Archive for Powerful Questions

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

 

Slaying the Fear Dragon – how to stop fear dead in its tracks!

Slaying the Fear DragonFEAR – it’s the #1 blocker that stops us from creating change and achieving our potential. The mere mention of it strikes dread in our heartsand has us running in the opposite direction of our dreams and goals. Common fear feeders such as public speaking, risk taking, festering work conflict, phobias, worries and change we feel is being imposed on us can create terror in the most courageous of us all.

Yesterday I had a call from Jane, a smart, goal-oriented professional and mother of two. She has a high powered, fulfilling yet all-consuming job and is the main bread winner for her family. At 42 Jane wants to start her own home-based business. She’d love be more involved in the daily lives of her children and reduce the stress of constantly juggling work, family and life. She’s dreamt of starting her business for over 5 years and has great ideas about what it could do. With great business experience, commercial acumen, vision and drive there’s really nothing to stop her. Or is there…?

What’s really getting in her way is fear. Fear of failure (not an option for an otherwise successful high achiever), fear of it creating even more stress, fear of the unknown and fear that it wouldn’t bring in enough money quickly enough. I know what it’s like. When I left my safe, secure job with its regular pay cheque to set up my own business, I felt like I’d jumped out of a plane without a parachute! Without the familiar routine, support of work colleagues and no guarantee it would work, I was terrified. For the first few months I was free falling. Yet once my well laid plans kicked in and the business took off, I discovered how to pull the rip-chord which had been there all along.

If fear is the only thing standing between you and embracing a workplace change or pursuing a long-held dream (life redesign), relax and read on.

5 simple steps to slay the fear dragon, live your dream and sleep well at night.

#1. Name your fear

Fear is your body’s alert system that tells you something’s not right. However, it’s not fear itself that’s the problem. Identify what it is you’re scared of or worried about and give it a name. Better still, create a funny picture in your mind that represents your fear. You can even give it a silly voice (eg Donald Duck)! This helps you acknowledge the fear without engaging it.

#2. Cut your fear down to size

Pull out your sword and put it into perspective. In the same way that nightmares seem more scary in the dead of night, repressed fears have a tendency to multiply and expand to disastrous and catastrophic proportions. What’s the worst thing that will happen if this fear were to come true? Maybe it’s not as bad as you’ve been dreading.

#3. Plan B – your secret weapon

What would you do if the ‘worse’ thing were to happen? Committing to the action you would take is like taking out an insurance policy or applying a 5 star safety rating. It won’t make it happen but will ensure you’re well prepared if it did. Chapter 13 of The Great Life Redesign shares simple ways to create a Plan B.

#4 Outsmart the fear

Ask yourself a better question – if this fear wasn’t there what would be possible? What if it does work out just fine? The grass is always greener on the optimistic side. Shifting your focus to fearless possibilities will set you up divert your focus, thoughts, energy and action into making them real instead of indulging in fear.

#5 Be vigilant

You may have slayed the fear dragon this time but it can and will come back! Recognise it early and take action quickly. Ask yourself, ‘what’s this fear trying to tell me and what can I do to tame it right now?’ Remember you are always bigger than your fears and slaying them is within your power. Keep these Fear Dragon Slaying Steps in your Thrival Kit, call on your inner resources (courage, perspective, calm and foresight) to help out and you’ll never face a fear you can’t overcome. What fears have you overcome and how did you do it?

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

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

 

 

How to Love the Festive Season, no matter what!

A Thrival Kit – your secret weapon against festive season gremlins

Have you ever noticed how quickly the festive season can turn pear-shaped? In spite of meticulous planning, great expectation and fever pitched excitement, it only takes a poorly chosen gift or misplaced, thoughtless comment for ‘peace on earth’ to be shattered! Before you know it the kids are grumpy, the adults have declared war and what you hoped would be a happy family time has disintegrated into bitter arguments that could last a lifetime.

If this is your worst Christmas nightmare, relax – help is at hand. A well-packed Thrival Kit is the secret to sailing through this time of year with your goodwill to all men, sanity and happiness intact.

The Thrival Kit – this year's 'must have' gift

A Thrival Kit is a small but powerful set of tools that are easy to access and use, whenever you need them. Consisting of keys, questions, symbols and pearls, your Thrival Kit is free of charge and light to carry. Once packed with the right tools, it becomes your constant companion through the good and not-so-good times. Whilst being particularly handy for beating holiday season stress, once you’ve packed one, you’ll want it beside you all year round.

The contents of a Thrival Kit are like multi-vitamins. Taken daily, they become new habits and a new way of being that will ensure you thrive, regardless of what’s happening around you. Let’s take a look inside a typical Thrival Kit, see what these tools are and learn how to use them.

Three essential thrival keys:  your purpose, values and inner resources

Your purpose, values and inner resources are the most powerful keys available to you. They provide direction, the ability to prioritise and achieve whatever you set your mind to and heart on. Even better, you already have them! These are already inherently within you, you just may not be aware of them. Consciously accessing these ‘thrival keys’ will unlock previously shut doors, open up new possibilities and ensure you have everything you need to choose how you want things to be.

Whilst your purpose (reason for being here) and values (core principles, standards and ideals) guide your decisions and actions, it’s your inner resources that will help you thrive, regardless of what’s happening at your place this holidays.

Engage your inner resources

Limitless and super powerful, your resources are inner states of being that you can call on at any time, in any situation. Whether you are feeling sad, happy, doubtful or certain, inner resources reside in everyone. Once identified, you’ll soon master the art of recognising which you need in any situation. From here you can effortlessly call on the best inner resources to achieve your desired outcome.

Your inner resources provide instant light when it is dark and energy to take action. They are the power source for your purpose and values. Engaging them means you never need feel disempowered, angry or stressed ever again. Whether you are confronting a challenge, keeping the peace or determined to make the most of a magical moment, there’s a resource for every situation.

The 12 most powerful inner resources to keep close at hand over the festive season include:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Caring
  3. Calm
  4. Caution
  5. Contentment
  6. Flexibility
  7. Fun
  8. Joy
  9. Maturity
  10. Peace
  11. Perspective
  12. Spontaneity

What else can go in a Thrival Kit?

Basically anything that will help you sail through potentially stressful moments and take on new challenges. Thinkg about adding:

  • Powerful questions to help you make the best decision in the heat of the moment – eg How do I want this to be and what can I do to create it?
  • Strength symbols provide a physical stress reducer – these include special items such as a piece of jewellry that create instant calm when you touch them.
  • Pearls of wisdom – a phrase or saying to adopt as a calming mantra (one of my favourites, accompanied by a deep breath, is 'Keep Calm and Carry On').

Be Prepared for Anything

Holidays are a time when family legends are often written! Events good and bad are remembered and recalled by everyone for years. How you choose to be will determine whether you buckle under the pressure and ‘lose it’ or love every moment, regardless of what happens. A well-packed Thrival Kit will ensure you’re armed and ready for anything.

What else will you be packing and pulling out of your Thrival Kit this festive season?

Carpe diem

 

 

P.S.  To find out how to create more empowering tools for your Thrival Kit, grab a copy of The Great Life Redesign – change how you work, live how you dream and make it happen TODAY!  Available here and in all good bookstores.

A Simple Solution to the Work/Life Balance Puzzle

It seems like the harder we try to solve it, the busier, more
stressed and exhausted we become.

A Simple Solution to the Work Life Balance PuzzleYou only have to Google ‘Work Life Balance’ (over 32 million results) to know it’s something we all aspire to yet struggle with.

Reality Check:  Work/Life Balance is actually an unattainable myth and the quest to achieve it is futile!

Think about it.  The idea of a ‘balanced’ life is actually flawed. Taken literally, balance suggests equal amounts of everything you’d love to cram into each day and it’s simply not possible.  If we spend 8 hours sleeping, this leaves 16 hours for everything else.  Do you really want or need to devote equal time to your work, health, family, leisure, daily incidentals and other priorities?

The other flaw in the work/life balance proposition is the inherent assumption that work is ‘bad’ and the rest of life is ‘good’ and we should therefore strive for less work and more of the rest of life.  Once you uncouple work from life, it all starts to unravel.  If you didn’t work, how would you support the rest of your life? Besides, many people actually enjoy their work which provides challenge, social connection, variety, routine,
certainty and financial stability.

Lifestyle pressures pull the pieces apart.  These are often self-imposed and it’s relatively simple (not to be mistaken with ‘easy’), to change them when you know how.  Like a jigsaw, all the parts of your life interlock and you are the common denominator.  So now you’ve been freed from the struggle, let's see how to piece together the puzzle and create a seamless picture of your life.

An Integrated Life – a realistic and attainable alternative

Rather than striving to achieve balance by enforcing strict boundaries between work and life, it’s much easier to integrate your life and treat it as a whole. Once you’ve mastered the art and skill, all the parts work harmoniously to support rather than compete with each other.

How to live an Integrated Life:

  • Decide what's important (our priorities often get lost amidst the 'busyness' of everyday life) and let go of that which isn’t.
  • Consciously devote time to what's important – scheduling self-appointments in your diary to get things done; learning to say 'no' without guilt, planning and responding rather than reacting.
  • Change your expectations – many of us are notoriously hard on ourselves believing we can and should 'do it all'. Be kind to yourself and take the pressure off.  You can have and do it all once you’ve decided what ‘all’ is, how much you really want it and what’s possible.

Living an integrated life is vital for your physical and mental wellbeing and once achieved, creates a positive impact on the lives of those you care about.  This includes
being a great role model for your children, friends and colleagues.

If creating an integrated life seems hard, these 3 steps will make it easier:

  1. Check in on what you're telling yourself.  For example, if you believe you have to  work a 50+ hour week, how do you know that? What evidence is there and who said so? We often fail to challenge work place norms and in doing so hold fast to limiting beliefs such as, I have to be at work before the boss arrives and stay till after he/she has left.  How do you know that?  Have you actually asked him or her directly?
  2. Turn statements and beliefs into better questions.  Instead of I have to work long hours to be successful, ask yourself If I could be successful by swapping the long hours for working smarter, how would I do that?
  3. Learn how to influence others constructively.  Creating an integrated life requires compromise and effective negotiation techniques are a powerful skill to master. Positive conversations with your boss (eg about working shorter hours or working from home), partner and children (to help out more around the house) are simple when you know how.

All puzzles are easy to solve once you have the solution.  Remember, you don’t have a ‘work’ and a ‘life’ – you only have one life. Don’t you owe it to yourself and those you care about to integrate the parts to make it work well for you?

Find out more about how to create an integrated life in my book, The Great Life Redesign – change how you work, live how you dream and make it happen today.  It will be available from all good bookstores and online in January.

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

 

The 3 Biggest Interview Mistakes that Kill Your Chances

how to avoid them and get that dream job

The 3 Biggest Interview Mistakes that Kill Your ChancesYour resume has done its job and you’ve got an interview!  Pumped and ready you shake hands with the interviewer, smile confidently and get down to the business of
answering their questions.

But gradually it all starts to go horribly wrong.  As the interview progresses, you sense you’re starting to lose them and by the time you walk out, you just know you’ve stuffed it up.

In spite of being well prepared and confident, something went wrong in the process. While smart people follow up to get feedback as to why they were unsuccessful, they often don’t receive a complete and honest answer to learn from.

Having interviewed many candidates for different jobs and been interviewed countless times myself; here are three common interview mistakes that are guaranteed to lose you the job.

Mistake # 1: Failing to listen to the question and watch for signals.

Nerves play a key part in this.  Eager to display your key strengths and wonderful experience, you launch headlong into a lengthy demonstration of your knowledge and achievements.  Although admirable, it may be a long bow to tie what you know to the question.  When you’re busy talking, it’s too easy to miss the body language signs that the interviewer is bored with your answer.

Tip:  The best way to blitz an exam is to read the question carefully and consider your answer before putting pen to paper.  Likewise in an interview, listen to the question and watch for non-verbal cues.  If necessary ask the interviewer to clarify what they mean.  This also buys you precious time to compose your answer before you open your mouth.  Once you truly understand what the interviewer is looking for you are better able to make your knowledge, strengths and skills relevant and give a high impact, concise answer.

Mistake #2:  Insufficient understanding of the role and the company

Many candidates invest hours, $s and effort preparing their CV and practicing for interviews, yet neglect to thoroughly research both the role they are applying for or the company it’s with.  What’s written in the advertisement or position description is often not what the role is really about.

Tip:  Take time to ring the recruiter, HR manager or the person the role will be reporting
to.  Discover what’s not been written in the ad or PD before the interview.  This gives you time to prepare your answers thoroughly and ensure your responses are relevant.  Demonstrating a deep understanding of what the company does; where it’s at and where it’s heading is an easy way to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.
Weaving this knowledge into your answers shows you’ve invested time and effort in increasing your understanding before the interview.

Mistake #3:  Not asking your own insightful questions

As an interview draws to a close, the adrenalin drops, the nerves start to calm and you can’t wait to get out of there!  The interviewer asks if you have any questions. In a relieved tone you say, “No, I don’t think so, thanks for your time,” stand up to shake hands and leave.

STOP!  You’ve just wasted the perfect opportunity to nail the interview!

Tip:  Asking a few well-targeted questions leaves a great impression and further demonstrates your strong desire to understand more about the role and ability to do it well.  Great questions include:

1.  What are the three most important traits you are looking for and why are they  mportant?

The answer provides an opening for you to match your strengths and further highlight your achievements.

2. What do you believe will be the biggest challenges the [name the role title] will face in the first three months?

This answer opens up the opportunity to demonstrate where you’ve overcome a similar challenge in the past.

3.  When the person who is appointed to the role has exceeded all your expectations, what will be different and how will you know they have succeeded?

This helps the interviewer articulate the priorities which are often buried or not stated in
the position description.

Note:  This isn’t the appropriate time to ask about the pay and package, hours or working conditions.  These questions can come later if and when you are successful in moving to the next round or offer.

Remember, an interview is a two-way process and you want to find out what you need to know to decide if the role is right for you.  Acute listening, considered questions, concise answers and a thorough understanding of the role and company are often the
difference that makes the difference to winning your dream job.

Good luck with your next interview!

Caroline Cameron