Ready to Go?

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.

Why Play Is Serious Work

I’m so impressed each time I see the intensity with which little kids play. Developmental psychologists have said that play is their work– their way of mastering new tasks. It makes me wonder what we adults don’t master by not allowing time for play. We’ve all learned to prioritize so well that we frequently prioritize pastimes we enjoy right out of our busy schedules. We might convince ourselves those pursuits will come back later– and they may, but what parts of ourselves are atrophying by prioritizing the “musts” and “shoulds” ahead of the things that bring us delight– and probably use muscles or parts of our brain that our work-a-day lives don’t engage at all?

An example– the discipline of “putting butt in chair” consistently day after day is key to being a successful writer, so I discipline myself to sit and write for a few hours every day. I haven’t seriously tended my garden in several years, until this spring. I needed the physical exercise of bending and stretching that gardening provides but I also found my writing improved when I took an hour or two to garden. I went back with ideas to create setting details I’d never considered before. I created background for characters that I hadn’t consciously been pondering while I gardened, but it just flowed after my outside breaks.

It seems worth considering that we may be sacrificing an avocation for focused effort in our careers when in reality, our avocations might round us out in ways that would advance our careers even more. And we may not be able to predict that particular alchemy until we try it!

As a career transitions coach, it makes me wonder what my clients aren’t “counting” when we inventory their skills. When I present my workshops on career change, I frequently refer to Richard Bolles’ 3 paths to career change. Two of the three require we use something that we have–familiarity and networks in a particular topical arena or a strong skill that’s transferable to many arenas to make our first “jump” and then to segue into either a new skill set in the former case or a new arena in the latter. There’s no reason that an avocation, such as photography or cooking or love of theater couldn’t provide either knowledge of a field and network contacts or a deep skill set that could be transferred, but we tend to get stuck thinking about only the things we know and do “professionally.”

How often do we fail to consider something that we truly know and love as offering potential career options?

What about you? How have you found ways to incorporate what you love to do into your daily life– and even into your career path? Are you taking your play seriously?

One, Two, Three – JUMP

Changing jobs is tough.  Leaving the devil you know for a devil you don’t know has always been stressful.  In these uncertain times, most folks won’t jump unless pushed.  Whether you’ve been forced to job-hunt or do it (bravely) of your own accord, you want your job search to be as quick and foolproof as possible. You want it to result in a job offer for a position that you can prosper in for a long time.

For many folks in this employment market, changing jobs has morphed into changing careers.  Broadening the kinds of work you’re open to doing, identifying transferable skills to meet the demands of a changing marketplace, searching for a more satisfying way to earn a living all require more than just dusting off your old resume or vitae and mailing out a hundred copies.

They all start with a thorough assessment of what you have to offer that sets you apart from the competition.  If you’ve been sending out resumes and not getting any nibbles, try re-tracing your steps. Create an assessment of your unique qualifications.  It may feel like a difficult task if extended time out of work has lowered your morale, but all the more necessary because you need to rev up feel good about yourself before you can convince anyone else to have confidence in you. One way to start is to take a skills inventory.  Here are 2 free online examples:

Another way that tends to build self esteem a little more is to write 5 stories about distinct experiences in your life where you felt a sense of achievement.  Spend 2-3 paragraphs describing step by step what you did.  Review each story and in the margin and identify the skills you think you used.  Sit down with 2 friends and ask them to listen to you read each story and ask them to list the skills they think you used.  Ask them to identify where in each story they heard each skill occurring.  Share with each other the skills each identified.  Write down the ones that they added to your list.  Read the skills over and try to take them to heart.

Once you’ve assembled a list of skills you feel good about, check it against your resume.  Does your resume highlight those skills you have deep experience in and want to use most in a new position?

Recently, I worked with several women with stellar skills and proven experience who had lost their jobs due to market forces.  They were so shell-shocked by the loss and their subsequent months of unemployment that they had no energy to market themselves –and it came through in their resumes!  Their resumes fairly shouted “I’m a lost soul.  I have no idea how to recover.  Rescue me.”

They needed to say “I know what I can do better than anybody.  Let me tell you what I can do for you and your business.”

That mindset, communicated clearly through your resume, networking contacts and in-person meetings, is irresistible to prospective employers and will give you the edge you need to be hired.

What’s been your experience in your job hunt?  Have you asked for or received any feedback to help you improve your pitch to employers?



Welcome to Change Focus Coaching!
Change Focus is about re-envisioning who you are, what you have to offer the world and where your gifts will have the greatest impact, using your spirit as the center of the process. Whether secular or religious, we all tap into our spiritual center to know what’s meaningful to us, what “feels right” what instinctively attracts or repels us.

I began writing this blog thinking about what my most talented students have taught me about the journey to spirit-centered work. Satisfying and financially rewarding roles and positions are out there, for those willing to do both hard and smart work to find them.

If you’re aware of your gifts but can’t decide how to use them…
If you need to balance purpose and prosperity…
If you’re sure there’s more to work than a paycheck…
If you’ve been frustrated trying to move from your job to your calling… Come join me!

I can offer you tools and processes to help you pursue your perfect niche with effective and purposeful action. Whether your quest is for paid work or meaningful service, Change Focus is about belief, balance and bliss.

Let’s see if we can create a community of like-minded women who share experiences, resources and enthusiasm in the quest for purposeful living. You can read the posts, comment on what you see, join on-line seminars, check out free resources and contact me for a free strategy session!

The luxury of being myself

One of the benefits of working for myself has been realizing that I no longer have to socialize with people because they’re good for business.  I love being able to spend a whole afternoon catching up with someone I haven’t seen for years without positioning myself to “make the ask” or hit all the intelligence gathering marks I’ve strategically selected.  I’ve also stopped wondering if they’re there because they think I can bring business their way.   I love being back to basics;  networking and visiting feel integrated and genuine.  And sometimes there are natural, unforced connections that get made.  I feel more open to pure serendipity and it seems to happen more often because I’ve allowed time for it.  I’m surprised by the names that float into my mind unbidden.  People I’ve had dealings with in prior work settings, old friends I’ve allowed myself to drift away from, now seem important to contact and connect with in new ways.  Sometimes the “why’s” become clear immediately, sometimes the outreach feels good, but the connect is tenuous.  In the end, they’re all sources for reflection.  if you’ve been part of this exploration, thanks!  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. 

I’m learning this is what it feels like when I’m on the right path!

I was at a dinn…


I was at a dinner party with some boomer friends this weekend and we got to talking about returning veterans and their needs. I had heard a great segment on Dan Rodricks’ show (WYPR) ( Thurs  11/10/11 6th Branch) about a local Baltimore nonprofit called “the 6th Branch.” They help local veterans regain a sense of leadership and community by involving them in community projects –problems being solved with a team of other veterans. These projects give the vets a mission as they reintegrate into civilian life and start to create the relationships and networks they need to find community, jobs and friendships. One of the panelists was a psychologist who works with vets with PTSD and he confirmed the importance of finding a sense of purpose in recovery from their combat experience.
There was a silence at the table, before one of my dinner companions reflected “we all need a sense of purpose.”

Many of us close-to-retirement or recently retired folks are grappling with this “what will I do when i grow up” question. Some of us fear leaving our jobs, because we fear losing our purpose. Others of us rush out into the Oz of retirement and then feel a twinge of loss for the roles we played.
For younger folks, raising families, striving for advancement, purpose is defined by career or family. As our family responsibilities lighten and we leave our jobs, we’re free to define our purpose. How have you defined yours? What are the stumbling blocks that get in your way?