Get Out of Your Own Way

I hesitate to post this book recommendation. Not because I’m unsure of its content and not because I didn’t like the direct writing style. It’s because my last post was about How to Be a Badass at Making Money and this next recommendation is for Unfu*k Yourself: Get out of your head and into your life by Gary John Bishop. I’m a mother for goodness sake! And I keep reading and writing about these books with profanity in the titles!

Seriously though, I am recommending this book. I like that it’s straightforward; it’s an easy read; and it’s content delivers one light bulb moment after another. Here are my four favorites…

  1. Chapter 2: “I am willing.” Be honest with yourself about what you’re willing/unwilling to do (instead of saying what you want/don’t want). Example: You say you want to buy a house, but you’re unwilling to sacrifice and save money. Be honest about what you are willing to do and adjust the view of your life from there. Stop feeling negatively about not having the house and start enjoying your apartment.
  2. Chapter 5: “I embrace the uncertainty.” Get out of your comfort zone. Life is supposed to be an adventure. Live life; don’t just survive it. “…what causes most of your worry is trying to predict the future and then refusing to accept things when they don’t or aren’t going to go your way” (p. 112).
  3. Chapter 7: “I am relentless.” Some people may tell you that your dream is silly or your goals can’t be attained. That’s only true if you believe them. You may fail and be discouraged, but the dream is only over if you quit. Keep moving forward, even if it’s “failing forward.” Keep your head down and work toward your goals and when you look up later, recognize your progress. “Even when you don’t see anything happening, it is. Even when you’re not quite hitting the mark, you’re making progress” (p. 158).
  4. Chapter 8: “I expect nothing and accept everything.” (This chapter contained the MOST light bulb moments for me!) Basically, we are unhappy when our expectations do not match our reality. Simple example: you had to work late and you expect to walk in the door to your children greeting you happily and your spouse having dinner ready for you. Instead, the family is annoyed that you are late and waiting for you to make dinner. Instead of being unhappy in that gap between what you expected and what was reality, just accept the situation. Don’t waste time on an expectation; take action to achieve your desired result. “Don’t expect victory or defeat. Plan for victory, learn from defeat…Free yourself from the burden and melodrama of expectation; let the chips fall where they may. Love the life you have, not the one you expected to have” p. 183.

So there you have it. Read Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop if you are ready to challenge some of your current thought patterns. What you discover might be the change that gets you out of your own way and clears the path to a happier life.

If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts in the comments too!

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Want a New Job?

“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Well, sort of. As with many well known sayings, we know this one because it’s short and sweet and conveys a very generalized message. And, as with other well known sayings, we need to dig into the sentiment to find the value in the saying.

So let’s look at this. “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” If we took this literally, then only the most knowledge-hungry people would go on to earn degrees. Everyone else would be solely working on networking to get the job they want. Of course that’s not the case! You have to have the necessary job skills, knowledge, and experience to get the job you want. But is that enough? It depends.

If you are so specialized in your field and are one of only a handful of people who practice your skill, then what you know probably gets you the job. However, if you are in a field that’s more generalized or saturated and there are tons of applicants with similar skills and knowledge, then who you know becomes vital. But not in that schmoozey “I got the job because we belong to the same sorority” kind of way. I’ll explain.

I work for a company with over 200,000 employees. I have had hiring managers tell me they receive over 100 applications when they post a job opening. These are applicants that have already been screened by Human Resources and at least meet the minimum job requirements. A couple of months ago, I conducted interviews with a few high level managers to get their advice on getting the job. Here’s what I learned: It’s who you know who has witnessed what you know. In other words, to get the job, do these two things:

1. Get relevant experience. Take the classes, attend the webinars, do the job shadowing, and work on stretch projects in the area where you want to get the job.

2. Network. As in, build long-lasting, two-way relationships instead of just collecting business cards and reaching out to ask for a job.

While you’re doing the work of step 1 (taking classes, working on stretch projects, etc.), build relationships with the people teaching and taking the classes and the other people working on the stretch project — especially the ones leading the project who will probably be the hiring managers in the future!

So, yes, who you know is important, but how you know them and what they know you know is really the key.

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How Do You Eat an Elephant?

You’ve probably heard this before: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This happens to be one of my favorite sayings. I use it often to calm down and remind myself that any large project is possible when broken down into smaller pieces.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you take on a big task. And then you may fall victim to thoughts like, “Why did I agree to do this?” or “This is impossible!” First of all, worrying and engaging in negative self-talk are huge wastes of time and energy. Instead, take a moment to acknowledge you’re feeling worried, then take control of the situation by creating a plan.

Write down your plan on paper so it is not running on a continual loop in your head. You can make a detailed list of numbered steps, create a process map, or any method that gets your thoughts organized on paper. From there, you can take each step and add details such as who can help and what resources are available. (This works for planning a wedding, building a house, work projects, everything.) Add a target completion date for each step to hold yourself accountable. Move forward by completing one step at a time.

Tackling a seemingly insurmountable task is really an opportunity to develop mental and emotional endurance. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, revisit your plan and remind yourself you’re going to eat this elephant…one bite at a time!

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The Game of Life

Do you know exactly how many days, hours, minutes you have left in your game of life? Here’s why I ask.

As I watch my son’s soccer team play a game that they are losing 1-0, they are trying hard to tie it up. But when a parent calls out that there are only 5 minutes left to play, every player on the field kicks into a higher gear and becomes more intent on reaching the goal.

I watched my other son run a cross country meet this weekend. After 3 miles of running, I see the clock, I see him, and I yell, “You can still PR! Sprint!” And as if he had fresh legs, he did just that. Sprinted to his personal record for a cross country meet.

So this all got me thinking. What if the players didn’t know the time they had to play. What if the soccer teams took the field and didn’t know if they’d play 20 minutes or an hour? What if a runner had no clock or watch along the course? What if a golfer didn’t know how many holes were going to be played each round? How many innings for a baseball player? How many laps for a race car driver? Apply to the sport of your choice. My point is, how hard would athletes play if they didn’t know how much time they had to reach their goals and win their game?

Now, what about the game of life? Do you know exactly how many days, hours, minutes you have left? No! So what are you waiting on? Get your game plan together. Suit up. Take action. NOW. To reach your goals and win at the game of life!

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A Refresher on Coming From a Place of Yes

Writing a bit of a “throw back Thursday” post today. Sort of. You see, I first read Bethenny Frankel’s book, A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, when it was published in 2011. But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about and writing about saying yes to life, so I decided to read the book again. I expected to quickly skim the book to get a refresher, but I found that the messages applied in different ways now (7 years later) than the first time I read it, and I wanted to absorb the information in this new light.

So, even though it’s an older book, I still recommend reading it. Bethenny Frankel has a personal story that is interesting to read and I am a huge believer in saying yes! (You can also reference my posts Say Yes and Sorting Out Why to Say “Yes” and Why to Say “No”.) Here are my top takeaways from reading A Place of Yes this time around:

  • “Seek what’s true for you, rather than for the people around you.” From Rule 2: Find Your Truth. “Unless you know what you want, you’ll be making decisions and living your life on somebody else’s terms.”
  • “What’s the next chapter of your life going to be about? Don’t just plan it. Start making it happen even before you’ve figured it all out…Make it happen. Make something happen.” From Rule 3: Act On It. “It all comes down to saying yes. Acting on it – making real things happen in real life – comes from a place of yes.”
  • Everything that “happens to you has the potential to open new doors.” From Rule 5: All Roads Lead to Rome. Everything happens for a reason even though you might not know how it all fits together in your life at this moment. “When you are following your truth…everything you do will eventually get you where you want to go – or someplace even better.”
  • Also from Rule 5: All Roads Lead to Rome. “You should always bet on yourself. People often bet against themselves – don’t do that. Don’t let anyone reduce you or your passion to a number. The horses picked as the favorites hardly ever win the Kentucky Derby. Odds are nothing. Instead, follow your gut, because it knows better than the odds. What if you’re a long shot? If you want something, you have to go for it. If it goes badly, you’ll learn from it. If it goes well, then you win, odds be damned.”

Those are my biggest takeaways this time around, but there is so much more to this book that might relate to you. For example, Bethenny writes about “breaking the chain” and not being the woman her mother was. She writes about lessons she’s taken from her childhood and how her childhood shaped her. She writes about her other relationships too and the lessons she’s learned about how her personal issues impacted those relationships. She also has good sections on “noise” – the chatter in your head that can throw you off your game if you let it, and a chapter on making everything you do your business. In other words, whatever you are doing, do it well. You never know who is watching or what opportunities can open up from something.

Obviously I like this book and see value in reading it (since I read it twice.) I like it and suggest it because, whether you like Bethenny Frankel and care about her story or not, Bethenny puts it all out there. She shares all of her mistakes and not just her victories. A Place of Yes is about learning who you are and owning it. It’s about always moving forward, trying something, and not being complacent about your life or giving up on your dreams. Say yes to your life!

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Stop Stressing Out About Work-Life Balance

I made a post on Instagram Saturday morning in which I said instead of work-life balance, we should have Work-life Awareness. (I don’t know if that’s a term anyone else uses yet, but I’m using it now. If it becomes a thing, I’m claiming it as my own.)

Anyways, I was making the point that “balance” doesn’t have to be taken literally. I mean if we took it literally we would spend 12 hours at work and 12 hours for ourselves, our friends, and our families. I hear people trying to achieve this balance of time and energy on work and personal and then stress out that they can’t achieve it.

I have to suppose that when the term “work-life balance” was first created, it was meant to remind people not to be workaholics and try to get ahead professionally at the expense of their health and their relationships. But over time, it seems to have become one more measure that people have added to their checklist of “if I do this I’m closer to perfection.”

I am proposing work-life awareness and measuring happiness instead of perfection (whatever THAT is.) If you’re ready to make the shift to work-life awareness, start by asking yourself two questions at the end of the day or week or whatever time period feels right for you:

1. Am I happy?

If you spend 80% of your time working and you LOVE your work, you’re probably happy. On the flip side, if you only gave about 20% of your time and energy working at a job that’s just a job and were freed up to be fully present with friends and family, you’re probably happy. Just be aware of that.

2. Will I regret these choices of how I spent my time a year from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now?

Not to rain on the happiness parade, but ask this question because you may be happy today, but later you don’t want to either regret spending so much time in the job you love that you missed your kids’ milestones or regret not spending enough time working on a career and feel like you’ve missed your calling. Be aware of that too.

Whether you want to call it “work-life balance” or “work-life awareness” or any other term you coin, it’s really just semantics. But please, stop stressing out about it and find your sweet spot, your happiness, your zone…whatever you want to call it.

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Be Brave

Today I reached out to an accomplished, well-respected woman in a more senior position than mine at work. Until today, I had neither met her nor had a conversation with her, but I felt she was someone I should know, someone who might have some answers to my questions.

To my delight, she was gracious, warm, helpful, and offered to mentor me! She gave me a couple of assignments to complete before we talk again, and then what really struck me was that she told me, “be brave.” It reminded me of when my son was 6 years old and he went down a big water slide by himself, something he was too afraid to do the year before, and he exclaimed with all his little kid sweetness, “I was so brave!”

I had not thought about steps taken to advance my career as brave. Out of my comfort zone maybe, but not brave. But brave does have a better sound to it, doesn’t it? Like you’ve really done something big with your day!

So going forward, I’m adopting this phrase for every challenge and uncomfortable situation I need or want to face. And I’m offering it to you too: Be brave!