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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Are Your Values Keeping You From Earning More Money?

Last week, I had the immense pleasure of conducting a coaching training course for the CT Women’s Business Development Council.  I shared the day with an amazing, inspiring group of women who work throughout Connecticut and are heart-committed to helping others get on more solid ground with their finances.  (By the way, if you don’t know about the Women’s Business Development Council, do check them out!).

In the program, we conducted a number of role-play exercises illustrating the power of coaching, and one exercise truly took me by surprise.  In this exercise, each of us explored our intrinsic, heart-felt values – what we care about deeply and what we need in our lives to feel fulfilled and to craft a life worth living. 

After the exercise, we evaluated how these values are supporting us, and also how they may be clashing, in fact, with our desire and need to make more money, and to save and invest wisely. Fascinating discussion…

In doing the internal work of this exercise myself, I was reminded that I value the following traits very highly in my work:

1) Helping people make positive, lasting change (value: making a difference)
2) Authenticity and individuality (value: truth-telling)
3) Offering help and insights based on reality (value: realism)
4) Delivering programs informed by research (value: expertise/diligence)
4) Endeavoring to offer something of value that exceeds what my clients pay (value: service)

When I compare my values and behaviors to those of some other service providers, I see key differences.  A large number (not a majority perhaps, but many) consultants and providers these days seem to value making money over all else, by:

–  Using hard-hitting marketing promises to convince clients about what they can achieve (no matter how likely those outcomes are)
– Accepting clients who are desperate financially, but don’t have the ability to recoup the money they invest in the coach/consultant
– Encouraging clients to put out programs and materials that offer less than high value or strong content
– Making abundant success sound very easy and very accessible to all
– Talking about how they personally made their money, not what the client needs to do in these times to make their own money
– Using fear tactics to scare clients into thinking if they don’t hire the consultant/coach, they’ll fail

On the contrary, when I looked very closely at my own values as well as my outer behaviors, I realized that my intrinsic values have prompted actions that in some ways clashed with my desired outcome of inviting more money into my business. As an example, I tend to give far too much away for free and then feel resentful and angry, and I have a hard time honoring my own boundaries about the type of coaching projects I will and will not accept.

After a long, hard evaluation, I now understand that what I want to change is not my values, but the way in which I express them.  For instance, I’m focused more keenly on being of service to people who are in synch with me about what they value and the outcomes they wish to produce.  I’m also more committed to working with those who are happy and able to pay fairly for the time and support they receive. 

The ultimate goal, I think, is to honor your values fully, while engaging in conscious behaviors that are in alignment with who you really are and what you want in life.

It’s a very powerful exercise to understand exactly what you value, and explore how these values prompt unconscious behaviors that hold you back from achieving core goals such as greater financial success.  I’d recommend doing this exercise today!

Question for the day: What do you value deeply in your life and work?  And how might these values be (unconsciously) promoting behaviors that hold you back from creating a higher level of desired success. Please share what you discover!  

The Myth of Career Bliss: Why Chucking Your Career Doesn’t Solve Your Problems

I’ve spent eight years working with individuals to achieve successful professional growth, change, and reinvention.  I know a good deal about the process personally too, as I’ve traversed a number of diverging career paths over the past 20 years, including corporate marketing, market research, marriage and family therapy, coaching, writing, speaking, and executive recruitment.

If you asked me my views on career reinvention five years ago, I would have said some very different things than I do today. 

So what’s different? 

In the past three years, I’ve learned what’s required (for myself and others) to navigate through highly challenging financial times while at the same time successfully achieving a more fulfilling professional life. 

I’m not talking about pie-in-the-sky, follow-your-bliss nonsense here.  I’m talking about real-life positive career and life change that lasts and continues to reap benefit and reward.

The Myth of Career Bliss

But today, as new clients come to me – both men and women — I see an alarming myth that thousands of midlife individuals have been suckered into believing.  It’s hitting baby boomer folks hard, and honestly, I don’t see this same myth prevalent in younger generations.  I call it the “myth of career bliss” – the damaging, misleading notion that all it takes to make your life happier is to chuck out your old, unsatisfying career, and come up with a new one, despite what else is falling apart in your life.

Here’s how the story goes:

A midlife professional woman comes to me after 15+ years of corporate work.  She’s awakened to the following realizations, and they hurt:

  • It feels as if her work has no contributive value in the world any more (for instance, she feels she’s “selling” something that doesn’t matter at all or isn’t of positive influence in the world)
  • She’s bored out of her mind doing the work she knows best
  • Her family needs her substantial income of $100M+
  • Her husband and children have grown accustomed to her overfunctioning and her perfectionism, and don’t want things to change too much. (Note: she handles over 75% of the domestic responsibility as well as her full-time job, and she’s worn out, stressed and depressed.  And her overfunctioning has held her husband back from contributing his fair share, financially, domestically, and otherwise.)
  • She feels an urgent need to change her personal and professional situation
  • She’s in a financial trap, not having saved enough money to take several years off to re-strategize, gain new education or training, and reinvent her career path
  • On top of these stresses, there are relationship, behavioral and other issues with her family members (elderly parents, children, spouse, etc.) that need urgent addressing
  • Despite the fact that numerous dimensions of this individual’s life are truly in “breakdown” mode, she believes that it’s a new career she should focus on, as (in her mind) that will bring her life the joy, peace, excitement, meaning, health, and purpose she longs for.

The problem is, it’s simply not true. 

In her case — and for hundreds of thousands of individuals in the world today — it’s not a wholesale career change that will bring you the satisfaction and peace you want.  Instead, it’s taking hard, urgently-needed action that addresses the root causes of your troubles that will make the difference in your career and life.

Busting the Career Bliss Myth: The Top Six Steps You Need to Take to Change Your Life for the Better

Here’s what has to happen for your life to change for the better… and it isn’t job change, for now. 

1)  Power up and speak up – Figure out who you really are, and what you’re intrinsically worth as an individual in this world.  Start honoring what you want to create in your life, and make your partner at home a real partner so you’re not doing everything at home and everything for everyone else around you (see Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s powerful TEDTalk on this and two other key behaviors that will propel women forward in the workforce).

2) Build a stronger, more empowered relationship with money – take control of your finances.  Know down to the penny what you need to earn, and learn how to save more, manage better, and grow your money. 

3) Determine your three TOP life priorities, then make sure you’re attending to those before you even consider career change.  For instance, if you’re dealing with a serious health issue, or a child’s behavioral problems, or the need to move, or you’re facing foreclosure, you must attend to these priorities first.

4) Stop procrastinating and get going – look at where you feel most disempowered and helpless in your life and your career today.  Take steps to address these power gaps.  Unless you do this in your life and job now, your problems will follow you no matter what new career path or job you take.

5) Re-purpose and re-focus your skills and talents – In these very challenging employment times, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and chucking your whole career spend some critical time with a trained and skilled career coach, mentor, or advisor who can help you identify what you’re truly great at and enjoy doing, and determine the best, most appropriate way to bring forward these talents and skills in a job that fits your needs. 

6) Then develop a S.M.A.R.T. transition plan to get you from where you are today, to where you want to go.

 In short, don’t look to career reinvention to solve your problems.  It won’t.  Only you can solve your problems.  And the time to start dealing with them is now.

What are your top three life priorities today and are you addressing them?

 

Loving Who They Are and Who They Aren’t

A few days ago, I was taking a break with a friend, sitting outside in a beautiful park, soaking up the sun.  I relished the chance to sit quietly in nature and catch up.  We got around to discussing our personal lives and the inner workings of our family dynamics.

We shared, laughed, winced, and sighed – at all the things that are going very well, and those things that we wished might have been different.  (It’s wonderful to a have a friend you can be truly candid and authentic with, isn’t it?) What a gift.

After sharing a bit about our perceived triumphs and disappointments, my friend said something that reached in and plucked a heartstring for me.  She said:

“Kathy, I’ve realized that in order to be happy and not drive myself mad, I have to love my kids and my husband for who they are, but also for who they aren’t.”

Wow, did that resonate for me.

My friend was talking about that fact that, despite everything we try to do for our family, and how hard we strive to shape them (and our relationships) in ways we think are healthy, happy and productive — they’re just not always going to be who we think they should be, or who we think we want them to be.

But rather than waste precious time longing for them to be different, it’s so much more peaceful and fulfilling to accept them as they are, and love them for who they and for who they are not.  It’s an easier and more joyful life when we embrace the idea that if parts of our loved ones were different – even tiny fragments or slivered dimensions — they simply wouldn’t be the people we love so deeply.

Our discussion reminded me of something my husband said to me years ago when we were first married.  I was picking a quarrel with him about something insignificant about his behavior (some imagined huge “flaw” of his that I was deeply annoyed about), and he said,

“You know, Kathy, I don’t view you and our relationship the way you do.  I don’t extract out the small, petty things I don’t like, examine them and make a federal case of them, or wish they were different.  I accept what is.  I look at you as a whole package that I’ve married – not something I can dissect and separate into little pieces that are good or bad.  I take the whole thing.”  

My friend and I explored this, and agreed that women seem to do more of this “separate, evaluate, and denigrate” thing.   We hone in on the stuff that we believe should be modified.  We magnify it and make it a huge bone of contention.  Men on the other hand, don’t seem to have this ever-constant need to pick us apart and talk to death about the stuff they wish were different.

Whether it’s a gender thing or not, I know this to be true – when I am able to fully accept my family (and everyone else I know, for that matter, including myself), my life goes better. 

My job, I realize, isn’t to play creator or “tinkerer” – it’s to be fully present, alive, loving and accepting, to the greatest degree I can.

When I’m able to do that, I realize that all is just as it should be.

How about you – Do you find more joy and peace when you accept your loved ones for who they are, rather than tinker with them to be someone else?

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