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!

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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.

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.

SWOT Team

Stick with me, as we find tangible solutions to analysis paralysis.

I have identified the problem… and I have a plan!

In the last post, if you recall… it was all about this huge web of things that I could do… directions I could go in. And, an overwhelming… daunting task of trying to figure out which direction that should be. What do I do? Where do I go? What is the right direction?

What’s this plan you ask? Well we’ll be traveling from rooftop to rooftop… one building to another. Each building representing a safe place to land, a tangible solution, and forward motion. In order to go forward… you’ve got to DO something.

Ready? OK, let’s aim… shoot your web… and LAND!!

We’ve landed on building #1 — Building/joining a SWOT Team.

SWOT stands for “STRENGTHS”, “WEAKNESSES”, “OPPORTUNITIES”, and “THREATS”. Build your support network. Get with people you know will spur you on, keep you accountable, and support you… get with doers.

Don’t know where to find one? Ask around… or better yet, start your own!

Shortly after writing my last post on analysis paralysis… I realized I can’t do this alone. I can try. But, if left up to me alone.. I could easily get swallowed up in too much thinking and not doing. So, I called up a couple friends of mine, who I knew were going through the same things. We are ALL doers… trapped in our thoughts and possible strategies. And, we started our SWOT. Aptly named: “SWOT Away Analysis Paralysis”.

What’s involved in a SWOT Team?

Meet consistently. Pick a day that works for everyone, find a time, choose a location that is central to everyone, and set aside 1-2 hrs. Commit to meeting.

Documentation. If you’ve got folks on unemployment, each meeting counts as a job search contact. So, make sure to have a record of each meeting and who attended. You’ll need to make sure you’ve got contact info for each of your members. Including any new members who have recently joined your group.

Accountability. Set weekly goals… realistic and attainable goals (so, you can accomplish them). Include these four catagories: professional development, job search, personal business, and health. All are important in your career change or job search. If you do not identify or allow yourself to admit your personal business and/or health needs… you’ll feel lousy because they may be keeping you from achieving career related action items.

For instance… I’ve been focusing on a move for the past few weeks. I’m moving from a two bedroom apartment (where I own the majority of the furnishings, kitchen items, plus my bedroom/bathroom) and I’m downsizing into a single bedroom, bathroom… with the majority of my stuff packed in storage. It’s been a chore to meticulously comb through all my stuff and purge what I don’t need or want. Did I mention we have to be out of the apartment this Sunday?? (It’s Friday now.)

If my weekly goals this week were to look like: sending out four resumes, set up two informational interviews, check out new networking meetings to get leads for my career change or vision. None of it would get done… and, I would feel lousy because my goals didn’t get done. Where in reality, my priority was taking care of my move (personal business). If I set my goals to focus on taking care of the personal business… at the end of the week I have achieved my action items. And, I feel good about it. More than that, I’m identifying the realities… I’m allowing myself to be OK with honoring the priorities I need to focus on.

The same would be true of taking care of a health issue: not feeling well due to a cold/flu, doctor’s appointment, therapy. Maybe something you want accountability on is exercising three times a week. I remember not getting enough sleep over a three day period… and catching up on sleep became one of my high priorities for my weekly goals. Honor that!

We’ve learned in our SWOT team… we have to honor each aspect of our lives. And, we need to be able give ourselves credit. It helps us go into the next week… feeling more assured and confident. If we don’t give ourselves the credit, it’s easy to look back on the week prior… and say, man… I didn’t get anything done! When in reality, you did… or something legitimate was holding you back.

My weekly goals this week:

  1. Personal Business — Be moved out of the apartment (includes: cleaning, shampooing carpets, sorting/purging last minute odds & ends, Goodwill runs, last load to storage, walk through inspection, calling utility companies, and dropping off the keys.)
  2. Professional Development — Define table topics questions for Toastmasters presentation.
  3. Job Search — Send my resume to a friend who has offered to help craft a response to a job posting.

For the past few weeks… my Personal Business catagory has taken the most of my time and been the biggest priority.

Check in with each other. Ok, so you’ve got your goals. Now what? Next time you meet, check in with each other and find out how everyone did.

Identify. Talk about what’s holding you back… what your weaknesses are and what is threatening your search. Could be fears… could be lack of time/too many extra commitments… or could be needing more experience.

Support. As iron sharpens iron… spur each other on. And, support each other. Give affirmations. Build each other up with encouragement.

Tangible tools. In our group, we’ve talked about setting aside time (or meetings) to work specifically on filling out applications… and crafting resumes. Find out what the needs are of your group, and set aside some meeting time to actively complete tasks together (working separately, but each person is actively working, on say, an application.)

Networking. One primary reason this team counts as a job search contact, is because of the networking aspect. Two heads are better than one. Where are you stuck? Who do you need that informational interview with? Maybe you need the name of a hiring manager of a company… a warm introduction. Or… a lead on a consulting project you’re working on. SWOT team is an easy way to share networking contacts.

Ok… you’ve landed on a safe rooftop. What are you going to do about it?

Next up… building #2. Defining your vision. What in the world is it that you want to do?

Analysis Paralysis…

I’ve hit another brick wall.

On one hand, I want to tell you all about what kinds of services will be held at the resource center. But, on the other I’m realizing there is a ton going on “behind the scenes” that I need to give attention to right now…

The cell phone has been on the fritz, the computer crashed, the car is on it’s last leg. Yes… all three at one time. The water stopped… for no reason. I swear I paid that bill. During the month of December, my unemployment insurance was sitting on shaky ground.

That darn life stuff! It always has a way of sneaking in… sometimes at the most un-welcomed times. After all, there are some things I could do without dealing with.

So, how do you get to what you want? While, navigating the curve balls life throws at you. I read a great quote recently… which inspired me to push forward.

“Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.” — Willis R. Whitney — Underneath the quote the author goes on to say… “Give yourself a reason to follow and fulfill your dream. All it takes is one.”

So true.

What if you’ve got the reason… it’s just trying to figure out how to get there, that’s causing you to get stuck?

That’s where I’ve been. Behind the scenes, I’ve gotten stuck. Stuck in the thinking… through all the different directions I could go in: get my Master’s degree in Social Work, get a certificate in Event Planning, informational interviews, work in event management with non-profits or restaurants, identify organizations/people to work with, identify ways to gain experience, new people to network with… I get overwhelmed just thinking about what I could do.

Analysis Paralysis

You get really good at thinking through all the ways you can get it done. But, you get paralyzed in the doing.

I imagine myself like Spider Man… having the ability to shoot fast a web (from each wrist) that will stick to any building I aim at. But… there are so many options. So many buildings. Which one is the right one… which one is a safe one to land on? So… I sit on the rooftop overlooking the city pondering. What do I do? Which way do I go? Which building do I jump to.

So, what I’ve figured out is… the more I stare at what’s ahead of me. The more daunting it becomes… the more overwhelmed I feel… and the less that actually gets done. I worry about all the possibilities… the directions to take… and the deadlines that go with it.

The longer I look over the city and ponder which direction to take… the more comfortable I get on the rooftop I’m currently sitting on. Even though, I don’t like where I am. Sound familiar?

Analysis Paralysis.

Want to know what I’ve learned?

You can’t do it all… and you can’t do it ALL right now. It’s OK to let somethings go. Do one thing at time. Commit to doing one task a day. It will feel like in the beginning… that you aren’t getting much done. But, over the course of a week or a month… you’ll have gotten a lot done. It will FEEL good! And… it may open up doors to new opportunities, you didn’t expect.

So, I’ve put my focus on working on one big task a day (which includes a variety of projects — from sending out resumes to calculating mileage). And… I’m giving myself some grace as well. It is true that sending a non-perfect resume is better than no resume at all.

I’m tackling my big stuff first. Getting a new cell phone carrier (less money to spend each month). Filling out FAFSA applications. Calculating mileage for taxes. Networking with key people. Responding to emails. Finding courage and the motivation to walk through fears — to ask for what I want. More importantly, contacting key people and introducing out-of-the-box ideas — that can help me get closer to what I want to do.

And, I’ve made a pact with myself, if I can send one resume, ask for something that helps me get closer to what I want to do, or complete one big project each day… then, with my time afterwards… I can focus on brainstorming the vision. I can write more on what that looks like. I can work on a projected budget. I can identify people and organizations to collaborate with.

Join me… in getting unstuck!

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.

Revealing Community – On the Coat Tails of Worry

cough

This last week has been filled with worry. If you read my last post, you know I’ve been a little concerned about health coverage. Last week, I came down with some sort of respiratory thing that seems to have gotten everyone down from New Jersey to Texas. What it is… I don’t know. It seems to be a mix of different things. Sinuses, chest cold, sore throat… Jeff thinks possibly a strain of the Swine Flu.women_in_kidney_stones_pain

My cough seems to be getting better, but with more gunk coming up. I haven’t slept much. What’s made me the most concerned lately is pain flanking my kidneys and the symptoms that have been keeping me up most nights recently.  As you could imagine, worry, worry… worry. Note: I have an appointment with a Urologist tomorrow morning.

P1050273If that isn’t enough, today has been a bah humbug sort of day. The sink backed up due to a leak in our garbage disposal. It’s been that way for a week. There are dishes piled up everywhere, the trash smells… and when I open the refrigerator door… all the food crammed on my shelves (my room-mate’s shelves are well organized) falls out. Hrumph! To top it all off my toilet has backed up. I pray it doesn’t over-flow… it looks disgusting! I think it’s time to call somebody!!

Sound familiar? What do you do… and, who do you call? Something tells me the Ghostbusters aren’t gonna help in this scenario.

Well, it’s Laura to the rescue at New Creations. What a good group session today! On the coat tails of worry and stinky (literally) days. I went to my networking group. And, wouldn’t you know it… guess what we talked about!  Building your personal community (people you call onrotary-cell-phone) and where you feel like you have gaps (when you feel you don’t have anyone to support you in specific areas).

debriefer maytag repairman richmondWe talked about the difference between personal and professional networking groups… and the importance of both. Today was mainly about how to build and maintain your personal network. Identify who they are. Are you connected in the important areas of finding support for work challenges, household dilemas (the water closet backing up), healthcare (doctors, dentists, chiropractors), do you have people to call on when your having a crappy day, when there are things that are out of your control (life coaches, counselors, mentors), when the bills are piling up and you have no idea how to pay them (financial advisors)…and the list goes on.

Also included was how you feel asking for help (getting in tune with your emotions) and how it feels to have people to call on to help you out with all the stuff building up in your life.6a00e54ef6fd3b883400e551c5adcd8834-800wi

The question for peer support today… where are the gaps in your personal network?

After a week of worrying about health concerns, financial woes, wondering when I would have time to study my GRE book, and dealing with the sink backing up… I could answer that question.

In my next post, I’ll share with you the exercise we did – identifying our personal network (We made a visual illustration. I thought that helped put it in a bigger perspective.) And, maybe share with you some of my gaps… as well as some of the insights I picked up.

My new journal…

Remember that journal I was talking about before?  Well, it’s been a few months since I bought it. I found this great little, colorful, red, yellow and white, fabric bound, floral journal at Target. It had my name written all over it. It said to me “inspiration” — “buy me, buy me”. I couldn’t wait to get it home and start writing.

2517590361_b746da8b81Since then, I’ve written off and on in it. That was back in April. One of the things I love about going to my Monday afternoon networking group, is the facilitator. She is genuinely real. And, that in itself is helpful in moving forward. When she encourages us to write, she acknowledges that you don’t have to say anything astounding, just take the time to write something… anything, and the rest will follow. You’d be surprised at what follows.

So, when I get a great idea (no matter how crazy it sounds – even if it doesn’t relate to what I’m doing) I writWomanWritinge it down… or if I’ve had a bad day, perhaps an exercise we’ve completed during our peer support time, an insight I’ve realized, input from others, the top 98 things I want to do in life (I kind of petered out before 100)… and sometimes just a sentence that says… I can’t think of anything today.

Part of what I want to share in this blog is how I’m getting from point A to point B. In doing that, I’ll be sharing some of my journal excerpts. Some are funny and some are just what they are. I also want to share some of the exercises I’m working through. Who knows, you might find something helpful that works for you. Or, maybe you’ll just be entertained.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a to-go cup, packed inside my messenger bag spilled all over my cool, new, Target journal leaving the pages looking like hirogliphics, wet and wavy. I tried to dry them out. As I look through the pages now, it’s funny how the words run together.  Ya know, I couldn’t start a new one now… after all it’s part of my adventure.

Getting Started… Step #3

Step #3… Courage
courage

Go in the direction of your dreams...

Need I say more? Remember all that fear I spoke about earlier. This is the step that moves us past our fears. Even if just in baby steps. Baby steps are still forward progress!

It’s not easy doing this. It’s down right daunting! I get stuck fairly often, I hit what feels like brick walls, I get frustrated and sometimes all I want to do is take a break. A… long break. If it wasn’t for having a little courage, I wouldn’t get up and move forward again. I would sit on this dream and that’s what it would stay… just a dream.

I have a favorite quote: “Go in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined.” — Henry David Thoreau

I think he knew a little something about life.

So, when things get a little hairy for you and you feel like you’re losing your way… you’ve hit a brick wall… or like you’ve got some fear holding you back… say this quote out loud to yourself and see how it might transform the fear into possibility.

These are the words I live by.