What Makes You So Darn Special?

Hi, I’m Lisa, I’m a learning junkie.

I look at learning as a continual investment in myself. I am in a perpetual state of evolution. Constant learning by reading, taking classes, experimenting and being blessed with influencers.

I have an amazing tribe of mentors and coaches – shout out to Lorraine, Jennifer, Amy, Deb and Michelle. These personal influencers enrich my life. They elevate me as a person and as a contributor of value to others. They keep me grounded, encourage me, gently point out stupid things I do and get my sarcasm.

There is one constant that every single one of them has told me, on more than one occasion: I am harder on myself than anyone else. Duh.

The aforementioned stupid things I do, if they point it out, they do so in a supportive, kind way. When I think about it, I tell myself something like “well, you’re a blooming idiot.” Here is a great example of this:

During a discussion, I made the comment that I should have known how to do something, which I had never done before. To which she replied, “Why?” I thought because it was similar to something else. She said it was unfair to myself to expect to know something I have never done.

In replaying that conversation, my comment to myself was, “What makes you so darn special? Like you should know all the answers without ever doing it before?”

We all need to stop thinking we are so darn special that our expectations for ourselves exceed anything we would expect of others. Especially when it is setting us up for failure.

My son was having a struggle with something the other day. This would be something his dad could relate to better than I, but his dad passed last year. I tried the supportive, kind way – he wasn’t getting it.

Then I asked him if his dad was in the same situation, what would he tell his dad? His response was a healthier option and completely different than what he was doing. My next comment was, “If you would give that advice to your dad, why wouldn’t you take it yourself?” Light bulb.

Chief and I had a conversation about working out. He had completed a goal and was disappointed that he had not subsequently gone far enough beyond it. He had extremely high goals set for each next step. When I asked him what goals he would recommend for me if I did the same thing, there was a huge discrepancy. The goal was significantly lower and prefaced with “any improvement is great”.

My question to him was, “why is a small improvement great for me, but a failure for you?” Light bulb.

I am all about setting high goals, I’ve got three on my plate right now. What I am not all about is beating yourself up when you feel like you are failing, when in reality you are not.

Here’s how to do a healthy pivot if you’re getting burned out or feeling a bit of failure creeping in on a big goal:

1. Know your why. Reconnect with the reason you have this goal in the first place. Your why is the primary driver of any goal.

2. Give someone else advice. If you can, ask yourself what would you advise someone else to do if they had the same goal. If you cannot divorce yourself from this situation, ask a friend to role play this with you.

3. Break it down. Big goals are not achieved in one fell swoop. Take a look at it and break it down to its most simple components. Can you break down actions into monthly steps? Great, now break them down into weekly actions, then daily. One step at a time. No step is too small as long as it is a step forward.

4. Learn from going backwards. Yes, I just said any step forward is progress, but the reality is that you might go backwards a time or two. Fantastic. Hidden within that is an amazing opportunity to learn something. It might be about the goal, the process, the action or yourself. Write that stuff down!

5. Write it out. This is the best motivator I know. Track your goals, actions and – this is big – your accomplishments. This will help you keep track of how far you have come and that you are, indeed, moving forward.

6. Celebrate it all. Don’t wait until the realization of the big goal to celebrate. Recognize and praise yourself for the ‘little’ victories as well. If you don’t feel like you moved any closer to your goal this week, take a look. You completed every one of the daily activities you set out to do – hooray! Ice-cream with sprinkles for you!

7. Relax. Make sure you bring balance to your life. Goals are awesome, but they are not the end point. Often, they are not the most rewarding, it is the journey that gives us the most delight and satisfaction. Take a break. Recharge your batteries by engaging with people, nature, art, food, exercise, or meditation. Keep yourself at peak performance by taking care of you as a whole.

You know what, you are special. We all are. But you are not so darn special that you should hold yourself to insane standards that you would not encourage for anyone else. Remember that Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. To keep our own expectations from get out of hand let’s add: Do not do unto yourself as you would not do unto others.

Start today. What is one thing that you can celebrate today? I didn’t ask what big thing can you celebrate, I asked what is one thing you can celebrate. I haven’t tackled any of my big goals today. But off the top of my head I can think of three things so far today that I can celebrate. I did my three miles on the treadmill this morning. Dinner is already prepared so it will be a hassle-free night tonight. I had an amazing coaching session and one action suggestion I offered was of great value to my client.

Now it’s your turn.

As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you unstuck

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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

Rethinking My 2016 Goals Thanks To Disney World

Rethinking My 2016 Goals Thanks To Disney World
This is one of my favorite times of the year.  As one year comes to a close and another looms on the horizon, there are many articles, tips and pieces of advice on how to pretty much organize any part of your life from making and hitting career, exercise or weight goals to organizing your garage.
I am one of those people who cannot get enough material about organization, systems and processes.  I dream of one day having the perfectly labeled pantry and immaculate garage.  I love getting the new, shiny notebook and plotting out these tips and techniques to achieve organizational bliss.


I always start out with gusto and within a few months look over in the corner of a room to see my not so shiny notebook untouched, unloved and completely neglected.  I won’t even mention what my garage looks like.

I fall into the trap of single minded, goal achievement.

I fail miserably and feel worse than I did when setting the goals after reflecting on how I did not meet my goals for the ending year.  Let the wine and Haagen-Dazs flow!

Not this year.  I had an awakening at of all places – Disney World.

For Christmas we spent the day – and night – at Disney World.  At 5:30 am we started like most everyone else, with a plan.

We had a plan of hitting certain rides, watching the time, scurrying from one place to another beating out all the crowds.  We had a plan. We were determined.  We were going to hit our goals, doggone it, not matter what.

That lasted until about 7 am, when we ran into a snafu right off the bat at the entrance.  After about a half hour delay, we were off.  But the crowd had already began to infiltrate, we had to dodge and weave to get to specified locations to enjoy ourselves.

Oh no!

We became rats in a maze and the cheese was unobtainable.  We blindly followed crowds and became defeated at the sight of lines.

That is when it hit us.  Here we were in 80 degree weather, not a cloud in the sky, in the happiest place on earth and we were concerned about hitting targets.

What the heck.

So we abandoned our original plans by remembering one key piece of advice we had both heard – it is not the destination, but the journey.

We stopped making specific plans and began to enjoy the scenery around us.  We ignored the adults scoffing at their kids that there was no time to enjoy the things they were doing at that time because they had to hit their schedule and began enjoying the laughter and delight in the kids’ faces.

We stopped planning every move and strolled through Frontier Land thoroughly enjoying a turkey leg.  We stepped out of the way of the families that were pushing through to get to their next destination and had fun conversations with other strollers.

We hit every single ride we wanted, and more.  Our longest wait time was 25 minutes, but that was one ride; the rest we eased on in 10 minutes or less.  We saw, and more importantly experienced, every single thing we wanted and more than we anticipated.

We stopped to find ourselves front and center five minutes before the parade.  Best spots in the place and we just happened to luck into them by sheer accident.

Goals are like that.  It is great to have a goal; however, if you only focus on achieving that goal, you miss the most fun, learning and enjoyable part about the whole adventure – the trip itself.

I have decided 2016 goals are going to be more like the adventure of Disney World: an eye on the goal but the focus on the experience.

There was only one ride we did not ride which we wanted to; but given the amazing adventure and fun that we had, we were okay with that.  Instead, we did something neither expected.

Neither one of us are roller coaster ride people.  I do not like them, never had.  A bad experience on Space Mountain when I was a kid turned me off on them forever.  But that day, we were having such a fun time that we threw caution to the wind – we rode it.

We ended up having a great time.  I’m still not doing loopy-loopy roller coasters, but on that one day, I rode a real one.

When you take your eye off only the achievement of the goals, you find yourself doing more than you anticipated because you are enjoying the experience.

Looking back on our adventure that night at the resort, we were amazed at how everything just seemed to fall right into place for us.  We realized it was because we were enjoying the moments in between the goals rather than checking off the goals one by one.

Yes, 2016 the goal is to enjoy the ride along the way to the goals and in doing so, I know I can mark off all those goals I plan on making – and more.  This begins with stopping to look at where I am now, today, and enjoying what this day brings.


I help identify and set a path to achieve individual career and company goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business, grow your company and strengthen your team.


Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a speaker and seminar facilitator at companies and professional organizations speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Why “I Did It and You Can Too!” Success Step Articles Don’t Work For You

buried in researchNot long ago LinkedIn Publisher announced they had more than one million users publishing long form content on LinkedIn. One of the coolest things about publishing on LinkedIn Publisher was that an author could get featured in a specific venue under Pulse.

I used to get featured quite a bit and was excited every time I saw the little tag at the bottom of my article, “Featured on XYZ”. Yay me.

But then something happened; Publisher changed and so did being featured on Pulse. Since the change, I have not been featured once. Not one single time. Boo me.

I felt like I got kicked out of the cool kids table. I was not the only one. Discussion boards lit up with many comments and reactions all boiling down to one thing: “What happened?” There were a lot of us kicked out of the cool kids table.

What happened was about the time of the one million user announcement, LinkedIn Publisher changed. There was never really a secret formula before, but whatever it was had new ingredients now. I did not know how I was featured before, but now that it was gone, I wanted to figure it out the new formula.

So I did what any overly-analytical, slightly topic obsessive, dog with a bone kind of person would do – I researched. What was I doing wrong and where could I get the expert advice that I needed, the formula, the plan, the actionable steps for me to take in order to rejoin the cool kids table?

I found plenty of articles with titles that just screamed, “I have the answer!’ So I read them, it felt like I read them all. I absorbed, took notes, followed instructions and guess what happened?


I was still not allowed at the cool kids table.

I wrote catchy headlines, gave useful and relevant information, provided action steps, sought disharmony with the norm – all the tricks and tools that were almost guaranteed to get me back at that table, because every author said it worked for them.

That is the thing about most how to, this is the best way articles – they are forums of “this is how I broke that unbreakable barrier and you can too!”

But it does not quite work out that way. It may have worked for them, but why does it not work for you?

Because almost every single one of them does not list the key missing ingredient.

Call it timing, perseverance, strategy, karma, a fluke or call it what it really is – luck.

Just plain old luck.

Every bit of success that I have ever read, listened to or experienced has all included that one little element – luck.

This is not to say that you should not try to follow the great advice in those articles. By all means, read as much as you can, experiment, try new things and keep reaching for results. Set goals, research markets, create processes, measure results.

While you are doing those things just keep this one thing in mind – when the luck is right – you will have your results.

Luck is not something you can plan for or force. However, all the planning that you do and all the work you put into it before the luck comes through will make it an easy transition into success. You will be ready, you will be more wise, more prepared and more grateful that your time has come.

Then you, too, can write a “this is how I broke through the unbreakable barrier, and you can too!” article.


I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.


Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Competition – A Secret Tool in Hitting Your Goals

business at the starting lineThere are three things that people notice about me immediately when meeting me in person: I am short, blond and petite. One of the first personal traits they notice about me or pick up on is that I am competitive.

I was raised by an amazing father who encouraged me in everything I did and never introduced the idea that my gender was a factor. This is the man that told me as a young girl that I could do anything a boy could do, except pee on a tree. Tell a five year old that and it sticks.

My neighborhood was filled with boys, my friends throughout adulthood have mostly been men and I raised boys. I am competitive. I do not apologize for this. Often competitiveness is seen as an undesirable quality in a woman. Like we are not supposed to want or desire certain success, stature, degrees, opportunities or ideals.

I have always found competitiveness to be a welcome trait until it isn’t. Do you know when it crosses that line from a good thing to a bad thing? When I win.

I do not take this trait to an extreme. I don’t’ go around challenging people to arm wrestling contests or make everything a no holds bar competition. Partly it is a natural tendency I keep in check and the rest of the time I use it as a fuel.

When I first entered the financial industry my boss told me that I needed to get my Series 7 in my first year and “then we’ll see if you can get your 9 and 10.” That was a gauntlet to me. The competitiveness in me took over. A competition was created within myself.

I earned my 7, 63, 65, 9 and 10 in my first year. Tell me we’ll see.

There are times that we get stuck. Whether it be looking for a new job, moving up in our current company, building our book of business or building a company we just get stuck. It is frustrating and can be debilitating. When I have found myself in the stuck places, I just want to look around and say, “I need a kick”.

So I give it to myself. I think of something, a goal, that I want to accomplish then I give myself a time period. I make it a competition within my own mind. It helps, yet there are times that it loses steam. Now I have something even better.

I have a competitive boyfriend.

We are in two completely unique and different industries and positions. We have started a friendly competition throughout the week. We set our goals and then it is game on. There are a lot of updates and “eat my dust” texts through the week. On the weekend, there is a lot of celebration of individual accomplishments. And a small victory dance.

Competition raises your bar. It helps you boost your performance, stay sharp and stay on your A Game. You suddenly find time to do the things you need to do but maybe do not want to because you are now accountable. If you don’t win, it is on you. What do you want, what have you done today to get it?

There are no excuses at the end of the week, either we make our goal or we don’t. Neither one of us is the type to say, “I would have hit it if this would have happened.” There are too many what if’s we cannot control; all we can control is our actions and reactions.

When you are going after a prospect or potential job lead put it in your mind that you are not their only candidate. You have competition. They will be comparing you to someone else to choose the best candidate or service provider. You want that to be you. You want to give it your A Game and leave nothing on the table.

When it is just you in the running you might unconsciously slowdown in the final stretch thinking it is a lock. When there is someone close behind you, that’s when you give it that final push to make sure you cross the line first.

I am not suggesting that when you go on an interview and see other candidates or leave a prospects office and see the next service provider ready to pitch their gig you tell them to eat your dust. Ok, you can say it, just don’t use your out-loud voice.

What I am suggesting instead is to create that competition in your mind with every touch you have with a client, prospect, network connection or job prospect. Know that after you hang up the phone they are going to talk to someone else. Enlist a friend to create a competition. Not necessarily competing against each other but who will hit their goal.

Competition is a great tool to make sure you walk out of every interview, client meeting and hang up every call knowing you were true to yourself, true to your value and true to your craft – and that is how you win before ever getting that acceptance call.

There are Benefits to Marvelous Disasters

pretty hole in the floorI am a positive person, much to the annoyance of some and delight to others; I am someone that tries to see the bright side or opportunity no matter the situation.

I also think life has a wicked sense of humor and normally appreciate it as my humor is a bit warped. Last week it had a marathon going and I reaped the full benefit of this brand of humor.

The week before last or thereabouts I had several thoughts going on in my head, this is not unusual. Things that crossed my mind were I needed to take a day to recharge, I hadn’t slept well and was feeling a bit sluggish. I had been looking at different flooring options and I am contemplating changing the flooring on the main floor of my house. I also wanted to change the bench seat in my front room. When I built it, I put doors that opened from the front and I want to change it for a top open with a cushion attached that was dog-proof.

Careful what you wish for.

Monday I found myself in the full throw of a horrendous sinus infection that not only took away my voice and the ability to breathe through my nose, it gave me a five second delay for every thought and knocked me out. I got my rest.

Wednesday I woke to find a frozen river in my backyard. Literally. All along the back of my yard and culminating in a nice ice skating pond in the back was a frozen river. It had not been there the day before.

I contacted the water company to discover two things: I had a pipe burst somewhere in my foundation and it costs over $600 to create a frozen river in my back yard. Who knew?

For three days last week I had a crew digging four holes in my home through the foundation and had no water. For three days I had the task of keeping three dogs from helping the crew and staying out of the holes.

One hole is where the bench seat used to be. It had to be disassembled and removed to accommodate the dig. One hole is in my living room where the flooring I have been contemplating changing is now removed.

I asked for the opportunity for a few things and life delivered. Not exactly the way I would have preferred, but it delivered.

I discovered that a friend I went to school with is an amazing plumber and handyman who is the epitome of the qualities you want in someone destroying parts of your home: honesty, integrity, professionalism, humor and tenacity. He is my guy, no matter what happens in my home from now on, Steve gets the call.

I discovered my son can sleep through jackhammers. Literally slept through it all.

I rediscovered the lovely qualities of compassion and humor in people. From my clients that kept my humor up to my friends that allowed me to shower at their home and fill up water jugs to others that sent me sweet messages to keep my head up.

I realized that if I had to have one major utility go out in my home, it should be the water. I still had heat, electricity, able to cook, sleep well and care for the pups.

I discovered that at some point we can all get what we want, the rub it that it may not exactly be delivered in the way in which you would prefer.

But that is the adventure. It might not seem like an adventure; it might actually on first blush seem like a catastrophe, but it is an opportunity.

Your wish list might include a certain company, specific job or land a particular client. What happens if you get into the company and you hate it – it is completely opposite of what you dreamed of?

As far as the specific job, what if you were offered a completely different path? Do you really know that it won’t still lead you to that position? Do you thumb your nose at this other opportunity because it is not exactly what you want? Perhaps there is something for you to learn in this detour that will make the desired position even more magnificent by the time you get there.

What happens when that client signs with you and they turn out to be completely opposite of pre-engagement? They could have been completely engaged in the process and positive and once they sign the dotted line they become aloof, uncooperative and a nightmare to work with?

One of the cruelest things we can do to ourselves is to focus on the end game with a single, tunnel-vision precision view of the goal. We neglect to look at the most important aspect – the journey.

It is the twists and turns, the seemingly negative or potentially disastrous events that lead to the goal that are important game changers. It is also how you handle the pot holes and detours on your path that help determine where it leads.

Make goals, have dreams and shoot for the stars and then realize that on the way to achieving these wonderful things that you could quite possibly have the craziest, rockiest, muddiest or most frozen road there.

If you can embrace those mudslides, rocks, ice and detours your victory will taste sweeter; you will be stronger and more educated to grab those goals with both hands and celebrate. You will find small victories and celebrations along the way.

Sometimes they are reminders to appreciate what you have; sometimes they are reminders to lighten up. Sometimes they allow you to gain the knowledge to be able to offer a helping hand or kind word to someone else down the road and confidently say, “I’ve been there, it will get better.”

The One Thing Keeping Your Dreams or Goals from Coming True

Image On the last day of crappy weather this weekend I was nursing some sort of stomach ailment and talking with my best friend about all the things including Spring/Summer projects, dogs and the dream of moving to California in a few years.


We always have wish lists for Spring and Summer; but they never seem to get done.  We usually come back to eventually we want to move so the overwhelming lists seems much easier to dismiss when we view it from the “I won’t be here forever” perspective.


And then my best friend said something in all her infinite wisdom.  “So what if we lived like we want to then, now.”    


Well, damn.


So that beautiful vegetable and herb garden we envision we plant this year, of course minus the avocado trees.  The peaceful flower garden surrounding the deck, surrounds it this year.  That piece of peace that serves as inspiration for future goals become current reality. 


It started to sink in.  Then she asked a question that drove it home: “Why are we waiting – don’t we deserve it now?”


Well, double damn.


I drew out plans for the garden and herb garden.  I made a completely new wish list and I didn’t skimp.  I listed all the things I want done to create my own little world just the way I see it a few years from now.  Some repair work in the house, painting, some building and lot of cultivating outside. 


Of course my zeal was heightened because just last week my 21 year old son told me to make him a list.  He wants to do any work his dad and me can come up with in appreciation of us helping him with school and housing costs.  He doesn’t like taking money for free, he wants to feel like he is earning it.


Heck, yeah.  First, I am proud that he has gone from a kid that growing up couldn’t grasp the concept of a trash can to a young man that wants to earn his own way.  Second, he is a strong kid and honestly, I can absolutely use the help!


The conversation has stayed with me.  As I began my “work week” I realized how this lesson wasn’t just for me.  Too often I hear people talk about transitioning into new positions or industries to get start living a new reality. 


The one thing that keeps dreams and goals from coming true is staring us right back in the mirror.  We do it to ourselves by pushing those ideals out to the future.  We see then as a complete package – we have to have the whole thing, in one big fell swoop, and that only happens in the future. 



It happens now by changing our attitude and taking many small steps to get to that whole transformation.


That garden isn’t going to go into full bloom overnight.  I see it in my mind a wondrous place that I can go pick tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and herbs to make fresh salads and bruschetta.

But first I have to till up the old soil, get rid of the top layer, build a fence to keep my tomato-stealing puppies out, build boxes for the herbs, fill in the right kind of soil, plant all the plants, weed, water, strain, get dirty and sweat a lot.  Then, after time, it will evolve to my wondrous garden.


The first thing is knowing what that garden looks like.  What is that place look like for you?  Is it a new environment, more money, different responsibilities?  What about that future place is going to make a difference? 


What if you don’t know what that new place looks like?  That’s ok.  Think about what comes to mind when you think of a better future.  Is it a certain feeling, like a feeling of accomplishment?


Either way, get an idea of what that new place looks or feels like and start implementing it now.  Start looking at your current position in life and ask yourself, “What can I change here, now, to make it more in line with that next place.”


Wanting to learn new skills; look around where you currently are and ask to be a part of a new project.  Partner with co-workers asking them to teach you something you don’t know.  Come into work with a new perspective – as though you are new.  Where can you make a difference, what can you improve? 


I need to build a fence and gate to close off the garden.  I have been researching, figuring out what materials I need, what tools I will need and how to put it together.  I am not a carpenter, but I have the ability to research, learn and put it in practice.


Start living in that feeling of accomplishment now.  Even if you cannot make a change today, look back at your day and allow yourself to see your accomplishments.  How did you make a difference?  How did you help someone, a co-worker or client, how did you make their life just a little easier?  That is an accomplishment.


Start living that future now.  See yourself in that role.  If you were offered that position tomorrow how would you prepare for it today?  Would you need any additional education?  Sign up.  Would you need more leadership experience?  Start stepping up where you are asking for more and pay attention to how you treat people.  Is that how a leader treats people?


Jim Croce sang about working at the car wash blues, he was an undiscovered Howard Hughes that sould be sitting in an air conditioned office in a swivel chair instead of rubbing bumpers with a rag and walking home in soggy shoes.


You may be walking in soggy shoes now, but start walking with the presence of where you want to be and pretty soon you will start seeing how what steps you need to take action on to transition from car bumpers to swivel chairs.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer



Stop Cheating Yourself by Expecting Others to Do it All for You

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn, and I still struggle with today, is not doing everything for my family.  When my son was younger, I might have done things to save time.  Some of my family is not very technically savvy so, as I am on my computer for the better part of every day, I was asked to perform certain tasks.


It was a matter of convenience.  It was easier if I just did the tasks.


It would not take me as long, I was more versed in the arena or I had more time to complete it since it would take them much longer to complete it.


Guess what – that is a big load of cow manure.


It is a huge disservice for everyone involved.


I received several “binkies” from my baby showers.  I don’t know what you call those little mouth plugs we give to infants but around here we call them binkies. 


I remember him sitting in his swing one day and being a little fussy so I thought we would give the binkie a try.  I popped it in his mouth and as soon as I sat back down he looked at me and spit it out.  So I got up and gave it to him again.  Again, he waited until I sat down and looked at me and spit it out.  We were done with the binkie.  The way I looked at it is one less bad habit I would have to break later.


I wish I had the same wisdom when it came to doing for others.


When he was younger I might have done tasks for him or completed them for him as a matter of convenience.  Let me also admit here that I am not the most patient person in the world.  But what happened was as he grew up it became an expectation.


I was expected to complete not just past tasks, but any tasks for him if he didn’t want to do them.  Becaue I was Mom, that is what I did.  Same for family members.  I would help out and then it became an expectation.


The problem with this is once you realize the expectation and the true disservice that you are doing, it is damn near impossible to break the habit. 


When you first deny the person you immediately get resistance.  They may think you are joking, or mad at them.  I mean, why else would you not do it?  When you put your foot down and say no, hostility can very easily crop up from them.


You have always done it before.  It isn’t like it is a big deal for you.  You are being selfish.  You aren’t being supportive of your family.  Nowhere in their reality do they ever see it as an imposition or using of you.  This is partially your fault – you set the stage.  I am fully responsible for the bad habits I instilled in my family.


I didn’t always handle this change in dynamics well.  I have very hard-headed, stubborn and sometimes short-sighted family members.  Hey, I am not judging, I can be one of them.  So when I started saying no there was a lot of resistance.  The calm talks, explanations and flat out no’s were not received well nor did they sink in.


I had to take quite a loud and drastic stance.  A couple yelling sessions and a couple breakdowns were involved.  It wasn’t pretty nor was it fun.  I just kept telling myself that I had accountability in this so I had to just suck it up and stick to my guns.


Yes, I was being selfish because here are a couple of cold hard truths:


– If I don’t take care of myself how can I possibly be at my best to take care of anyone else?

– What makes me think I can solve everyone else’s problems by taking them on?


You see, when I kept trying to do all for everyone else it was sucking the life out of me.  I was becoming distracted, short tempered, exhausted and just a lot of things I did not like.  My family noticed I was not myself, but could not connect the dots as to why.


I have come a long way with this, but I still have a ways to go – personally that is. 


Professionally, I have a hard fast rule: You have to have skin in the game or we will not be working together.  Prospects will ask me how successful I am, they want to know how many people have gotten jobs based on working with me.  My reply is simple:


I am 100% successful.  I provide my clients with what they need; however it is up to my clients to use this information and put it into practice to reach their goals.


I cannot take all credit for my clients’ successes, nor do I take all responsibility for their failures.  There are some that will have all the best tools but never take them out of the box.


That is the best thing I can do for my clients.  I can provide them with the most fantastic resume, LinkedIn profile, interview or network coaching but I cannot perform the actions necessary for them to succeed.  They must be involved in the process of these things in order that they can fully engage in them and take full ownership.


In my process I incorporate a method of teaching.  I will finalize their resume for the first position that they want to target.  For the second target I have them make the revisions and then we go through them.  I transition the process to them, giving them coaching and guidance, in order for them to take full ownership and move on without me.


I cut the cord, I kick them out of the nest. 


That is an important part of my job – not just give them the tools they need, but teach them how to use them. 


When you are evaluating hiring a professional to hire you in any activity for improvement do not sell yourself short and expect them to do it all for you.


Would you hire a personal trainer and expect that by watching them work out you will get in better shape?

Would you hire a dietitian that tells you what foods to eat and outline a change in your eating behaviors but not incorporate the changes yourself?




When you take ownership of or within a project you take accountability and are more engaged in the process to ensure you reach a successful outcome.  The outcome you want.  The outcome you help create.


When you expect others to do the work for you then you are giving up your control and creating an opportunity for blame.  You get an outcome that is decided for and given to you.


I saw a quote the other day that I think applies perfectly: you can have results or excuses but not both.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategies

Certified Professional Resume Writer



How To Make That Change

workWhile this seems like a vague title, it is intentional.


I am in the business of change.  I work with individuals to change something in their present situation.  In a general sense you could say I am a brand manager.


For those looking for a new position or advancement in their career I work with them on their resume, LinkedIn, interviewing, networking: everything leading to the change in jobs.


For business owners and teams I work with them on LinkedIn, business bios, networking and anything that helps engage their prospects or building their business.


I help every individual identify or clarify their brand and learn how to communicate that to the appropriate audience.


For each client it takes work; on both sides.


That is exactly what it takes to make any change: work.


Most people look at work as a dirty four letter word.  Not me – I see it as a positive, invigorating motivation.


If you want a change; whether it is a new job, a better job, new business, more prospects, better engagement, to master a skill, to take up a new hobby, to increase your social circle it takes work.


And here is the work that will work for you:








You have to identify the want.  What do you really want and why?



What is the situation around you, what is present and what is not?  What are any opportunities available for you and what are available if you make a change?



What is to be gained?  What is the first small step and reward and what is the one after?  Set goals and know when you have reached them, use them to motivate you to the next step.  It is not a stagnate process and end-all point.  Rewards are continual as long as you keep going.



Sometimes this is the best result of work – the knowledge.  Learning about yourself, a new industry, a new hobby, what worked, what didn’t, how you can use that going forward and learning about those around you.  Knowledge is power.


You make think you really want to make a change, but unless you are willing to identify and fulfill the work than you are dreaming.  Dreams are goals without a plan.  Dreams are illusionary and goals are tangible.  You can measure your progress toward a goal, you know when you receive a reward, when you accepted the knowledge, when you identify a new opportunity and fulfill a want.

Work is the method for change.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW



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


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