Resistance: ACTUALLY Do Something You Want To Do

Why we allow resistance to prevent us from doing what we ACTUALLY WANT TO DO when it comes to work and life has been of major interest to me lately.

I’ve been pondering things like, you know, why I was checking my email 43 times a day (Luckily I have won the war on Facebook and IG, turning off my feeds) rather than DO THE WORK or why I’d suddenly feel the need to dust every wood surface of my home office with pine-scented wood cleaner rather than DO THE WORK. Anyone who knows me knows I really can’t stand most forms of cleaning, so I sure as heck didn’t suddenly gain a new hobby.

By way of background,  “DO THE WORK” for me means something pretty specific. I’m not lounging around in my pilates outfit eating wasabi peas all day watching “Veep” (Ok, ok, Last Tuesday, you win). Instead, I’m working with clients, writing blogs, speaking at and attending events, incorporating my business and the like. What took me awhile to realize was, that although those activities felt good and productive (and some of them ARE needed), they were…just activities. They weren’t actions toward my ultimate goal. Which, for the record, is to build a suite of online courses to help my people out AND to create international retreats. Instead, they were exactly what I called ’em above- “activities”.

And then I looked around and I saw people resisting everywhere- clients, friends, family, colleagues, people who call me for my complimentary consults– many of us are resisting the very thing we WANT to be doing.

It struck me as nonsensical so I set out searching for answers. I was open about it with some friends and colleagues and Aidan and a friend and I were talking about it when she recommended The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. 

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The aftermath of a WIN Symposium dinner party where I talked about resistance.

As soon as I started reading it, I knew I had struck gold. Pressfield REALLY digs into the reasons we don’t do what we say we want to do and he gives us a framework through which to overcome aforementioned Wasabi-Peas in Pilates Pants Consumption. He says in many different ways that many of us are truly aligned with a path – we know what we’re meant to be doing- but we do LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE besides that one thing. This was essentially me for the month of April. I was super responsive via email, even more attentive than usual to clients and colleagues….and yet, nothing got done. What gives?

Some key takeaways:

Am I A Writer?: (Or a painter, or an entrepreneur, or a whatever it is you are). Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

I’ll Get Started Once I Overcome My Fear: “The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”

Fear of Criticism: a professional doesn’t take success or failure personally. Evolution is all about biological factors. It’s in our cells to worry about rejection. The amateur uses fear of rejection to prevent us from doing our work or showing it to the public for public consumption. To take rejection personally is to reinforce resistance- the battle is in our heads, not with critics or reviewers! It reinforces resistance again and again.

Knocking the Notion of Unlimited Choices on Its Head: This one is the kicker for me. Oftentimes as a career coach, I’m asked if I can transition anyone to any type of career. The answer is no, and not just because of the skill gaps one might have to fill before going toward a particular career (that is a totally workable situation for my work with my clients) but more importantly, it’s because we’re all not meant to do a huge number of things. (Despite my love for cooking, for example, I am NOT meant to do anything with sharp knives like work in a kitchen. Ask my college roommates and my doorman in Buenos Aires who had to get me to the ER in 2012.)

Which brings me to this idea. Whether you agree with it at its core or not, the idea of resistance is a very interesting concept to think about what you’re meant to be doing and your duty to breakdown the resistance and do it:

“Another way of thinking of it is this: We’re not born with unlimited choices.

We can’t be anything we want to be. We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.

Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.

If we were born to paint, it’s our job to become a painter. If we were born to raise and nurture children, it’s our job to become a mother.

If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it’s our job to realize it and get down to business.”

So…what’s the takeaway of this article- how DO you overcome resistance to do what you actually want to do? We’re going to get to that next week, so for now, the takeaway is to sit with some of these ideas and let ’em settle in. Next week we’ll discuss strategies.

In the meantime, if you’re tired of doing nothing about what you wanna be doing, let’s chat on one of my consults. You can sign up here. 

Ready for your Career New Year’s Resolutions to Stick?

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I can imagine the scene: as you go back to work this week, this first week of 2016, your first thought is, “What the heck was I working on before the holidays?” And then that is quickly replaced by, “If I am still doing this job in _____ (June? April? Next January?) I am going to wallow in a puddle of pinot grigio for all time.”

Why? Because you’re tired of hating this merry-go-round you’ve found yourself riding on, as if an unwitting part of a horror movie on repeat where you can’t get off, but nothing you’ve done to date has worked. So by March or so, you give up and resign yourself to the fact that summer is around the corner and you might as well enjoy that….and then it’s fall and then the holidays and then…

WHAM, it’s 2017!

Ok, so that horror movie-esque situation does not have to play out. There IS a way, and I’m gonna share it with you. So again, this article is for people who are unwavering in their commitment to change in 2016. If you’re still on the fence, the following will most likely NOT work for you (and that’s ok, but seek out some advice from a coach or an article on that first).

I do this particular thing for my business goals, thanks to my wonderful business strategist and I’m going to show you how to adapt it for your personal career goals (or any other goal for that matter!)

What’s your career goal for the year?

Be as specific as you can be. Maybe it’s “be IN a new career” or “Figure out what it is that I want to transition to this year” or “Quit my job outright and take time off to be intentional about my next move”. Whatever it is, write it down. (I recommend a tool like Evernote to organize and track everything.)

What is the 60-Day Goal?

Life and your full-time job can get in the way, so let’s not rush this, but let’s not make it last all year either. 60 days is a good medium term length of time that’s manageable but not too nebulous. Let’s say the yearly goal is to be IN a new career by first quarter 2017, to continue with the example above. Like, I’m talking LEAVE your industry and DO something else entirely (think ‘financial services event planner turned career coach’—ie me!)

What do you need to do first? A natural starting place is to think of options for new careers that might be exciting- no decision making yet! So the 60 day goal could be to think of options and start exploring them.

What is the Weekly Goal?

So in 60 days there are approximately 8 weeks (I’m a genius!). This means that at the beginning of the next 8 weeks- maybe Sunday evening as you’re preparing for your week- and think about what needs to happen that week for you to feel there’s progress, but also that it’s doable and not too much with what else you have going on that week. And yes, if a project for work is due one week, there may be lighter weeks during this 60-day period. That’s ok, but don’t make it the norm.

Carrying on with our example above, perhaps it’s evaluating what you’re good at and what your interests are. Perhaps it’s evaluating what your values are. (All of these things are important and should we done during a career change.) Commit to a couple of hours of deep work the first couple of weeks each week and mark the time in your calendar for when you can do it so you have the ‘accountability’ of it in your calendar and a reminder. (I also do this with my exercise. Works wonders!) You’ll start to see as you move through the process that you’ll do more and more deeper work and because you’ve committed to start small and manageable, it doesn’t feel so onerous.

Make sure you re-evaluate the weekly goals EVERY WEEK! It’s ok if something spills over from the previous week. As you get better at managing your time and understanding how long things can take, it will happen less and less. Or you’ll be more and more comfortable with it.

If you’re committed to a complete career change and all of this sounds good but you’re not sure how you’re going to muster it all, I am running the 30(ish) Day Swift Kick in the Pants online bootcamp, starting at the end of January. So use the next 3ish weeks to start thinking about the steps above and join me here. I will take you through your career change in a small, supportive, private community.

There is some early bird pricing available now for the next few days, so snag your spot here.

 

Why Last Week Was One Of The Most Fulfilling Of My Career

As most of my readers know, I have a client for whom I do event work, coincidentally what I did in my past life. I was the lead on their annual two-day client appreciation event and basically produced it from soup to nuts. (By the way, does anyone else get confused by that phrase?) Here’s a picture of the foyer/registration area. Had fun building the set! And below that is part of the sushi small plates station we put together for our Around the World themed evening event. I ate 1 or 54 pieces of that.

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sushi

Anyway, the event was near flawless. People loved it. People were complimentary. And all of that stuff is great, do not get me wrong, but the two major reasons why last week was one of the most fulfilling of my career had nothing to do with monetary gain, accolades from clients and co-workers or any sort of self-advancement:

1. Ownership: To literally create everything from the concept to the execution of something and have ownership across the entire event cycle was hugely fulfilling.

2. Composure: I had amazing assistance at various points throughout the event, but never before did the buck stop with me for everything from content, to on site production to logistics to marketing. It was, in a word, nuts. However, I like a good challenge so was totally into it and loved it. However, I knew that I would need to invest major time into health and wellness through this process, so I made sure to make the evening pilates class, sleep 8 hours a night and go to meditation. It really showed me that through self care and mindfulness, it’s possible for me to take on more than usual AND maintain composure and grace throughout.

So enough about me. What about you? Think about a fulfilling career moment. What made it a moment or time to remember? If you’re reaching for that moment now, what would it look like to you? I’ve talked to clients, friends and people in career groups in NYC and elsewhere, and people are tired of going through the motions in their job and are starting to think more mindfully and consciously about what would fulfill them. Opening thinking about these themes has led more than one of my clients to change careers completely, putting them on a path to daily fulfillment and joy. We spend so much of our lives at work- who said it had to be anything less than completely rad?

If you have a story about a fulfilling moment in a career or one you are reaching toward, share it below!

I Want To Do X, But I Don’t Have The Skill Set. Where Do I Start?

If I had to pinpoint the top three things I am asked as a career coach, I’d say in that top three is this very important issue. Essentially it’s summed up as follows: You decide you want to do something different that takes additional skills outside of your current core competencies. How do you do this? I recently was one of the career coaches for my alma mater’s virtual networking hour “Ask The Coach”, where people ‘stood in line’ to meet the coaches for 10 minute chats. This was the most talked about issue in that hour.

 

So, while each career path and skill development path is different depending on the person and the career, below are some general tips that can bring you a long way in terms of that ultimate goal of developing the relevant skills to make your move:

Do Some Research: First things first- does this new skill set entail going back to school and getting an advanced degree? Can it be done through on the job training and learning? Are a few seminars enough to get you started? What internships are out there that could be a part time foray into this new life? Have I overwhelmed you with questions yet? We’ll start to answer some of them below, so don’t worry.

For me, making the leap to coaching from event production did end up necessitating going back to school to become certified. I researched various programs, talked to various people in my network and made the decision to enroll in the right program for me.

 Acknowledge the Power of LinkedIn: Ah yes, Almighty LinkedIn. It’s a powerful tool that can help you see the lay of the land in terms of who’s doing what, what companies are hiring for this area and more. I’ve recommended some of the following for my clients (and myself!)

  • Check 1st degree connections for people you already know with the relevant skill set. Connect with them and ask for a few minutes of their time to understand their career path/skill development ‘journey’
  • Check 2nd degree connections for the desired skill set and ask for e-introductions to have the same sort of conversation as outlined above with your 1st degree connections
  • Join relevant industry groups and send relevant people personal notes asking for a 15-20 minute call or email exchange. You don’t have to be 1st degree connections with someone to message them if you’re both members of the same group
  • Believe it or not, people generally are interested in helping others, especially if they love their career and want to share that passion with others interested in getting into their line of work. I get lots of messages from prospective coaches or coaches in training and I answer every single one.

Connect With People Doing What You Wanna Do: The LinkedIn connecting tips above are valuable, and continue that with live events or other opportunities. Check out your alumni association list for relevant related people and reach out to them. Whether you’re at an industry gathering or meet someone who can help you at a mac ‘n cheese eating contest in Brooklyn, follow up! Show enthusiasm for what they do and make a connection through which you can follow up later.

Ask For Support: If the new role you want to get into is also at your current company, ask if you can shadow someone doing it or be part of a project team working in that area. Chances are your manager/company wants to retain you and may be open to enabling you to develop this new skillset. You’re still working in your current job, getting new skills and getting paid for it. Pretty rad and a pretty good win-win.

Attend Events: Determine whether you want to set aside a budget to attend industry conferences or travel to events where you can hone/gain new skills. Also, don’t underestimate the power of webinars, many of which are free to learn more about your skill area. There are also reasonably priced courses all over the place. Depending on your industry, Skillshare (www.skillshare.com), General Assembly (https://generalassemb.ly) and more offer great, affordable classes and workshops to begin to take your skills to the next level. And if you’re in NYC, I recently discovered Brooklyn Brainery (http://brooklynbrainery.com) where I took a design thinking workshop last week.

Be Patient: Keep in mind above all else that this stuff takes time and you’re taking the first big step to getting there- congrats! With some diligence and tenacity on your part, you can bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to be. It just takes time, yo.

Give Back: If you’re able to provide something of value to those from whom you are asking for time and insights now, do it! If you can’t and this is just a one-way thing right now, remember that someday you’ll be in the position where someone wants to learn how you got to be doing what you want to do, so remember to try and pay it forward.

What has worked for you in the past when you were trying to break into a new skill set? What was a complete dud? Leave a story or question in the comments below!

Striking the Balance of “Just Say Yes” and “Learning to Say No”

On any given day in the blogosphere (as those in the know like to call it), you can find people talking about this notion of learning to say no. To me, the sheer number of professionals, stay at home moms/dads, bloggers, friends, etc talking about this must mean it’s a big deal and an issue with which many struggle.

Generally in life, I’m a big “yes” person. In an ideal world, I say yes to random invitations, dates, friend’s shows/gigs, house gatherings where I know one person and the like.

However, life doesn’t always play out that way, and sometimes we gotta make the difficult decisions when there’s too much going on. As someone with her fair share of equally competing priorities, I’m here to provide some perspectives and tips that could help. And I work with my coaching clients on this stuff A LOT, so it’s pretty much ‘a thing’:

Determine What Gives You Energy…And What Takes It Away: In other words, what works for you? Maybe you’re a closet or not-so-closet introvert and need recharging time. Ok so you know that about yourself – GREAT! Now you can make adjustments to your calendar to allow for that recharge time, so that when you’re out there networking or dating or performing or hustlin’, you’re able to do you.

Link Your Values To Your Priorities: Values can change both over time and at certain times in our lives and thus, priorities change. Late last month, I touched upon this while discussing prioritizing something for the first time. Even if you know it’s something that’s important to you, it’s difficult to break free of your own preconceived notions or assumptions about something or break free of whatever everyone else is doing to go for whatever it is you’re aiming for. In some of the things I’ve recently chosen to prioritize- dating, my business, et al, very few people around me were doing the same, which made the decision to finally do it all the more difficult. But really taking stock on what matters to you at this point in your life- and maybe even writing them down into affirmations statements- can help. Other questions to ask yourself:

  • If you prioritized X right now, how would your life be different 3 months from now? 6? A year? Why is that important or why does that matter?
  • If you continued doing things the way you are now, what would remain the same? How would you view your life 3, 6 and 12 months from now?
  • Where in that scenario are you ‘just settling’?

Own Your Decision: It’s not always awesome to choose what you choose. Sometimes you may feel uber conflicted about it. A few weeks ago, I chose a really important networking event for my growing coaching business over a friend’s show. It, like, wasn’t easy at all, given I’ve always valued and prioritized my friendships, but when I looked at it through the lens of building my business and how important that was to me, I settled upon my decision.  And I got some pushback from mutual friends- “You’re not going?!” For one of the first times, instead of getting defensive or overly explainy, which I tend to do, I owned it. Phrases like, “I know it’s tough, but right now XYZ is very important to me and I’m excited to see this opportunity through,” are clear, empathetic and clearly demonstrate the link between what’s important to you (your values) and your priorities.  And if you ever fall back into the “oh man, I should have done XYZ,” remind yourself that you’re honoring yourself and what’s important. Think of how you might feel if you chose the event not in line with your values and priorities.

Bottom line here: People operate best when they do what’s right for them. A very important distinction here, though: This is not the same thing as selfishness. This article is basically saying that if you do what’s important to you- whatever that regimen of self care is- then whenever you’re out there interacting with colleagues, friends, strangers in the workplace, at networking events or socially, you’ll be the best possible version of yourself and be able to be fully present…wherever you are.