The Curse of Too Much Time Off

As a career coach, I’m often coaching folks in transition. Perhaps they’ve been laid off or they’ve cashed out and taken early retirement. Some take sabbaticals or extended disability leave, to get a clearer perspective on their life’s work. So far so good.

These folks all have a few things in common. They are in the enviable yet temporary position of having the time to think, without the pressure of earning new money any time soon.

So what do they do? They celebrate. They go overboard enjoying their freedom. Then a few months down the road, they start to panic because they still need to make a right work decision.

Then the real trouble begins. They start thinking too much. Too much thinking, with too little action, spoils a good time. Before they know it they’ve placed themselves in the unnecessary danger of wasting their wonderful opportunity.

I understand what contributes to this crazy behavior. Most folks have lots of unpleasant and unfulfilling work memories.

If this is you, I get it. I know that you may have never felt so free and alive when working and you do deserve a break.

I also know that you sense that there must be something better out there. Some of you even harbor secret thoughts of making your emancipation permanent by seizing the freedom of self-employment.

Some of you eventually get around to talking to a career coach, like myself, who specializes in career exploration and in building a true calling inspired business.

But here is the key. Most of you wait too long to get down to the serious decision-making. Why is that?

My theory is that your work memories are so challenging that you have put all future work in the same basket. You judge all work as something to be avoided and that makes you want to delay the process as long as possible.

Of course a calling isn’t like that. Your true calling is the work you were meant to do. But even a true calling inspired business, is better built in a relaxed, non-pressured environment.

You can’t really take a break from life. Making the right decision is an active process. Taking time off from work, can work for you, if you leverage it so that you know more about your options as your time off dwindles.

You might think you are putting off the decision to relieve tension but the more you avoid the decision the more tension you create.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is this. Anxiety is my friend. It signals a call to wiser action. It’s telling me to turn into the very storm that I want to run from. It’s telling me to drop down deep into my body and feel.

Already self-employed business owners do the same thing. You might have a strong hunch of a needed change but you avoid it because un-embraced anxiety feels scarier than the status quo.

Use your available time as the blessing it is. It’s only a curse if you squander it and invite pressure where there was once only curiosity.

Can you recall a time where you would have been better off to get right down to making a decision sooner?

If you’d like professional coaching, on turning into the storm and making your biggest life and work decisions, contact me and let’s talk. Your freedom waits.

Listening To Your Life

I was born in 1950 and country grown, outside of Pittsburgh, where I naturally went deep. The space program was a big deal when I was 12 years old but I can clearly remember it not holding a lick of interest for me.

I was into digging and dirt. I built dams in farmer’s streams. My buddies and I built earthen forts and tried tunneling. One of the best stand-by-me adventures was following a gas line excavation for miles, all day long.

At 12, I took my first job on a farm and my love for gardening grew from there. I worked on the farm for 5 years and loved every bit of it but I especially loved digging up spuds and stacking the wooden crates high in cool, dimly lit storage rooms.

When I was 17, I took a job going deeper into the earth and worked with a backhoe operator installing sewer pipes. I loved carrying those 80 lb. terra cotta sections and jumping in and out of ditches. Can you see the developing theme? Can you see what my life was trying to tell me, even then?

At 19, on summer break from college, I worked as a United Mine Worker in a deep shaft coal mine.

I wasn’t looking for any of these opportunities. They appeared one after the other, as guidance, to write my future life script.

Fast-forward 40 years. Eleven years ago, I was thinking about a name for my new coaching business. I called it Coresight, soon after changed to CoreU. I named it so because I loved getting to the root of deep, messy, emotional issues with my clients and I still do.

Business start up success is always more predicated on an inner game than on the influence of any outside conditions. That’s one reason why every entrepreneur must be able to read his or her own inner landscape.

When I was naming my career coaching company, I hadn’t yet made the connection to those earlier life experiences where I dug going deep so much. It became relevant, years later, when I first read Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak.

He proved to me that my soul, my inner wisdom, guidance from the highest and best part of my being has always been trying to nudge me in the direction of my true calling.

But these calling nudges, (like they often are), were not meant to be taken literally but as a metaphor for my life’s work.

Guess what my friend? Your life has been speaking to you as well. Are you listening?

Clients often ask, “Where will the confidence come from for me to make my best career change? Confidence comes from being able to read the signs and follow your life message. You don’t need a past life psychic to guide you. Your life has been giving you real time hints all along.

But you do need to sort out the authentic nudges from all of the “outside-in” messages and I have a way for you to do that. You could write your autobiography using appreciative inquiry.

You can reclaim the wisdom in your life hints by recalling what has worked well for you over the years. If you want a free guide write me and tell me why you think this approach will work for you.

If enough readers are interested, I’ll facilitate a free class on how to interpret your autobiography to see the most telling themes. This approach is one of dozens I use to guide clients to the powerful position of self-understanding and now you can have it for the asking.

It’s all there waiting to guide you and it always has been. Isn’t it time you listened to your own life?

Got It?

We ask this question to check for understanding. We can also gain insight by questioning ourselves. When grasping new knowledge, it’s useful to both discover what we are newly aware of and then to express that realization.

Grasping and expressing a newfound realization can be the most powerful outcome of honoring agreements. As a career coach specializing in authentic business building and self-employment freedom leaping, making agreements with my clients is essential. The resulting value of keeping agreements makes up for a lack of experience in budding entrepreneurs.

Honoring agreements is a leveraged tool because it builds confidence, delivers an intended result and creates fresh perspective, all in one. From the vantage point of fresh perspective we can see greater opportunities than we could previously and we see them in a different light. That’s when one needs to ask oneself this power question to complete this leveraged learning opportunity.

What have I realized as a result of completing this distinctly new action?

Realizations are often the greatest result from completing agreements, because they can be parlayed into even greater understanding and sustainable evergreen wisdom.

If you aren’t taking every opportunity to question yourself about your realizations then you are squandering opportunities for which you’ve already done the work.

Guy Kawasaki’s talk on Innovation and introduced his concept of jumping to the next curve of innovation.

Let’s look at career guidance and where the existing curve began. The start of the curve could be called economic survival. When my folks were coming of age in 1940 they gave little thought to fulfillment and took the best job they could find to feed their family.

The next point on the curve could be high school guidance counselors and their pitiful attempts to place everyone in a pre-existing box. Graduating from high school in 1968, I recall four labels in my yearbook that represented our only available choices of study. General – “you’re a loser get a job in the mill.” Commercial – “you’re not the brightest gal, so maybe you can be a secretary.” Academic – “you’re bright enough to go to college, so go and you might figure it out there.” Scientific – “you’re a genius-nerd who could become a doctor if you don’t squander your intelligence.” No wonder our college years were such a relief.

The abundance of choices in an atmosphere of relative freedom made college seem like Nirvana compared to high school. With raised expectations, we hoped that our college career counselors could finally help us nail our career identification quest. But to our disappointment, this next leap in the curve was barely a hop. Those overworked counselors simply added confusing psychological assessments that raised more questions than answers.

Many of us left with a university education but no more prepared to find our true calling. Upon reflection, perhaps there was never much of a curve at all, because when we entered the work force, many of us did the same thing that our parents did. We took the best job we could find. Then after 10-30 years of less-than-fulfilling work, the courageous among us began to ask, “Is this as good as it gets?”

Join me in my next post to read the continuing evolution of career guidance and discovery. I’ll also share my realizations regarding jumping this curve.

Do you usually reflect to recognize realizations?

Have you typically asked yourself what you’ve realized from honoring your agreements?

For that matter, do you typically make explicit agreements?

What was the essential leap of understanding in your right livelihood quest?

There is a shortcut to discovering your authentic business. Request a complimentary Confidently Make the Leap strategy session.   [Read more…]

10 Raw Truths about Finding Your True Calling

  1. Some are born with such a compelling drive that their true calling surfaces early and they pursue it their entire lives. For others, it may take decades of active pursuit.

  2. We complicate the process way too much because of our fears. It can be far easier than we make it.
  3. No one will have all the answers for you. But I do have many of the questions, as well as methods that work for some people.
  4. Ultimately you’ll have to trust and follow your own gut.
  5. Fear of making mistakes will keep you from exploring and experimenting. Without experimentation and exploration, you may never stumble upon your own gold.
  6. We care way too much about what others think. The joke is they don’t really think about us – they are too concerned caring about what others think of them.
  7. We worry about security yet the only real security comes from following one’s own true path.
  8. Any movement works. Movement changes our perspective. And when we change our perspective, we can see possibilities that we were once blind to.
  9. It’s up to you my friend. No one cares about you as much as you do. It’s your responsibility and your reward. How sweet it is.
  10. There’s no “right time” to begin. And waiting is never the right time.

Stumble It! Stumble It!