I had lunch with a young mentee the other day and she said something that hit a nerve. She was commenting on preparing for her baby’s upcoming first birthday party and she said “I ‘wanna wanna’ do crafty things, but I don’t really wanna do crafts.” I laughed and complemented her on knowing herself so well. The next day, I was working with a client who was knee-deep in excuses as to why she hadn’t (for the 3rd month running) completed the tasks we had agreed were her next steps. I found myself saying “sounds like you want to want to find a job, but you don’t want to find a job.” She was silent for a moment, then owned up to a real ambivalence about giving up her free time for financial relief. Despite two years without income, money alone wasn’t attractive enough to compensate for the loss of freedom she anticipated would come with a job.
I’m not judging here. There are lots of ways in which we all live different values than we espouse. I might want to lose weight, but I eat a whole pizza for dinner. I might want to save money for vacation but I binge-order at Amazon. I might want a new career, but I don’t want to do the networking and researching to find my niche. Sometimes the “should’s” -what we think we are “supposed” to want or do- aren’t compelling enough to make us own them or prioritize the work it takes to get them done.
This leads me to two questions worth asking before you decide to change careers or to work with a career coach. Forgive me for this first one. David Beckham’s recent retirement led to a flurry of replays of Victoria’s spicy prior life, replete with soundtrack. Maybe this will get it out of my head…
1. “Tell me what you want. What you REALLY, REALLY want.”
This is harder than it sounds. Because we all want lots of contradictory things, on different days of the week, dependent on how well our basic needs are being met, feedback we take in from the world, and how well other areas of our life are going. What we want – and are willing to work for – shifts. Here’s a litmus test you might use to sort out what really matters to you. If you were to write your own DREAM Resume and you could credit yourself with any achievement you wanted, what would you like it to say about your life accomplishments? What would really make you proud? You may be justifiably proud of many of the things you’ve already done, but looking at your life so far, is there an accomplishment you’ve always wanted to claim that you haven’t touched yet?
Now I know there are a fair number of Academy Awards and Nobel Peace Prizes that we all wish we’d buckled down and pushed for, but do any of these make your pulse race or make your stomach clench at the thought of NOT achieving them? Take some time to examine that feeling. What is the desire underneath that dream accomplishment? What are some of the ways you could fulfill that desire? Hopefully this will give you a “Gotta Try That” Goal.
2. What’s my motivation?
I recently attended a seminar on the topic of addiction and recovery that had at its heart a conversation about how we change behaviors. (This sounds harder than it really is, so bear with me for a moment!) We change if the weight of the perceived pay-off of the new behavior combined with the actual discomfort of the old behavior is greater than the perceived risk of the new behavior combined with the comfort of the old behavior. The equation looks like this:
PAYOFF of Attaining Goal + RISK of Status Quo >
RISK of Attaining Goal + PAYOFF of Status Quo
So the carrot AND the stick equals your motivation!
You can get a sense of whether you’re ready to work on your goal by using this process. Look at the What’s My Motivation Exercise under the Resources tab. There is a separate Sample document to give you the flavor. If you work through this process, some items come up more than once in different words—probably things you feel strongly about — and that’s good to know.
After making your lists under each heading, give a value to each item (5= very important to me, 3=neutral, 1=not very important). Add together Goal Payoff and Status Quo Risk.
Add together Goal Risk and Status Quo Payoff. If you’re motivated to make a change, the total for Goal Payoff/Status Quo Risk will be greater. Hopefully, a lot greater. Hang the exercise in a prominent place to remind yourself of why you’re ready to work hard to achieve that goal. You’re ready to go –
If not, maybe it’s a “wanna wanna”! Stop beating yourself up. Maybe it’s better to re-assess that goal and find one that really motivates you to act! If you’re stuck, there are lots of ways to stimulate your imagination and help you find a path that really does motivate you to make a change!
If you need help with either developing a targeted plan or finding a new direction, contact me for a complementary strategy session.