If you’re thinking I’m asking about your personal self-development plan, you’d be only half right. So often we segregate our lives into personal and professional. But I’m in disagreement with this view.
We aren’t made up of compartments – we live whole lives. That means, when we think about goals and aspirations regarding our career, family, health and finances we need to look at our own big life picture.
Think of your life as a spider’s web. All parts are held in balance with each other, albeit sometimes tenuous. Whatever happens in one aspect of our life has impact on others.
As an executive leadership coach, I work with clients wanting to develop their professional competencies. In order to do that, it’s critical that we also look at how other aspects of their lives intersect with their learning.
Having a self-development plan is critical to your success. Being complacent and letting life happen is fine but won’t ensure you’re learning, reflecting and moving forward with intention.
At times your plan’s emphasis will be on health and other times career. But keeping the big picture in mind will help you achieve your goals. For example, if you’re planning to start a family, how will you realistically continue to meet your career objectives? Or if work is taking over your life, how is that supporting your health?
Consider approaching your self-development plan with these questions:
- What are the priorities in your life right now? This can change from time to time and that’s okay. Base your plan on what’s important to you now.
- What is your Why? How might you focus on what your purpose is to help build your self-development plan?
- What aspect of your life has room to give in order to put more emphasis into other parts of your life?
- What is the learning you want to put in your plan and how does that relate to the various aspects of your life? (Hint: it should support more than one goal)
- What do you want to have achieved in 2, 5 and 10 years? (Knowing of course that life changes along the way)
- What if you were to make this plan about you and what you want? As opposed to what you think others want of you? How will that affect your plan?
- What will you need to ensure you’re accountable in following your plan?
There are multitudes of templates, tools and approaches you can use to support your plan. MindTools offers some great tools for free. The important thing is that you set it up to work for you.
The key to a successful plan and the ability to see it through rests with its simplicity and detail.
That’s right. The challenge is to not make it more than you can possibly achieve. But it does require putting in both where you want to get to and how you are going to do it. The “how” requires specific activities that will help to move you forward.
As you create these activities look for the links and impacts to each part of your life. If furthering your education will take up the majority of your time, how will that impact your family life? How might you reorganize your time to meet your family commitments? Are there opportunities to combine your goals or use the space in between work or education to do healthy activities?
Finally, keep it simple by chunking your goals into time frames. Life shifts and being able to keep to your goals and activities is easier if you put them in 1-3 month periods.
Creating your self-development plan is your responsibility. Make it work for you. The results will follow!
Personality profiling and assessments are a common and useful tool for coaches.
But, there are so, so many.
When I first started my coaching practice, I was overwhelmed at the sheer volume of tools available to coaches to help them help their clients understand themselves as the first step to development (personal or professional).
Most typically provide a self-report inventory (questionnaire) or other standardized instrument designed to reveal aspects of an individual’s character or psychological makeup. They are a way of digging a bit deeper into self-understanding.
Corporations, the military, and the government use them to understand different leadership styles and the dynamics of working in groups.
Personality assessments have been used since the 1800’s. The modern version dates back to psychologist Carl Jung – arguably the granddaddy of personality testing. Since then, many academics have developed variations on Jung’s work.
There are a myriad of assessments available which all offer many things to many people. Assessments based on the self-report inventory depend on how you answer or respond to questions or items in a survey. The more honest we are in our answers, the more likely the accuracy.
But not all profiling tools are created equal.
In my career, I’ve done at least eight different assessments and at face value the results are similar. They tell me I’m a big picture thinker, a motivator, spontaneous, and a people-person. All good information to know. But what many don’t do is give me my underlying motivations and how to use my strengths and understand my gaps.
For my practice, I went on a hunt. I wanted to find the personality assessment that would be of greatest value to my clients – one that doesn’t put us in a box.
In his blog, Peter J. Smyth, PhD explains why Lumina is different. Most other assessments measure you as having one or the other opposing aspects (eg. either one is introvert or extravert, outcome focused or people focused, flexible or structured – never truly both). Lumina incorporates the opposite aspects of your personality across a continuum. For example, you can have strength as an extrovert while still having some extroverted tendencies in your personality.
Lumina Learning offers our personalized portrait through three unique yet integrated views (personas): underlying, everyday and overextended self.
Let’s dig into these a little more.
This is our preferred behaviour. These qualities feel natural and motivate us. It’s our closest family or friends that get glimpses of us in our underlying persona. It’s my husband and daughters who see me in my imperfect yet natural glory.
Our everyday behaviors are the ones we make a conscious effort to use, especially when we take perceived expectations into account. For many of us, showing up at our workplace often means we adapt ourselves to the culture and demands of that environment. We may put on an outgoing face even though we’re more comfortable shutting our office door.
We all have those times when we’re stressed and start to use too much of a quality. This is when we are overextended. I know that when I get overwhelmed I can’t make a decision if my life depended on it. Naturally strong at making quick, solid decisions, being hesitant is a sure sign I need to take notice and slow down.
What I find so useful about looking at things this way is that rather than beating ourselves up for certain qualities, we can learn that certain traits only come out when we’re overextended. Consequently we can work to avoid putting ourselves in situations when stressed.
Or, say we’re feeling really great when we operate within our underlying persona. We can then work to create conditions that allow for more of that. Becoming a coach has meant I work at aligning my underlying self with how I show up in my coaching practice. It’s important to me that clients experience the authentic me.
We can use the understanding of how we function in our three personas to understand ourselves better in different environments and under different circumstances.
How then can we bring this level of deep self-awareness and understanding into our business? Check out more about Lumina by clicking on the Lumina link on my Corporate page!
I remember taking a big sigh and letting out a lot of unwanted air when I stopped working for a large organization.
Slipping into my home office every morning with my hot latte felt like heaven – no chitter chatter, no one else’s lunch bag ruffling and best of all, not having to listen to the unsubstantiated theories on who’s going to get then next coveted job.
Fast forward a couple of years and I noticed my shoulders starting to tighten and my head slightly ache by the end of my workday. I don’t keep music on when I work, and my client appointments don’t take up every hour. So what was underneath this tension? These feeling were the same as I used to get at my former workplace.
At first I felt a little panic creep in. Was I headed to toward the big S(tress), god forbid. Was I afraid? You bet!
So then I started to purposely pay attention to what was going on around me. Where was I letting my attention roam? What was I hearing? What was I doing?
Eureka! I discovered that I was, in fact, in the early stages of noise stress.
But how could that be? My ears weren’t hearing banter, shuffling, clicking or muffled sounds of tense board meetings.
The noise was coming from my computer in the form of emails, instant messaging and social media in the form of a constant onslaught of written words aimed at grabbing my attention.
In my quest to feel “connected” with the world, I had managed to follow every successful on-line entrepreneur, coach, techie and writer out there! They all seem so smart and successful. I could learn from each of them. They could be my online mentors. And they offer great free advice.
And don’t get me started on Groupon and other online markets. Like a great fashion or home décor magazine, they have everything I don’t need!
Now I don’t for a second blame anyone else for enabling this noise – and it’s definitely noise – creep into my head. I did it to myself.
But here’s the thing. If you don’t take control over what you let into your inbox and social media feeds, the noise level will just keep rising. It’ll draw you into the care and feeding cycle of social media. Worst of all, it’ll impact your production, your time, your mental health and even your confidence (cause let’s face it, there’s always someone smarter, better looking and more creative in the virtual world).
So what to do? Here are 6 tips I’ve found to dim the clamor and relieve the tension in my shoulders:
1. If you work from home, keep your work email and social media feeds free from on-line shopping carts – after all, if you work in an office for a company you wouldn’t go shopping on work hours (I hope)
2. If you do work for someone else, leave your personal iPhone, or Android safely in the bottom drawer of your desk with the ringer and buzzer off
3. Schedule time once or twice a day to check your social media if you must; otherwise wait till evening – it’ll all still be there
4. Choose to follow only your top 7 on-line mentors – the people that you continually get value from and unsubscribe to everyone else
5. If you do subscribe to a new business/website to get their free opt-in or make a purchase, immediately unsubscribe afterwards. If you think they’ll give you ongoing value with amazing information, keep the subscription BUT drop another website/business off your list that isn’t giving you real value
6. And finally, be mindful of those who follow you and make it worth their while every time you tweet, write a blog, or email – make it your goal to be on their top 7 list!
I’m so glad I got afraid of the noise. It made me realize I only want a community around me who share ideas, believe in the idea of reciprocity, have something relevant to say and most of all, who I can give value to.
Now how about telling me how you manage the noise?
We all know the golden rule, right? But do you know the Silver Rule?
I’ve written about responsibility before. How critical it is for each of us to take responsibility for our own career. Makes sense, right?
But what about responsibility for your self? I’m not talking about family, children, partner, close friends, bills etc. I’m talking your very own life. The one held together by your beautiful body and your mind that seeks to understand.
Since the dawn of time we women have borne responsibility for the health, safety and well being of others. Naturally we are wired to support and give first.
So who’s being responsible for you? And who should be responsible? Of course the answer is obvious – YOU.
But are you really taking it?
Last night at a professional meet-up, women were lamenting the trouble they have fitting in time for fitness, ridding extra Christmas season pounds and reading a good book. I noticed the husband/partner in their stories would come up as if somehow they’re responsible for these laments. And while the “guilt” word wasn’t spoken, how people spoke their stories was laced with tinges of shame – as if putting oneself first isn’t okay.
A small light bulb flashed in my mind (only small because there were no major
ah-a’s or solution discovered). I blurted out the question, “why is it that we as women give our energy to being responsible for others without being responsible and accountable to ourselves FIRST?”
Now I know I’m not the first person to think about this let alone talk about it, but I believe it bares bringing up yet again. This repeating pattern in each of us, as well as the long line of females before us, just seems so darn ironic.
What if we flipped this idea over, shook it up and tried looking at it from a different perspective?
What if this new perspective means starting from the place of your own personal responsibility and accountability? How might your world be different?
Let me tell you how it is for me. You may know I left my senior position with a large organization a couple of years ago. That was catalytic in forcing me to take charge of me. No one else could figure out what my next step would be. No one else could make me get up and dressed each morning that long winter. And no one else could peace.
The result was a brand new feeling of openness. I was ready to move ahead – my way. Fast-forward to last fall when I started feeling I just wasn’t my best; a few extra pounds, a few more glasses of wine, and a few too many sweets (I’m not perfect either). I know if I’m to take my business to the next level in 2016, I’ve got to take full responsibility for making some changes – changes that would open up space and energy to reach my goals.
The whole idea of making certain changes was scary and I felt a tad guilty for making it all about me (my ever-supporting family was waiting for the plank to hit my head once again). But, and here’s the big but, if I’m to serve others to the best of my ability then I must take 100% responsibility for putting myself first!
I threw out the sugar, poured out the wine and deep sixed the grains. To make it even easier, I reflected back on what it took for me to rise up from the ashes of gloom following my job loss. I knew from that experience the only way I would be successful in every way is to step up and own my life. And this means saying my mantra everyday “I have everything I need inside me. I am responsible”.
Ok, so I know this is all pretty revealing stuff. But I’m open to telling you because from one woman to another, life is so much better when we learn once and for all to take responsibility for ourselves with compassion and joy – unfettered by guilt.
Just like me, you owe it to yourself and those around you to make yourself THE priority. Be it heading to the gym, daily meditation, weekly massages, or just saying no to the barrage of requests for your time, the responsibility is yours and yours alone.
Sure, you may have to boldly ask your partner or family member to take over one of “your” chores or drop your kids off with grandparents. But that’s okay. In fact it’s more than okay. How can you possibly be the best version of yourself for everyone else if you don’t get your own needs met (kind of like when the flight attendant tells you to put your oxygen mask on before putting one on your child)?
Just like me, I know for certain you can do this. So open the window and shoo away the guilt once and for all. I give you permission.
(But hey, responsibility is just the first step. Next up is accountability and staying with the changes you’ll make!)
Start by asking, “Am I living the Silver Rule?”
How to turn failure into growth
Not long ago, I was chatting with a colleague about what it’s like to lose a job. With a big smile and chuckle she said “everyone should get fired at least once in their life.” I laughed back, realizing she’s absolutely right!
Sure, getting fired is lousy and can be devastating. Not having control to make the decision to leave or stay in your job can be a hard pill to swallow. Whether it was due to restructuring or it wasn’t the right fit. But (yes there’s a big But), it can provide an enormous opportunity if you let it.
Here are 5 ways to get the best out of getting fired:
1. Learn from your experience – What will you take with you and what can you discard? This takes deep reflection on understanding what worked well in your job and what didn’t. Is it your perception on your performance, your relationship with your superior, colleagues or your staff? Or could it be your work habits or skill set and if they was used to potential? And what are your values? Did they line up with the organization you were in?
2. Learn not to give all of yourself away –Many of us go through our days knowing things may not be perfect but fall into the trap of, “if I just work harder.” Do you tend to give work your absolute and leave nothing on the table other parts of your life? Remind yourself that you are not your work – it’s just one aspect of your abundant life. This is an opportunity to evaluate how you spend your time and energy, including how you prioritize family, friends, interests and even yourself.
3. Take time to discover exactly what you’re meant to do with your life – Deeply reflect on what brings you passion and rediscover the gifts you bring to the world. It may not come instantly, so notice when you’re happiest. What little things that bring you joy? Ask yourself what situations, events or jobs have given you meaning and opportunities to express your passion?
4. Take back the control to make your own decisions – The decision to leave your job wasn’t yours. Now you have the chance to choose your next step. It may be researching and choosing companies that you want to work with. It could be deciding to start your own business or perhaps taking time-out. The important thing is that you get to decide. Redefining your goals and direction goes a long way in building your confidence and starting you on your right path.
5. Learn what’s important to you and what isn’t – When we’re in a job that’s taking up our energy the tendency is to focus entirely on that. Now’s the time to reassess your values. These guideposts are critical in helping you figure out your next step. If being of service takes precedence over making money, your next venture should align with that value. If you value optimum time with family, a job that requires your availability 24/7 may not be best. It’s all about getting the right fit, so ensure you have clarity on what’s essential for you.
These are opportunities to take back your power, be in charge and make your own decisions. The best advice I got when I was let go from my job was to take time to sort through all my feelings and thoughts so I could be open to change and new opportunities. Be compassionate with yourself as healing needs to happen before you can move forward.
The challenge of failure is truly where we gain our greatest advantage.
Getting fired is no picnic, but it does provide a huge opportunity for personal and professional growth. And yes, everyone should go through it once in their career.
Let us know in the comments below how you turned this adversity into success.