The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

Get out of your rut and find your passion

Re-balancing: Thoughts on the Earth

Posted by Karen on March 17, 2011

I just read this article from Caroline Myss, whom I always love for her bigger context spiritual perspective.

To quote a passage I liked in particular

I have heard many people make the comment, “Mother Nature is angry,” and that’s why these events are happening. I’m not all that certain that Mother Nature functions from the same emotional system of “anger-vengeance/love-reward” that human beings do. I certainly hope not. Given that Mother Nature was an active, alive force long before we occupied this planet, I suspect that She is far more of a cosmic system of intelligence, transcendent of emotions such as anger or vengeance. Rather, if anything, I suspect that the way to understand Mother Nature is best found through the study of the Tao — the study of the laws of balance that essentially govern the activity of Nature. When Nature is out of balance, the system itself will initiate whatever action it must take in order to reestablish an environment capable of sustaining all life — not just human life, but all life. Within the realm of Nature, all life is equal. Life is precious because it is life, not because it is human life or wealthy life or educated life or young life — but because it is life.

I love being reminded of how short and insignificant my life here is on the whole, whilst being also reminded how precious and important it is to the whole at the same time. It can make your head spin to get to the truth of that dichotomy, and it can also, with understanding, bring a sense of calm and centeredness.

It’s not about how far we get in life and the achievements we stack up along the way. It’s the quality of our life that’s important, and our willingness to connect with the whole of Life and be of service to our community – not just people but Earth itself – along the Way.

At the end of her article Myss says this:

We are truly learning an enormous cosmic truth: We are one. And we are meant to use that truth to pray together, heal our fellow human beings together and heal our beloved Earth together. Put your soul to work.

The essence of “The Job of Your Life” is to “put your soul to work” by finding out what makes you come “alive” and doing that with all your heart, soul and mind involved. The best thing we can do is find our place in the world and do that with as much awareness, humility, grace and love as we can – or as Deepak Chopra says “find your unique gifts and serve the world with them”.

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Self Trust is about Trusting Yourself to Change your Plan (if it isn’t working)

Posted by Karen on March 16, 2011

I found this unpublished thought in my drafts and finished it…thought it might feed the ongoing conversation on Self Trust a bit more.

Comments seem to prompt me to write more…so keep ’em coming!

On a comment from an earlier post, Carly said about her shift from full-time job to self employed coach:  “…if the day came that ceased to be true, I trusted that I could (and would) find a new path to reclaim that success”.

Self Trust doesn’t mean trusting that You’re 100% Right

We must have trust in ourselves to know what’s best for us in the moment.

 The goal is not to make the “perfect” choice and then must stick to it at all costs.  – or we have failed. (So many people function like this is the truth so no wonder people are so “indecisive” about deciding. Hint: you’re not indecisive, you’re anxious).

The goal is to know – know at all levels – that we’ve made a good choice, that feels right, right now with all the information we have…and we have the power to change it at any time, with more information and insight.

Too many people I talk to are in a place of absolute “I cannot fail at this choice” space. How can you possibly move forward if what you’re asking of yourself is the power to predict the future? You are not Sylvia Browne or Nostrodamus. You are you. Here today. With the best information you’ve got.

So take a deep breath. This is not about perfection, this is about trust. The trust that you will work it out, whatever happens. The trust that you’ve thought the decision out enough to know that you’ll gain something from the experience that is valuable to you – be it a new skill, more experience, new knowledge that is interesting to you or new connections for future work oppportunities. And ultimately, the trust that you can handle the situation if what you realize is that this choice is not the right thing for for you.

So here’s a question to explore about your feelings of indecisiveness: “Do I trust myself to handle the outcome if this path turns out to be different than I thought?”

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The Practice of Self-Trust – For Rida

Posted by Karen on March 10, 2011

First, I would like to thank you for your post, it’s really interesting. The questions at the end are very amazing. But I’m still wondering how can I practice such things in my life? Rida

Rida asked a great question, enough to stir me out of my blog abandonment to write another post on self trust (thanks Rida!).

What I think she’s asking, if I’m right, is while the idea of “self trust” is all well and good, how do I hold on to such an intangible, wispy idea in this busy, meaty, demanding LIFE that really doesn’t give a rat’s behind if you’re trusting yourself or not?

The practice of self-trust is the practice of learning how it FEELS when you are truly and actually trusting yourself from the top of your head to the tips of your soul. The goal is FEELING coherence – so that you mentally and logically trust your choice, you emotionally trust your choice and you spiritually trust your choice.

To do THAT you must get in tune with what you think about the situation, what emotions you feel about the situation and how connected you feel overall to the “highest and best” you.

Let’s tackle each part separately. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Emotional Life as connected to Career, Self Trust - I trust myself, Yoga and Career Exploration | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

All Quiet on the Eastern Front: Blogger Returns from Cave

Posted by Karen on April 20, 2010

Hello all…

Well, obviously, after the Olympics I fell off the face of my blog.

Really, the blogger in me retreated into a cave and hasn’t wanted to come out until now. It’s been nearly a year that I’ve been writing this blog. It started as a way to experiment – what I originally called “the secret garden” – as I developed tone, style, content and direction with no pressure. I didn’t intend to actively seek to draw any attention to it, and yet I found myself, throughout the year, taking small actions here and there that were more consistent with making it known. It’s been a mixed message for both the blog and me.

So where did I go? New Year, new posts, full of verve and fire. I had my energy up and on a roll…and then I stopped. Nothing dramatic. I just stopped.

Has that ever happened to you? You’re all fired up about something and it seems really full of energy and power and life and light…and then it STOPS.

It took a little while to get the threads of what happened inside myself that put the brakes on so hard. In the last few years I’ve learned that when something happens, when you get stopped on something, there’s usually some various threads of thought and circumstance that get bound up together in a tight knot, so tight that it’s hard to see what the problem is, even though the one thing is clear is that the knot – or something – is blocking progress forward.

In my case, I had this sudden feeling like a) I’d gotten way too serious on this blog and somehow that isn’t me (even though it’s part of me) and b) that I was career, career, career all day long with no room, no spaciousness for other thoughts or interests  coupled with the fact that c) I was getting spun out with too much social media (Facebook Fan Page? Twitter? Linkedin? Link them all? Who am I?) and as a result d) I was starting to lose touch with what I was doing this all for…my purpose in committing to write this blog in the first place.

No more “secret garden”. I’d somehow put the pressure on without even realizing it.

On top of all that, a new and tantalizing project came over my horizon. It beckoned with a different goals, different topic, different yet meaningful mission. It is definitely not a career-exploration/counselling project, but still very much me. It has opened up new potential pathways I hadn’t considered before and found myself excited to consider. Did I want to continue with careers? (A question I’ve been asking for the last 15 years btw, at regular intervals).

And as a result, all these strands of emotion, confusion and distraction threaded together in a big ole knot. In the meantime, I avoided this blog like I might avoid someone who made me uncomfortable. Didn’t really examine the discomfort…but didn’t stop by and chat either. 

You know, I still haven’t sorted it all out. But I did feel like it was the kind of thing that readers of a blog (supposedly) on career exploration might find interesting. Because this is me, exploring what it is I want to take on in my spare time. I don’t have a huge amount of spare time and one of the big things I learned in the month of March (the AWOL month) is that I need and DESIRE to be focused on something. And I have lots of interests and ideas.

However, spread too thin, nothing gets enough energy to move forward with power.

So in the cave I went.

I had to go quiet to listen to that part of me. And I had to wait as long as it took to get some clarity. One of the suprising decisions that came out of this quiet was that I stopped teaching the yoga classes I’d just started teaching again. A story for another day, but an example of a surprising (for me!) decision that came out of sitting with what was happening in my life.

I want to report that I’m still sitting with things. I’m still working out what this blog is about and what it is to me, versus the perceived pressure from every blog expert on the Net who says authoritatively you have to write consistently to build an audience. (Is that what I’m doing this for? To build an audience? Truthfully, I don’t know). However self-trust tells me I can’t write just to write, in my very own case, I need to feel out what this is about for me. I also need to stay in touch with the blog because it might be just the place to work this out.

I’ve been inspired by my friend Karina’s blog which you can find here – I love this post  – called “Label Whore” – because Karina (with all the funny I feel like I’m missing these days) really gets to the heart of what it is to integrate the self in what you do everyday for work. It’s challenging. We don’t like to hang out with that confusion for too long.

So…here I am…I’ll be back…I may change…I may not. And that’s how we progress. If you want to share your own stories or insights on dealing with confusion around what you’re supposed to be doing or how you’re exploring what to focus your life on, please feel welcome to share through comments. I know I could use some fresh insights and I’m sure other people could too.

With much appreciation to y’all for giving me some space,

Karen (aka the Schaffe)

p.s. If you read Karina’s post, know that I’ve known her simply as “Karina” for years and know all her secret and not-so-secret powers, which are many and impressive. So glad we’re going to get them all in one place!

Posted in Career Exploration, Emotional Life as connected to Career | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Also feeling some big Canadian pride today so…

Posted by Karen on March 1, 2010

…I’m linking to the Career Joy site where he’s written out in full the slamming Canadian poem (as delivered by slamming Canadian slam poet Shane Koyczan) which can be read as something quite possibly career-related and definitely a good way to approach life. That’s us Canadians. Approaching life with humour and humbleness. Except where hockey is concerned. 

Makes me grin to think of everyone slightly (or very!) tired and quite possibly hung over today but feeling like it was all worth it…as we give little smiles to each other on the street or in the elevator, knowing we were all part of one big shiny moment yesterday…

“let this country be your first-aid kit
for all the times you get sick of the same old same old
let us be the story told to your friends
and when that story ends
leave chapters for the next time you’ll come back
next time pack for all the things
you didn’t pack for the first time
but don’t let your luggage define your travels
each life unravels differently
and experiences are what make up
the colours of our tapestry
we are the true north
strong and free
and what’s more
is that we didn’t just say it
we made it be”.

Shane Koyczan

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Great Post on Finding Your Passion

Posted by Karen on March 1, 2010

Those of you who know me know that finding passion in your work, career and life has been my passion for a long time (and what “The Job of Your Life” (the book) is all about.

That’s why I think this post by Carly Goldsmith has some wonderful ideas and specific actions to take around finding passion.


Posted in Career Exploration, Other People Talking Career | 1 Comment »

Follow up thoughts on Self Trust and the WORST Case Scenario

Posted by Karen on February 17, 2010

I got a great comment on the Self Trust post I put up yesterday, and I started writing a comment response. By the end of three paragraphs it occurred to me it was a post in itself…

So here’s Caryn Reddick’s comment:

Related to #1-4 above, I also recommended that you consider whether or not you are prepared to handle the “worst case scenario”. In other words, if you take a risk, and it doesn’t pan out, would you be willing to accept the worst thing that could happen. If so, the risk might seem less risky. Often the worst case scenario isn’t as bad as you think, once you really give yourself time to consider it. Again, great post.

Thank you Caryn for adding in that thought about the “worst case scenario” (for a related post by Caryn on her Original Success blog, click here it’s a very thoughtful corollary article that has great suggestions on how to deal with career-related fear).

Here was my “reply” comment that I’ve posted here instead.

A lot of people can’t even stand the thought of, say “wasting” money on a degree or further education or taking all these risks to put themselves out there and changing their mind. There are all kinds of obstacles that come out of, as you point out, fear. And fear is a very normal part of taking a risk into a new territory.

People often talk about “money” and “time” being the obstacles but there are others, such as wanting to get it “right” or being afraid you won’t really be passionate about it once you get there. In my book The Job of your Life I devoted an entire chapter on “Stories That Can Stop You” and how to think about them differently, including money & time.

Still, at the bottom of all these fears around making a decision is self trust. And Caryn draws attention to an important aspect of a big decision: can you trust yourself to handle the worst case scenario?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Career Exploration, Emotional Life as connected to Career, Questions For Exploration | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

How Do I Trust Myself? Let Me Count the Ways

Posted by Karen on February 16, 2010

Last November I wrote a post on the importance of self trust (which begs the question: where does the time go?).

I had some interesting responses to that post, with some follow up questions along the lines of “How do I trust myself if I don’t trust myself”? Good question.

Trust is this really quirky little quality that requires you to do something before you get something back… i.e. to trust before knowing if the other person or the path is trustworthy – and if you can trust yourself to handle what happens if you choose to go forward. Moving forward safely takes courage and practice. It takes a high degree of relatedness with your “inner knowing signals” – that is with your body’s feelings when you are grounded in your decision at all levels.

It is something you can get related to by observing and practicing everyday. Start by learning to trust yourself on the smallest decisions, such as what to focus on in your day or what you eat for lunch. By feeling the small wins when you know you chose the right thing for you, you will become more familiar with your process to know when you’re ready to make a decision and if it’s the right one.

And I certainly didn’t learn to trust myself all by myself. I had some excellent coaches and friends who listened deeply to me when I was trying to decide something (big or small) and reflected what they heard both in the content of what I was trying to decide and also an “emotional” read of where I was: when I sounded scattered, anxious and frightened versus when I sounded grounded, coherent and calm (sometimes all in the same phone call!). Having a “mirror” to my inner state helped me to hear myself in new ways and to begin to recognize when my decisions became settled and certain.

So how do you know that you are “self-trusting”? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you “tune in” to where you are in the process:

1. Do I trust myself to handle what might come up in a new career path? Such as new information…unexpected detours…or fearful feelings about starting something new?

2. Do I trust myself to gently pull myself back if I go too far beyond my comfort zone? Do I know what it feels like to be “comfortably” outside my comfort zone?

3. Do I trust myself to recognize the signs when something is “off” or wrong for me at this time? Can I name the feeling in my body when this occurs?

4. Do I trust myself to get out of what is not right for me once I recognize it? Do I know my blind spots around letting go of something that isn’t working?

5. Do I trust my decision-making process? Do I give myself time to process emotions as well as thoughts? Do I recognize when “information” comes with an emotional undercurrent that needs to be understood and processed? Do I give myself the time and space to visualize myself fulfilling on the decision and experiencing the resulting feelings to see if I’m in tune with my decisions?

6. Do I recognize the feeling in my body when something is “right” for me? Can I identify other times I’ve known that in my life and regularly recreated that feeling for myself so it’s familiar?

7. Can I let things unfold organically or do I often try to force outcomes?

8. Can I trust myself to listen to another point of view with an open mind, knowing that I will make the final decision that is right for me?

9. Do I find smaller and less “high stakes” times to trust myself first before tackling bigger life choices like my career?

Posted in Career Exploration, Emotional Life as connected to Career, Questions For Exploration, Yoga and Career Exploration | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

It all depends on how you look at it…

Posted by Karen on February 6, 2010

A simple and profound one minute and forty four seconds that illustrates life is all in how you approach it.

What I like is the clever writing that turns the first message on its head.

Posted in Emotional Life as connected to Career | 1 Comment »

Why Life Has Meaning (here’s a hint…death)

Posted by Karen on February 3, 2010

I thought this blog post by Todd May in the New York Times* was a really clear and compelling explanation of why life has meaning due to the limitations imposed to us by our human foreknowledge of death. Especially from a guy who wrote a book on Foucault.

I particularly like the idea that life has “urgency” because we know it won’t last forever. It’s actually kind of comforting to think that I would be totally bored of writing and all my other passions if I had to do them for 10,000 years. Maybe I wouldn’t mind an extra 100 years to fit it all in, but I agree 10,000 years is excessive.

What do you think? What gives you urgency in pursuing your passion?

* thanks to Lois Ward for the link

Posted in Emotional Life as connected to Career, Yoga and Career Exploration | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »