If you don’t know where you’re going…

Wow, you’ve got so many options. You’re talented, you’re hard-working and you’ve basically created a name for yourself by being able to take on whatever projects and challenges get thrown your way. And doing them well. That’s your superpower. You’re a master of all.

You rock!

Now I hear that you’re wanting to do more than react to what’s immediately in front of you. You’d like to be more intentional about the next step you take in your life and career. Yet the pressure of needing to actively define what your future looks like has got you paralyzed. All you know for sure is that it’s got to be a better place – and right now it’s feeling a little grey and fuzzy.

First of all, I want you to know that all of this is okay. And secondly, I’m going to bust a few myths that might just be holding you back:

Myth #1 – You need a completely fleshed out plan before you take any action

The truth is, intensive planning is very likely a way in which you keep yourself in status quo. It’s a safe and familiar place for you, and it’s a great way to avoid action. Your life/career path isn’t an event like a wedding, in which you can control (for the most part) the details of the day. Your path is going to have surprises, some of them unwelcome, and some of them providing critical feedback to help you decide what happens next. TRY THIS – Let go of the Microsoft Project Plan and take a moment to quickly draw or jot down the plan that you can envision thus far. I’ll bet you anything it is good enough to take one simple step forward, in the name of creating a different future for yourself.

Myth #2 – You can figure this out on your own

One of your talents is definitely the ability to do things on your own. In fact, you’ve become quite the superstar in that regard, teaching yourself new concepts and tools, mastering new areas of expertise, figuring out the most complex problems and ALL BY YOURSELF! Consider, however, that even though this has been successful for you in the past, it’s not enough to get you to that next stage in your career. Remember that quote from Einstein? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well it’s true. Stop your own insanity now, and TRY THIS — For just one day, push aside your need to do it yourself, and ask the people you know for their ideas, their feedback, their support, their opinion. It won’t hurt – I promise!

Myth #3 – You should be grateful for what you have and not go looking for something else

Hmmm, this mindset seems to come from the risk-averse corner and is usually voiced by people who want to see us safe – people like our parents. It is true, we need to be grateful for what we have. At the same time, looking for something else does not mean that you are being ungrateful. I think that over time, we have collapsed the two into one smushy belief. So let’s un-smush it. Good! Now you get to be grateful for what you do have, and you also get to look for what you want, because I’m pretty sure you’re not finished with this life of yours!
Now that we’ve cleared some debris from the path, what are you seeing? What big or baby steps can envision taking towards that awesome future vision of yours?

CheshireSmile

And for those of you whose vision still feels murky, I share with you this passage from Alice in Wonderland:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”(1)

Apparently, the above passage has often been misquoted as the following: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” I give you the misquotation as well – use it wisely!

Wondering with you!
Carolyn

Carolyn Ou is a Career/Leadership Coach who excels at devising and delivering simple solutions to address complex problems in leadership, careers and life. For more information, or to schedule a complimentary consultation, email carolyn@sandboxco.com.

1. Source: http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/books/alice-in-wonderland-quotes.html

What’s your calling?

There’s a lot of pressure on people to completely figure something out before making a decision. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “What’s your dream job?” “What’s your calling?” “What will your legacy be?” And so, because we like answers, and we want to guarantee super-fantastic results for ourselves, we engage in all kinds of exploration to find out the answer that’s going to make it all make sense. Self-help books, online assessments, coaching, therapy, silent retreats, active retreats, accidental retreats, conversations with friends, family, mentors, teachers and more.

We get lots of input.
LOTS…AND LOTS….AND LOTS!!

All this data can be overwhelming, because hey, as human beings, we do have a choice, and as talented human beings, we have the ability to accomplish a variety of things. As a result, that future vision for ourselves can often become quite a hybrid beast as we try to incorporate all sorts of possibilities into one big, beautiful perfect picture.

If this sounds familiar to you, I’d like you to consider the possibility that it doesn’t have to be that complicated. That while you can concoct and run simulations for hundreds of different scenarios, you’ll do better to step away from the chatter and listen to what you’ve known all along to be true.

So let’s do it now. Step AWAY from the noise and get really quiet for a moment, or two, or three. And instead of asking what your calling is, ask yourself, “What’s calling you?”

Saying YES when you want to say NO

So you said YES the other day, and deep down, your gut was screaming out NOOOOO! Not again!

It’s the same old story. In an effort to help out or to save the day, that YES comes flying out, time after time.

In many cases, we say YES just because we can. Because helping out has become second nature, and quite frankly, we’re pretty awesome at swooping in and saving a project, at rejiggering an entire process and creating something even more efficient, or at putting into action something that’s been in idea mode for waaay too long.

So how’s it working for you?

Yeah, I thought so.

One way to break out of the cycle of YES is to get really honest with yourself about what’s on the other side of YES. Very likely, it’s not what you have rationalized on the surface – more likely, it’s what your gut has been trying desperately to tell you.

The next time you are tempted to say YES, ask yourself these questions, and be sure include your gut in the discussion:

  1. What exactly am I saying YES to?
  2. In what ways will this support and energize me?
  3. In what ways will it drain me?
  4. What would I rather be saying YES to?

Wishing you a future of guilt-free and liberating NO’s, as well as clear space for the exhilarating YES’s you very much deserve.

Throw your name into the hat!

Martyrs, Chicago IL

Martyrs, Chicago IL

The other night, I attended my first Moth Story Slam ever.  You might have heard about it – it’s an opportunity for a person to have their name randomly drawn for the opportunity to go up to the mike and tell a story for 5 minutes. The story must relate to the theme for the night, and you have to tell it without notes…oh, and three groups of judges will rate your performance….and then there’s the audience!

At first, I was going to do my typical thing, just observe for the night, learn how it works, study the event as if it were my prey so that next time, I would be fully prepared. However that night, I brought my “what the hell” attitude with me, so I threw my name into the hat.

“If they call on me, I can do this,” I thought.”And if they don’t call on me, they will next time.” However, it was my birthday present, so I told my husband, “They’re going to call on me. After all, it’s my birthday!”

And of course they called my name. Not to tell the full 5-minute story, but to speak the first line of my story, which I hurriedly rewrote in my head as I went up to the mike. (My original first line needed the rest of the story for context! It was not so interesting without! Hmmm, maybe I need to learn about storytelling before I do this! Darn those voices in my head!)

The moments before I went up to the mike were the most heart-pounding, exhilarating, deliciously scary moments I’ve had in a while. I was totally out of my element, and it felt great!

What I got out of this experience is that I have stories that I want to tell, loudly, boldly, with humor, with pathos. So I’m going to go back again and again, and throw my name in the hat over and over, until I have my 5 minutes. My 10 minutes. My many minutes.

I’d like you to consider the possibility of throwing your own name into a hat yourself. It could be a small hat or an enormous one. A hat you’ve been eyeing for some time, or one that just happened to present itself to you, much like the Moth Story Slam did to me.

If you were to just throw your name in, what would be possible for you?

Here in the big hat with ya,

Carolyn

Stop, don’t think!

The other day, a friend texted me and told me she had just made a good decision and was so proud of herself!  Even in that brief communiqué, I could sense calmness, clarity and the confidence with which she had made the decision.

It got me to thinking about good decisions. Have you made any recently? They are often ones that don’t necessarily come after months of research and inquiry, or after running 1000 simulations in your head. They are the ones sometimes triggered by a casual conversation with a stranger, or after taking a break from your thought process. They make sense at a place that’s very deep down in your soul. And they love to pay surprise visits! 

So let’s do an experiment in honor of the unearthing some good decisions for ourselves. Without thinking, write down the answer to this question:

WHAT GOOD DECISION COULD I MAKE THIS WEEK THAT WOULD ROCK MY WORLD?

Stop, don’t think! Just write it down, now!! Really!

Wow, I am floored by what I’ve just written down. How about you?