What I’ve Been Up To Lately

A couple of times each year, I post about what I’ve been doing. Maybe social media has trained me to flirt with TMI-mode, but I think it’s because when I work with my clients, I learn so much about what goes on their world that giving people a glimpse into mine feels right.

My New Office

649 Remington Street in Fort Collins, ColoradoI love, love, love my new office! Virginia Wolff is whispering in my ear that it’s okay to want a room of one’s own. Okay, maybe she’s not, but somehow I’ve given myself permission to embrace this space.

I swoon over the character of the house, a stalwart brick two-story home that has a formal name “Golding-Dwyre,” which I promptly Googled and came up short. Despite its elusive history, finding it remains one of my highlights of 2017. Right now, my little office is sparsely furnished, but I have plans to add a few things in the coming months.

A Sad Loss

My black lab, romping through the open space.My 14-year-old Lab died in September. Her health had been declining over the past year, so we had hints that she was nearing the end of her life. That didn’t make it easy, but we did get to say goodbye to her and be with her at the end.

Her full name: Darla, the Love Slut. I adopted her as a 5-month-old puppy, and when I met her, I felt such a strong connection to her that I convinced my reluctant husband that getting a puppy when we had a toddler and a kindergartener was a brilliant plan (and it certainly was!). It was only after we’d had her for a few months that I realized she had the magnetic, you’re-the-most-amazing-person-in-the-WORLD!!! energy for almost everyone she met. She was a special being, and she spread love far and wide.

Best Winter Vacation Ever

Glenwood Canyon, from the train windowMy mom and sis flew out from the east coast to visit just after the calendar turned to 2018, and we took the train from Denver to Glenwood Springs, six hours of scenic splendor. There are canyons that the train passes through that cannot be seen any other way (unless you’re an elite kayaker, and even then, some spots are still inaccessible) – pristine wilderness that took my breath away. And at the end of the train ride, there were soaks in some awesome hot springs, a quaint hotel that makes everyone feel like they stepped into a time machine, and a town where it’s fashionable to wear your bathrobe out and about.

Wading into Online Course Development

I spent a massive amount of time in December developing a course that’s tentatively titled, “Get Your Job Search Mojo Back: For Job Seekers Who are 50+.” It’s been a massive undertaking with >25 lessons inside 8 modules. I’m just doggone proud of myself. It’s a whole new world for me, and I’m almost done! It’ll be ready to release soon (I hope!)

My Content Consumption

Two of my friends and me
With two of my heart friends at Brene Brown’s talk in Portland.

I’m a bit of an audio junkie, so here are some audiobooks and podcasts that I’ve adored in the past few months. Here’s what’s absorbing me recently:

Thanks for reading my headlines and indulging me in my TMI flirtation.

Career Conflict Resolution: When You’re at War with Yourself

Here’s the voice of my many of my clients:

Angry woman opposite the mirror yelling at herself

  • I want to leave my job and start my own business, but I can’t walk away from the security of a salaried position
  • I have visions of making a dramatic geographic move for my career, but my partner wants to stay put (and I want to stay married)
  • Why can’t I enjoy my downtime and take a break from work? I crave time off, but when I get it, I’m bored and restless.

Internal conflicts are rampant in career coaching. What happens when seemingly equally compelling voices inside ourselves compete and clash? It turns into a brawl, one where we wrestle with ourselves and try to squash one. We’re looking for the stronger voice – which one will be dominant and prevail in this bout?

But do you know what happens in these knock-down-drag-outs? Someone loses. And it’s always you – an important part of you.

What if – instead of fighting – there was a reconciliation? What if BOTH parts of yourself had important insights to contribute to your next step?

Here’s what I suggest to my clients when they’re standing at a crossroads and they want to go in both directions at the same time:

  • Write a script: imagine a conversation – not an argument! – between the two parts of yourself. What would each part of you say, and how would the other respond if each part of you genuinely wanted to GET the other part? Journal it as a dialog. Bonus points for writing one of the parts (the one that feels like a young version of you) with your nondominant hand.
  • Ask yourself a peace and reconciliation question: put your mind to work creating a solution, rather than being stuck in the problem. Instead of asking, “Of these two options, which route should I take?” or “What part of myself do I have to give up here?” ask questions like, “What would it look like to have security within a startup venture?” or “What would enrich my marriage AND offer us a shared a adventure that appealed to us both?” or “What would make my downtime enriching?”
  • Look backward in time: How far into your past do you need to go before the warring parts of yourself merge? Who were you back then? How old were you and what were you doing? What would your younger self advise your current self?

Standing a crossroads fills us with tension. We get impatient and want to move on and get into action. Of course, we’re restless when this energy surfaces. Nothing’s wrong with you if you’re stuck, chomping at the bit to get out of the starting gate and move forward with your life. Just don’t throw one part of yourself under the bus in the name of forward progress. Tolerate your own discomfort long enough that you’re able to harvest the wisdom in all parts of yourself.

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.

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.


Happy Birthday to Me

I just turned 50, and in celebration, I wanted to collect 50 lessons about that I’ve learned over the years. Alas, I couldn’t make it all the way to 50, so maybe that’s lesson #1: don’t try to force cute symmetry.I just celebrated my 50th birthday!

Most of these ideas are related to careers, but on some of them, I’m asking you to indulge me as I stray off topic. It’s my birthday month after all.

  • None of us can do it alone. On occasion, we all lose sight of who we are, and we need our community to remind us of our best selves. I remember during my coach training, one of the instructors talked about her leadership tribe (it’s really called that!), and that she sometimes would call one of the people in her tribe and say, “Remind me of who I am!” because she’d lost sight of her best self. We all do that.
  • It might look like you’ve slid backwards to the same place you always settle, but it’s not true. We travel in an upward spiral, and while we may revisit patterns and see familiar scenery, we’ve evolved and shifted, even if it’s ever so slightly, and we tackle those same scenarios with sharper skills.
  • Accountability alone won’t change behavior. Behavior is driven by underlying, usually entrenched beliefs, and if you don’t delve into those parts of yourself, you might be able to make a temporary shift, but you won’t sustain it.
  • Make friends with your gremlins and saboteurs. Thank them for their presence in your life. They’re just trying to keep you safe. Integrate them, buckle them in for the ride, but don’t let them drive.
  • It’s trite, but true: self-care is paramount. If you don’t have your own oxygen mask on, you’re useless to anyone else.
  • Bumper sticker wisdom is usually true. Except when it’s not. Embrace paradox. (That’s my quintessential bumper sticker — it covers all bases.)
  • It’s so much easier to see how others can fix their lives. I often think if we just swapped advice (and then actually followed it), we’d make massive progress.
  • The outcome isn’t as important as making sure I’m in integrity with who I want to be along the way.
  • If I can answer the question, “What do I want?” with as much specificity as possible, my biggest hurdle has been tackled.
  • I had to recognize my own value before I started making it as an entrepreneur. Kate Northrup has a practice that I call a Value Journal. It’s similar to a Gratitude Journal where you write down what you’re grateful for each day except with this daily journalling, you record where you contributed value. It solidified for me what matters most to me, where I want to put my energy, and how what I do matters.
  • You can’t isolate your work life from the rest of your life. If you’re struggling at work/at finding your work, the same issue is showing up in other parts of your life.
  • Shifting gears has more to do with mindset than tactics.
  • I heard a writer attribute a quote to Maya Angelou, “In order to find your path, you must walk.” I haven’t been able to find where she said/wrote it, but it sounds like something she’d say, and I believe it.
  • Everyone wants answers, but we all shudder at the idea of slowing down, taking risks, and opening ourselves up to discovery.
  • This one is from Brooke Castillo, a coach I’ve worked with and followed like she’s my guru: be all in. Don’t cherry pick from people ahead of you on the path. Do everything, give everything for a specified period of time, and then pause and reflect, but don’t rip it apart while you’re in progress.
  • Selling (either a product or a service as an entrepreneur or yourself in an interview) is rooted much more in listening than it is in talking.
  • Put yourself in the sweet spot outside of your comfort zone but not into torture or pain.
  • Don’t look to a job or another person to guarantee security for you. Look within.
  • Here’s another one from the bumper sticker archives: if you’re not failing regularly, you’re not living up to your potential.
  • Sprinkle people’s first names into your conversation as you’re having a discussion with them. It’s like touching them, they perk up and feel an immediate connection to you.
  • Most change happens incrementally, not in leaps. Leaps are sexy, and they make for great stories, but those folks are usually outliers.
  • Make room for both reflection and action. They’re the yin and yang of progress.
  • Go with the wisdom of crowds, especially when it comes to your resume. Someone always has an opinion about how they can make it better, but if you run around and change everything in response to every comment, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
  • I used to apologize for my devotion to thought leaders I admire, but now I honor that part of myself. I listen regularly to Jonathan Fields’ podcast, Brooke Castillo’s podcast, and I also read blog posts from Brene Brown, I watch Tara Brach‘s YouTube channel, and I read Liz Gilbert and Anne Lamott on Facebook like it’s my religion.
  • I anchor myself in some quotes that I return to over and over, including:
    • We can do hard things. ~Glennon Melton Doyle
    • You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. ~Steve Jobs
    • Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. ~Parker Palmer
    • I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~Maya Angelou
    • If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. ~John Wooden
    • Do one thing every day that scares you. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
    • This practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. ~Pema Chodron
    • Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver

Birthday Sessions for Past and Current Clients

Hey, I’m turning 50 this month, and I’m in major celebratory mode. I’d like to do something to recognize the people I’ve worked with, so I’m offering a free coaching session to each of my past and current clients during 2016. Basically, you qualify if you’ve ever paid me money for coaching and/or resume and LinkedIn services.

How do you celebrate you?So that I don’t get overwhelmed, I’m asking people to wait until the first day of the month of their birth month before scheduling, and then get on my calendar during that month. I’ll take the first 3 people for each month.

I’m looking forward to catching up with you!

PS-If you’re sailing along, but you don’t want this offer to pass you by, you can gift it to someone else in your life. The only hitch is that it’s still attached to YOUR birthday month.