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!

Vision Board

Hopefully you’ve got some supplies started: magazines, glue sticks, and something to stick them on. As we head to building #3… the vision board.

The vision board is much like the inventory book. Except it allows you to be more vague. Perhaps you are not clearly defined. The inventory book helped me clear out all the stuff I was thinking about and put them in concrete categories. It helped me see it visually. Having a full understanding of who I am helps me. But, perhaps… you are working from another angle… or, you need something to supplement.

Do you have a vision? Do you know what you want to do? Or… are you still trying to figure it out? Maybe… you are somewhere in between.

With the vision board, get your magazines out again. Rip, rip… rip!! Again you don’t have to be an artist to do this. You’ll need the same tools as with the inventory book, with the exception of the sketchbook. You’ll want to substitute poster board for the book. Start… ripping photos and phrases that speak to you. If you linger on something for more than a couple of seconds, then rip it out. It’s OK if the images or phrases are negative. Perhaps, you’ve got something you are working through right now. The difference is… between this exercise and the last one, you don’t have to know why. With the inventory book, we had a list of categories. This time… it’s a free for all.

A vision board is helpful in determining what is it that you want to see in your future. For me, I have a vision for a nonprofit that I want to make a reality. But, I am not sure what it will look like. I don’t feel as concrete (due to insights and new ideas) on how to get started or what the end result will turn into. Allowing myself to create a more vague representation helps me see the direction I want to go in. It allows me to be flexible in the vision. I can rip out and start again (on poster board).

Perhaps your vision board represents your career, the way you want to live your life, or something that is meaningful to you. Right now, you may be less able to define it or put words to it. You may be in a vague place. You want to start somewhere… but, you don’t know where. Trust me… on this. The act of doing this exercise will enlighten your mind. You will become more aware of yourself, your desires, your passions… where you see yourself going… more importantly what you want for yourself and in your life. Those things may have been lying dormant for some time lost in the compartments of your mind.

How do you create your board?

You’ve got your clippings ripped out. Now, start to place them in an arrangement on your poster board. You’ll decide what goes where. Allow yourself to be flexible. Try not to limit yourself to concrete categories. Allow yourself to see the big picture. It’s OK if it’s messy. And, it’s OK if you’ve got some negative stuff in there. You can arrange like clippings with like clippings or your board can be more spread out.

Now, take a step back.

What resonates with you? What do the photographs and phrases mean to you? What do they suggest? What is your board representing?

Have you learned about yourself in this exercise? What important areas of your life longings have been laying dormant? Is there something specific that you want/need to work through?

This board may be a good step for you in getting unstuck. As it allows you to not have everything defined right now… and to allow yourself to be OK with that. You don’t have to have everything laid out or all-put-together right now.

A great place for this… hang this on your refrigerator or on the wall as a reminder of what you want or are trying to accomplish. Use this as motivation. Put it in a place you will see it.

Inventory Book

OK… so, you’ve got a SWOT Team… now what?

Well… it helps to know what you want to do.

Have you got ideas? Are you starting completely from scratch? Do you have direction? What’s holding you back?? It’s time to aim at another building. Are you ready? OK… you know what to do… let’s aim… shoot… and land!

Building #2 — Gaining perspective by taking inventory of yourself.

How does taking inventory help you gain direction? An inventory helps you better understand who you are… and not specifically the career side of yourself. You’re whole self. You’ll be able to determine visually from your findings what fits you and what does not.

We’ll look a few different methods.

Taking a personal inventory of yourself can take shape in several different ways. Some methods may work for you and some may not. I’ll share with you what works for me… as well as, some other methods to try.

First Method: Inventory Book

I’ve created an inventory book… including everything from my values to my ideal office. What works for me… may not work for you. When asked… it’s difficult for me to spontaneously make a list of my accomplishments, skills, values, etc. — my mind goes blank. I have trouble articulating quickly or generating a list of my talents. What I am not able to articulate via lists or stories. I can articulate through pictures and words found in magazines, postcards, and other paper media sources.

There is something special that happens when you allow yourself to tap into different parts of your brain. So, that’s what we are going to do. You DON’T have to be an artist to do this.

Tools:

  • Sketch book (mine is a 70 pg Academie sketch diary — 14″x11″)
  • Magazines
  • Glue Stick
  • Scissor (specifically for cutting paper)
  • Magic Markers

If you don’t have any magazines, most local libraries recycle magzines and offer them free of charge to the public. So… go crazy. Collect all types. Don’t limit yourself to only magazines you would usually purchase.

I like to have a variety of magazines covering: home, small business, money, backpacking, computers, etc. Look at manuals, post cards, newspapers, and brochures. I think that the post cards for local events offer great slogans and photos.

What to do:

  • Rip, rip, rip!!!
  • Tear out ANYTHING that stands out to you. If you find something that you linger on, rip it out. Rip out words, phrases, and best of all photos/pictures.

1. Once you’ve got a pile of clippings ripped out (ripped or cut, they don’t have to be cut perfectly), start to sort into piles the clippings. Like goes with like. For instance, I’ve sorted mine via: fashion, work, ideal office, values, personality, home, relationships, odds & ends, recipes, etc. Do what works for you.

Where to start:

I started with my strengths. I’d been working through the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” put on by the Gallup Organization… the book includes a special quiz you can take that will determine what your five primary strengths are. Plus a description of what that looks like. Mine included: Strategic, Relator, Individualization, Ideation, and Input.

You can start with anything: strengths, values, what you were like in junior high, your personality, interests, etc. It’s easier to let your book evolve naturally instead of planning it out per each page. You may realize that you want to add or subtract information.

My table of contents looks something like this:

  • Strengths
  • My Ideal Job
  • Spiritual Gifting
  • Personality
  • Fruits of the Spirit
  • Top Three Values
  • Life Values
  • Natural Gifts
  • Honoring Gifts (including realizations)
  • What I don’t want
  • Fears
  • Interests
  • Ideals (Career) — office, ideal day, wardrobe, etc…

I will add more as I continue to take inventory of myself.

2. With magic marker in hand… label your page in large letters.

3. Next, grab your glue stick, scissors for trimming (if you want), and clippings. Start placing them on your page. It’s up to you to determine the best layout/placement that will communicate what you are trying to say.

I found as I was arranging my clippings, insights would form. For instance, while I was creating my natural gifts page… it helped me to see visually all of my natural skills and talents. As I am on unemployment searching for a job (paying rent is good). I realized… by being able to “see”… visually seeing something I had physically created… this collage showed me that taking administrative jobs was not an answer! Yes, clerical jobs may be readily available… but, they don’t fit me. I also was able to see what natural gifts I was NOT honoring. And, from there… the realization of what I DID NOT want to do in the vision that I have. What a surprise that was! And… what a relief to realize it!! Now, I can better hone my role and my vision.

So, let your pages evolve AS you are doing them.

From creating this book, not only do I better understand myself… I better understand changes I want to make to my vision and how to present it. I know what my passions are and now I can see better what they are not. Very important in gaining ground and determining direction in your career.

Revealing Community — The Exercise

As promised, I wanted to share with you the exercise we did in my networking group. Thanks to Laura leaving a comment on Monday’s post, you can access this and many other useful exercises via the book ” The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life” by Renee Peterson Trudeau (2006, Balanced Living Press). Check out her website.

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Renee, I think when I can scrape together some funds, I might look into some sessions with her myself. She and others in her firm do work/life coaching, trainings, and work shops. I’ve always been passionate about teaching others life skills… so, shoot I think I could benefit from a little life coaching myself. Plus, I like that she is a career strategist (great for changing careers). I like strategy. Strategy is good.

OK, let’s get to it…

pen-and-blank-paper-300x225First things first. Grab a blank sheet of paper (colored, printer, college ruled… they all work). Next, draw a smallish circle in the middle of the page and write your name in it. Next, on your blank page with a circle in the center, draw a large circle around the perimeter of the page. It should be near the edges of your paper. It should look sort of like an Avocado with a pit in the center. Now, divide your large circle/oval into four quadrants (do not draw lines through your smaller circle containing your name). On the outside of the large circle, in each quadrant, write these catagories: self (or: close connections), family/friends (or: new connections, the secondary and/or tertiary layers), household, and work community. And lastly, from the smaller circle containing your name, draw 2-3 smaller lines shooting out like sun rays in each quadrant. Make sense?

Now… the object of this exercise is to identify who you already have in your personal network. And, the visual illustration will help you see that… wow… look at the reality of how you are connected. It will also help you determine where your gaps are.image2

From here, make a list of ALL the people you have in your life. Include in this list: doctors, financial advisors, repairmen/repair friends, mechanics, hair stylists, therapists, life coaches, mentors, meet-up friends… advisors in whatever you need advice in. And, also include your work community, co-workers, advisors in resume writing, job coaches, networking groups, etc. Include close friends you can call on when you have a crappy day or need help with an errand…. or you need a vacation… friends you go away with.  Include family and other supports.

OK, hopefully now you’ve got a good sized list made.

connected1_id145844_jpg_Start plugging in all these folks into your drawing. It’s from there, you’ll start to see how well you are connected. You aren’t alone. You don’t have to do all this by yourself. You’ll also see what areas are missing support. The gaps.

I know I promised insights I’d received and where my gaps were being revealed… let’s save that for the next post. Otherwise, you’ll want to get a cup O’Joe to read a long-winded post. So, instead, use this time to see what was revealed to you in this exercise and determine in what areas you need more connection or you’d like to build up more support.