Reflections of 2012 – Persistence

In years past, I did a personal reflection of the year using a template from a few online friends. But this year, I want to focus on one specific theme from 2012 and also fill you in on my goal progress (from my mid-year check-in).

2012 Was All About Persistence

I am not a fan of “choosing your one word of the year.” That’s too much commitment for me, not to mention that I hardly follow a straight-line path anywhere. But when thinking about 2012, the only thing that kept popping into my head was the word persistence. So I guess I’m adopting the one-word as my theme for 2012, looking back.

When the year started, I was fresh from completing a life-changing course, Make Sh*t Happen. But I still didn’t have any idea of where I was truly going next. Instead, I found “my leader” through that process and gained a community of supporters. I just wasn’t sure what I needed their support for… yet. And then an amazing thing happened. I was excited to start building, start working, start creating.

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5 Steps to Stop the “What If” Treadmill

Quick note: Be sure to head over to the Brazen Careerist’s Blog (Brazen Life) this afternoon, where I share 4 Ways to Get Pumped About Your Current Job.

The act of starting is the key to success that many of us never reach because we are still on a treadmill loop of the What Ifs. For each decision, there are several different outcomes, barriers, potential domino effects, and so on. And if you’re anything like me, you hesitate to make a decision until you have thought of every single What If, a thousand times over.

It becomes your new internal soundtrack. You can’t concentrate on anything else.

Your brain is stuck on examining all of the reasons why you absolutely cannot move forward in a specific direction: you’re not going to get paid enough, you don’t have enough experience, you’re too young, you have a family to support, you’ve never lived away from your parents before, how could you waste so much money or so much time.

Pretty soon, one small What If, turns into a huge story you tell yourself – all swirling around in your head, gaining steam and traction, until you are certain that you original idea was so ridiculous, that you were crazy to think it in the first place.

Being the over-analyzer that I am, this What If treadmill used to be my friend (and probably the only treadmill I’d ever hop on). It used to keep me comfortable, it used to keep me on the safe path, and it refused to let me DO anything that had any value to me.

And even more than holding me back from starting or doing, it was also insulating me from who I truly am. I couldn’t possibly quit my job, or move across the country, or get a cat, or buy a new car, or go back to school, or so on – only after getting off that mental treadmill, was I able to see how much I was holding myself back – wishing that I had taken many steps so much sooner.

5 Steps to Get off the What If Treadmill

1. Get all of your What Ifs out of your head.

I know, genius, right? But stop giving your What Ifs power by letting them grow and fester in your mind. WRITE THEM DOWN. Stop living in your head.

Be fully transparent with yourself, you do not have to share your What Ifs with anyone, but write down in one setting, each and every potential road block along with all of the intricacies.

Do not stop at only the “why I can’t do this,” but also capture “the because” that follows. This step alone will help you feel lighter, and less pressured – I promise. If you still feel as though you’re stuck in a specific decision cycle, continue to the next step.

2. Reality-check your treadmill.

Seeing your various options written down on paper in front of you, cross out the ones that feel ridiculous – sometimes our minds get away from the reality of the situation, and seeing it written can seem like it’s laughable or even implausible. Cross the What Ifs that make no sense to you on paper, and if they all make sense, at least you have thoroughly reviewed your options.

3. Worst case scenario it.

In college, my roommate gave me the Worst Case Scenario book and it made me realize that sometimes the worst thing that could happen isn’t all that bad after all. Go back and review your remaining list and figure out what is the absolute worst thing that could happen for each If. Think each scenario all the way through and be sure to capture it on your index card or paper.

4. Let it breathe.

You do not have to make a decision right.this.moment for most decisions. If this is a situation that you’ve been pondering for enough time to let it hop on the treadmill to begin with, I’m guessing it’s not an urgent life or death situation.

So let your What Ifs and the scenarios, breathe. Look at them, revisit them a few times, and continue to see which ones resonate and which ones can be crossed off the list. Some are just not practical, and others may seem too aggressive. That’s ok – just sit with them for at least 24 hours, and let each If breathe.

5. Give yourself a deadline.

Pick a date in the near future that you will make the decision by – pick one that feels comfortable to you, and subtract one day. Make a commitment to yourself that you will have a decision of how to move forward by that date, period. If you need someone to help hold you accountable to that decision date, let me know – I’d be happy to help you out with that.

Cover Letters Galore (Part 1)

Ok, I admit it – cover letters are the bane of my existence. When I am job hunting, I absolutely loathe them and try to do everything in my power to circumvent them. Unfortunately, with the way most companies hire today, a cover letter is a necessary evil – so here are some tips and tricks to help you stand out from the crowd… and start to turn your cover letter frown, upside down.

How to Write A Cover Letter

  1. The cover letter goes in the body of your email. I’m not sure how or why so many people get this wrong, but do not attach your cover letter… anywhere. When you apply via email, your email IS your cover letter – so put all of the goodies in the actual body of the email. When you are applying via online program such as Taleo or Brassrings, I recommend pasting your cover letter into the space, versus doing it as an upload. This way, you know exactly which cover letter you’ve attached and helps alleviate another blunder. A hiring manager or recruiter is not going to waste time opening another document, so make it as easy as possible for them to get a snapshot of what you bring to the table.
  2. Have three simple and short paragraphs –that’s it.
    1. Paragraph one: tell me who you are, where you found the position, which position you are applying for, and one engaging fact.
    2. Paragraph two: your differentiators – what makes you the best candidate for the job; what skills and/or experience do you have that directly relates to my position that is not highlighted verbatim on your resume.
    3. Paragraph three: leave me with one fun or interesting nugget to remember you by and also how and when you can be contacted.
  3. Don’t say “I’m the best candidate for this job:” I’m already assuming you feel you are the best candidate for the job, since you’ve decided to apply. Instead, SHOW me all of the ways you are the best fit – what have you done that would support that statement, what else? Keep digging deeper until you are sure that your dad (or insert another non-industry adult) would understand your accomplishments, without knowing you personally.
  4. (Shhh… here’s a secret) We only really read these when we’re on the fence about you. This is your supporting material and provides your only other opportunity besides your resume, to make me interested in you. Your tone should be confident, your personality should shine through, and you should absolutely show off your experience and assets. This is your own personal back-up collateral, so make sure it represents you in your best light.
  5. Remove the gimmicks, insults, and superlatives. If you’re making me roll my eyes, you are going in the no pile. I don’t want to hear what your colleagues say about you, or how great your parents think you are. I want to see actual results – “I launched two HR departments at small companies which resulted in X, Y, and Z. This experience will directly correlate with the change management initiative responsibilities you’ve included in the job description.”

Follow Your Dreams – You’re Never Too Old… Or Too Young

Bold acrylic necklaceI just spent an amazing weekend in New York for the Make Sh*t Happen Weekend of Genius, and I am so energized and inspired by the others who attended. While I learned MANY things from them (and there is more to follow about the experience), I kept thinking that you are never too old… or too young, to start.

Until this weekend, I was usually the youngest person in the room trying to prove my experience and credibility to an older crowd: “listen to me, I know what I’m talking about;” “I have a new perspective, I’m not being juvenile;” “I have the pulse on the market you’re trying to target – listen to me!” But the tables finally turned on me, and I experienced feeling too old or too experienced to blaze a new path. My peers in the room were much younger than me and having the same thoughts, concerns and questions: “am I on the right path?;” “is it too soon to follow my dreams;” “will people take me seriously?”

You are Never Too Old or Too Young to Follow Your Dreams – BE BOLD

Following your dreams is not about age, it’s about being bold enough to put your thoughts into action. When in doubt, remember to BE BOLD!

Brave:

  • Being brave enough to question your path and follow your dreams, does not follow a specific timeline. Asking difficult questions and being strong enough and give words and action to your inner most desires and dreams, allows you to plant the seeds to follow any career dream.

Expertise:

  • You do not have to have 10 years of corporate experience before you are considered an expert. You do not need to be a recent grad or a millennial, to go after a career that fulfills you. Expertise does not come with age – in either direction, it comes with knowledge, skills, hard work, and the drive to make yourself into an expert in something that you enjoy.

Believe:

  • Believing in yourself and your dreams is the single most important step in the journey. If you do not believe that you are capable of your wild path, then why would anyone else? Great leaps in our society have always come from people whose ideas were doubted and ridiculed – but they believed in their idea and never gave up. You are not silly/crazy/ridiculous/unrealistic for wanting something different – believe in YOU, even if it feels like no one else does. You are not alone in your desire to change, and your belief in yourself will help you find others on the same journey.

Own it:

  • No more excuses – eliminate all of your excuses. Never again fall back on that crutch of your excuses: being too old; being too young; having a family (or not having one); starting over; not having enough/too much experience; not enough money saved up; not knowing where to start. Own your dream, just like you would any other object. You have to put gas in your car and water your plants for both to work – treat your dream like something that needs to be nurtured, and do not let excuses get in your way – keep watering it.

Learn:

  • Learn everything you possibly can about your dream and then learn some more. Objections are more easily assuaged when we have facts to negate them. Learn about the facets of your dream, learn who the key players are and connect with them for advice, learn about the many paths to fulfillment, learn the skills needed to do your dream job. Turn your inner naysayer into a supporter through knowledge – and then apply your knowledge as part of your differentiation package.

Determination:

  • Never give up on your dream. I’m not going to lie to you – it’s hard to stay on track and keep at it when you are going against the “normal” path. Following your dream takes all of the things above, but without determination and perseverance, your dream will never turn into reality. This is the action step – this is the differentiator between people who are dreamers versus people who are doers. You don’t have to be the best, the smartest, the youngest, the oldest, the most creative – you have to be the most determined. You have to continue to focus on your dream and not lose sight that your dream is worth pursuing; your personal path is meant to have some bumps – or you wouldn’t appreciate it as much once you arrive.

Photo Credit: By sakocreative

Take this Job… I Quit!

That’s right folks… I did it – I quit my job to be a full-time solopreneur. I am so excited (and nervous, exhilarated, happy, determined) and so much more! There must be something in the water, as I’ve seen a few people venturing out on their own recently, including some of my fav peeps Suba over at Wealth Informatics; Emily at Authentically Social; and Beatriz at Breakthru Life.

Leaving my job was surprisingly one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. Please don’t groan and roll your eyes – it’s not that easy of a decision for everyone and most people agonize over it for ages (here’s one of my favorite posts about this over at Jenny Blake’s Life After College blog). It was easy for me because I planned for it – I have been saving money for some time to help cushion the big exit; I have been earning income in my side hustle; and I had a planned path of where I was going. The clincher for me though, was when I was frustrated with the limitations my day-job was putting on my side hustle. It was holding me back, coupled with a dread of having to show up there every day, and I knew that it was time to peace out.

So to address all of your burning quitting questions…

Q1: How did you know you had enough money saved?

A1: This is something I struggled with the most. I don’t think you can ever have “enough” money saved when you venture out on your own, but I challenged myself to be disciplined about what I needed versus what I wanted. I did a budget to figure out exactly where and how I spend my money, and then calculated how much money I would need available to cover my absolute expenses. I then multiplied that by six months (this was the cushion I determined was best for me), and saved it up! One of the best financial bloggers out there J Money, would probably scream at me for this, but I also did a “worst case scenario” situation where I looked at which expenses could be put on an interest free credit card, should I need additional cash flow in the future.

Side note: I also had an income goal before I quit. I wanted to have a specific number of clients and a set income prior to me quitting. This was HARD, I’m not known for my patience, but it absolutely has helped eliminate some of the fear about never making a dime.

Q2: What are you going to do about health insurance?

A2: I am honestly surprised at how often this has been asked. Health insurance is not that difficult to get – honestly. I wasn’t even on the company’s plan until recently, as I had a less expensive and more comprehensive plan through eHealth Insurance. That being said, I am waiting to see all of the details behind COBRA and will make the determination based on that – going on COBRA or purchasing an individual plan. I am lucky in that I do not need a family plan, so this is not going to be the huge expense it could be for others, but this was not a huge factor in my decision.

Q3: How are you going to spend your day?

A3: This is my favorite question! My dad even jokes that I’m retiring… I’m not. In fact, I will be working a lot more than I was before. My days will be spent coaching clients, helping people with their resume packages/materials, some HR corporate consulting, speaking engagements, and writing. I’ll be a busy gal – promise. I am currently accepting new clients – so if you’re interested, please drop me a line!

Q4: How are people reacting?

A4: Truth moment here – when I quit my job the first time around, this was one of the hardest things I encountered and no one warned me! People typically fell into one of two camps: super excited, if not somewhat jealous; or completely resistant, and somewhat nasty. I’ll be covering this in-depth here, but I wanted to put that out there!

This time around, I haven’t yet encountered many naysayers. YAY! Most people are excited for me, or try to give me advice about how to be cautious. I am so confident in where I am going, that perhaps my perspective is changing the way others are responding. Either way, I know how to answer “What do you do for a living?” question when I am out and about. That’s my best advice for now – know the answer to that question… and I have turned it into a game, counting how many times I’m asked that each day – the number is higher than you would ever imagine.

Q5: What’s your back-up plan?

A5: This question makes me cringe, but it’s an honest question – so here’s my answer. My plan is to make THIS WORK. I set aggressive goals to reach a certain number of clients and income prior to leaving my job, to help reassure me that it WILL work. Ok, that being said – I don’t have a safety net so to speak… I don’t have the option of moving in with my parents if this doesn’t work out; I don’t have a ton of assets I can sell off to cover this; I’m not independently wealthy nor do I have a second income in my household. My back-up plan consists of continuing to work at this, to make it work – if that means I have to go back to a corporate job for some time while I work out the kinks, so be it. I’m opposed to doing everything I can possibly do to MAKE THIS WORK – because I believe in what I am helping others accomplish, so I am open to any speed bumps that are thrown my way!

Have additional burning quitting questions? Let me know – I’d be more than happy to address them! Melissa at LoosenYourWhiteCollar dot com.

 

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