

Once you have your results you can put them to use two different ways. 

Your Unique Values

This is how you show up in the world. If you are someone who always notices and fights against the inequities in the world then “Fairness” may be a top strength for you. The VIA report will highlight your top 6 strengths, but give you a list of all 24 in descending order. 

The last strength on your list is not necessarily an indicator that you don’t value or are “bad” at this strength. What it indicates is that it is not as important to you in how you live your life as your top strength. 

For example, I admire and value spirituality, but I’ve not been raised with a strong spiritual practice and I have never made it a priority in my life. Spirituality is one of my “last” strengths. 

On the flip side, my life has been defined by a search for beauty and excellence. I’ve had to “recover” from perfectionism and I am truly bothered by ugly things and places. My number one top strength? “Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence.” This is why my office is my personal oasis, why I always keep houseplants and adore flowers. If I could live in a Japanese botanical garden, I would! 

What you look for in others and the world

Your VIA strengths are also useful for you in looking out for what you value in a place of work or in a company that you do business with. If your workplace is in conflict with what you value, you will always fill at a disadvantage. 

If our CORE values as discussed in part one are our principles and standards. Our Character Strengths reflect our ideals and requirements for the world in which we live. If we do not recognize the importance of both types of values in our life, if we do not own what is important to us by creating and defining our worldview, we will always be wondering why something doesn’t feel right. 

This right here is one of the reasons that journaling and meditation can be such powerful tools. 

When we write in a journal we are safe from the influence and judgment of others and we can work through things like our values. The following questions are things that you might wish to journal about or think of during a time of meditation or quiet reflection. 

I recommend journaling for two reasons. The first is the physical act of writing with a pen on paper activates areas of the brain that deal with healing and processing. Writing is more than thinking — it can actually help you work through ideas and formulate or reformulate your world view. 

Maybe we need to change the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine” to “Laughter and handwriting are the best medicine!” 

Journaling Prompts

Given my top 6 VIA strengths — am I surprised? How do they align with my current priorities in life? Do I want to change anything? If so, why or what?

What brings me feelings of peacefulness?

What causes me to feel joy? 

How do I feel right at this moment?

What is causing me stress right now?

What makes me feel alive?

If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing, what would it be?

What do I need to feel safe or secure?

Why do I worry about _________? What about this is important to me?

Over a single sitting or several weeks try journaling and meditating on your character strengths and core values. Write them down and think about how they show up in your life. 

Notice during your daily activities how and when you experience different emotions, such as anger, joy or guilt dependent on the interplay of your values and what happens in life. 

Notice if certain activities, people or places particularly energize you or drain you. Then take some time to think about the world view you’ve been living with and maybe how you’d like to adapt it to match your core values and strengths. Doing so should be intrinsically motivating and may even cause you to feel elated and or deep joy and gratitude. 

Notice how clarifying your worldview simplifies your life and makes taking choices easier. 

How Values Show up in our Work

In the workplace, real equality means valuing family just as much as work, and understanding that the two reinforce each other. As a leader and as a manager, I have always acted on the mantra, if family comes first, work does not come second — life comes together. If you work for me, and you have a family issue, I expect you to attend to it, and I am confident, and my confidence has always been borne out, that the work will get done, and done better.

Anne-Marie Slaughter

When looking for work we need to live our values. We also need companies that value what we value. When it comes to men and women in the workplace, equality doesn’t mean valuing women on male terms, it means valuing each person’s unique life choices.

Families are important. Parents are important. Partners are important. Life. Work. Purpose. Everything is interconnected.

Meaningful work is important. Demeaning and soulless workplaces literally kill us. They increase our stress and cortisone levels. They create apathy and reduce engagement.

If you are unhappy in your current job you can do two things. You can try to reframe your current work and position so that you enjoy it more. You might do this by talking openly with your manager about what is working and what is not. You might ask for a special project or a promotion, you might ask to move laterally or even go back to a previous position.

If that doesn’t work then you might need to create a plan to find a new job. Maybe you need to pivot. Maybe you need to completely switch gears. Maybe you want to upskill and go back to school or get a certificate.

Whatever you do, first get clear about your values, your strengths, and your interests. Make sure that if you invest the time in creating a new future that it’s a future aligned with the direction you want to go. Make your move a choice and you will be empowered to create your own success.

Once you are clear about your values, make sure the companies you target also have clear values. If you are going to walk your walk; the expect the same from your employer. This article on Power to Fly about Zapier’s company values is a great example of two companies that have clear values and that live their values.

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it's choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”
Be a SuperWoman: Live Your Values

Be a SuperWoman: Live your Values

See the difference? Knowing your values empowers you to live the life of your choosing. It simplifies your decision-making process and facilitates intrinsic motivation. Pushing your values on someone else is also likely to fail, so understanding the values of those around you is an important step to building empathy and direct communication.

I start nearly all my coaching relationships with a values survey because self-awareness is the foundation for building a life you love. 

If you can only do one thing today towards building yourself a more satisfying and resilient future — that thing should be thinking about and identifying your core values. 

You might even call your Core Values your personal Holy Grail. 

Recommended Reading

One of my first ventures into values and how they apply to our daily life is the book the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The book discusses essentially “four agreements” we make with ourselves to live happier, fuller and more authentic lives.

In a nutshell, you might say that Ruiz teaches us to know ourselves and our values. This self-awareness facilitates action and clarity in regards to what you want. Speaking with authenticity and truth, not doing harm with your language, including avoiding gossip or making assumptions becomes easier.

The result is that you have more respect for yourself and for others — you engage in less argument for the sake of argument. And you find more success in all you do, more satisfaction and happiness in your life and your relationships. 

The Four Agreements. Read it. 

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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!

Who are you meant to BE?


Who are you meant to be

I Challenge You to Design a Career of FREEDOM and PURPOSE

Who are you meant to be?

What are you meant to do?

Too often we leave our dreams behind somewhere in our teenage years, setting off on a path to please or on a path of rebellion, not necessarily checking in to listen to our inner wisdom.

From a young age, society programs us to believe that we are not enough, just as we are, that we need to BE somebody.

The result, it’s often hard to accept or believe that we are enough. As we grow the outside world is loud and our own inner voice harshly judgemental.


In reality, we know ourselves best, but all that outside noise and our inner critic make us afraid to listen to our inner wisdom.


When we come up with an idea or path a bit off the “beaten” career path, we often move straight from excitement into assuming “the worst-case scenario.”

When we take our ideas to our friends and family, it is all too easy to listen to external doubters, giving more weight to their opinions than our personal values, insights, and needs.

Add in unexpected events, challenging relationships or economic situations, and it’s no wonder that sometimes we find ourselves with a total lack of career direction.

If you sometimes feel like a sailboat lost at sea jostled to and fro, never knowing when life might bring the next big wave or storm, you are not alone.


Does Your Career Lack Direction?

A few years after the birth of my first son in 2007, I was lost in a sea of career confusion. My first big breakthrough came when I learned to make a distinction between activities I did because I believed “I should” versus because “I valued.”

I recognized that many of my career and life choices, even relationships, I’d made because society had “told” me that I should do them and I’d listened. The moment that I started to let go of “I should” and get reacquainted with “I value” I suddenly rediscovered a childlike enthusiasm for life and a sense of freedom that I’d not felt since I was maybe 8 or 9 years old.


Following my values led me back to school and into an experimental cohort with 6 other graduate students. Our “coach” as I’ll call him, Rich Male, led us through many interesting discussions and activities, but the one with the most significant long-term impact, was having us take the Gallup StrengthsFinder test (this is an affiliate link to Amazon; however I have no association with Gallup, only respect).


Own Your Story

I’d always been told that my “short attention span” for effectively solving problems and then moving on was a weakness. My parents wanted me to get a secure job and stick with it. When I did the Strengthsfinder, Rich said,

“Alison, you have the profile of an entrepreneur! You generate ideas and identify opportunities, you see the big picture and understand what strategy to implement. Don’t let anyone underestimate you!”

My life changed that day. Suddenly, what society told me was a weakness became a strength. I understood why I was so good at what I did and how to make that even better.

Knowing and understanding your strengths is crucial to long-term job satisfaction, as is doing work that lets you exercise your strengths, doing what you do best.



Dare to succeeed

Take Action: Work with a Coach

One of the most powerful reasons that you can work with a coach is to find and set your career direction.

Unlike your friends or family – a good coach will not judge you nor try to sway your decision in any way – a good coach will instead ask the right questions and support you with the best tools for you to find and understand your own path.

A coach is your partner. A coach helps to keep you accountable. A coach is a guide. A coach will champion your inner wisdom and hold the space for you to show up in the world the way you want to be.

Not ready to work with a coach? That’s okay. You can still start this important work on your own.

Online Career Tool Box

I’ve designed a Tool Box (FREE) to challenge you to get over your career confusion starting TODAY. The desired outcome of this ToolBox is to provide you exercises and opportunities to reframe your view of yourself and your career options.

Work through the ToolBox as you need to build stronger sails for your boat; learning when to put down an anchor and developing confidence in directing your own direction.

Indeed, I like to equate knowing your strengths to deploying your sails; sure, it’s good to see where you have a weakness (patch those leaks), but if you don’t put up your sails, you won’t go anywhere!

These short exercises and activities will help you to identify and engage your inner wisdom and celebrate your personal brilliance.

You will clarify your values, desires, curiosities, passions, and needs. You will align these with your skills, strengths, and experiences. If you need additional guidance or would like to work with a Career Coach, feel free to reach out to me at any time.

It is 100% possible for you to finally feel the experience of confidence and faith in who you are and what you do. This is totally DOABLE.


Meaningful work and a sense of purpose do take effort, but aligning your work with what gives you the satisfaction of being useful and having a self-selected direction, is immensely rewarding.


beat the tide, set goals!

What is your goal?

Tell me in the comments, email me, or dive into the ToolBox and figure it all out!