Taking the Leap with Your Career

Sometimes all we need to do is make space for ourselves and allow our real thoughts and desires the opportunity to show themselves to us. They might just be sitting there, waiting to be seen, if only we would stop moving and take the time to be present with ourselves. This was something that became so clear to me in a recent session.

I recently met with a client who wanted support to figure out her next move. When the session started, she asked me to help her understand whether she needed to “put in her time” at her big law job before moving on to something new. Specifically, was there some magic to sticking it out for 3 years before moving on to the next thing?

I actually get asked variations of this question all the time.

There is a common belief that we must always act with our resumes in mind.

That we must always ensure that our resumes demonstrate not only our competencies but our LOYALTY to prior employers.

But what about loyalty to ourselves? Loyalty to what we want? That was where this session quickly ran off to. I was prepared to empower my client to take ownership of her career and decide for herself what made the most sense regardless of some perceived righteous calendar but then the session took a surprising turn. After some pressing, my client quietly shared that knew exactly what she wanted to do with her career; she knew exactly what she wanted to do and she didn’t want to wait 3 years to do it.

(If this is ringing
a bell, run don't walk to signing up for a free session
with me. Don't shame your dreams. Don't bury your light. Let that shit burn the
night down!)

So why muddy with water with all these questions about how long to stay and when is it the “right” time to move on? Because that was the feedback she was getting from those around her. Well-intended, certainly, but that advice was in direct contrast to what she knew in her gut. She knew she wanted to leave and she knew exactly what she wanted to do next. She allowed her conviction and inner knowing to be clouded by the judgments and experiences of others.

How many times in our lives have we put off doing what we knew was right for ourselves because we allowed ourselves to be persuaded by those around us?

We seek input from those closest to us but then allow those inputs to sway us. To set us adrift, unmoored. When you know in your gut what you want, allowing the advice and counsel of those around you to change your course will set you adrift and the tides of others’ opinions will only carry you farther away from that true north.

Think about it….when you KNOW what you want to do next, why bother asking others what you should do? Because you want your decision to be blessed by those in your life. Because you don’t want your decisions to be criticized. Because you want to be talked out of your “crazy” dream. You want to be convinced that you should stay safe and not rock the boat. So instead, you gather the input and attempt to fit it into your plan. In doing so, you take a perfectly clear path and you obscure it. We turn away from our own knowing because we are driven by a desire to please those around us, avoid criticisms, and stay safe.

I know we all know it but let me say it again here: that is no way to live your life!

There are no inherently “right” or “wrong” answers — there is only OUR answer. When we look to others to steer our course, we imply that there is some inaccessible wisdom that others have and we don’t. That others know our dreams better than we do.

At the same time, we often look to others in hopes that they will talk us down from the ledge; that they will stop us from leaping into some uncertain dream. They will snuff out our crazy. That they will keep us from doing something ridiculous.

Be aware of who you are and what you want. Having that clarity is a gift that is not bestowed upon all of us.

Honor that gift and do not allow yourself to be swayed by the experiences of others. Following your own dream will be uncomfortable. It will expose you to criticism and judgment. But is that really worse than living a life to please someone else? Is that better than living INauthentically? Are you really committed to believing that pursuit of your dream was supposed to be some fantastical cake walk?

Our rational minds know that pursuit of our path is meant to challenge us and forge us anew but the part of us that fears what others might think sees those difficulties as a reason to stop the pursuit.

In doing so, we stifle our own evolution. Hard is part of the deal. Buckle up, baby cakes!

One of the greatest gifts I can offer my clients is to serve as a mirror for themselves; to help them see their own strengths, their own wants, and their own dreams. I believe that we all hold the keys or our own successes and happiness, but sometimes those keys are buried under years of negative programing and bad information. Once we clean up our own roadblocks, the truth is often waiting to be found. Then the only thing left to do is trust our own judgement and start taking action despite the fear. That my friend, is why we are here. To pursue the uncharted path and see just who we might become at the end of that journey.

Happy trails, my friends!

Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

Career Changes

At some point in your career, you may find yourself wondering if it is time for a career change. Many of my clients grapple with the notion of leaving their current career path in favor of another.

When evaluating whether to make a career change, the most important question you can ask yourself is: why not?

I’m a firm believer that is something is nagging at your consciousness – like the question of a career change – there is something going on that is worth paying attention to. Most people disregard those nagging feelings because when they are asked “why not make the change?” their justifications are based on fear. It’s easier to stay put than it is to take the risk and try something new. Just because something is “easy” or “comfortable” doesn’t mean it is the right decision for you.

When you are 80 years old looking back on your life and your career, are you going to be happy you choose to remain put because it was easy? Are you going to regret not shaking things up?

When you ask yourself “why not do the damn thing?” and you don’t have good reasons, you need to take a hard look at your life. If your reasons are fear-based or comfort-focused, you are selling yourself short.

Stay because you WANT to stay. Stay because you like your reasons for staying.

If you are questioning your current path, that feeling rarely goes away. If anything it will only amplify. If you accepted that as true, what would you do with your life? If you knew that every job, every position, was simply a different and evolving season of your life, what would you do next?

I like to think about my life and my choices like the evolution of fashion or tastes. What I once thought was my most promising fashion choice in the 80s does not hold up well today. We change. We want new things. We become different people. It’s perfectly natural to want to be challenged in a new way or to experience new things professionally.

When you find yourself asking whether it is time for a new career choice, honor yourself by giving space to that question. Why do you find yourself asking that question? What is lacking in your current experience that you are wanting. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and explore what is going on with you that is arousing that question.

We must learn to honor ourselves and respect the questions we present to ourselves. Ask the questions. You are the only one who can ever determine if it is time for a change but if you keep ignoring those nagging questions, you will never get to the right answer for yourself.

Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.

—M. Scott Peck

Of course, prior to making any type of  a significant change, I believe that we must act from a place of peace and happiness. Big decisions should not be made when we are feeling emotional or when we are worn out. Part of what I do as a coach is help my clients clean up all the mental garbage they have bogging them down so that they can make decisions from a place of clarity: decisions based upon sound reasoning and intention. If you aren’t in a good mental headspace, you must first work on your relationship with yourself. Good decisions will then flow from that place. Need support? Grab a free session while they are still available!

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The Grind

I’m a firm believer that life is yin and yang. Good and bad. Not all days are will be your best days. While that is easy to accept logically, when you are in the middle of the grind, this 50/50 concept takes a backseat. Instead, we find ourselves wondering Is it supposed to be THIS hard? Maybe I went the wrong way. When you are stuck in the grind and your passion project becomes a chore, how do you know when it’s time to course correct or stay the course?

“Doing great work is a struggle. It’s draining, it’s demoralizing, it’s frightening – not always, but it can feel that way when we’re deep in the middle of it.”

― Ryan Holiday, Ego Is the Enemy

When you are working toward a new goal, there will be days when the goal seems unimportant. When the path you chose to the goal seems like a mistake. You can start to doubt your prior decisions and it seems logical to take a break and reassess. It is in those moments that having a good coach can make all the difference because your task must then become separating your fears from your good logic. It is those moments of breaking through the morass that will set you apart from all others who gave up and went home.

We set goals and we make plans. That is the easy part.

We have something we want to attain so we identify it and we get to executing. We make choices about how to best achieve that goal and we take action on those choices. But then, days/weeks/months later as we continue holding steady with those prior decisions, we start to second guess. We start to doubt and question whether we made the right decision. That questioning might be founded in good deductive reasoning but most often that questioning if fear-based.

We agonize over whether we made the right decision.

Whether we chose the right approach. Whether we should be spending our time elsewhere. NONE of those thoughts are founded upon the results of your current experiment. None of those questions are based upon your current course. They are all rooted in fear and self-doubt. Fear about making the wrong choice, fear about squandering your time, fear that it should be EASIER THAN IT IS. None of those fears are rationale but when they bounce around your head all day long, they are damn persuasive.

So how do you know when you are letting fear drive the boat or whether it really is time to make a change?

You have to ask yourself why you want to make a change midrace. Are you frustrated that it’s not going well or that it’s not as easy as you hoped? Are you feeling unmotivated and uninspired? Those are NOT REASONS TO CHANGE YOUR COURSE! That is part of the bargain. It is supposed to be hard!

When we believe that our path to a goal should be inspired and we should be filled with passion and motivated every step of the way, we are setting ourselves up for failure. We are denying the reality of yin and yang! From that space the only option is to abandon ship every time it gets hard. We spend our lives chasing happiness and running away from challenges. That course will never bring your dreams to fruition.

The take away here is this: if you want to change your course, do you like your reasoning for doing so?

Would your future self agree with your rationale?

What would it be like to stick it out a little longer–what will that gain you?

What will it cost you to change course?

Whenever we set goals, I encourage my clients to make them very measurable and clear. If you are going to start a website and a blog, identify the steps and tell yourself how long you are willing to commit to a particular course of action. Maybe you will commit to trying to make it all on your own for 3 weeks. After that point, you can decide whether it might be best to hire a web designer. The point is to trust yourself enough to commit to a course of action that makes sense to you.

Give yourself the opportunity to either fail or succeed in taking action toward your goals. Don’t leave room for half/a attempts. Don’t give space to commit for a few days and give up when it gets hard. Expect that it will be hard. The grind will come and commit to riding that path through it. Don’t allow yourself to quit during the grind! Decide how long you are willing to commit to you selected path and just. do. it.

Make a decision and have your own back.

After you have pushed through the grind and honored your prior decision-making enough to power through, THEN you can re-evaluate how to best proceed. At that time, not only will you have identified one approach that does not (or does) work but you will have also fostered trust in yourself. You will have developed confidence in yourself that you can make commitments to yourself and execute, even when it gets hard. You honor yourself and your decision-making when you stick to the plan. After all, there was a reason you decided to take that approach–give yourself the benefit of the doubt and stick with it even when it gets hard.

Unsure about whether it is time to change course? Get some free coaching today. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective to see things differently.

Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

How to Know When It’s Time for a Change

No matter what profession you are in, there will be times in your career where you will wonder if it’s time for a change. One of the most common phrases I hear in coaching is:

How do you know….

When it’s time to quit your job

When it’s time to find a new firm

When it’s time to ask for a divorce

When it’s time to change professions

When faced with these questions from clients, we work through a three step process:

myths, justifications, and so whats

The myth: there is no predestined “right time” that must be known before we can make big decisions.

What is the benefit of that line of thinking?

It’s like handing your life over to some unknown scheduler, hoping that they will let you know when you can move on. It assumes that there will be a time when the change you are questioning will be easy. It also assumes there will be a time when you can act without any fear or reservation.

Instead, this wait and see approach simply keeps you stuck. It keeps you in the safe familiar. It justifies your unwillingness to do the scary thing and gives you an excuse for not taking control over your life: “It just doesn’t feel like the right time.”

In my experience, those of us that wait to find some certainty that the time is finally “right” to make that big decision only end up getting beat over the head with their own truth.

The truth that they have known all along but that they kept ignoring, waiting for a “sign” that it was the perfect time to act. When we ignore those inklings that we need to make a change and we tell ourselves that we need to wait for the “right time,” life typically just turns up the volume and makes that truth harder to ignore.

You knew the right decision already but you allowed fear to convince yourself that you needed to wait for the right time.

There is no “right time.” If you feel driven or called to do something or make a change, pay attention to those urges. They will not go away. They will just get louder and the messaging typically becomes more painful (so that you cannot ignore it).

The one person that we should innately trust, who always has our back, is ourselves. Why do we ignore her so often and listen to others whose intentions are not always so benevolent? In order to build the life of your dreams, you have to start trusting yourself.

The only person who will join you for every step of the journey is yourself.

So, you might as well start giving her a seat at the table.

The justifications. When we are trying to weigh important decisions, the most important question to ask yourself is “why” do I want to do this. Next, we ask ourselves if we like our reasoning.

It’s that simple.

If your reason for wanting to leave your job is because “It’s too hard…I don’t think I’m cut out for it…I’m not happy here” you have to as yourself if you like that reasoning. Do you feel good about that explanation?

For many of us, these types of justifications are at the root of a lot of decisions. Things get hard. Life will challenge you to grow. These justifications are all based in some sort of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough. Fear that you made a mistake.

Furthermore, these types of justifications give away all your power–you imply that your job should give you some sort of happiness. (In case you missed it, happiness is no one’s job but yours.)

You are free to allow yourself to make decisions based upon these justifications, that is wholly your right. But my question is: Do you like your reasons? Do you feel good about your justification?

Be honest with yourself about why you are wanting to do (or not do) something and carefully examine your justification.

So long as you like your reason, you have everything you need to act. From there you simply make a decision and execute. No drama. Just action from a place of authenticity. Simple.

The so whats.

This is the part of the process where we tackle the fear that is keeping us stuck. When we eliminate the drama and get clear about our justifications for acting, the only thing that will keep us from executing is fear. In order to act, we have to take a look at that fear.

If you act and you make the “wrong” decision, so what?

Answering that question will ultimately bring you face to face with your worst case scenario. When we ask “so what?” over and over and over again, we eventually get to the root of the fear:

I don’t want people to think I’m a failure…because then I will believe I have failed.

I don’t want to be embarrassed…because it will mean I have messed up.

I don’t want to admit I was wrong…because it will mean I’m less than.

Facing our worst case scenarios and developing a strategy where we not only survive but THRIVE through those events will dispel the fear that is keeping us from acting.

If we know that we can make a decision, fail, and handle the consequences, there is no longer anything to be  afraid of. There is no longer any reason NOT to act.

Don’t let your brain tell you that you can’t handle your worst case scenario. Believing that will keep you stuck indefinitely.

Don’t make your life a merry-go-round of boring and fear-driven decisions. What would your future self tell you to do?

Interested in some free support in making your next big decision? I got you. Sign up today before this week’s spots are gone.

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Regretting that Law Degree?

If you hop on the Google box and run a few searches relating to

I hate being a lawyer

What else can I do with a law degree

How do I know if practicing law is right for me?

You will get a boatload of hits and stories of woe from “recovering lawyers.” Law school and practicing law are like any good love story. You can’t really understand how amazing and yet how terrible it can be until you experience it yourself.

In my practice, I spent many a dark night wondering if I had made the right choice in going to law school. I cried in my office more times than I probably remember. I missed important events, skipped parties, and used work as an excuse more times than I care to admit.

I deeply empathize with those of you going through that turmoil. The feeling of hopelessness and pressure. That heavy, oppressive fear that you just spent thousands of dollars getting into a prestigious club only to quickly realize you want right back out.

Fancy degree, fancy office, fancy car, fat paycheck and miserable. Congratulations!

Ooof. The agony.

So, what do you do?

One of the things we coaches love to do is “question your most closely held thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions.” These are the words of my coach who makes me pledge to do this very thing at the beginning of every session.

Many of our most closely held thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions are really wolves masquerading in sheep’s clothing. They sound so nice and innocuous, even virtuous. Yet, pretty thoughts have a way of causing so much unnecessary pain.

I want to have a job I can feel good about

I want a boss who respects me

I don’t want to be treated like an idiot

I want to love what I do

We have so many thoughts like this that we are choosing to swish around in our brains. They are not facts. They are not gospel. They are only true because you are choosing to believe they are true.

There are people in this world (ESPECIALLY during this pandemic) that would be thrilled with a job. Any job. If they could go to law school and work for someone who yelled at them, treated them like an idiot and didn’t respect them, they would be thankful just to have a job.

There are people in this world who would rather have a job for a horrible boss making tons of money than a job with Willie Wonka making pennies.

There are people in this world who neither love nor hate their jobs; it’s just a job. It is not who they are, it doesn’t define them, it’s a means to an end.  It pays the bills. They don’t care that they don’t love it. They have other things to love.

If you want to believe that you should love your job, that is 1000% your right and your option. My only question for you is

How is that thought serving you?

Does it make you feel terrible? Does it make you jump from job to job constantly searching for something better? Does it inspire you to get out of bed every day?

There is no such thing as inherently good or bad thoughts. Thoughts are good or bad based upon the impact those thoughts have on you–how they make you feel, show up, act, and the results they drive you to create.

Last week, I had a mini-session with a woman who was really grappling with her career. She was trying to figure out what to do next. As we discussed her reasons for considering a change she keep coming back to

I just want a job that I can feel good about; that brings purpose to my life.

Lovely. Beautiful. Commendable thoughts.

They were making my client miserable.

Those thoughts made her feel anxious and panicky. They drove her to overly criticize every job opportunity and scrutinize every aspect of her work. She was creating an impossibly high standard for her career and it was wrecking havoc on her life as she jumped from job to job and career to career seeking that elusive “purpose”. It was blocking her ability to see and appreciate the good in any aspect of her life. Those thoughts were keeping her from being happy in ANY environment.

This applies to everything. Not just your job. Thinking about quitting your marriage, that relationship, that friendship? Whatever it may be, the first step is getting honest with yourself about your brain.

What closely held thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions are contributing to your present strife?

Are some of your pretty thoughts blocking you from happiness? 

If you can get a handle on your brain and the role you are playing in creating your current misery, you can move into a space of greater clarity. From that space of clarity, you can make clear-headed, logical decisions about your life. Decisions that aren’t frantic, panicked or based in fear. Part of that process is examining some of your closely held thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions.

How are those beliefs/thoughts/assumptions serving you? Are they blocking your happiness?

You have the freedom to believe whatever you want but you must ask yourself whether those thoughts deserve real estate in your brain. It’s your future. What thoughts are you using to fuel your journey?