Set Achievable Goals by Asking This One Question


I am an avid reader and process junkie.  I love discovering new articles with tips and tricks to help improve any process in my business or personal life.

I have lists created saving articles into classifications from home improvement, organization, writing, networking, goals, exercise, healthy recipes, dog obedience – and my bookcases, well, they are a cornucopia of books to inspire, take action or reflect.

There is a common theme with all the different categories: at some point during the process you must make a goal.  From there you can create a plan and then the helpful books and articles help you define and execute this plan.

I have a neurotic side that dedicates itself to the latest project with full vim and vigor and yet, so many of those goals die a slow death with those impressive action plans gathering dust or sadly being discarded.

I could not figure out why and it would frustrate me to no end.  I am a somewhat intelligent person, one who is able to create plans and follow them through.  I am resourceful, creative, committed and yet – too many goals were in the goal graveyard.


And that is when it hit me, the irony of it all – that very question is the reason.

I had always missed the why.

When I would start out with a new project or goal, I had a why in mind: I want to organize my office.  Why – because it is distracting to work in chaos.

That is not really the why. It was the first why that I never went beyond.

You see, I was exercising the “pot kettle black” rule.  When working with my clients determining their desired next step, I guide them through a version of the five whys.  The first answer to why is normally a conditioned response or barely scratching the surface.

To find the real reason, you must continue to ask why until you get to the root cause driving the desire for change.  On first blush when looking for a new position a client may say they want more money.

When diving a little deeper it may be revealed that the money aspect is not coming from them, but an expectation put upon them by friends, family or the industry.  After a few whys it may be discovered that the real reason is they want to focus on a certain aspect of their job, change jobs completely or take a new direction.

We do not dedicate to ourselves in finding the real why.

The one question we need to ask – what is the real why?

Organizing my office is not about controlling chaos.  It is about appreciating what I do and creating an environment that supports me, my work and feeds my creativity.  It is about respecting myself enough to create a sanctuary that I deserve to do the work that I love.  It is about not feeling guilty for doing something for me, making a space that is not conforming to an office expectation; rather creating an all about me space.

The real why is always there, we just have to dig to get to it.  What we often find is that is a purely selfish reason.  And that is the rub.

I want to create an office just for me.  Of course, this makes sense, it is my office, my business – it should be all about me.

Not so fast.

We are told that making something all about ourselves is bad.  Bad, bad, bad.  Selfish.  Egotistical.  We need to think about others.  How might it affect them?  What would other people think?

Stop it.  Stop that thinking right now.

You have a right to be selfish.  To have goals that are all about you.  Let me cut to the chase – if you cannot provide for yourself, make yourself happy – how on earth are you going to best support others?

You can pull that off for a while.  Sacrifice what you want and make everyone else happy and that can continue for some time.  Everyone else is all hunky dory because they are happy that you are taking care of them.  Yet, how do you feel?

Resentful, unfulfilled, not aligned with who you really are or want to do?  We are programmed to think of others and that thinking of ourselves first is selfish, wrong, taboo.

Let me just throw this out there, while I am at it: if you put yourself first and someone tells you that you are being selfish – listen to their reason on why you are being selfish.  Is it because you are not longer putting them first?  Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, however, why is it okay for them to be selfish and put themselves first and expect you to do the same but when you put yourself first (not asking them to do so) you are the bad guy.

That does not seem quite right to me. Yet we want others to tell us it is okay to think of ourselves first. We crave permission to do for ourselves.

I hereby give you permission to think only of yourself and what you want for you. You are not a bad person for doing so, you deserve it so do it.  Do it now.

What is a goal that you have?  Why do you want it?  Now dig deeper, why do you want that first response?  How will it make you feel, what benefit is it for you, how can it improve any quality in your life for you?

Finding the real why in your goals is transformational in two ways.

First – it gives you a real, deep rooted reason for the goal.  Something that has emotion, passion or real desire behind it.  With those types of strong feelings driving a goal, you have a greater chance at success. Your goal will transform from a have to or must to a want to and will.

Second – once you start pursuing this goal with those strong emotions as a driver, you will most likely find that the relationships with the others that you were supposed to be thinking about first, improve.  You are happier which leads to you being in a better place when dealing with them.

Positive feeds positive.  You may be more relaxed, more driven, more open, more free to express yourself or go after something that will truly transform your life.

This will have ripple effects on different aspects of your life.  Going after a degree will give you more confidence, which means you may take on more challenges at work, which allows your boss to see you in a more positive light, which leads to more opportunities, which may lead to a new position, which may include a better salary and better benefits, which may mean more opportunities to do more for your family – it is a positive cycle.

If I continue to set goals based on outside expectations, they will fill up the graveyard.  I have no real connection to them, no stake in the game. It is easy for me to give them up. But when I have a real, deep rooted reason – no matter what it is – that is when I get it done.

Now, I could be wrong and all full of happy hooey.  However, what if I am on to something?

What would it feel like to take one goal, just a small one, and try this process out?  What harm could it do to sit down and write out five or more whys until you get to a reason you were not even expecting?  Worst case scenario, you have another action plan gather dust and goal end up in the goal grave yard.

Best case scenario – you reach that goal, feel great about yourself, experience a positive effect on other aspects of your life and are ready to take on another goal.

My experience in this exercise is this: find out your real why and you discover the key to making it happen.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

The One Super-Powerful Key to Getting What You Want

Luke's BallDo you have a goal, maybe a dream or some desire that you want but have no idea how to achieve it?

Something you really want yet instead of seeing the path on how to achieve it, all you can see is that it seems so far away.

This is not uncommon and it is not an indication that you are failing in achieving this goal.

You just need to employ this one super-powerful key to get what you want.

Before I share this, let me first say it is not complicated.  No 14 steps, no complicated system, nothing that entails mantras, changing your entire lifestyle or howling at the moon.

In fact, it is so easy my pups do it.

The key: ask.

That’s right, simply ask for what you want.

Bold, right?

Might I go as far as saying it is daring.

So often we look at something or envy others and say to ourselves, “I want that.”  But that is as far as we go.

We give plenty of reasons (or excuses) as to why we cannot have it.  Perhaps we think it is too good to be true, we are not ready, we are not worthy or we are too afraid to admit or go after what we really want.

This could be a new job, a new connection, a reconnection, an introduction, an invitation, learning a new skill or improving upon an existing skill.

No matter what your “it” is, the thing that is preventing you is the thing that is the key to achieving it: asking for it.

Start asking.

Ask someone in a position similar to what you want for their time.  Ask them how they got there, do they have any suggestions or advice.  Ask a company what they are looking for when recruiting a certain position. Ask a mutual connection for an introduction.  Ask your lost connection how they are and if they would like to meet for coffee. Ask for help from someone who is an expert at the skill you wish to improve if they would assist you, mentor you or teach you.

The things that frighten me the most are the things I do not ask for.

When I was about 4 my mom took me to her work and I met her co-workers, one of which had a candy jar on her desk and asked if I would like a piece of candy.  To which (according to my mom) I replied, “No, I would like two, please.”

When I was 14 I asked my dad to show me how to hot-wire a car.  Don’t ask me why.  My dad just calmly looked at me and said no.  My little mind told me there was no harm in asking.  Although I think I had my dad worried for a bit.

The bigger things in life, I did not ask because of fear.

Afraid of looking stupid, afraid of being told no, afraid of rejection or afraid that once I gained this thing or knowledge then I would not be able to employ it, keep it up or comprehend it.  Something about fear of success or fear of failure.

I realized one day that being safe in not looking stupid or being rejected or whatever laundry list my little voice in my head gave me kept me safe in an unsafe place.  I did not grow, I did not expand, I did not learn – I remained stuck in my uncomfortable safeness.

I’ve looked stupid, I’ve been rejected and I have forgotten more than I have learned.  But I keep asking.

I keep learning, I keep meeting new people, I keep achieving goals in my persona and private life.

Start with asking, then the doors start opening up.  It is the first step.  It also provides a commitment.  Once you have asked, you have said it out loud, you have confirmed to yourself that you truly do what it.  Once you take that first step, the next comes easier.

The picture attached to this blog is one of my pups, Luke.  Luke is the happiest dog I have ever known.  He is a master of asking.  He is never sidelined by rejection.  If he asks me to play ball and I tell him not now, he spits the ball at me and goes and plays with another toy.  He leaves the ball with me so when I am ready, ten we can play.  He does not see “no” as an uncompromising “never”, he sees it as a “not now”.

For a dog that has not figured out in five years that every time I go into the shower I will not get sucked down the drain and will, indeed, reemerge; he sure is smart.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer




The Counterproductive Way to Reach Your Goal

The first real weekend of Spring.  I had visions of tilling the garden; building the fence and gate; mowing the yard; weeding the flowerbeds (how do weeds grow so much more quickly than flowers??) and preparing new flower beds.


Guess how much of this outdoor work I got done?


None. Nada.  Zip. Zilch.


The weekend took a whole new direction by late Friday and all outdoor plans were thrown out the window. 


I still had a wonderful weekend and spent it with family.  Always treasure that.


Yet there is that little part of me that, as of 9 am this morning looking out the window started to remind me of all that I wanted to get done and the to-do list I already had mapped out for this week now compounded on top of the weekend not-got-a-single-thing-done list.


The anxiety started to creep in.  I automatically looked at my calendar to see when I could try to squeeze all this in and the anxiety increased. 


That’s when my coach-mind spoke to my overanxious to-do-list-making mind:



It was the same voice that looked at my agenda this morning and was able to keep me in check.



Too often we put so much emphasis on achieving a goal, or completing a to-do list that we actually sabotage ourselves.



Failure to relax causes us to fail.  We need to stop trying so hard all the time.


There are 24 hours in the day.  We need a good chunk of this time to sleep.  We need other chunks to eat, groom, exercise or meditate, play, and relax.  If we try to squeeze every single moment out of every single day on one goal then we become seriously out of balance.


As does the goal.


It is heightened, we put more pressure on ourselves to achieve it and we completely loose proper focus and health attitudes.  It becomes a mission or obsession instead of a goal.  Have you ever seen anyone obsessed with anything?  It is not pretty.  Think screaming, crying, hysterical young teenage girls and the latest teeny bobber rock star.  It is downright frightening. 


There are a few things of high priority on my to-do list today.  There are also a number of things I would like to get done today, but need to get done the first part of the week.  I can look at this list and not freak out because I know I am not getting them all done today.  I am not sacrificing down time to kill myself to get it all done.  It puts more pressure on me and I am not able to give it my best.  That is not what my clients deserve.


So I wrote it all down and then I took a few minutes to relax.


So far I am almost half way done with my must do list.  So I took a break to write this blog, this is one way I relax.  Once I post it I will be more refreshed to finish up what I need to do.


I think I average it out to about five business priorities I can do a day at my best quality.  That is my frame of reference.  If I surprise myself and get through quicker than I think, then I can start on my would like to dos.  This gives me a little more time to sneak outside and do yard work.


If not, well, then I will do what I can in the time I budgeted for outside time. 


My point is on this Monday, just relax a little will you?  It will  all get done as long as you keep it in perspective and retain your balance. 


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Attention: Focus, Action or Both?

I posted a quote this morning that really resonated with me, and seems to be resonating with others as well:


 “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers.


I have been sitting on the tracks and been very frustrated because I am not seeing the results that I want.  It has made me quite grumpy.


I am a big fan of Bob Procter says and I heard him say what you give interest, attention and expectation to you will receive.  This makes sense to me.  I am following this thought. 


So what is the deal?


I’m giving it interest by setting the goals; I am giving them interest by being focused on them and I am expecting them to happen. 


So what’s the hold up?


I have even asked this out-loud in a very frustrated way to no one in particular but any higher power that was listening. 


Then I saw the quote.


Oh damn.  An ah-ha moment and it is on me.


It is the attention.  I was screwing that part up.  I was translating it incorrectly.  Yes, focusing on your goals is giving them attention but it is a pebble on the mountain of importance.  The real key is attention by action.


I can focus on something all I want but guess what – it is not going to change until I get off my butt and stop staring at it and do something about it.


Sometimes I have a client that we have worked through the process of creating a resume and they have all the tools they need to move forward:  they  know what their value is and they know how to communicate it and yet they have not moved forward.


In the course of a follow up conversation, I discover that the missing element is the action.  You have to network with people to tell them your value; you have to go after positions to give them your resume and open doors.  You have to take action.  Without it, your awesome tools are just keeping you company rather than working for you.


What is it you want?  Define it and see yourself in that role.  Then prepare yourself by getting all the tools you need to get there.  Further prepare yourself by seeing yourself in that role.  Now to make it full circle and actually get there determine what action you need to take and do it.


Not all action will be successful or correct; however it is action and it will take you one step closer to getting where you want to be.  Even if it is wrong, even if it is does not result in immediate results; any action is propelling you along your path. 


If you are not moving then you are sitting still; and if you are sitting still you are more than likely to get run over.


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Not Reaching a Goal – Maybe You Need a Change to the People in Your Personal Environment

Me and Frank out Dancing
Me and Frank out Dancing

You have all the right tools, knowledge and ambition yet you still can’t reach that goal.  Whether it be landing the right job or client – it just seems out of reach.  So what are you missing?

It may not be a question of what you are missing, rather what you need to subtract.

If you feel you have all the right pieces put in place take a look at your personal environment; more specifically the people in your environment.

Do you have a bunch of Debbie Downers or Doubting Thomas-es?  Do the people around you invite you in with their energy, make you laugh, support you, inspire you and just generally make you feel good?

Have you ever heard the phrase you become the people you associate with the most?  There is a bit to that, you know.

If you are surrounded by “poor me” and “it will never work” attitudes you are naturally going to get the happy, positive, encouragement and quite frankly life sucked right out of you.

One person is probably not going to represent all the above mentioned positive qualities.  It is the lovely combination of unique individuals in your life that bring in the sum whole of a can’t-fail environment.

If you have ever read any of my blogs or know me personally then you know about my main support system:

Jackie: my bestest friend, confidant, twin, co-conspirator and kicker-in-the-butt.

Jake: my son, the center of my world, the one that can make me the most proud and most angry in a matter of seconds, the young unrecognized philosopher and the one that keeps me centered.

Jeff: a best friend who has known me for a quarter of a century, the one that sees the world in black and white, point A to point B and keeps me on my toes by always allowing for another viewpoint.

My parents: my dad who passed 18 years ago but impacted me, along with my grandmother, more than any other person in my life, my mom who supports me by allowing me to make my own way and Jim, my step-dad who brings balance to the very strong-willed women.

But there are many others that I can’t possibly go into, friends and family that give something of themselves to me through their friendship for which I am eternally grateful.

One of those friends is Frank.

Frank and I grew up in the same neighborhood with him being a year (or so) older than I but his brother and I were in the same grade.  Talk to anyone in my town and just say “Frank” and they knew exactly who you were talking about – not Frank who or which Frank – there is only one Frank.

He is, in a word – infectious.  His laughter, smile, wit, intelligence and amazingly positive attitude about life and appreciation for each and every day.  Frank is the guy that men instantly bond to and women fall in love with – yes, Frank is that guy.  Because he radiates life.

Here is the thing about Frank, it is not just that he makes you feel good when you are around him; he is inspiring.

Frank doesn’t have goals.  Frank has missions.  Come hell or high water if he sets his mind to something he is going to do it, and by God, do it well.

When I talk to people who bemoan that they can’t do something because they don’t have the skills, abilities, physical traits, blah, blah, blah – or –because they have always been stuck in a certain typecast, position, industry, blah, blah, blah – I think of Frank.

Frank is the epitome of no boundaries.

Here are a few things about Frank:

He is a world-class Olympic Athlete.

He hit on Natalie Cole.

He was pretty much told by Stevie Wonder once not to sing his song on an elevator (great story).

He is a former DJ and Bouncer.

He is a poet.

He is an inspirational speaker.

He is a highly sought after ballroom dancer.

He is an ADA Employment Consultant at a major university.

He’s a chick magnet – just ask any of his male friends.

And he is just getting started…

He has never seen himself in a box or only as one type of person, job, task, performance.  He makes a determination to try something new and off he goes with boundless energy.  Shortly thereafter we begin to get a stream on Facebook about how is accomplishing this task.


He inspires me because he refused to be classified, stop reinventing himself, giving of himself to others and appreciate every opportunity whether it presented itself to him or he had to knock the door down to go get it.

When I think I can’t – I think of Frank.  I don’t know that can’t exists in his vocabulary.  Having someone like this in my life keeps my personal environment nothing short of positive.  So no matter what is going on in my personal or professional life, he is always there as a supporter, inspiration and source of complete positive energy.

It is because of my support system that my personal environment is fun, full of energy, inspiration, accountability, excitement, joy and love.  With this type of environment any hurdle isn’t a monumental task, it is merely a challenge that my friends encourage me to conquer.

Oh, and one more thing about Frank: he was born with a condition that resulted in him being a wheelchair user for life.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

superpower noiseI have found that I have an incredible superpower – which I share with a LOT of people.  The ability to talk myself out of pretty much anything in a single bound.


It’s amazing really.


This power is big, loud and always present.


Want to try a new exercise routing *pow* “you don’t have the time; it is going to be too hard; seriously, you are over 40 who are you kidding; you’re a little too far gone to start now; really, doesn’t a nap sound better….”


Want to eat healthy *boom* “you know that triple chocolate cake looks really good I’m sure I has healthy stuff in it; a burger and fries would be so much cheaper and quicker; it’s more expensive to eat healthy; it takes too much time to fix all that stuff; chocolate, chocolate, chocolate….”


Want to take a chance on something new *bam* “you are just going to get rejected; you are going to get hurt again; why put yourself out there like that; it’s a lot safer not to; happiness shnappiness safety doesn’t hurt….”


If I believed everything I thought I would be 400 pounds and have a house full of cats.


Thank goodness I found the kryptonite to this superpower.  Everyone has it, but few recognize it or find it because it is small, quiet and isn’t nearly as splashy as the superpower.  It is also goes by different names:










To Hell With It


Everyone has it in them.  The trick is activating this kryptonite.


When that flashy superpower starts kicking all you have to do to release the kryptonite is say two little words:


Shut up.


And it begins.  Then you strengthen it by talking back to that superpower and completely destroy it by taking action.


Shut up.  I am too young to feel this old.  I’ll get back to you after I’m done on the treadmill.


Shut up.  I love having energy and sleeping well.  You are going to have to wait while I finish making my healthy, fabulous dinner.


Shut up.  I love taking risks.  Yes, I have been hurt but man, I have also had some great times and better ones ahead.


Personally, I love my kryptonite.  In the last month it helped me kick a major pop habit, poor eating habits and a very lazy lifestyle.


Drinking water with a fresh lemon squeezed in it in the morning while on the treadmill, followed by small meals of fresh veggies, fruit and a protein centered dinner, mediating, being open, trying new things and putting myself out there has resulting in having more energy than I have in years, feeling younger than ever, a healthy glow, a fantastic attitude, some new opportunities and waking up feeling grateful for the adventure of a new day.


And it has only been a month.


That kryptonite is some pretty powerful stuff.


I still have a ways to go yet, there are still some habits I haven’t wanted to kick yet and some challenges that I am still pecking at one day at a time, but it I’ve just begun.


And it all began with two little words: shut up.


One bam, power or boom at a time – shut up.


With each defeat of the superpower the kryptonite gets stronger.


Where is your superpower kicking in today?  What are you thinking that you shouldn’t believe?  What do you really want?  Are you ready to take that first step?  A new job, a promotion, to ask that girl out, to clean up that extra bedroom, to start taking care of yourself, to be a better friend, to start a new hobby, to make sure those you love know you love them?


Then make today the day that you say shut up.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Want A Better View – Clean The Window

clean the windowAs I was sitting here this morning wondering what thoughts are going to pop out of my head and onto the paper today I looked out my window.  I didn’t notice the view beyond but the “puppy art” splayed all across the window itself.

Puppy art is what I call the nose smudges, spittle from barking and paw marks that my pups artistically leave for me on the windows throughout my home, office and car.

My dogs inspire me in so many ways.

It is a bit overcast today, storms are moving in but right now the sun is peeking out now and then and everything is alive and green from the rains yesterday.  It is beautiful and serene.  Unfortunately, I had to get past the puppy art to see this.

That’s when it hit me – everything is right there.  We can see it, we can feel it, we can touch it if we look out the window.  It is not a matter of making major moves – I don’t have to go to another location to see these sites, it is a matter of making a minor change or action.

Clean the window.

Once a goal is established or a thought is generated or a passion discovered we often think we have to do some miraculous overhaul to achieve it.

Not necessarily.

I don’t need to move across the state or even go outside to see or get a better view of a beautiful dogwood blooming or the daffodils swaying in the breeze – they are right there.  To get a better view I have to clean the window.

Your window is all the mind junk you have littering and blocking your view.

Clean it out.

Dog smudge = I can’t.  One spray of cleaner and some paper towels = I can.

Spittle = I’ll fail.  Another spray of cleaner and the same paper towels = I’ll learn from it.

Paw Prints – I’m scared.  Squeeze of the trigger and a little wiping = I’m excited.

One final spray of cleaner and a final polishing and the view went from “I just don’t know” to “oh hell yes!”

When a negative thought or paw print appears on your window today immediately take out the cleaner and wipe it away and replace it with a positive.  In no time flat you won’t even see the window but instead focus on the beautiful view outside.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


My Dogs Do Not Recognize Daylight Savings Time

dinner timeThis weekend was the dreaded day of setting our clocks ahead an hour.  Oh, the horror of loosing an hour. Whatever.


Even worse having to actually, physically change all the clocked that are not electronic and do it on their own.  I normally forget to reset one of the manual ones and don’t figure it out until a couple weeks later.


This change seems to get everyone up in arms and very grumpy.  But the one thing that is not affected by the time change – dinner time for the dogs.


My dogs know nothing about springing forward and falling back – they know that at a specific time in the evening their bowls are to be filled with the crunchy stuff.  They don’t care what the clock says, they don’t care if you are in the middle of anything – it is their time – period.


It is like extreme habit.  No matter what the circumstance they have this inner voice or clock that at that time goes off like an air raid siren.  You try telling them that dinner time has changed.  It is like, as my friend Nancy said, trying to describe the smell of the number nine.


I wish I had that same internal drive for some things.  Like working out, eating healthy or keeping a immaculate house.  No matter what the circumstance I would just be able to hop right out of bed at some ungodly morning hour and work out.


I’m still waiting for that to happen.  That, and to grow another five or six inches taller, world peace, every single sock being matched with its partner right out of the dryer and Shemar Moore to deliver the winning lottery check with my name on it to my front door.  A girl has to dream.


In the meantime I have to practice what I preach.


When coaching clients during job searching we talk about setting goals, habits and actions. There is no sense taking action without setting a goal.  You must know what you want and they what you are willing to do about it.


Rarely is there a goal that doesn’t take work and come with an element of pain.  You may be uncomfortable talking to people about your job search, but without networking you will be missing out on some of the most important opportunities.


Once you start tackling those painful steps then they more easily become habits – but that doesn’t mean that they become natural.  They just become easier.


Not in a sense that you have done it so often that it is old hat; rather in a sense that once you have done it consistently for a bit you can look back and see progress.  You already have that positive reinforcement so that helps get you through on the days that you just don’t want to.


With that in mind, the treadmill and I made friends again today.  I will never have the internal drive at 5 am to pop out of bed and work out; however, I can condition myself to get up a little earlier by looking back to feeling winded after playing with the pups and to where I will be in being able to outlast them.


You may never be completely at ease talking to complete strangers about what you can do and how you can help them, but you can get enough practice that it is far less painful that it was when you started.  You can also find that you made a friend or two along the way and possibly even a new job.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Am I Doing It Right?

All About Me - Career Polish Inc.Too often we are a sheep-like society.  We tend to follow or look to others for approval or at least the way to do things.


Learning something new – we look at those around us to see if we are doing it like they are to make sure we are doing it “right”.


The problem with this is too often we then set our goals and expectations based upon others around us rather than what really works for us.


They may be happy performing a task at a sub-par level – is that really your style?


The easiest way to determine if you are doing something “right” is to look at the results.  Are you getting the results that you want?  If not, then you probably are not doing it “right” for you.


Job searching, networking, business building, relationships or even just clearing out clutter – it is important to know what your goals are and how you will measure success.


That is a key point there: know how to measure success.  If you can’t define it then how will you ever know if you achieve it?


My best friend Jackie and I have set goals to clean out clutter.  Now, the great thing is we are identical twins so in developing our rules (systems) it was easy for us to discuss, determine, articulate and evaluate not only the process but what success will be for both of us.


We started with the goal.  From there then we could break down the actions, behaviors and attitudes to determine what we were doing which supported the goal and what we needed to modify and actually put in place to support reaching that goal.


Now, as we work room by room we can actually measure our success based on what our expectations and goal is, that we set from the beginning.


We also realize that we cannot look at anyone else to compare to because quite frankly they are not us.  I honestly do not know anyone else that has five dogs so I have to incorporate that into my plans, actions and processes.  It would be unfair of me to compare myself to someone with no pets or children to my plan.  Apples and oranges.


Jackie has two teenagers who excel academically but work their little buts off to do so, as well as very active in multiple sports.  Part of her plan has to be incorporating not only their schedule, the actual physical elements (sports/school equipment), time considerations but also the fact that she gets up every morning to fix them a nutritious breakfast and pack healthy snacks for them to have after school before practice and then again a very healthy balanced dinner in the evening.  She is the mom I want to be when I grow up.


When devising our plans we identified how they would be different given different circumstances.  She’s got two little mess makers in the mix so that had to be incorporated into her plan; but not mine.


When determining a goal for yourself this year, this quarter or even this week make sure you do two imperative steps:


1. Defining what success will look like.  If you find yourself coming up short then you can make appropriate changes because you will have something to measure against.


2. Do not define your goals, actions or success based upon someone else.  This is your goal so therefore it is all about you – stop looking for validation from anywhere else.


Remember – you are the one who is going to be doing the happy dance once you achieve your goals – make sure you pick the music you like dancing to and not someone else’s play list.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Oh, So You Are THAT One In The Family….

My father passed away several years ago, but before he did he told me he thought I should be a Forest Ranger.


My mom and I still go back and revisit this odd moment in history and remiss, “What the hell was he thinking?!”

I have come to the conclusion that he was thinking that he could get into any State Park for free to go fishing, go on the lakes to practice celestial navigation and go camping whenever he wanted.

But had he seen the hats?  Seriously.

He had long passed when I decided to start my own business.  I know he would have never told me, “What the hell are you thinking?” even if he might have thought it.  He was incredibly supportive.

My entire family was supportive when I jumped on the crazy train and started my own business.  I am very, very blessed with such a wonderfully supportive family – even if I did have to explain it a few times.

Some people are not so lucky.  They may decide to take a new direction in their career, take a step down or abandon 10, 15, 20 or 30 years of a career path for something completely new or different.  When this announcement is made they may not receive all or any of the support that they need.  Then what?

It is difficult to say the least.  It is not like making these types of decisions are easy.  To compound your own fear, anxiety or worry your family beats you up or belittles you about it.  Not fair – I call foul.

Not that it can stop it.  I wish I were that good.

That is when you have to do one thing that could be the hardest thing you have ever had to do: have complete faith in yourself and shut out the naysayers.

Support and encouragement are important and sometimes you just get screwed because the only one in your corner is you.  It stinks, but it is not impossible to continue with your dream.

It is your decision, your life.  If it affects others than I hope that you had the good sense to discuss it with them; however at the end of the day it is your decision.  The bottom line is you are going after something that makes you happy, a dream, a desire, a wish, a goal – however you define it if you have the passion to pursue it then I assume you have the passion to “defend” it.

I say “defend” because if you are in a collaborative relationship and this is going to really affect someone else then you may need to “defend” your decision.  Explain to them why it is important and also what steps you are taking to mitigate any negative affect to them.  Be responsible  now, if others are depending on you then you do need to take them into consideration and not be completely selfish.

If all plans are in place that allows you to pursue this goal then go for it.

If your friends or extended family do not appreciate your passion or respect your decisions then perhaps it best they not included in your planning or execution.  Something along the lines of lead, follow or get out of the way.

Now, I am all about serving as devil’s advocate – however, there is a difference in making sure your sibling or friend is making a huge mistake and dissuading them based on your own issues.  Don’t assume that everyone is not being supportive; perhaps some are just making sure you have seen something from all sides.  That is supportive.

If you feel like you are constantly defending yourself or even – heaven forbid – apologizing for your actions then stop.  Do not let them trample on your dreams.  They do not live your life, they do not make your decisions and they do not wake up and face you in the mirror every morning.

If they don’t like it fine; then they can respectfully keep their opinions to themselves.  If they are unable to do so then you may have to make another hard decision: to not communicate with them during the building of your dream.

Sometimes we cut people out of our life; it is an unfortunate occurrence; however sometimes it is necessary.  Unpleasant, sad, but necessary.

I once made a decision that some of my family did NOT support; in no way, shape or form.  They were not happy with me at all.  We could not agree to disagree so I cut them out for a while.  It was a painful time and very hurtful; however I knew I needed to do what I was doing and they were making it worse for me by being negative so I eliminated the negativity.

After some time they realized that I was not going to give in and change my ways and we were able to slowly come around to civil discussion and ultimately build a mutual respect for each other.  It was a hard lesson to learn but a very valuable one.

So if you are “that one” in the family that they all think is crazy for pursuing some odd or misunderstood dream – good for you!  Welcome to the black sheep of the family club.  You are in great company.   The dream may not work out, you may fail miserably but when all is said and done you did it.  You stood on your own, pursued your passion and you went for it.  Now that is my kinda sheep!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.