The content of this month’s newsletter is harvested from a diverse crop of inspiration; a keynote speaker, two recent college grads, and one great tag line. I attended an industry event last month, and “Go before you’re ready” … was on a slide in the keynote presentation by USAF, Lt. Colonel Dan Rooney. Dan Rooney, call sign, “Noonan”, is a USAF fighter pilot, a golf pro, a man of devout faith, a dedicated patriot & philanthropist, and the founder of Folds of Honor. Folds of Honor is a foundation that gives scholarships to the children of fallen and disabled veterans and first responders. While I picked up lots useful and thought-provoking content, being the parent of two recent college graduates, and a mentor to a handful of young work associates, “Go before you’re ready”, struck a chord that still resonates a month later. The soul of the Lt. Colonel’s presentation was about chasing dreams, how we can help people chase their dreams, and the importance of not waiting. He spoke about living a full life, finding purpose for yourself and for others, and chasing that purpose, those dreams, and that fulfillment. The message is one that I truly believe applies to anyone who is starting their career, thinking about changing careers, or even for someone looking to make any kind of positive change in their life. The message I hope to convey to my children, my mentees, and all of you who took the time to read this newsletter, is that I truly believe our vocational and personal possibilities are practically endless. As fluffy and perhaps naïve as it may sound, you need to believe that in today’s world, you can be anything you want to be. The key word in that last sentence is want. It’s not easy to be anything you want to be. It’s actually pretty difficult. Because we live in a world where anything is possible, sometimes the most difficult part is figuring out the what. What is your potential? What are you good at? What do you want to be good at? What do you love to do? What is your dream? What is stopping you? When you figure out what your dream is, what your want is, you start to get clarity on how you’re going to chase it and achieve it. When that want becomes stronger than your discomfort, you figure out the how. It’s important to understand that there will be some discomfort along the way. In most cases, if the personal journey were easy, the destination is probably not going to be that great. It takes courage, it takes patience, it takes belief, and it takes a little bit of caution… but just a little!! Another great line from Dan Rooney’s presentation is, “Courage and comfort can almost never co-exist”. Allow yourself the freedom to change your mind, but don’t change your mind, or give up because it’s too hard. When Gina Davis’ character (A League of Their Own) wanted to leave the team, because things were becoming “too hard”, Tom Hanks’ character says, “Yeah, it is hard. But it’s the hard that makes it good.” Chasing dreams, fulfilling passions, reaching your best potential, would not be nearly as fulfilling if it was easy. The only awesome thing in life that’s easy is a hot fudge sundae… even then, you have to heat the fudge. Figure out your dream. Discover what you’re passionate about and turn that dream into your reality. Okay, now let’s say you found that dream, that want … that passion. Is it realistic? Not to the rest of the world, is it realistic to you? The check list is short: Is it your dream? Is it someone else’s dream for you? If it’s someone else’s, does it come from a place of love, support and caring? If so, does that dream fit? Do you believe it makes you better, happier, fulfilled? If the dream fits, chart your course!! Better put, chart your own course! Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, but it never hurts to listen to the advice and counsel from people who you trust have your best interests at heart. This is where great mentors come in. It’s important to realize that there will be doubters and naysayers along the way, even from family and friends. It’s sometimes just human nature to ridicule or try to downplay someone trying to improve their situation. Maybe they’re jealous, maybe they’re afraid of being passed up, or left behind… maybe they just don’t understand. When you are chasing YOUR dream, you must find a way to block that out. It’s important to consider any advice that comes from a positive place, and to weed out the junk. You owe it to yourself to chase the dream, you owe it to the people who believe in you to chase it as well. You owe the naysayers nothing. There is a great quote by James Baldwin: “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by those who are doing it.” When I started writing my blog page, ‘The Large Man Chronicles’, a lot of people asked why I thought I could do something like that. It was as if I didn’t have the right to write! (See what I did there?) My only answer was that it was just something I wanted to do. I travel a lot, I see funny, beautiful, and interesting things along the way, and I thought people would enjoy reading about it. I believed I had stories to tell. I believed I had something to say about the human condition, and I believed that I would find an audience of readers who could relate… and so I did. My want to tell a story, and to explore my creative side, was greater than the discomfort that came with the criticism I received. Maybe I wasn’t ready to be a good writer, but I wanted to tell stories, so I wrote them anyway. If you are chasing a dream, reaching for the stars, trying to reach your full potential, and you wait until everything is just right; the right time, the right place, the perfect financial situation, you’re likely to spend the whole journey just waiting. Please, don’t do that! Very rarely do the stars perfectly align. “Go before you’re ready” doesn’t apply to skydiving, but it fits your personal and professional goals and dreams like a tailor-made suit. Of course, you need to be responsible, you need to own your stumbles and mistakes, but go before you are ready! Ask a mentor: There are stories told every single day about amazing people who chased a dream and accomplish remarkable and awesome things against incredible odds. Make one of those stories about you. Share your story with your mentor: What are your goals, dreams and aspirations? Talk about your strengths and how your vision might be a potential benefit to the organization. Share any fears or obstacles that are holding you back. Ask your mentor about their experiences: What are/were your dreams? Did you see them through? Can you tell me about the journey? What roadblocks did you encounter?
Recently a friend was telling me about how disappointed he had become in his work. Over the last few years, he had watched his department dwindle due to several reorganizations, layoffs, and resignations. On top of it, there was a sense of isolation after working remotely through the pandemic. He had interviewed for other jobs, but each presented its own obstacles like taking on a long commute or even requiring relocation. My friend was feeling stuck. Any of us can find ourselves in situations where we need to re-energize our careers. The pandemic years locked us in and gave us new flexibility in how we do our jobs. It changed the way people approached their jobs. It made some people even leave their jobs. After three years of these ups and downs, it’s not surprising that so many of us are sitting back and rethinking how to bring joy and meaning in our work. If what you are craving is a deeper connection to your work and firmer boundaries between your job and the rest of your life, consider the following: Energize your career goals. Enrolling in a mentoring program is one of the best ways to do that. Also, connecting with your supervisor about goals- which can, but don’t need to involve actively pursuing a promotion. You might be looking for opportunities to leverage a certain strength or improve daily tasks such as email communication and agenda planning. Goals give you momentum whether you’re hoping to get an advanced degree or a promotion. Having established goals also gives you the opportunity to check in with yourself periodically to know if things are on track or you need to make a change. Retool your work routine. Whether you’re still working from home, back in the office, or trying out a hybrid schedule, adding or taking away a small element to your work routine can be energizing. Some ideas: Create a new morning routine (walk, stretch exercises, inspirational reading). Do a quick inversion pose. If you take yoga, you already know about headstands and downward-facing dog. But have you tried the “legs-up-against the wall” move? This restorative pose allows your body to circulate in a different direction. Switch up the order that you complete administrative tasks. Schedule “focus” time into your day. Personalize your workspace (bring in live plants, artwork, family photos, etc.) Mediate for 5 minutes before lunch. Put a quote a day calendar on your desk for inspiration. Eat a healthy breakfast. Drink one full glass of water before your cup of coffee. Find a podcast that interests you. Isolate your motivators. If you are excited about what you are doing and why you are doing it, your enthusiasm will be the key to your competitive edge. What makes you feel most engaged during your workday? What do you find enjoyable about your organization? When do you feel most proud of your work? What opportunities or working groups exist in your organization that lean into these areas? Can you set up a reward system for yourself? Plan your boundaries with intention. Know your boundaries because otherwise, during busy times, everything that comes your way will feel like too much. If you find yourself feeling grouchy or anxious whenever someone approaches you with a question, you might have allowed people to breach your boundaries too many times. Don’t hesitate to say when you feel overextended and have some templated excuses for when you just can’t take on anything extra. Consider developing a new skill. Is there something you’ve been wanting to tackle that would be a helpful contribution to your team? You might consider learning a new spreadsheet platform or scheduling app. Even shadowing another team managers’ staff meetings would be good training for leading meetings in your own department. Seek a situational mentor or even peruse online certification programs. Ask a mentor: Your mentor has probably had times when they struggled with engagement at their job. Ask them about how they navigated it: What have you done to energize your commitment to work when feeling sluggish? How often or do you ever re-evaluate your career goals? What are your favorite daily work routines? How do you set personal and professional boundaries?
With every new year comes the opportunity to reflect and anticipate what you want the next year (and beyond) to look like. You may even create a list of lofty goals and brace yourself for the looming sacrifices that will have to be made to achieve those milestones. This process can, however, be much more pleasant if you shift and redirect your thinking. Instead of thinking about what you have to give up, you should instead visualize those achievements actually coming to fruition. Envisioning can be a powerful tool in turning your dreams into reality. Sound silly? Not really. According to a study conducted by TD Bank, https://www.forbes.com/…/survey-shows-visualizing-success…/…visualizing success (often through a Vision Board) does in fact work. Imagining attainment of the things you want most in life will quickly turn into reality when it becomes a part of your awareness, and the best way to do that is to create a visual reminder that helps keep your eyes on the prize. Creating a Vision Board is one of the most effective (and fun) ways to manifest your vision as it serves as a constant reminder of the goals you want and plan to achieve. Meaningful images and mantras in your daily line of vision gradually become an energy source and ultimately evolve to become part of your subconscious awareness. When this happens, you will find yourself focusing on the specific things that you want to attract and will begin to take the actions needed to attain them. The trick of course is to stay positive as negative thoughts can often derail your plans. Your Vision Board is your creation and there is no “perfect” way to create one. There are a few steps however that can help you to design the one that is most meaningful to you. Start envisioning. Begin to list all of the things that you would most like to achieve and acquire in all areas of your life and keep in mind that the sky is the limit! For example, you may ask yourself, “What position do I want next in my career?” What does my dream home look like?” “What types of relationships do I want to nurture?” “How do I want my body to look and perform?” What places do I want to travel?” These are the first steps in the envisioning process. Be sure to focus on the things or places that you want most in your life – not on the things you don’t. You attract what you think so again, only positive thoughts please! Find your visual inspirations. This is the fun part. Refer to your vision list and find those images that best represent what you want. The sources can be from any medium. Pursue through magazines or online images and stock photos. Websites like Pinterest and Google images are loaded with ideas. Be sure to include meaningful words or inspiring quotes. Compile visual prompts that speak directly and powerfully to you. Create your own custom Vision Board. Decide the size of your board (some may like a giant easel of images while others may prefer a smaller 8x11 framed version.) Some may be ultra creative and turn theirs into their tablet’s wallpaper. This should be your personal preference and should include any aesthetic that will have you looking at it daily. Arrange the images in a way that is pleasing to your eyes. Be sure to add a mantra of your best self and place that squarely in the middle. For example, if you want to supervise your team, physically document the following affirmation: “I am managing my team with great success and positive energy.” Documenting these goals is the best way to affirm them as you are creating a contract with yourself to move toward these changes and outcomes. Formulate a plan of action. While envisioning is a great way to galvanize your goals, it is equally important to map out a plan that outlines the stages that will culminate toward your final goals. By strategically planning your next steps, you are in effect getting closer to making your goals a reality. For example, if your dream is to rise to the next level of management, you must first research what the prerequisites are to get you in the running. If it involves taking a class or working on a special project, then map out that plan and take the first steps to tackle it. Be in a state of constant gratitude. Always be grateful for the things that come your way. Every material and non-material success we achieve is a gift. Expressing gratitude for these gifts energizes the Universe and strengthens our vibrations to receive more of the same. Be sure to share your good fortune with others. It doesn’t need to be material and some of the most rewarding gifts are time, support and a listening ear. ASK A MENTOR Let this be the year of the positive promise! At your next mentoring meeting, share with your mentor the goals that you have for yourself and ask them what they envisioned for their own success and how they achieved their vision. You will also want to see if they have any ideas on how you canmove forward with yours. In the areas that you find yourself feeling stuck, ask your mentor if they have any strategies to help you stay positive and stay the course. Here a few questions to get you started but feel free to add to the list: What are my ultimate goals and/or vision? If I don’t already have a clear vision, am I working toward creating one? What would make me the most satisfied professionally? Personally? Financially? Do I have a clear sense of my ultimate goal? Do I run it through my mind on a continual basis? Do I actually envision myself living my dream? What am I doing to achieve my ultimate goals? Does it seem to be working? If not, how can I redirect? Do I seem to be moving in the right direction? Or do I experience reoccurring setbacks? What are some approaches to stay positive? How have I assisted others with their goals and dreams and how has this helped me? Am I grateful of where I am thus far? How do I express this gratitude?