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Tag Archives: women at work

Longing For a True Breakthrough? Make a Change Today

 

Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of joining a number of inspiring local authors from Fairfield County, CT at the Wilton Library, to meet our area residents and share about our books and our work. It was a wonderful experience to connect with talented authors in my community – accomplished writers of a wide range of material including non-fiction, novels, memoirs, sports, etc.  who have poured their talents and brilliance into their works to share their ideas and perspectives with the world.  (I was very inspired to launch my 2nd book which is with a great agent now, and finish my screenplay this summer.)  I sat next to Jack Cavanaugh, for instance, whose book Tunney: Boxing’s Brainiest Champ and His Upset of the Great Jack Demsey was nominated for a Pulitzer prize, and I was awed by his vast body of work.

In talking about my book Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power and Purpose, it brought back the powerful experience I had in 2006-7 of conducting my yearlong in-depth research study on women overcoming professional crisis. I interviewed over 100 professional women across the country who’d experienced deep challenges in the workplace and in their careers, to dimensionalize and understand more deeply the key challenges and issues, and bring new solutions to the table.  We explored the many social, cultural, organizational, and individual factors that contribute to these 12 “hidden” challenges professional women face, and identified more clearly how to successfully navigate through them.  I learned in my subsequent quantitative follow-up study that 7 out of 10 working women ages 30-55 are experiencing at least one of these hidden challenges, and on average, they’re facing three at the same time.

Here’s a bit more about Breakdown, Breakthrough and paving the way to career bliss, from my interview with The Wilton Bulletin editor Jeannette Ross:

As I mentioned in the interview, while Breakdown, Breakthrough was published in 2008, it’s as relevant today as it was then.  In my coaching, teaching and career consulting work with over 10,000 women in 10 years, I see and hear daily how these 12 challenges hit women hard, and over half don’t know what to do about it.

The 12 “hidden” challenges the book explores are experiences of disempowerment, professional paralysis and emotional pain that fall into four categories: our relationship (and empowerment – or disempowerment) with Ourselves, Others, the World and our Higher Selves.  Here’s a brief look at these challenges:

Empowerment With Self

1. Resolving Chronic Health Problems

2. Overcoming Loss

3. Achieving Self-Love

Empowerment with Others

4. Speaking Up with Power

5. Breaking Cycles of Mistreatment

6. Shifting from Competition to Collaboration

Empowerment with the World

7. Escaping Financial Traps

8. Using Real Talents in Life and Work

9. Helping Others and the World

Empowerment with Higher Self

10. Falling Together After Falling Apart

11. Balancing Life and Work

12. Doing Work and Play You Love

One thing I’ve seen countless times in my career consulting programs – the vast majority of people wait until a true crisis hits before they take action to change how they operate in the world.  I lived this experience as well – staying for 18 years in a corporate career and life that was terribly ill-fitting and unfulfilling (even damaging) for me. I waited until I’d experienced all 12 of the crises I write and speak about, before I finally snapped and said “I’m done with this! I refuse to feel like a victim one minute longer.”

If any of these challenges ring true for you, I hope you’ll make this the day you finally take one concrete action to improve your life. It doesn’t have to turn your whole life upset down, and you don’t necessarily have to chuck your entire career out the window. (As I love to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”) But you do have to do something different, to modify and improve the way you operate in the world. Whether it’s committing to taking the necessary time to restore and rejuvenate yourself from the toxicity around you, or taking my Career Path Self-Assessment to gain more clarity on what you really want going forward, or finally mustering the courage to have that tough conversation with your boss (or your spouse), today is the day to do it.

Don’t wait until true crisis smacks you in the face before you realize that you deserve better in your life and work, and you’re ready to get it.

For more on how to pave the way for career bliss, visit my career consulting programs and the Amazing Career Project, and check out my book Breakdown, Breakthrough.

 

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.

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