Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflect, Celebrate, Create Anew

2011 has been quite a year – for everyone I know.  It has been challenging on every front, but has also been a year in which we have learned a great deal about ourselves, and our wants and needs.  And there has been a large string of wins

We can get so caught up in the go-go-go of the holiday season, and the pressure that comes with “wrapping up,” we forget to take the time to authentically pause (not just rest) and reflect on all the successes and lessons we have experienced.


Every year, I do the comprehensive "Looking Back, Looking Forward (LBLF) exercise".  And 2011/2012 will be no different.  Rather than rehashing it for you, I’ll let you click over there yourself and run through it.  Instead, I want to focus on some key points. 

Of course, reflect on the year and consider these questions:
  • What did you accomplish that you intended to accomplish?
  • What did you accomplish above and beyond what you intended?
  • What didn’t you accomplish that you intended?
However, I want emphasize the many lessons you’ve had.  In the face of challenge, you either meet them head on, avoid them and deal with the consequences, or suffer through the experiences.  In any case, you always come out the other side having grown in some way.  For each instance, I invite you to focus on:
  • What actually occurred
  • What you did to address the issues (or not)
  • Who you were (or not) that brought you success (or not)
  • Who/what you choose to be/do going forward
Reflect on what you did and did not do, but take the time to identify what you learned.  If you are not yet clear, reflect on that and come to some understanding so that you can acknowledge your strength, perseverance, and capacity for handling the many bumps that life presents to you along your journey.


It took something for you to push through, to walk through the fire, to come to some new realizations about who you are and what you want/need.  Celebrate that.  Even if the outcome was not what you were hoping or expected, remember that these experiences were custom created by and for you so that you can learn some important aspects about yourself and life that are essential for your future. 

Learning and growth are important, so don’t forget to celebrate this.  And of course, don’t skirt over the many accomplishments and successes you’ve had over the year – no matter how big or small.  Each are wins, and it is essential that we give ourselves credit and snaps for every step that got us there.  They are not just items you are ticking off your “to do” lists.


Be sure to do the LBLF exercise now.  Don’t put it off, as you want to start the new year off with clarity and power.  Leave 2011 in 2011, and design your 2012.  This is not a series of New Year’s resolutions, as I don’t believe in fixing and correcting.  Rather, I believe in creation and commitment based on your core values, your heart’s desire, and what you know you want for yourself and your life moving forward.

Again, this is about what you want to be/do/have in the coming year.  This is also about what you want to learn.  Just like creating a development plan at work, consider what you want to focus on in your own life and put some SMART goals in place so that you can make them happen. 

Clearly, life will throw new experiences at you and you will need to allow the river to carry you where it will, but you will find that if you place some emphasis on growth and development as a goal, it will be less stinging when something unexpected shows up.  You can say to yourself, “Ah, here’s an opportunity for me to expand who I know myself to be,” and look for where you can bring the very best of you to the table. 

One final thing I like to do is create some themes for myself for the year – in other words, setting some specific intentions.  For 2011, I created three key themes that I defined at the end of 2010:
  1. Phoenix – completion à rebirth à growth à expansion
  2. Opening of self to other realms of thought, heart, and spirit
  3. Abundance and freedom
Because I set those intentions, I am able to see that is exactly how 2011 went down. It puts it all into a context I remind myself of – both as I went through the year and as I wrap up 2011. I am formulating my 2012 themes as we speak, but I know they will include digging deeper, expanding capacity, and building.

As you consider your 2011/2012, remember to return to your core by defining/honoring your values, incorporating both successes and lessons, and celebrating how beautiful your life is/has been.  You made it happen.  And will continue to do so, whether you do the LBLF exercise or not.  However, the more clear and intentional you are, the richer the experiences in 2012 will be.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Allowing the River to Carry You

There is an art to the act of surrender.  It requires a belief that all will work out for the best (successes and lessons), and having trust and faith in ourselves, others, and/or something larger than us.  This is no simple feat, yet it can be much easier than we make it if we “allow” it to be.

I am a master of scenario planning.  When faced with a decision, challenge, or even a possible situation, I identify and examine all the potential outcomes I can imagine.  With that, I work backward and distinguish the issues that might arise, the resources I have and may require, and what choices I will need to make – all the way up to the immediate moment.

While this might sound like intelligent strategizing and preparation, it can be maddening and a source of worry and stress.  Particularly when these scenarios are only possibilities, or when I only have limited information.  I can put myself on a hamster wheel, turning the thoughts over and over looking for holes and missing pieces to the potential outcomes and courses of action.  I recognize that while there are unknowns, I can make some reasonable assumptions and plan accordingly. 

This vigilance (or hyper-vigilance) is useful to a point, but it is also detrimental.  It takes away from being present and fully able to objectively see all points as they arise.  If our minds are directed toward a particular course, set of criteria, or potential warning signs and triggers, we are more likely to see only that.  There is a need for certainty and a sense of control, attempting to be adequately prepared for most any situation. 

However, there needs to be a balance.  The motto of the US Coast Guard has always resonated with me – semper paratus (“always ready”) -- and I have lived much of my life by that.  However, as I’ve witnessed all the stress and worry I inflict upon myself over the years, I am finding it equally important to cultivate this idea of “surrender.”  Let me share a metaphor that helps me visualize this act of “letting go.”

Imagine yourself in a small canoe on a wide, powerful river.  You have a pair of oars and are paddling madly, attempting to direct yourself upstream.  You are struggling and sweating to row against the current, fighting to move in the opposite course from where the river is taking you.  You suffer and stress for fear of what’s around the bend and are doing your best to resist, defend, and survive.

Now imagine that this river is life, a journey, and your situation.  That there will be many twists and turns ahead that you can’t quite see, but the river is your friend.  Any waterfall or jagged rocks you meet are there for you to navigate around and through, and you get greater experience and wisdom with each encounter.  You and your little canoe are safe, and  you can trust it will be a wild ride that can be fun if you let it be.  But also know this: the river is going to take you there whether you like it or not.  You can struggle and suffer and fight the current, or you can take a different tack. 

Take a deep breath, mustering the strength and courage to have faith and trust in you and life.  Picture yourself pulling your oars into your canoe, surrendering and allowing the river to carry you, whatever may come.  This does not mean that you can’t consider the “what ifs” and potential scenarios and make some preparations (steering the canoe with your oars).  But it will allow you to let go, relax, and pay greater attention to the scenery as its occurring.  Calm and focus will better allow you to effectively respond to whatever arises than you having your head down with your arms frantically paddling against a powerful force.

I might say carpe diem (“seize the day”) as a Latin companion to semper paratus, recognizing that there is a balance between being prepared for the unforeseen future, while drinking in the now and relishing its fragrant bouquet.  However, I think I’d prefer to close with a quote from the 1986 film character, Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  If you keep focus on fighting the current, you’ll miss out on not only life, but the many signs along the way that can help you navigate your journey.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Life’s Challenges Expand Your Capacity

Life will throw a lot at you, sometimes more than you believe you can handle. However, it’s an interesting journey to discover how much capacity you actually have to manage and push through the challenges that cross your path. Walking through the fire is hard, but trying to walk around it is ultimately harder (and more time/energy consuming).

When we are faced with challenges in life, it is our opportunity to pay attention. Whether we choose to look, listen, and continue to ask the questions is up to us. We are presented with opportunities to either play victim and bemoan our fate or to learn how our choices impact our experience.

We ultimately create the situations in which we find ourselves. At times, we can feel like life is being done TO us, that we are a victim of the world “out there” and of our circumstances. The truth is: life is being done BY us. We make a series of choices that lead us to this point -- both internally and externally -- when we choose a certain perspective or course of action.

I have said before in another post: you are exactly where you are supposed to be because that is where you are. Consider what you are meant to be learning right now. Take an objective look and evaluate how and where you may be the source of your suffering or situation, and what actions (or non-actions) brought you here. What are you discovering about yourself, your values, your desires and passions, and what you do and don’t want in your life? What is important to you and where do you want to go next?

If you are unclear, start paying attention to the breadcrumbs and follow those until you get find greater clarity. If you know where you want to be/go, take some baby steps to allow you to inch your way little by little toward your objectives. The key thing is to get clear, make some choices that are in alignment with who you are and want you want to be/do/have, and take consistent action (no matter how small).

The final piece is to cultivate gratitude for these experiences, these opportunities.  They are being delivered to you for a reason, and it is up to you to make the most of them so you can push forward powerfully into the next chapters of your life.  Say thank you, even if you feel frustrated or discouraged, and allow yourself to surrender to the larger forces at play.  Surrender does not imply giving up.  Rather it is about letting go of fighting the current, and allowing the water to carry you.

Through this process of living life, we discover that the Universe/God/Life gives you only as much as you can handle. By observing, releasing the garbage that we put in our own way, and cultivating some faith in ourselves and something bigger than us, we realize that our capacity is much larger than we ever knew. Look back 10 years ago and you’ll likely see how far you’ve come. And 10 years from now, you will reflect on this time and recognize how important it was for your journey and development.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Your Mind’s Eye: Positive and Negative Thought

We live in a world where resources seem scarce, where time and money (and the list goes on) appear to be the reasons why we can or cannot be/do/have what we want. We crave, we plan, we strive, and we sometimes get it and sometimes we don’t. Or at least that is how it appears. The reality is: we more often than not get what we place our attention on. If we freely dream without attachment, somehow it makes it to our doorsteps. When we focus on all the reasons why it’s not possible, or on all the things in our way, we often run into exactly that – all the constraints, and challenges.

This is an old idea, borrowed from the en vogue conversation about Law of Attraction, which loosely states that “like attracts like.” What is meant by this is our positive thinking manifests positive physical results, and our negative thoughts attract its likeness, namely impediments and negative outcomes.

This is a great concept, but it’s not as clear cut as the idea implies on the surface. We don’t usually think in individual positive and negative thoughts separately, but think of them concurrently. We may wish for something (positive), but at the same time think of all the perceived reasons, past history and experiences, and problems (negative) that stand in our way from having it. So, these two battle themselves out, with the negative thoughts usually being much stronger than the positive ones – winning the argument and ultimately resulting in struggle and/or negative results.

Some Examples
  • Perceived positive desire: “I want to be in a romantic relationship.” 
  • Contrasting negative thoughts: “I have not had luck with this, and I can’t seem to ever meet anyone worth being with…I try and fail and this is going to happen again…Why do I always have to be alone? Why do I always meet jerks?” And on and on… 
  • Result: The negative thought is really strong and you end up meeting people that are not a match, or struggle to meet anyone at all, or worse, you never put yourself out there to begin with… resulting in no relationship. 
  • Perceived positive desire: “I need money so I will no longer struggle to survive.” 
  • Contrasting negative thoughts: The thought above has both a positive desire and negative thought combined. 
  • Result: This thought is coming from a place of lack and poverty, not from a place of strength, abundance, and a wealthy state of mind. So, what you attract is more of the same. 
These are just a couple of simplistic examples, but you can likely see how these may show up for you in a variety of forms. And they can be applied to career, health, relationships, and anything else that you may want in your life.

Now What?

What is needed is an opportunity to get into your mind’s eye, into the heart of the desire, and to give yourself permission to think freely about what you want. To dream, to let go of attachment to the end result, and to hand it over to God/Universe/Whatever to align you with your desire. And key to this is to get out of your own way by resisting thoughts about all the impossibilities and historical “failures.” I know that sounds really “woo-woo” and New Age-y, and that’s okay. What you have been doing up to this point has had limited success, so it may be worth a try.

Suggested Path
  1. State it. Formulate your desire into a highly positive form that feels good to you. Resist “need” or “fix-it” language. The more specific the better. For example, “I want a loving romantic partnership” or “I have more money than I know what to do with.” Pretty inspiring right?
  2. Dream it. Think freely about all aspects of having that desire fulfilled. DO NOT think about the “how” or any of the reasons why it’s not possible or can’t happen. Give yourself permission to imagine yourself standing in that place of being/doing/having whatever you are wanting as if it existed NOW. Imagine that partnership, and how you feel, what you are doing together, what your life looks like. Imagine having a full bank account and no needs unmet. The richer the picture, the better. Collage it, write it out, brainstorm with a friend, fantasize.
  3. Play Nice. This is the hard part: manage your inner critic (the liar!). Resist the urge to cut it down to something more “realistic,” as well as to cut yourself down with statements like “I don’t deserve it” or “I won’t ever get that!” Just keep focused on your statement and on your dream.
  4. Leave it Alone. For a time, don’t go to the “how” or to “doing” unless something shows up that feels like a natural action. If it’s useful to you, give yourself a time frame for it, like: I will focus on my positive desire for a month without focusing on “how,” then do that.
  5. Pay Attention. As you keep focused on your desire, you will see things popping up, both positive and negative that reinforce or detract from the possibility of what you want. Just notice them and let them go. If the positive ones feel worth investigating (like: your friend invites you to a networking event), go for it. If the negative thoughts draw you in (like: “my credit card debt is out of control”), notice what they are about and see if there is something you need to address. Sometimes the perceived negative thoughts are your path to positive results. Otherwise, follow step #3 when it comes to the negative.
  6. Follow the Breadcrumbs. When you are ready to take action, read this post to push forward. 
  7. Be Open. Lastly, don’t be attached to the final outcome. It may not look like you originally intended, but it will be necessary for your journey. And you will learn more about yourself in the process. 
What you put out there is what you get in return. Focus on the positive, and manage the negative, to be/do/have what you want in your life. It sounds simplistic, and it really is if you can get out of your own way.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Redux: It's Time for Your Mid-Year Review

We just passed the mid-year mark for 2011. How is 2011 going? Are you where you’d like to be? It’s time to go back and review your goals for the year and celebrate what you’ve accomplished, revise as needed, and create some new ones. If you don’t have a 2011 plan, this is as good a time as any to design a road map for where you’d like this next six months to go.

This is a fairly quick, easy process. Here is a step-by-step guide for getting yourself on track for the second half of the year:

Part I - Put the past behind you and celebrate

1. Reflect on the first half of the year. Whether you created goals or not, you had some ideas/intentions about what you wanted to create this year. Honestly answer these three questions:
  • What have you accomplished that you intended?
  • What have you accomplished above and beyond what you intended?
  • What didn’t you accomplish that you intended?
2. Acknowledge yourself for both what you have and have not accomplished. Celebrate consciously – without judgment or criticism – both your successes and your lessons. Celebration can come in many forms – from the larger (a purchase, an event, etc.) to the smaller (some form of self-care gift, a metaphoric pat on the back, etc.).
Part II - Assess where you are now
Do the Wheel of Life assessment to check in on how satisfied you are with each area of your life. Take a few notes on which slices of the pie need focus, consider what you want for yourself and your life, and create some objectives.
Part III - Plan for the future
1. Create concrete SMART goals that include both a clear, concise description of what you want to create/accomplish, as well as a time-frame or “by when” date.

2. Put the goals in your calendar. For those that you intend to accomplish in the nearer term, block out chunks of time in your schedule for you to take action. If you don’t make the time, you won’t achieve the goals very easily.
For a more comprehensive discussion, review my blog post on New Year’s planning. It has a lot of detail on this process of looking back and looking forward, as well as recommendations for how to get the most out of both planning and execution.

Take the time to do this work. You will not only be clearer about the actions you want to take, but will feel more confident knowing that you have a plan for consciously creating the life you want and deserve. And on December 31, you’ll have that much more to celebrate!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Job: Before Pulling the Plug…

Recently, I was extensively quoted in the Wall Street Journal, as part of a career Q&A piece by journalist Elizabeth Garone. The discussion was a response to a reader’s question about what she should consider when evaluating whether or not to quit her job. You can of course read the article, but I thought it was worth following up with a blog post that includes my full commentary.

To start, honestly ask yourself some key questions to identify whether you have completely explored your options at your company – in your role, your division, and other areas of the organization.
  • What has kept you from advancing in your company/career? How much is you and how much is them?
  • Have you talked with your manager to fully evaluate your development and career track?
  • Have you done the leg work by researching open and upcoming job opportunities internally?
  • Are there any individuals whom have a role you’d like to grow into, and would they be willing to mentor you?
While there are companies and managers that are great people developers, you cannot assume they will take care of your wants and needs. It is your responsibility to take control of managing your career. Only after you’ve fully exhausted these routes, it’s time to do some soul searching.

First, look within and at your life to determine if it’s truly your current situation that is causing your dissatisfaction, or if there might be other non-work areas affecting your level of engagement and fulfillment. Take the Wheel of Life assessment to get clear.

Next, get specific about what you like and don’t like about your current situation. What values do you need satisfied to be happy? What you want to be/do/have in your career moving forward? Where do you envision yourself over the next 5, 10, 20 years, and how might you achieve that?

Be sure to have conversations with people in your network. Talk to friends and family, a mentor, a coach, or counselor. Investigate what opportunities exist and consider making a strategic move. In this day, leveraging your relationships is the only way to land a new gig. Keep in mind that people are more often than not willing to help. It makes them feel good, and it’s good karma.

Finally, remember one thing: wherever you go, there you are. Changing companies or roles may not be enough to make you happy. If you want to explore another kind of work, it may be wise to stay put for a time while you evaluate next steps. Do the deep work to explore you, so you can get clear before you pull the plug.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Choosing Your Experience

You have a say in how you experience life. You have the power to choose at every moment who you want to be and what actions you want to take. I have written a lot about setting intentions as an access point to being present, and of the importance of choosing versus reacting. It requires understanding and paying attention to who you are, what’s important to you, and what you want, so that you can make choices that are reflective of these factors.

The ability to choose your experience is not out of reach. But you need to be clear about what you want your experience to be, set intentions, and commit to your part in making it happen… at least for you. When embarking on any endeavor or experience (a conversation, an event, a trip, a new job), ask yourself these questions:
  • What do I want this experience to be?
  • Who do I need to be for that to happen?
For example, let’s say you are visiting family for the holidays. While you have no control over others, you do have the ability to set an intention for the kind of experience you want to have and choose how you will interact and respond. If you say you want the event to be joyful, loving, and drama-free, who and what are you bringing to the table?

Who you may need to be for this to be your experience is patient, kind and generous with your words and deeds. It may require that you let go of any resentments you hold. It may take being bigger than the patterns you typically fall into when around your family.

It takes practice to be more conscious than not, to choose versus react. You won’t be perfect. You may get triggered. You may forget about your intention and your commitment to yourself. But you have access to it any time: You can remind yourself of the experience you want to have and your part in it. You can choose for the 100th time to let go of resentment and find your generous self in the moment. You can take a risk and do something different than you normally do to bring fun to the experience. But you have to keep practicing.

It’s surprising how effective these two question are. At the outset of an experience, if you earnestly and authentically set your intentions for the experience and yourself, you will find that it is more likely to go that way.

Even if you only remember it intermittently, or forget altogether, your intentions have greater power than you realize. You are more likely to take particular actions and show up a little differently than if you go in blindly. Others may actually alter how they are being as a result of who you are being. And at very least, when you finally do remember your intentions – even if only after the experience is over – you have useful material for self-reflection. The next time you are in a similar situation, you may find yourself more aware and better able to choose.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Baby Steps Get You There

You’ve been “following the breadcrumbs” and are feeling ready to take action toward what you want to be/do/have. Except, a sense of overwhelm sets in as you contemplate what may seem like a massive goal or undertaking, and worry whether you can achieve it.

Making changes in life or tackling big projects can sometimes feel very daunting – especially when juggling a busy schedule, various relationships, and multiple priorities. If approached systematically, however, it does not have to feel like an all-or-nothing situation.

The key thing to remember is: every endeavor is a series of small steps and milestones. Your success is dependent upon having and working a plan, and committing to action by taking "baby steps" with persistence and consistency. Over time, the cumulative effect of those steps build momentum and bring you toward each milestone, and an eventual finish line.

Picking up from step 6B in the Following the Breadcrumbs post, here are instructions on how to create and take those baby steps:
  1. Make Your Plan. SMART goal setting will help you with this, so you can get super clear about what you are trying to achieve. You will be specific, have a way to measure it so you know whether you’ve accomplished your goal, and will have a time-frame established as a “by when.”
  2. Align With Your Core. Reacquaint yourself with the purpose for what you want to create or accomplish by identifying where it aligns (or not) with your values and what’s most important to you. This will serve as a foundation and touchstone to keep you motivated when you feel the desire to delay or quit.
  3. Envision the Desired Outcome. While it’s important to focus more on the journey than the destination, it helps to have a good idea of the direction you are heading. Spend some time getting a clear picture in your mind’s eye of you crossing the finish line, how you will feel, and what life will be like. If it helps, draw it out, collage it, or write a description. Again, it’s a motivator, and a magnet.
  4. Create Milestones. Take that SMART goal, and break it down into markers along your path. Every project or undertaking has smaller achievements along the way. Imagine this as shorter term goals on the way to your larger one. Therefore, the milestones should also follow the SMART goal format.
  5. Create Baby Steps. Take the first milestone and break it down further into smaller, more manageable bite-size chunks. Depending on the objective, these may be “baby steps” you take every day or a few times a week. However, if you find that the steps are extending out more than once every couple of weeks, you probably need to break the steps down into even smaller steps so that there can be frequent forward movement.
  6. Work Your Plan. This is where the rubber meets the road. Do whatever planning will help you, but make sure not to stay here longer than necessary (analysis-paralysis). Take action, and make tweaks to your plan along the way as you learn more about yourself and what is necessary to get to your first and subsequent milestones.
Because these "baby steps" are small, you can sidestep overwhelm. They help you move gradually, while building momentum toward what you want with a sense of accomplishment and pride. You may have some bumps along the way, but it will be up to you to keep an eye on yourself. Be sure you are managing your time and energy effectively (read this post for some tips), plan your procrastination (if you have this tendency), and ask for help if you need it.

The key to success is consistency and persistence, and keeping in touch with your core (step 2) and vision (step 3). Having a motivating context, clear structure, and set of steps will help you stay inspired. You will also feel pulled toward your end goal rather than experiencing it like you are in a constant push toward the finish line.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Following the Breadcrumbs

You may be great at making plans and tackling goals, but what do you do when you are not really sure what you want to be/do/have or how to get there? Perhaps you know the specifics (or have a general picture) but have simply never pursued it before so don’t know the necessary actions. Or maybe it’s even vaguer than that: “I know I want something different, but I’m not even sure what that something is!”

Lately, I’ve found myself talking a lot about this with clients that have a sense that they want something, whether their idea is crystal clear or totally vague, and are needing guidance on what steps to take to reach their objective. If it’s something that we know how to do, we can create a plan and set up baby steps for getting to that goal. However, when we don’t know the steps or we don’t know whether this is the “right” or “best” goal, we have to take a more indirect path.

I have been saying that we need to “follow the breadcrumbs.” In other words, we have to take one step, see what insight is gained, then make a choice on what next step to take, and repeat. It takes faith and trust that the path will be revealed to us as we move toward the desire. If the pursuit is rooted in core values and what’s important to us (take the Wheel of Life assessment and look at Results section), the end result of this journey will be worth the effort. We also have to relinquish an attachment to it looking a certain way, so there is freedom and space for it to show up just as it’s meant to – and it will be perfect, just as it is.

Using “change in work” as an example, here are the broad stroke steps to take in this process of “following the breadcrumbs”:
  • Step 1. Identify Desire – State as much as you know right now. If it’s clear that you want a new job but not sure what area to pursue, that’s okay, just say that. If you are not feeling stimulated in your day-to-day and you want to feel excited about what you’re doing, then say that. Be as clear as you can.
  • Step 2. Paint a Picture – Again, this is about getting as specific as possible. Outline as much detail as you can so that you at very least can narrow down your “search parameters.” If you want that new job, is it in a particular sector? Do you want it to be as an independent or working for a small/medium/large company? Are there any particular characteristics that you must have or do not want? If it’s the general “needing stimulation” desire, would you be open to keeping your job as is and finding stimulation in your outside activities? If you were to find what you were looking for, what would it feel like to be doing it and what would your ideal day or week look like? Be as specific as you can.
  • Step 3. List Your Resources – Make a comprehensive list of everyone and everything you know that may be of use to you finding out what you are looking for. Who do you know in the areas you are interested in pursuing? What websites exist? What companies may fit your profile? Who has an experience of work that is passionate about what they do and would they be willing to talk with you? Identify potential informational interviews, articles and books worth reading, and people who might be able to shed some insight. Brainstorm ideas with others and don’t be afraid to ask for help, so you can leverage all your resources (and even others’ resources).
  • Step 4. Pick a First Step and Take It – With an eye on getting clarity around what work might be a good fit for what you are looking for, identify one step to take to help you get clear… and take it. Send a few emails out to friends and colleagues asking for assistance – whether that’s a general request for information, a chance to talk about their experience, or even a contact of someone they believe you should be talking to. People are usually pretty willing to help, and they often feel good doing it (a gift to you both). Start reading a book or digging into a particular subject area on the web. Suck in as much information as you need for now.
  • Step 5. Follow the Breadcrumbs – With each new bit of information, you are hopefully getting a little clearer about what you want and don’t want. Meet that person for coffee and pick their brains, jot down your notes as you read your book/websites, talk with friends about what you are trying to achieve and interview them for suggestions on what they see for you (or suggestions they may have).
  • Step 6A. Repeat Steps 1-5 Until Clear – Now that you have more information, go back to step 1 and cycle back through the 5 steps. What do you desire now? Paint the picture, revise your list of resources, and take another “first step” to follow that next breadcrumb. It may seem labor intensive, and may take a few cycles through the process over days, weeks, or months depending on the complexity of the desire or the depth of “confusion” about what you want or where to go. But, clarity does come if you invest the time, energy, and desire in your pursuit.
  • Step 6B. Stop and Go – If after step 5, you know what you want and how to get it, stop the evaluation process. Now it’s time to create a plan by setting up the targets, milestones, and action steps to attain it… and pushing ahead toward your goal/desire.
Yes, this whole process is vague. But it’s a step forward. What you will find is your intention to gain clarity will actually drive momentum, and attract to you so many surprising “coincidences” and “serendipitous” experiences. It’s shocking. And it can even be fun if you let it be, and are willing to release the need for it to look or turn out a certain way.

One word of caution: Guard against analysis/paralysis and perfectionism – particularly if you have a fear of taking steps before all your ducks are in a row. Pull the trigger – you have more than one bullet. Pull it again and again with the idea that it will eventually hit something and provide you with some good information/insight.

Finally, remind yourself repeatedly that this is supposed to be abstract, that “confusion” is part of the process, and it takes time. Strive for patience, and allow curiosity to drive you. You’ll likely feel less frustrated and may open yourself up to a whole new view of who you are and what you’re capable of.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Key to Effectiveness: Time/Energy Management

We all know about managing our time, and may be pretty good at it. But are you aware that it is just as if not more important to manage your energy? When you are not focused on how you are committing, expending, and replenishing your energy stores, you are far less effective in all areas of life and work. It’s about being strategic and tactical in how you organize yourself.

To follow is a select list of useful approaches for managing your time and energy. While there are a million and one techniques, here are some of my best practices:

Powerfully Use Your Calendar

Of course, this is the starting point. Regardless of whether you prefer paper or electronic, the important part is to honor your schedule as a declaration of your commitment to yourself and others. Stick to it, but also be flexible enough to adjust your approach as needed.
  • Take Stock – Do an honest evaluation of how you are really using your time. Just like the budget exercise of writing down every penny you spend to understand your habits, it’s good to track your time for a week or two. Notice what you are doing, when, and how long it generally takes to complete each task. Make adjustments to your scheduling as necessary.
  • Match Energy to Activities – There are times of day when we are better at specific activities, and it’s important to think about when is best for you. For example, I prefer to do my writing, technical analysis, and tasks requiring the most intense thought first thing in the morning. While I can certainly do them later, I like to tackle them while I’m fresh and less distracted. I schedule exercise in the afternoon around lunch hour when I need a break and can use an energy boost.
  • Plan Your Week – Taking time to think about your week before it begins better sets you up for success. Sunday evening is great for this because it allows you to reflect on your previous week (what worked and didn’t), capture the items you want to carry forward, and start blocking out your schedule.
  • Pay Yourself First – Block out times in your calendar for self-care and what’s important to you. Some of these may be: wake/rest time, exercise, dates with your spouse, activities with your children, creative time, commitments to self/others, etc.
  • Schedule Positive Habits – Just like paying yourself above, your calendar can support you in creating and maintaining any positive habits you are trying to establish. You may put in simple things throughout the day like meal planning, working out, or even reminders to breathe.
  • Block Out DNS Time – Because I know I need time to myself where I don’t have any activity scheduled, I make sure of it by putting DNS (“do not schedule”) blocks down periodically. If something comes up, instead of removing it, I’ll shift it to another day close by.
  • Allow Buffer Time – It’s a general rule of thumb that everything takes longer than you initially think it’s going to. When planning, be sure to not only tack on a little breathing room for each activity, but also put buffer time before and after.
  • Anticipate Travel Time – If you have appointments at different locations, be sure to build into your schedule travel time to get from Point A to Point B. Punctuality is not only about respect for the other party, but proper planning will allow you to feel less stressed and rushed.
  • Plan Your Procrastination – I wrote a whole blog post about this HERE, but I can’t emphasize this enough. Know you will likely put off some things, or they may simply get pushed back by unanticipated issues. Anticipate that and build that into your schedule.
  • Commit 5 Minutes in the Morning – When you first get up, take a quick look at your calendar and mentally prepare yourself for your day ahead. Check for discrepancies, and add additional items like “return call to X” so you make the time to be on top of some of your to-do items.
Control Your Email

This is a huge time and energy suck. While it’s essential to our productivity, it’s important to keep an eye on this.
  • Hold Off on Logging On – Don’t start your day with getting on your email. This is doubly true for entrepreneurs. Email pulls you in and it’s hard to get out. There are few emails that can’t wait an hour after you get out of bed. Do your self-care and grooming activities, review your day, and take care of tasks that require the most focus.
  • Sort with Filters – Go through your email and set up automatic filters for different types of email. Send your reading and subscriptions into one folder, your daily deals/shopping into another, and your social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) into another. Etc. You’ll have less email in your inbox, and will be less distracted by miscellany. You can also go to each folder, do a quick scan, and delete en masse.
  • Keep your Inbox Tidy – When done with messages, consider deleting or filing them away as soon as you can. This will minimize the amount of messages sitting in your box.
  • Star/Flag Messages – You don’t have to respond to everything right away. Scan your messages, deal with most important first, and use the “star” or “flag” to mark messages you want to deal with later.
  • Use RSS Feeds and Instapaper – Consider deleting your newsletter subscriptions and set up RSS feeds instead so that they can be directed to your favorite feed reader. For web pages that you’d like to read later, consider using Instapaper or something like it so that you can tag them and come back to them later. Subscribe to the RSS feed for Instapaper and you can have it directed to your reader so you can read them when you have time.
  • Purge Your Inbox – Once in a while, we just have to start over. Scan your messages for key items you really want to keep and delete everything else. There are likely many messages you’ve been holding onto like old magazines, thinking you’ll get around to reading them. And just like old magazines, you have to throw them out periodically when they pile up.
  • Schedule Times for Review – Don’t keep your email open all the time if you can help it. It is a terrible distraction and a great excuse for procrastination. Set up specific times of day when you check your email. You can even go so far as to do an auto-reply that states the times when you reply to messages.
Leverage To-Do Lists

Some don’t like to call it a “to-do list,” but we all have them. Whatever name you want to call it that empowers you, but be sure you capture running tasks somewhere.
  • Separate Tasks from People – Keep your list of actions separate from your people. Managing relationships is more than a to-do, and an essential part of being successful in life and business. Make sure you have a place to capture the people you want/need to get back to, and schedule chunks of time each day to do so.
  • Tackle Low-Hanging Fruit – To feel accomplished, make sure you write down and cross off the easy items. If you’re an achievement oriented person, this will make you feel great.
  • Prioritize Action Items – While low-hanging fruit is attractive, be sure you are prioritizing the A, B, and C priority items appropriately and that you are tackling at least one A and B item every day. You’ll feel forward momentum, and be less likely to continually procrastinate.
  • Delegate – Remember that being successful requires that you involve other people. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Consider items that you can delegate to other people, and go ahead and make the request.
  • Review and Plan – Just as in the calendar section above, include a review of your to-do list in your planning for the week, and in your 5 minutes in the morning. You’ll better be able to anticipate how you want/need to use your time and energy.
Energy: Committing, Expending, Replenishing

All of the suggestions above have the power to positively enhancing your energy stores if executed appropriately and effectively. Here are some additional suggestions for impacting the energy you have available to you.
  • Practice Self-Care – This is crucial. Read my blog post HERE for suggestions. Also consider implementing a Morning Workshop so you have some specific daily practices.
  • Just Say No – We are often guilty of saying Yes more than we say No, for a variety of reasons. Create a list of what you will say Yes/No to and honor yourself and others by not overcommitting. Consider practicing saying No 10 times a day or instituting a 30-minute wait time before saying Yes to anything.
  • Eliminate Clutter – It’s a distraction and saps your energy. This includes both physical clutter in your living and work spaces, as well as mental clutter (including relationships that no longer serve you). Look for ways to clear this out and focus on clutter-free living.
  • Create a Toleration Checklist – Like clutter, there are many things we simply tolerate. Read this blog post on creating a list of things you are tolerating and commit to tackling them.
  • Clean Up Your Integrity – When your integrity is out, you feel bad about yourself and you create a space for others to be out of integrity with you. This is mental clutter and is a power sap. Identify where you are out of integrity with yourself and others. Include everything: unreturned phone calls and email, bills that need to be paid, an unclean bathroom, an apology you need to give. Take it one action at a time. Regain your power!
  • Reframe Obligation – You are the only one who can make yourself feel obligated. Choose carefully and stand by your choice. Give without feeling obligated. If you are feeling obligated, don’t do it – unless you are willing to give that up.
  • Refresh Your Relationships – Check in with people around you to keep your relationships fresh and current. Consider this blog post on the Relationship Compact for recommendations on how to do this.
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

We are used to being lone rangers in our lives, and forget that we have a whole network of people to support us – if we are willing to reach out and to allow them to assist.
  • Create Accountability Structures – Share with people what you are up to and request that they ask you “how it’s going.” Appoint people as accountability holders and schedule times when you will check in
  • Team with Others – Share with more than one person and create a supportive team around you. Use your team for accountability. Buddy up with others to have them play along.
  • Make Requests – Make more requests of people around you. Don’t be shy – people are more than happy and willing to support you. Be open to receiving contribution – they love you for it.
  • Get SupportHire a coach. Get a therapist. Talk with a friend. Ask for help – there is no shame in it.
Again, there are a million ways to manage your time and energy. By following any or all of these suggestions, you can organize and focus so that you can be your best self in all areas of your life and business.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Your Inner Critic is a Liar

Have you noticed that voice in your head that criticizes every thought, emotion, action, and experience? Have you heard it saying that you will fail…that your [appearance, job, intelligence, abilities, etc.] are not good enough…that you’re wrong and bad? That voice is your inner critic. It drones on-and-on all day, and is a master at spewing destructive lies and abuses at us. Yet we continue to listen, and worse: believe.

Have you found it hard to hear or believe positive compliments and kudos from others? We’re less likely to give them priority over the garbage we repeat to ourselves continuously. When we look at our achievements and our own true beauty, we question it or begin tearing it down so that we can return to those beliefs that we are inadequate and flawed. “Yeah, but…” is one phrase we mutter.

Some believe the inner critic is our friend, while others would argue it’s the enemy. Picture the devil and the angel on each shoulder – they are actually two sides of the same inner critic. One wants to tear us down, while the other claims it wants to protect us. We formed this angel/devil when we were young as a way to shield us from criticism and preempt anything that may hurt us or cause us discomfort.

The problem is that over our lives, we build up far more damaging “protections” and criticisms that do more harm than good to our self-esteem and beliefs about what we are capable of being/doing/having. The inner critic keeps us in our heads (criticizing and evaluating), deters us from taking risks, and pulls us out of being present and able to make conscious choices that are based on our values and our true nature.

This true nature I speak of is what we have forgotten (or deny) about ourselves because we’ve been pushed and pulled and torn down (inside and out) for so long. The truth is we are whole, complete, resourceful, and perfect just as we are. What did you just say to yourself when reading that statement? “That’s not true” or “Sounds nice, but…” or perhaps “He doesn’t know how screwed up I really am.” There goes that inner critic again attacking you, my statement, and maybe even me for saying them.

So what do we do about it? For years, I have done a lot of work with “inner critic” on my own and with clients. There are many books and tools for dealing with the demons, but I have found one text to be fantastically useful: Taming Your Gremlin, by Dr. Rick Carson. The book focuses on helping you “get out of your own way” by learning to tame the little gruesome creatures in your mind.

Carson uses the word “taming” not “eliminating” because the Gremlins don’t actually go away. However, with practice, we have the ability to learn how to manage them. Gremlin-taming begins with “simply noticing” that they are there and learning to “play with options” for dealing with them.

Incorporating some of Carson’s material, here are a few suggestions for approaching this process of dealing with your inner critic / Gremlins:
  1. Build Awareness. Pay attention to the chatter – which will likely be loud, repetitive, and pervasive when you first begin shining a light on it. Try to separate yourself from the statements. Remember: you are not the Gremlin. Do your best to listen, but try not to indulge it by believing what it is saying. The goal is to be present to them in the moment, and to not engage or fight. Rather, to just hear it and acknowledge: “Ah yes, there it goes again.” I sometimes add: “Thanks for sharing.”
  2. Name Them. I recommend writing down what your Gremlins are saying (in their exactly language) so that you can start naming them. At first, you may feel you have dozens, but after a while you’ll start noticing themes. You likely have about 6-10 different buckets you could put the statements into. Take the sting out of them by finding some creative names for them, like “The ‘You Suck and Everyone Knows it’ Gremlin.” For each Gremlin: write a description for (including gender, sound of voice, key characteristics), list some of the common criticisms, and if it helps, draw a picture of their ugliness. By naming them, you can say to yourself things like: “My Money Gremlin was attacking me when I was paying my bills today,” or “My ‘You’re Going to Fall Flat on Your Face’ Gremlin didn’t want me to take that risk.”
  3. Tell the Truth. I suggest you create an “Awesome Me” description for yourself so you have something to counter the lies. This is what you know in your heart of hearts to be true about you when you are your best self – your abilities, your fantastic personality traits, your values, etc. Again, this is what you know is true, not what you wish was true. Go full out and give yourself some credit. Get creative with the name so that it resonates with you. Some have called it: Kick Ass Brian, Tara Full Throttle, and Anna Flavor.
  4. Create Affirmations. We have heard a lot about affirmations, and I do believe in them. However, the way I approach these statements is to create phrases that I know to be true (like Awesome Me), in words that is in my own style. The more they feel true and real to you, the more they will resonate when you repeat them to counter the Gremlins. If they are too “fluffy” or “fix it” in language and tone, they may feel flat and artificial and won’t empower you.
  5. Consciously Choose Your Response. After becoming more aware that the inner critic is chattering, you can start to “play with options.” When in the moment of hearing your Gremlins, take a breath and choose whether you want to believe the Gremlin or not, and then choose an action/response. For example, you can indulge the Gremlins (try setting a time limit for how long you will do this), you can fight them (which just feeds them and is not very effective), you can deny their lies as false (with an affirmation or reminding yourself of your “awesomeness”), or you can simply thank them for sharing (defusing them by not giving them power), etc. Creating a consistent meditation ritual also helps.
Remember: This process of dealing with your inner critic requires practice. You must remember that it takes time and patience… and kindness toward yourself. You won’t be perfect, taming won’t come overnight, and the voices won’t completely go away. However, you can lessen their ability to derail and unravel you if you can continue to practice paying attention, being present, and consciously choosing your responses.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flat-Lining is Not the Goal

Our lives are marked by the beating of our hearts -- that persistent, forward-moving lubb-dub that coincides with the peaks and valleys of our pulse. The EKG image offers a great visual of this. When we are in action or stress, the pace accelerates. When we are calm or in a resting state, the pace is slower. But our hearts never deviate from the inevitable highs and lows of that ever-present beat.

The EKG image is an excellent metaphor for our journey through life. We feel the sharp heights of elation and the positive emotions and thoughts that accompany success and expansion; conversely we travel through the profound depths of challenge and woe. But for much of it, we are moving along a mid-point (pause, breath) with smaller blips that are a part of daily life.

We don’t control the lubb-dub of our heartbeat –- it’s involuntary and driven by our most basic part of ourselves (the primitive brain, the breath of life). Our higher-functioning mind does not think about it, nor do we want it to… we’d screw it up. In life, the highs and lows happen as a normal part of our experience. The mind again has no control over it, nor do we want it to… we’d screw it up.

You might find yourself saying: “Yeah, but I don’t want to go through all that. Isn’t the point of meditation and yoga and therapy (etc., etc., etc.) to calm ourselves and bring more balance?” To which I reply, yes and yes. Calming does not eliminate the peaks and valleys. Balance does not deny the two poles of high and low. If the goal was to rid ourselves of these points, we would not have the full breadth of experience that is fundamental to being alive -- we would flat-line. And we all know what that means: death.

What’s key is how we choose to relate to the beats of life. It is both the joy and sorrow that make our experiences so rich. And it is fundamental to our continual growth and evolution that we travel this path. Our pulse may quicken when significant life events occur in rapid succession (birth, death, change, stress), or may remain slow or relatively constant when we are practicing self-care. But, it never deviates from the inevitability represented in the EKG.

Flat-lining is not the goal. Rather, it is to focus on shifting the line so that it travels at an incline. We must find ways to manage our thoughts and our responses to life by practicing being present more often so that we can make conscious, values-aligned choices moment-by-moment. By this, we make it possible over time to experience more exhilarating peaks and less-strenuous valleys. And we never stop feeling the richness and complexity of the gift of living full-out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Personal Development Junkie

Few would deny that self-improvement and a focus on learning and development are a powerful way to live. It is an important practice to consistently invest in being your best, healthy self – with the end goal of feeling happy, fulfilled, and at peace. Getting to know yourself and discovering hidden blind spots that profoundly alter your life can become intoxicating. The “high” that is produced from personal transformation is inspiring but can also turn into an addiction. It can lead to a person constantly seeking the “fix” created by finding and doing the new, next best thing that will hopefully reveal “the secret” or give “the answer” to how they can be more, better, or different. The difference lies in the intention behind why you are pursuing personal development and how you go about it.


From a very early age, we infer a variety of messages from personal experiences, the words and actions of family and teachers, and from society and media that we are wrong, broken, or simply “not good enough.” People have different ways they look to prove to themselves and others that this is not so. Some focus outward on achieving material success and indicators of “good enough” (job, possessions, credentials, recognition). Some focus inward on improvement of how they live and experience their inner and outer worlds – through therapy, coaching, self-help books and workshops, exercise, and spiritual practices.

None is inherently wrong, and none is necessarily better than another. I’m a huge advocate of self-development and orient my life around “the work.” However, it is important to ask yourself: Are you pursuing a particular course of self-improvement because you want to be your best you or because you are trying to fix something (inside or out) that you believe is broken? If it’s the former, then that can be an exciting way to live. If it’s the latter, then it’s time to take a look at your motivations and work on healing the past so you can develop a greater sense of self love. As you’ve probably heard before (but perhaps have yet to believe) in a whole range of teachings from Eckhart Tolle to Carl Rogers to Jesus Christ: you are whole, complete, resourceful, and an example of perfection just as you are in this very moment.


There are so many fantastic resources out there for supporting your journey of self-discovery – from racks of self-study books to experiential retreats to 1:1/group therapy. Gurus like Anthony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey; workshops through Landmark Education, Wright Institute, Avatar, and Body Electric; readings from Marianne Williamson, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Abraham-Hicks, and whole array of bloggers – these and many, many more provide incredible insight into ourselves, others, and to existence itself.

You can explore and experience and discover and grow. That is awesome. It takes a certain amount of digging and honesty to get to the real meaty stuff. Learning about yourself is fantastic, but what are you going to do with this information? Where people often fall short of making the true, lasting improvements they are seeking is in the consistent and persistent application.

Do you find yourself hearing and seeing the same messages over and over again? There is nothing new out there, as it’s all been said and done before but repackaged in more or less effective forms. When reading or participating, try paying attention not only to what is being communicated, but how well you are actually applying it every day. It’s great to hear reinforcement of insightful messages, but it’s equally important to take that information and do something with it.

At some point, you have to ask yourself how much more “work” you need to do on yourself before you can live the life you want. If you’ve been at this for a while, you probably already have enough to work with. Strive to create structures, commitments, accountability to others – anything that will support you in taking the action to reinforce and sustain your transformation. Remember this is not all about “achieving” happiness; you must allow it to unfold organically. Focus on breathing, quieting the mind, and finding ways to be more present, peaceful, and accepting (toward yourself and others).

The choice is yours: You can either seek out the next “high” (that may lead to the next “low”), or concentrate on healing the why of your addiction and commit to applying all you’ve learned in your daily life.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Discomfort is a Good Thing

When we are feeling threatened or in danger, our instinct is fight or flight. This is an evolutionary mechanism that protects us. However, despite living in relatively safe environments, we still operate in this fight or flight mode when presented with challenges of a mental or emotional nature. It’s our primitive selves in action, even though the threat of physical harm is usually low.

As humans, we typically try to avoid anything that causes us discomfort. This is one reason why change is so hard. However, what people don’t necessarily realize is discomfort is a prerequisite for lasting change and growth to occur, because it requires that we break out of the familiar and stretch toward something outside our comfort zones. While I might not go so far as to say “no pain, no gain,” I will say that you want to strive to push yourself past comfort because that is the real sweet spot.

When I consider the areas in my life that had the most lasting impact, they were areas where I was pushed/pulled toward an expanded version of who I know myself to be. Just like growing pains were a natural part of our physical development, so is the discomfort that accompanies our emotional and mental growth.

Rather than resisting that which makes us uncomfortable or arouses fear, we can benefit from walking toward it knowing that is where the value and power lie. Don’t resist it (fight) or run from it (flight) -- it’s a good thing to feel uncomfortable because you know you are entering new territory. Stay with it and know it’s an important part of the process. Discomfort can be our friend if we are able to see it as an opportunity for growth and change.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Taking Action: Before You Do, Start with Be

As the cliché goes, we are notoriously “human doings.” We are action oriented, and evaluate ourselves daily on how much we are doing, producing, and achieving. We have to-do lists and goals and resolutions and "shoulds." We tend to place priority on problem solving and accomplishing tasks (do), so that we can yield some sort of outcome (have), and then be something or someone in the world.

When we are in this Do-Have-Be orientation, we often are evaluating our actions and whether or not we are worthy, valid, successful, productive, or [insert judgment here]. How many of you out there do your work/career, so you can have the money to create/maintain the life you want, so that you can be happy and fulfilled?

Our intentions are not bad; rather they are misguided. What would life be like if we were clear about who we are and what’s important to us, and made choices in alignment with that? It would seem our actions would flow more naturally and be better suited to what we really want today…as opposed to this continual tackling of to-do lists and email requests, and “shoulds” and “have tos.” Perhaps we would no longer feel like we are pushing a boulder uphill. Perhaps we could feel energized knowing that our actions are based on a solid foundation that is a reflection of the person we are now, not what we were in the past or believe we should be in the future.

Our perspective and approach to what we are up to in our lives is just as (if not more) important to the outcome as the actions themselves. We tend to be happier and more satisfied when our actions are grounded in a sense of purpose and are aligned with our values.

Rather than enacting the Do-Have-Be approach, consider instead the Be-Do-Have Model -- a cycle of thought and action related to making, enacting, and evaluating choices.


Rather than focusing first on the action and the "Do," let’s start with who we are and what’s important to us, or the BE. While it is important to create structures, accountability, and targets, how often do we take a step back and ask ourselves why we are doing what we are doing? We get so caught up in the go-go-go of daily life and all the responsibilities that go along with it, we neglect to ask ourselves on a regular basis about:
  • Purpose/Calling: Who am I? What am I passionate about? Who do I want to be in the world?
  • Values: What’s important to me? What do I stand for?
  • Motivators: What turns me on and off? What keeps me going?
  • Influencers: What am I capable of? What do I really want?
How clear we are about the “why” has a huge impact on our levels of commitment, engagement, and satisfaction with the experience. It also affects our effectiveness, innovation, creativity, and ability to maintain and sustain the action over the longer term.


We are experts at this part. However, when we are clear about who we are and what is important to us, the choice to act is much simpler. While we might need some assistance in figuring out the best actions to take, the bigger picture goal is self-evident. We know we want something and are willing to take the steps to move us in that direction.


Whether we are happy with the results or not, we get something. Perhaps it’s something tangible, or maybe it’s a feeling. Whatever the case, we are in a position to evaluate our outcomes and choose whether we want to continue on the same path, cease what we are doing, or reevaluate how we are going about it. When we reevaluate, it is important to cycle back through BE to confirm whether our self-assessment was accurate. If so, we analyze what worked and didn’t work in our previous effort to identify where our actions need to be repeated or tweaked.

You are free to approach your experiences in whatever way you choose. Greater happiness and satisfaction in work and life come from being conscious of who you are and what’s important to you as a foundation for what you choose to do and create.

If you are interested in learning more about this, I am happy to share the Master’s thesis I wrote at Northwestern University titled: The Quest for Happiness: An Exploration of Values, Vocational Choice, and Meaning in Life and Work. Email me and I’ll send you either the full thesis or an executive summary.