Archive for Life Lessons – Page 4

Discovering the Delicious Delights of ‘Slow’

What happens when you unwittingly stop and smell the roses?

Discovering the Delicious Delights of SlowMy father never really seemed to sit still for long.  Even on holidays there were always things to do and places to see.

Not surprisingly, the classic Type A, high achiever mould fitted me like a glove. This conditioning was even more deeply ingrained as I pounded the corporate treadmill, juggling single parenthood, peak hour traffic and never enough hours in the day.

A good day was one where I ‘got lots done’, preferably ahead of relentless deadlines, until recently…

As a big fan of the ‘brisk daily walk’ it came as a sad realisation that Sherry, my 17 year old Soft Coated Wheaten was struggling to keep up.

From puppyhood to middle-age she’d always possessed way more energy than me and was still raring to go, long after I’d collapsed in an exhausted heap!

Our daily goal used to be to knock minutes or even seconds off the walk and get home quickly, a challenge she relished as much as me.

Gradually, over the last six months, my beautiful Sherry has been forced to slow down.  Now showing all the signs of doggie dementia (a bit like the ‘7 signs of ageing’), she’s very deaf, nearly blind and increasingly forgets to tell me when she needs to go out!

Yet she’s still happy following me around, tail wagging as she waits patiently near the coat rack to have her leader put on.

But the cold, damp morning that greeted us as we ventured out this morning, seeped into her old joints, rendering us virtually stationary as we pottered around our neighbourhood.

Our excruciatingly slow pace reminded me of a childhood game called Dolly Steps where rather than rushing to the finish line, the aim was to take tiny… slow… short-strided steps.

If you stopped completely, you were ‘out’ and the winner was the last to arrive. As an eager 7 year old, it was a game that infuriated me and seemed rather futile.

Yet rather than being infuriated, our enforced slowness has uncoverd delights I’ve never noticed before.

First we stopped to watch a pink, wriggling worm inch slowly across the footpath. Given the distance such a small creature had to travel, I have a new found respect for its focus and determination to reach its destination, no matter how far away it must have seemed.

A little further along I noticed that one of my neighbours had planted some new and colourful shrubs in his front garden. He was about to hop in his car to go to work. Waiting for Sherry to catch up, I called out, “Your garden looks great!”

He smiled in acknowledgement and wandered over to tell me what he’d planted. We’d never had time to stop and chat before.

Seemingly out of nowhere, I heard a cacophony of birds competing to see who had the best call. Their chorus rang out over the street as if they were making some important announcement.

I stopped to listen, identified at least 5 different birdsongs and realised I’d never really taken any notice of them before.

Rounding the corner, a bunch of tradesmen were ready to start their day’s work on a new build.

Although I’d noticed the old house being demolished and the block cleared some months before, we usually hurry past to avoid the trucks, vans and muddy footpath.

Today we stopped for a chat with a couple of plumbers, leaning on their shovels, drinking coffee, waiting for their foreman to arrive.

They bemoaned the soaking rain that had held them up for the last week and yet, when they leaned down to pat Sherry’s soft head, their weather beaten faces softened into a smile.  “She’s pretty good for an old dog.  We notice you going past every day no matter what the weather and reckon that’s what keeps her going,” said the older of the two.

Sensing that we’re on the ‘home stretch’, Sherry’s pace picked up to a trot and as we turned into our drive she abruptly stopped.

An irresistable smell near the letterbox grabbed her attention and she was determined to investigate. Looking down I noticed an envelope wedged between the letterbox and a thick shrub next to it. Disappointingly for Sherry, it wasn’t full of dog treats, but I wonder if I’d even have seen it on my usual mail box dash.

Spring bulbs are peeping through in the front garden and while Sherry sniffed and pottered, I wandered around pulling out a few stray weeds, marveling at how the number of bulbs have doubled with no help from me.

Our daily walks used to take us 15 minutes – today it had taken nearly 40 and I didn’t begrudge a single one of them. I’ve lived in this street for 14 years and yet today the deliciousness of going slow brought a raft of new delights and a calming sense of peace.

Curiously, I’ve achieved a lot this morning at work, even though I’d been late getting started.

Who knew that ‘going slow’ could actually increase productivity!

Have you ever consciously slowed down?  If so, what did you notice that in the usual mad rush of life, you’d not otherwise have experienced?

Leave a comment below about the ‘delicious delights’ of going slow you’ve discovered.

After all, the moral of this story could be, ‘don’t wait until you’re old to slow down – you never know what you might be missing.’

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

YOU can be ‘The Voice’

using adversity to find your voice

Karise Eden shows how to convert adversity into success4.54 million viewers broke TV ratings records and tuned in on Monday night to watch 19 year old Karise Eden take out the coveted title of Australia’s inaugural ‘The Voice’.  While her amazing voice captured Australia’s attention, it’s her triumph over tragedy story that is truly inspiring.

As a state ward, estranged from her birth family, living in refuges, battling self-harm and agoraphobia she seemed destined to a hard life.  However, she also has a unique and powerful gift – a distinctive singing voice that now ‘discovered’, could set her on a road to what would have been unimaginable success a year ago.

Yes, it’s great television that must have delighted the 9 Network, but they couldn’t have manufactured Karise’s past that preceded The Voice experience, celebrity and fame she’s now enjoying.

Even if she doesn’t realise it yet, there are 3 keys that transformed Karise’s adversity into success:

1. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

While Karise may have felt she had little to lose, her fear during her first live audition was palpable. She had no formal singing training and was up against hundreds of other more experienced hopefuls.  With downcast eyes under the glare of bright lights, a studio audience and in the company of famous celebrities, she gripped the microphone, opened her mouth and started to sing.

Sometimes you just have to take a chance and all it takes is courage!  Even when there are no guarantees of success, allowing a vision of what’s possible to drown out the fear will propel you forward.  Take the first step and ‘go for it’.

2. Convert the Pain into Power

The genuine raw emotion in her voice helped Karise connect with so many people.  Thousands of viewer votes came from those who not only appreciate her unique sound but also connect with and relate to her painful past.

When you’ve been through tough times and are coming out the other side, it’s tempting to ‘put the past behind you’ and ‘move on’.  Whilst useful, it’s far more powerful to harness the pain and use it constructively.  Using pain constructively places the past in context by turning a negative into a positive – something good can come from anything. The bonus this brings is richer talent, greater insight, wisdom and perspective.

What have you learnt from a painful past experience and how can you use it in a positive way to make your unique difference?

3. Find People who Believe in You (even when you don’t believe in yourself)

When the opportunity to audition for The Voice arose, self-doubt and fear of criticism would have been constant for Karise.  It seemed as though everyone could see her talent and potential, except Karise herself.  Her foster Aunty Marian and Uncle Frank accompanied her to the blind auditions and all four celebrity coaches turned their chairs around.  Seal took on the coaching challenge which seemed more about helping her believe in herself and step into her ability than refining her technique.

A dedicated support team will stop you from running the other way when it seems too hard and overwhelming.  They’ll back you against the odds and hold unshakeable faith in your ability until you believe in it yourself.

So, who’s on your support team and who do you need by your side to achieve success?

Every one of the 4 finalists in The Voice overcame the odds to be there and all would have been worthy winners.  Like each of them, you too have an amazing talent and you owe it to the world to step up and share it. 

The Great Life Redesign tells the stories of others who have converted a passion or adversity into an opportunity.  Your dream doesn’t have to include fame and notoriety and may be more about living your passion through being yourself.

If you’re wondering what your talent or purpose may be, your ‘voice’ might just lie in the adversity you’ve overcome. Go on, revisit your past, extract the gems, leave the pain behind and hatch a plan to be heard.

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron

 

The Easy Way to Beat Procrastination, Banish Excuses and Live Your Dream

A simple, no cost way to ‘bite the bullet’

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single stepHave you ever noticed how easy it is to err on the side of caution?  Major life redesigns often come weighed down with endless research, heavy decisions and bucket loads of fear.  Before long, you’re over-thinking your idea, losing sleep and worrying about everything that could go wrong.

While caution is admirable and keeps us from making rash decisions, it’s often fuelled by procrastination and excuses.  We quickly come up with a thousand reasons not to make the change rather than focusing on the one really good reason to do it!

Here’s what I often hear from those contemplating changing jobs, finishing a long relationship, beginning a new one, moving to a new location, traveling the world or simply starting a project that will realize a dream:

  • I can’t afford it…
  • We have to wait until…
  • What if something terrible happens…
  • What if it fails…
  • I don’t have time…
  • I don’t know how…
  • I’m too old/not old enough…
  • I’d feel guilty if I …

If any of these strike a chord, don’t despair!  You can get moving right now and feel the freedom and fulfillment of achieving your goal.  Here’s the quick fix:

7 Simple Steps to Stop Procrastinating and Get Moving

  1. Take the first step

Overwhelm is often the very thing that stops change dead in its tracks.  Acknowledge that ‘eating the whole elephant in a single bite’ is a sure-fire way to fail and simply take one step.  What’s the one thing you can do right now that will bring you closer to your goal?

  1. Pick up the phone

Lack of knowledge, information and resources will halt progress on the smallest of goals.  It’s so easy to crawl around the internet for hours and still be none the wiser.  Decide what you need to know and pick up the phone to someone who can help you.  If they can’t, they’ll probably know someone who can.

  1. Choose what not to do

Whilst ‘fluffing’ (filling your days with lots of insignificant tasks) creates an air of importance and busyness, it also provides a smokescreen of avoidance.  Major life changes require time to think, as well as create and do.  What could you stop doing right now to free up your time and headspace?

  1. Set a procrastination time limit

This tip came from a friend who noticed my occasional writer’s block frustration whilst writing The Great Life Redesign.  In spite of the publisher’s looming manuscript completion deadline, whenever I got ‘stuck’ on a particular chapter, I distracted myself by doing other seemingly important things.

“Oh,” she said, “that’s easy! Set yourself a procrastination time limit.”  Sure enough, I set the microwave timer, revelled in the delicious, guilt free bliss of doing nothing and as soon as the buzzer went off, got straight back to work.

  1. Engage a buddy

It’s too easy to back away from a big dream or important goal when you haven’t told anyone about it.  Amongst your friends and family, who’s the one person who will support you best – encouraging you through the challenges and celebrating your achievements?

Tell them what you’re doing and ask them to help you hold yourself accountable by checking in regularly.  Offer to help them achieve an important goal and double the success as you both get the important things done more quickly and easily.

  1. Dump the guilt and regret

Guilt and regret are the most wasted and futile of emotions that serve little purpose beyond making you feel bad.  Both are often driven by something you did or didn’t do in the past.  Given that the past is gone and you can’t change it, let them go.  Honor the reasons they existed by learning from them and do things differently moving forward.

  1. Call on your secret weapons – Courage, Commitment and Faith

Free of regret and guilt, you now have space to fill with the powerful inner resources that make good things happen. Think of a time they’ve come to your aid in the past and call on them again.

Access Courage to face your fears; draw on unshakeable Commitment to do whatever it takes and have Faith that it will all work out exactly as it’s meant to.  (The Great Life Redesign explains ‘inner resources’and other essential tools to pack in your Thrival Kit).

Tthere are plenty of other great ways to get moving and it’s often the smallest changes that make the biggest difference. What are your best tips for beating procrastination?

Carpe Diem
Caroline Cameron

 

Calling all Mothers… do you know how to fly a kite?

Why Mothering is like Kite FlyingMy mother is a wise woman who has taught me many things.  As Mother’s Day approaches I’ve been thinking about her most valuable ‘pearls of wisdom’. The one that stands out most is that mothering has a lot in common with the art, skill and joy of flying a kite.

Like many, when I became a mother I was overwhelmed by the responsibility.  In spite of all the experiences and advice readily shared those who had been there before me, I was bewildered.  There was no definitive guidebook and besides, like all children, my daughter was unique. The book on how to raise her had yet to be written and I was floundering.

After patiently listening to my anguished account of one particularly gruelling day, my Mum shared this insight and suddenly it all made sense.

Mothering is like flying a kite.

To prepare we ensure the kite is sound; the string is firmly attached; the handle is strong and our feet are planted firmly on the ground.

When our babies take their first steps, we let the string out a little. As it whips and turns we hold on tight and keep it close.  Invariably in those early days, it comes crashing to the ground whilst occasionally floating for a few precious minutes.

As our children grow and set out to explore the world, the kite becomes more confident.  The string tenses and we let it out a little further.  Magically, it stays afloat a little longer – catching the breeze, sometimes dipping and turning before it returns safely to us.

Through the teenage years the kite seeks to fly higher and the string tightens, straining to be free.  Cautiously, we let the string out a little further.  Sometimes it becomes tangled in the trees and we carefully climb up to retrieve it.  Winding it back in a little, we firm our grip until it feels safe and secure again.

Some days the kite won’t want to go out flying, preferring to curl up on the couch in its PJs, safe and secure in the comfort of home.  Brought in for running repairs, all the kite needs is a bowl of hot soup and a cuddle.  It doesn’t need a mother to tell it how to fly, it simply needs a mother to stay attached on the other end of the string.

Over time we become more adept and the kite stretches further into the sky as our children soar towards independence and freedom.  While it reaches great heights, swooping and arcing until it becomes a dot in the distance, it’s always attached.  With pride we watch it achieve great things, catching the currents of life and weathering occasional strong winds.

The art of mothering is all about knowing when to let the string out; when to reel it back in and when to simply leave it be.

Now my daughter is a young adult, we’ve learnt how to fly the kite together.  These days we venture out to fly alongside each other, sharing flights and experiences whenever we can.  More often we fly solo, always knowing that the string is attached.  I know that when the time comes, I'll be there gently guiding my daughter as she learns how to fly rather than be the kite.

Thank you to my mother for teaching this valuable lesson, to my daughter for allowing me to make mistakes and to both of them for helping me master the art of kite flying.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those Mums out there who are learning how to let their children soar. 

What 'pearl of wisdom' has your mother shared that's made your role as a mother that bit easier?

Carpe Diem
Caroline Cameron

 

Resignation Rules – how to walk out with your head held high

Leaving a job that's passed its 'use by' date?

Your Reputation Goes Ahead of YouWe've all agonised over the prospect of leaving a job and eventually come to the conclusion that it's time to move on. Either the job has become untenable or a far better opportunity beckons. But before you rush headlong into your shiny new future, it's wise to carefully plan your resignation.

Burning bridges may provide short-term satisfaction as you let loose and share a few less than complimentary home truths about the company you're leaving.  However, the fallout is likely to have a far greater negative impact on you than your current employer.  While it's tempting to think, "Oh well, it doesn't really matter, I'm leaving anyway," actually, it does.

People remember what you say and do and the world is a small place.  While your great life redesign provides a fresh start, chances are someone from your old world will know someone in your future.  Your reputation will travel ahead of you and before you know it, when you're introduced to someone you want to impress, they'll instantly make a connection and snap judgement.  "Aren't you the guy who left XXX under a cloud?"

A veteran of 9 carefully considered resignations and through my work as a professional career coach, here's what I've learnt about how to keep your reputation intact, enjoy your last few weeks and walk out with your head held high.

7 Ways to Exit Your Job Gracefully

1. Know where you're heading

A clear plan for the future will give you the certainty you need to move forward confidently.  Even if you’re not jumping straight into a new job, choosing to take stock and work out what you want to do next is a positive step.  Be confident about your resignation and feel optimistic about the future you’ve chosen.

2. Get the timing right

While it's tempting to resign as soon as you've decided that it's time to go, think about what's best for you and the organisation you're leaving.  Consider your notice period and make sure you tell the right people in the right order.  Your boss won't want to hear that you're leaving via the grapevine.

If the nature of your work means your company will need you to finish up immediately, plan for this and don't take it personally.  Policy is not a personal slight on your competence or value.

3. Decide how you want to be remembered

Act without regret and consciously choose the legacy you want to leave behind. Once you've decided, act accordingly.   Whether you have a day, week or month from resignation to exit, work to create a positive last impression. Invest as much focus and energy in this as you did in creating a positive first impression when you started.

4. Don't take your eye off the ball

Resist the temptation to 'down tools'.  While you may not feel as committed to your role once you've resigned, this isn't a time to stop responding to emails just because you won't be involved in the future.

Focus on what you can realistically achieve during your notice period and do whatever it takes to wrap up incomplete tasks or projects.  Identify opportunities where you can add value by getting things done and be pro-active about helping your colleagues succeed. Your professional reputation and integrity are depending on it.

5. Accept the disconnect and let go

You may notice that once word of your resignation gets out, you're invited to fewer meetings, your inbox seems emptier and fewer people are asking for your help or opinion. This is a normal response to change and again not personal. 

Your colleagues will be learning to manage without you over this time which is healthy. Consciously use the freed up time to make it easy for them, organise your files and facilitate a handover.

6. Maintain perspective

Become a ‘fly on the wall' and simply observe what's going on, without engaging emotionally. Everything is relative and this job won’t have been all good or all bad. Once you've resigned, it's no longer about you and this is a great time to create short-term, quick wins that will make a big difference long after you've gone.

7. Celebrate a job well done

Take time to reflect on all you've achieved and learnt.  Capturing achievements and lessons learnt along the way will help you identify your strengths, core skills and what you're most proud of.  Even the toughest challenges that brought lessons you wouldn't have chosen, are invaluable.  Recognise the positive difference you've made and use this as a springboard to your next job or a new career.

The last few days may be a blur of farewell coffees, lunches and drinks which are a great time to thank and acknowledge those who have made a difference to you.  Be generous with your thanks, particularly to those you found challenging to work with. As you hand in your pass, close the final box and turn off the light, take a last look around and be thankful for the experience. 

It’s time to pick up the box, hold your head high and walk through that door one last time knowing you’ve made a graceful exit. The future beckons…

Carpe Diem
Caroline Cameron

 

What Are You Waiting For?

Scene from Waiting for GodotHave you ever noticed how many people are waiting for xxxx before they do yyyy?  It almost seems like they’re 'on hold' until their children are older, they have more money, they’ve paid off the mortgage, their health is better….

Whatever the rationale, they’ve invented a perfectly good reason to defer what they truly desire.  Resigned to the belief that they can’t have what they want, they sit back and let life pass by. It’s kind of like Samuel Beckett's famous play Waiting for Godot, where the entire plot centres around Estragon, Pozzo and Vladimir who are waiting for someone who never arrives and something that never happens.

Sure you may need to be patient and bide your time but only for so long.  Success never came to anyone who was merely wishing, waiting and hoping for it to land in their lap.

What’s waiting really costing you?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of instant gratification!  This isn’t about seeing something you want and getting it now.  It is about having a dream and doing whatever you can to make it happen without excuses.  Challenge yourself and be honest.  Maybe the rational reasons you’re deferring your dream are really fear of failure excuses for not stepping up and making it happen.

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, would you have any regrets right now? On the other hand, if you knew you couldn't fail, how different would that be?

Perhaps the true wake-up call comes when those you love tell you that your 'play it safe' risk aversion is dragging them down and holding them back.  Many relationships fail when one partner stays stuck while the other wants to spread their wings.

You do deserve it!

For over 20 years a friend of mine gave his beloved grandmother a beautiful cake of expensive French soap for Christmas.  A gentle and humble person, she opened her gift each year with genuine delight.  Although she knew what the gift was, her eyes lit up and she smiled as she deeply inhaled the soap’s beautiful perfume.  Every Christmas it was as if it was the first time she’d received such a lovely gift.  My friend smugly declared himself the ‘favourite grandson’.

This wonderful woman died peacefully at 82.  When my friend was helping his father pack up her belongings he opened a drawer in her dressing table and was stunned to find 25 cakes of carefully placed, unused French soap.  Slowly and sadly it dawned on him – his grandmother had never felt she deserved the beautiful soap enough to use it.

Many people deny themselves happiness because they feel they don’t deserve it.  So focused on feeling unworthy or where they’ve fallen short, they totally overlook the successes they've achieved and positive differences they’ve made to others along the way.   We all make mistakes and trip up from time to time but that’s no reason to not create a positive future.  Perhaps it's all the greater motivation to make the most of the life you have left.

Defining moments are great catalysts for change

You’ll always remember the moments that shape your life, taking it off on a new course.  For some it may be the birth of their first child; for others it could be divorce, a health scare, the death of a loved one or redundancy.  Whatever it is for you, a defining moment is one where you know without a shadow of doubt, that life from here on will be different.  Everything happens for a reason – you just might not realise what the reason is at the time. 

Zero birthdays (30, 40, 50 etc) are often times when we reflect on what we’ve achieved and try to create a crystal ball to determine what lies ahead. Even if it doesn’t smack you in the face, a gently dawning defining moment could also be the perfect excuse to redesign your life and take action now. 

The Great Life Redesign shares the true story of Steve’s chance meeting with a stranger at a railway station and how it set him off on an adventure that would see him walking the Kokoda Trail and many other exciting adventures. The message behind Steve’s story is that rather than looking for reasons not to do something, find just one reason to do it!

Whatever your defining moment, use it as a springboard to take a giant leap towards how you want life to be.  Your goals don’t need to be ambitious and grandiose – they simply need to be meaningful and compelling.

In the immortal words of Alfred De Souza who believed that happiness is a journey not a destination,

Work like you don't need money

Love like you've never been hurt

And dance like no one's watching.

So, when would now be a good time to stop waiting and step intentionally towards your dreams?  Go on, there's really nothing stopping you.

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

How to keep going, no matter how big the challenge ….

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…

Resilience - the key to keeping going, no matter what

I turned on the news this morning to hear that two children have been killed in a house fire; the Sunshine Coast has been deluged by floods and the horrific Toulouse siege has ended with a dramatic shoot out.

Not for the first time I wondered, how on earth do those affected by disasters ever recover?

Closer to home, we all face times when we’d love to simply curl up in a ball and give up.  When it all seems too hard, shock, grief and overwhelm threaten to engulf us and it feels like we can’t go on.  Yet go on we must and there’s a lot we can learn from survivors who pick themselves up, dust themselves off and little by little get on with their lives.

Taken from your Thrival Kit, the secret to recovery is Resilience – a quiet, steely inner resource we all possess that moves you forward, one step at a time.  Whether you’re tackling a challenge that feels beyond you, recovering from personal tragedy or heading into unchartered waters, it’s something you’re going to need in bucket loads!

When things don’t go quite to plan, the unexpected happens and your commitment is sorely tested, it’s resilience that will get you out of bed in the morning and keep you going, no matter what.

Grounded in your values and beliefs, resilience is simply a way of being.  While you can’t touch it, you can certainly feel and see it.  Knowing its ingredients makes it easier to call on whenever you need it. Unlike a cake it doesn’t matter what order you mix these in.  There’s also no limit to how much of each you add – the more the better!

7 Simple Ways to Build Resilience

1. Perspective – things are never as bad as they seem.

Draw on past experience; be philosophical and look beyond what’s happening right now to see where this event sits in the bigger scheme of life.

2. Optimism – it will get better! 

The sun will continue to rise, the floodwaters will recede and the mop-up will happen.  Know that you will come through this, stronger and wiser for the experience.

3. Clarity about where you want to go from here

This includes knowledge and certainty about how a better future will be.  Imagine how great it will be when you’ve triumphed over the challenge.

4. Gritty Determination –  the power to stay on track, regardless of what threatens to overwhelm you

Bloody-mindedness, stubbornness and an ironclad belief that this will not get the better of you, determination will keep you firmly focused on the future.

5. Conservation – conserve your physical and emotional energy to keep going

Personal disaster and major change are insidiously draining.  You will feel tired and less energetic than when things are going well and it’s important to conserve your energy.  Consciously invest headspace, time and effort in anything that increases your energy.

6. Support and Friends – give you time-out, replacing loneliness with strength and kinship. 

This isn’t a time to be brave and stoic.  Reach out to those who can help you and lighten the load.  After all, when the tables are turned, you’ll be there for them.

7. Time – perspective’s cousin and resilience’s best friend. 

Think back to tragic events or major life changes you’ve endured and you’ll notice how things do eventually get better, one hour, day, month and year at a time.

But wait, there’s even a set of steak knives with resilience!  It’s cumulative (steadily building over each adverse event you experience) and will always be there to help you through future challenges.

As you set about overcoming a challenge or redesigning your life, keep your resilience topped up. It will get better and there’s nothing you can’t overcome.

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

 

PS – You actually have even more handy inner resources you can call on when the going gets tough.  To find out more, grab a copy of The Great Life Redesign.

What do You Want to BE When You Grow Up?

a question for all adults and how to make the answer easy

What do you want to BE when you grow up?

If you ask any child under 10 what they want to be when they grow up, chances are you’ll get a quick, enthusiastic and certain answer.

When you put the same question to grown-ups, the answers are often vague and vexed.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our ability to connect with what we really want to do. Fulfilment seems hader to find. Fear replaces courage and indecision leads us on a never-ending quest to find the ‘right’ job.

When I became a management consultant many years ago, I thought it would be the perfect way to find my dream job. Working with many different organisations would give me a ‘sneak peak’ into a wide variety of careers. I fully expected to walk into a company, see someone doing something I’d love and ‘bingo’ – there’s my answer!

The reality was very different. While I did get to check out many different jobs, industries and organisations, I mostly saw people who were struggling to find their ‘perfect’ job, just like me. Many had fallen into roles opportunistically, being in the right place at the right time, rather than consciously deciding that this was what they really wanted to do.

Fast forward 5 years and I’m now being paid to do something I love but it didn’t happen until I worked out how to find my dream job. If this sounds like you, take heart!

How to find work that feeds your soul and puts a roof over your head

1. Go back to your childhood!

Mining your past for vital clues is a great way to spark your imagination. What did you love doing as a child when anything was possible? Recapture your childhood dreams and notice what it was about each one that excited you.

When you were a kid (before reality set in), limitations were few which created the freedom to be whatever you dreamt.  Notice how you focused on what you wanted to ‘be‘ rather than ‘do’.  Hmmm, there’s another clue.

2. Stock take your career and life so far

Looking back over everything you’ve done, list the achievements and tasks you’ve really enjoyed. Even the less fulfilling experiences will provide clues about what you could and should be doing. Now write down everything you haven’t necessarily enjoyed and quite frankly, never want to do again. What was it about the positive experiences that ticked all your boxes and the negatives that left you cold?

3. What are you good at?

Inevitably, what you’re good at is probably what you enjoy most. Over the years you’ll have gained skills and knowledge that have led you to become an accomplished expert in one field or another. Even if this type of work has past its expiry date, the strengths you’ve gained in this area can be converted into transferable skills.

4. Know what difference you want to make

There’s a reason we’ve all been put on this earth and now’s the time to reveal your overall purpose. Far bigger than a single job or career, this shapes who you are in all the life roles you play. What problems do you like to solve and what really matters most to you?

Often this is more closely related to what you care about, than what you do for work. Knowing it consciously will give you far greater choice and help you make clear decisions about where to from here.

5. Get curious and explore all the options

Many of today’s jobs weren’t even invented 5 years ago and the path to fulfilling work starts with curiosity. Your answers to the previous questions will have revealed some key themes.

  • What do your childhood dreams, career and life so far, strengths and your purpose all have in common?
  • What do they reveal about you?

Once you’ve identified these themes, start researching what’s possible.

Now you’re consciously aware of what you want to be and therefore do, career magnets (ie those roles, industries and organisations that tick your boxes) will jump out at you. Keep and open mind, imagine and explore what a ‘day in the life of…’ would be like?

The key to finding fulfilling work is to ask the right questions. Rather than saying, “I couldn’t do that because…”, ask yourself, “If this were possible, how could I make it happen?”

6.Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Once you’ve decided which direction you’ll take, develop a plan to bridge the gap and commit to one small step at a time. The transition to your new career will take as long as it needs to and gaining the support of family, friends and mentors will help convert your possibility into a reality.

What would a day in your perfect job look like?  Life’s too short to not be doing what you love. Blow away the excuses and discover what you should be doing, now you’re ‘grown up’!

Carpe diem

Caroline

 

 

3 Simple Ways to Swap Stress and Burnout for Freedom and Wellbeing

Loving life on the 21st century treadmill

Stressed and Busy PeopleWith the rapid introduction of mobile devices, labour-saving widgets and instant access to anything, anywhere, anytime we should be happy, right?

Wrong! As a professional coach, I work with many senior executives, managers, project teams, small business owners, entrepreneurs, stay-home mums and families. No matter where I go, they all have one thing in common – they’re all frantically busy and stressed.

Juggling challenging jobs, raising children, caring for aging parents, paying off hefty mortgages and more, the lines between work and life have become increasingly blurred. Contactable and on-call 24/7, the relentless pressures and demands are taking their toll.

Overlay an endless media stream of bad news stories, natural disasters and economic doom and gloom and it’s no wonder that life on the 21st Century treadmill is wearing us down.

Yet, ironically, there’s also never been a better time to create the kind of lifestyle you actually want. We’ve never had more opportunities, options and choices which is why now is the best time to redesign your life.

Hmmm, easier said than done’, I hear you say, and I understand. Flat out surviving, let alone thriving, many people simply don’t know what changes to make or how to make them to live the life they dream of. Fortunately we have more control and choice over our lives than we may think.

Here are three simple strategies to help you get started:

#1. Identify what needs to change.

Imagine your life is a house with different but connected rooms – health, relationships, career, finances etc. Take out a notepad and go for an imaginary walk through your life house, noting what parts could do with a fresh coat of paint. Identify what’s working and what’s not and jot down how you’d like each room to look.

#2. Start small and commit to action every day.

Often the smallest changes will make the biggest difference and it’s smart to start in a room that’s relatively easy to renovate. For example, if your fitness and wellbeing have been on the backburner, commit to a daily 20 minute walk and build up to regular gym sessions or whatever exercise you enjoy.

#3. Create space – decide what you’re going to ‘stop’ doing.

The hectic pace of life often leads us to unconsciously add more to every day until there are simply no hours left. Stacking your days with frantic activity is the fastest track to burnout and stress. Go through each room again and make a decision about what you’ll reduce, delegate to others or simply stop. Notice the relief and freedom that comes from removing the clutter. This creates space to focus on what’s really important.

There’ll be more simple ways to swap stress, overwhelm and burnout for freedom, choice and wellbeing in future posts.

In the meantime, what strategies do you have for making positive life changes easy? Please share them below – I’d love to hear your top tips.

Carpe diem.
Caroline

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

What’s your job really costing you and is it worth it?

Work Trap37 year old Mary had everything she could wish for or… did she?

Always ambitious, she’d finally scored her dream job heading up a $75m, international project for a construction company. The luring package included a generous, multiple six-figure salary, all expenses paid business class travel, ipad, iphone and a number of other glittering perks.

But it came at a cost.

Whilst taking a short break with her family over Christmas, her days were constantly interrupted by streams of urgent phone calls from her manager, anywhere between 7am and 10pm. Emails couldn’t wait so she logged on down at the beach while her beautiful, eight year old daughter Ellie played in the waves and built sandcastles on her own. Her demanding client didn’t ‘get’ the time zone difference and the sound of incoming text messages echoed through the darkness while her family slept on.

Yes, she could have turned the phone off and refused to log in – after all, she was on annual leave. However, Mary’s company had an unwritten rule and unspoken expectation that senior executives would be on call and contactable 24/7. Besides she didn’t want to let her client, manager or team down and was committed to being ‘on top of it all’.

Her husband Dave was resigned to but unhappy about the constant interruptions and their arguments were becoming more frequent. Even when she was with her family, she wasn’t really. Totally conflicted, by the time she returned to work Mary was stressed and exhausted.  If nothing changes, she’ll pay the ultimate price losing her health, closest relationships and happiness.

It seems as though we’ve spent the last 10 years striving to become more efficient, mobile, contactable and indispensable – but at what cost? Latest figures from the Race Against Time Report, (National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling and AMP Financial Services) show that balancing work and family remains a big issue for working men and women, with around 40% of women and 30% of men feeling often or always rushed or pressed for time. Worse still, you probably won’t be paid or adequately compensated for ‘out of hours’ work.

It’s your life – hop into the driver’s seat and take control

If Mary’s story sounds familiar to you or someone you’re close to, maybe it’s time to take stock. Ask yourself:

  • What are the real expectations of the job (rather than the assumptions)?
  • What price am I really paying and is it worth it?
  • What am I prepared to do to get the job done and have a life?
  • What boundaries do I need to keep my job in perspective and priorities in focus?
  • Who can I call on to share the workload and how else could we get the job done?

Set up a meeting with your manager and team, go prepared with creative solutions and be open to new ways of working. Remember, your colleagues have a life outside work too. While work demands are ever-increasing, the pressure on companies to reduce stress and foster wellbeing is growing too. But the ultimate responsibility for yours rests with you.

Get clear about what’s important, decide what you are prepared to do (or not) and take deliberate action to make it happen.

Life’s short – it’s time to get moving and create the life you really wish for.

Carpe diem.

Caroline

 

 

If you’re wanting simple ways to reclaim your life, my new book, The Great Life Redesign will show you how.  It’s now available in all good bookstores and here.