My Summer Reading (and Viewing and Listening) List

Bookcase with plant in Maggie's office

I”m not gonna lie. Been feeling a little restless since I started this social media fast.

On the plus side, I’ve had more time for reading, viewing, and listening on other platforms, and I thought I’d share the ones that are (mostly) career-related.

  • Salary Negotiation – The title says it all: How to Be an Ace Salary Negotiator (Even When You Hate Conflict). One of my favorite lines, “negotiation should be a conversation, not a confrontation.” I also appreciate that gender is addressed in this article, which brings me back to a video from the archives that continues to surprise me no matter how many times I watch it. One final note about the ace negotiator article: it comes from the Smarter Living section in the New York Times, which is one of the few blogs I subscribe to and read faithfully.  Another recent fav covered FOBO (Fear of Better Options, which I see often in my practice).
  • Networking – A new-to-me artcile about shaking up the traditional paradigm around making connections for the sake of exploring a career and/or finding a job. It’s called The Best Networking Advice: Stop Asking People to Coffee. Bottomline: don’t be formulaic.
  • Prototyping Career ShiftsPivot Planet is an organization that allows you to talk to someone in a specific field and get the real truth of what it’s like. There’s a fee for time with these folks, but it takes the awkward ask out of the equation that shuts many people down. So, if you’re curious about being a wine importer, professional speaker, shipbuilder, animation film producer, or another esoteric or mundane professional, this is fun site to explore.
  • Job CraftingHidden Brain, one of my favorite podcasts, just rebroadcast an episode on Dream Jobs, which is wonderful because I missed it when it first aired. The episode covers meaning and purpose at work, adding credence to my latest motto: seek purpose to build passion.
  • Finding Meaning and Purpose – The article called Want to Love Your Job? Read this Article offers more insight along the theme of meaning. Notable line: Your work may not change the world. But your approach to it makes a meaningful difference in how you and those your work with, and serve, feel.
  • Multipotentialites – Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk called Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling isn’t new to me. Delivered in 2015, it’s becoming a classic in the career world, but I include it on this list because I’m talked to so many clients these past few months who haven’t heard it and who feel validated and affirmed by Emilie’s message.

It would be a stretch to call these other favorites career-related, but they’re just so darn good, I’m compelled to add to my list. I hope you’ll indulge me.

  • Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette special on Netflix – Part standup routine, part advocacy talk. It was absolutely stunning to witness how masterfully she delivered such a powerful message. She’s someone who has clearly done intense personal work, and what I really, really love about her talk is that she serves as an amazing role model for women being angry in an effective and meaningful way. Simply exquisite work.
  • Sarah Blondin’s guided meditation – My sis suggested I listen to this particular meditation called Loving and Listening to Yourself. 12 minutes of pure affirmation and nourishment.
  • Rachel Simmons’ book Enough As She Is – The modern version of Reviving Ophelia, covering social media, perfectionism, and academic pressure and how it tends to affect girls. Vital for parents of teen and college-age girls and also a great glimpse into social pressures on girls and women.
  • Tara Brach’s talk – I’ve been searching for a way to articulate to myself and my clients the difference between acceptance and resignation, the difference between greeting what’s here and resisting and wrestling with what’s already happened, the difference between turning toward and turning away from our experience, and Tara Brach’s talk called Saying ‘Yes” – Meeting Your Edge and Softening comes as close I’ve ever heard.

I love hearing what others are watching and listening to, so send me your suggestions.


Too Many Career Possibilities? In the Grip of Indecision.

Sometimes, we don’t have enough lifetimes to fit in everything that we want to try, accomplish, experience, be – ideas are simply spilling over.Too many ideas swirling overhead

In the book Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans write,

You are legion. Each of us is many. This life that you’re living is one of many lives you will live. Now, we are not talking about reincarnation or anything with religious implications. The plain and simple truth is that you will live many different lives in this lifetime.

I often meet people when they’re paralyzed, standing at a crossroads and struggling to confine themselves to just one path. What often happens is that they end up doing nothing – they come to a screeching halt – because they don’t want to leave any part of themselves behind.

The question of how you reconcile the parts of yourself that you’ve left behind is a vital one, especially as we age. It can feel like doors are closing, and we’re losing parts of our identity that matter deeply to us. Grief and loss can figure prominently here.

So, what’s the solution? Here are some possibilities:

  • Recognize that as you release ideas, you gain commitment and forward momentum. If you’re always in the “pause and deliberate” phase of designing your career, you’re stagnant, and you give up ALL of the possible versions of yourself except for the aimless one.
  • Seek to integrate and combine. What’s at the heart of the versions of yourself that feel lost to you? For example, if you’ve always wanted to be a university professor – what part of that appeals to you? Is it being in the world of ideas around others who love to discuss them? Mentoring rising generations? Some autonomy about the projects you pursue? Identify those core ingredients and ask yourself how you can create those conditions in one of your other possible paths.
  • Allow yourself to grieve. You know what? I’m not going to be an Olympic athlete. That ship has sailed. Currently, I’m in my 50s, and I don’t think I’m going to be the next Dara Torres (besides, she was shockingly in her 40s at the London games, her final one). Some things really are gone. How can you honor that part of yourself and release it?
  • Harvest your ideas to access later. It may be that some of your parallel lives will loop back to meet you in a few years. Keep a list of your possibilities (I have mine on Evernote), so that you can revisit them periodically and decide whether their time has come. You might categorize them (for example: Moon Shots, After Kids Have Graduated, When $ Isn’t an Issue) and list details that are important for you to capture now. Some people like to use art (vision board, for example) to express themselves.

As I work with people on crafting their next career steps, we use many of these activities and paradigms, so we’ll build on these ideas even further in our work together.

Career Spin, Reinvention, and Horror Movie Screams

I visited my neighbors’ house, and their 7-year-old asked me about my work.

“What do you do?” she asked.

“I work with people to help them discover their work and find jobs,” I said, feeling smug that I could encapsulate it that easily for a first grader to recognize its value.

“Oh…” Pause. “Is that it?”

Reality descended as I recognized I didn’t perform at the level I’d hoped. My face fell.

“Well,” I said lamely, “I also write.”

“Hmmm…,” she said as she wandered off.

So, maybe I couldn’t impress a first grader, but hopefully, my latest articles on Careerealism might hold your attention for a bit longer:





Career Change in 2 Parts

It’s simple, really, to change careers. Not easy, but simple.

Part 1: Answer some key questions

  • What energizes you?
  • What are your talents and strengths?
  • How do you hold yourself back and get in your own way?
  • Where is there demand for what you’re offering, and how can you communicate your fit for those positions?

Part 2: Specify exactly what you want:

  • What are the job titles you’re pursuing? (Get specific here. The more precise you can be, the better you’ll be able to hit your target.)
  • What industry do you want to be in? (Nonprofit, healthcare, manufacturing, renewable, transportation, IT, education, etc.)
  • Where geographically do you want to work?
  • What are 10 target companies that you want to pursue?


You Already Have Enough Information to Make a Career Decision

Many people Parker Palmer quote: Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.come to me for career coaching because they’re lost, aimless, uncertain about their next moves.

They know what doesn’t work, but they’re not sure where to go next.

They often have people in their lives who know with utter certainty what they’re meant to do with their lives, and they see a huge chasm between where they are and where they think they should be.

What’s extraordinary about those sessions that I have with the clients who come in thinking that they’re completely rudderless is that it doesn’t take long for them to uncover what really matters to them and to match it up with where they’re going.

As the Parker Palmer quote so beautifully states,

Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.

Looking Backward Provides Vital Clues into Your Next Career Move

One question in particular provides strong insight into who you are:

Who has influenced your career, either positively or negatively?

Think about key people in your life, your parents or caregivers, your mentors or heroes, your teachers, your bosses. How did they touch you? What did you learn from them? Perhaps they inspired you, perhaps they taught you what NOT to do. Perhaps they saw something in you that you didn’t see in yourself and opened the door for it emerge. Regardless of the tone, telling your story will uncover a vital connection for you about who you are, where you’ve been, and also where you’re going.

Use the comments to write about one person who has influenced your career path.

My Own Story About An Influential Person

Here’s one of my stories in response to this question: Pamela was my boss when I was probably all of 25 (I’m almost double that age now, so it seems like a very long time ago).

She’s still my friend, and she still offers me guidance, but at the time, she was one of the first people to give me a vision of a strong professional woman.

She was in a senior role where we worked, and she had influence over what happened. She wasn’t afraid to speak up, but she knew how to use grace to convey her message, how to be appropriately feminine and powerful in a male-dominated organization, and how to advocate for her staff and give credit where credit was due.

I actually changed my name because of her. About 6 months after I got married, I was still using my family name. My older sister got married before me and she didn’t change her name, and since we’re a family of girls and a family of strong feminists, I thought I was supposed to keep my name rather than change it when I got married.

Well, here’s what happened: one day, I was in Pamela’s office when she answered her phone, and she picked up the phone and said smoothly and with authority her full name and the name of the organization where we worked. I thought, “I want to talk like that, with confidence.”

I practiced it (really, out loud), and I stumbled over it. But when I tried it using my husband’s name instead of my given name, it flowed out smoothly, and I had the same tone as Pamela.

I was a little embarrassed to change my name because it seemed like such a superficial reason to do so, just because I liked it, but it was one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done for myself, and it was based on Pamela’s influence.

Please tell one of your stories below in the comments.

Do You Have Career ADHD?

Do you find yourself trolling job search sites and imaging yourself in the jobs you see there?

When a friend describes her job, do you quickly assess whether it might be something that you’d enjoy?

Do you look at graduate programs and do a budget in your head, calculating how lo
ng and how much money it would take to reinvent yourself?

If you’re wandering aimlessly across the career tundra, wondering where you belong, you’re not alone.

Just like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has verifiable roots, there’s a real foundation for your musings and your behavior.

Which career direction should you choose?

Logic Reigned at Key Pivot Points

At each milestone moment in our lives, there are clear roads with neon signs pointing, “This way!” When you graduate from high school, the next logical step is college, and when you’re in college, the typical formula for figuring out your major can be summed up as

Classes in High School You Liked + What You’re Good At + Good Job Opportunities + Decent Salary = Your Career

If you’re like most people, you flooded your college career center with resumes, counted yourself lucky to have a reasonable offer before you went through the commencement ceremony, and started calculating your car payment and surfing online for your first vacation spot with paid leave.

All of those decisions made sense at the time, but once you’re settled into a job, and even if you’ve switched around a bit, there comes a point when you realize that you’re solidly in a career track and you wonder if maybe you made the right decision.

And the truth is, you did make good decisions. All of those decisions were great at the time and they took you towards success. To question whether you still have the same definition of success makes perfect sense a few (or more) years out of college.

Now, it’s time to integrate the other dimensions of your life that you’re developing.

  • Does your job/career leave you room to spend time with people doing activities that matter to you?
  • Does it align with your values?
  • Do you feel invigorated and recognized at work?

There’s No College Course in Developing Your Internal GPS

No one teaches us to listen internally for our internal guidance. Maybe people asked you, “What’s your passion,” but that question can be paralyzing if there’s not a clear, easy response. In fact, sometimes it’s easier to make something up that sounds good just to have a ready answer for that question.

  • How much of what we gravitate toward is a reaction to what has been taught and modeled for us?
  • Are we really heading towards something, or are we trying get away from a fear or some discomfort?

It’s a Simple Question, but a Complex Answer

As you reflect on what to do next in your career, there aren’t straightforward answers.

Passions don’t always pay the bills, and there’s more to this question of which direction to take than what lights you up. Even when you set aside the question of clear barriers (your partner has a job in this town, but there are no other opportunities for you here beyond what you’re doing now, for example), there layers and nuances to this process.

  • How can you craft mini experiments to determine whether you’re on a track worth pursuing rather than take a leap that bets most of your security?
  • The job market is shifting so rapidly that it’s tough to make predictions about where opportunities lie. How do you know whether a direction you’re exploring has a solid foundation?
  • How can you tell the difference between a bright, shiny object and a true calling?

Give yourself a break if you wonder whether you’re in the right spot professionally. You got here honestly, and just like ADHD, there are treatment protocols and strategies that can point you in the best direction for you and your long-term sense of satisfaction and meaning and security.

Where do you think you went astray? Post your pivot point in the comments below. It’ll help others recognize that they’re not alone in feeling cast adrift.