Tag Archives: decision making

Tackling Someday Head On: Achieving Dreams with Confidence

  • Someday Lesson: If you can’t fully commit to busting your Someday then how important is it to you really?

Aunt Owwee on flickr.comYou know what? It doesn’t matter what you want. It doesn’t matter what reasons you have for not following it. If you’re not pursuing a dream you say you want, then you have to ask yourself the question How much do I really want it?

Marie understands this. Her biggest Someday is finishing her degree she admits to only maybe wanting it. She feels that she should really want it but she’s burnt out and only kind of wants it. That makes any forward progress a chore and the moment something becomes a chore resistance kicks in.

Think about your life – what are you doing because you feel you should want it? Or I should say, what are you not doing even though you feel you should want it?

Johnny, despite saying that he wants a career in clean-technology, lacks confidence and lets his poor work habits and procrastination stop him. Tie that into his fear around not having enough money and bam! he’s completely blocked. He can’t move forward because he’s scared it won’t work out (based on past experience) and yet he wants to move forward because it’s supposed his dream.

What situation in your life is like Johnny’s? Where do you claim to want something but then let fear stop you?

When Michelle contacted me to become a Lab Rat, she mentioned that she fights her weight. She focuses on everything else in her life and ignores her weight. She doesn’t apply for jobs because she’s not happy with the way she looks. She says “it’s not fair!” about her size. And yet she knows it’s a whole lot easier to stay exactly as she is. It’s more comfortable to complain than to act even though the inaction makes her feel resentful and angry with herself. She’s waiting for it to be easy.

What aren’t you tackling because it’s too much work?

Helen has a similar challenge. Yes her life is great, but she lets her health get out of control. She knows that certain foods are bad for her and that she doesn’t get enough exercise, but she doesn’t make herself a priority. Work fills her life and she lets that dictate all the other things she does. Rather than making a conscious choice at every meal to eat well, she goes on autopilot and lets whatever at hand go into her mouth. She chooses the comfortable (although more unhealthy) option of sitting in front of the computer rather than going out and getting exercise. Even though she loves her home and her village, she’s not connected to it the way she is to a city like London which energizes her to be active. At home she curls up in her nest and hibernates.

Are you connected or disconnected from your environment? Are you actively engaged or on autopilot?

Now let’s turn to Joyce who desperately wants to get back to writing. She has had two books published but has writer’s block for her current projects. She says she wants to focus on her writing and yet in her list of Somedays Joyce wants to do a bit of everything, from advocacy work to moving to another part of the country. And with each new idea she takes herself farther away from her writing Someday. With so many projects that seem to have an equal importance to her, all of which are time consuming and emotionally draining, Joyce can’t choose any single one to work on.

How many projects do you have on the go at any one time? How good are you at prioritizing them?

And then finally we have Kristin another Someday-writer. She’s never made the effort to pursue her dream of supporting herself with her writing because she had a secure job that was safe. In her one of her hugely successful writing courses, 25 year writing veteran Holly Lisle says “SAFE never starts.”

SAFE can keep you locked up in your house, never daring to step foot outside the door. It can keep you locked in a job you hate that has no future, just because you’re afraid if you walk away you will never work again. SAFE can kill your hopes and dreams by telling you they were never worth pursuing, that you were never good enough to make them real, that you were only kidding yourself.

Where are you choosing safe over happy?

Basically it all comes down to excuses and because you’re getting something out of your inaction. For every single one of the Lab Rats that “something” is hope. As long as they don’t move forward, as long as they don’t follow through on their dreams they still have hope that the dreams will come true. Thing is, no matter how much hope they have, if they don’t act they’ve already failed.

It’s like being afraid to ask for help. Most people don’t ask for help because they’re afraid the other person will say no, and yet by not asking for help the answer is already no. In Spanish they have an expression “El no ya lo tienes” which literally translates to “The no you already have it.” If you ask or if you try then you have the possibility of the yes. But you have to do something.

Taking Action

So, what could each of the Lab Rats do? What could you do?

What are you not doing even though you feel you should want it?
Do you really want it? And if you don’t which is the “lesser evil”? Stopping or seeing it through? Sometimes you’ve reached a point where dropping the project makes no sense. On the other hand you might think it’s worth finishing when really you’re just flogging a dead horse and it’s time to accept your losses and walk away.

Where do you claim to want something but then let fear stop you?
Stand up and shout “I want this!” Or drop it and go find something else that you’re really passionate about. Can Johnny actually say that about his career in clean-technology? Think about people like Madonna or Gandhi (yes, I’m actually putting Madonna and Gandhi in the same sentence). Neither one accepted no. They wanted to fulfill their dreams so much they went out and did what they had to do (guided by their moral compasses) to achieve it. Of course, not everyone wants the same sort of world-influencing dream, but if you can’t say with 100% confidence “I want this” then why are you wasting energy, time and money pursuing it?

What aren’t you tackling because it’s too much work?
Human beings are inherently lazy. It’s a blessing in many cases. If it weren’t for our laziness we’d still be living in caves working hard all day long just to get enough to eat. However, there’s a dark side to laziness – inertia. It’s always harder to get started than to keep going. So, despite our desire to change we stay on the same path, repeat actions that do nothing to advance our dreams (or even hinder them) and then complain that we’re not seeing progress. If you truly want to change, you have to get active. Put your laziness to good use and find a way to create a new habit that will carry you to your dream in the same way your current habits carry you away from it.

Are you actively engaged or on autopilot?
One of my favorite phrases here on the blog is “life is choice” – from the decision to get up each morning through to going to bed at night (well for me the last one isn’t that much of a choice – my body just shuts down at some point and I get no say in the matter). Helen lets circumstances dictate her choices. It’s easier to go with the flow than to make active choices that might inconvenience other parts of her life. Getting out and getting exercise means not working quite so much. Taking time from work means the renovations on the house take longer and vacations can’t be as exotic as she would like. And so on and so on. If you grew up in the 1980s you might remember a series of books called Choose Your Own Adventure. Life’s like that – full of choices with consequences. Are you going to decide what action you take or will you let some invisible author make those choices for you?

How many projects do you have on the go at any one time? How good are you at prioritizing them?
Multitasking has gotten a bad rap in the past century. Ever since the industrial revolution specialization and finding your niche have become the ideal to pursue. However, not everyone is so single minded. Some people have so many interests and so many brand new ideas every day that they can’t function trying to be specialized. And because no one has ever taught them to deal with all these ideas flooding in, they become paralyzed and so do nothing. Fortunately the author Barbara Sher has brought back the renaissance approach to life in her book Refuse to Choose. If you’re someone who likes to do it all, this book provides a way to handle all the ideas that throw themselves at you like a group of puppies in full play-mode. Joyce sounds like she needs this book. How about you?

Where are you choosing safe over happy?
Sometimes safe is important – for example in the basic needs of life, but beyond that safe does nothing but block our desires. Don’t risk, don’t stand out, don’t be different from anyone else. As long as you choose safe over happy then you’ll always feel unfulfilled and happiness will always remain out of reach. Happiness requires risk. What are you willing to risk to gain happiness?

Your Personalized Someday Assessment

How did you do answering the six questions above? Are you as blocked about your life as the Lab Rats are?

If so then it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to reach out and ask for help. You want to live more and to achieve your dreams. You don’t want to live on autopilot. You don’t want to go through life on autopilot and unconscious.

It’s time to wake up, take control of your life and make the changes you want to make.

By doing nothing you already have your no, so why not try for yes instead?

All you need to do is fill out the Personalized Someday Assessment and I’ll help you bust your Somedays and create the life you want.

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Stretching Your Mind: Your Mind as a Rubber Band

Rubber BandsYour mind is a reservoir of creative potential, just waiting for you to develop and nurture it. Too many people say they aren’t creative. I say – they either haven’t developed their creativity or are looking at creativity through a narrow focus.

Your Mind as a Rubber Band

I want you to picture a rubber band, one of the really thick, strong one’s used for bundling large packages. You’ve just taken it out of it’s box and what’s the first thing you do with it? You stretch it. Stretch it out to soften it. Coming straight out of the box it’s stiff and inflexible. After stretching it a few times it becomes softer, more pliable and stretchier.

Now imagine your mind as that rubber band. As we put creative ideas, dreams and inspiration into it, your mind stretches and flexes around the new thoughts. As the mind is stretched it becomes more capable to stretch and flex, able to accommodate and generate more and greater ideas and creativity.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said “The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.” Once you’ve added a new idea into your head it creates a new neural pathway within your mind. The dendrites and synaptic buttons in your brain form new connections within the biochemical/electromagnetic network of cells and nerves. (for more information on how this works, see The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan)

Just like the rubber band becomes able to stretch more, your mind is expanded and able to accommodate more growth. Over time those pathways become a permanent part of your mind and enable more and more creativity to happen. They become reinforced, stronger and reinforced through repetition, enabling them to develop side pathways of their own.

Use It or Lose It

Now think of a rubber band that has been left in the drawer, unused and neglected for a long time. What does it look like? Dull, white-coated, shrunken. What happens when you try to use it? It snaps, yes? It’s flexibility and potential has been lost because it was not used.

Growing Pains

Ever felt the pain of trying to learn something new? Been to a seminar or workshop and heard so much you want to ask the speaker to stop so you can process the information? That vertical learning curve of working to master a new skill? I have a friend who called that discomfort a ‘mind expansion headache’. It’s when information is packed into your head faster than your brain can comfortably adapt and stretch to accommodate it.

That rubber band around your mind becomes stretched to the max, working hard to assimilate and understand the new ideas being poured in. Now think about how you feel a little later on, when you’ve had time to understand, work through and use some of the new information. Feels better, yes? That’s because your mind has adjusted and expanded to fit those ideas in.

Your mind is more than a muscle. In fact, it’s actually a bundle of nerves and pathways more than a muscle, but that’s beside the point. Creativity, stretching and using your mind, increases the capability of your mind. It’s a catch-22 in reverse – the more you use and develop your mind creatively then the more able and capable you are of developing it more. Like an ever expanding spiral your creativity develops as you stretch that rubber band more and more.

How Far Can You Stretch?

Visualise stretching that rubber band again. Really see it in your mind, your hands stretching that band out for maximum flexibility. Watch the movement of your hands and the rubber band. See how you’re doing it? If you’re like me, then you’re stretching it out and then allowing it to relax back before stretching it out again. Just as the band needs to relax, so too does your mind. The relaxing allows the creativity to flow and settle, before stretching out again further than before. The rest, the relaxing, is just as important as the stretching and development.

How far can a rubber band stretch? How much can your mind hold and process? Eventually the rubber band will snap when it reaches its limits. Your mind however, has no such physical limits. Provided you take breaks, relaxing the stretch, your mind can develop and expand infinitely. The only limits we have on our minds are those we put there ourselves. Allow your brain time to relax and process the information you’ve put into it and you’ll quickly be able to develop more creative ideas and expand it further.

About Melinda

Melinda BrennanMelinda Brennan is a Business Coach who helps her clients use the power of their own minds to develop their businesses and get past limiting beliefs.

Visit her online at WAHM Biz Builder

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Stop Saying “Someday” to Your Dreams

Y on flickr.comIn my first ebook Someday My Ship Will Come In, I talk a lot about being aware of life and not getting too comfortable with things. And because I practice what I preach, I regularly review not just my life, but my Someday Syndrome Cure products.

Circumstances change and I learn new things (thanks to my awesome clients who give me amazing feedback!).

I could sit back on my heels and just leave my Someday Syndrome Cure products as they are – after all they’re rock-on good and offer fantastic value exactly as they are.

But that would be turning on the autopilot and choosing the comfortable road.

Two things I will not do, especially when it comes to your Somedays.

So, what does that all mean?

Well, I’ve decided that when I publicly launch my next ebook – I’ll Get Around To It Someday – at the end of the month (newsletter subscribers already got a crack at downloading it earlier this week), I will be taking the first one off the market to update and expand it.

So that means you have exactly 13 days to download a copy of Someday My Ship Will Come In before it disappears for a while. Also because I plan on expanding it, the price will go up when I relaunch it. Not by much, but it will increase.

Therefore if you’ve been procrastinating about figuring out your dreams and diving into living the life you want instead of a life on autopilot or a life of “should” then choose to stop procrastinating about you dreams and download a copy of Someday My Ship Will Come In today at the about-to-disappear price of $24.95.

Plus! (Yes, of course there’s a plus)

I know you – in fact I used to be exactly like you. I would buy a book and then let it sit, ignoring it and basically wasting the money I just spent on it. I’m certain that one of the reasons you’re hesitating about buying the ebook and making your dreams come true is that you’re not sure you’ll actually get around to doing anything about it.

But think of the awesome changes that could happen if you did! Just take a look at the progress the Lab Rats made going through the ebook.

You want that, don’t you?

It’s about accountability and feedback. The Lab Rats had to get their exercises done because the world was waiting to read what they had to say.

Unfortunately I can’t offer the free Lab Rat experience to everyone, but I can offer the same sort of accountability through a Guided Tour of the ebook.

A guided what?

Through email-based conversations you and I work through the ebook, you doing the exercises and me providing feedback and customize-designed questions that will help you expand the ebook and make a better and more complete change in your life.

And the cost?

Only $199 US for nine weeks of email-based coaching.

That’s right. For just my newsletter subscribers, I’m offering nine whole weeks of coaching for what I would normally charge for one month and half of guided tour email-coaching. That’s a nearly 40% discount.

So, if you want to find your dream and begin your Someday Journey, you won’t want to miss this offer.

As I said, when I launch the next ebook based on kicking the procrastination habit, I’ll be taking this first one off the market to update it.

That means you have less than two weeks to take advantage of my assistance in finding and following your dreams. (Of course you could always hire me with through my regular Someday Coaching Services but they don’t come with such a great discount).

Buy Now

All you need to do is click this button
and order your Guided Tour today!

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Harness the Power of Regret to Achieve Your Dreams

  • Someday Lesson: For every path we take we choose not to take other paths and create regrets and a series of what-if’s.

D Sharon Pruitt on flickr.comAsk anyone who’s happy and they’ll likely tell you they have no regrets. They’ll most likely even pull out the line “If it weren’t for my past I wouldn’t be who I am today and because of that I couldn’t change a thing.”

Yeah, whatever!

I’ve arranged my life to more or less be exactly as I want it. I’ve made a lifetime of choices that have led me to this place. There’s almost nothing I’d change (other than having more money).

And yet, I regret many things in my life.

Recently went to see a production of Mamma Mia and it brought back childhood memories of wanting to perform in musicals. If only I had spoken up as an 8-year-old about my desire to take dance and vocal classes! Instead I let the gender rules of a hockey town crush the desire.

Understandable at eight, but my inability to face confrontation and my need to hang my happiness on other people lasted until quite recently and crushed not only this dream of musical theatre but many other dreams as well.

Then there’s my laziness which kept me from applying any passion to my dreams until my late 30s when the alarm on my biological clock went off saying “If not now, when?”

At forty, I’m finally willing to accept success instead of running away from the work it takes to create that success. And so I regret all the starts I made with so few finishes.

I look at my siblings and many of my peers with their well paying lifestyles, beautiful houses and the ability buy what they want when the want it and I regret not having chosen a more lucrative life path (or at least starting my current path at least a decade ago).

My life is full of many other little regrets as well.

  • I regret snapping at my boyfriend on the weekend just because I had a headache.
  • I regret the sandwich I had for breakfast yesterday when I know what does nasty things to me.
  • And I regret wasting an hour this morning watching America’s Top Model instead of working on marketing.

Everyone has regrets. For every choice we make, every path we choose, we choose not to take other paths. The faster life gets and the faster we make decisions, the more likely we’ll end up regretting a decision or two.

We also end up regretting those decisions when make choices without conscious thought, by letting fear stop us from choosing what we really want, or through laziness and a desire to avoid work that lead us to put off our dreams.

Before continuing to read this article, take a moment to think about your own regrets – the big ones and the little ones. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What choices have you made in your life due to thoughtlessness?
  2. When did you let fear dominate your decisions?
  3. Have you ever let the effort required to achieve a dream stop you from starting or from finishing things?

(And if you really want to explore your regrets in detail, don’t just think about them, write them down!)

Done? Good, let’s continue…

Using Regrets As Motivation

It’s okay to regret. There are countless movies and books that explore the idea of what-if. Anyone with even an ounce of imagination plays that game at some point.

Anyone who says they regret nothing is lying. They might not let their regrets affect their level of happiness, but they still feel regrets, even little ones.

Regrets can actually be good for you – and act as motivation for your current dreams. And when you feel pressured for time on choices or decisions, remembering what choices you’ve regretted in the past can help you make regret-free choices quickly in the moment.

Let’s take each one of my regrets and see how they can help me now.

I regret not standing up for my creative desires as a child: in another thirty years I don’t want to look back at my life and say that I regret not pursuing my writing, so I pursue it now.

I regret not having the strength to deal with confrontation: if pursuing my happiness means confrontation, then I don’t just accept the confrontation – I embrace it because it takes me closer to my dreams.

I regret hanging my happiness on others rather than finding it within: by seeing how unhappy relying on others for my happiness made me, any time I slip back into bad habits I can use this sense of regret to propel me back into developing new (and healthier) habits.

I regret avoiding working hard to achieve success: I don’t want to lose any more dreams due to laziness, so daily commit to the work it takes to achieve my version of success.

I regret not choosing a more lucrative life path: that’s just not me – I’m working on my dreams right now, and that’s enough. Even if the money doesn’t come, I’ll be happy.

By firmly putting my regrets in the past and using them to change my actions in the present to reach my future dreams, I’m creating progress and success.

Plus, when I’m aware of my regrets I don’t allow myself to make thoughtless or fear-filled dreams and I give myself a kick in the butt to get to work instead of lazing about.

We are not our pasts and our actions in the moment are what matter, but we can use the less than stellar past choices to make sure that every choice we make right now is exactly what we want and takes us closer to our dreams.

No matter how fast the choices are zooming past.

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Dreaming of the Future: The Lab Rats Set Goals

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the Cheshire Cat’s conversation with Alice sums up the need for a clear purpose when it comes to dreams, so I’ll let the conversation (started by Alice) lead off this post…

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where–‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’

Lab Rat Dreams

Y on flickr.comThis week, after exploring all the possible reasons why their lives aren’t working for them now and what might stop them from reaching their dreams, I asked the Lab Rats to explore possible somewheres and I was thrilled with the results. Not only did each one come up with a great list of possibilities, but they were all able to apply a reality-check filter on each of the dreams and then come up with a clear idea of what they want out of life.

Here’s what they each came up with. And since everyone has their own way of expressing themselves they all came up with a different way to express their dreams.

Wendee:

  • Live in an open space, with a porch looking out, garden in back
  • Live near a large body of water
  • Work involves a good deal of creative writing and visual creativity
  • Work in an environment where my skills are recognized and utilized, and where my energies can be focused and are acknowledged
  • Have ample free time (at home) to make healthy activity (hikes) and creativity (writing and art) a significant part of my everyday life
  • Earn a living to be able to travel (domestic US, National Parks, Hawaii) as we want to and to be able to provide for ourselves what we need, and to be able to splurge with much less guilt!
  • Have enough saved so that we know we can continue to live our lives this way

Alessio:

  • Travel: Travel overseas at least twice a year, eventually settling in Buenos Aires.
  • Blog: Author/Run successful technology, self improvement, travel and design blogs.
  • Web Design: Be a successful web designer, working from my laptop, anywhere in the world.
  • Be Rich: My successful web design business and blogs provide a highly substantial income for me.
  • Location Independent: Due to the nature of my web design and blogging businesses, I am able to work anywhere in the world from the convenience of my laptop.

Horatio:

  • I run a lab of eager junior scientists doing diverse and interesting work
  • I am called on regularly as an expert to talk in public or at conferences
  • Work has taken to many different cities around the world and on regular breaks I travel to more remote locations
  • I can take pride in the tangible benefits my work (and life) has had – it had actually made people’s lives better
  • My books have been well reviewed and I receive letters thanking me for them

Lizzie:

It’s a weekday, May of 2010. I have breakfast with my daughter on the screened in porch (we have muffins that we made together earlier in the week and homemade yogurt with blueberries) before sending her to kindergarten by bus. I then head to the gym for a spin class.

Come home and shower. Check email and give the okay for a couple of friends to come over and have coffee. They are both writers, and we sit on the porch for a couple of hours writing on our laptops, me also day trading and occasionally chatting. Our little writers’ group, as we’ve discovered that we’re all more productive without the chance to jump up and do housey things.

A companionable lunch at home with my partner–each of us reading our own papers, but sharing interesting stories. After lunch I answer email to set up the work that I will do later in the week in the city, to arrange dinner with friends there, and to see what stores are having good sales.

Also make arrangements for a trip to the Vineyard in a couple of weeks–I’ll go out with my best friend and we’ll spend three days getting the new house in order for the people who’re renting for June and July but also having a girls’ weekend of drinks and talk and trashy movies.

Do some work in the yard so the garden is ready to go once the freeze time is past. Pick up my daughter at school because it’s the day when we both ride at a friend’s stable. Stop by my Mom’s to say hello. Home for practicing for me and homework for my daughter.

Then cocktails with my partner (and my daughter’s 30 minutes of daily TV) and a lovely dinner fixed on the grill. Early to bed if not necessarily early to sleep…

Money Issues

You’ll notice that in each one, there’s a predominant theme of freedom from money worries. Everyone wants enough income to allow them to do what they want and not have to spend a lot of time each day to earn that money.

Everyone will have their own path to that financial freedom, but in each case it’s not going to happen tomorrow. Getting rich is never quick; even moderately well-off requires a lot of work.

Lizzie is the only one who put a timeframe to her dream – and it’s also the most fleshed out and visual. Given that Lizzie has most of the financial pieces of her dream nearly in place, the less-than-a-year deadline could very well be doable. Plus as Lizzie knows she’s a procrastinator having a fixed deadline like this might stimulate her enough to get moving.

Alessio is taking a course that will lead him to his dreams and once he’s finished the course it will just be a matter of following the steps and apply the skills he will have learned in the course and developed on his own through programs such as this one.

Horatio has already taken a huge step on the road to a new life – he has quit his job! Rather than letting the biggest obstacle in his life continue to block him from moving forward, he’s handed in his resignation and is willing to face unemployment. Already his energy has changed and suddenly things seem much more possible, including possibilities of finding a better position. Now that he’s not operating from a negative worldview and has a clear idea of what he wants, he can go get it. Way to go Horatio!

If you remember from past weeks, Wendee’s major challenge centers around wanting to teach but feeling blocked by the lack of the right qualifications. And although she would rather teach in just one school and not many across a wide region, she has been offered more than one class at a couple of locations, which is a step in the right direction.

Plus she’s found the Masters program she wants and has considered taking a part time retail job to help pay for this qualification that will get her to where she wants to go, but isn’t sure that the most obvious route is the one she wants to take.

In other words, Wendee has a clear idea of what she wants, but isn’t sure the route she sees is one that will make her happy in the long run. Fortunately we’ll be covering more on the steps between here and there in the weeks to come.

Measuring Progress

This has been a breakthrough week for almost everyone.

Alessio has been moving forward at a steady pace, each week revealing a bit more of the best path for him. No big revelations, but to achieve progress they aren’t always needed. Often slow and steady works best.

Lizzie told me that after writing out her perfect day, she realized that she is more or less there and maybe just needs to pay more attention to the present and appreciate each day as it passes.

Wendee’s frustrated by what comes across as negativity – she’s normally a very positive person and the seeming lack of options really irritates her. And although the negativity causes pain in the moment, for a normally positive feeling negative reaches a limit where they (I should say we, because I’m one of these people) say “Enough” and make the tough decisions that they (we) have been delaying for whatever reasons. So hold on just a bit longer, Wendee!

Of course the biggest change was Horatio! After several weeks of focusing on the different parts of his life, he realized that his negative work situation was blocking everything else. Here’s what he has to say about quitting:

I’ve been working a job for the last couple of years that I took “just to tide me over until something better shows up”. It’s not been all bad, but it doesn’t use my skills fully, it’s leading nowhere, it’s underpaid, and is managed from above abhorrently (constantly shifting objectives, under-resourced, active obstruction from other staff with conflicting interests). Having come to the belated realization that are worse things than unemployment, there’s a reasonable amount of work around, my finances are in good shape, and I’ve got plenty of things to use my time on, it’s time for a decision. So I quit.

I didn’t throw a tantrum but executed a dignified exit, saying I couldn’t work there any longer under the current conditions and so was moving on. It’s probably symptomatic of my situation that several people tried to talk me out of it by fiat (“You can’t do that!”) or flattery (“But you’re so valuable to us!”) without any actual promise of fixing things. Another symptom would that, even after being told, several colleagues ignored it and kept handing me work to be done in the months ahead. These are all signs that I should have quit ages ago.

So I have a few weeks of wrapping everything up and handing it off to other staff. I left open the possibility of returning at some point in the future but only under vastly different circumstances. Already, I’ve attended one interview and have a few promising on the horizon (all at nearly double the pay, which makes me feel like a mug). Fingers crossed.

Yay Horatio!

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Waiting for Life: Introducing (some of) the New Lab Rats

ToNG?! on flickr.comIn this, the fourth round of Lab Rat experiments here on the Someday Syndrome blog, we’re going to get a whole lot more scientific and objective. Up until this point the Lab Rats’ progress has been a subjective thing with little concrete measurement.

Not so this time around.

This time the Lab Rats have the entire maze right from the start – the Someday My Ship Will Come In ebook – and they’ll be measuring their own progress all along the way. They’ll each state what their current challenge is, what they hope to get out of the experiments I carry out on them, and why they are willing to submit themselves to the public view while running the maze.

Each of the Lab Rats in stuck in some way. In fact, they’re so stuck they don’t even see the path to their dreams, let alone being able to start moving on it.

They’re waiting for their ship to come in carrying the answer to getting unstuck, but since dreams come only from within, waiting for an external thing to bring the news of our dreams just means waiting without end.

By going through the Someday My Ship Will Come In ebook which includes a series of short lessons and thought-provoking exercises with worksheets, the Lab Rats will learn step by step by getting unstuck and find the path to their dreams.

So let’s get started with introducing some of the Lab Rats. This week you’ll get to know two of them Alessio and Horatio, then next week you’ll get to know the other two.

Waiting for the Ideal Life

Alessio has a classic case of Someday My Ship Will Come In. Without actually doing any work to move forward towards his dreams, he somehow thought that his ideal life would just happen to him or that randomly enough time would suddenly materialize allowing him to discover his passion.

He works long hours and has very little “me time” so he tends to put things off until some magical moment when everything is just right. But of course, that time never comes.

Not surprisingly, Alessio wants the Lab Rat program to give him advice and guidance to determine where he wants to go and what the path getting there might look like. Specifically he’s looking for practical tools that will help him on the journey rather than giving him a quick fix.

Aside from the accountability that comes from doing the exercises in public, Alessio (rightly) imagines that he’s not the only one in the position he finds himself in – alone, unsure of whom to talk to or even where to start. By putting himself out there in public he hopes to show others in the same situation that they can make the changes to get unstuck.

Waiting for Life to Start

Given that Horatio is an academic, with its many (many many) years in school and few secure tenure positions. Pretty much his entire adult life Horatio has been waiting for his career to start. Add in the competition, long hours and relatively poor pay, a career in academia or research remains for many people a Someday always just out of reach.

For him, the worst was overhearing a colleague say (sympathetically) “He hasn’t had the career he should have.” The truth of that statement galled Horatio.

While recognizing that sometimes putting aside short term gratification is necessary in long term dreams (like my own around being a published author), Horatio feels that maybe he’s put aside too many of his other dreams, such as a novel, maintaining his body in good form and travel, financial planning and family.

The habit of waiting is strong in Horatio, so he joined the Lab Rat program to help break that habit and create results through action. He wants to stop waiting and to start living. As well, on a smaller scale he always would like to become more positive about work and shift his view from enduring it to enjoying it.

As for his public exposure, Horatio hopes to put off the procrastination that has had him in its grip for years. By publicly stating his progress, he feels he will commit to actually following through rather than putting action off yet again.

Do you see yourself in either of these two?

I see bits of myself in both. I can’t wait for next week when we’ll meet the other Lab Rats and find out what brought them into the maze.

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Make a Decision, Any Decision: Lea Woodward Interview

Lea has been taking my little corner of the Internet by storm recently with the website and blog she runs with her husband Jonathan called Location Independent. With courses, coaching, ebooks and travel guides available, you know I just had to find out whether this go-go-go gal had any hidden Somedays lurking about…

Lea WoodwardWho: Lea Woodward of Location Independent
Lea is a rat race escapee who usually travels the world permanently with her husband, Jonathan running their business from wherever they choose; she’s now on a mission to inspire & enable others to do the same and become ‘location independent’.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
I’m not really the kind of person who throws a pity party for myself – although I do have my moments. I’m annoyingly practical and tend to have a brief minor meltdown and then pull myself together and tackle things head on.

After watching my Mum die from a cancer-related complication about 6 years ago – and subsequently *not* throwing myself a pity party despite the fact we were in the middle of planning our wedding which we ended up cancelling & the fact that my career was most definitely not what I wanted it to be, I’m pretty confident that a pity party is just not my way of dealing with things.

This may stem from the fact that I suffered from depression for a few months as a teenager and having been there before, I swore to myself I’d never go there again – so now I’m pretty good at pulling myself up if I ever feel I’m headed that way.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
When I do have a meltdown, I allow myself to let the negative emotions and thoughts flow freely. I tend to deal with difficult & challenging situations by using a kind of “worst case scenario” strategy.

I let myself imagine the worst case scenario, get really upset over it and have a good cry, then I’ll start to pull myself together. By doing this, I almost feel like I’m preparing myself to cope with whatever might happen – in a way like I’m almost trying to prepare myself so that nothing can shock me. Once I’ve done this, I feel able to move on and think about the practical ways I’d cope.

It’s how I dealt with my Mum’s illness and her death – and how I deal with most of the things that scare me in life.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
As I said, I let myself freely wallow in the feelings of pity and self-doubt for a while, have a good cry and then pull myself together. Usually I’m strong enough to do this myself but if not, I’ll seek out whoever I feel I need to talk to help. Typically this is Jonathan, my husband (we were teenage sweethearts), but at times it may be someone less close to me or the situation who can help me talk things through rationally.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
For me, making a decision and then acting upon it are the most satisfying parts of overcoming any challenge. I’m a big believer in taking any kind of decision & action, even if, at the time, you’re not sure whether it’s the *right* one to take.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
When we finally stepped off the conventional path of life and became nomadic, one of the main drivers was to find a place we could settle down and build our lives. Neither my husband nor I really want to settle in the UK permanently so we decided to head off looking for a place we did want to settle.

Two+ years later we still haven’t found it. We’ve had so much fun leading the nomadic lifestyle that we’ve been putting off thinking about where we might eventually decide to settle, even though we know it’s something we want to do.

I think it’s a combination of the syndromes “My Ship Will Come In” and “I’ll Get Around To It” – expecting that ‘ideal’ location to somehow find us without us really having to look for it at the same time as procrastinating and delaying seriously thinking about how to make some of the big decisions we really need to make for our long term future.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
With the arrival of our daughter imminent (end of June), we know that at some point in the next few years we may have to consider being less nomadic and make some decisions about where we want to be based (if not permanently, then at least for 5-6 months of every year).

Whilst we believe we’ve still got a while before we have to make any final decisions, we’re fully aware that with kids you just never know!

So we’ve already started to make practical plans for places we’ll visit within the next 1-2 years and have been researching & discussing the various options we’re considering far more seriously than our previous half-hearted attempts.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
I think the content of our problem is quite unique given our lifestyle – but the cause of it isn’t. As with any big decision which affects your whole life and possible future happiness, I think it’s valuable to keep in mind that no decision has to be the final one you make.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since being on the road, it’s that the important thing is to make a decision, any decision…and if things aren’t right to make a move, any move. The new position you’ll find yourself in (even if it’s still not the *right* one) will give you a different perspective – a new one from which you can then make further progress towards the right one.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
On a practical note, immigration information (or residency) for the various countries we’re considering! That whole aspect is one that feels like a huge hurdle to me and one I’ve not been prepared to deal with yet. I know there are plenty of stories of expats out there who’ve done what we want to do – and one thing that’s great about the community I’m growing at the moment is the opportunity to meet & connect with people from countries all over the world who are all sharing their experiences and lifestyles with the community – but it still feels like hard work to do the research and make that decision.

At the heart of it all however is our ability to make that decision – something I’m usually very good at – so it’s really going to be a case of ‘just doing it’ and then adjusting our course based on how that works out.

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