The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

Get out of your rut and find your passion

Archive for the ‘Emotional Life as connected to Career’ Category

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I found this unpublished thought in my drafts and finished it…thought it might feed the ongoing conversation on Self Trust a bit more.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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Posted in Career Exploration, Emotional Life as connected to Career, Self Trust - I trust myself | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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 »

Starting up a New Year, right

Posted by Karen on January 13, 2010

I always find myself a little rusty and slow to start in January. Maybe it’s the weather – often grey, dark a lot of the time and no Christmas tinsel to distract from the winter blues. Maybe the temperature – the cold makes everyone seem to crave stew and pasta and to lie down whenever/wherever possible. Or maybe it’s that Christmas – however you celebrate it – takes focus and preparation (it takes focus even to avoid it!) and often comes saddled with emotional decisions, family issues, boundary issues, varied expectations, extra household tasks (pine needle sweep anyone?)  and general overload.

So by the time “New Year” rolls around, I’m just as happy to crawl under the covers for another month. And I know I’m not alone.

How do you get started when all you want to do is stop?

Good question. Here are some suggestions of how to get yourself rolling towards your career and life goals despite the call of the sofa and the duvet.

1) Start slow. Don’t expect the world from yourself right away. Accomplish small tasks or make bigger tasks into smaller ones. For instance, I need to complete my end-of-year bookkeeping. Honestly? It really isn’t that hard or that long a task, but at the end of a work day it’s the last thing I want to do (oh bed-in-my-living-room, how tempting you are). So every night instead of doing the whole thing, I tackle and sort a small pile of receipts and papers from various areas in the house. I’m starting to feel motivated to go downstairs and drop them in the correct boxes (I told you it was  pretty easy stuff) which wasn’t true at the beginning of the week.

2) Spend time on your Intentions and Goals. Before taking actions, think about what you want out of the year. Goal-setting is one piece of the puzzle and is definitely motivating, especially when you take the time to imagine and allow in what it would feel like to achieve the goal. The more you can “feel the vibe” so to speak, the more promising it is you’ll reach the goal. I also like to work with a theme for the year – something a little more metaphoric that I can draw on for energy and focus. A couple of years ago I set as The Year of The Rock. I promptly and somewhat ironically broke my ankle two weeks later. But having that intention made me do a lot of digging behind the symbolism of having a broken leg in the Year of the Rock. By the end of the year I’d had some amazing breakthroughs in my life in getting more stable and grounded. The goals can fall naturally out of your intention. Or conversely, look at your goals and see what overall theme they represent and stick “Year of” in front of it.

3) Indulge yourself a little bit. Sometimes when you push yourself too hard, you miss that your body is actually asking for something it needs. Go to bed a little earlier. Take your iron and your Vitamin D. Have a meal of Mac and Cheese with veggies on the side (or not). Have a warm bath instead. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You may actually be recovering from something.

4) Get in conversation and get support. When we feel overwhelmed or unmotivated, the trick is to do the opposite of what you want to do. What you want to do is avoid connecting, and instead retreat and indulge…and then be hard on yourself for not doing anything. Getting in connection is what can shift you into a more energetic and positive state. Pick up the phone. Reach out. Have an “Intention Night” or a “How to Make 2010 Awesome” meeting with friends who are wrestling with the same ideas. Why am I writing this blog post right now? Because there are 4 other amazing career-oriented women out there who have promised to read it. Knowing they will check my blog is inspiring me to write it, so I don’t feel that all my efforts will float out into the ether. So find ways to connect yourself to people who are committed to attaining a similar mindset.

I’m writing this on the 13th of January, so clearly, I’ve been taking time myself to get going. But now that this blog post is almost done, I’m feeling more energized and ready for the month, if not the year, to unfold. And my New Year’s wish for you is that you too find what’s important to you and find safe ways to start acting on it.

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

The Importance of Self-Trust

Posted by Karen on November 26, 2009

Consider this a follow-up to the “Spaciousness or Just Drifting” post 

#8 of that post said this: Ask Yourself – You Know the Truth Without This List Anyway: We have a deep knowing as human beings if we are doing something for the “right” or the “wrong” reasons – we just keep ourselves from knowing that truth by keeping ourselves busy and on the surface of our minds. If you have the courage to look inside deeply, you’ll know if you’re creating spaciousness or if you’re merely using the idea to keep you stuck.

What if  you really don’t know – like #8 suggests you really should – when you look inside yourself …because you don’t know if you know anything “true” about yourself anymore?

One of my readers emailed me that question. She pointed out that once you get into this career exploration thing – letting go with who you thought you were and what you thought you wanted and in the vacuum-like state of trying to discover what you DO want – you can often feel more lost and confused than you have in your entire life.

When you’re in that state, not only do you doubt yourself, you tend to also doubt yourself self-doubt and then second guess your second guess doubting. Head spins ensue. Lying on the floor in the fetal position begins to look like an appealing life choice.

My reader is right – and good to remind me – that the great unknown of searching for your passion can make you feel much more vulnerable when being told you should “know” whether or not something is true for you.

And that’s where Self-Trust comes in.

Self-Trust is the unsung, oft-missed and yet vital element of a transformative career search. What I’ve come to learn…though it’s really rather obvious when you think about it logically…is that if you don’t trust yourself, no matter what possibilities open themselves to you, you won’t take them – or often won’t even see them – because you don’t trust yourself enough to make the right choice.

I find this often happens particularly later in someone’s career, when they’ve been around the proverbial block enough times to have been “burned” by their decisions (even if they couldn’t have foreseen the consequences of the decision, such as a workplace environment going toxically sour). Even if there was no way of knowing the outcome, they begin to question and doubt their choices. They get stuck. “I don’t want to choose that direction if it’s only going to end up the same way”. There’s no way out of that one with certainty. No one knows how it will end up.

Or, another version of the Self-Trust shake up: losing one’s certainty of life purpose that comes from knowing what you do. That can seriously mess you up. I knew a guy who loved his marketing job so much he’d named his cats Trix and Snap after the brands he worked on. But when he didn’t love the job anymore he got severely depressed…who was he if not a marketing guy? Trust goes out the window because you begin to wonder “Did I know myself at all? And if I don’t know myself, how do I know if my new ideas are the right ones?”

So we could actually say that self-doubt is an integral part of career exploration. And Self needs Trust in order to move forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Career Exploration, Emotional Life as connected to Career, Yoga and Career Exploration | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Why there is still a “Bright Side” to being Positive (more so than Barbara wants you to think there is)

Posted by Karen on October 22, 2009

I was watching a DVRed episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from earlier this week and the guest was Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America”. Jon greeted her with “Hi grumpy” and the interview went from there.

Now, I cannot say I have read this book, but what I gleaned from the author was that the book had stemmed from her own experiences with illness and with people telling her she had to “think positive” in order to heal. This lead her into writing a book that I believe she hopes will debunk the idea that positive thinking does any lot of good. She then went on to sniff at quantum physics as a means to explaining the law of attraction and made fun of feeling “the vibes” of a situation. She also said that while people told her she was going to have a spiritual journey and come out the other side learning more about herself and life, she – quite amusingly – said that wasn’t what happened with her at all.

Here’s what I’ll agree to in what Ehrenreich talks about:

First, that this culture of “positive thinking” around illness inhibits people from expressing what they need to express during an illness – which is a whole range of thoughts and feelings ranging from fear and anger all the way through to blessed and grateful. Without acknowledgement and then acceptance of the “what’s so” (and name me one person who doesn’t get scared in life period, much less when a cancer diagnosis is added to the mix) then positive thinking is basically layering itself on top of deeper, unexpressed emotions. It’s the pretending or even believing “everything is okay” without addressing the underlying fears, which do the damage. The “positive thinker” is trying to change with thinking alone and I believe emotions have to be a part of the picture for true change to take place.

Which, two, leads to the other thing I agree with Ehrenreich about:

Positive thinking, all by its lonesome, doesn’t work.

Changing one’s thinking is important, no question. Learning to be present and accountable for the thoughts in your head and learning to transform those from taking you down a negative path to a more reasonable outcome is a big, important step in self-development. It’s also one of the first major steps, because until you can really hear and be present to what you tell yourself all day long, it’s hard to hear the more subtle messages from your body, emotional and spiritual self. Our heads tend to drown those other suckers out if we don’t manage them better.

Still, there were a lot of things I didn’t agree with Ehrenreich.

What we’re learning, what I’m learning from other great Masters of Emotion, is that it’s not about (just) thinking positive, but about feeling positive.

Read the rest of this entry »

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