Crisis a la mode

Many of my clients come to me in a state of panic. They are prompted to call me because something has gotten so bad at work that they feel they just can’t take another minute of it. It could be a horrible boss whose negative barrage wears them down. It may be a job that is so mind-numbing it puts their minds into a permanent state of frostbite. Or perhaps they have worked extreme hours year after year at a job that they hate.

There usually isn’t an exact moment they can pinpoint, but they know they need to make a change and they simply cannot wait another minute.

Then something surprising happens. Over our weeks of working together, something normally gives. Their boss lets up a bit, a new and exciting project lands in their lap, or the hours lessen. However, these are usually temporary reprieves that often lead to a negative result.

I know what you’re thinking: how can positive changes at work end up becoming negative? Do I really just want my clients to continue suffering in misery? No; of course I’m happy for their well-deserved mini-vacation. The real problem is that these reprieves make many clients lose their negative motivation. The negative aspects of their jobs and careers were what brought them to me and motivated them to seek a career change. Once the negative is removed, even temporarily, the motivators are gone. I often hear from my clients during these respites, “I don’t know why, but I’ve become complacent.”

So the question then becomes, how do you replace your negative motivators with positive ones? Try to imagine what a truly great job or career would look like. Maybe you’ve even experienced it before. What was that like? Can you imagine your life being better? Capture that image, thought, writing or concept. Now put it in your pocket. I mean, literally, put it in your pocket. When you find yourself feeling complacent again, take it out and read it. Allow it to inspire you. Motivation leads to action, action leads to change, and change leads to improved circumstances and a better quality of life. So get your positive motivation, put it in your pocket, and kick into high gear!

Wreck it Ralph

I went to see Wreck it Ralph with my kids the other day.  It is a movie about a guy who wrecks things in a video game at the arcade. He is really tired of always being the bad guy.

The good guy, Fix it Felix, is always getting pies, medals and parties. Wreck it Ralph lives in a dump and eats garbage. So Ralph decides to make a change.

His mission becomes  to change his ways. So he heads out into the world and tries new things: he hops into other games, wins a medal and helps a girl. I won’t give away the entire story in case you are clamoring to see this film.

In the end, Ralph does not change his stripes. He still smashes and breaks things with ease and regularity, but the difference is his intention. He no longer does it intending to be bad. While nothing changes, everything changes.

Ralph is like you. You can’t change your natural stripes. If you feel most comfortable working with variety and thinking big-picture, you are not going to make yourself love administrative work. It just doesn’t work that way.

Instead, you need to find your natural stripes, embrace them whole-heartedly and then go on and find how to best apply them.

So learn your lesson from Wreck It Ralph. Don’t change your stripes; instead, accept them and change your vantage point from there.

If your stripes are not accepted in your career, then make a change. I assure you, those stripes are not turning to spots anytime soon so your best option is to find a place where you are accepted.

What’s Your Midlife Crisis?

Not too long ago, I was at a kid’s birthday party talking with a dad of another child attending the event.  I mentioned that I had heard his family was moving to Maine.  When I asked what prompted the move, he replied, “A midlife crisis.”

As a person who is fascinated by people and what makes them tick, my curiosity was piqued.  I listened eagerly as he explained that he lived in DC for more than 20 years and was a writer at a high-profile magazine for a very long time.  He has dreamed about moving and doing something different for years.

A coach can never resist asking the “big” questions, so I couldn’t help but blurt out, “What held you back all of those years?”  He explained that he was worried about security; job security, health insurance, stability for his children and supporting his family.

Again, the coach in me had to probe some more.  So I asked him, “What changed your mind?”  He said his wife had told him, “If you want to do this, what are you waiting for?  When will the time be right?”  I thought to myself, how lucky he is to have such a wise woman in his life.

When I saw that dad again, the family had found a house to rent in Maine and he had a new job that completely jazzed him.  He was beaming as he told me the news.

So, my question to you is “When will the time be right to make a career move?”

I say, the time is right now.