Tag Archives: motivation

America: 40% Satisfied. 10% Unemployed. 50% Miserable. How to Be the Exception.

11 Jan

As I write this, approximately 2.5 of the expected 8-12 inches of snow has already fallen on New York City, approximately 25%. Funny how that also matches the percentage of my Facebook friends who have similarly already posted statuses describing their hopes of having a snow day tomorrow (including myself). When you’re 12, a snow day means no school and getting up early to go sledding. When you’re 30, it means no work and getting up late to do, well, nothing most likely.

An astonishing 45.3 percent of Americans are “satisfied” with their work, according to a survey for the Conference Board Consumer Research Center released last year. And don’t forget that nearly 10% of the country is unemployed (how can we?) on top of that, bringing the percentage down even more. And while I intend not to make this into the ‘Debbie Downer Career Hour’, I’m simply being realistic. Are we truly satisfied with simply being satisfied? Continue reading

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Friday Humor. Humorous Because It’s True.

7 Jan

Forget Resolutions, Remember Gratitude, & Celebrate the Small Things.

30 Dec

What a year 2010 has been!  Aspyre Solutions flourished beautifully with  the support of all of our fantastic clients, fans, friends & colleagues. Thank you for your continued support, and I wish you all the joy, empowerment and exciting success 2011 is sure to bring!  Get there!

With the closing of 365 days and the opening of another 365 ahead of us, this is the time of year where we sit down and evaluate what we’ve accomplished, what we want to accomplish NEXT, and maybe even how we plan on doing that, once the champagne and clam dip has worn off, come January 2.  It’s a time to remember the importance of gratitude, and to honor accountability.  Who or what are you grateful for, and what were you able to bring into your life this year by keeping yourself accountable to your own personal fulfillment & success?

For me, it was building this business into a successful, exciting brand that I love.  It was completing my professional coaching certification with IPEC.  It was expanding my network with literally hundreds of fabulous new friends and colleagues, whom I respect both professionally and personally.  It was a number of personal successes in my relationships, my friendships and my overall sense of personal wellness.  I also discovered a new-found love for sour pickles, fromage d’affinois and skirt steak, and I learned to drink coffee for the first time in my life. And despite all that, when it comes to matters of the heart (he he he)…my blood pressure is still damn near perfect.  Cheers to that. Continue reading

The Friday Edition: Following A Vision, Creating A Legacy

3 Dec

I noticed I get a lot of continual readers from my Boston University Alumni group, which thrills me!  I follow BU’s Alumni updates on Facebook, and this morning they posted an intriguing story about 4 BU students who formed a rock band in 1964.  And although Barry and the Remains’ tenure on the Boston music scene lasted a mere two years, their following was so popular that they were invited to be on Ed Sullivan and open for the Beatles!  Today, fans still wonder if these guys, had they continued on, could have been the next (or first) Rolling Stones, or something of the like.  Not bad for a few college guys in Allston.  Now, out of focus for the better part of four decades, they’re being inducted into the  Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame, joining the likes of fellow Boston rockers Mission of Burma and a little known quintet called Aerosmith.

And sure, I’m probably still wearing my theoretical red and white hockey jersey and beaming with alumni pride for my alma mater, but I read this blurb and I had a thought.  What are we each doing today, socially, professionally and creatively, to build our own legacy for tomorrow? What do we want that legacy, and our impact on our community to look like?   And how can we take steps to start forming that today?

In an age of instant gratification and having the world at our fingertips, many of us tend not to look 40 years ahead in the future with real clarity, or even regard.  But at the same time we have higher goals, or vision, of what we want to create for ourselves professionally and personally, than extend beyond tomorrow.

Speaking of alma maters, last weekend I attended my 10-year high school reunion.  As I sat pondering scenarios of what everyone would be like a decade later, I said to the fiance, “Everyone’s going to ask me if I”m still

Could have been a great comic book artist.

drawing.”  Because that’s the legacy I created for myself  earlier in life, since the day I was able to hold a pencil.  I had good grades, stellar rollerblading skills and one terrible haircut circa late elementary school, but my artistic abilities were what people remembered about me, what stood out above any other  accomplishments or shortcomings.  I’m approaching 30, and the image I inadvertently created for myself at 10 still sticks like glue.  And it always will, and fortunately for me it’s a legacy I’m sincerely proud of.

At that young age, it would have been hard to fathom creating something so lasting and impactful on our idea of self, given our minimal life experience on earth as children.  Now as adults, it’s easier to understand how reputation and character are formed over time, by the actions we take and the decisions we make.

So what influences all those decisions and (re)actions?  When you think about your vision for your career, your relationship, your life, chances are the vision you have for yourself extends several decades into the future, simply because we want to build lasting, fulfilling results for ourselves that we can continue to build upon.  It’s okay to stumble along the way and find happiness & fulfillment by accident – many of us do.  But for the other many of us, we value careful consideration and planning when it comes to the direction of our personal and professional lives.  And while chance and unforeseen events will always be a part of that pathway, much as we try not to deviate, it’s important that we check in with ourselves regularly to make sure what we’re doing and creating is truly keeping us on that path toward our higher vision.

Because it’s easy to get sidetracked by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, to make bad decisions or take impulsive actions.  But what we can do when we recognize that negative shift is remind ourselves how committed we are to that vision, how important that legacy is to us, and then get back on the road.  Whether the vision is 4 months or 40 years ahead of us, keeping it in plain view each day will allow us to keep focus and create action and decisions in accordance with attaining that.

So what is your vision for living the best possible version of yourself? When you’re living that life, what kind of legacy will that allow you to create, and what will that say about you?  Food for thought, for the weekend.  Mmmm.

THE FRIDAY EDITION: Who Needs Pants When You’ve Got Gratitude?

12 Nov

“They’re just things,” is a phrase I find myself uttering modestly a lot lately. In times of sheer frustration, such as when my bank account is hacked into, or the dry cleaners loses all my jeans (today), I try to summon my inner coach who tells me I’m bigger than each of these situations.  Money, my favorite pair of jeans from the GAP, the brand new cardigan I left on a dirty bar chair – they’re all just “things”, right?

You can tell yourself that all you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ll be shelling out another $70 that wasn’t planning on for new pants.  And the worst part is that I’m petite – and curvy.  It’s hard enough to buy pants when you’re a petite woman, but throw the fact that I didn’t inherit the stick figure gene like the rest of my family into the mix, and shopping becomes a whole other party.

This morning I debated storming into the dry cleaners and making a giant fuss about the situation.  I went so far as to call my father to vent; his highly  conservative views often come in handy when I need someone to back me up on the various injustices of the world, and then promptly leave the conversation at that. The fiancee was already at work, and it’s his birthday, and the last thing he needs is to hear me screaming at him over the phone about how I can’t find my pants.  There’s a much better context for that discussion, at a different time & place.

And then it occurred to me that ruining someone else’s day on top of allowing this to ruin my day was the biggest injustice of all, and ultimately gets me no closer to finding my pants.  <sigh> Why do I have to be so wise?

One of the things I always tell clients who are trying to wrap their head around why negativity has seemingly taken over their lives, is that they’re greater than whatever the situation – meaning they’re not defined as a person by the outside events that come into their lives.  They are defined, however, by how they react to them.  We cannot control the workings of the world, the weather, or the actions/reactions of others.  But we can certainly control our own perspective on things, and how that affects the actions we take and the commitments we make.

I wrote down a brief description of what the pants looked like on the front of my original receipt copy, which sat in a book attached to 300 other receipts.  And that was it.  I’m not too hopeful about finding my pants.  But there are plenty of other pants out there to wear, and maybe that’s the answer- to suck it up, recognize the situation for what it is and take the opportunity to step into a different pair of pants that fit me better; leave the old ones behind.

And isn’t that what we do automatically whenever seemingly injustices come into our lives, and we want to blame, and scream and get angry?  Sometimes we do those things, but in the end we automatically move on, because what other choice is there?  It’s human nature’s survival instinct kicking in when we force ourselves to keep going.   If we refuse to define ourselves by our disappointments and instead look at the underlying opportunities, we invite success and happiness into our lives.  If you didn’t get that dream job you had interviewed 4 rounds for, it’s okay to feel disappointed and angry.  But then let go of that negativity and allow yourself an opportunity to replace it with something more positive – perhaps an understanding and trust that there is something better around the corner that is coming to you.  And when that opportunity arises, that old story of disappointment will be long forgotten.

Who needs pants when you’ve got gratitude?  Don’t focus on what’s been given (or not given) to you today.  Instead, allow yourself to focus on what you can give back from that situation, and react from a place of gratitude and not a place of grief.  Trust in what comes next, and the higher reasoning behind things.  Gratitude as an attitude.  I’m going shopping.

“You’re No Less Alive on a Tuesday Than You Are On a Friday”

4 Nov

Since moving to the new neighborhood in Brooklyn, the fiance and I discovered a new cozy, European-rustic wine bar that makes me feel like I’m hanging out leisurely somewhere in Southern France. Yesterday, I was sharing my own interpretation of work-life balance over a couple glasses of Malbec at our new Provencal escape.  Which is ironic, given that the point of my work-life diatribe was around doing something you love, or at least loving the something you do enough that you don’t constantly feel the need escape the daily grind in the first place.  And ideally, you avoid using terms like “the daily grind”.

Photo by Zen on Flickr

“Live to work, or work to live,” he asked.  “Which one do you think is better?”  And my gut reaction said ‘work to live’, because isn’t that why most people go to work, to afford themselves the lifestyle they want, and live it?  And then I realized that most people go to work because they basically have to.  Some people don’t have to work, and they still do.  Regardless, the objective of a person who ‘works to live’ isn’t necessarily the same as someone else who would categorize themselves that way.  I might work to live, and by live I mean scrape by and pay the bills, versus live a certain quality of leisurely lifestyle.  The same holds true for the  ‘live to work’.

That’s when things got confusing.  When the choices are either “one of the other” it doesn’t leave you much room for compromise.  Perhaps we don’t work to live or vice versa, we just work AND live, and the goal for most of us is for both of those actions to be beautifully in sync and complimentary to one another.  And if they’re compliments, then neither one specifically drives the other, or serves as the means to the other end.  You just do them both, and you do them well, hopefully with a smile on your face because you have integrity around what you do each day.

He started telling me a story about a toll collector in California who had been collecting tolls for decades, and had some bigger dream of doing something else that he had continually shelved in return for making a more immediate living for his family. He was one of those people you really wonder what internal switch they have that everyone else lacks.  And they flip it on each day, and suddenly their outlook on life is 100 times more positive than everyone else’s.

I’ve never collected tolls myself, but one might assume it’s not the most exciting of occupations.  And this fellow probably understood that logically. But our emotions often come from a place separate from logic, and in turn those emotions influence our perspective and opinions based on feelings, rather than factual thought.  Like so few people, this man approached each day of his job, which was probably far more identical to ones preceeding and following it than most could tolerate, with a smile on his face and integrity around what he did.  So much so, that every one of the thousands and thousands of cars that drove through his booth were greeted with the same grin as he joked, “Big spender today, eh?”  And that type of welcomingly   unexpected cheer and humor in such an unlikely place became contagious, and sent driver after driver away down the highway with a chuckle and a smile.  So it makes you wonder what was really in a day’s work for him – just collecting tolls, or a contribution on a bigger, more human level?

“My ideal version of work-life balance is where what you do for a living is fulfilling and satisfying to such a point that you feel no less excited on a Tuesday than you are on a Friday,” I said.  Because let’s face it, most people rush their way through the 40+ hour work week in anticipation of the weekend, their time away from the place where they spend nearly 40% of their waking hours!  They rush through slightly less than half of their life, just tolerating everything.  Somebody please tell me how we’re expected to move ourselves forward toward our ultimate goals when our main source of fuel is tolerance.  It won’t happen.

“You’re no less alive on a Tuesday than you are on a Friday,” he said. And something about that simple statement glowed like a fluorescent light bulb.  Because he’s absolutely right. The universe has no concept of whether it’s a Tuesday or a Friday, a weekday or the weekend, only what we do with that information in terms of our actions.  The Beatles gave their first ever live performance in America on a Tuesday, on February 11, 1964.  It was a Tuesday on April 15, 1947 when Jackie Robinson made history with his major league baseball debut for the Dodgers.   And on a Thursday night November 9, in 1989 was the fall of the Berlin wall.  Most of Berlin probably stayed home though because they had work the next day.  That, and who the hell are the Beatles, anyway? [I kid.]

Great things happen in the world and in our own lives, no matter what day of the week it is.  And when we expend our mental and emotional energy wishing away so much of that time, what is that saying about the way we’re conducting our lives, and our work, each and every week?  Are we happy with our contributions?  Are we fulfilled by what we’re doing?  Are we wasting our days week after week going through the same old motions of doing something that holds minimal purpose and brings little if any positivity to us and to the rest of society?

It’s inevitable that there will be points in your life where you don’t have your dream job and maybe don’t love, or even like, what you do.  But are you at least doing something that is moving you closer to that greener pasture, whether it’s gaining experience, making contacts, saving money or simply learning about yourself?  Maybe it’s not WHAT we do each day that matters as much as how we do it and why.  And when you think about it that way, it leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Dressers, Dream Jobs & Boyfriends – Stuff I Got By Networking

22 Sep

Networking works wonders for both your career and your relationships (personal and professional).  Case in point- the fiance and I, by the grace of God, found an AMAZING apartment in Brooklyn that was nothing short of everything we were looking for.  This, after weeks of scouring Craig’s List and the numerous floor-throughs and “luxury” rentals where the standard for “luxury” was a subterranean dump to which the landlord added a last minute “jacuzzi” to class things up a bit. I suppose I could enjoy building the next decade of my life looking out into the rotting underpass of the BQE…as long as it’s done from my jacuzzi, 24/7.  But anyway.

What’s even more amazing than the wall-to-wall carpeting, the functional fireplace, or the lovely Italian family downstairs, is how I found the place.  Several weeks ago I went to a women’s networking event in Manhattan and met a couple of great women with whom I’ve since stayed in touch.  One graciously invited me to an invite-only networking website called “Quentin’s Friends”, where members share information and recommendations on local services, real estate, buy/sell items or offer up their own expertise or professional services.  I figured I’d post an ad for an “apartment in Park Slope or Carroll Gardens for October 1”.  Miraculously, someone replied that their friend was moving and looking to sublet.  We got in touch, exchanged contact, and I arranged a meeting with said friend to view the place.  My hopes weren’t high, but what the hay, it was worth looking.  Less than a week later, we signed a lease on our new amazing Brooklyn abode.  Karma! I promptly emailed my contact from the event, promising her a few rounds on me the next time we meet up!

Trust in the unconventional happenings of the world, I say.  I’ve found two  best friends and a future husband via networking sites and other forms of untraditional advertising (that’s not what it sounds like…).  But that’s another story.

So there is truth to networking, and a great deal of it. And one thing I always stress to job seekers or newcomers to the networking arena is to remember that the results don’t manifest within the course of one conversation at a rooftop bar.   Nor does it happen overnight.  In nearly all cases, you are not going to attend one event and walk out of there with a job offer, so you cannot go into it with that intention.

The key to networking is approaching it in a manner of generosity and gratitude – how can YOU help someone else?  It is much easier to approach and talk to a stranger if you go into it with the mindset that you are open to helping them (and of course, they will help you in return).


Photo by Craig Hamnett on Flickr

And the first conversation is simply that – the first conversation, the initial encounter, the starting point.  You don’t make best friends in one conversation, and similarly you don’t make trusted business contacts in that way either.  It is about building a complimentary relationship with someone with whom you share professional and personal interests, and perhaps can benefit from one another’s knowledge and community.  That is why most networking groups or events have themes – women’s groups, entreprenurial-focused, young professionals, dog lovers, alumni of Boston University, etc.

For instance, you can’t look up the person who heads up the HR department at your dream company on LinkedIN, send them an invite to connect, and expect them to respond.  Sure, it’s beneficial to you to connect with and know them, but what benefit will the person on the other end get out of the relationship?  Why should they connect with you?  Give them a reason.  A good way around this is to see what groups you have in common, or that you can join, and then contact them asking about their experience in the field, and how they navigated their own path to the role they’re in today.  Be open to simply listening and learning.  If nothing else, remember this:  people LOVE to talk about themselves and offer advice, so invite them into your circle by offering them a venue to share their story with you.  Most times, they will be glad to.  That is far more effective than approaching someone you don’t know and blurting out selfishly, “Hi, my name is so-and-so, and I’m looking for an entry-level marketing position.  Is your company hiring?”

When you go to a networking event, and you collect cards, keep track of the people you meet.  Follow up with EACH of them the day after the event, even if you have nothing in common and it’s simply to say, “Nice meeting you!  Thanks for that last drink- it really put me over the edge.  I don’t even remember how I go HOME last night!” Fine, that’s too much information, but a cordial note of acknowledgment will go a long way.  Why?  Because people know other people, and other people might know about opportunities that you don’t.  But no one is going to put their professional reputation on the line and recommend you to a colleague or contact if they don’t have some kind of very positive rapport with you.

And rapport is built over time, with communication, gratitude and mutual effort. Even if it takes a few months to receive a lead, isn’t it worth the couple of emails you sent to build the relationship, in return for a lead that could potentially lead to a fulfilling job with a great company?  Keep in touch, send an article you think might be of interest to your new contact, or put them in touch with someone you know who might be able to help them out. Set them up on a bad blind date…at least you tried.  No doubt, if the opportunity arises, the favor will be returned.

The next time you walk through a door at an event, intimidated by the fact that you’re flying solo in front of a room full of other professionals, ask yourself calmly and confidently – “How can I potentially help someone today?” And then put yourself out there, and see what is created. And while I don’t need an accounting degree to realize that the bills can’t be paid in karma (at least not in New York), that is the point-  you have to start somewhere.

The Myth of Stability, The Wrath of Complacency (And the Token 9/11 Reference)

13 Sep

A friend of mine is in job transition right now, and she’s freaking out.  10 million other people are as well.  So this is nothing new.  And much like the swapping of seasons, career transition and change is always happening somewhere, to someone, yet we react with the same disbelief that “Here it is!” But seriously…is it really almost Fall?

The fact that everyone goes through career or life transition, some of us multiple times in our lifetimes, doesn’t diminish the impact we each feel emotionally, physiologically, financially and otherwise when it happens to us.  Quite heavy is the realization that we want to make a significant change to something we’ve become comfortably adjusted to.  For those of us already employed, it’s worse. Because not only do we find ourselves contemplating how to navigate the roadmap of “what’s next”, but then we also have to shake off the complacency of already having a source of income, and finding the motivation to abandon that and welcome the several weeks (or months) of hard work in job searching that we’re likely to endure.  Even in cases where you despise your current occupation, job or employer, admit it – some fear or limiting belief has kept you there this long, whether it’s the “stability of a paycheck” or “having work friends”, or even just being mildly satisfied in having a routine every day.  But here is the truth:  STABILITY is a myth, and COMPLACENCY is dangerous.

Stability.  What is that? In an economic downshift such as the one we’ve been experiencing in the last 18-24 months, many folks are realizing that the stability they thought existed for them, was completely a myth.  “Stable jobs” were yanked out from under our friends, colleagues and loved ones like rugs, and the unsuspecting, UNPREPARED victims (I don’t like that word) were left with their hands out to their sides wondering, “Oh my god…what do I do now?”  And often times for many, job loss can be a God-send, an opportunity to reinvent themselves – a push off the cliff that they couldn’t force themselves to take on their own.  For others, even if they knew they wanted a change eventually, they were unprepared to make it in such an abrupt fashion.  It happened to them, and it can happen to you.  And I say that not to worry you, but to instead solidly prepare you, by opening you up to a wonderful idea, that the falsity of stability that has been keeping you where you are when you desperately don’t want to be there… no longer has to have that control over you.

Abandon that.  Let it go.

To truly be free, you have to make the distinction that stability isn’t necessarily linked to your paycheck, your job or your relationship, but rather it is linked to not having to depend on someone else for your well-being.  It means not having to worry that you will lose something by means that are out of your control.  For some, that means working for themselves, and for others, not being in a job where the fear of losing it or the lack of integrity makes them feel stuck, or to question their value.  No matter where you are, whether you were pushed off the cliff, you’re standing on it or you’re running open-armed toward it, if you rise above complacency, and detach from that belief that stability is at the hands of your employer/spouse/etc., you no longer risk being the victim of change, because you have become the CREATOR OF CHANGE.

And the only thing more limiting than perceived stability is its evil brain-child, Complacency.  Born from an unholy union of False Stability and Fear, Complacency continues in the family business of ruining the careers and lives of otherwise motivated, talented and passionate individuals.  We cling to perceived stability in an unhappy career for the same reasons we cling to perceived stability in an unhappy relationship or marriage – fear of being alone (or jobless) and fear that we won’t have the strength to pick ourselves up in the face of loss and move on to something better.  That fear drives us to rely on and cling to what we already have, because it’s easy, and we fool ourselves into thinking that so long as it is there, we are protected.  That idea right there is complacency- our inability to move ourselves forward toward our own goals, despite any willingness and desire we may have to change, because of the circumstances we allow to control us.  So we cling, for dear life.  But how good is that life?  What’s the worst that can happen if you loosen the grip and quit feeling the need to hold onto what you don’t really want anyway?

Yes, you can “do it tomorrow.”  You can set it as a goal for the New Year.  You can do it whenever and however you like… but you haven’t yet.  Why not?

Friday was September 11, a day in American history continually reminding us all of our own falsely perceived invincibility and which echoes the sentiment that life is indeed short.  Despite multiple subsequent threats over the years, as of today 3,289 days have passed without harm being inflicted upon New York City. As my fiancé likes to say, “It’s all the NYPD, not the government faltering those attempts…” And then he argues how New York should get pretty much all the domestic security funding, which he may be right, but that’s beside the point.  Had the NYPD (or government) relied on that faulty logic, the fact that, “3285 days have gone by without any danger, so what’s a few days off?” there’s no guarantee that life would go on uninterrupted in America’s brilliant metropolis of the East.  After all, one thing we’ve learned as Americans is that we’re not infallible, we’re not exempt from the tragedies and obstacles of life.  And the truly lucky ones are beginning to accept that.  So you have to think… even New York City does not falsely perceive its own stability, nor does it choose complacency.  And it never will… so why should YOU?

So allow me to repeat the idea above, as it’s probably the key take-away from all of this.   When you rise above complacency, and detach from that belief that stability is at the hands of your employer/spouse/etc., you no longer risk being the victim of change, because you have become the CREATOR OF CHANGE.  No-thing or person has control over you and your outcome unless you allow them that power.  That is the power of conscious choice, and that, my friends… is a story for another time.

Cheers, New York City!  To another fruitful year of disgruntled urbanites living, thriving and taking for granted the liberty and security that was never just a coincidence.   I guess in fairness, no one ever said being human was easy.

Honey, We All Have to Fetch the Coffee at SOME Point…

30 Aug

When you’re 21 years old and fresh out of college, you’re full of energy, exuberance, enthusiasm and a plethora of other anabolically-loaded words that start with “e”.  You can’t WAIT to get out into the working world and show the man what you’re made of.  “I’m going to be different – I’m going to change the [insert industry here] world as we know it!” And dammit, good for you!  It’s not the least bit realistic… but as you move through the ranks of the working world, experiencing the ups and downs of being a career-ist, you will no doubt realize just how valuable that unrealistic attitude can be for you.

Here’s a newsflash to the Class of 2010, and pretty much anyone who came before, and will follow suit – you don’t have to change the world.  Changing your own life to simultaneously fit what you want and what the world demands of you is hard enough.  Where we make the mistake is not putting enough value and acknowledgment on what we do every day, you know, the little things that don’t always garner the accolades, but end up being topics of “man, I never realized how much that would come in handy later,” conversations.  Maybe not even that.

When I was 21 years old, I was a senior in college, and slightly bitter, because alot of my friends had these fantasically lax schedules, chock full of BS classes (and that doesn’t stand for bachelor of science…) and plenty of down time to, well, “be a senior”.  My Wednesday during the spring semester of senior year started at 9am and ended at midnight, commencing with my PR internship, continuing with my liberal arts classes I’d left ’til last semester of college, climaxing with my 3-hour art studio courses, and finally dying down around 11:59pm when it was time to close up the gym in my dorm, where I worked part-time.  The next day it started all over again, with my THIRD job, which was working at a modeling agency in downtown Boston.

Some days that job was a nightmare.  I remember riding in on the train in the mornings from Brookline with nervous aches in my back because no doubt

Yours truly, at 21.

my boss would find something to scream at me about, whether it was my fault or not.    After all, I was just the intern.  And then we’d make up, joke about something stupid, he’d insult me again and I’d go out and get him his coffee and French crueller donut at Dunkin’s.  With the added benefit of graduating college at the tail-end of the dot-com bust, I didn’t really have a choice about working there.  Job prospects were scarce, and in early May of my senior year I signed onto the modeling agency full time, as the head of the men’s and runway division.  I put up with a lot from my boss, but at the end of the day, my job was to talk to, take pictures of and look at male models.  I never said I was looking for sympathy!

Nearly a decade later I’m looking back at that first job and realizing how much I’ve grown professionally, and also how much I put up with.  I look at some of the ridiculous tasks I was stuck with (putting together a giant metal filing closet, or picking up my boss’ burrito for dinner), and sure, I thought I could do better.  One day I got stuck walking my boss’ friend’s pitbull, Neno, down Newbury Street, where he decided to relieve himself in front of the upscale brunch-goers at the Armani Cafe.  Also not impressed was Jimmy Fallon, who Neno nearly attacked on the sidewalk, shortly after (and just think, without my hasty restraint, there may never have been Fever Pitch!).

But I also look at the opportunities that came from demonstrating that I wasn’t afraid to do the low-level boring tasks.   I could easily sit on my high horse and argue that I didn’t go to the best communications school in the country to answer phones and shuffle resumes.  But processing and faxing a couple of hourly timesheets each week at the agency lead to eventually managing the financials of a multi-million dollar company less than 2 years later.   Shuffling a few thousand resumes over 7 years produced the credibility to build my own company in career advising.   I’m still not afraid of the small stuff.  In fact, I love it, because there’s something bigger underneath it all!   I’m not picking up the coffee anymore, except for myself, seeing as now I only have myself to answer to.  But when you work for yourself, there is no one else to do the low-level tasks.  And I’m okay with that.  Because more than anything that I might have learned in 10+ years about recruiting, advertising, graphic design or art, I learned that entitlement gets you nowhere, and initiative opens up more doors than you can even imagine.  I’ll give partial credit for that lesson to my dad, a several-decade successful entrepreneur himself.   At 61, does he complain about still fetching the coffee every morning?  I assume not, since these days he’s the one drinking it.   Yea, you might get stuck taking on an extra PowerPoint or two, and you may hate it until the sun comes up, but someone will remember that you threw your hand up, in the end.

So you don’t have to change the world.  You just have to accept that change is the only constant, and as long as you’re willing to roll with it, you’ll undoubtedly be okay.  Not every day will be great, not every day will be tolerable.  But the next one has potential to be life-changing, if you choose to make it that way.  And it’s all about conscious choice, making choices that, while they may not be ideal, they’re still YOUR CHOICES and they’re in line with the authentic you.

Sometimes it’s the small accomplishments, even the things we don’t ask for, but we STILL GET DEALT, that make us stand out.  Don’t be afraid to embrace those things and turn them into positive experiences that open up other doors.  Don’t be afraid to stick your hand up and volunteer for the crappy job you really don’t want to do, because in the end, you’re the person who said, “Sure, why not?  It’s not below me to offer up my expertise.”  It was my conscious choice to be that person, to stand up and say, “See me?  I’m here! And I’m worth it!”  Coaching is all about shifting perspective, from the catabolic to the anabolic, but we all have the innate power within us to do it.  It just needs tapping into. There are not magical tools, and as you’ll read on my “Services” page, my practice thrives solely on people who want to believe in themselves, that they have the answers already, and who want to do the work to uncover the hidden treasure within.  That may sound a bit cheesy, but it’s true.  It is within.  I found it, and [holy deity] knows that if I can, and others before you can, well, you can as well.

So what little thing are you proud of today?  Forget the world at large – what have you done today to change YOUR world that you would have otherwise overlooked?   Think about that…while you go take a coffee break.

Life Transitions: It’s Never ‘All in the Details’

16 Aug

You know why I love coaching people through life transitions?  Because outside of simply career coaching, it’s really a limitless term that embodies the energy, the challenge, the opportunity of making a change really in any facet of our lives.  Sure, changing careers and/or jobs is certainly a large life transition, and an intensely exciting (and potentially stressful) one.  But how about the other kinds of transitions that are important in our lives, that maybe at first glance we don’t equate with being on the same level of magnitude as, say, a complete professional reinvention?  What about relocating to a new city because you just want to, or breaking up with your long-term significant other because you met someone, well, better for you, or even changing apartments to a different part of Brooklyn?  That’s a transition.  Heck, changing banks is a transition, and depending where your perspective is, it can be stressful.

Photo by Adrian Miles on Flickr

The fantastic thing about coaching someone through a transition is that no matter what the scenario at hand is, they are the protagonist in the story. And the story is an unwritten opportunity that may seem daunting, or the victim of severe writers’ block at first, but has absolute potential to be life-changing in an immensely positive and empowering way!  No matter what change is on the brink of coming into our lives… something good can come out of it, and it’s mine and my clients’ mutual journey to uncover that good and put it into motion. It’s kind of like being an archaeologist of the mind and soul, and finding a chest full of ancient scrolls that have existed since the beginning of human time, and unbeknowest initially to any of us, they hold all the answers to life.

Next month my fiance and I are moving apartments in Brooklyn, and while I’m excited by the prospect of a (slight) change of scenery, I’m less than thrilled with the typical aches and pains of the real estate process that await me on the other end of this journey.  Because 12% of $xx,xxx is a lot of money to pay some real estate agent in exchange for posting a Craig’s List ad for a two-bedroom rental, and blocking off two and half hours on a Tuesday evening to walk you around a couple of buildings.  But that’s standard fare in New York City as far as real estate brokerage goes, and I can choose to accept that… or I can choose to go elsewhere.

My fear is that I’m going to stumble upon this amazing abode on the most amazing of Brooklyner blocks, clearly within my price range, since I stated that to the agent upfront, and I’ll already be picking out my bar stool at the amazing neighborhood pub, when… BAM! He/she hits me with a massive fee that tips the scale way over budget. “Okay all I need you to do next is hand me over a check for the brokers fee, pretty much what you paid for your senior-year college tuition, because let’s face it- that’s just the “going rate” in the NYC market.”  And while I’m busy complaining how Boston is far more democratic when it comes to ripping off the little people than NYC is, some work-from-home up-and-coming Park Slope blogger who lives off their lofty severance package from their former finance job will be signing MY lease and making themselves comfortable in MY abode… and taking MY bar stool.

And alas, that could all very well happen.  But the reality is that neither myself, nor anyone else, can know that, nor can we control everything that happens in the world as we embark on these changes and transitions within our lives. Those are the details – the crown molding, the exposed brick, the perfectly southern facing exposure that lets the light in at the perfect angle… all details.  And only details, not non-negotiables.  And as we recognize the difference between the two, it’s important not to focus all of our energy on the details to the point where we are forgetting WHY we decided to make that transition, that change in our lives, in the first place.  We committed to making a change because we saw something bigger, and better, and we wanted it for ourselves enough to make it happen.

So it’s not all in the details, and in fact it rarely ever is.  Even with relationships, despite the saying.  The details help, but they aren’t the foundation.   What you truly see as your ideal version of yourself, you at your best, living your best life – that’s the foundation for making positive, lasting change.  I didn’t decide to move out of my current apartment because I was confident the parquet flooring would be better somewhere else.  I decided to move because the person I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with came into my small world, and suddenly life took a different route.  Did I expect it?  Not exactly.  Do I choose to embrace it?  Absolutely.  But I’m not changing my bank, just yet.

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