It is Not Where You Start; It’s Not Even Where You Finish

My friend and I had a monumental personal accomplishment this weekend:  we completed the first annual Indiana Women’s Trail Run.  A quarter marathon (or 10k or almost 7 miles) hiking through Eagle Creek Park.

 

Most women there ran it; we walked it.  I am absolutely fine with this.  It was not about a time or place – it was about doing it.  And we did.

 

What makes this so monumental is that three months ago, she had a hip replaced and I could not walk up a flight of stairs without being winded.

 

And we did it!  We have the medal and Facebook pictures to prove it.

 

Looking at me most people would never have guessed what state I was in three months ago.  I am a very petite person; all of 5 foot tall and maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet.  I look like I am in great shape.  I eat fairly healthy and do a lot of labor activity around my house.

 

But my cardio – it was in the crapper.  I was embarrassed at my poor state of health.  I will never run marathons, I know this.  I do not have the desire to do so and if I ever got a crazy notion to do so my knees would immediately remind me that they protest by swelling up like cantaloupes.

 

I knew I would need to start working on my cardio so I joined my friend walking on the Monon.  We started on Saturdays and then started walking throughout the week.  Each week I felt stronger.  I knew I was improving and treating my body the way I should – getting it healthy.

 

I realized when we were walking Saturday morning on the trail that it was completely irrelevant where I started.  I could be in the worst shape or decent shape; it just didn’t matter.  Crossing that finish line wasn’t really the biggest achievement. 

 

It was the journey that I took.  Making a commitment, following through, giving myself positive motivation and praise for every mile that I walked and every mile I added on.  It was on the weekends and weeknights that the real change happened.

 

While we set a goal to finish the run, we did so much more.  We felt fantastic after and on the ride back started talking about our next event.  This run might have been the end point, but once we got there, it no longer was; it was just a stepping stone.

 

You might be struggling with your job or career right now.  You might be thinking you are too old, do not have the right qualifications, it may take too long to get certified or have not finalized a plan on how to get to where you dream of going.

 

My advice to you today: stop looking at where you are and focusing solely on the end point.  What you have done in the past, good or bad, is in the past.  Today is a brand new day; an opportunity to start fresh; the day to lace up your sneakers and just take a walk.

 

Start setting small goals, make them a bit of a stretch but achievable.  This gives you drive and the opportunity to give yourself praise for each step you take.

 

You do not have to know the whole road.  Here’s a little secret – the road is going to change anyway.  Have an end game in mind but be flexible as to how it will come about.  During the trail run we came across a huge mud pit with a small lake in the middle (ok, just a little exaggeration).  We were nearing the end and there was no way I was going to have my friend try to navigate that mess; and honestly I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of trampling through that either. 

 

I found an alternative.  There was a little hidden path right next to the mess.  We averted 90% of the mud and muck while staying on course and track.  If you only focus on the “I have to do these things in this order” then you will miss the little hidden paths that keep the mud out of your toes.

 

If it is your dream or your goal than take full ownership and responsibility; this means do not let anyone else dictate your steps time table or accomplishments.  You may have to tune others out and perhaps not share this vision with others so they do not poo—poo it; do what you have to do.  It is not about them anyway, this is about you.

 

Throughout your journey there will be days you are frustrated, want to give up or just take a little break.  Don’t.  Keep going.  Remember, yesterday doesn’t matter.  One weekend we walked over 20 miles.  I was so proud of myself that weekend.  Monday, I told myself that was great, but it was in the past; what was I going to do this week?

 

Lastly, do enlist your support system.  Those friends that love you unconditionally, support any crazy notion you have and offer support, not judgment.  Those are the ones you will draw strength from and the ones that will help you celebrate.  You need your support system, no matter who they are.  My dogs are part of mine.  They get laps at home to help keep me focused, motivated and routine.  Oh, and they cheer me on.

 

Of course, they may be doing it for the puppy treats.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

 

 

 

 

 

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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

www.CareerPolish.com

 

I’m Ready So Why Isn’t It Happening Now?

Little Girl Fingers CrossedI am not the most patient person in the world.

 

I think this was clear when I my brother gave me a shirt with Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbs) screaming “I want it and I want it NOW”.  I was in junior high school.

 

Although I am getting better, I still have that part of me.  A few things have helped me calm down a bit – having a child, having a pack of dogs, gardening and owning my own business.

 

Each one of these major life contributors have shown me that you can do everything right, and everything right now but that doesn’t mean that the positive results will show themselves immediately.

 

I can’t plant tomato plants and expect to harvest them the next week.  I can’t teach my dog not to jump and expect him to stay all four paws on the ground every single time after the first success.  I cannot teach my son life lessons and expect him to grasp them immediately.

 

The time between execution and success is the fruition period.  This is when things need to take root, grow, develop, lessons be learned, absorb the new reality and preparation for success.

 

It can be a very painful and seemingly slow process.

 

I will admit, it can drive me crazy.

 

I still don’t like waiting.  But the main thing that gets you through is knowing the end result is coming.

 

You may not see it right now, but if you keep using the tools with the right attitude – the right result is coming.

 

Case in point – I stopped drinking pop, more specifically Dew.  For anyone that knows me they know that I drank Dew all day every day, from sun up to sun down.  I love my Dew.  Last weekend I decided it was time to change a few habits.  I decided to start with the Dew.  For a week now I have replaced Dew with citris water and tea flavored with fresh fruit.

 

The first few days I ballooned up like an Umpa Lumpa.  Not happy about that.  And I had migraines every day .  Did not enjoy that one bit.  But I knew that once the transition period ended and my body became used to healthier drinks rather than a constant infusion of sugar and caffeine I would feel better.

 

Even through the headaches and bloating I persisted.  I am sleeping better, have more energy and am getting used to the different tastes.

 

I keep plugging away.

 

When you are job searching or in transition it is hard when you do not see immediate results.  You redo your resume, love it; get clear on your search and criteria and stick to it; and have re-engaged yourself in the search.  Then nothing.

 

Just because things do not change immediately does not mean that your tools are wrong.  It is almost like a test.  You say you believe in yourself, you know what you want and you are committed to it – but are you really?

 

A day is not a commitment, neither is a week.  It is a good start, but real commitment is over time.  If I go back to drinking Dew all day then I really wasn’t committed to being more healthy – I just experimented with it.

 

Even when it seems things are not progressing they are, you just don’t see it yet.  Once you have made that commitment to the point that it becomes a natural habit rather than a concentrated effort that is when you will start to see some fruits of your labor.

 

It is like sit ups.  You can’t expect to do 50 sit ups one day and have washboard abs the next.  I wish!  You have to have a plan, execute consistently and the results begin to show.  Once they do you have to continue the process to not only get to the point you want but stay there.

 

Consistency.

 

It goes with patience.

 

It is frustrating.

 

But if you pair the two – consistency with patience your time will come and it will be much sweeter and rewarding because you can fully appreciate it from all the work you put into it.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Too Attached To The Outcome

WorrySometimes we want something so badly that we focus on the ultimate outcome rather than the steps to actually reach that outcome.  Bad idea.

 

There are other times that we are almost afraid to hope for the thing we want the most so we attach ourselves emotionally to that outcome and completely ignore the things that are happening around us right here right now.  Bad idea.

 

I’m a planner and an analyzer.  I will admit it.  It is a critical skill as a mother.  You always have to anticipate for your children.  Going to baseball games and wrestling meets I always had the “bag”.

 

It was full of requirements for any occasion: sunflower seeds and gum for baseball; beef jerky and granola bars for wrestling; band aids; Neosporin; washcloth and baggie; black tape; pencils; sun block (baseball); the boys deodorant (they really stink at wrestling); rain poncho; ace bandages; you name it – it was in the bag.

 

I never had an occasion where I had to use every item in the bag.  It was for preparation but the tools were only used on an as needed, in the moment basis.

 

Going after that gig you really want is the same thing.  React on an as needed, appropriate in the moment manner.

 

Focus too much on how much you really want the job and you may miss an important statement in a follow up interview.  They may be giving you clues on how to further align yourself with the job but you are only wanting to hear the words, “We want to make you an offer” that you miss it.

 

Wanting that job so badly can also make us start to doubt ourselves.  Maybe you have been excited about another job as much but that one ended badly so your fear starts to warp that excitement and equate it with failure.

 

It is a different company, a different time, a different opportunity and a different you.

 

That’s like really liking someone but being afraid to get close because the last time you felt this way about someone it totally blew up in your face.

 

Different person, different time, different opportunity and a different you.

 

Do not punish the new person for the behavior of the old one.  Same rule applies for the job, too.

 

Let go of the emotional attachment and look at right here, right now.  Are you in continual talks with this company – great – what is really being said?  Is it in line with what you want, perfect – go for it.  Let go and just go with it.

 

If you find yourself overanalyzing each action or statement (and trust me, I get this) just stop.  Let go of the emotional part and look at it as a whole.  They are interested as are you so just let it progress to a natural course of coming together.

 

I have found that things happen for a reason in their own time in their own way and it is not my job to know the why or try to fix it.  My job is to look at the here and now and what I can do to add value.  If it is meant to be then for crying out loud let it.  Stop getting in your own way and let it happen.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com

 

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.

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Sometimes a Good Thing Isn’t All That Great!

Last week my son sprained his ankle. Sounds like no big deal, huh? Yeah well, this is my son so it is not that simple. He sprained it Monday night, Tuesday morning it looked like it was removed, beaten to a pulp and put back on his leg crooked. So Tuesday x-rays, Wednesday an MRI and Friday a visit to an Orthopedic Specialist, a week on crutches and now he’s in a boot.

Good times had by all. At first, he wasn’t minding the crutches because, well, I can’t tell you how many cute young ladies looked at him and said (with heartfelt sympathy and “poor baby” eyes), “Oh no, what happened?” and offered to help him – with a door, with his books, if he wanted them to get him anything – yeah, it was kind of nauseating. As a 17 year old charmer, he was kind of enjoying this. Then a couple days on the crutches and he was over the whole thing. His arms hurt, he could not get around very fast and he could not work out or practice. When he was first enjoying all the attention, I just kept waiting; because I knew the day would come where he would look at me and say, “This stinks!” And it did. And I laughed, because that’s the kind of mom I am!

So where is the point in all of this today? If you have read any of my blogs then you know it takes me a while to get to the point and I normally have to tell a story before I get there. Hey, you are the one that keeps reading so don’t blame me, you should have figured this out by now!

Networking, it can be a wonderful thing or it can be an activity that sucks the life out of you. But you have control over that. I know some people who are professional networkers. They attend everything, know everyone and can tell you in great detail all about it. For those that are in business I ask them how much many leads it has generated for them. For those that are in transition, I ask how many opportunities it has brought them. For both categories those professional networkers normally answer that they have a huge rolodex of contacts.

Yeah, well, I can go to any event and get a boat load of cards but that doesn’t mean a darn thing. In fact, I do not offer my card when I network. If there is a genuine interest then the individual will ask for it. When you network you must have a goal, and it is not to get as many cards as you can at the end of the night – this isn’t business card bingo!

Let’s take a step back before we discuss an event. Before you even go to a networking event, do you know what your goal is for that night, for right now in general? What are you looking for? And those of you that answered, “a job” just to let you know, I am sending a mental head slap out to each and every one of you! NO NO NO. Not just a job, but what job; what industry; in what capacity; what skills are you wanting to utilize; what are your strengths; what makes you happy; what drives you crazy; what city, state, or side of town do you want to work in; what are your challenges that you are willing to overcome? Where are you going? If you can’t answer this, grab some happy food, a pad of paper, a comfortable chair and get to work. You are not prepared to network. Prep work here kids.

Now, to the event. Have you done your homework – do you know who will be attending? Did you know that you can call the organizer to find out more information about the event and the attendees? Really, try it! It is much better than wasting your time. Do you know who you would like to meet, either specifically or in general (I want to meet Mr. Smith or I want to meet someone who is works for X company, even better if they work in Accounting), and do you have a goal in mind? If not, go back and read my previous blog about setting goals – look here it is in a convenient link: https://lisakmcdonald.com/2010/01/17/hey-new-year-wait-for-me/.

You see, if you go in unprepared to a networking event, you are going to be like my son on crutches. You are going to get a lot of attention and it will feel great. But all those looking at you with “poor you” eyes are just trying to get names to spam with their emails or waste your time with meetings to tell you all about them. You will be bogged down with all this useless information and irrelevant contacts that will slow you down worse than if you were on crutches.

Go in with purpose, have a goal, know what you want. The event may turn out to be a bust; maybe you do not meet the right type of contacts. That is okay, you did very well in being prepared and walked out with a great practice session rather than hobbled out with arms that hurt and two to three weeks stuck in a big clunky boot. Oh wait, that is my son…