Read, Read, Read!!

Ok, I’m shooting for ten tangible tools to help you move forward. All of which have helped or are helping me. We’re halfway done. You’ve had some time to do some visioning. Now, let’s jump again… to building #6 — become a bookworm. Read… read… read!!

When I was in the thick of my analysis paralysis (since using these tools… I have become unstuck)… I was overwhelmed. With stress, information overload, uncertainties, money woes, moving… you name it. So, the thought of reading anything was not appealing to me. I didn’t have any room in my brain to take in any excess information. Even if it would help me move forward. My mind was already saturated. If you are in this place, you are not alone. Use this step when you CAN take in information.

What helped me get past all of that… was I was able to drop some stress weight off my shoulders. I lost my part-time job which was allowing me to pay my rent, and moved in with a friend who graciously opened up her home to me for a few months so I can get back on my feet again. Losing the part-time job opened doors I couldn’t have imagined. It also allowed me to take action on things I’d been putting on the back burner for awhile. And… as I felt less stress… out of the blue came the desire to start reading again.

Understandably some of you may not be able to take out stressers. But, the more you come out of analysis paralysis… the better you’ll feel. Hopefully you’ll feel more in control and have the desire to pick up a book.

So… as for me, I’d been hearing over and over again that I should have a resource… a book that helps spur me forward in my career change. Laura (the facilitator of my New Creations networking group) calls it a “Barnes & Noble Zen Walk”.

Go to your local bookstore… pull a bunch of books off the shelf that speak to you (where you are in your journey)… something you can work through. Pull up a chair or piece of carpet and pour through them. Filter which ones work and which don’t, write them down, and then go get them on the cheap at Amazon!

So… that’s what I did! And, that’s what you need to do to. Become a bookworm. Find a resource that speaks to you… for wherever you are. What works for me right now, may not work for you. I have a defined vision and I have some very specific questions. Where as, you may be just starting out and trying to figure out what direction you want to go in. You could be in accounting and wanting to switch into personal fitness. Or… you’re going from the private sector to the nonprofit sector. Maybe you’re building up your skills. Maybe you are starting something from scratch…

When I was at B&N I found a handful of good reads ranging from marketing to restaurants to a book on bootstrapping from Google’s perspective. I think I found a total of 8-10 books. Some of which I ordered and some of which are sitting on my Amazon wishlist. I’m eagerly waiting for their arrival to my mailbox.

Currently, I’m in the midst of three resources. What can I say… I’ve got some questions I want answered… and, I want to move forward! I’m almost done with a book called “Career Renegade” by Jonathan Fields. A highly recommendable read! He writes a no fluff prose on ‘how to make a great living doing what you love’. Included are a multitude of free online resources including everything from brainstorming/visioning… to marketing, social media, and how to write an ebook (including getting it published)… and even how to set up your own podcast. Out-of-the-box… innovative ideas that work to make your passion a reality.

I’m also reading a book specific to the direction I’m going: marketing for restaurants. I want to know specifically what is a revenue generating event for a restaurant and how I can provide that. How do I stay on top of the game? My last resource is called: “Pitch Like A Girl” by Ronna Lichtenberg. It’s a book for women. Specifically on pitching: from the elevator pitch to pitching to an investor or getting a raise/promotion. This book offers “funny and candid know-how to help women understand the fundamental gender, hormonal, and cultural systems… the advice helps women improve their pitching, from warm up and prep through execution and closing.” I thought this would be good for me… since I am having trouble compressing my ideas… and articulating an elevator pitch.

This gives you an idea of where to start. You can also see that varied reading is where I’m at. You may want to stick with one read at a time… don’t rush. Some good tried and true resources include: “What Color Is Your Parachute” by Richard Nelson Bolles (2007 & 2008 seem to be the best editions), “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss, “Work Less Make More” by Jennifer White, and “Professional Destiny” by Valerie Hausladen. If one resource doesn’t work for you or speak to you… drop it and look for something that does.

You’ll have to decide what works best for you. If you can’t afford buying… check out your local library and see what they have to offer. So… go for it… unleash your inner bookworm!


Inventory Lists

I feel it’s necessary to mention another exercise on taking a personal inventory. Mainly because not everyone is wired the same way… maybe some of you are listers – and, it helps to be able to jot down defined bullet points. You may benefit from a verbal/word exercise. So, please jump with me as we aim our web shooters to building #5 — Inventory (via lists).

Something to note, both the inventory lists and the inventory book work well together hand in hand. Previously we talked about how to create an inventory book. The difference with this particular exercise is that encourages you to use the ability to articulate your inventory through words or dialogue. Where as the previous inventory exercise used an entirely different area of the brain. And, set of materials… previously we used pictures to identify categories/qualities/values/ideals about ourselves or what we wanted. And, we physically cut out or ripped out the images or phrases.

I find the word exercise more difficult, it doesn’t resonate for me as well. Mainly because, when asked a series of questions or asked to make a list of say… my accomplishments… my mind goes blank. I like making lists. Lists are direct and to-the-point. But, for whatever reason, that information is not readily accessible (when I need it) in my brain. It’s not to say that I haven’t accomplished anything grand.

So, for all you folks that are able to identify those answers much more effectively. This one is for you!

Tools you’ll need:

  • pen
  • notebook

Now, in this kind of inventory… write down these questions/phrases (and let the answers rip!).

  1. In your last major job, what was or were the “something extras” that were done? How did you go the extra mile?
  2. What is your ideal day?
  3. What does your ideal office look like?
  4. What is the ideal wardrobe you would wear?
  5. What are your top 3 non-negotiables?
  6. What are your values?
  7. Select something you love to do (for me, I chose backpacking). Now, make a list of EVERYTHING that you enjoy about this particular activity. What is it that you do well in this activity.
  8. Do a skills inventory.
  9. What is the stuff you’ve done in previous jobs that you didn’t put on your resume? Make a list. Let it be long.
  10. Write down everything that was messed up where you used to work. Own it… let it rip!
  11. Write down a list of everything you were good at in junior high. Seriously… you may uncover something here. (This was an actual category give to us via my New Creations group.)
  12. What is something that you did well in the very FIRST job that was paid?
  13. What things have you done since you were laid off from the major job – that you have liked and were good at?
  14. Where do you want to live/are willing to relocate to?
  15. What are your goals? Now? Five years? Ten?
  16. If you were a car, what kind of car would you be and why? List all the attributes that match. (I would be a Honda Element & yes… I have thought about it and I can give you a list!)

And… the list could go on.

Write down whatever sounds stupid, bizarre, or doesn’t seem to go. If you are too vague… be specific. Get it all out of your head and write it down.

For instance… the one that was most easy for me to pull apart was number seven. I love backpacking and I’m quite good at it. Go ahead & toot your your horn. (Toot… toot.) For me, I can translate what I love about backpacking into a tangible skill set. And, most likely it will be similar for you. You can choose any activity (but, I would list volunteer activities separately). This is more relevant to hobby activities or sports. So, here’s what I’ve got listed:

  • resourceful – I can carry everything I need with me and there are multiple uses for gear
  • hands-on
  • efficient space planning
  • simple living – getting in tune with nature – liberating
  • innovative – new ideas for gear I already have (ie: duct tape)
  • I can do what the guys do & sometimes even better (building a fire & keeping it going)
  • I like doing it with people – group activity (small)
  • personal achievement – challenge myself
  • I love getting dirty
  • allows me to build relationships & get to know people better
  • teamwork
  • can do things on my own
  • opportunity to prove myself (without feeling like I have to)
  • can offer empowerment/training – equip someone on skills (new/old)

Now, if you know me… you know that a majority of these things I’ve listed are completely transferable into my professional skill set.

Have at it! What makes you… you? Discovering these truths will be liberating and help you have a better understanding of what next steps you want to take and quite possibly help you eliminate where you don’t want to be going.

Mind Mapping

By this time, you’ve got some useful tools that are hopefully nudging you forward out of your analysis paralysis. We’re not done! Get your webshooters ready as we jump to building #4 — Mind Mapping.

useful tool to see workable solutions to your vision

We’re still in the visioning part of the process. This is more than an exercise, it is a useful tool. It especially helps if you are a visual learner. This is something that I learned to do in college during my Interior Design degree. (Although, I don’t remember calling it mind mapping.) In creating a concept and being able to move into the planning phase — you have to take into consideration many factors. It helps to be able to “get them out of your head”… and onto paper or use software designed for this specific purpose. By actively identifying the factors and seeing them, you can move forward in your planning process. You can use this tool from everything to moving past anxieties (see below) to changing careers.

A mind map diagram helps you find a way to make your ideas, concepts, realities, whatever it is you need to map out… tangible so that you can understand it. It helps you clear out the cobwebs. You are creating a flow chart… this type of diagraming exercise helps you see areas of your vision that work — what works together. And, also helps define what does not work.

Need an example? The diagram above is an example of a mind map. It is a representation of my evolving vision. I’m not done with it yet… it’s still a work in progress. The more that I work at it, the closer I can get to reaching a tangible end product. To see it in more detail, click on the photograph and it will automatically generate a larger photo.

Creating a mind map of my vision has helped on multiple levels. For example, one area of frustration for me, I have found that sometimes I lack the ability to convey a large idea into something people can understand. And, that become a sticking point for me. Mind mapping has offered me a way to break down ideas into smaller… more digestable pieces.

Don’t feel as though you have to show off to the world the maps you create. This is about your moving forward and sometimes that is a personal step for your eyes only.

So, how do you get started?

  • paper & pen
  • dry erase board/pen
  • computer

The easiest way is with a good old fashioned pen and pad of paper. It will involve lots of scribbling and scratching out. You may find the activity of physically scratching out information cathartic and satisfying. If you can do it on a large dry erase board… all the better. Then, as you evolve in whatever it is that you are working out… your dry erase board will represent the evolution process. You’ll be able to physically see the changes happen. Which is very rewarding!!

If the computer is your cup of tea, I have stumbled upon a great website called Bubbl. Check it out. It allows you to import/export images, collaborate with colleagues, and share your creations. All the diagrams in today’s post were created using Bubbl.

Mind Mapping: Anxieties

Let’s say you’ve got a lot of anxieties going on while you are looking for work. That makes sense… and it’s easy to understand. We’ve all got them. First, create a “bubble” on your page or dry erase board (you’ll want to put it in the center) and label it “anxieties”. Next, draw a line to another bubble… this represents an anxiety you have. You can color code them if you would like. Continue doing this in a circular pattern. (See diagram below.) Draw lines to individual bubbles for any anxieties that you have. It can be whatever… write ALL of them down. Get them out of your head! For me, anxieties range from paying bills to wanting to learn new information that fills in the “unknowns” for my vision. Your mind map will most likely take the shape of a bulls-eye. See my diagram below. This is a great exercise to have a visual of all the worries that plague us. It’s great when we can find solutions to them and then physically scratch them off our map.

useful in determining and finding solutions for anxieties

Mind Mapping: Career Paths

Another mind mapping diagram example (similar in shape) could be if you are trying to narrow down what career you want to focus on. What direction do you want to go in… you may be having trouble narrowing down your options… there are lots of ideas and interests swirling around in your mind. Similar to the last exercise, draw a bubble in the center of your page/board and label it “career paths”. Now, draw a line to an individual bubble and write down a job/career path you have wanted to do. Continue to do this… draw bubbles for any/all jobs you have ever wanted to do and have done in your life. You may want a big sheet of paper for this! Go back as far as childhood.

These are just a few examples of how you can use this tool. You may find there are other areas you are stuck in that you need to “pull apart”. Get creative and start scribbling. Trust me… it will make a difference.

You never know what you’ll uncover… or how your ideas will change. This is a wonderful tool in helping you move forward!