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Discovering Your Secret Sauce to An Enriched Life

Intention and Inspiration

Happy Monday! We hope you had a great weekend and are refreshed and ready for a great week ahead. Our intention with these Monday posts is not only to share with you what’s going on in our world…but to expose you to a new perspective and some inspiration for you to carry for your week.

This week’s Musical Musing is inspired by Lesson 11 of our Avoid a Cruel Summer eCourse and will hopefully inspire you to try something new this week….

Lesson 11: Learn. Interesting. Stuff. (A Sneak Peek)

Okay, so do you really make an effort to learn new things? Do you have a favorite source that actually teaches you something new on a regular basis? This is especially important if you are unemployed, underemployed, or planning out your attack for making your dream career come true. Or… if you are in the first or second year of owning your own business… (you get the idea).

Part of what keeps us motivated to Do More Great Work (a fantastic book, by the way) is the stimulation of learning new things. How do you respond to these new ideas? Do you agree or disagree? Can exploring these new and interesting things enrich your social network or your world in general somehow? This truly has the potential to be your secret sauce. (Tracy and I speak from experience on this one!)

We’re not just talking about your career and learning things that will help you with your economic game. We’re talking about the happiness factor, too.

And the eCourse Lesson doesn’t stop there.

When was the last time you challenged yourself to learn something new?

Let us know your favorite sources to learn something new in the comments!

Musical Musing of the Week

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzx_78KExwQ&feature=plcp

 

Quick note: There is EXACTLY one week left to apply for our Scholarship Contest. We have FIVE scholarships to give away, and we can’t wait to see who we’re going to get to work with this year, so don’t pass up this opportunity to explore your greatest self!

 

 

Nope. You Can’t Have It All.

In this week’s newsletter, I used the Secret Sessions with Tracy column to discuss success, and how you can feel safe and confident with what you already have. About a month ago, I saw my female Generation Y Facebook friends rapidly posting Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece in The Atlantic on how she discovered through her personal journey working for Secretary Clinton and balancing her desires to be a better mom to her teenage son that women couldn’t have it all. The online dialogue about this hasn’t stopped and I decided to throw my own two cents in and would love your comments.

I had never heard of Professor Slaughter before I read her piece and it sounded like she has an amazing and intense career with crazy impressive credentials, all earned while growing a family. I admire her for that and my intent is not to bring down another woman, but she published her piece in the public domain opening it up for discussion. And when I read her article, I hate to say that I cringed over and over again. I wondered if The Atlantic was afraid of editing such a distinguished academic, but it seemed rambling at times and more importantly, I just didn’t get her point.

I know women are responding to this article because they really want to have it all. My take is that is just not possible. We have limited resources, including time, energy, emotions, and money and there are just too much in today’s world to experience it “all” at high levels. Really, for an effective life, the focus must be on enough, and you can have enough of what you want with clarity and strategy.

Here are three coaching tips for folks who are feeling unfulfilled with the current status of their lives.

Do you know what “all” is?

When I read the piece, I had no idea what “all” was for Slaughter (I’m not going to recap the article so if you haven’t read it, please visit the link above for context). Was “all” really working 18-hour days for someone else doing bureaucratic work? Because the work that she described she was doing at the state department didn’t sound fulfilling and she hinted it was a pain the ass. So was it the title, power, and access? If it was the second that she truly wanted, there are lots of different ways to achieve that with different time constructs and relationships.

Second, did Slaughter want to spend more time with her son or did she just feel guilty about the decisions she had made? It was unclear to me. I wouldn’t judge any parent for making decisions about her life balance- after all, earning a good living and taking care of your life is important to being a good caretaker. But you have to know and then act accordingly.

The “all” you almost everyone is aiming for is experienced through emotional satisfaction and flow, not a collection of achievements and experiences. We have a hard time with this because job titles are so tangible and feelings are amorphous, but it’s the path to contentment.

No one gets unlimited time so get comfortable making choices and determining priorities.

Maybe it was just clear to me, but Slaughter seemed to want to do 48 hours of activity in every day, which limited her credibility on the topic for me. Time management is not a mother or gender issue. You must make choices about your time and energy. No one gets to avoid prioritizing.

When I chose to start a company, I knew that for a specific period of time I would work monster hours, be stressed about money, and potentially strain my relationships, as well as put a temporary halt on my quest to start a family. This was a choice I made because the urge to start my company was so strong. Logically, you cannot starts something without initial sacrifices and I talked about this when I was a guest on the GTD Virtual Study Group podcast. I made a commitment to limit the period of my sacrifice as I gained more resources and understanding of strategy that worked for me. Again, make timebound choices that make you feel empowered.

Finally, You can do more things if you accept you can’t be perfect at everything. Sometimes your work won’t be as great as you want it to be, but you’ll probably be the only one who notices. And yes, daycare is essential, but your guilt is not. So ask yourself what can I delegate? What can I ask for help with? What can you say no to? This piece from Fast Company on the myth of “work life balance” has more specific tips I highly recommend.

Your story is not only about you.

The part that left me with the most discomfort after reading Slaughter’s piece is how she treated the role of her husband and son in her journey. Her marriage may be fantastic, but her choices in writing on how she recognized their role in her journey was troubling to me. You can’t tell your story without the inclusion of critical characters.

What we do has an impact on our friends, family, and others. Life is about enjoyment and sharing experiences and you can’t hole yourself on a solo path without including people. All or enough is no fun on your own. Your relationships should not be an end destiny or about is not about ownership and collection. How can you plan to be present others while pursuing your goals and not have them as part of your collateral damage.

So what do you think? And if you want to read more about it, Harvard Business Review had a great series on Slaughter’s piece. Here are three posts from that series I highly recommend reading.

Anne-Marie Slaughter Misses a Huge Opportunity by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
– how Slaughter’s focus on motherhood is a disservice when childless women face the same issues (amen, sister)

“Having It All” Is Not a Women’s Issue by Stew Friedman
– the male response

Sandberg vs Slaughter, Who Wins? Business Loses by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
– what is our responsibility as women in creating power in the workplace?

 

Rosie the Riveter image courtesy of Wikipedia

Hello, World.

Well, hello there. I know it’s been a few (5?) months since there has been a new blog post on our site. The absence has been mostly by design, but I’m happy to be back!

So let’s get up to date and reacquainted.

Where I’ve Been

My time offline has been spent accomplishing and experiencing things I set as goals when I decided to go out on my own in July 2010. Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve been doing.

1. I’ve been making money on my own terms and making an impact with clients. This is the number one reason I went out on my own- because I believed that I could make a difference in the world and be self-sufficient doing it. I just finished my 2011 financials and revenue-wise, I brought more money in the door in 2011 than any previous year in my life and 2012 looks to be on par. Of course, the expenses of a start-up cuts my personal take significantly, but it’s still a milestone and I’m proud of it. I’ve been busy driving the economy, thorough the The Opportunities Project’s recruiting work, and supporting others in making good career decisions, and am pretty damn happy about it!

Create Your Own Opportunities available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble2. Oh yeah… I wrote and published a book. In December 2011, I published my first eBook, Create Your Own Opportunities, featuring my most critical insights on how to rock your career and the professional sphere. It’s a short, 25-page eBook available for the awesome price of $3.99 and you can pick it up for the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble nook, or in PDF format via our store. It will benefit anyone who is thinking about changing his/her perspective on work and make some changes in 2012.

I was grateful to work with Edward Antrobus of SEAM Publishing on this book and I can’t recommend him enough if you are thinking of publishing an eBook of your own. Check him out.

3. I’ve (we’ve) grown. A year ago, The Opportunities Project was me, a consultant who worked a few hours a week to help me with my marketing, and an intern. Today, we are a seven person team (!), working on coaching and recruitment consulting projects across the country… and I’m looking for more people (check the Team page for updates very soon). I’ve made the leap from self-employed freelancer to small business owner… and now have my sights on becoming a true entrepreneur focused on high-growth and scalability and was accepted as a Startup America Rampup firm last month to help me do that. So far, my effort to develop a technology solution around this has been an adventure in standing still, but I’m working on it.

My niece and nephew in Savannah, GA4. I’ve been making some personal changes. A major reason I decided to venture into self-employment is to create space for the things I seemed unable to do when I was beholden to an employer- focus on relationships, family, and personal health. It’s been a long-term wish to explore and expand and after 15 years in NYC, I made that leap in January, renting a beautiful Victorian apartment in Savannah, GA. I’m spending about 60% of my time here so far, with the rest in NYC and with clients nationally (2012 has seen me in MI, OH, IN and PA). Why Savannah? There are lots of reasons, but number one is my niece and nephew live here and I can’t describe the joy they bring to my life. This morning, I woke up to one sitting on my head and the other dancing on my feet and I haven’t laughed that exuberantly in forever.

St Patricks Day in SavannahWhile it’s a work in progress, I’ve been working toward slowing down, watching what I eat, exercising, and integrating my mind with my body… and becoming more playful, with my time and others. Let’s see how it goes.

Where I’m Going

While my journey has been intentional, it’s time to move it forward and focus on some areas I’ve been neglecting.

1. Creating. While a definite goal was to support myself and deliver services at a specific scale, I also started my journey so I could develop and publish my own ideas and share with others in the social space. I’ve been consuming regularly, but not producing. While it took me some time to feel comfortable with blogging, it’s something that I found I enjoy and miss. So I’ve spent the last week clearing out my notes of all the things I’ve wanted to talk about since I took a break and getting it into an editorial calendar. While I’m not ready to commit to a regular publishing schedule quite yet, look to see new content here more regularly, as well as my next book.

Just a reminder if you are someone who cares about education, career trends, and/or the economy and can tolerate the occasional pop culture post (my review on The Hunger Games is coming…), you can also follow me on my Education Rebel at Work Tumblr where I have kept up with posting.

2. Transitioning my services.  After a year of coaching individual clients, I know who I do my best work with now. I can’t help everyone create opportunities in their lives and for me to deliver good services, I need to turn down clients who I know I can’t really serve and even walk away slightly from my original mission of focusing on jobseekers and specifically those just starting out in life. Over the next two months, you’ll see more on the relaunch of my coaching services targeted toward the audience it turns out I work with the best: high-achieving women who want to command their economic game. I’ll also do more group coaching, which I’ve found I’m really, really good at through a contract I had with a private organization.

This transition will also involve a website redesign. We transitioned website support in January, experienced some big-time fails from that. I’m fully aware that we have some functional issues with speed and navigation and we’re in the process of getting the site back on track.

Stay tuned.

The Graduation Project3. New programs and initiatives. We’re starting this month with The Graduation Project, a free, three-part video conference series hosted by me and Lauren Wannermeyer, our social media intern for the last year. We’ll be discussing things new grads should be thinking about as they join the real world- job search skills, workplace etiquette, and making good decisions. We’ll be also launching our second annual scholarship contest (applications will be due May 15), and launching our new group coaching program with our partner, Tanisha Christie soon. And with summer right around the corner, we’ll be doing a new and improved version of our free Avoid a Cruel Summer eCourse again.

 

I look forward to chatting more.. and drop a comment and let me know how you’ve been!

Reverbing in July: New Habits

This month’s latest Reverb prompt is resonating with me.

July prompt- What new thing will you try this month?

(This would have made a great lesson for my Avoid a Cruel Summer eCourse. Damn.)

Reverb10re

In the big picture, there is a chance (emphasis on chance) that the next three months may be the last three months that I spend in New York for a while, if not permanently. I’ve been in NYC for 15 years but the list of things I’ve never done is a mile long. What should I be doing that’s new?

But these days I’m concerned with small details and when I read this prompt two weeks ago, I decided the new thing I would commit to is waking up AND getting out of bed at 6 AM every day in July and not getting on a phone or computer until 7AM. I can go for a walk, meditate, clean, read a book (out of bed)… whatever. It just can’t involve the web or email.

It’s hard to deny that the irregularity in my schedule is taking its toll on my body. For those of you who have corporate jobs or kids, this may seem crazy that I don’t have a good schedule. But some of my greatest strengths have always been my agility, stamina, and the flexibility to adjust my schedule to whatever is required. That usually means working very hard one day to finish a project and recovering the next day. The flip side of shining like that is burnout (paraphrased from Danielle LaPorte) and I am feeling the burnout, people!  I’ve lived some version of this for the last four years and like most people, I do my best work in the mornings. I truly believe a schedule change will make all the world of difference in my quality of life so I decided to go for it.

But it’s Day 19… and I’ve failed every day at this. I’ve set the alarm, but I can’t get out of bed right away, and the days that I do, it’s because of the draw of something waiting on the computer. What is the secret sauce for early rising? Anyone?

What new routine could you try that might make a big difference?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Tracy and Brett Talk Goals

Woo hoo- you have questions about our event Four Hour Goals: The Art and Science of Making Things Happen this Saturday, May 7 in midtown New York City. Brett and I have answers for you. Check out our video to find out what’s in it for you, what happens if you don’t set goals, and why we’re uniquely qualified to teach you how to do this!

We’ll see you at the workshop, right?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Making your Goals Happen: Living between Now and the Future

Entrepreneurship is an adventure. One month, you’re wondering why you’re stuck in place and can’t move forward, and the next month, you’re exactly where you had intended to be. How that can happen? The change happens when you start using effective goal planning and strategies.

Before opening my business, I was successful in my career, at least in part, because I was an effective goal setter and someone who worked within a vision. Three years before I became the Director of Teacher Recruitment for the New York City Public Schools, my vision reflected that I wanted to be in that role or a similar one, including that six figure salary. And because it was my vision, I set short-term and process goals so that I’d be positioned for it when it happened. If it hadn’t happened, I would have adjusted to focus on something similar or reset my timetable.

Eventually my vision included entrepreneurship. In this role, my issue has been what I call “the noise.” There are SO many things that you want to do, and you’re not quite sure that what you want is realistic. Also, your work is tied to your economic survival in a new way, so the emotional stakes are high. But if you get enveloped in that noise, you’ll just sit in that stuck place. I admit that I let myself do that about two months ago. I got stuck.. and let myself stick… and stick. I finally woke up one morning and realized that I knew what to do. I took the advice I give to clients as a coach, and used my lessons from my success making things happen as a professional for the last 10+ years.

Achieve Your Goals Workshop

One of the thing that trips up effective goal-setting is that disconnect between the future and present. You’re aiming to change something down the line, but you don’t know what to act on now.* At our workshop, Four Hour Goals: The Art and Science of Making Things Happen, this Saturday, May 7, Brett Kunsch and I will be talking about managing your daily focus and overcoming the obstacles that will appear. In the meantime, here are three questions to ask yourself about your own goal setting.

1. The Future: Are you thinking big enough? One of the things I work on consistently with my clients is having them set goals that push them. For example, we really want to find a relationship with “the one,” but we continue to date people who are never going to be a contender for that title, and in many cases, lie to ourselves to justify our “progress.” Some of that is because we have issues with self-worth, but often it’s because we have deprived ourselves for so long we think we should focus on small improvements to our situation. Success does not come from settling! There is a difference between milestones (2 dates a month with appropriate contenders) vs. audacious goals. You should have both, but don’t confuse the two. Think big.

2. The Future: Have you quantified your results? People retreat when they’re asked to quantify their goals. Some say it’s because we don’t like to hold ourselves accountable, but my experience is that it’s because people can’t see through the noise and are anxious about doing this wrong. If that’s the case, just throw out numbers you think are on the high-end of realistic. You can adjust the timetable on them once you start figuring out your milestones. Many coaches talk about the importance of visualizing and feeling your goals. This is important for visual and kinesthetic learners, but it’s not enough. You have to specifically put a stake in the ground if you want to make it happen. Just remember you can dig up the stake and put it somewhere else.

3. Now: Are you living daily with the right priorities? Once you have your vision, are the things you do every day in line with what you want? For example If you want to run a marathon in the next year, are your daily physical activities and eating habits reflecting that? If not, what tools and systems can you implement to make that happen? Personally, I look at my To Do list every day and ask if the items align to my goals, which are financial, lifestyle based, and continuing my path toward being recognized as a national education and careers expert. If my list is long and I am not sure what should have my focus, I actually put a dollar sign ($) or smiley sign ( :) ) next to each item and make decisions. If tasks don’t align to my vision, I find ways to get them off or move them down the To Do list. Sometimes, my decisions disappoint people, but I remember my audacious goals with the big numbers and reflect on the fact that I am the only person that will get me where I want to be.

What are your tips for effective goal setting?

We hope to see you at the event on Saturday in midtown NYC!

(*David Allen talks about this in his horizontal planning model, which some people treat as an after thought in Getting Things Done, but I think that it’s the most important thing he teaches. If you haven’t read the book, we’ll introduce the concept at our workshop.)

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

 

Team Rebecca: Three Career Lessons from Ms. Black

The Opportunities Project is on Team Rebecca Black.

This past Friday (how appropriate), I finally made a point to find out who Rebecca Black is and why everyone is talking about her on Twitter, Gawker and Jezebel. For those of you who haven’t heard about Rebecca, she’s the 13-year-old California girl who recorded a song and video called “Friday.” It was a vanity project that her parents paid for, though they say much of the cost was associated with retaining the rights to the song because Rebecca co-wrote it. Rebecca and the production company, The Ark Factory, uploaded the video to You Tube and Facebook, mostly to share it with friends and family. The video went viral and in a week, the video had 17 million views and is now ranked 32 on the ITunes Singles Chart. She sold more singles this week than Justin Bieber and Simon Cowell is her new biggest fan.

On the hateful side, people have left negative comments on her video and are tweeting what what an awful singer and dancer she is and even her appearance (“I hope you cut yourself and I hope you get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty.”). We know that the internet just has sucky people, but there are also relatively sane people contributing to the fire. People feel so personally offended that this girl is usurping some construct they’ve developed about the music industry’s rightful pecking order and outraged that a song that’s not pure “art” is becoming successful. Hmmm. Here is what I know and don’t know about Rebecca Black and “Friday.”

  • I know that the song is completely ridiculous, especially that part in the middle where she recites the days of the week. But most party anthems are ridiculous- Party in the USA anyone?
  • I know that “Friday” is extremely catchy- it has not left my head since I first heard it.
  • I know that she had a lot of fun filming the video- her smile is addictive. For people who thought the video was an elaborate joke, remember that this is a song and a video about a 13-year-old girl.
  • I don’t know if Rebecca is talented because the producers at Ark Factory Music overused auto-tune. She sounds a lot like Kesha and that is not a compliment.
  • I know that in 2011, Rebecca will likely make a lot of money because she did a project that she liked and “shipped.

Not liking the song and video seems fair, but attacking Rebecca Black doesn’t. I read some of the media interviews with Rebecca and I think there are lessons that the adults can learn and apply to their personal and career development.

Lesson One: If you want it, take a calculated risk- invest in yourself and put yourself out there.

In addition to questions about her talent, many people seem upset that Rebecca’s family paid the studio to produce the video because they’re uncomfortable with the notion that she may have bought her way to fame. Her family’s take is that they paid the studio for work they did on the video and people don’t work for free. The price for the song and video was in their budget, and there was potential for it make money, so they felt that it was worth the investment for them and Rebecca’s dream. Seems logical to me.

What are you doing to investing in yourself? I’m a huge fan of Dan Miller and his podcast. He constantly receives emails from people who want to become writers, but say they can’t afford to spend a few hundred dollars for writing classes. He tells them if you don’t want it enough to save, invest, and even *gasp* take out a small amount of short-term debt to do that, he can’t help them. His point is that your beliefs and how you spend your money are entwined and you must see that.

It’s estimated that Rebecca’s family spent $2,000 on the video. That may be a lot of money for you- it would be for me right now as an entrepreneur. But what can you do that is in your price range this week to invest in yourself? Buy a $15 book on goal setting? Take a $25 workshop on marketing that you found on Eventbrite?

I also agree with this Chicago blogger’s thoughts: In America, we are so quick to jump to the defense of young people who are victimized, but we go out of our way to take down the ones who show strength and put themselves out there to win. What does that say about us?

Lesson Two: Stay in your own life.

“At first, when I first saw all these nasty comments, I did cry. I felt like this was my fault. And I shouldn’t have done this, and this is all because of me. And now I don’t feel that way.” After an hour of self-doubt and sorrow, Rebecca wiped away her tears and went to find her mom. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of making me take it down.’ ‘No, this is going to work out. I just want to let it go. Let it do its thing.'”

Too often, we spend our mental energy concerned with how other people are going to judge us. I’ve been working on a future blog post on the ego and how it gets in the way of success for 90% of job seekers I meet. It makes them go to great lengths to protect themselves so they don’t pursue opportunities, or when they hear something they don’t like, they spend all of their emotional energy defending themselves to confirm their place in the world. You can’t control how the outside world is going to perceive you. The only thing you can do is let that go and focus on what you can control- your own desires and how you develop yourself to achieve them

Also, self-doubt and sorrow are important emotions. Make a commitment to feel them when they approach. The important part is to shed them quickly the way Rebecca did.

Lesson Three: Practice resilience.

“This is my time to show them how strong I am,” Rebecca says. “That I’m a lot stronger than them. So say what you want, it’s not going to stop me. You’re entitled to your opinion. But I believe in myself.”

I’m working with clients who are setting long-term goals and my favorite book on this topic is Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. It’s a powerful book and I just re-read parts to find ways I can better serve these clients. I came up with many insights during my re-read, but one that seems applicable here is remembering that being positive and proactive are different things. It takes great courage to face the kind of public criticism that Rebecca faced. Some of us can do that, and even let it go. Real resilience is when you do those two steps and then continue on your path because it’s yours and you want it.

And for all the people who are claiming that “Friday” is the worst music video ever made, you’re wrong. This is the absolute worst music video ever made and I get great joy from watching it over and over. Steve Perry, if they gave Oscars for music videos, you’d be a contender.

(8TF7GRQ6DFG8)

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

 

Join our Career Management Webinar on Thursday

Our busy week for The Opportunities Project starts NOW!

In addition to helping people find their passion and manage a results-driven job search, I also coach and consult with clients who want to manage their current careers more effectively. For example, I’m working with a client who is very happy in his job, but has a long-term (2-3 years) goal to become an entrepreneur. We are assessing his strengths, as well as gaps, and are building a plan that will attract more success when he is ready to make the jump. You may be in the same place- wondering if you really know what your next steps are for getting what you desire in your career now and in the future.

It’s about 45 days into the new year and many of your career resolutions may have been put on hold or are going slower than expected. Let me help you speed things up. I am hosting a FREE webinar this Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7PM on 12 Career Assessment Steps for 2011. During the webinar, I am going to review DIY tips for anyone who is in the job search mode or thinking about how they can position themselves for success for a future change or promotion. The content is aimed at people at all levels in their career, from college students and entry-level workers to experienced professionals. Among the topics we’ll discuss on the webinar are

– the importance of setting process goals vs. outcome goals
– specific steps you can take to make yourself a better professional
– tips on how to improve your online and offline networking
– how to make a career management plan that’s doable

You can register for the webinar here.

In the meantime, watch this awesome 48 second inspiring video from Box of Crayons on 11 Powerful Words to Live By in 2011 to get you motivated to recommit to any resolutions you made this year. Box of Crayons is led by Michael Bungay Steiner, author of Do More Good Work, a book I recommend on my website. In addition, here is a blog post he wrote on strategies you can use to assess and plan for 2011. We’ll touch upon related ideas in the webinar, especially how you can introduce regular reflection into your goal setting for your career.

See you on Thursday at 7PM!

If you can’t come to this event, don’t forget to check out our News and Events page for more upcoming opportunities to learn and connect!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Writing and Action: #Reverb2010

During the holiday break, I watched the movie Julie & Julia with my mom. The movie is about the woman who blogged about making all the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook in a year. I actually liked the movie a lot, but it made me think about my new role as a “blogger” that I took on when I started The Opportunities Project. While Julie Powell seemed to experience all love, it’s been equal parts love and hate for me.

Before I actually started blogging, I thought I always wanted to be a blogger and had very romantic fantasies about it. For someone working in a relatively high-level position in a government bureaucracy, writing what you wanted on the Internet for the entire world to see was not an option. But because I couldn’t, it made me really want to do it! Now that I am blogging for my business, it’s not all unicorns and liberation. I can’t keep up with my ideas! In addition to blogging, I am working on other writing projects that I am not making great progress on, including e-courses, workbooks, invited guest posts and articles, my well-outlined book on teacher recruitment with a pitiful 30 pages completed, my dissertation proposal and an academic paper for a conference in April.

It’s enough to say AGH! I am glad for these Reverb10 prompts to get me focused.

#Reverb10 Prompts 

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

December 25 – Photo. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)

Writing

The number one thing I can eliminate that doesn’t contribute to my writing is procrastination. While there is some fear involved as to whether what I have to say is worth it, a major struggle I have is switching from task to task- meaning it’s very hard for me to switch from writing my book to answering emails at a designated time. I have a hard time letting go of a task in-progress when I am in a groove, even if there is a more pressing (um, clients) issue to tackle. I also seem to face difficulty going back to unfinished writing projects because other demands come up. Both habits often prevent me from really starting writing projects at all. The only way I am going to make it as a solo-preneur with income streams based on writing is to establish the focus this task switching requires.

Action

I need to take action to get my writing to the next level. I’ve hired a time management coach for the first three months of March and addressing my issues with procrastination and writing is my first priority. Even without her guidance, I am writing all my ideas for blog posts on index cards with notes, putting them in some order, and making sense of them so they become doable.

Photo

One of my favorite blog posts that I did write this year involved a picture, the headshot I am using for The Opportunities Project. During the summer, I was interviewed for The Los Angeles Times about my experiences with curly hair and my thoughts about how you present your identity in the business world. I wrote about my experience taking the picture on my blog and facilitated a great discussion about it in the LinkedIn Career Explorer group. I love how my headshot truly reflects me and the love that my friend Wendy Glickman used to take the pictures that day, as well as do all the necessary editing. If you’d like to read how the picture was taken, please read the post and let me know what you think. Here are other fun pictures from that day, too.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

11 Things to Leave Behind: Reverb10

I am excited to post today’s list for# Reverb10 of “11 Things That Tracy Brisson Doesn’t Need in 2011.” I thought it would be hard to come up with 11 and struggled after number three. But once I hit number five, I couldn’t stop. I think the 11 I ultimately picked were the ones that matter the most.

#Reverb10 Prompt 

December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

1. Bad Eating Habits

I drink too much caffeine and alcohol when I should be drinking water. Stress has led to overeating. I also consume too much sugar. A few years ago, I was caffeine and sugar-free and felt great. At the recommendation of a doctor, I added caffeine back when I was having a problem with a nerve in my eye that gets easily tired, but don’t need to drink as much as I do now.  I will start and end the day with water.

2. Extra Weight

Working from home and spending all hours tied to my computer writing coaching materials, my website, blog posts or participating in online marketing activities has had an impact on my body. I have scheduled in the classes I want to take at the gym, but am always in the middle of cleaning out my inbox or writing some fabulous piece of content so I decide to stay at home. I have no excuses, because my true friends know that I have a Wii and love to use it, especially We Cheer. For anyone who hasn’t played We Cheer with me, here’s a YouTube video of a crazy guy in a scary mask playing it. I promise it’s fun and great exercise even without the mask.

3. Over-reliance on Self-Sufficiency

Self-sufficiency is great, but sometimes I take the solo, fierce, woman thing to an extreme. I can’t be successful on my own- I need personal and professional partners. I will ask for help, even when it’s hard, and I’ll continue to give help to those who ask me.

4. Anxiety

I made a point to list “anxiety” and not “fear.” For me, anxiety is a generalized unidentified feeling that the other shoe is going to drop, but not something specific that is going to happen. Dealing with fear is easy once you name it. For example, I fear failing in my business and being unable to pay my rent. That is a fear I can deal with by organizing my work to address it. But I’ve been dealing with anxiety ever since I was the victim of identity theft and my bank account was wiped out in October. Even though I got my money back, and intellectually I know that there are laws to protect me from this stuff, I often face an uncomfortable and generalized feeling that things are out of my control. I’d like to let this go as of January 1.

5. Procrastination

Despite all the work I have done to overcome procrastination (knowing why, scheduling my day, blocking social media websites, etc), nothing seems to totally work. I want to leave this behind so I can claim the life I want. Hopefully my new time management coach can help me with this.

6. Grudges

There are people who I believe did me wrong in 2010 (and 2009, 2008, and 2007), or who are not on my side, or have even been outwardly disrespectful to me. Once these people get on my brain, it’s difficult to not obsess over the negativity that comes with them. I release my grudges- you’re never going to get it or me no matter how hard I try, so it’s not worth my time in the new year.

7. Obligations

I belong to certain groups that I have outgrown, but yet continue to work with and feel guilty when I don’t work with them enough. It’s time to let that sense of what I “should” do go away and focus on commitments that serve me AND others, not just others.

8. Permissiveness

I do have commitments that I believe in and there are too many times when I give myself permission to slack off. “You’ve worked so hard all these years! You need a break. It’s okay if you get to that later. You’ve spent the whole day at the computer so you deserve that extra glass of wine tonight while you catch up on your DVR and those 60 unwatched episodes of Chelsea Lately.” No. I need to work both harder and smarter because I value myself. I need to eliminate this bad habit and stop giving up on the daily work through these rationalizations.

9. Doubt

I release the doubt that I have the potential to stand in the same space as other coaches and authors, such as the wonderful people who have written the Reverb10 prompts. I release the doubt that I can earn the money I deserve while making a difference.

10. Impatience

I hate how much time it takes to get things done in starting my business or moving on with my life. It seems that some things that I decide to move on can take up to six months to implement. Blog posts take three times longer than I expected. There are certain pages of my website that aren’t yet done and the list goes on. I go in circles with my frustrations around my inability to get things done exactly when I want them. I must understand that building a business is a process and requires time and patience.

11. Debt

I started 2010 with zero debt except for a few pesky student loans. Now, I have both personal and business debt. While it wouldn’t be my preference to have this debt, I have no regrets because I understand that dreams often require sacrifices.  Most importantly, I believe that if I release items 1-10, I’ll get rid of my debt because I’ll be earning what I’m worth.

Are any of my 11 things also things you want to leave behind?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog