What I did on my summer vacation

Have you ever heard of a Now page? It’s something that writer Derek Sivers developed and caught hold among solopreneurs. It’s an initiative where entrepreneurs add a short page on their websites capturing recent projects and activities – basically, a succinct way for entrepreneurs to catch others up with their happenings.

It’s not about events, but about curiosities and what’s going on behind the scenes. More important than the efficient transfer of information is the deepening connection that emerges from building and sharing a Now page. I haven’t created this specific feature on my site, but I like to loop people in my community (that’s you!) into what I’ve been doing lately, so here’s some of what’s been on my radar these past few months:

      • DYL Obsession: I continue to crush on this book, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, so don’t get me started on discussing it, or there may be no stopping me. Let me just say that there’s a TEDx talk by one of the authors that you must watch. I’ve subjected my entire family to the audiobook, and we made it our theme for our week at the beach. My 19-year-old son’s eyes glazed over when we talked about it, but then he surprised me one day by telling me he had listened to it the previous evening. “It’s a 6-hour audiobook!” I said in astonishment. “Yes, but it’s only 3 hours if you listen to it on double speed,” he told me. Fair enough. I was just shocked that he opted in, and even more stunned when he started applying some of the ideas. I’m using the book with almost all of my individual clients and scheming to include it in my work even more this fall.

      • Requisite Failures: There’s so much glorification of failing right now. Sure, I’m learning from my failures, but they still sting. I really wanted to launch some workshops and groups this past spring, and despite my advertising efforts, I fizzled in those arenas. I also dipped my toe back into counseling, and that experience reminded me why I’m solidly in the coaching world. I’m not one for offering diagnoses, writing treatment plans, and pathologizing what people are experiencing. I still believe wholeheartedly in the value of therapy – it’s just not what I want to do as a practitioner.
      • Writing: I created a series of articles about LinkedIn for Workforce50, started to write about career sabbaticals on that site and others, and also published some content on the Career Directors International site.
      • Podcast Consumption: I might have a slight podcast addiction. A few that I listen to regularly:
        • Hidden Brain – NPR at its best! Recent career-related episodes include You 2.0: Dream Jobs and Episode 56: Getting Unstuck.
        • Good Life Project – Deep dive interviews with big thinkers. I loved the episode with Susan David called On Resilience and Emotional Agility, and the episode with Elizabeth Gilbert may be my favorite podcast of all time. Seriously, I mean ever.
        • Dear Sugar Radio – Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond dispensing great wisdom. I often cry when I listen to this one. Sometimes, it’s career-related, like the Career Vs. Love episode.
        • Conversations with People Who Hate Me – Totally unrelated to careers, but it made me cheer because finally, there’s a political show about healing. It’s a new podcast, so there are just a few episodes, but there’s some bridge building going on in those conversations.
        • Tara Brach – Also unrelated to career, but still a fave. Buddhism and psychology interspersed with some guided meditations. I think that if I just listen to Tara Brach enough and integrate what she says, I would be at peace.
        • Terrible, Thanks for Asking – About tough emotions – so touching. It’s just nice to know that I’m not alone when I’m struggling.
      • Teen drivingOutside of My Work World: I pinched a nerve in my neck just after Mother’s day, so I haven’t been at my computer as much as I was in the spring. Pilates is my new sport, and my physical therapist is my new best friend. I’m teaching my youngest to drive, something I consider heroic because driving terrifies me. I’m in a SoulCollage women’s group, a delightful connection with amazing people where I can dabble in art.

So, there’s my summer. I’m diving into some new topics this fall, including dealing with workplace toxicity and building community for career exploration while continuing to deepen my knowledge of introversion, ageism in a job search, and career sabbaticals.

Now, I’m off to the beach for summer’s last hurrah. Sand and surf await.

Getting Caught in the Grip of Fear

It’s a sign for me that when I begin trolling job boards looking for a full-time, salaried position, that I’m on the brink of ascending to a new level in my business. That’s convoluted, right? Yes, it is. Here’s how it unfolds for me:

    • Fear has many faces. It’s not just a signal of a threat to security and safety. It can also show up because of unfamiliarity and new territory. Tara Mohr talks eloquently about this distinction between different types of fear (watch her short video below). The fear that surfaces when we’re facing something new, something that we covet, something that we’re pursuing wholeheartedly – that fear can present exactly like fight-flight-freeze, threat-to-safety fear, and so, if we’re not attuned to the differences in types of fear, we react in the same way: retreat!

  • I’ve grown to recognize this embodying-new-territory type of fear because I reflexively get into some type of behavior that has me bolting in the opposite direction of what I want for myself. So, I’ve taken to letting myself wander through job boards and sometimes even submit applications to positions, and then, I gently remind myself that it’s okay to be scared when I’m creating exactly what I want for myself. I haven’t traveled this path before, so of course, my energy dwindles, I get uncertain, my confidence wanes. It’s almost like having my highest self hold hands with my fearful, doubting self. “It’s okay,” I tell myself.

Have you ever noticed that self-sabotage shows up for you when you’re approaching something you deeply covet? It’s okay. No need to beat up on yourself for it. We all do it.

Career Design 101

Review of the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

I have a huge crush on this book. Or maybe my crush is on its authors. Either way, I’m smitten.

I’m not exaggerating or being dramatic (okay, I am, but just a little). I’m swooning because this book outlines a process for career exploration that offers a realistic view of finding the overlap in the Venn Diagram between fulfillment and money. There’s a structure and pathway here that goes beyond checklists and someone else’s categorization of work, and it guides people to crafting a life and a career that suits them. It succeeds for so many reasons, but I’ll highlight three here.

It Busts Longstanding Career Myths

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans point out that all of us operate under guiding principles that, if we looked closely at them, would fall apart. We cling to them because – well, for many reasons, but mainly because we’ve never thought to name them and to look deeply at them. Burnett and Evans call these guiding principles “dysfunctional beliefs” and they offer affirming reframes. Some examples include:

  • Dysfunctional Belief: Work is not supposed to be enjoyable; that’s why they call it work.
  • Reframe: Enjoyment is a guide to finding the right word for you.
  • Dysfunctional Belief: My dream job is out there waiting.
  • Reframe: You design your dream job through a process of actively seeking and co-creating it.
  • Dysfunctional Belief: I finished designing my life; the hard work is done, and everything will be great.
  • Reframe: You never finish designing your life – life is joyous and never-ending design project of building your way forward.

In my work with career explorers, I’ve found that people earnestly try to find their way forward, and when they encounter stumbling blocks, they tend to see themselves as deficient rather than questioning the process or the structure that they’re using to overlay the process. This book offers a wonderful avenue to recognizing when we’ve gotten off track, and – more importantly – a route back to ourselves and the way forward.

It Doesn’t Depend on Passion – In Fact, It Supports People in Curating New Curiosities Within Themselves

Raise your hand if you’ve had enough of the “what’s your passion” question. That question irritates me because, as Burnett and Evans point out, only 20% of Americans can definitively answer that question. What about the rest of us?! Well, this book points the way for the rest of us.

The book begins with an assessment of where you are in your life, using the categories work, play, love, and health, and it also offers instructions for writing first a lifeview reflection and then a workview reflection (simple questions in the writing prompts, and at the same time, very deep), followed by an integration of the two. These activities allow strong insights to surface, and they create a foundation to use for the remainder of the book’s exercises.

It Builds a Solid Foundation, One Based on Probes and Exploration, Not Leaps

I’ve heard from so many clients about their tidy plans that looked so nice wrapped up with a bow. The logical extension of an interest into a career that then fell flat, but because it looked right from the outside – it had all the right ingredients, it was super tough to admit that it didn’t fit. And suddenly, they wake up and it’s 10 or even 20 years later, and they’ve got mortgages and looming college tuition bills – no way can they switch now. (This is an example of a dysfunctional belief, btw).

Using the design process outlined in the book, readers prototype their possible paths so that they have data to support their choices before they’re too far down a path to make a pivot. That’s sustainability right there!

I’m so enamored of this book that I’ve created a six-week group that takes a deep dive into the book and completes the activities with the support of a like-minded community. Discover more about the group on my Career Exploration page.


You Don’t Have to Answer Your Phone

Introverts: here’s your permission slip.

You are hereby excused from answering your phone.

Decide when you want to answer your own phone.Even when you’re in a job search, there’s no need to respond to that ring tone (unless it’s a scheduled job interview).

Let callers leave a message. Then you get to deliberate about what you want to say and call back with your carefully phrased response.

I hate answering my phone, and I hear from countless clients who cringe at the idea of sliding their fingers across their phones to accept a call. “Ignore” sounds like a rude option, but it’s totally cool to respond on your terms. You’ll be composed and present and in a spot where you have great reception.

Take Your Time to Compose and Engage

A hallmark of introversion is taking time to compose and engage, and hitting the “pause” button in a conversation is absolutely legitimate.

You’re not alone if you glare disgustedly at your phone when it rings. It’s a clear sign that you’re in this tribe.

Show up in ways that matter. Let your calls go to voice mail when it makes sense and it contributes to your well-being, and then later, respond on your terms in ways that preserve the connection and honor the purpose behind each call.

Some places you might put your attention:

  • Make sure your outgoing message is clear and represents you well. If you have the default message with just your number, it doesn’t let the caller know that they’ve reached the right party.
  • Respond in a timely manner so that you encourage the communication if that’s your agenda.
  • Allow yourself to have additional time for deliberation if something unexpected comes up in a call when you’re live with someone. “Let me think about that and get back to you,” is one of my mantras, and if the caller is offering me something that I don’t want to block (a job offer, for example), I check to make sure my suggested timing suits the caller: “Will Tuesday morning be soon enough to get a response to you?”

No need to squelch your introverted wiring at every turn. Route your phone calls to voice mail when it makes sense and release any guilt that you were holding onto about that practice.

Some of My Recent Favorite Career Resources

I’m a voracious reader, and I also listen to several audiobooks and podcasts, so my recent consumption has included some greats:

  • Jeff Goins’ The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. I am in love with this book. Some of my favorite ideas in the book:
    • Open to the idea that we don’t have just one calling.
    • Consider how to put together a portfolio career by combining parts of your life.
    • Create community around building your career. It won’t happen if you’re the Lone Ranger.
    • Instead of making a map and following it, be open to twists and turns.
  • By lucky timing, I got to review the course that Jeff built to accompany his book. He also has a podcast with 10 episodes that elaborate on the book. Plus, he has a podcast called The Portfolio Life that I like.
  • Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work by Whitney Johnson. The best section in the book for me was “Play to your disruptive strengths,” where she asks great questions to uncover your strengths. For example, “What exasperates you about others?” She says, “It may not be that they’re deficient, just that you’re unusually skilled.”
  • Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, and she produced a series of podcasts that she released around the time of her book launch. The ideas that she presents about how fear holds us back are phenomenal. She talks about having permission to pursue what matters to us, persisting in our endeavors, and yes, she also talks about enchantment and magic in an inspiring way. “Creativity is a crushing chore and a glorious mystery. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.”
  • Gregg Levoy’s Vital Signs: Discovering and Sustaining Your Passion for Life came out at the end of 2014. I got to attend one of his workshops this past year where he asked “If you could choose any mentor in history or present day to guide you in creating the kind of life you want, who would it be? What advice would they give you?” Answer that question, and you’ve got direction!
  • The Road to Character by David Brooks has some extraordinary ideas. He splits apart “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues,” and I wonder what would happen if we pulled them together. He urges us to explore not just our superpowers but the places where we’re deeply broken to plot our paths.
  • Brene Brown’s Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution transformed me. She teaches us how to rise after a fall, and as we plot and navigate our careers, there are bound to be falls. “Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending — to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes, This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends.
  • I’m a faithful listener of Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project podcast. The people he interviews inspire me and give me great insight into how to create a career.
  • I also listen every week to Brooke Castillo’s The Life Coach School Podcast. She has taught me more about how my mind works than any course or book or professor or therapist ever has. I marvel at how she dissects our thoughts and puts them into her model to make sense of how we’re inadvertently self-sabotaging ourselves. I had the wonderful privilege of taking a course with her last year, and at the beginning of the course, she said, “If you let it, this intensive will blow your mind.” And it did.
  • 2 TED recent talks captivated me: Stop Searching for Your Passion by Terri Trespicio and Why Some of Don’t Have One True Calling by Emilie Wapnick. In the first, the best quote is, “There’s a dangerously limiting idea at the heart of everything we believe about success and life in general, and it’s that you have one singular passion and your job is to find it and to pursue it to the exclusion of all else, and if you do that, then everything will fall into place, and if you don’t, you’ve failed.” Then, Emilie coins a new term: multipotentialites, people who have a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime. Thanks to these two wise women, we can reframe passion and discard perfectionist tendencies around that construct