Stretch Your Career

Group Stretch

One of the most important aspects of a career that makes you happy is…

Growth

When you see personal and professional growth you have a deeper understanding of your purpose.

You see what you were able to accomplish and how it helped.

I recently had the privilege to talk with Barbara Mistick for my Domino Experience podcast. Barbara is the President of Wilson College. A seasoned veteran of teaching young people to do work that they care about.

Barbara Mistick

One of my favorite stories is how one student almost dropped out until she understand one important fact about college.

We also covered these topics:

  • The importance of happiness at work.
  • Taking responsibility for your own career.
  • Carving out time to learn something new to grow your career.
  • Expanding in the fear. (Where the biggest growth happens)
  • Be prepared when the unexpected happens.
  • Learning a living.
  • What you can learn from a bad boss.

Biggest Takeaway

Think about 5 people that you know that have helped you grow personally or professionally over this past 12 months. Go and reach out to them. See if you can help them in some way.

Relationships do matter. The more you work at building stronger relationships the more you will be able to grow your career.

Listen to the podcast here:

You can subscribe via iTunes to the Domino Experience podcast that shares stories about building better business relationships for entrepreneurs here. If you liked the interview please give us a review on iTunes. The more people that know about this podcast the more people we can help.

If you thought the book could help your career then you can buy the book on Amazon (this is an affiliate link and will help me buy a cup of coffee).

As always if you have any questions just let me know.

Thanks!

How to Build Habits that Stick

yoga-street-red-light-595

I eat a lot more broccoli than I did 5 years ago. I actually enjoy it now.

I also still walk, jog, play, bike, etc. regularly. It’s why my gut isn’t any bigger than it probably should be.

I’ve been able to develop habits that have made me happier and more productive.

I’ve slacked on my meditation practice. Just yesterday was my first time in over a month.

I love it so, but it alludes me to turn it into a habit.

Yoga is a habit that I need to do every single day, even if it’s just a quick 5 minute sun salutation.

These habits help me with my energy levels at work.

Does your organization need help improving habits at work? Then let’s chat! Then fill out the short form at the bottom and we’ll see how more happiness can help your organization.

Last Month

I sat down to do meditation. My son came barreling in the door.

“Oh, Yoga!” he said.

I open one eye.

“Hi,” I whisper.

“Hi, Baba.”

“I’ll be done in just 10 minutes.”

“Can I join you?”

“Ah, sure.”

He sits down next to me.

“You know what I feel like right now?” he asks.

“What?” I ask.

“A giraffe.”

“Why?”

“I’m not sure. I just feels like my neck is very long right now.”

“That’s cool”

“Baba?” he asks. (That’s dad in German.)

“Shh. We are meditating.”

“Ok, just…What do you feel like right now?”

“I feel like me.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Baba?”

“Shhh.”

“Baba. Just real quick.”

“What?”

“After we’re done do you want to play pirates?”

“Sure.”

I close my eyes.

“Baba?”

“Buddy, I really want to meditate right now. It’s quiet time.”

“Ok, just really quick.”

Then I hear the door open. My wife peeks in. It’s time for dinner.

I smile.

“We’ll be right there.”

Now this is a wonderful memory and one I wouldn’t ever want to forget.

Power of Habit

The book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg is one of the best books on habits I’ve read in a long time. In it, Duhigg talks about one technique that will help you develop habits that stick with you – have a backup plan when you don’t follow through.

The key is start with your passion behind your desire to build a certain habit. You might want to take a walk during lunch every single day to clear your stress out.

Then focus on creating a happiness map that fits your personality. Then incorporating your new habit into your schedule.

Now meditation doesn’t play to my strengths of sitting still, but it doesn’t have to because my passion is stronger and I’m willing to build this strength muscle because of the benefits of meditation. The more I meditate the less prone I am to anger and frustration. Strengthening this part of my daily routine pays dividends for my happiness.

Here is where I faltered. If I didn’t meditate I didn’t have a backup plan. Let’s say I wanted to meditate for 20 minutes before dinner and my son happens to walk into my office, wanting to spend time with me.

Do I give up on the meditation for the day?

I used to.

Now I plan for a possible disturbance and have a backup plan. If I try to meditate in the morning and my youngest son gets up and I have to stop at the beginning of my meditation, I write a note to myself to practice after the kids go to bed. This is very important. I try to write where and when. The more specific the better. I’ll meditate in my bedroom at 9pm before I wind down for the night.

The more details I put into my plan the more clear my desire becomes to actually do it. Then have a backup in place to help you stay on track even when you get off track.

If you can visualize how you will take your walk (route) and schedule it (time) then you are 90% more likely to actually practice your habit.

Habits At Work

You may be interrupted during a time you are trying to focus on a project. Are you quick to anger or frustration?

Then try building in a plan “b”. If you are pulled into a meeting then schedule time in the later afternoon or next morning to do this work.

It will be important to strengthen your “no” muscle. If you keep getting interrupted then you won’t have time to do your high level work. If you are interrupted once then schedule the next time and stick with it. By setting these boundaries you’ll help train your coworkers to allow you to get your important work done.

When my son or a client interrupts my work I try to be flexible, but then set limits to my flexibility. I want people to know my time is valuable too.

You can do this at work by putting on headphones while you work, scheduling a private room at work, or working outside of work to get what you need done quickly.

Here is how it breaks down:

  1. Know why you want to build a habit into your routine.
  2. Write down when and where so you can visualize yourself doing it.
  3. Create a backup plan that allows you to do it even in a shortened amount of time.
  4. Set boundaries that allow you to be flexible, but also set limits on how much time you give to others.

The 4 step process to building habits that stick.

What habit would you like to add to your life?

How to Stop Worrying About Mistakes at Work

worried-man-talking-cell-595

I’m standing next to a powerful woman at this networking event. She introduces my friend and I to her friend.

There is a slightly longer than usual pause and I rush to fill the empty space.

“Oh and this is my friend Alfred.”

“We already met,” Alfred says.

“Oh, I’m sorry. You knew each other already.”

“No. Mary just introduced us.”

Another awkward pause and I say.

“I’m sorry.” I flush red.  “Wow. I have a 10 month old at home and my brain just isn’t working well today,” 

They rush to fill the empty space and Mary says she has a 11 month old at home.

So the conversation steers in that direction.

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you.  Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

Compassion

The whole drive home I replay my stupidity over and over.

I can’t believe I totally spaced out and didn’t notice that my friend was also introduced to this guy. It didn’t even register.

I was tired and I was nervous, but still it’s no excuse. I should have been paying attention.

Then I woke up in the middle of the night.

What a jackass I was, I thought to myself.

Then I thought about what this meant for myself in the bigger picture. Does this affect my career?

Not much.

Even it if did I can recover. I’ve recovered from stupid mistakes before.

Perspective

It would have helped to be much more suave, but in the grand scheme of things I still had great clients, a loving family, and food in my fridge.

I screwed up, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

Nothing we go through is the end of the world.

Unless it really is the end of the world. And if that happens, nothing else matters.

I should be more concerned with the state of our oceans more then looking like a douche bag to a powerful woman in my city that could help my business.

Positivity

I thought about 5 good things in my life:

1. My wife

2. My sons

3. Turkey sandwiches

4. Cold glass of water with a dash of cranberry juice.

5. My soft pillow

I decided to just laugh at my nerdiness. I get nervous in front of others. It’s actually very interesting to see myself flub over something like that situation.

I can give a presentation to 200 people without too much difficulty, but I can’t stay focused long enough around an important person to avoid looking like an idiot.

You may notice I’m calling myself names throughout, but I do it to show you that I’ve stopped taking myself so seriously. We all make mistakes, but it’s all about accessing them and letting them go.

Move on so you can get back to doing great stuff.

Why Taking Short Breaks More Often Will Make You Smarter

take-break-at-work-595

Before I start a project I take a break. It could be a short pause with a deep breath or a quick walk to help me get my mind focused.

The worst thing anyone can do at work is start a project without looking at where to put their focus.

They jump in and make a ton of mistakes.

Lately I’ve been taking a Kermit the Frog dancing break. I swivel my arms from side to side and stamp my feet. It helps clear out the cobwebs that can form from focused work.

It helps that half my work week I work from a home office where no one can see me.

I don’t dance like Kermit the Frog at my co-working space. I might spin around in a cool swivel chairs walk down 7 flight of stairs and then back up.

Your energy is the most important resource that you have.

Time is great, but if you are exhausted you will never do great work.

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you. Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

I would rather have an hour of high energy and focused work vs. 2 hours of tired and sluggish work.

You’ll also retain more of the information you learn in a day because you took the time to let it soak in and process.

Stop Pushing Through

Last week I jumped into writing a blog post and I got halfway through and I hit a wall. I didn’t know where to go next. Instead of pushing through I decided to take a break.

I went to the bathroom then made myself a mug of green tea.

The hard part is actually getting yourself to slow down before you start a project. Many of you don’t think you have the time to take a break before you start.

I thought the same thing, but with a little practice my breaks have helped me complete work faster then if I just jump in.

Next time you are about to do something difficult from writing a detailed email to analyzing data try taking a break.

Taking an active break is very simple.

Step 1: Take 3 deep breaths.

Step 2: Think about what you would like to accomplish in the next hour.

Step 3: Think about how to best accomplish your goal.

Then go for it. This Active Break could take 1 or 5 minutes, but it will help you make smarter decisions with your time. I’ve found that I actually am more energized because I have a vision for my next hour instead of just jumping in.

I can be impulsive with my actions. Like I said I get an idea and want to run with it. I don’t want to slow down my motivated momentum. Sometimes I will run with it and see what happens, but 99% of the time I end up hitting a wall. I used to try to power through.

Worst choice in that situation.

You can’t find a way through a brick way by ramming your head against it. You’ll just get blood all over the place.

So I’ve learned to take 3 deep breaths and step back from my work. I’ll usually go for a short walk. If I’m at my co-working space I’ll take the elevator down to the basement and walk up the 7 flights of stairs. If I’m at home I’ll walk out into my backyard.

The key is not to try to solve my problem.

You can’t fight a problem with more fire. You need an active break.

A break that helps you create emotional distance and see the problem from new angles.

Then the problem/project becomes easier to solve.

I would rather solve a problem/project in 2 hours than 4. I’m pretty sure you would too.

You’ve probably heard the phrase:

Work smarter not harder.

Here are a few weird breaks that I’ve done and seen other people do at work. :)

When I have my clients survey their employees. We use the DPS system. One comment that occurs again and again is that they aren’t encouraged to take breaks. If you want to learn how to survey employees at work so you can create more engagement and happiness, just let me know over at Domino Connection.

I believe active breaks are how to make this happen.

How do you use breaks to help you work smarter?

Why Mastery Won’t Make You Happier Unless You Implement This Habit

daily habits

There’s a myth I want to dispel right now.

People believe that if you chase mastery you will be happy. This makes me mad. They say don’t pursue your passions just focus on being really good at something. They are fools because they want to give you the magic bullet to solve your career unhappiness.

Before you yell at me and site 10 articles that say we shouldn’t pursue our passions. Like this one and this one. I know how hard it is to chase career happiness. There is no magic bullet.

Chasing mastery can only make you happy if you have a balanced approach.

This is where most people get tripped up.

They chase after what they think will make them happy without looking at other factors.

I love music, but you won’t catch me up on stage with a guitar belting out my latest song.

Appreciate Your Weaknesses

I know my limitations. Maybe a bit too well.

You must be honest with yourself. Your weaknesses matter as much as your strengths.

This is where it gets tricky for most people. They see themselves up on stage with an excited crowd cheering them on. They want this feeling. They think it will make them happy. They believe that if they try hard enough they will make it happen. They negate their strengths and try to make their dreams a reality.

That’s why I advocate to all my clients to create a plan that fits their strengths, passions, and focus. I like to call this trifecta your superpowers. It’s the last one that’s maybe the most important.

Passion focus strengths

Focus allows you to get lost in the work. You’ve heard the phrase:

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

That’s why getting lost in the work is as important as getting great results. Because the journey is where 99% of your time is spent. If you only enjoy 1% of your work then you have a terrible happiness ratio.

This is why passion is as important as strengths. If all you did was focus on your strengths and you became the best in your industry in your field, you could still feel empty.

Know Your Purpose

It’s the people that love their work and are amazing at what they do that are the happiest and get the best results.

You can be extremely happy just doing projects that make you happy, but not a lot of money. In fact you should be doing projects that are solely done to make you happy. That’s what Work Happy Now is for me. It’s my passion project.

You can make a lot of money mastering skills that others admire and pay you well for, but true happiness is mastering work that you love.

To be able to do work that makes you happy and played to your strengths and focus is a trifold effort and always a moving target.

I might master weeding my garden, but it probably won’t make make happy for very long. There is not a lot of difficulty in weeding.

New Challenges

What made you happy 10 years ago won’t make you happy today. Skills you mastered 10 years ago won’t be as enjoyable today. Your brain craves new challenges.

The best way to make mastery an important part of your happiness program is to review and adjust on a regular basis. At the end of each day I review my progress. It’s this habit that has helped me make sure I have a balanced approach to my work.

I make sure that following my passions or mastering a skill doesn’t over consume my life.

Reviewing your day is one the best habits you can implement in your career. You may want to start with a gratitude journal. It’s where I started and one of the best habits I’ve ever implemented into my life.

How you do this is important. It’s important to have a system that fits your personality.

Do you use reflection to improve your career?

I’m working on creating the Work Happy Now podcast, so you can grow your work happiness on your commute or lunch hour. I could use your input. What do you need from me to help you be a better leader at work? Just fill out this 2 minute survey and let me know how I can serve you better.

What’s Your Next Step?

Curious Cat

Many well-intentioned parents, grandparents, and teachers urge kids to get a job with good benefits.

I couldn’t agree more.

Except.

Except that when most people talk about “benefits,” they usually mean really, really good health insurance (with full dental!) and some sort of retirement plan that will take care of you when you’re put out to pasture.

When I was going through high school, trying to decide what I wanted to do in life, I got the impression that these specific benefits were very important. Even more important than liking the actual job I was doing to obtain said benefits.

That seemed backward to me. The idea of doing a job I hated (or only kinda liked) just for the so-called benefits made shooting myself out of a cannon into a brick wall more appealing.

Fortunately, my parents did support me as I gravitated toward a career in art that pretty much assured there would be no such benefits.

It blows my mind how many people make major life decisions based almost exclusively on this narrow view of “benefits.” They are willing to stay stuck in dead-end jobs that eat their soul just because they have a good vision plan. I think that a Cadillac health insurance program or generous vacation packages are fine factors to consider when hashing out the pros and cons of any potential job. But they should never be the only ones. And maybe not even the main ones.

The truth is that my job offers NONE of the benefits in the traditional sense. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. In fact, my job as an artist, author, and speaker, comes with TONS of benefits:

  • The work I do makes a difference.
  • I spend every day doing things I love.
  • I set my own hours.
  • I am rewarded for the results my hard work generates.
  • I don’t have to answer to clueless middle managers, corporate suits, or short-sighted shareholders.
  • I get paid to travel to cool places.
  • I have no dress code. (I literally wear jeans or sweatpants every day.)
  • I can take time off whenever I want. (Kim and I were BOTH able to take a maternity leave when our kids were born.)
  • On most days, I get to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my family.
  • My daily commute is seven seconds long.

Now these benefits don’t come without a price. (In fact, ALL benefits come with a price of some sort.) Most of mine have required many years of hard work and persistence. Then there’s the pressure of being responsible for generating income (no sales = no groceries). Also, I don’t have a pension or company-matching 401k program, but I love what I do so much that I don’t envision ever really retiring. Oh yeah, and I have to pay a few hundred bucks a month for health insurance.

Totally worth it.

So yes, you should definitely have a job with benefits.

Just make sure they’re the ones you really want.

Do here is what you can do.

Write out a list of at least ten benefits you’d like in your idea job. They could be things like a good health plan, zero commute, freedom of schedule, relaxed dress code, doing work that matters to me, lots of variety, etc. Then decide on the three most important benefits to you and circle them.

If your current job has all three, great! You’re in a good spot. If not, your next step is…to decide what your next step is. I know that sounds flip, but on the road to our dreams, we rarely know ALL the steps we’ll need to take to get there. We often don’t even know the next three. But we always know the NEXT step (and it’s usually not to just quit your job!)

Get a little curious about about what you could do to bring more benefits to your career. It’s your curiosity that will drive your next step. Maybe it’s to make a phone call. Buy a book. Attend a conference. Or design a new logo. Do that, and the next step will materialize.

What’s your next step?

Jason Kotecki is an artist, professional speaker, and author of the book “Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist,” (Amazon link) which uncovers some of the most useless so-called rules we can find ourselves living by. It explores some small but mighty actions you can take to turn your life into the fun, adventurous and exciting story you deserve. This beautiful 240-page hardcover work of art is a magical combination of Jason’s whimsical illustrations, humorous wit, and poignant anecdotes. Learn more at RulesThatDontExist.com.

Why Does Your Work Experience Trump Income Level?

mentorship-two-women-595

Millennials don’t want new cars, furniture, or artwork. Why do you think this is?

Think about your best times at work.

Does it ever revolve around kicking back on your chair and looking at your bank statement?

Not usually, unless your Scrooge McDuck.

It revolves around the positive experience that were created when working on a difficult project and finding a unique solution or getting together with your your co-workers after work or other experiences that make you happy.

Think about the last job you had. Do you remember the experiences or how much money you made each day?

Experiences are the glue that connects us.

Are you creating positive experiences for your younger workforce?

Experiences that help them build relationships and feel a sense of pride in their work?

Millennials don’t want to spend their money on experiences, which makes sense. Experiences create more happiness because they teach us versus just being another thing in our lives.

The more I’ve led workshops and coached leaders in the workplace the more I know in my bones that we need to create more positive experiences at work. We need to feel like our work matters. That our time isn’t being wasted.

I decided to create the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. Leaders can bring a more positive experiences into the workplace and improve engagement if they have help.

Here is the one of the module in the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit:

Create Mentorship Program

Create cross pollination of ideas by creating a mentorship program. Gather everyone in a room. Put people’s names in hat. Make sure to pair people who were unable to come. Each pairing must be random to help people who don’t know each other that well to connect. Have the pairs of employees get together and ask themselves the first session’s questions.

At the end of each session have them set-up next week’s call for 30 minutes. They will set-up meetings each week until the end of the month. Each person will be given 15 minutes to talk at each session. They must bring a goal/project that they are working on and could use guidance to improve the results. You should encourage people to create a project instead of a goal. It becomes more of an adventure instead of something they have to reach and if they don’t, they feel like a failure.

The first session is a discovery session for them to build a rapport with each other. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th session is meant to help them support each other’s progress.

Virtual Version

Split people into groups 10 – 20, depending on the capacity of the video conferencing software that you use. Even numbers are important to pairing people up. Put everyone’s name in excel sheet and people pick number. They will set-up meetings each week over the phone until the end of the month. Each person will be given 15 minutes to talk at each session.

Questions to ask each other: (first session)

  • What are your top 3 favorite movies?
  • What piece of advice has been most important to growing your career?
  • What skill do you wish you had?
  • Who do you look up to as you started your career? How about now?
  • How can I help you accomplish your goal/project by the end of the month?

Questions to ask in mentorship sessions 2-4:

  • What is going well with your goal/project?
  • What can be improved?

Review Questions:

  • How did people respond to mentorship program? (Did they like the results? Did they participate?)
  • What could be improved about the program when you run it again?
  • Do you think it helped the team build stronger relationships?
  • What were the benefits that you noticed to running this program?

This is just a sample of the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stressed out employees to help you improve your team’s engagement and communication. It gives you 6 modules to try out with your team or yourself. It has 3 main sections –  2 Team building ideas, 2 Team games, and 2 Individual Practices you can incorporate each month to help reduce overwhelm and build a stronger team.

Feeling Unfulfilled at Work? Try This…

Shine light on your darkness

We all want to feel fulfilled in our work. A lucky few find fulfillment naturally and easily in their careers. For the rest of us, we have to get creative to find that elusive sense of fulfillment.

Maybe the reason we haven’t found it yet is that we’ve been looking in the wrong place.

Once upon a time, a rabbi came across a drunkard who was down on his hands and knees by the base of a lamppost. He was scrabbling around on the sidewalk as if looking for something.

The rabbi said, “My son, are you looking for something? Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for my keys,” replied the drunk man.

“I’ll help,” said the rabbi as he got down on his hands and knees too, and looked all over the area covered by the lamppost’s light. After a thorough search, he said, “I can’t find them. When’s the last time you saw them?”

“Oh, I dropped them over there in that field,” replied the drunk, pointing to a pitch-black field about 100 feet off the side of the road.

“If you know you dropped them in that field, then why are you looking over here?” asked the rabbi.

“Because this is where the light is.”

Have you been looking for job fulfillment under the lamppost, where it’s nice and bright and comfortable? You know, if it were under the lamppost, you would have found it by now.

What if your fulfillment isn’t there at all, but in that dark field off the side of the road?

What’s lost within your dark field?

True fulfillment doesn’t come from chilling out in the light. True fulfillment comes from bringing light to the darkness.

So the first question to ask if you want to find your fulfillment is: What’s your darkness?

In other words:

  • What’s the most frustrating issue in your life that you constantly wrestle with?
  • What’s the biggest inner obstacle keeping you from feeling fulfilled?
  • What are you most ashamed of about yourself?

Wait, you’re telling me that if I want to Work Happy Now, I need to head toward my greatest fear and my deepest shame?

If what you mean by “happy” is “comfortable”, you can do that by just chilling out in the light.

But if you want more than that, yes, you’ll need to journey to the dark places and shine the light on them.

Here’s what that looks like in practical terms.

Summer’s darkness is her integrity. Summer is now the operations manager of a major construction company, but to get there, she made some dodgy deals that she now regrets. At first, she felt proud of her accomplishments, with the added pride of being a successful woman in a male-dominated field, but she hasn’t ever felt truly fulfilled in her career. Now, she’s in a position to cut some corners that would save the company a lot of money at the cost of safety. To find fulfillment, Summer shines light on her darkness and chooses integrity (core value) over success.

Barry’s darkness is his anger. Barry is a celebrated chef, and he often takes out his anger on his subordinates. All the awards he’s won bring him a sense of satisfaction, but not true fulfillment. To find fulfillment, Barry shines light on his darkness by becoming kinder and working more smoothly with his team – while still getting results.

Ophelia’s darkness is self-doubt. Ophelia is an HR manager, and she often second-guesses herself, always afraid that she’s made a bad hire or handled a conflict in the wrong way. This self-doubt makes her feel constantly inadequate, despite glowing reviews from her manager. To find fulfillment, Ophelia shines light on her darkness by practicing meditation to find inner calm, which quiets the voice of self-doubt and grows her confidence.

Over to You

Summer, Barry, and Ophelia didn’t need to quit their jobs or change positions to find true fulfillment. They faced their darkness and found a creative way to shine light on it.

What’s your darkness?

And what’s one way you can shine light on it in your work?

Pace Smith (The Pathfinding Coach) helps sensitive spiritual nonconformists live wild crazy meaningful lives. She’s also a teacher, a speaker, a writer, a Sufi dervish, a bi poly trans gamer geek, an open-source Reiki healer, and a tournament-level Dance Dance Revolution player. Download her free eBook, Find Your Path Now, to STOP living on autopilot and START living the wholehearted, unconventional life you were meant to live.

The Ultimate 3 Step Process to Help You Bounce Back from Career Failure

woman-water-no-regrets-590

A few years ago something very difficult happened in my career. Now that I look back on it…

It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

I wouldn’t wish career failure on anyone, but sometimes it can put things into perspective and give someone the kick-start they were afraid to do themselves.

I was laid off in 2011 and I looked very hard for a job. A good job, something I could get excited about. The few good ones out there were difficult to come by, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Your career is filled with learning experiences, and many of them occur because of failure. This is natural — when you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone you will fall down.

I’ve failed so many times, it’s a bit embarrassing. And it also makes me stronger. After months of searching I decided to go all in with starting my business. Along the way there have been many painful moments.

I did a radio interview for a national program a couple years ago. I went into the studio, and the engineer guided me through the whole process. The microphone was at eye level. I was comfortable and armed with knowledge to dispense. I was ready. The whole process made me feel very important. After it was over, I asked her, “How did I do?”

“You did ok,” she said.

I was expecting a more enthusiastic response. It was like a punch in the gut.

“Just ok?”

“Your tone was flat.”

“Really? How could I improve?” I asked.

“Try to vary your voice more, and if you feel passionate about a particular question, let it out in your answer.”

She was right. I held back because I was afraid of showing the true me. The next radio interview I did still lacked punch, but by the 10th one I had improved a great deal. The radio interview could have catapulted my career and it ended up doing nothing for me.

Failures are a part of everyone’s career. If it isn’t then you have to ask yourself, “Am I taking enough risks?”

I had a client max out his credit cards to start up a business that failed. He filed for Chapter 13, cleared his debt and started a new business that became successful.

You must keep moving forward, even if it’s only one little shuffle step at a time.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison

Yes, I still get upset when I mess up. My inner arch nemesis takes a bite out of me, but it doesn’t last very long any more. I let him nibble on my pain, then end it before it gets out of control. I have too many people I want to help to let my sad feelings hold me back from doing my work.

Do you want feel happier and be more productive in your career? Find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love and getting better results while doing it. Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide.

1. Understand Your “Why”

You will have career setbacks. You won’t be able to prevent them. In fact you should embrace them.

It starts with understanding why you do what you do. If you can’t answer why you do what you do with any conviction, it might be time to change your career.

If you can answer your why, then this is where you can dig a little deeper to understand how you can get better results.

Next time you have a career setback, just ask yourself, “Why should I continue working?”

By phrasing this question to garner a positive response, your brain will gravitate towards finding solutions that will help you grow in new directions.

“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” – Benjamin Franklin

Your mindset is the most important aspect of letting go of failure. The quicker you can let go and bring back a happy and positive mindset the easier it will be for you to take action again.

2. Ask for Feedback from Quality People

The feedback that many people give you at work isn’t always well thought out or what you want to hear. That’s why asking quality people for feedback is important. You want to ask people who have good values and who won’t let their feelings get in the way of giving you feedback that you can use to grow.

Once you’ve asked for feedback, you need to listen very deeply to the response. Especially if it’s done with pause and consideration for your best interest.

That’s why I suggest not asking to anyone who could have trouble putting their love aside for you. (*cough – your mom, dad, or a best friend – cough*)

By asking people who believe honesty is more important than making you feel good, you can find out where to put your focus. Once you find a few quality people, just tell them openly about the situation, and ask them, “Using mostly facts and as few feelings as possible, what do you think I could do to make this situation better?”

3. Create a 30-Day Project

Now that you have feedback on how you could improve, you have to look at how you can use this information to make your career more enjoyable. What were they able to tell you that you didn’t already know?

This is where it can get difficult.

You have to separate the super-helpful from the non-helpful.

Look at what they said and what resonated with you. Then think about three ways you could improve on this part of your career. Look at each idea and pick the one that you like the best. Turn this into a flexible goal. Better to start with an idea that you like and that can grow with you than procrastinate on taking action trying to figure out which is the perfect idea.

Then schedule a daily plan for the next 30 days. What project could you accomplish in the next 30 days to level up your career?

Not sure how to create a 30 day project that will boost your happiness and career? Check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide that walks you step by step through a proven process that’s worked for hundreds of people.

Pick how much time each day you want to spend on accomplishing this goal. Try to be flexible and understanding with yourself. Depending on how intense your career setback was, you may want to schedule some recharge days, not work on your project every one of the 30 days.

I was laid off from my job 2011, and it took me a couple of weeks to figure out what my next move was going to be. I panicked trying to envision my entire future instead of starting with a short-term plan that I could build on and adjust as I went along.

You need to focus on slowly building a better, stronger, and happier career that allows you to grow. Each day is a chance to build habits that can help you feel happier and help more people.

When you’ve come to the end of your 30 days, then look at what went well and what could be improved for your next 30 days. It’s this measuring and refining process that most people slip up on. That’s why 30 day increments are important.

You can improve your career one day at a time andone month at a time. If you do, I promise you’ll get results over the course of the next year.

Your Next Step

Look at your career and make sure you understand your why, then follow up with honest feedback from a friend then create a project that will give your career a boost.

What project could you start and work towards in the next 30 days to help more people that you care about?

How to Be a Better Gift Receiver

present-pile

I was called out by my wife, again, for being a “bad gift receiver”. She is right. I need to be more grateful.

I got mildly upset because a Christmas gift we received last year was slightly different from the one that was on the list. Same thing, just a different brand. This gift was for my son, and he loved it, yet I’m still complaining about it 12 months later!

Yes, I hang my head in shame.

Have you ever done this?

I play it off as a joke, but the reality is I looked at the gift as a hindrance instead of what it was, a gift. A gift from a place of kindness and joy.

I want each gift to be perfectly tailored, but that’s impossible. Just the idea that someone is thinking of me or my son is all that should matter.

No one should have to be worried about giving me or my family a gift because I’m such an ungrateful nerd. People should be excited to give us a gift because of how excited and thankful we all will be.

I’m working on this, and my goal now is to replace every negative thought, right after I notice it, with two positive thoughts.

The reason I’m writing this is because I was recently given a business referral from a good friend. She asked yesterday what I thought of the email referral, and I was about to write back that it was wonderful, but a little too long.

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to see how the 7 step process helps my clients become happier and get better results.

Then I stopped myself. She created this referral from a place of kindness and giving, and I was about to poo poo all over it with a “but” comment.

Then I heard my wife’s voice in my head about being a bad gift receiver, and I realized I could change that. So I wrote back:

Thank you so much! It was an amazing referral. Perfect!

You know what happened?

I felt so much happier after sending a positive thank you in response. My bad habits may die hard, but I’m not going down without a fight. My hope is that I live long enough to turn into a great gift receiver!

Importance of Gratitude

Your success and happiness depends on other people helping you, and the more grateful you choose to be, the more people will want to help you.

The key is knowing where you are making a mistake and creating “bad” feelings, and replacing a bad habit with a better habit that makes you – and other people – feel happier.

My Challenge to You

Pick just one habit you would like to create or improve. What would it be?

  • Start a meditation practice.
  • Be more thankful.
  • Go to bed earlier.

Then pick one super small way to practice over and over until you create a better, happier habit.

Another example: I wanted to start a meditation practice. I knew it would benefit my health and help make me happier. I was so right. I started with a 2 minute meditation practice after I finished up my work for the night and before I would watch my favorite show. Now I’m up to 10 minutes a night and I love it.

The key here is picking a time and place. You will be 90% more likely to build a positive habit if you are specific with when and how. If you can envision how you will accomplish the task then it’s easier to see yourself actually doing it, which means you won’t procrastinate. You’ll take action. Here is a cool article from Jenny Blake about creating magnetic personal project. When you start small, with a personal project, it can turn into something bigger. You never know.

What positive habit would you like to improve or add to your life that would make you happier?