Coaching: Moving Forward

Which post spoke to you this week?  Are you stuck in a momentComplacentBored?  Thinking that you can’t?

Well, maybe it’s time to move on from that!  Are you ready?  Grab a pencil and a piece of paper to write down your answers.  Give them weight!

Here we go…

What’s kept you in this spot?  Be honest with yourself – these places can be very comfortable and safe.

What would the future look like if you never get out of this place you are in?  How does that feel to you?  How comfortable does it make you to see yourself as unchanged five years from now?  Ten?

So, what would you like to see change?  How ready are you to take on a little risk?  Add a little excitement?  Rock the boat, so to speak?

And who do you need to support you in this?  Are you willing to give your family and friends the opportunity to support you?  If not, what keeps you from saying what you want out loud?  What can you do to get over your fear?

Finally, what will it look like as you achieve your goal?  At what points will you celebrate your success?  Who will be there celebrating with you?

I celebrate your decision to get out of your comfort zone!  Best of luck as you move forward and grab hold of your dream.

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I Just Can’t

“I just can’t.”

Do you cringe when you read those words like I do?  They are so limiting and hard to argue with because… if someone thinks they can’t, they are likely right.

I just can’t – I don’t have the time.  Really?  C’mon!  It truly is as H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  Usually not having time to pursue your goals and dreams is the product of poor prioritization, something that each of us has control over.

I just can’t – I don’t have the money.  OK, this one can be pretty real.  However, it is also an area where creativity can win out.  Not able to up and leave your job to start your new business?  How can you begin your business without leaving your job?  What if you worked part-time while you built your dream?  What if you found an investor?  Applied for a grant so you could get that degree?  What if you thought outside of the constraints of “can’t?”

I just can’t – Person X wouldn’t approve.  So you’ll let them decide what’s best for you?  Please, go back and re-read The Gift of Decision and let the words of General Omar N. Bradley settle down into your bones.  Letting circumstance or other people make our choices permits those things to shape our lives.  Aside from this, we often predict how people will react incorrectly.  Give your family and friends the opportunity to surprise you with their support.

Next time you hear yourself saying that you “just can’t,” I challenge you to change the thought to something else.  “Maybe I could if I…”  “It might work if…”

Allow yourself to think about the possibilities because then, it just might be possible.

It All Started Because We Were a Little Bored…

“Collect experiences and adventures, not things. Things burden you. Experiences give you memories which will last a lifetime.”

I’ve rarely felt like I was being complacent, however, there was a time when we Baanas were quite comfortable where we were.  We had a lovely home and great friends in a fun neighborhood.  The adults had good jobs.  The kids got good grades.  Life was good.

And I was a little bored.  Go figure.

It was around this time that the opportunity to take a job in Germany dropped into my life.  Perhaps because we were all comfortable, everyone jumped at the opportunity to shake things up and head to Europe.  (Well, everyone except our youngest son… but he rarely wants to shake things up.)

I’ve written before that the experience wasn’t all that we hoped it would be.  But we also had some amazing adventures, made friends, and enjoyed much of our time there.

Then we headed back home and the question came from one of us, “Why did we do that?”  And we collectively decided that we must have been too comfortable.  Is that a crazy reason to drop everything and move to a foreign land?

Nah…

Now that we’re back, we have a lovely home and our great friends are still here and part of our lives.  The adults have good jobs.  The kids get good grades.  Life is good.

And we have memories that will last a lifetime.

Being Content vs. Being Complacent

The challenge in yesterday’s post may have seen contradictory to previous posts about being content. However, making sure one doesn’t get stuck in time, place or knowledge does not mean that being content has been thrown out the window. Complacency is different than being content.

I guess the difference is this: we should be content with the things, relationships and circumstances we have and, at the same time, refrain from being complacent about what’s to come.

I am content with my family relationships but I will never be complacent in letting them know that I love them.

My friends bring joy into my life and yet I will not be so complacent that I miss an opportunity to make a new friend.

I am content with the home I live in; however, I will not be complacent in ensuring its upkeep and repair.

I try my best to be happy with my healthy body and yet I will not be complacent when it comes to monitoring what I consume and how often I exercise.

I love my current job and intend to keep learning more to get better and better at what I do.

It is possible to be quite content and still push to do more, be more, have more.

No contradictions here.

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Stuck in a Moment

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

Stuck in a Moment ~U2

As melodies from my favorite band played through my head after an incredible rain-drenched concert at the TCF Stadium on Saturday, it occurred to me that being stuck in a moment can be every bit as damaging to a career as being burned out.

Yes, I am always looking for lessons in odd places.

Perhaps you are comfortable where you are – and have been for quite a while. I’ve watched people comfortably stay where they are until their job becomes redundant or obsolete, after which they have been walked to the door, holding their career in a box.

I’ve also watched people stuck in a moment of grandeur, unable to leave a team or a company where accolades were showered on them… years ago. Hoping to capture the same feelings and success, they stay where they are while others move on to find success again somewhere else.

And then there are those who become stuck in their learning, not moving on to try new things, adapt to new circumstances, or learn a new technology. Other, often younger, co-workers blow by these individuals because they think they know enough due to title, age or degree.

Stuck in a moment?

Don’t be. Move on.

It’s just a moment
This time will pass

Coaching: Burnout

At last, it’s Friday again! Time to be a little introspective with some online coaching. This week’s topic of burnout has struck home for many readers and it’s for those that these questions are for. You who are happy in your work, congratulations! For the rest of you, as always, I invite you to really think about and write down your answers.

Here we go…

Could you identify with the accounts of burnout written about and linked to this week? The most important question to answer is: are you ready to do something about it?

Once you’ve decided it’s time to take control of the situation, what will be your first move? Assessing your circumstance, how can identifying your strengths help you move forward? What strength can you start using more of in your work? How soon can you start doing that?

Perhaps you’ve already tried using your strengths at work and it’s your environment that needs to change. What can you ask your employer to change for you? Your workload? The rewards? Do you need more control? What if you ask for changes and the request goes unheeded? What are your criteria for staying? What are your criteria for your next role should you decide to move on?

Burnout can be very stressful. Finding a way out can be liberating.

Burnout Recovery

We began this week focusing on burnout and, after diverging into a discussion on strengths as a potential remedy; I’d like to return to the topic. Because burnout is complex and often cannot be altered by focusing on strengths alone, many factors come into play when recovering from a burned out place.

For example, according to Psychology Today, statistical analysis concludes, “burnout is not a problem of people but mostly of the places in which they work. When the workplace does not recognize the human side of work or demands superhuman efforts, people feel overloaded, frustrated and well, burned out. Self-improvement alone will not beat it.”

Within the article, advice is given regarding the steps that can be taken to work within an environment causing a person to burn out. That said, sometimes issues can’t be overcome and the best choice might be to walk out the door.

It is then that resilience must be called upon. We’ve talked about resilience here as one of the pieces in the puzzle to happiness and well-being. Additionally, the American Psychological Association offers a very complete guide on resilience that includes the following 10 ways to build resilience – all points that can also help in a burnout situation:

Make connections.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.
Accept that change is part of living.
Move toward your goals.
Take decisive actions.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
Nurture a positive view of yourself.
Keep things in perspective.
Maintain a hopeful outlook.
Take care of yourself.

Discovering your strengths crosses several of these buckets: self-discovery, moving toward goals, taking decisive action, and likely more.

Burnout is, as stated above, a complex state. If you are there, you’ve likely been grappling with exactly how to pull yourself back to a place where you feel healthy and whole. The good news is: healthy and whole is achievable.

Identifying Strengths

Now that we’ve established that strengths strengthen you and are not simply what you are good at, I want to take it to a more personal level.

As I mentioned in the posts about the transition out of my corporate life and into my coaching life, digging deep and understanding my own strengths was a very important part of the process. My first introduction to finding my strengths was by taking the Clifton Strengths Finder. Over the years I tried to match my work with my strengths – some times more successfully than others.

Marcus Buckingham lead the early work that went into the Clifton Strengths Finder and I had the opportunity to both hear him lecture and go through his Strengths Essentials workshop this past year. His “strengths make us stronger” focus centers simply around completing the sentence, “I feel strong when I ____________.” [While the concept is simple, the workshop dives much deeper into understanding strengths and is definitely worth the investment, in my opinion.]

Finally, as part of my coursework at the University of Texas – Dallas, I was introduced to the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Turns out that the same strengths that completed the Buckingham question for me also utilized my top five character strengths from the VIA. Ah ha! That’s why those activities make me feel strong…

You’ve had the opportunity to read about my transition already and so I want to leave you with a convincing example of someone for whom this same concept had a significant outcome. While her coach described these as Burnout Skills and Motivation Skills, the concept is the same and her story, powerful.

Learn more from Claire as you read her story here.

Burnout and Strengths

Yesterday I ended the post saying that I thought finding a way to use our strengths is one of the best ways to find balance and to move away from a burned out state. No doubt some of you read this and thought, “But I’m good at what I do and I still feel burned out.”

Here’s the thing… what you are good at is not necessarily the same as your strengths.

What?

That means that every time you were asked about your strengths in job interviews and you rattled off everything you are good at, you were probably answering a different question than the one that was asked. Your skills do not equal your strengths.

Strengths strengthen you. If you do something well and you hate it, it demotivates you, and it leaves you weary, then it is definitely not one of your strengths. I’ve recently heard these referred to as “burnout skills,” also a great way to think about how what we do well can actually fry our spirits.

Quoting from Marcus Buckingham: “You can be good at something – even really good at something – and still hate doing it. If that’s the case, then you definitely should not consider that activity a strength, because doing it will leave you feeling drained, weakened and depleted. Building your career around that kind of activity is not a recipe for long-term success.”

So what strengthens you? What, when you are done, leaves you feeling like you haven’t really worked at all? This is your gift, your genius work. You’ll hear it referred to many ways but really, it’s all the same thing. These are your strengths.

And doing what strengthens you not only makes you stronger, it also makes you happier.

Bonus.

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Burnout!

Are you suffering from burnout?

Boy, I sure have. I’ve cried in corporate bathrooms. Lashed out at co-workers. Taken my stress out on family. I’ve jokingly said that a job was taking years away from my life that I could otherwise spend with my future grandchildren.

But burnout isn’t funny at all. Laughing about how much we attempt to balance is just a way to try to get through it. Justify it somehow.

I recently came across an article on burnout that really brought back memories for me. And not very good ones, I’ll say. The women cited in the article that truly burned out reminded me of when I left the job that sent me to the bathroom to cry several times each week. As I had my final meeting with my manager he asked, “Why did you give up?”

And I had. In my head I can replay the moment when I gave up because it was all too much and I didn’t think I had the support I needed to get through it. What I didn’t know is that anyone else knew that I’d quit in my head.

Of course they did and as the author points out in the article, the people around those suffering from burnout know as well. They’re just waiting to see how much longer the individual can hold it all together.

As I said, I left the job but I didn’t leave the company I was working for. I don’t think a person has to jump ship in order to regain control – though sometimes it may be necessary. Finding a way to use our strengths is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to find balance and to move away from that burned out state.

More on stengths tomorrow…

Coaching: Decision Making

Have this week’s posts reminded you of a decision you’ve been struggling with? Putting off? Ignoring? Are you ready to put some more thought into making that decision and then, perhaps, going ahead and making it?

Got one in mind? Then let’s move ahead with this week’s mini coaching engagement.

Here we go…

You’ve delayed a decision this long… what criteria do you need to have met in order to make your final decision? What internal or external obstacles do you have in making this decision?

Have you been waiting for someone else to make the decision for you? Are you intentionally giving your power of decision away to them? What benefit are you receiving by passing on this power? Is it well placed?

And here’s a favorite question of mine to consider: If nothing changed from how it is today, what would the future look like? How does answering this question change your perspective on the importance of this decision? Has it made it more important? Less?

After answering these questions, what will you do next? What will be your first step toward making your decision? How practical would it be to give yourself a deadline to make it? When you meet the above-defined criteria, how quickly will you make the decision after that?

What is clearer to you now? Are you ready to decide?

Still Waiting for a Sign?

Back in February this blog focused on taking risks.  Since decision-making and risk often go hand-in-hand, sharing this post from that week fits nicely with this week’s topic.

Waiting for a Sign

It’s been Risk Week here at Carolyn’s blog and as I continue to ponder the topic, a quote from Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something sticks with me; “… don’t think you need that peaceful, easy feeling before you can make up your mind.”

Isn’t that what often keeps us from taking a risk? Whether it’s popping the question, throwing the birth control pills in the trash, or moving to that city you’ve been thinking about for years – sometimes we want everything to feel just right.

I can tell you right now that sometimes that peaceful, easy feeling has been a precursor to a really bad decision. And then other decisions where I felt like I was jumping off into the scary unknown, well, they ended up being the best thing ever. So what to do?

Waiting for a sign or the stars to align is not the way to make life choices. A person has to come up with something beyond this sort of guess work.

Unfortunately I can’t remember who to credit with once asking me this brilliant question when I was considering a significant career move: Will your resume look better a year from now if you take the new job or if you stay in your current job? Boom! Pow! Yeah! The decision became crystal clear and I’ve used it as a barometer ever since.

And when the career change seemed really scary, I could hear my dad’s words echoing, reminding me that it wouldn’t be a promotion if it didn’t frighten me a little bit. (Thank you, Dad!)

Of course, only you can find out what motivates you to make a choice. Yet in any event, if we can find our way to that future place and see where one road might take us versus the other, sometimes things become quite clear in this present moment.

And then the decision can be made.

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The Gift of Decision

I am, as always, about halfway through reading four different books. I also have several un-read books on my yet-to-read shelf and a reading list at the ready on my nook. So when I knew that this week’s topic was going to be decision making, I finally picked up Get Off the Fence by Rhoda Makoff, Ph.D. and Jeffery Makoff, ESQ. I’m not done (see sentence #1), but I think this one will end up on my list of recommended readings.

At the very onset of the discussion, the Makoffs remind the reader that being able to make big decisions is a gift. It means that we’re alive; that we have choices. These are good things.

When was the last time you felt like a big decision was a good thing? OK, if your last major decision was to get married or have a child, of course it was good. But even those good decisions can leave us agonizing over whether our choices are the right ones.

The Makoffs also share a quote from General Omar N. Bradley who led the D-Day invasion of Normandy that marked the turning point of World War II in Europe. He said, “This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: We are given one life, and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind or whether to act and, in acting, to live.”

Please, go back and read it again. And maybe one more time. The more I read it, the more power his words seem to have.

Will you wait to for circumstances to make up your mind?

Or will you act and, in acting, live?

It is our decisions that define who we are. Letting circumstance or other people make our choices permits those things to shape our lives.

Making your own big decisions is a gift that allows you to have the life you choose.

The Side Benefit of Decision Making

Yesterday I wrapped up the post with an observation that when a major decision takes place, secondary, day-to-day decisions become easier to make. To carry the point, I’ll share my own recent experience.

Last week I mentioned almost in passing that I’ve finally landed on what coaching niche I will focus on. This was a difficult decision because all coaching is appealing to me. I like the idea of coaching anyone on anything. I find people fascinating and love helping them work toward goals. But from a business standpoint, a niche makes sense.

And so my focus is to work with people in career transition. This brings me back to where I started because it’s been conversations with people about their careers that really drew me to coaching in the first place. These are the conversations I enjoy most as people find their passions, figure out what to do to build their resumes to get to where they want to go, create a sound financial base so they can strike out on their own, take the risk to move to another state or another country, or look at all their options and figure out that where they are is exactly where they aught to be. Love it.

Now for the point – and I do have one.

Deciding my niche has aided in several smaller decisions like where to advertise, if I should have a booth at a certain trade show, and who I should network with to bring in new business. It’s also created a few big actions… but every major decision will.

As I thought about what example to use, there were many decisions that followed a similar pattern. My decision to be healthy in old age has driven my daily food choices (most days!) and added exercise back into my life. My decision to feel beautiful instead of frumpy has affected my clothing choices and reminds me to get up and take care of myself each morning (something that can be easily set aside when working from home). My decision to stay connected to my network drives my updates on Facebook and LinkedIn and also reminds me to schedule in-person time with others as well. And the list goes on.

Sure, making a big decision can be difficult. It can also make smaller daily choices come easier as you align your path with the goals you’ve set for yourself.

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Decide to Decide

Thinking, thinking, thinking… Are you always thinking about changing something but never getting around to actually deciding to do something?

This blog has brought the topics of change, goal setting, perseverance, risk-taking – all sorts of action that can only take place once someone has made a decision to make a change, set a goal, persevere, take a risk.

We must decide to decide before any action can really take place.

Delaying a decision may be completely legitimate. Major decisions need input from many sources. Time may change how the decision goes. Someone else’s decision may impact our decisions.

Conversely, many times we have collected the input; we’ve waited for a season to see what would change; other people have either made their decisions or it’s clear that they never will. And yet, we wait.

It’s making the decision to do something that makes it real. Once a decision is made, it begs for action. Unless the decision is to do nothing (which can be a very real decision), once we decide, we must act.

Are you thinking that you should do something to move your career forward? Decide to go back to school this fall and you will have actions that you will need to take right now to make it happen.

Have you been feeling like you really should be more active? Decide that you are going to start exercising and there will be a whole host of opportunities in front of you to engage in calorie-burning activities.

Do you wish that you had the money to go on vacation? Decide to get your financial house in order and many (sometimes painful) activities will necessarily follow to get to that goal.

The other thing that happens when a major decision takes place is that secondary, day-to-day decisions become easier to make.

I’ve decided to continue on that topic tomorrow.

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Coaching: Change

What change are you going through right now? There’s something… there always is. Is it change you are in control of or change that is happening to you? For today, let’s consider change you can control as I walk you through this week’s coaching post.

Here we go…

When you think about the change you are making in your life, how is it going? How much progress has been made since you decided to make the change? If you’ve hit a plateau or a snag, what can you do next to move forward?

And are things working out as you’d hoped? According to plan? What has emerged that perhaps altered the course you are on as you move toward your end goal? When will you pause and reassess if the change you are making is the right one? Today? Next week? How will you mark meeting your milestones along the way?

Finally, how will you know when the change is complete? What will it feel like? Who will you celebrate with?

And celebrate, you should! Progressing through changes and meeting goals are worthy of celebration, no matter how big or how small.

Change Your Act

Change regularly receives bad reviews because memories of unplanned change so often take center stage. Lay-offs, death and natural disasters cause change that is difficult to deal with because these tragedies often drop into lives without enough of an announcement. However, change that is planned can result in an exciting new act in your personal drama (or comedy, as the case may be).

Too frequently we see the scene around us as set; something we cannot change. The fact is that you are the director and this is your production. Whatever you see can be changed because you are writing the play. You are the star as well, of course! Amazing You!

So what do you see in this current act that you’d like to change? Is the scene messier than you’d like? Is the main character a little heavier, more harsh or a little more scared than you’d like him or her to be? Are there too many people trying to take charge of the production? Is it time to draw the curtain on this act and move to the next one?

“All the word’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” ~William Shakespeare

Set the stage. Invite the right actors. Rehearse. Enjoy the show.

Ebb and Flow

I’m thinking about change and how it is, as they say, the only constant. How even as things stay sort of the same, they also aren’t quite as they were. And how the human self is conditioned to roll with so many ebbs and flows over time.

The reason change is on my mind is because I’m contemplating a few – and a few are happening to me as well. I downloaded an app to keep track of what I eat and how much I exercise in hopes that my physique will change. My oldest son is moving out of the house in a few days which will definitely change how it feels in our home. I’ve figured out my coaching niche and I need to change how I “market” myself – including new updates to my website. I have a hair appointment next week and I’m wondering if I should keep a short style or grow my hair out. I think the living room might be ready for a furniture update…

If your brain works a little like mine, you understand when I say that this list of changes could go on and on. And on.

“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.” ~Bruce Barton

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Coaching: Ambiguity

How does your discomfort with uncertainty hold you back?

Is it the little things mentioned in the Are You Game? and Gefährlicher Steig begehen auf eigene Gefahr! posts? Perhaps your rigid adherence to a schedule doesn’t allow for you to recognize opportunities to have fun, play and connect with others. As you think back through the last few days, how often did you allow your time to be interrupted for an unscheduled conversation with a friend, a board game with your favorite12-year-old, or a last-minute coffee date with your spouse? How acceptable does that feel to you? What can you do to recognize those chances to enrich your life when you can, every time you can?

Or perhaps you do find ways to go-with-the-flow in the every day stuff; it’s the big things that leave you paralyzed. How long has it been since you considered a new career? When was the last time you learned something new? When you look at your future, what feels a little scary? And when thinking about that sort-of scary thing, how can you work toward the end goal with innovation, experimentation and play?

Think about how many times the unexpected has resulted in a great memory or a great opportunity. As you dwell on those memories, I’m just thinking one thing…

If ambiguity and uncertainty brought good things in the past, what’s keeping you from embracing them now?

Bring on the ambiguity, uncertainty, and change! They are where the adventure lies!