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Make: Use Your Artistic Side #Reverb10

With the holiday week upon us, I am spending the week using my blog to reflect and manifest as part of the #Reverb10 initiative. When possible, I’m trying to reflect my posts back to careers, but assessing your current state and setting goals for the future is really about more than just the mechanics of how you spend your day from 9 to 5. I am a firm believer that we have one life, not a “professional life” and a “personal life.” The more we try to separate them, the further we get away from figuring out what we want for an integrated, peaceful and productive existence that we actively design. Your most personal reflections will impact your career.

This post is about increasing professional creativity through using personal time and effort to “make” things.

#Reverb10 Prompt 

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

Searching for My Right Brain

One of my 2010 resolutions was to participate in an artistic activity because I felt out of touch with that side of me. On creativity quizzes, I always score as “whole-brained”- an equal split between being right-brained (creativity) and left-brained (logic). Reflecting on my childhood, this assessment does not surprise me at all. I’ve never been good at drawing, painting, or music, but always loved writing. Growing up, I spent hours creating stories in notebooks and thought I would be the next S.E. Hinton. My sophomore year of high school, I submitted a story to the now defunct ‘TEEN magazine called “Hanging Out With Patrick” about a girl who realized that she was in love with her neighbor. They bought it and eventually published a heavily edited version in December 1992 under the title “More than Friends?” and with all the Portuguese surnames of the characters changed to Smith and Jones. That same year, I won an award from a club at Brown University for creative writing. I remember feeling this unexpected relief after both events, almost like closure. During spring 1993, a few months before I took off for college, I spent a day hidden in my bedroom and wrote a personal sequel to Hanging Out With Patrick/More Than Friends that did not end well for the characters. I picked up creative writing a few times over the years, usually having a great idea but never acting on it. It was as if I made a career change even before I started a career.

Around the same time, I took my SATs and scored very high on the math section, higher than the verbal. Teachers had told me my entire life that I was bad at math so I thought it was a fluke and took them again. Surprisingly it wasn’t a fluke. When I got to college, I enrolled in calculus over a foreign language and then became attracted to the linear and game-like word of policy studies and economics where I found success. Over the years, I stayed in that comfort zone, trying to incorporate creativity and big-picture thinking when I could. I loved writing the website copy at my old job, but I also wondered if I was really good at writing anyway.

Using My Left Brain to Make Things for Success

One of the fears I had about launching my new business was that while the big picture may come easy to me, I would struggle with daily creativity. Much of what I wanted to accomplish was through actively writing- blog posts, eCourses, and eBooks- not just coming up with ideas I wanted to write. I made a very left brained decision to actively place myself in a situation where I was forced to make or create something, hoping it would stimulate the creative parts of me and awaken that child in me that used to have such a great imagination.

In November, my good friend Niki and I took a class through Paint Along NYC. Paint Along NYC is a BYOB (always welcome) painting class where everyone paints a selected print with guidance from the instructor on how to use the colors and tools to make beauty on your canvas. At first, I was afraid it would feel like middle school art class to me and I would be a big failure at creating something presentable. But over some Pinot Noir, and excellent conversation, I created a painting with bright colors and flowers that was mine. I eventually hung my work in my new re-organized bedroom (see upcoming post on healing). The experience prompted me to add other creative projects to my 2011 calendar, including painting The Opportunities Project logo on a makeshift door to my home office. I’ve bought the stencil, canvas and paint and am now just waiting for the perfect January weekend.

I highly recommend Paint Along NYC to anyone looking to explore his or her creative side and I hope to go back and paint something new in spring 2011.  Through December 31, they are having a sale where if you buy three gift certificates for classes, you get one class free. It sounds like a perfect day for four friends with a bottle of wine to “make” something that is theirs and indulge their creativity.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Entering the World of Reverb 2010: My Word is Learn

Last week I joined a campaign of over 3,000 bloggers who are participating in Reverb10, “an online initiative for people to reflect on 2010 and manifest what’s next.” I read about it on Gretchen Rubin’s blog for The Happiness Project (great book, go buy it!) and kept seeing the ever present #reverb10 hashtag on Twitter so I made my way over to the website to find out more about it.

The inspiring people behind Reverb10 have set up 31 reflection prompts for December with that day’s prompt emailed to you daily. You don’t have to do them in order and since I started late, I have been trying to figure out which ones to tackle first or at all. I thought this would generally be easy for me because I have so many “hopey coachy changey” (sorry Sarah, I think it’s a compliment) things up my sleeve, but it has been much harder than I thought. The writers at Reverb10 do not play. Each topic has sub prompts and they require more thought and reflection than almost any self-improvement activity I’ve participated in this year! So I’ve decided to start at the beginning and keep it simple.

December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

And so my word is Learn. Some of you who know me personally may be surprised that it is not a more active word like “change” or “implement” because of the things I have done this year, but the last 12 months has truly been about learning, especially after a 2009 where I grappled with loss and being stuck in a place I didn’t like, literally and metaphysically. Learning was the next step in my journey and in 2010, Learning happened in countless ways. Learning what I actually wanted to accomplish in life. Learning how to start again. Learning that I am stronger than I thought. Learning how to deal with disappointments and failure. Learning how to do all the things I’ve posted on big chart paper on the walls of my home office. Learning how much my friends care about my happiness. Learning that I can make new friends.

In 2011, I would like my word to be Living. Not that I don’t think Learning is key, but I am ready for the next step and that to me is Living. I want to be Living the things I have on the paper on my wall, including the other one with all the personal things I want (but am not feeling up to blasting online!). I want to be Living the intentions of my business all the time. I want to be Living strong, peacefully, and fully.

What do you think? What are your words?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

So Many Career Books, So Few Career Solutions

It’s almost Thanksgiving break! It would feel un-American if I didn’t fully endorse Thanksgiving. You have to love it because it’s a time for reflection on all the good in our life, as well as food, football and family. That being said, since college, I am still waiting for that miraculous Thanksgiving holiday that is truly a break and not a time of uncomfortable and rushed travel and a list of work that needs to get done before I return to New York on Sunday!

Because I can’t seem to break the habit, I am planning on spending time this holiday weekend working on some writing projects. Listed in my 2010 goals are (1) creating a free eCourse on the importance of self-efficacy in the workplace, and (2) finishing at least two short eBooks on specific parts of the job search process. One eBook will be free and the other for sale on my website in early 2011- sign up for my newsletter to get notified when these materials are ready. (Participants in The Opportunities Project’s Career Coaching Program will get copies of all our eBooks for free.)

Barnes & Noble Career Section

I visited the “Careers” section at my local Barnes and Noble to get inspiration. One would think that with all of these colorful books with catchy titles, everyone would be an expert at the job search and career development, no? Have you used books to help with your career goals? What type of books helped the most? What do you think is missing from this book category?

Please reply in the comments… and have a wonderful Thanksgiving, rushed travel and all!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog