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

Make good friends and keep them

Many years ago, in the days before I headed off to college, my father sat me down to give me advice on how to make my way in the world.

“Chia-lin,” he said, “Mommy and I have provided you with a good home and education. Now you’re going off to college and you’ll meet new people from all walks of life. When you’re there, I want you to be sure to make good friends and keep them. I’ve been watching and studying how things work here in America, and that’s how this world works. With good friends.”

My 18-year-old self really had no clue what Dad was talking about. However, over the years his words have come back to me over and over again, guiding me, challenging me and becoming clearer and clearer in their meaning.

I have watched my parents create and nurture community over the years. From helping to create a credit union that helped fellow Taiwanese with their financial needs, to monthly dinners with friends, to offering advice or comfort to ones in need – my parents have been making good friends for many years. Good friends they’ve managed to keep in a multitude of ways. Now in the Golden Years of their life they have an amazing group of friends to champion them, laugh with them, cry or celebrate with them.

It’s easy in a world full of terms like “networking,” “social networks,” and “relationship management” to lose track of the true value of friendships and connections in this world. Apparently, all these networks have great value in an economic sense. And that’s just lovely, but that’s not what I want to drive the way I create relationships.

Let’s not forget this simple truth — the good friends are the ones who can be there on your journey with you. They’ll help you make it through that job transition, that life milestone or those personal moments of triumph or crisis. The good friends are the ones who can truly champion you, see you for who you are and still love you regardless.

So yes, go forth and make good friends. Create meaningful relationships and nurture them. Because, as my wise Father said so many years ago, and lives so now, that’s the way the world works.

Still learning from my Dad,
Carolyn

Carolyn Ou

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.

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?