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


Stuck In Your Job Search? Try Creating An Anti-List!

I have a thing about lists…ok, it is more that I really love lists…well, I guess it would be more accurate to say I am addicted to lists.


Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a list-oholic.


Every morning I have a list of the items I want or need to get accomplished that day.  To prevent myself from having post it notes or actual paper lists all over my office I created a desk with a glass top.  This way I can use a wipe erase marker and list everything out and at the end of the day after I have checked everything off I can simply wipe it away and start fresh.


Did you catch the very optimistic “after I have checked everything off” part in the above sentence?  Because any true list-oholic knows you never check everything off because we have an addition to adding more stuff on.


Sometimes when they are complex or multi-step projects I break them down so I can mark more stuff off.  Sometimes I add things on that I just did just to be able to mark it off.


I didn’t say I was a good list-oholic, but we all need that sense of being able to accomplish something and if that means adding just to check it off then by all means I am all for it.


The point is I have lists for everything.  Grocery trips, projects around the house, cleaning, work, personal errands, goals, dreams – you name it and I probably have a list.  Lists are good.  They give parameters, help keep you on track and remind you of the important items.


It is not uncommon when I am working with a client that they, too, have a list – a list of the type of jobs that they want.  But oftentimes I have clients that are in the grey area.  They are not sure what they want to do next, if they want to continue along the same path they always have or if they want to try something different.  It can be quite overwhelming.


My solution: create a list!  Surprising, I know.


But this is more of an anti-list.


I know when making a list we are told that we should put down everything that we want – everything – and this way you have a clear focus and it helps bring it to you.


Years ago someone suggested I do that to find the “right” man.  I think there is a problem if I have to break a guy down to a series of checks off a list.  And what if you forget something – I mean is it necessary to put things like, “not an ax murderer?”  Or what if you put “never arrested” well what if he got arrested for protesting a really worthy cause and it was later dropped – you could be passing on a perfectly great guy because a list technicality…it was just too complicated so a “guy” list has never been one of my lists.


Anyway, making a list of all the things you want in your next job is all well and fine if you know exactly what you want.  But what if you have no idea of what you want or where to go from here?


Then you start with what you don’t want.  You make the anti-list.


Start thinking about the things you did not like about your past career history or jobs.  Some people do not want to lead a team, others do not want to work on a team, some do not want to do data entry, spreadsheet design, work with clients, file, travel, prepare reports, be responsible for budgets – you get the idea.


Sometimes knowing what you don’t want gives you the freedom to discover something new.


If a job comes across your path and it does not meet any of the anti-list criteria then go for it.  Even if it is not what you have done before or anything you might know – it is a new opportunity and you already know that it does not hold the biggest negatives for you.


It can be hard trying something new or going in a new direction.  We fear the change and desperately want something to hold on to or to cling to for security and safety sake.  Having an anti-list gives us a little comfort in knowing it will not contain what we feel are the worst elements of a position.  It is a minimal amount of security, but security nonetheless.


If you are feeling stuck try making an anti-list.  Then in discovering available opportunities allow yourself to be open to them if they don’t make the list.  It can be quite freeing and rewarding!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



Picking Locks And Opening Doors

I want it all. Yes, I said it – out loud and in print for all the world to see.

I want my family and friends to be blessed with good health emotionally, physically and financially. I want peace on earth, the Cubs to win a World Series, a cure for all cancers and childhood illnesses. I want dogs that mind all the time, the house to remain clean for more than a day or two and snow only on Christmas day. I want to be known as the Career Coach/Strategist for college athletic teams, I want all my client’s to reach every one of their goals and I want to improve every day on my skills and abilities. I want the fat bank account that allows me to travel through America and Europe while being able to continually give generously to charities I believe in. One day I’ll want a partner who is my best friend, lover, partner in crime, understands I need my own space, gets my sarcasm and appreciates who I am as a person and who can always make me laugh even if I don’t want to.

Pretty big list, I know, but it is my list. I think everyone should have an “I want it all” list. It helps us really figure out what is important to us and why. It also helps us determine what we are willing to take second best for the time being until the right thing comes along.

Many times when I’m working with clients it is right in front of us that where they want to be is a step or two away, and therefore some “settling” steps must be taken before they reach their ultimate goal. The big title position is the ultimate goal; however to get there they may need to take a lesser position to gain the experience that they need to take over that dream job. That is an acceptable settle. It is part of a plan – it is making a decisive step to reach what you really want.

Too often we give up on our dreams and settle because we are afraid of either actually achieving or fear that we can’t achieve our goal. I had a very dear friend of mine who was afraid of the success and settled, he told me that his current job wasn’t what he wanted, but it wasn’t bad – he could live with it the rest of his life. I smacked him, out of love of course.

Look I get that sometimes you need to settle, but if you are make sure it is for the right reasons. Some things I will settle on in the interim, some I’m just going with the flow and some I refuse.

I’m going with the flow knowing my house is a welcoming home and it will never look like a BHG showcase, as long as I live in Indiana snow will always here after Christmas and my dogs – yeah well, I love them anyway. I don’t even want to hear any comments about the Cubs – period!

I will always support the American Cancer Society, Riley Hospital and other organizations that fight for the cures. I refuse to give up hope.

In building my business there are some jobs that I have had to take on that maybe I didn’t really want to, but I got bills to pay and I choose to look at them as every experience is a lesson. I know I’m going to reach all my goals, even if I have to take a break and settle a bit now and then along the way. This I can be flexible on because I’m in control of this one.

If you are taking a job to help you move forward then I’m in your corner. If you are taking it as a signal of defeat then I’ll want to smack you too. That’s like being with the wrong person just to be with someone. It is easy, you don’t have to work for it and you don’t have to worry about being hurt because you are not invested.

That’s not a way to live! If you don’t love what you do or who you are committed to then get out. Find your passion, figure out what steps you need to do to realize it and make some moves. Yes, you may have to take a step back in jobs to ultimately move forward but at least you would be making movement.

Fear isn’t a bad thing. When I first started my business I was terrified and it was a motivator. At one point I used it as a “I’ll show you” factor. I am vested in this, I have opened my heart and soul to my business and leave myself open for painful lessons but that’s how I experience my greatest joys and successes – I allow the fear. If you are afraid of taking on a new job because you don’t know if you will be successful then go for it and use that fear for your benefit.

It’s like finding the right person. There is some part of you that they absolutely scare the crap out of – that fear of being hurt or rejected. You have two choices: be afraid and run away – or – go for it.

Very recently my best friend hit me upside the head with the proverbial 2×4. She pointed out in her blunt and loving manner that I was queen of running away always making sure that my fear was not realized. Oh sure, I never got hurt, but I never allowed someone the opportunity to get past the security system. I hate when she is right.

So I made a conscious decision a few weeks ago and against everything that I engrained in myself I let go. Yesterday, last week, last month – all gone. The slate is clean – it is today, right now that mattes, I’ve opened myself up and guess what – it ain’t bad. With a clean slate, a new perspective and acceptance of wanting it all I’m not going to settle because I know that my partner in crime will be picking the lock.

For the things that you have control of – unlock your own doors and pick your own locks to take the steps you want to take so you can start checking off items on your own want it all list.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.