New Season of Possibility

trees-changeI love this time of year. The approach of Fall has always been the time for me to jump into something new. The possibility that the Fall seems to bring is something I’ve always looked forward to.

As a guest participant over at the very cool Collective Genius! blog, I have a post that talks about the changing seasons, and how they can remind us that with change comes growth.

Enjoy – A Season for Change

Gathering Twigs – Find Your Perfect Business by Griping

guy-thinkingThere are those people I talk to about starting a home-based business who already have a pretty good idea what they want to do. They’re writers, artists, programmers, designers, accountants, consultants – among others – who already know what they love to do. They just want to do it from home.

Then there’s those folks who have no clue what they want to do. They hate their current job, or are out of work, and have a clear idea of what they DON’T want. Which is actually a good place to start.

By taking a good, long look at what you don’t want in a career, some patterns will start to emerge. Get out a sheet of paper or fire up a new text file or word processor document and start listing all those things you don’t like in your current job, or absolutely don’t want in your career. Don’t stop and think. Just let it all flow.

After a while you’ll start to see patterns and a few (or many) clear areas that you want to avoid. This list represents some of your current reality – or at least your most current memories of what a crappy job entails. The key to changing that reality and finding your perfect nest career is looking for the underlying theme of the list. What does the list say about your work preferences? What picture does it create regarding your view of specific kinds of work? If you’re having a hard time seeing a common thread, give it to someone that you trust, and let them take a crack at it. Often, it’s easier for someone close to us to see things that we can’t.

Now here’s the real use for this list. Something most people don’t do. Begin to look at the opposite of not only the individual items on the list, but the opposite of the common thread. By using your list of things you don’t want as a jumping off point, you can start to understand what it is that you DO want. Rather than just complaining about what you don’t like, use it as a way to discover what you want out of life. Imagine that, griping as a tool for empowerment!

In Service of Others – Choosing from a Different Perspective

file-checkerYou want to work from home. That you know more clearly than anything you’ve ever known before. The only problem – what kind of work do you want to do? You’ve explored and quickly ruled out all the semi-legit “work-from-home-opportunities” that cover the internets like kudzu. Your neighbor’s kitchen gadgets franchise seems interesting (you love to cook) but everything you bought from one of her parties is broken in a drawer somewhere. You know your talents, your unique genius, and your values, but can’t seem to think of how to turn those into a business. One excellent way to help get to the answer is to stop thinking of what will make you happy, and start thinking of what you can do for others. To borrow from Kennedy’s well known speech, “ask not what you can do for you, but ask what you can do for others.”

Ask yourself this question several times a day:

“How can I best use my unique talents and gifts to be of service to others?” Then, listen for the answer. Once you let your ego know that this isn’t just about me, the unconscious part of you that wants to contribute something of value starts to speak up. Chances are, within a few day (if not a few hours) you’ll get some clear indications about the best path for you.

Dick Richards, the author of the fabulous book Is Your Genius At Work? (which I’ll be talking about more in an upcoming post) writes this in a recent post on Purpose:

…knowledge of purpose will arrive only after the demands of ego have been transcended enough to allow that knowledge to enter awareness.

By “ego” I mean that set of personal underlying programs that concern themselves only with their own survival and gain… Those programs drive out what is needed to seize and run with a purpose: courage, willingness, surrender, open-mindedness, and other-centeredness.

Turning the spotlight on how you can serve others allows the pressure of finding work that will make you happy to be released. Once you know how you can best provide value to others, using your gifts in a way that brings you fulfillment almost always follows.

The Effect of Positive Energy and Fun

Maria Palma from CustomersAreAlways mentions a couple of overheard conversations regarding work – both positive.  I had a similar experience the other day at my favorite Chinese restaurant – only from two different ends of the spectrum.

file-checkerA few tables over, a couple was discussing their newly launched home-based venture.  I wasn’t able to gather what it was exactly, but they were ecstatic about it.  The positive energy just seemed to flow from them as they talked about being able to be home with their new baby who was quietly sleeping in next to them.

Contrast that with the conversation overheard from the table behind me.  A group was out to lunch from a local office and they were all complaining about their jobs.  One young lady in particular was livid that her boss was making her check that all the files on the network were okay after she transferred them.

“So for 4 days this week, I’ve spent most of my time opening files, looking though them to make sure they looked okay, then marking it down in a spreadsheet.  What a bullsh** job!  I’m paying a ton of money for daycare so I can come here and do busywork!  So much for my business degree…”

Now, I’m paraphrasing a bit.  I can’t remember the conversation exactly, but the bullsh** part I remember.  And the part about the money for day care.  I had this barely controllable urge to turn around and shake her yelling “dear God lady!  Do you hear yourself!  Is your new Navigator really worth THIS!”  (Okay, I’m not sure the Navigator they came in was hers, but it makes the point more dramatic.)

Maria’s point about positive energy and fun are right on.  Not only were there two radically different types of energy being felt, but they affected those around them differently.  I couldn’t help but notice how the same waitress was a great server to the first couple and a “…slow and I ordered a spring roll” type of waitress to the file-checker lady behind me.  The waitress didn’t change, and neither did her level of service. The difference was the perception of the ones being served.

Defining the Good Life for Yourself

good-lifeI find it interesting the range of answers I receive when I ask what different people consider to be “The Good Life.” When talking to folks that work from home or are considering it, I get very different answers than when I ask people working the corporate ladder. The first group tends to value life as a whole, where their career pursuits mesh well with family, friends, travel, and life experiences.

We all have to define for ourselves what we consider to be the Good Life. Money, fame, and prestige may be part of that, but if we look deeper, it’s rarely the foundation.

An exercise I find useful for getting to your real desires is what I call the “What For…” technique. Ask someone (or have someone ask you) what they want out of life, and when they give an answer ask, “What for?” When they answer, ask it again, and again. Eventually we get to the heart of their longing. So when they say “I want to make lots of money,” ask “What for?” When they say “to buy stuff,” again ask “What For?” Carrying this to its eventual conclusion, we end up with their desire to control their own life, and be appreciated. Sometimes it’s a quick trip, other times meandering. But this is a good way to determine what you’re really looking for.

Some of us have a clear picture of the Good Life, and others not so much. More often, our picture is actually our parents’ picture, or our friends’ picture, or Budweiser’s picture, or People magazine’s picture. In order to find true satisfaction, we all have to find our own definition, not one that’s dictated to us.

Spend some time imagining what your perfect day would be like. What would you be doing? How would you spend your time? Then ask “What For?” to find the core of those things that make up your perfect day, and your perfect life. Once you have that basis of what you truly want out of life, you have a strong foundation on which to build the Good Life.