How to Have an Awesome Work Career

I was reflecting on my work career (past, present, and future) this morning and came to the realization that my job is “awesome.” OK, that word is overused, but I have young adult and pre-teen daughters, so I think I understand the different meanings it has, but I’m talking about the old definition of “awesome.” In others words, I enjoy almost every part of what I do for a living, and there is research in work psychology that explains why that is the case. So, here are the elements that make up an “awesome work career,” and some tips on how to get more of those elements in your own work life.

Meaning. An awesome job is one that has meaning. There is a purpose to your work, and you have to find that higher purpose. There is a scene in the movie Cedar Rapids, where Ed Helms’ nerdy character makes insurance sales sound like an uplifting career (“we are the heroes on the disaster scene, working to rebuild lives…”). Even mundane jobs, like customer service can be viewed as having meaning (e.g., helping clients, giving customers a great experience). If you can’t find the meaning in your current job after looking hard, it may be time to look hard for a new career.

Accomplishment. Choose a career where you can accomplish things, take pride in those accomplishments, and celebrate them. I take pride when I publish a paper, give a great lecture, or finish a blog post. The pride comes from readers and students who comment favorably on my accomplishments, and I’ve been known to celebrate with a glass of wine.

My friend Carlos makes car-racing accessories. He takes pride in the fact that he can build better quality accessories, and do them quicker, than anyone else at his company. I tell our college students to accomplish something at their summer internships – a project, a report, or helping run a successful event. If their internship doesn’t require it, I suggest they talk to their supervisor about taking on some extra, challenging project, perhaps one that the supervisor hasn’t had time to complete. It makes for a better internship experience to accomplish something that makes a distinct contribution, and the same goes for every job.

Positive Relationships. Nothing can make a career more awesome than working with terrific people, and building strong and rewarding relationships with them. I’m fortunate to have amazing, talented, and (yes) awesome students. I get to meet and network with wonderful clients in my consulting work, and I have some of the best research collaborators anyone could hope for. And, I try to steer clear of the bad relationships – those that can make your job an ordeal, and make you question yourself and your career choice.

Research clearly shows that relationships at work can be the greatest source of pleasure or the most tormenting source of pain and stress. Cultivate positive relationships and work hard to avoid the bad relationships (previous posts offer help in dealing with bullies and bad colleagues and bosses).

Balance. Very few people can have awesome careers if their lives revolve entirely around their jobs. An awesome career is one that allows time for family, friends, and the ability to pursue non-work-related interests. I often talk to people who are unhappy because their jobs consume all of their time and energy. Some of them change to careers that allow greater balance and flexibility, and although there are tradeoffs (e.g., less money, prestige, or a slower ride up the ladder). I rarely hear any regrets from them.

Does good fortune play a part in someone having an awesome career? To some extent. But it is more likely that people have to plan, make tough strategic career decisions, and work hard to make their career awesome.

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Published by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

How To Follow Your Passion When You’re Just Trying To Pay The Bills

ignitefire-654x453 [BLOG]

During tough economic times, many people think they need to sacrifice passion and focus solely on earning money. From a spiritual perspective, this is the exact opposite approach to generating real abundance. Yes, paying your bills takes practical action. But it also requires an internal belief system powered by inspiration and passion. Without an emphasis on passion, it’s likely that no matter how many actions you take, you’ll still wind up feeling stuck.

Neglecting passion blocks creative flow. When you’re passionate, you’re energized. Likewise, when you lack passion, your energy is low and unproductive. Energy is everything when it comes to earning. Quantum physics teaches us that our bodies are made up of subatomic particles that are energy. Your thoughts, attention, and focus affect your energy and therefore everything around you—including your bank account. So when you’re thinking only about the mundane to-do lists and practical action steps, you’re lowering your energy and in effect lowering your earning power.

Your life becomes what you think about most. When you focus on following your passion and letting inspiration flow, your energy is raised and your earning capacity is strong. But when you’re uninspired and bogged down by low-level thoughts, your attracting power is weakened.

Now that you have a better understanding of the earning value of passionate, positive energy, it’s time to take it more seriously. Read on for three simple, effective ways you can bring more passion into your life—even if you’re crazy-busy.

Who said your job had to be your only source of passion?

Our culture places such a huge emphasis on our careers, that we lose track of our passion projects. But who said your job had to be your only source of passion? A dear friend of mine is a powerful example of balancing passion and career. He works in corporate America, but moonlights as a guitar player. Though he spends his weekdays at a desk, he spends his weekends indulging his passion projects such as gigging with his band, writing, drawing, and learning about art. Though he dedicates a lot of his time to his career, there is no lack of passion in his life.

The passion of being of service

When we’re of service to the world, we feel inspired and passionate about the work that we do. Perhaps the work you’re doing is service-related—getting clear about the ways in which it serves the world may make you more passionate about it. If that’s not the case with your job, maybe you volunteer for a local charity once a month, or find a way to participate in your community, or promote bigger causes. Awaken a service mentality. When you serve the world, you serve your soul.

Shift your perception about the way you make money

If you’re hung up about the fact that your primary source of revenue doesn’t come from your true passion, shift your perspective. Be grateful for the work that you have and focus on the good stuff. Find even the smallest part of your work that ignites your passion. Maybe you love interacting with clients, or the neighborhood where you work. Maybe you’re learning something new by being on that job. Focus on what you do have and you’ll create more of what you want.

Take these action steps seriously. We all have work to do to support our economy, and if we’re void of passion we won’t have the energy and inspiration to serve. The more passion we ignite in our lives, the higher our earning capacity will be and the more we’ll impact financial growth in our country. When we all raise our thoughts we’ll raise our bank accounts—and greatly serve the world.


Gabrielle Bernstein |

Featured in the New York Times Sunday Styles section as “a new role model,” motivational speaker, life coach, and author Gabrielle Bernstein is making her mark. Expanding the lexicon for the next generation of spiritual seekers, Gabrielle is the #1 bestselling author of the book, Add More ~ing to Your Life, A hip Guide to Happiness. In September 2011 Gabrielle launched her second book, Spirit Junkie, A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles. In 2008 she launched her social networking site HerFuture.com for young women to find mentors.

From Tunnel Vision To Your Ultimate Vision [BLOG]

stress-tunnel-vision

 

 “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
—Anaïs Nin

I’m a huge advocate for living a life beyond your wildest dreams, but I also know there are some potential pitfalls on the journey.

Having a vision is a powerful tool. It means that you are honoring your goals, aspiring toward them, and taking risks to expand your horizons. Sometimes our visions for ourselves subtly turn into tunnel vision. We can’t see anything that contradicts our intentions and desires. We get selective perception, which limits our ability to remain open and to see things clearly. Instead of being present to our reality while we pursue our heart’s desire, we put the blinders on and barrel ahead toward our hopes and dreams.

There is a shadow side to almost every positive thing we can do for ourselves, including having a vision. It’s important to be aware of this distinction. All spiritual and psychological tools can be used in a “willful” way. For example, sometimes self-care is actually about taking care of ourselves: unplugging from too much work and plugging into more balance and harmony. But sometimes, under the guise of self-care, we are really just checking out: denying what’s happening and how scary it feels to show up for it. So, how do we know the difference? How do we know when we are pursuing our vision in a manner that is actually in alignment with our intentions?

Tension in the Tunnel

Tension usually crops up when we are stuck in the tunnel—it takes a lot of effort to keep the blinders on. For me, the tension often shows up in the form of a headache. For others, there might be similar physical cues, such as stomach- or back-aches, getting sick, or feeling lethargic. Some people find themselves to be more irritable or short-tempered. When we aren’t looking at the big picture of our reality, our emotional bandwidth tends to shrink. This happens because everything becomes limited in the tunnel—not just our vision. I don’t know about you, but when I’m stuck in a tunnel, I can get a little cranky. What are your personal cues that suggest you might be denying aspects of your own reality?

Fear in the Tunnel

There are reasons that we aren’t looking at the big picture, many of which boil down to fear. “What if I leave this relationship and I’m alone forever?” “What if I open this piece of mail and find out that I owe more money than I have in the bank?” “What if I take this day-job and I never get the job of my dreams?” Our response to these fears can be “No thanks, I’ll stay here in the tunnel, where it feels safe.” The blinders go up and we clamp down, even harder.

Denial is not a Tunnel in Egypt

The problem is that denial may feel safe, but it’s an illusion. Whether or not you open that mail or take that job, you still have bills to pay—and we have to take responsibility for ourselves in the present, even as we are building the life we ultimately envision.

The Light at the End of Tunnel

If you are still with me on this tunnel metaphor, here is where it gets good. I grew up in Colorado where there are some amazing tunnels going straight through the mountains. Perhaps you have driven through one yourself, or you can imagine it right now. As you are driving, you move into a cold and dark, fear-filled tin can. The echo is staggering and yet everything seems so quiet. You can’t see two feet in front of yourself without your headlights. Then, suddenly, you find yourself entering into a picture postcard. The sunlight pierces through the windshield and warms your heart as you are greeted with breathtaking, majestic vistas. Let that experience be your teacher and your inspiration. When we move through small, contained ideas of what we think we want—what we think will make us happy and safe—we are brought to extraordinary and expansive beauty. Removing the blinders is like seeing in color for the first time. Tunnel vision is rigid and constraining, while remaining open is fluid and liberating.

Ultimately, moving out of the tunnel is about finding clarity, even if it feels terrifying—at least it is true. And reality begets more reality, and the opportunity to make it the best reality you can. I’ll never tell you to give up on the dream. I believe there is a reason that you have the dream to begin with. I will tell you that the best way to get there is to start from where you are, from the fullness of your situation. To look around and truly see, feel, and experience what is happening in your life. Accept your current circumstances and then take mindful action. If we are in the middle of the tunnel, we don’t get to the beauty on the other side by wishful thinking or burying our head in the sand—we get there by taking one deliberate step at a time.

I’d love to hear how have you have moved through your own tunnels. How did you get stuck, and what enabled you to move through? What did you discover when you surrendered your limited vision? I know that oftentimes people find a “picture postcard” that they never would have if they had held on to that tin can they used to believe was the shiniest and most precious thing they ever could have wished for.


   Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D.

Ingrid Mathieu, PhD is a psychotherapist and author of Recovering Spirituality. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Stick to the Plan

As a business man or woman, you may be familiar with the phrase, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry” from grade school when you read John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men. Did you know that Steinbeck borrowed this line from the penultimate stanza of a Scots poem entitled, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough” written in 1785 by Robert Burns? By exploring why this phrase has been used so often, it may help you gain clarity in how you can stick to your business plan when you find yourself slipping off course or forgetting the importance of a business plan in your daily activities.

Do you ever ask yourself after you’ve written up your business plan, how will you stick to the business plan? You may find yourself making excuses for all of the reasons why you find yourself doing anything but following your business plan.

With a plan all you need to make it work is daily action, motivation, and commitment. What often stands in the way is how easily we lose focus and allow ourselves to stray from the present moment.

Do you believe that, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley” when ascribing what happens after you’ve finished writing your business plan?

Did you analyze what went right and wrong from the previous year, and then find your head buried back in the sand of the drudgery of managing daily tasks?

Look at Robert Burns last two stanzas of his poem (translated into Standard English) below before you formulate your answer:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear! (37-48)

The poem describes a farmer finding mice and their nest in his field during the winter. His plough has just torn the nest apart. Now the mice which had the foresight (i.e., instinct) to gather warm bedding for the winter, have to start gathering and building afresh another nest or perish. The speaker of the poem is feeling many things. He’s distraught, because he is caught in feeling guilty for having just destroyed the nest. He’s also decided to borrow worries and project into the future that the mice will not be able to make a new one before they die.

What line of reasoning do you build your business upon? There are two choices:

(1)   Do you create a business plan, and then work the plan? –or—

(2)   Do you create a business plan for the books, and then focus your efforts on daily tasks?

One of our favorite quotes amongst many of the Mars Venus Coaches is, “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” by Robert H. Schuller. Al Pittampali adroitly summarizes why asking this one question to someone who is ready to change is so powerful in the short video “Putting Your Fears on Hold.” What we’re getting at is the way you stick with the plan is by choosing daily activities that carry-out what your goals are in your business plan.

So, which option do you choose to actively run your business day-to-day?

When you choose to run your business by working your business plan (OPTION 1), then what you are choosing to do is work smartly. Not only are you being more effective at time management, but you are also trouble-shooting and adapting your plan as you work with unknown contingencies. Unknown contingencies typically come into play with how well your interpersonal skills (i.e. ability to communicate assertively and how in-touch you are with your emotional and gender intelligence) are with matching your services and products to the needs of your customers. With this choice you are mindful and in the present moment. You are more like the mice who plan ahead, but then adapt moment by moment.

If you prefer to write a business plan, stick it in a notebook, and forget about it, because you have too many other pressing things to do (OPTION 2), then you are operating more from a place of fear. You are more like the farmer in Burn’s poem who looks forward and guesses and fears, and looks back at the dreary prospects. Three things happen: inaction, busywork, and frustration. Then when you pull out your business plan and dust it off, you wonder what went wrong, and why it was so hard to stick to your plan.

While we’re likening men to mice, another quick motivational read about individual choice and business planning is Spencer Johnson, M.D.’s Who Moved My Cheese? It’s another fun way to keep you on track with your business planning. It’s also a quick way you can check-in with your coach on who you most behaved like in the past week during your coaching sessions. Were you acting like Hem, Haw, Sniff, or Scurry? Sticking to the plan, means working your plan…every day. And if you get side-tracked, know why, how, and what you are going to do next to get back on track.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

How To Make Lasting Changes For New Year’s or Any Time Of Year

Any Time Is A Good Time For Healthy Changes

Setting goals (rather than taking the traditional ‘resolution’ approach) can transform your year!

Each year, many people make resolutions for change, and each year, most of those resolutions go…unresolved. This isn’t due to people’s lack of desire for a better life; it’s just a byproduct of the reality that change is difficult. Our habits become ingrained and automatic; changing them requires constant effort until a new habit is formed. This resource can help you to make necessary alterations in your expectations, attitudes, and methods of change so that you can experience real results that last. The following ideas can help:

Think in Terms of “Goals”, Rather Than “Resolutions”: While most people make resolutions that they’re determined to keep, a better tactic would be to create goals. “What’s the difference?” you may ask. With traditional resolutions, people generally approach change with the attitude, “From now on, I will no longer [name a given behavior you’d like to change]>” The problem with this is, after one or two slip-ups, people feel like failures and tend to drop the whole effort, falling easily back into familiar patterns. By setting goals, one instead aims to work toward a desired behavior. The key difference is that people working toward goals expect that they won’t be perfect at first, and are pleased with any progress they make. Rather than letting perfectionism work against them, they allow motivation and pride to do their magic. The following ideas can help you with meeting your ‘New Years Goals’:

  • Remember That It’s A Process: Expect to work your way up, rather than maintaining perfection and feeling let-down if you don’t achieve it immediately.
  • Work Your Way Up: In setting goals for new behavior, aim for once or twice a week, rather than every day. For example, instead of saying, “I’ll go to the gym every day,” plan for “every Wednesday” or, better yet, sign up for a fun exercise class, and you can work your way up to more often.
  • Set Yourself Up To Succeed: Set small, attainable goals, and add more steps as you complete each one. This way, you gradually work your way toward the life you want and the necessary changes, but you experience much more ‘success’ along the way, rather than feeling like a failure if you don’t experience ultimate change overnight.

Have A Goal Each Month: If you’re like most people, you may have several changes you’d like to make in your life; if so, it may be a good idea to tackle one each month. This way, 1) you can focus more, as you won’t be trying to make several sweeping changes at once; 2) you can re-commit yourself each month to a new idea, so you keep growing all year, and self-improvement becomes a way of life; and 3) you can build on each success, so you can first free up time before you take on a new hobby or get involved in an important cause, for example. Also, habits generally take 21 days to form. This setup enables you to devote energy to forming new habits more easily before moving on to the next, so you’re not relying solely on will-power.

Reward Your Progress: While many of your resolutions carry their own reward, changing your habits can be challenging, and it’s sometimes easier to do so if you have a little extra help. (Remember how positive reinforcement from a supportive teacher helped you learn, even though the knowledge itself was its own reward?) Providing extra rewards for yourself can help you to stay on track and maintain your motivation, even if you sometimes don’t feel like making the effort solely for the sake of the benefit the change itself will create. The following are ways you can create rewards for yourself:

  • Team Up: Have a buddy who knows your goals, and encourage each other, even if you’re working on separate goals. This will provide you with someone who can give you a high-five when you deserve one, and a little encouragement when you need it.
  • Reward Small Successes: Divide your goal into bite-sized steps and have a reward waiting at the completion of each.
  • Align Rewards With Goals: Have rewards that are in line with your achievements (like new workout clothes for every 5 gym visits, or a beautiful new pen if you stick with your journaling habit for two weeks).

As for the goals you set, it’s important that you choose your goals wisely, or it will be hard to make them stick. You also want to pick goals that will really help improve your life, so the effort will have a nice payoff. I suggest these Top 10 Resolutions for Stress Relief or these Top 5 Changes for a Healthy Lifestyle. Good luck!

By Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com Guide

 

Vision, Strategy, and Tactics

  • Vision: What you want the organization to be; your dream.
  • Strategy: What you are going to do to achieve your vision.
  • Tactics: How you will achieve your strategy and when.

Your vision is your dream of what you want the organization to be. Your strategy is the large-scale plan you will follow to make the dream happen. Your tactics are the specific actions you will take to follow the plan. Start with the vision and work down to the tactics as you plan for your organization.

Concepts Are The Same

Whether you are planning for the entire company or just for your department the concepts are the same. Only the scale is different. You start with the vision statement (sometimes called a mission statement). When you know what the vision is you can develop a strategy to get you to the vision. When you have decided on a strategy, you can develop tactics to meet the strategy.

Vision

A vision is an over-riding idea of what the organization should be. Often it reflects the dream of the founder or leader. Your company’s vision could be, for example, to be “the largest retailer of automobiles in the US”, “the maker of the finest chocolate candies in London”, or “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest.” A vision must be sufficiently clear and concise that everyone in the organization understands it and can buy into it with passion.

Strategy

Your strategy is one or more plans that you will use to achieve your vision. To be “the largest retailer of automobiles in the US” you might have to decide whether it is better strategy for you to buy other retailers, try to grow a single retailer, or a combination of both. A strategy looks inward at the organization, but it also looks outward at the competition and at the environment and business climate.

To be “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest” your strategy would need to evaluate what other companies offer management consulting services in the Southwest, which of those target non-profits, and which companies could in the future begin to offer competing services. Your strategy also must determine how you will become “the consultant of choice”. What will you do so that your targeted customers choose you over everyone else? Are you going to offer the lowest fees? Will you offer a guarantee? Will you hire the very best people and build a reputation for delivering the most innovative solutions?

If you decide to compete on lowest billing rates, what will you do if a competing consulting firm drops their rates below yours? If you decide to hire the best people, how will you attract them? Will you pay the highest salaries in a four-state area, give each employee an ownership position in the company, or pay annual retention bonuses? Your strategy must consider all these issues and find a solution that works AND that is true to your vision.

Tactics

Your tactics are the specific actions, sequences of actions, and schedules you will use to fulfill your strategy. If you have more than one strategy you will have different tactics for each. A strategy to be the most well-known management consultant, as part of your vision to be “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest” might involve tactics like advertising in the Southwest Non-Profits Quarterly Newsletter for three successive issues, advertising in the three largest-circulation newspapers in the Southwest for the next six months, and buying TV time monthly on every major-market TV station in the southwest to promote your services. Or it might involve sending a letter of introduction and a brochure to the Executive Director of every non-profit organization in the Southwest with an annual budget of over $500,000.

Firm or Flexible?

Things change. You need to change with them, or ahead of them. However, with respect to vision, strategy and tactics, you need some flexibility and some firmness. Hold to your dream, your vision. Don’t let that be buffeted by the winds of change. Your vision should be the anchor that holds all the rest together. Strategy is a long-term plan, so it may need to change in response to internal or external changes, but strategy changes should only happen with considerable thought. Changes to strategy also should not happen until you have a new one to replace the old one. Tactics are the most flexible. If some tactic isn’t working, adjust it and try again.

Manage This Issue

Whether for one department or the entire company, for a multi-national corporation or a one-person company, vision, strategy, and tactics are essential. Develop the vision first and hold to it. Develop a strategy to achieve your vision and change it as you have to to meet internal or external changes. Develop flexible tactics that can move you toward fulfilling your strategy.

By F. John Reh, About.com Guide

16 Steps to Write New Year’s Resolutions that Work

Are you wondering how some people can make New Year’s Resolutions and stick with them, while other people can’t or don’t or won’t even thing about writing them out, let alone completing them. Here’s how to be successful at following-through on the new you in the new year.

  1. Start thinking about what your short term goal is for the next year.
  2. Remember or come up with your 5 and 10 year goals.
  3. When you make your New Year’s Resolutions, make sure that they relate in some way to either your short term or long term goals. The reason behind this is to link your resolution into what naturally motivates you to pursue change. This also helps you keep your resolutions high on your priority list as well.
  4. Plan out 2012. On a calendar pencil in the BIG events for the year.
  5. Pick a day where you have space and time to think, plan, and write out your resolutions. Anticipate writing out your resolutions. Make it fun and memorable. Our bodies are wired to seek pleasure.
  6. Brainstorm and jot down the things you’d like to change or do more of in the next year.
  7. Next, look at your calendar to see how much time you have each month to devote to each of your resolutions. Estimate how many hours or days per week you can work on each resolution.
  8. Plan for wiggle room. We usually have a head’s up for when there are good stressors or life events such as births, weddings, birthdays, celebrations, etc. However, illnesses, deaths, accidents, layoffs, car troubles, are usually unexpected. Give yourself time and compassion to deal with these unforeseen events.
  9. Set start and end dates for each of your resolutions. Before you commit to due dates, read through and do steps 10-13 first.
  10. Next look at how far you think you’ll get with each resolution in the next 90 days. Define what you will have to do to accomplish that resolution in the next 3 months. Write each step out. It’s okay to have 10 to 20 steps.
  11. Then looking at your calendar, define how many of those steps you can do in the next 30 days.
  12. Before you commit to what steps you’ll do in the first 30 days, check-in with your calendar to see how much time you can devote for the next 4 weeks.
  13. Set weekly due dates with 1 or 2 days to allow for the unexpected.
  14. Remind yourself of when things are due. Set up reminders in your phone, with software, or online calendars.
  15. Tell someone what you’re planning to do.
  16. Ask someone to hold you accountable to follow-through on your resolution. Someone who does not want your time themselves, who can be objective, can offer feedback, ask the hard questions, and help you brainstorm how to trouble-shoot setbacks, loss of motivation, etc. will guarantee a higher level of commitment out of you to perform and accomplish what you’d like to change.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations