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.