Tag: mindset

MVP Philosophy: The Quickest Path to Clarity and Confidence

MVP Philosophy: The Quickest Path to Clarity and Confidence

An MVP philosophy, adopted from the field of software development, is the fastest way you’ll find your dream career. Why? Because taking consistent, imperfect action (a key element of the MVP philosophy) builds two elements of a fulfilling life: clarity and confidence. 

The problem with your typical approach

We often think we need to figure everything out before we move forward. But action leads to self-discovery, giving you loads of information about what you want. 

Action also builds confidence since it requires facing fear. And this isn’t faux confidence—it’s evidence-based.

Once, I had a dream to run my own Etsy shop. I spent most of my free time in my fully-stocked craft room making things. Why not make money too? 

After weeks of researching and planning, I opened Color Riot. I liked being an entrepreneur, but I didn’t like sitting at craft shows all day. I enjoyed designing new products, but I didn’t like recreating them in bulk. So after running the shop for a year, I stopped.

I learned so much that I couldn’t have known before taking action, and I had the confidence of a woman who had made her dream a reality. 

“Action is absolutely essential for people who don’t know what they want.”

Barbara Sher, speaker, coach, author

The MVP philosophy

The concept of a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is popular in software circles, but everyone in every field should know about the power of an MVP philosophy.

In simple terms, an MVP philosophy asks this question: What’s the least amount of effort I can exert to create any amount of value?

Instead of focusing on creating the most value—which means lots of time thinking and planning upfront before delivering anything—an MVP philosophy ensures that you’re creating and delivering value as quickly as possible. Instead of waiting for everything you do or create to be “perfect” before anyone sees it, an MVP philosophy pushes you to incrementally take real-life action and experience how that feels, one small step at a time.

Applying the MVP philosophy to your work life

Think of your work life as a “product” that you’re continually building and enhancing. With your career, what’s the least amount of effort that allows you to feel the way you want to feel, at least a little bit?

What’s the easiest way to feel the way I want to feel?

Here are some examples of how an MVP philosophy of life can look:

  • You want to write a book. So, you create a blog website. Then, you write a short article. Then, you write another article and share it with friends…
  • You want to create a product you can sell at a much higher price point than your existing products. So, you list out your ideas for the dream product. Then, you package up the elements of that product that you can already deliver, and sell that. Then, you build one new dream element…
  • You want to feel more balanced by working 35 hours per week instead of 60. So, you experiment with one week at 50 hours. Then, you reflect and ask your coworkers for feedback. Then, you try a week at 45 hours…

Make it easy, every day

Have you ever been super jazzed about a goal, but soon after completely dropped the ball?

Maybe you signed up for a marathon, but never made it out of your neighborhood.

We get overwhelmed when we try to take too much action at once. Remember that all change, no matter how big, happens one tiny step at a time. To run a marathon, you have to run a mile. To run a mile, you have to put on running shoes.

“All change, no matter how big, happens one tiny step at a time.”

Mandy Kubicek

Always identify a next step that’s literally easy, otherwise keep breaking it down.

I once went months without working on my memoir. So, I set a goal to write 15 minutes a day. It sounded easy. But, it didn’t happen. So I let go of my ego and allowed myself to commit to just 2 minutes of writing a day. Once I was consistently writing for 2 minutes, I was able to write even more. Why hadn’t 15 minutes been possible before? Who cares! Without overanalyzing my resistance, it was gone. 

Making it easy also means you should be able to do it every single day.

Every day, take at least one step towards what you truly desire. Think of these as your daily risks. They’ll be scary, but if you can make them easy, you will do them!

“If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done.”

Jen Sincero, author, speaker, coach

Are you ready for action?

Are you ready to take action? Do things you’ve never done before? Lean into fear and discomfort so you can create the life of your dreams? 

YASSS! I’m so excited for you! And I’m here to help make your dreams come true. Applications are now open for a free one-on-one Clarity Call with me. Will you say Yes to yourself?

3 Fun Ways to Overcome a Negative Mindset

3 Fun Ways to Overcome a Negative Mindset

I’ve written before about the impact a negative mindset has on our results.

Once you begin consistently noticing your mindset, you realize that you are not your thoughts. You’re an observer of those thoughts. This is a powerful distinction, because it lets The Real You take control of your life.

You are not your thoughts.

It’s easy to lose this wisdom in the moment, though. Here are 3 fun ways to keep The Real You in the driver seat so you can get results.

Repeat your thoughts

Try this simple and surprisingly effective practice from the field of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

When you notice a stressful thought, repeat it in your head or aloud 3 times. Then, add “I’m having the thought…” to the beginning, and recite it 3 times. Finally, begin your thought with “I notice I’m having the thought…” and recite this full phrase 3 times.

I double-triple-dog dare you to do all 9! Then send me an email or tag me on IG to let me know what you noticed.

Name your fear factory

A negative mindset is always fear-based. Name the aspect of you that’s churning out fearful stories so you can mentally distinguish it—it’s not You, but one part of you. 

Get real silly and visualize this character.

I call mine Lizardo. He’s so terrified of what people will think of us if we do something different. I imagine being in the driver’s seat of a car, and he’s a little 10 inch tall green lizard-ish creature in the backseat, standing on his hind legs. When he gets riled up, I toss him some potato chips and let him know, “You can totes hang out, but I’m driving.”

What name will you give the fear-driven part of your mind?

What does this character look like?

“Every person’s fears are unique, but the themes of lack and attack are drearily repetitive.” 

Martha Beck, author, life coach

Judge people on paper

Another way to notice limiting beliefs for what they truly are is to get them on paper. Try using your everyday experiences with the Judge Your Neighbor practice developed by Byron Katie.

We’re taught from a very young age not to judge people, at least not openly. To me, it’s a bit like pooping. I really don’t like to talk about it, I pretend I’m not doing it, and yet, I’m human. I poop! 

And just like every other human, I judge other humans.

Ultimately, doing your own inner work will lead to less judgement. But there’s no shortcut. The key is to acknowledge your judgements (to yourself, without shame) instead of pretending they aren’t there.

Any time you are irritated or upset with someone, fill out a Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet. You can read more about this process at thework.com. When you’re first learning this practice, judge other people rather than yourself. It’ll be more fruitful. Besides, you’ll find that the things that annoy you about others and the things that bother you about yourself are one and the same. 🙂

Overcome any negative mindset

These DIY techniques work great for the subtly-upsetting thoughts that spring up—the stuff we know isn’t true but keep thinking anyway. (For me: I’m a bad wife! He shouldn’t have done that! I’m not working fast enough!)

But what about the deep belief systems we’ve clung to since childhood? This is where partnering with an exceptional, professionally-trained life coach can dramatically change your life. When you’re ready, I’m here.

The #1 Reason You Haven’t Reached Your Goal

The #1 Reason You Haven’t Reached Your Goal

You want to change your results. 

What you may not realize is that your thoughts cause your feelings, which in turn cause your actions and results.

This is why questioning thoughts is foundational to my coaching and my life.

Thoughts → Feelings → Behavior → Situation

Our thoughts are EVERYTHING!

Transition creates endlessly fearful thoughts

You’re going through some changes. Do you know exactly what you want? Has it been easy to create the life changes you desire? Are you living the life of your wildest dreams right now? I’ll bet not!

That’s why people like you and me invest in coaches.

Questioning your thoughts is particularly important during times of transition. 

Our mind doesn’t like change. In an effort to protect us from danger, it does everything it can to prevent you from doing things differently. It does this by feeding you fear-based thoughts. So, working with these thoughts is critical if you want to live an amazing life.

Let’s be clear

In Alcoholics Anonymous, they say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. If you don’t already know you have this problem, take a deep breath and trust that I’m sharing this with love:

You are delusional.

It’s OK, we all are! We walk around confused by our thoughts, which we treat like facts, and let them guide us towards behavior that doesn’t serve us. So before we dig into this work, let’s be clear about what a thought is and what it is not.

A fact is something known to be true by experience or observation. It can be tested and proven. AKA: truth, reality, law, rule

Example: There is a pile of clothes on the floor of my basement. 

A thought is the product of mental activity. It is simply a product of your mind, and something with which not everyone on Earth would agree. AKA: idea, opinion, belief, reflection, judgment

Example: My basement is a mess.

So, while thoughts often feel true, can you see how the vast majority of what runs through your mind is not factual? (Technically, I would argue that none of our thoughts are factual, but that’s a philosophical point for another day!)

“You are a victim of the rules you live by.”

Jenny Holzer, artist

Uncover your fear-based thoughts

The first step towards intentional change is awareness. What beliefs are keeping you stuck?

There are many ways to uncover limiting beliefs, from meditation to working with a Professional Life Coach. One DIY method I love is simple brainstorming.

Think of your most important goal. What are your biggest challenges to achieving this goal?

Write everything that comes to mind. Consider beliefs about yourself or other people (I’m not creative enough),  if/then thoughts (If I had more money, then I could…), global beliefs (Everyone knows you can’t make money as a…), and shoulds or have tos (I have to ask so-and-so what they think.)

Choose differently

What will you need to believe instead to easily achieve your goal? 

What would feel amazingly empowering?

Who do you have to believe yourself to be?

Remember the definitions I shared above for facts and thoughts. I have a goal to finish writing my memoir. I can think, “I’m not a good writer,” and I can think, “I’m an exceptional writer.” Relative to who? Can either be tested and proven? Certainly the second feels more empowering to me.

I’m not saying lie to yourself. I’m saying the world isn’t black and white, so you might as well intentionally choose thoughts that a) feel good, and b) literally empower you to do more.

Still struggling?

Not sure what’s keeping you from achieving your goals? Struggling to see your stressful thoughts as anything but factual? Want to make a change and finally move forward with your biggest, wildest life dreams? I get it. And I’d love to help.

Passion, Purpose, and Pastries: How Michelle Kaiser Found Meaning in Her Work

Passion, Purpose, and Pastries: How Michelle Kaiser Found Meaning in Her Work

Michelle Kaiser is a passionate entrepreneur and baker who owns The Omaha Bakery here in (you guessed it) Omaha, Nebraska. I recently interviewed Michelle about her career journey. Read on to learn how this joyful woman has found meaning in her work.

This one’s a tear-jerker, folks!

Meet: Michelle Kaiser

Michelle has shiny auburn hair, a friendly smile, and an almost cartoonishly cute voice. When I met her in her bakery for this interview, we stopped to chat with regulars as we slowly made our way to a table in the back of the comfortable event space connected to the bakery. While we talked, her youngest daughter sat beside us, silently filling pages of her sketchbook with impeccable drawings of Spider-Woman Gwen.

I met Michelle two months earlier when she spoke at 1 Million Cups about her recent business transformation. After a full decade without paying herself an income, her business is now booming as she focuses on keto baked goods. (Some customers drive three hours from Kansas City for her unmatched ability to create delicious pastries with such limited, healthful ingredients.) But why keto?

The decision that saved her life

A little over a year ago, Michelle was *very* sick.

She had developed multiple autoimmune disorders, one of her many medications had started giving her seizures, and she was in so much pain that she couldn’t even stand up. Specialists said “There’s nothing we can do” and even “You’re not sick.”

Her resulting depression was so severe, she had plans to commit suicide.

That’s when a friend suggested she look into a ketogenic diet. One final thing to try, she thought. Almost immediately, her ailments started to disappear. Now 95 pounds lighter and much happier than she was last July, not only can she stand without pain—she can bike over a mile!

Fascinated by her transformation and vulnerability, I wanted to learn more about Michelle’s life and career journey. How did she get interested in entrepreneurship and baking in the first place? What kept her going all those years without a paycheck? And as someone who seems to love what she does so completely, how has she found meaning in baking treats, something that seems so… extraneous?

The mindset that took her to culinary school

Michelle grew up in smalltown Nebraska where she developed a strong conviction.

“As a woman,” she explains, “I was always told what I can’t do. And I thought, I’m gonna prove you all wrong!”

After realizing college wasn’t for her (OK, maybe that one time they weren’t wrong), she decided she wanted to go to New York. She admits to having some major naivety behind this desire. Being on the coast, she assumed it would be sunny every day, and she’d spend all her free time at the beach!

Her family urged her to stay. “You can’t do that. That’s too far away!” But this only pushed her more.

Michelle went to New York as planned and became a nanny. (The sunshine didn’t quite pan out as expected.) As a nanny, she enjoyed cooking and baking. But, she explains, “I didn’t want to be somebody’s servant. So I decided, I’m going to be a chef!”

Having made her decision, she waltzed into more than half a dozen restaurants asking for a job before learning that as a woman, she’d need to go to culinary school to make it into those kitchens.

So she did.

An abusive early mentor

In culinary school, the first 6 months of classroom training were followed by 6 months of unpaid internship. Michelle joined a French bakery that frequently employed interns. The owner loved getting the free labor and never hired interns full-time, instead keeping a steady stream of unpaid workers coming in the door. 

The talented French pastry chef, on the other hand, hated having to invest his time into training someone only for them to leave. During the day, he was a much scarier Gordon Ramsey. When he had nothing to say, he’d say nothing. Otherwise, he’d scream and throw things across the kitchen. Michelle says, “For six weeks, he made me cry every single day.”

One day, the chef asked Michelle to make pastry cream. She hadn’t seen a bain-marie, the equipment she was accustomed to using to make the classic French creamy custard. So she asked, “Chef, how would you like me to make pastry cream?”

He replied, “Just do it,” and hit her over the head with a cast iron skillet.

Not aware of how easy it would be to get a different internship, Michelle did what she knew how to do: she stuck with it. 

“Giving up is never an option,” she tells me.

Plus, at night, the Frenchman would turn into a different person. If she did exactly what he told her to do, he might stay an extra hour or two and teach her how to make things her classmates didn’t have the opportunity to learn: truffles and nougatine and beautiful, flat marzipan… (She was so excited at this point in her story that I found myself wanting to be in that New York kitchen making complex French delicacies!)

She hated him, and she respected him.

After her internship, Michelle became one of the only interns to ever be offered full-time employment in that bakery. The Frenchman promoted her to Assistant Chef, and they worked together for 2 years.

Searching for meaning in tough times

Since those early days with the French chef, Michelle has held many jobs, married, had three children, and made her way back to Nebraska.

Sometimes, money was painfully tight. Michelle recalls her family’s financial low, during the years her bakery was called Alotta Brownies and located in Fremont, Nebraska. She had to routinely figure out how to cover utilities and feed their family of five on less than $50 a week.

Feeling hopeless at this time, Michelle took to prayer. She didn’t expect her prayers to be answered, but she said them anyway. If you haven’t noticed, she’s not much of a quitter.

“I just start praying. I prayed every single day: on the way to work, on the way home from work, at night when I couldn’t sleep and was crying. ‘God,’ I said, ‘tell me what you want from me. Because I know I’m making a difference. I know I’m doing something right. But is that enough? Is my husband going to stay with me? Are my kids going to appreciate this someday? Or are they going to resent me?’ And one night in the middle of the night, I couldn’t sleep. I heard God say, plain as day, ‘Tell your story.’”

She was surprised but certain. And she didn’t understand.

God speaks through peanut butter rolls

Several weeks later, on a Tuesday morning, a woman walked into Michelle’s bakery.

“I’d like 2 peanut butter cinnamon rolls,” the woman said.

“Well, it’s your lucky day!” Michelle replied.

It really was. They don’t normally have peanut butter rolls on Tuesdays. Rolls don’t sell well. So, they only make 6 at a time, and only on the weekend. However, that morning, they happened to have a special order for 12 peanut butter rolls. Michelle was annoyed, in fact, when she walked into the kitchen earlier that morning and found that her staff had taken 14 rolls out of the freezer. She knew she wouldn’t be able to sell them, and money was too tight to waste two rolls!

As Michelle made conversation, she learned that the woman had driven over from Council Bluffs.

“You drove 45 minutes each way for a couple of peanut butter rolls?” Michelle replied with a smile. “What’s up with that?”

The woman took a breath and began. “Well, on Saturday night, I was with my best friend. She’s dying of cancer. I asked her, ‘If you could have one food in the world, what would it be?’ And she said, ‘I want a peanut butter cinnamon roll from Alotta Brownies Bakery in Fremont.’ You were closed on Sunday and Monday, so I’ve been waiting to come get these peanut butter rolls and take them back and share with her. It’s probably going to be the last meal she has.”

For Michelle, this was a clear sign from God. She had been given a purpose. Signs continued to appear for months, and together, the direction she was looking for began to take shape. She had her answer.

“My purpose,” Michelle says, “is to inspire others through food and emotion, and comfort and love and happiness.”

Just the beginning

Like yours and mine, Michelle’s story has many chapters left to be written. She’s working on opening an online keto shop and a keto cafe! 😮 You can follow the bakery on Facebook to stay in the loop.

And if you’re in town, stop in for a fresh coffee, heartwarming pastry, and friendly conversation! (The vegan raspberry coconut scone I ate was—not kidding—the most delicious scone I’ve ever eaten.)

More powerful stories

There’s something so powerful and connecting about hearing other people’s stories.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for my weekly Play Dates. I’ll personally deliver my next warm-fuzzy story straight to your inbox!

Anxiety almost ended my business

Anxiety almost ended my business

Everyone I know suffers from anxiety, depression, or both (including myself, at times.) Not usually in the my-best-friend-just-died sort of way, but because of something else: dirty emotional pain. What do I mean?

Clean pain is a natural response to a stressful situation, like a physical injury or the death of a loved one. Once felt, it fades away very quickly. 

On the other hand, our thoughts about a situation cause dirty pain. It sticks around as long as the thoughts do.

Clean pain is a natural response to stress, while dirty pain is caused by our thoughts about it.

Clean pain is the hurt in your knee when you fall off your bike. 

Dirty pain, however, is the mental whirlwind that follows: blaming yourself for not seeing the dip in the road, fuming at the person who cut in front of you. 

Recently I worked with author and speaker Byron Katie, the closest thing to Enlightened I’ve ever seen. Since she seems to experience no dirty pain whatsoever, I was fascinated to hear her tell the story of grieving her mother’s death. 

Katie was standing in the kitchen with her adult children when a sound erupted from her mouth. She didn’t consciously cause it, nor did she fully understand it. But she allowed it. The moaning, weeping, whatever it was, traveled through her body. Someone held her. Then, in no more than a minute or two, her body calmed again. She smiled and carried on with getting a plate of food.

So, dirty pain is completely optional. I’m not pretending it’s easy, but it is a damn good ideal to pursue.

Anxiety almost ended my business

It’s early 2018. I lead a department at the fastest growing company in Nebraska. I love my kind and creative coworkers, but I’m not jazzed about the work itself. Meanwhile, I adore the coaching I’m doing on the weekends. But I push the idea of major change away for “some day.”

At work, we start a 100-day challenge to help each other build new daily habits. I choose to do The Work of Byron Katie, a meditative practice of questioning painful thoughts, once each day.

On day 62, I quit my job.

Let’s back up a few days. 

I’m on the phone doing The Work with a friend and fellow Martha Beck coach.

I tell her I feel restless to express my creativity. I have endless ideas in me that want out! Sure I’ve thought about quitting my lucrative software career. I could see myself writing and coaching some day…

“But,” I say, “my husband would be uncomfortable if we didn’t have my salary. I have to make people comfortable.” 

Whoa, didn’t know that was there!

My chest is tight, my breath shallow. My shoulders hunch forward like my whole body is subtly shriveling up. I notice I’ve been scared to talk to my husband about quitting my job. 

My anxiety, transformed

Next, we turn the thought around. How might it be true that I don’t have to make people comfortable? In what ways do I have to make people uncomfortable?

Here’s my lightbulb moment. 

Making people uncomfortable is kinda my thing!

I remember a business lunch, years ago. My colleagues are talking sports at one end of the table, and I’m at the other end crying with our client who recently lost her sister.

Having uncomfortable conversations is part of who I am, and it’s always made my life better. 

This new perspective feels way more empowering. And less than a week later, after an easy conversation with my husband, I’m giving my boss my two weeks notice. 

I’m a little obsessed

It’s true. I am a little obsessed with the power of our thoughts. They can make us miserable, and they can fill us with joy.

It’s our thoughts that turn us into short-tempered bosses, nagging spouses, and employees with anxiety and imposter syndrome.

When we can drop the dirty pain, we become patient, loving, peaceful, and confident. 

So, practice noticing your thoughts, questioning the painful ones, and playing around with alternatives that feel better. It’s relatively simple, and not easy. I am constantly learning about myself as I continue my own self-inquiry practice.

More resources

See Byron Katie’s website TheWork.com to learn her framework for self-inquiry. It has everything you need to DIY for free. 

Are you ready to trade in your anxiety for clarity, confidence, and meaning? My clients have fun making money, and go home energized to love on their favorite people. If you want this too, I can help. Let’s chat!

Photo by energepic.

Need more time? Here’s where to find it.

Need more time? Here’s where to find it.

Oh, the stories I hear from people wanting more time…

“There’s not enough time in the day to accomplish everything I want to get done.”
“I don’t have time to be creative!”
“I feel like my days, weeks, years just fly by, and I'm missing out on so much.”

I hear the Not Enough Time story almost as much as I hear the Not Enough Money story. The root of this problem, as always, is mindset.

Until you’re convinced that you have all the time you could possibly need (you do), let’s talk about what action you can take right now to experience way more time.

Let’s give it a name

First, allow me to introduce a term: energy drainer.

An energy drainer is anything that makes you feel less energetic. It costs you time, both directly and indirectly. 

By noticing, then actively eliminating or changing your energy drainers, you’ll win back time you didn’t even notice you were wasting. 

Step 1 to more time: Be on the lookout

Awareness is always the first step of intentional change.

A straightforward way to find what’s draining your energy is to notice what you complain about—aloud, in your mind, or even subconsciously.

Look for both little annoyances and big complaints in every corner of your life:

  • Things (a cluttered closet, no household budget)
  • Schedule (long work hours, an overdue oil change)
  • Relationships (an aging parent who needs more help than you’re able to give, a not-yet-fulfilled promise to schedule a date with your friend)
  • Body (avoiding a doctor, not getting enough sleep)
  • Thoughts (comparison, self-doubt, worry)
  • Feelings (an abandoned creative project, grief you’re avoiding)
  • What else?

Sometimes the source of a drain is obvious, like when your work schedule shoots up from 40 to 60 hours.

But usually, it’s a little trickier. You might yawn every time you walk by a certain closet at home and not even notice. Its clutter makes you tired, and beyond that, the grief connected with the photos inside exhausts you.

What have you been tolerating?

Step 2 to more time: Know the true cost

As I’ve said, less energy means less time. There’s also your own and others’ disappointment, stress, physical or emotional exhaustion, health issues, feeling imprisoned…

For each energy drainer you identified, notice specifically what pain it’s causing you. What’s the cost of doing nothing?

Step 3 to more time: Do something

For each complaint, if it’s not worth the cost to you, do something about it.

You have two options.

Option 1: Come up with a plan to eliminate or lessen the energy drain. Set a realistic date. (Schedule your decluttering. Call the auto repair shop. Ask your brother to take your dad to his appointments.)

Not sure how to get rid of what’s draining you? I can help!

Option 2: Accept it with gratitude. What’s great about the situation? What can it teach you? (You notice you’ve been nagging your husband about his clutter without taking care of your own. You’re grateful for the chance to give back to your dad who gave you so much throughout the years.)

“Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” 

Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher

Key questions to ask yourself

First, be on the lookout. What do you complain about? What have you been tolerating?

Then, know the true cost. What pain is this causing you? What’s the cost of doing nothing?

Finally, do something. How could you eliminate or lessen this pain? Or will you accept it with gratitude instead?

Photo by Vlad Chetan.

5 reasons you’re still in that ho-hum job

5 reasons you’re still in that ho-hum job

In the best-selling book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Barbara Sher says that if you don’t know what you want, resistance is blocking your desire. And that resistance is worth listening to, because it’s only way you can break free from it.

If you don’t know what you want, resistance is blocking your desire.

Following are 5 forms of resistance I see most often in my clients. Which of these sounds like you?

You want a sure thing.

I feel scared! I’d have to quit my job to get what I really want and I can’t do that—I’d starve.

You want adventure, but you’re clinging to safety.

You might take a shitton of eCourses and read books, but never put your learning to use. You complain about there not being enough time, but let’s be real: you waste legit time scrolling through Insta.

Pointedly, Sher writes, “To assume that [adventure] is radical and requires the sacrifice of our entire lifestyle is to create a fiction that actually helps us stand still.”

Damn.

What to do?

Practice taking tiny steps towards what you desire—steps in an adventurous direction.

For nudges and know-how to help you take consistent action, sign up for my weekly Play Dates.

You want too many things.

I feel rushed! I have too many ideas/passions/interests. I can’t pick just one!

If this sounds like you, you might be a scanner—someone who genuinely prefers to do many things. But do you realize this is a talent?

This is me. No subject holds my attention long enough for me to study it in depth. But this isn’t bad! It’s just as valuable as being a diver (someone who likes being really, really good at one thing.)

We get in trouble when we hurry. When we worry too much that time is going to run out before we do all of the things, we fail to do any of the things.

What you can do

If you’re a scanner, accept this! You can design a life to fit your many gifts. Just keep taking one step at a time, and enjoy it. You have all the time you could possibly need, and it doesn’t matter—you have this moment.

You can’t walk away.

I feel trapped! How can I walk away from this success?

Dude, yes! The golden handcuffs. Money, status, and work you’re just not that into. When the whole world is praising you for your work—which, as a woman in tech for example, is gonna happen—it can be really hard to hear your inner voice who’s saying, Yeah, but… I don’t want this.

When you’re hung up on the success of your current, unfulfilling gig, check out Sher’s winner/loser definition:

“A winner is anyone who is doing what he or she loves. Whatever that may be! And a loser is someone who is losing time doing something they don’t like.”

What you can do

Don’t hide your true feelings from yourself. Check in with yourself regularly and do whatever you need to express them—journal, run, meditate, bake furiously…

Save your money. You do not need half the shit you own. Stop trying to make yourself feel better by spending. I get it! I headed to TJ Maxx after my brother died. “Retail therapy” is a term for a reason. And you can choose a different path. Instead, spend some time every day visualizing the freedom you’re creating by saving the money those white men* are paying you.

You want what you shouldn’t want.

I feel ashamed. I want something I shouldn’t want.

Going against the values of your family, your culture, your tribe, is not easy. It just isn’t.

I remember being taught that art is kind of a waste of time. I can’t remember anyone directly saying this to me, but I went to college pretty damn sure that my family wanted me to study a science that would lead to a big, steady paycheck. I was a math whiz, I had a 4.0 GPA—obviously this is what I was supposed to do!

The thing is, I really loved creative writing. I can’t even tell you. I wrote poems in elementary school that I kept in an affectionately worn marigold folder hidden in the drawer of my desk. In high school, I submitted poetry about the pot I smoked in a friend’s shed. I earned As for mildly-risque short stories in college.

And then I stopped writing. For like, a decade.

What you can do

Find others like you.

When I wanted to write more, I found a local writer’s group. They get my joy of leveling up a sentence by removing a single word! Suddenly, spending my free time writing wasn’t weird at all—it was normal and cool.

You’re trying, but your heart’s not in it.

I feel disconnected. I’m trying to do the thing, but something is off—I don’t think my heart’s in it.

If this sounds like you, I have to ask: What’s this really about?

This is a sign that your desperate search for the right career is a red herring. It’s distracting you from the real problem. There’s something else you want.

What you can do

Widen your scope. Even more than with the other forms of resistance I’ve described, this is the time for eagle vision. Look at all the other aspects of your life: personal growth, health (mind & body), community contribution, relationships (family & friends), fun & adventure, romance.

Ask yourself, What do I really want?

This is worth the discomfort!

This stuff can be uncomfortable, and it’s worth it. Remember, It’s only by hearing your resistance that you can break free from it.

Did you see yourself somewhere in this article? Not surprising! Sher says, “Recent figures show that as many as 98% of Americans are unhappy in their jobs.”

The great news is, you can get past this. I can help.

I’ve opened up my calendar for a few no-cost Focus Sessions. Together, we’ll look at your vision, what’s getting in your way, and where you can focus to achieve your goals as quickly as possible.

Click here to apply now.

* I’m kind of kidding, but also, I’ve never worked for a company without a white man in the top seat. Just sayin.

The difference between arrogance and confidence

The difference between arrogance and confidence

My first management job

Even before I finished college, I knew I wanted to be a manager. I took on all kinds of leadership roles—president of my dorm’s residents’ association, a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters, lead of the Employee Engagement Survey Action Team—but management remained a dream. Then, about eight years into my career, I was ecstatic to finally get my first management gig!

***

My boss just resigned, and his boss Dan wants to talk to me.

“I’ve been thinking about how this is going to work out,” Dan says. “Who goes where. Now, I’m not saying this is a done deal, I just want you to start thinking about it. What if I were to put you in charge of your team? You’d still be doing your current job, plus you’d be managing the two other BAs. Would that be too much to take on?”

“No!” I say immediately. “I mean, no, I think… It’s a lot of work, but my favorite part of my job is mentoring and coaching!” I ramble uncontrollably and close my verbal mess with, “I can handle it!”

There’s a hesitation in Dan’s voice as he speaks again. “You don’t have to answer right now. I’d like you to put some thought into it this weekend.”

“Deal!”

A couple weeks later, Dan sends a company-wide email announcing my promotion from analyst to manager.

Right after, a coworker sends me a message suggesting I buy lunch for everyone on the company Visa. I’m so proud that I don’t realize he’s being selfish rather than celebratory.

I fire off an email to the development team: “To celebrate the best day ever, let’s go to lunch! Meet out front at noon today!”

Thirty minutes later I get an email from a different coworker. “We were just wondering if that email was serious or not? We couldn’t decide.”

I wonder why she thought it was a joke. I write back, “It’s serious!”

We enjoy our lunch out together. I submit the receipt to accounting afterwards, and it’s approved.

Two weeks later Dan calls me into his office. “We need to talk.”

“OK,” I say, suddenly realizing this isn’t going to be a joyful conversation.

Turns out, there have been multiple complaints to him about my attitude. How this power is going to my head. My entire face turns hot as he recounts a conversation I had with a senior engineer last week. I had acted like I had authority over him. It hits me how absurdly self-absorbed my lunch email was.

Did I really write “best day ever?”

The source of arrogance

What was going on here?

I’m not enough.

Under the facade, I had imposter syndrome hardcore. I felt I needed to act like someone I wasn’t—to project a sense of confidence when I (of course, being a beginner now in new territory) had no idea what I was doing. I was judging myself as not good enough in this new role.

Judgement of any kind assumes comparison. If I’m the only human on Earth, can I be beautiful? Can I be ugly? Or, with no reference point, must I simply be?

Arrogance comes from comparison and judgement.

Cultivating confidence

So what is confidence?

Confidence requires dropping all judgements. First, I have to let go of what other people are thinking or feeling about me—these are things I can’t know and certainly don’t control.

From here, I notice my true strengths, my virtues and values, my accomplishments. I notice my fear-driven behaviors, unkind actions, the habits I’d love to change. This is all me.

It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.

When I’m confident, I trust that I’m whole. That is, I trust that I have what I need, whether I’ve just received my dream promotion, or been hit in the gut with how arrogant and rude I’ve been to my favorite engineer.

But isn’t confidence about trusting that you can do something? That you’re a good employee/spouse/friend?

I keep a document of “coaching warm fuzzies”—grateful quotes and specific client results that show the positive impact I’ve had on others. I pull it out and read it sometimes to remind me how capable I am.

This is not a tool of comparison. This is a tool of true, evidence-based noticing, helpful because of how my brain works—gravitating so easily towards judgement and negativity. It allows me to notice and accept what is more true than the negative bullshit that goes on up there.

Confidence is the result of non-comparison and acceptance.

To feel truly confident, let go of everyone else, and accept ALL of what makes you, you.

5 reasons to quit your job

5 reasons to quit your job

Yes, you’ve thought about quitting your job. Maybe it’s just an occasional fantasy. It springs up when you’re stuck working a Saturday. Or maybe it’s become an obsession, complete with pros and cons lists.

Either way, before you hand over that resignation letter, answer this: Why do you want to quit?

Read more to find out whether your motivation is a clear sign it’s time for something new, or a sign of something much different.

1. My boss/peer/team sucks.

Think of that person who makes you want to leave. What is it about them that bothers you the most?

When you focus on other people’s behaviors, you become totally blinded to your own.

Instead, look for this drives-you-crazy attribute in yourself. Say you think your boss is too out of touch with the details of your team’s work. How might you be out of touch with the details of her work? Maybe you consider your company’s leadership to be sexist. Where can you find a genuine example of your own sexism at work?

Turn it around. Where am I acting this way?

This isn’t a comfortable process, but quitting a job only to recreate the same problems for yourself isn’t comfortable either.

If you want to really dive deep into this practice, check out Byron Katie’s Judge Your Neighbor worksheet. This shit is life-changing.

2. I don’t have a clear career path.

Frustrated because management hasn’t laid out a clear career ladder for you to climb? Wishing your boss would give you more direction about what you should learn next and what job you should be preparing for?

Your growth is one thing you cannot delegate.

Take ownership. What do you want?

With endless paths, no one can pick the right one for you but you. You know how to learn. Figure out what you want, and start learning. Or, if you don’t have a clear vision, accept that, and take action to help you figure it out.

3. I work too many hours.

You’re working a lot of hours. More than feels healthy. Let’s say, starting tomorrow, you stop working so much. You come in at 9 and focus on your work until it’s time for a leisurely lunch. You break up the afternoon with a quick walk outside. After more focused work, you head home at 5. If you do this, tomorrow and every work day, what’s the worst that can happen?

Stop it. What’s the worst that can happen?

Your boss does not want you to work yourself into a heart attack. Do you know what she wants? She wants results. And she most likely also cares about you personally. You know that continuing at this pace will not get you better results. So why do you do it? That’s the key to this question. Figure out what you’re afraid of so you can decide whether avoiding what you fear is worth the cost.

4. I hate my job.

I believe you. And I have a hunch that because of this, you spend a fair amount of time thinking about all the reasons you hate it so much. I’m going to push you (lovingly) in a different direction.

What do you love about your job? Where can you find gratitude for your work life, exactly as it is today?

Find gratitude. What do you love about your job?

I worked hard to make it to my envied leadership position at a sexy, fast-growing tech startup. I was proud. Then after a friend’s innocent questions, I realized that while I loved the people, I didn’t like anything I was doing. How could that be, when I had worked so hard to get there?

Suddenly overwhelmed by the sense that I was spending my days in torture, wasting my life away, I turned to gratitude. When I shifted my focus in this way, I started noticing opportunities. Everything from an open seat near natural light, to an invitation to talk with coworkers about mental health.

Ultimately, I did leave that job. But I was able to feel good in the interim. Plus, I left with a more realistic view of what I was leaving, and what I was genuinely grateful for. The result? No bridges burned!

5. I’m so excited for what’s next!

You have a clear vision of what you want from your career. You know the next step to take towards that vision, and it’s a step you simply can’t take while working this job. You’re not resentful towards the people you work with; you’re too busy focused on the horizon. You can’t hardly wait to get moving on this next life chapter!

Congrats! Sounds like it’s time to move on. During this transition, be generous in your communications both at work and at home.

Be generous. How can you support the people around you?

Ask, how can I support you? Share your story authentically and with kindness. People will feel your genuine excitement. They’ll be happy for you, and admire your willingness to pursuit what lights you up, even when it’s scary! You may even inspire them to make a change in their own life.

The power of these tips

Before you call it quits, use these tips to shift from a victim mindset to a creator mindset. And remember that like everything else in life, you have the power to view your job dissatisfaction as something that is happening for you, not to you.

Are you an achiever who likes the idea of a hustle-free, high-impact life? Would you like to connect with other achievers who are building expressive careers they love? Join our free community on Facebook for powerful daily support!

3 ways to Slack effectively under stress

3 ways to Slack effectively under stress

Have you ever regretted a direct message you’ve sent at work?

Before becoming a life coach, I spent 12 years in the tech industry. In that time, whether I was writing C++ code for pilot training software or building a start-up’s first Product department, I read countless emails (Lotus Notes, then Outlook, then Gmail) and direct messages (Windows Messenger, then Lync, then Slack) from many bosses. Most of those communications were no big deal, just everyday stuff to which I easily responded. But some of them, on some days, freaked me out big time.

What I didn’t realize at the time? It didn’t have to be that way.

The next time you read a DM and notice yourself tensing up, use these 3 methods and respond skillfully.

1. Practice literal listening.

What did Boss literally say?

It’s always a smart move to make Boss’s job easier. We try to anticipate what Boss needs before she even asks, and we pride ourselves on reading between the lines. But with all this guesswork, could we be missing something? How often do we make the wrong assumption and waste time?

Literal listening is hearing the words the person says (or types) — no more, no less.Hear the words the person says (or types) — no more, no less.

Here’s an example Slack conversation, with and without literal listening.

Stressful reaction

Boss: “How close are you on [that thing I asked you to do]?”

I should be done by now. She obviously thinks it shouldn’t take me this long. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing [my current task]? I just have too much on my plate! Doesn’t she understand that?!

You: I’m so sorry, I’ll get on that right now. I think maybe later today??

Skillful reaction

Boss: “How close are you on [that thing I asked you to do]?”

How close am I? Hmm… I probably have 2 hours of work, but I’m planning to do it Friday morning.

You: I expect to have it completed and to you Friday afternoon. Will that work?

2. Assume positive intent.

Have you ever noticed how we tend to read digital messages with a negative slant? In an article published in the Academy of Management Review, scholar Kristin Byron writes that “receivers often misinterpret work emails as more emotionally negative or neutral than intended.”

You have the option to view any communication as negative, neutral, or positive. To assume positive intent is just as it sounds: assume the sender has a positive purpose, one that has your and the company’s best interests in mind.

Stressful reaction

Boss: Where are you?

Where am I supposed to be? Omg did I forget about a meeting? She must be pissed. She probably think I’m irresponsible, or worse — that I don’t care about this job!

You: I’m at my desk working on [this task, whose urgency and importance I am now inflating to earn your appreciation.]

Skillful reaction

Boss: Where are you?

I wonder if I’m supposed to be somewhere? It’s so kind of Boss to reach out to me when she realized I wasn’t where she expected. Or maybe she wants my help with something? I love that she appreciates my talents!

You: I’m at my desk.

3. Ask mindful questions.

How often have you had a question and decided not to ask it? Maybe you think you look smarter by not asking. Maybe you think it’s better to pretend you’re already up-to-speed, and you’ll hope a peer can fill you in later. We wouldn’t want our team members to fake understanding, so why do we so often fall into this trap ourselves?

Ask your questions. And ask them mindfully — not from a place of stress and fear, but from the peace that follows literal listening and assuming positive intent.Ask questions mindfully — not from a place of stress, but from one of peace.

Here’s our final example, pulling all 3 techniques together.

Stressful reaction

Boss: Can you get me [these metrics]?

Great, now I have to drop everything and pull these numbers. I don’t even know why she needs them. Doesn’t she realize I’m busy? I’m never going to get my work done with all of these interruptions!

You: Yeah

Skillful reaction

Boss: Can you get me [these metrics]?

Can I get them? Yes!

I am great at compiling metrics! Boss trusts me.

Now, I don’t want to assume too much. She didn’t say she needs them right away. If I can focus on my current task, I can finish this up, plus have time to get her these metrics before I head home.

You: Yes. I can send them around 5 tonight. Will that work for you?

Let’s recap

To recap, the next time you get a DM from your boss, or that coworker who tends to stress you out, try this:

  1. Practice literal listening. Hear the words the person says (or types) — no more, no less.
  2. Assume positive intent. Assume the sender has a positive purpose, one that has your and the company’s best interests in mind.
  3. Ask questions mindfully — not from a place of stress, but from one of peace.

Practicing these 3 strategies will help you feel way less anxious at work. And when you feel calm, everyone wins, because you’ll be communicating clearly and effectively.

Will you join us?

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