In case you missed it live, Men’s Health teamed up with Google+ recently for a series of Hangouts titled “New Year, New You”. The last one happened today. Luckily they were recorded and preserved on YouTube. Check out the recording below of Men’s Health Associate Editor Clint Carter speaking with a panel of experts (LinkedIn’s Career Expert Nicole Williams and me, Life & Career Coach Devin Martin) about how to transform your career in 2014.
TOPICS OF DISCUSSION:
-Take a leadership role
-Develop a work/life balance
-Get that promotion
-Find your dream job
-Showcase your skills
The following is an exercise I gave to a client of mine recently. She has a “great” job producing television commercials (you have seen her work). Objectively her situation is great. Subjectively she wants to be doing something else. Her heart is not in it. She has other dreams and she has started working with me so that she can pursue them. The problem is that until she quits her advertising job she will have to put an amazing amount of time and energy into producing those TV spots. When in production she works 12 hour days. She is rarely 100% off the clock. Until the time that she makes the Big Leap into her dream job she needs to be very careful to protect her mind, to continue to cultivate her next steps and to keep her sense of hope and possibility alive. In short, she needs to keep dreaming.
What happens if we take that literally? I told her we could make a big impact in less than 5 minutes a day. Here is her exercise:
TAKE BACK YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS
You don’t yet have full control over your schedule. This is the situation. No reason to struggle with it. But, in the process of dealing with it, perhaps you have given up too much of your mind. This dream journaling practice is a subversive way of tapping into your subconscious. It is about shifting gears before you go to sleep (if not much sooner). It is about preventing your day job from cannibalizing your dreams….literally. It is also about planting positive seeds in your unconscious that, believe it or not, will sprout later in your waking and dreaming minds. This will also help to develop your intuition (which is already stronger than you trust)
It should take up about 2 minutes of your time. Seriously. If it takes more than 5 you are doing it wrong. (Caveat: If you get inspired and want to journal that is cool with me 🙂
BEFORE BED: Write “Dream Career” and tomorrows date in your journal. Place the journal next to your bed so you can reach it with as little movement as possible.
1st THING UPON WAKING: Write down the 1st FIVE words that pop into your head.
Worried you’ll forget? Writing on the top of the page each night sets an intention and starts the process. Place your journal on your pillow every morning after you write in it so you have to pick it up just to go to bed.
Do you see what this accomplishes?
- Curbs the inertia of your days stresses, most of which stem from a job you want to move away from.
- Shifts your mind towards positive thoughts before you go to sleep. You should feel a smile when you write “Dream Career”. This is both a title and a command. Dream about your dream career. You are programming your subconscious. Don’t believe me? Try it.
- You are stimulating your unconscious mind to focus on something that is not yet real. You are asking yourself to be creative. Ever wake up with a great idea? Inventors do it all the time. Musicians and artists as well. A lot is happening while you are asleep. Why not harness this potential?
- Bracketing your nights (and your days) with positive thoughts. This is good sleep hygiene and a great way to start your day.
- Having an impact on your waking consciousness. Ever wake up from a bad dream and have a terrible morning? Ever ask your unconscious to dream about the life you want to create and then walk around in the wake of those dreams all day?
No? Why not try it? Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
This post is from a series called INSIGHTS that are inspired by the work I do with my clients as a Life & Career Coach.
If you are ready to live with more joy, more passion and more purpose than I would love to be of service. Contact me to find out how my Coaching Program can kickstart your journey.
Were you born to be a super hero? A Star? A billionaire? Can you be anything you want to be? Did your parents tell you that you could? Have you heard this message from others around you? From movies and TV and maybe your teachers? Can you see how incredibly empowering this can be? How about how damaging it can be? Have we really created a cult of self esteem?
I am from a generation that was told that we are special and that if we put our mind to it we can be anything that we want to be. For some of us this worked out incredibly well. But this also left many feeling insecure and unsuccesful. What if you had the potential to be president, but you ended up being an employee at the bank? What if you dreamed about being a ballerina, but haven’t danced in a few years because you dedicate all of your time to raising 3 kids? Is it harder to feel like a success because of the infinite potential you were led to believe we all have.
And what of your uniqueness? Might this have contributed to your sense that no one understands? That no one gets you? That you will never find your one true love? What if you were raised being told just how wonderful it is that you have so much in common with each and every person on this planet? That we all have the same dreams, the same pains and the same struggles? Might you feel less alone and less like you need to accomplish something great in order to be happy? That is the goal right? To be happy, not to be a star. We want stardom because we think it will make us happy.
This topic surrounds me lately. In the media, in my mind, in my friendships and certainly with my coaching clients. There is only one president and not too many more professional ballerinas or ball players. There are a lot of highly skilled blue-collar workers. I spent the better part of a decade as one myself. The entire time I was both haunted and inspired by a sense that I was intended for greatness, that I was unique and special and that doing what others do couldn’t possibly be good enough. At times it drove me forward. Far more often it left me feeling inadequate and like a failure.
The author Keith Martin-Smith, whose brilliant novel A Heart Blown Open I wrote about earlier, recently started a kickstarter campaign to help him write a novel about this idea. Check out his rather funny video explaining the topic and contribute. I really want to read this book! (only hours left!!!)
We have all been told that chasing your dreams is at the core of being an American. What we haven’t all been prepared for is the immense work this takes and the simple fact that as long as we keep growing we will always have a future dream. This means we MUST learn to appreciate the present no matter how much more we want. Otherwise happiness will remain elusive. My goal is to strive for more because I love what I have so much that of course I want more. Not because I want to get away from the current reality.
The Atlantic recently published an article about what they call the “magic-feather syndrome” titled “You Can Do Anything: Must Every Kids’ Movie Reinforce the Cult of Self-Esteem?” The article breaks down the childrens movie formula of “outcasts who must overcome the restrictions of their societies or even species to realize their impossible dreams…by believing that their greatest gifts come from within.” The piece goes on to detail how it is not hard work and years and years of effort which, without resilience and determination might resemble failure, that will get you to your goal. In these movies it is simply belief in your own greatness which grants you shortcuts to the big leagues. This is what we are all raised on. We all get what they are trying to accomplish. It feels great to think you can be great. And it is a decent first step. There is much truth in this. But all of the other steps resemble really hard work. This is what we need to be trained to love! How often did your parents praise you for your Charlie Brown like failed attempts? How often were you told that it is only failure if you stop trying, but a learning experience if you take notes and adapt to what the world needs? In an interview with Martin-Smith, Robb Smith (no relation) recently said that when speaking with his children “I would translate…’You can be anything you want’ to ‘You can be be anything the world needs you to be’. I say, ‘You are kind, you are smart, you are important, and you will put love first.’ How different of a message is that? It may sound limiting, but it can be incredibly inspiring once we feel what it is like to be of service to others.
If you saw Ashton Kutcher’s surprisingly great acceptance speech at the Teen Choice Awards recently than one of the three things that you learned is that “opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” He talks about working one menial job after another as he moved from one job to another slightly better job. The point is that he didn’t stroll the streets of Hollywood avoiding day jobs as he waited to be discovered. He worked hard to better his situation constantly and most of the time it wasn’t glamorous.
I don’t actually know much about Ashton’s story, but I love the message he offered. I think that all of our parents who told us to dream big did something incredibly right. They created a space for our dreams to grow and for game changing ideas to emerge. What some of us did not learn was a work ethic and a tolerance and eagerness for things which are not our ultimate dream, but which moves that asymptotic line a bit closer to the ideal. Most of all, few of us learned gratitude, that deep bow to the awe and wonder that is our every breath here on earth no matter how that time is spent. Let your striving be a celebration. Let your dreams create movement that stirs you towards service.
And check out Aston’s speech. It may pleasantly surprise you:
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I have explained what FLOW is and how much it is like transcendent spiritual experiences. I talked about two ways to cultivate FLOW. One by changing yourself, the other by changing your environment. Today we will look at a 3rd factor in cultivating flow.
Do you know your purpose? How about your calling? Do you know what you were born to do? Many of us dismissed this idea years ago when we had to pick a major and start thinking seriously about making a living. At some point it may have become too painful to keep thinking about you could or should be doing with your life when there are bills to pay and bosses to appease.
Ken Robinson’s new book is called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. In this book he says that when you step into the intersection of your natural aptitude and your personal passion you are in your element. Your element is deeply connected to your purpose, your calling, finding your “tribe” and experiences of FLOW.
We have established that FLOW is an experience of single pointed focus. FLOW happens when we merge with whatever task we are doing and have an experience of timelessness, of absolute clarity and precision of action. Our movements and thoughts arise as one, doubt vanishes and we move without hesitation. We know that you can meditate to cultivate the ability to focus on anything and therefore make yourself more likely to experience FLOW in any circumstance. We also know that you can structure your activities to be more like a game to make any activity more likely to lead to FLOW. Games have just the right balance of challenge and reward. They help us to measure our progress and see what the next steps should be. But we also know that at times we can slip into states of FLOW with no effort, no structure and no prior meditation experience. Most have experienced this at least once in their life, usually far more. These moments provide clues to finding your element.
It is easy to focus on things that we love. We get drawn in, lose ourselves and time flies. It is easy to see how doing things that we enjoy facilitates FLOW. But have you noticed the same experience happening with things that you are simply good at? I was good at math as a child. A teacher would give me a challenging problem and I just knew how to approach it. I could systematically use logic to work my way through any problem. I was good at it and I very naturally fell into a state of complete focus on what I was doing largely because the steps were accessible and getting results felt rewarding. It may sound like a stretch to you to hear me say that math was like a game to me, but it was. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it enough. Over the years, a love for numbers never emerged enough for me to want to spend my days calculating although I do still love spreadsheets 🙂
I spent years working in the security industry where, at first, I thought I was highly valued mostly because of my technical skills. I had a knack for understanding massive, multi-million dollar security systems. When things didn’t work I was expert at not only tracking down problems through hardware, software, networking, user error and many other levels of complexity, but also at getting that problem solved quickly. It was years before I realized my true gift and how this work was part of what I love. Solving problems in Fortune 500 companies and government agencies requires dealing with massive technological complexity but also with communicating with utter simplicity to complex people of all types. My real specialty, and why I was successful, had as much to do with relating to people as understanding security systems. A problem that might take someone else 3 months of emails and meetings to solve I could often solve by walking the halls, sitting on an unexpecting firewall programmers desk and getting favors done while getting to know about his life. Complete strangers often shared intimate details of their lives while bypassing protocol to get a job done quickly. My real skills merged my ability to communicate the essence of complex systems very simply while building relationships. It took me years, but eventually this led me to become a Life Coach.
What is more complex than an individuals life? We are each an elaborate system of interwoven elements with non-linear relationships that are never constant. My years of study of philosophy, health, nutrition, spirituality, meditation, relationships, careers and on and on all come to bear when helping others build a lifestyle that can support them through creating or managing major life transitions. What is the most crucial element when helping someone understand and transform their life? It is all about building relationships while making complex topics sound very simple and manageable. I love this work.
As you may have guessed, I quite regularly go into FLOW states while working with clients. Whether on the phone, in person, over skype or writing to them through emails between sessions my love for getting to know others on a very deep level merges with my skill (and love) for taking complexity and communicating it clearly to help create major change. I have found my element and it flows with greater ease and enjoyment than anything else I have ever done.
Much of what I now do is help others through this same process of discovery. What are your skills? What are your passions? What do you love? What are you good at? How can your skills and your interests come together to put you in your element?