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Tag Archives: women at work

Why You’ve Hit a Career Wall, and What To Do About It

 

Throughout the past ten years of career success coaching, I’ve become deeply committed to “scaling transformation” – finding new ways to help not just a handful of people each month, but thousands, and assist them in figuring out what they really want to do with their careers or businesses, and making it a reality.

I’ve learned that bringing about large scale transformation requires helping people complete the puzzle of their lives, assembling the pieces together so that they can honor all that has happened to them from birth on, and leverage exactly who they are and amplify those talents and abilities. When done right, the puzzle is truly beautiful – it becomes a unique, powerful and thrilling picture of why they’re on this planet now and what they’re longing to create and achieve.

The challenge to this, however, is unearthing exactly what holds them back from a happier life and more a satisfying professional focus, and offering practical, tailored, and realistic steps to get them unstuck. Another deeper challenge is helping individuals modify what’s necessary in their mindset and behavior to become more confident, courageous and capable of pursuing the direction of their dreams.

As a start, I’ve launched a 16-week online course, the Amazing Career Project, and we’re in Week 6 right now, with 75 courageous and committed members. What I’m seeing with members of this course validates everything I’ve learned in my 30-year career (and through my own career walls and reinventions) about why we stay stuck and miserable, and why so many millions of people won’t budge out of their unhappiness, ever.

I’ve observed six personal blocks that lead straight to a career wall.  These six personal blocks are:

1. Messages and experiences from your past keep you stuck.

Literally every single person I’ve worked with in some capacity (that’s over 10,000 people now) has had things happen in their lives that have ground them to a halt at some point. Whether it’s an abusive father, a controlling spouse, an alcoholic mother, a tragedy that shaped them, negative messages they received from authority figures or trauma from a painful work experience — everyone on this planet seems to have had extremely challenging experiences that altered them. The question then isn’t “Have you had deep challenges?” but “How have you processed these experiences and what have you interpreted about life and about yourself from them?” Most of us, sadly, don’t learn the right lessons from our experiences and come away feeling crushed, “less than” and defeated by these events.

Tip: If the lessons you’ve learned from your challenges suppress, limit and exhaust you, they’re the wrong lessons.

2. You don’t really believe that you’re worth more than this unhappiness.

Another personal block is a deep lack of a sense of worthiness. Women upon women I’ve worked with have shared that they really don’t feel worthy of an amazing life, and more than that, they don’t feel worthy of putting their needs and desires first.

The reality is that takes a good deal of time, effort, commitment (and in many cases an investment of money and resources) to build a fabulous life. If everyone else in your life is getting your love, energy and nurturing except you, you’ll never move forward. You’ll just never make it happen for yourself if you’re the last person on the planet who is getting your attention.

Tip: Start putting yourself first for a change and address your own needs and desires if you want an amazing career.

3. You don’t understand how to differentiate between the “essence” of what you want vs. the right “form.”

In my Career Path Self-Assessment survey (which offers deep and revealing clues as to where you’re stuck), I see over and over that what people fantasize about in terms of new careers are actually NOT the right roles for them because they don’t fit other key criteria necessary for success. For instance, they dream about being a:

  • Therapist or social worker
  • Restaurant owner
  • Dancer (or singer, actor, voiceover artist, painter, etc.)
  • Non-profit founder
  • Teacher
  • Massage therapist
  • Travel writer
  • Author

…etc.

Most people know nothing about the professional identity of their fantasy careers, and they‘re not able to distinguish between endeavors that will truly make them happy as a paying profession vs. hobbies that will bring them joy. For instance, launching a startup sounds glamorous, but it takes so much more work, grit and risk-tolerance than people understand.

They fantasize about these jobs because of the “essence” they believe these roles represent, such as helping others, moving the needle on an important cause, teaching and inspiring others, healing, etc. These are great goals in life, certainly, and meaningful ones, but not every dream of ours is the right professional direction for us.

We can find ways to bring the desired essence into our lives a million different ways other than assuming the professional identities listed above. You have to be able to figure out the right “form” (job and role) that will not only give you the essence of what you want, but also will fit your personality, your values and approach to living along with all the other needs and desires you have (including financial, spiritual and behavioral needs).

Tip: Look at your list of fantasy jobs. Identify the “essence” that these represent, then brainstorm 10 different ways to bring that essence into your life.

4. You don’t recognize that you’re depressed.

Additionally, so many people in unhappy careers are actually depressed. When you’re depressed, you don’t have the capacity to envision a happier direction, or find the energy to make it a reality. Or, often you’re looking for a quick fix or a magic bullet to feel better, and more fulfilled.  So many of the people I’ve spoken to this year who desperately want a new career are struggling with some form of depression, and they’re not alone. Nearly one in 12 Americans suffer from depression. Almost 8% of Americans aged 12 and older were moderately to severely depressed during 2009 to 2012 but only slightly more than one third of those suffering from severe depression seek treatment.

To know if this is you, read this list of symptoms. If these represent your state and your experience right now, it’s time for therapeutic support to help you navigate through your depression and feel better. (Visit the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and find a therapist near you.)

Tip: As a trained therapist I can tell you that depression is real and not something to be ignored. Don’t just sweep it under the rug. Get help to feel better. And if traditional talk therapy doesn’t move you forward, explore alternative approaches to healing.

5. You don’t know how to leverage what you know and use that to launch to next level.

A fabulous career is created by leveraging all that you are, know and experienced. It’s not about running from pain and suppressing what you hate, or pretending it doesn’t exist. It requires that you marry up all the skills, talents, capabilities and passions you have, and find a new direction that will make great use of these abilities. When you’re looking for the best direction that will make you thrilled to be alive, start with a fearless inventory of who you are and what you have to offer the world.

Tip: The happiest careers use all that you are and all that you’ve learned. Don’t leap off the cliff trying to be someone you’re not.

6. You want everything right now, and aren’t willing to do the real, hard work of building a fabulous life.

Finally, I’ve seen thousands of people who want it all – an enormous salary, great flexibility, total control of their time, a fabulous lifestyle, and great meaning in their work, yet aren’t willing to change anything about themselves or their lives to get it. They want all the joys and passion of a calling, along with the stability and financial security of a job. Forget that.

Do you “deserve” everything you want? Yes, but you can’t have everything you want if you’re not committed to doing the work on yourself, and in the world, to make it a reality.

If you’re unhappy with your life now, but won’t change yourself, then nothing in your life will ever change.

Tip: If you think your new career will heal all that has gone wrong before and all that hurts in your life, you’re asking too much of a career. Your career is a natural outgrowth of all that you are, not a replacement for it. If you desperately want more happiness in your work, you first have to access more happiness in yourself, despite what’s around you.

(To build an exciting, rewarding and successful career, visit my Career Breakthrough Programs, The Amazing Career Project, and read my book Breakdown, Breakthrough.)

What Is Powerfully Positive Thought Leadership To You?

 

I’m active on LinkedIn group discussions, and I find that sharing ideas, dialogue and conversation there is a powerfully enriching experience because of the diversity of thought that LinkedIn members offer. With 330+ million members, LinkedIn gives us all a global worldview that opens our eyes, minds and hearts to different ways to understand the world and our lives.

Just today, an individual asked a question in one of my discussions that made me stop in my tracks.  He asked, “What IS thought leadership?”

The term “thought leadership” is bantered around a million times a day online, but do we all know what we mean by it? I’ve been honored and thrilled to highlight the work of what I believe are top thought leaders in our world today, through my various blogs on Forbes, Huffington Post, LinkedIn, and this blog.  But I realized this morning that I’ve never sat down and actually defined for myself what I believe great “thought leadership” is, and what I see as the highest form of it.  So I took a stab.

Here’s my definition of the highest version of a thought leader:

“Thought leaders are informed opinion leaders and go-to experts in their field of expertise. Their perspectives, work and ideas move the understanding, implications and applications of their topic forward. They are trusted sources who — with integrity, authenticity and passion — move, educate, enliven and inspire people with innovative ideas that motivate positive change.  They help turn ideas into reality, and have done the work to develop a teachable point of view that shares with others how to replicate their success. They are motivated not by being “right” but by helping and being of service.”

I believe that the best thought leaders also possess the 9 core traits of people who positively impact the world:

But I’m interested in your interpretations and definitions of a thought leader.  How would you describe the best of the best thought leaders in the world? What do they do, inspire, and create for us? How do they impact the world in a positive way?

Please share your definitions below!

I know that putting a stake in the ground and defining the best thought leadership helps me create a vision for what I want to strive to offer and become. How about you?

(For more about developing your own authentic thought leadership, visit my new coaching program Build Your Authentic Thought Leadership.)

Grappling With the Idea of Going Back To School? Here’s What To Consider

At least once a week, I hear from a professional woman who is in a job or career she dislikes intensely (or is failing at), and wonders if going back to school for a new career is the right step. Today, many mid- to high-level professionals feel ill-suited to their work, and others have launched small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat. When they reach out for help, they share some version of this question:

“Kathy, I’m in a career (or I recently launched a small business) I just can’t stand anymore. My husband says I’m not cut out for this, and should go back to school. What do you think?”

Having coached thousands of women through every career decision you can imagine, I’ve observed 6 common reasons behind people’s contemplation of going back to school. These reasons may be legitimate for some, but for many (perhaps most), the path to another degree is not the right choice. How do you know if it’s right for you?

The top 6 reasons mid-career professionals give for contemplating going back to school are:

– The job I’m in feels like a complete dead end. I think I have to start over.

– I’m just not cutting it in this field. More education will give me more credibility, clout and authority.

– I really don’t know what else to do. I hate my work.

– I’m not earning enough in my current profession/business. I’ll make more money and be more secure if I have more education.

– My colleague went back to school and it made a great difference for him. I want to do what he’s doing.

– I’m failing in my new business, and I think getting a new degree is the only way out.

To know if going back to school is the right move for you, you need to become very clear on what you want in your life and work. You also have to understand yourself intimately (what you’re passionate about, and what motivates you to succeed, for instance) and evaluate your life and situation with eyes wide open. This is not the time to be in denial or to pretend you’re someone else. This is the time to figure yourself out with honesty, awareness and insight. (Take my 6-day Amazing Career Challenge to learn more about what you really want.)

Once you become clearer on what’s important to you and your most burning life goals, ask yourself these five questions:

1. What do you believe another degree will give you?

Often, we project all sorts of misguided notions about what a shiny, new degree will give us, but we don’t really know anything about it. Do exhaustive research about the educational path you’re considering. Interview department heads and faculty at the institutions you’re considering. Shadow professionals who’ve earned this degree and are applying it in ways that interest you. Learn more about the careers this degree can lead to, and how people land exciting work after their degree. Examine the curriculum and course of study – do you find it compelling, something you feel really jazzed to learn? What are the common trajectories of people who’ve earned this degree, and do these career paths seem to be a good fit for what you really want? Finally, ask, “Is it realistic for me to take this path at this time in my life?”

2. What will it cost you – emotionally, financially, and professionally and personally?

Higher education today is expensive, to say the least, but there are other significant costs as well.  You’ll need to commit a great deal of time, money, energy, resources, and focus to succeeding on this educational path.  Do you have access to the necessary resources, and can you tap into them in a way that won’t turn your life upside down?   Can your current employer help pay for your degree? When I earned my Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy over a three-year period, it exacted a much higher price than I ever imagined.  I’m so grateful I did it, but don’t do what I did and pursue a degree without understanding concretely what it will demand of you. And evaluate what the return on investment must be, specifically and measurably, in order for you to feel it is worthwhile.

 

>>CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE<<

In the end, if you’re considering going back to school, understand what it will give, and demand, of you. Do the necessary legwork to explore it thoroughly, and don’t jump until you can say with 100% surety that this is the right move at the right time. Be clear about where the road will take you, and if this path will give you, in reality, what you’re truly longing for.

(To move toward building a happier, more rewarding career, take my 6-day Amazing Career Challenge).

What Will People Remember Most About You?

RememberMost

I’m very excited – today I begin working with an amazing group of women committed to building rewarding careers they love, on their terms.  We’re coming together in my Amazing Career Project Group Coaching Intensive. They come from all walks, situations, and experiences around the globe, but they share one critical thing – they’re ready for more, different and better in their lives.

One essential question we’ll be looking at is this: What will people remember most about you? and What do you WANT to be remembered for?

In the past, my answers to those two questions were very far apart.  My professional life didn’t stand for anything that I wanted it to, and I wasn’t making the impact in the world I deeply longed to.  The problem was, I just didn’t know how to bridge that gap. No clue even where to begin.

I know now (after leaving corporate life, becoming a therapist, coach, writer, and studying energy healing work) that it’s a fabulous journey with many twists, turns and detours – to dig deep, discover your right work, and shine in it.  But it’s very doable, for everyone, with the right steps and mindsets (and a little help).

Today, why not make a start on that journey and ask yourself, “What will people remember most about me?”

Please share your answers to that critical question below.

Go ahead, BRAG! It’s scary, I know, because women in particular are trained NOT to do this, and sometimes there’s even backlash when they do.  But we have to do it in the face of our fears.

Tell me…what are you amazing at, how do you make the world a better place just by being here. If that’s too challenging to do, share what other people have said about you that makes you blush and smile from ear-to-ear.

I can’t wait to hear.

Love to you.

9 Core Behaviors Of People Who Change The World For The Better

Look around you and you’ll see three kinds of people – those who dislike their work, and complain bitterly, those who just tolerate their work and see it as a paycheck and aren’t looking for more (or feel they can’t have more), and finally, those who love their work, and relish it. The third category is a small subset of all professionals globally, but this group stands out because these are, most often, the people who change the world for the better.

My work as a career success coach and writer connects me with people who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world – including well-known experts, authors, researchers, journalists, scientists, innovators, business geniuses, and entrepreneurs. But among this group of world influencers there are also everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level.

It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch. Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above these circumstances (and their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them.

Researching these makers, shakers and disruptors, and working with my own clients who shape the world around them in powerful and constructive ways, I’ve observed 9 core behaviors that set them apart – habitual ways of behaving and approaching life and work that distinguish them from those who long to make a difference but can’t or won’t find the way.

The 9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world:

They dedicate themselves to what gives their life meaning and purpose.

Thousands of people today don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to discover or pursue in life. But those with positive influence feel otherwise. They have found that there is a purpose to their life, and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “mess into a message,” or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others. People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and lit up from the inside – unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path – it informs them of what they wish to attend to in life, and what they need to walk away from because it doesn’t support their higher purpose.

They commit to continually bettering themselves.

People who impact the world for the better know that they are not perfect. They understand how their knowledge isn’t “complete” – there are always gaps, biases, limitations and prejudices, and new places to go with their expertise.

Yes, there are powerful narcissists aplenty, but their influence isn’t positive or helpful in the long run – it’s damaging and destructive. Innovators who positively shape the world come from a “beginner’s mind” and a loving, compassionate heart – with an openness to see, learn, and experience new things on the way to being a better servant of the world.

They engage with people in open, mutually-beneficial ways.

Those with huge positive influence understand the power of relationships, connection, and engaging with the world openly. They’re not afraid to get “out there” – connecting with others, sharing their knowledge and talents, offering their authentic and often contrarian viewpoints and opinions. They’ve pushed beyond any introversion, shyness or reluctance to be who they are, and have learned how to relate well with others and build mutually-supportive relationships that catapult both parties to a higher level. They know that positive, supportive and authentic relationships are the foundational building blocks to anything and everything they want to achieve.

They invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be.

The people I’ve interacted with and interviewed who’ve made a huge positive impact in the world don’t settle for conformity. When they see something that agitates and disturbs them, they strive to know more, get to the root of the challenge, research and understand the contributing factors, and arrive at new solutions. They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior, and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted.   They want to affect change because they believe change will bring a better way to live.

They embrace critique.

The most powerful positive influencers don’t need or want to be “right” – they want to grow and be more effective. For that to occur, they walk right into critique, and they embrace challenge. They’re not afraid to put their work out there for others to poke holes in.   They are strong and confident in the face of opposition, yet know how to integrate constructive feedback to strengthen their work and ideas. They engage in open dialogue and welcome scrutiny.

They spread what they know.

We’ve all met authors or “experts” who keep their knowledge secret, close to the vest. They’re afraid to let it out for fear someone will steal it or make money on their ideas. This is the opposite of the positive influencer’s mindset. Those who make a true positive difference can’t help but share and teach what they’ve learned. They don’t see their knowledge as just some commodity to sell, as a meal ticket or a money maker – they see it as information that has to be shared with the world for its betterment. They believe their ideas and innovations are of use and value to others, and can’t help but share those openly, and teach others what they’ve learned. They understand the universal principle at work – “the more you give, the more you get.”

They uplift others as they ascend.

You’ve experienced, as I have, scores of “leaders” and high-achievers who’ve gotten where they are by stepping on the heads and backs of those in the way. These are not true leaders or influencers because their power is a sham – it was obtained unethically and is shallow and weak, and can’t be sustained over the long haul.  I have encountered power-mongers who were crushing and cruel to their subordinates and I wondered when they would finally reap what they’ve sown. Over the long term, this day always comes.

On the other hand, people who positively impact the world not only obtain amazing results in their work, but their process of obtaining these results – how they operate in life — is also inspiring and uplifting. They are happy to help and support others, and have an overflow of positive energy that enriches the lives of everyone they work with and connect with. These positive influencers want others to grow. They walk away from “success-building” opportunities that will be hurtful and damaging to others. They know that those unethical, demeaning or destructive approaches go against the very meaning and purpose they’re committed to.

They view the journey as the goal.

Positive influencers don’t take short cuts or go for the quick buck or easy answer. They don’t view some arbitrary goal or outcome as a destination, because they believe there is no end – it’s all in the journey. It’s about what they’re learning, experiencing, and building that helps others, and for that, there is no defined end point. They embrace failure more readily than others as “information” that guides them. They are more fluid and flexible, and more open to the “how’s” because their ultimate goal is not about upholding their title, salary, reputation, stature or power, but about new ways to help and share what they know.

They use their power and influence well.

Sadly, it’s a common occurrence in business today to witness power and influence being wielded as a weapon. It hurts and destroys. Positive influencers use their power well and wisely. They understand the widespread influence they have, the power they have to build up and elevate, or tear down. Those who impact the world for the better are careful and judicious with their words, actions and behaviors. They care deeply about their leadership and communication process and style, and the influence they have. They take it seriously, as a special honor and responsibility not to be flaunted or misused. They understand their special role, and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.

Are you longing to make a positive impact in the world?  What can you do today to shift your behaviors to make more of a difference?

(To build a more rewarding and impactful career, check out The Amazing Career Project.)

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