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How to Plot Your Escape From the Golden Handcuffs

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So you’re thankful to still have a job in these current economic times, but you’re miserable in it. You’d love to escape the golden handcuffs to start your own thing.

Now could be a good time to start plotting your escape so your business idea can be ready when the economy opens back up.

But before you do, you need to evaluate your personal goals. And even if you’re not looking to start your own business, but instead want to change jobs or careers, I recommend you also evaluate your personal goals first.

If you don’t take into account your goals in other areas of your life before focusing on your new career goal, you could find yourself more miserable than you currently are.

This goal review should include a detailed plan outlining the kind of life you want for you and your family. Here’s how to start.

Evaluate your goals

1. Write down your goals

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s statistically proven you’re 50% more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down.

When plotting your golden handcuff escape, you want to write down more than just your career or financial goals.  You also want to write down your goals for all aspects of your life. This includes your spiritual, family, health, social, and personal development goals. Focusing only on career or financial goals can lead to burnout real fast!

For help with all types of goals, download my 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. It’s free when you choose any of my subscription options.

2. Look for complementary goals

Once you’ve written down your goals, look for areas where the achievement of one goal will result in the achievement of another goal.

For example, you may have a goal to become healthier by exercising more, while your new business venture will require some regular physical work.

3. Pay attention to competing goals

Don’t ignore where you may have competing goals.

For instance, you may want to have more time with your family, but your career goal will require a lot of business travel.

I’m currently working with a client who, when we first began working together, had a short-term goal of starting her own consulting business. But, after working with her on her goals, she realized this goal was in competition with her new family dynamic. She recently gained custody of her 13-year-old nephew and wants to provide a solid, stable home for him for the next five years.

Her goal for her consulting business hasn’t been dashed. It’s just been changed to a long-term goal. Her new short-term goal is to find a stable job that will put her in front of future clients and strategic partners for her long-term goal.

Author Pamela Slim says in her book, Escape From Cubicle Nation:

“Over time, as your life changes, you can adjust the plan. The important thing is to think about your ideal life before you make any serious decisions.”

4. Include your family’s input

For this reason, you’ll need to include your family in your goal-setting and goal review process. Their input is essential because your choices will significantly impact them as well.

Consideration needs to be made not only for your spouse, but also for your children and/or aging parents under your care. Each member of the family should weigh in on what an ideal life would look like.

You won’t all agree on everything, but there should be agreement on some major areas. Creating a family mission statement (or personal mission statement if you’re single) can help you in making big decisions and coming to agreement in those decisions.

Once you have a personal or family mission statement, you can use it to weigh important decisions. You do this by observing which decisions best support your mission statement.

My Personal Branding program works in conjunction with the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan, and can be adapted to families as well. You can also use it to help you flesh out your business idea or next career move.

5. Find room for your life

You’re original reason for trying to escape the golden handcuffs, likely had something to do with wanting more work-life balance.

Use your evaluation of your personal goals to find creative ways of making room for the life part of your work-life balance goals. Do this before you get so wrapped up in your new career goal you have no time for life. You’ll be glad you did.

Things that will thwart your escape from the golden handcuffs

1. Not trusting the process

Some clients who come to me wanting to break out of their current job to start their own thing, often want to jump ahead of the process listed above. This is usually because they’ve waited so long to start making such plans, either because of fear or lack of confidence. Which leads to a desperation to jump into something new without doing the necessary research and prep work. As a career adviser, I have to say this is a dangerous reason to start something new.

If you’ve overstayed in your current job and you’re now anxious to get out, resist the temptation to:

  • Skip the goal evaluation process all together.
  • Get impatient with the process and quit before you’ve completed it.
  • Forgo your due diligence and research
  • Become inflexible about your business idea.

While passion is important, your business idea should also be something people need and can benefit from. This is why the Personal Branding program includes the process of figuring out if there’s a market for your idea, who your market is, and how you help solve your market’s need or problem.

2. Unwillingness to make necessary financial sacrifices

Other clients who come to me wanting to leave their current job for something new, such as starting their own business, will often say they’re ready to make the transition. However, they attach a condition to it. They say they must immediately earn the same amount of money they’ve been making, or more. This is an unrealistic expectation.

Therefore, it’s important to do the goal evaluation first and to include your family in the process, as suggested above. You must look at your finances to make sure you can afford to start something new. But, you need to be realistic about this as well.

If you say you need to earn the same amount because you’re putting your children through college or have some large medical bills, that’s one thing. But if it’s because you think you can’t live without your current lifestyle of a fancy car or the latest big screen TV, that’s another thing. Working for such things is what’s keeping you in your golden handcuffs, and keeping you from a more fulfilled life.

Speaking from personal experience, when I left my job to start my own business, I had to cut out A LOT of things I thought I couldn’t live without. This included both big things and little things. And guess what? Not only do I not miss those things, I feel freer without them.

My life has become more simplified, allowing me time for more important things in life. Plus, making short-term financial sacrifices has led to a more secure financial future. I’ve been able to pay off my debt and put myself on a more solid financial footing.

Serving others

Don’t get so enamored with financial success and making more money that you can’t see a new career move as a means to a great life. Sometimes you have to sacrifice more in the short-run to have more in the long-run. But if your goal is only to serve your bank account, you won’t find fulfillment in your current job, your next job, or your own business.

Although no one starts a company or changes careers without the goal of making money, the ultimate goal should always be, first and foremost, to serve others. As you do, you’ll find the fulfillment you’re seeking, even if you’re making less or more than you currently are.

I love serving my clients and people like you who want to have more balance in their lives and career. This includes not only providing you one-on-one career coaching services, but also online resources available on-demand.

Resources to help you escape the golden handcuffs

You can start with the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan, free with any paNASH subscription option. In addition, you can purchase the Personal Branding book for as little as $9.99. Or, you can get it free with your purchase of the Personal Branding on-demand course.

In addition, I’ve listed below some books and classes helpful in escaping the golden handcuffs and starting your own thing.

  • Book – Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur, by Pamela Slim
  • Book – Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time or Money, by Pat Flynn
  • Nashville Community Education Commission virtual class: Start Your Own Business
  • Nashville Community Education Commission virtual class: How to Write a Business Plan

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The Enneagram: What You Need to Beware Of

I cringe a little bit inside every time someone shares their Enneagram number with me, as if this defines their worth or excuses their behavior.

The enthusiasm over the Enneagram in recent years is a bandwagon I’ve always been leery of. Only recently did I learn why I had such gnawing suspicions about this personality test. Turns out, it’s neither scientific, nor based in Christianity like so many of its enthusiasts think it is.

If you’ve fallen for the Enneagram hype, get ready to have your mind blown.

The Enneagram is not scientific

The Enneagram did not originate out of the field of psychology and it did not come from any psychological studies. More importantly, it has never been proven by social scientists to meet the criteria required for an assessment to be considered scientific, including the following:

1. Reliability

Reliability means the test produces the same results each time you take it.

Most people who’ve taken the Enneagram more than once have said they got a different result each time. Or, their wing number changed when taking it again.

This folks, is not the definition of reliable!

2. Validity

For a test to be valid, it depends on how well it measures what it claims to measure.

For the Enneagram to be valid, it should measure the personality types it says it measures. But instead of measuring personality types, it measures strengths and values. This is the same as trying to measure length in ounces or pounds instead of inches or feet.

Furthermore, its results are too broad and too general.  This is why people easily identify with it and feel their results are so “spot-on.”

As a result, Enneagram numbers are completely arbitrary.

3. Independent

The measures of a true personality test should be independent. However, the Enneagram’s different personality types are not independent from each other.

I can be a helper, an achiever, an investigator, and an enthusiast all at the same time. I can be an enthusiastic, helpful, loyal, and achieving reformer. And I can be an individually investigative peace-maker who challenges non-peaceful efforts.

Are you getting the picture here?

Scientifically speaking, the Enneagram is about as valid and reliable as your daily horoscope. And people read into it what they want to, much like they do their horoscope.

The Enneagram is not based in the Christian faith

There are a lot of claims the Enneagram is ancient and is based in Christianity. This is one of the reasons why it’s so popular among Christians and has made its way into the church. But a simple investigation into the tool reveals its theories are based on esoteric teachings and an occult worldview.

It originated in the early 20th century, first as something called the Enneagon, from an esoteric teacher named George Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff’s follower Oscar Ichazo, an esoteric occult teacher, had a student named Claudio Naranjo. Naranjo says he and Ichazo claimed the Enneagon was ancient when they knew it wasn’t.

Naranjo added the nine personality types to the Enneagon in the mid-20th century, making it the Enneagram. He admits his nine personality types came partly from his own observations, and mostly from the New Age practice of automatic writing. From there it became popular among New Age followers.

Jesuit priest Bob Ochs learned about the Enneagram from Naranjo, and then introduced it to the Catholic church, which is how Richard Rohr learned of the Enneagram. Since then, it’s made its way into the Protestant church through Rohr’s various followers and readers. (See the link in the source list below to a video that gives a full history.)

The Enneagram Institute is a New Age entity, not a Christian entity. Therefore, if you are a Christian, the use of the Enneagram goes against your biblical beliefs. You may find this surprising since so many churches and people of faith have been promoting the use of it. Perhaps they are just as unaware of the above information as you may be.

But don’t feel bad. We’re all susceptible of being deceived by things appearing to be based in Christianity but aren’t. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who reads or believes the Bible since it warns,

For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.” Matthew 24:24-25

Now that you’ve been warned, you may want to reconsider using this personality test, especially if you’re of the Christian faith. Use this as a lesson to be more discerning before accepting something just because “everyone else is doing it!”

You are more than just a number!

Regardless of your beliefs, the biggest warning of the Enneagram is, it can cause you to filter who you are and why you do things through your Enneagram number. (Some people even use it as an excuse for bad behavior!)

Instead, take comfort in this fact: you are more than just a number! Your identity is not in your Enneagram type. You were made to be so much more!

Sources

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How to Know When It’s NOT the Right Time for Career Assessments

Sunday Inspiration: Good Success

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“Then you will have good success.” Jos 1:8 NKJV

When Joshua became leader of Israel in place of Moses, God told him: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

There are two kinds of success: success that fulfills God’s will for your life; and success that is temporal, can leave you feeling empty, and dies when you die.

Boris Becker, the world championship tennis player, reportedly contemplated suicide because of the sheer emptiness he experienced in life. Even though he appeared to be successful, he knew his life wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

“I had won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player,” he said. “I was rich. I had all the material possessions I needed: money, cars, women, everything…I know this is a cliché. It is the old song of the movie and pop stars who commit suicide. They have everything and yet they are so unhappy…I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string.”

Someone once said, “In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably or succeed even more miserably.” Do you know why that statement is true? Because without God all success ends in failure [it doesn’t satisfy].

Jesus’ definition of a fool was this: “Every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in heaven” (Lk 12:21 TLB). “Good success” is putting God in first place, and allowing Him to put everything together for you.

Source: https://jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/good-success

How to Land a New Job With the Help of a Face Mask

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Regardless of your feelings or beliefs on wearing a face mask during the pandemic, you might want to consider it as a potential networking tool during these uncertain times. Especially if you’re currently in the market for a new job.

We know networking opportunities have been limited due to months of quarantine. But as I share in my on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking, networking can happen any time, any place. Even at the essential places like the grocery store, the drug store, or the curbside of your favorite restaurant.

You never know who will be standing in line six feet ahead of you, or six feet behind you. It could be the person who works for a company currently hiring instead of downsizing. This person may know the hiring manager where he or she works. This is the perfect person to start a conversation with to begin the path to a potential new job.

But how do you do so when wearing a face mask?

A face mask is a creative conversation starter

The idea of using a face mask as a networking tool and conversation starter first came to me as a funny thought. I didn’t really take it seriously. But then, as I started thinking more about it, I thought, why not?

Why not have a little fun with a face mask and perhaps open a door to a new contact who can lead to your next job offer? It could be something worth trying, kind of like an interesting social experiment.

So what exactly does this look like? What if you were to write your elevator speech on your mask?!

I know, this may sound strange, but hear me out on it. If you follow the rules I give on how to write a better elevator speech than the outdated recommended rules, it could actually work as a creative conversation starter.

How to write an elevator speech like none other

Keep it short and create opportunity for dialogue

Most career experts will tell you your elevator pitch should be 30-60 seconds, as if this is considered brief. If you’ve ever listened to someone go on for 30 seconds or more about their work, you know it feels very long. Especially if you don’t have a clue what the industry jargon they use means.

Other career experts will also tell you your elevator speech should be a statement about your skills. This is not the way to start a conversation or pique someone’s interest in what you do.

Instead, your elevator pitch should just be one simple question about other people’s common problem. Specifically, a common problem you have the skills to help solve.

Why a question? Because it opens the door to a dialogue, a real conversation, instead of a sales pitch monologue.

And, you should be able to ask your question in seven seconds or less! You never want it to be so long or confusing they have to ask you to repeat the question. In other words, it should be so short you have the space to write it on a face mask in letters big enough to read from six feet away.

Make it relatable and create curiosity

So how do you come up with a concise yet clear question?

When thinking about the typical problem or challenge of your market (this can include the employer or the employer’s customers), what words do they usually use to describe it?

For instance, I’m a career coach who specializes in helping people make career transitions to work they’re more passionate about and cut out for. But this is not what I use as my elevator speech.

Instead, I take into consideration the words my market uses when they first reach out to me. Typically what they say is, “I feel stuck.”

Almost everyone can relate to this feeling at one time or another in their career. Therefore my elevator pitch is,

“Have you ever felt stuck in your career?”

This question is simple enough to resonate with most people, short enough to write on a face mask, and thought-provoking enough to lead to a dialogue. And even in the rare chance the other person hasn’t felt stuck in their career, it’s likely someone close to them has.

When the person responds to my question with a “yes,” I say:

“Well, I help people get unstuck.”

That’s it. That’s my whole elevator speech. It’s at this point most people are curious enough to want to know how I do this.

So when they ask me how I help people get unstuck in their career, I now have their permission to tell them more about my skills and experience. Then, I continue to ask more questions to better understand their concerns. This keeps the conversation going.

Face mask or no face mask

Writing your elevator pitch on your face mask may or may not be the best idea. But the point is, having one that’s simple and short enough to do so, is a good strategy. It’s the first essential piece in networking your way to a new job.

And it’s a much better approach than forcing people to listen to a monologue. You’ll stand out as refreshing and interesting, compared to the job seeker who bores everyone with their cookie-cutter elevator pitch.

Related sources:

A Summer Reading List That Will Boost Your Career

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So summer 2020 didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped it would. You’re probably not getting to take your annual vacation due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Therefore, you have even more time for summer reading this year.

So what should you spend your quarantine time reading? You should always have a healthy mix of fun fiction, but also some books that will help you learn and grow as a person and as a professional.

Lori’s summer reading recommendations

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of books already this spring and summer. Most of which I’ve checked out electronically from my local library while they were closed for COVID. And now the library is offering curbside pick-up of physical books, so I’m reading even more.

Below is a list of the ones I recommend to help you boost your career and grow you professionally, so you can be ready for whatever comes next in your career during these uncertain times.

(Please note: I do not receive any financial gain for recommending or endorsing the following books.)

Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude

By Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin.

While you may be completely bored with all the solitude and isolation you’ve had the past several months, there’s a lot of good that comes from times of solitude, when it’s time spent well.

While this book focuses on how leaders have used solitude to become even more effective, it’s not just for leaders. It shows how the practice of solitude can give you clarity to solve complex problems you may face, both in life and in your work.

I love the examples the authors share of the struggles of beloved historical figures. People like Martin Luther King, Jr., Jane Goodall, Winston Churchill, and Abraham Lincoln. This is a great read, especially if you’re a fan of military history, or history in general.

After you read it, you’ll be motivated to put your phone a way and turn off Netflix, to see what kind of solutions to your problems you’re able to come up with.

Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder

By Chip Conley.

A client of mine told me about this book, so I checked it out. It’s great for mid-career folks who work in a company or industry with multi-generational employees (which most people do!).

The book shares the secret to thriving as a mid-life worker, which it describes as, “…learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner’s mind, and a willingness to evolve.” It confirms how older generations still bring value to the table, especially in the role of a mentor. But it also reminds the older workforce they still have a lot to learn from the knowledge and skillset of the younger generations.

All generations are relevant and valued, and they need each other to create success. This book explores the issues of ageism and age diversity in today’s workforce.

If you’ve been forced to make a mid-career change due to the economic impact of COVID, and now find yourself struggling to compete with younger candidates, this book will help you write the next chapter of your career.

Halftime: Moving From Success to Significance

By Bob Buford.

Speaking of mid-career, here’s another great resource for mid-lifers, or for anyone who cares more about making a difference and an impact with their work, than just making a fortune.

This book focuses on how to multiply the skills and gifts you’ve been given, and in the process, give back to the world in significant ways.

And I love the questions it asks at the end of each chapter. They’re great for personal reflection or for group discussions. It even includes assignments to help guide you into the next phase of your career.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

By Chris Guillebeau.

I always like to include one or two books on entrepreneurship, for anyone who’s thinking of leaving corporate to start their own thing. These kind of books were helpful for me when I started my own business, but there were a lot of them out there, so it was hard to know which ones to read.

I wouldn’t say The $100 Startup is as good as Pat Flynn’s Will It Fly, which I reviewed in a previous post. But, it is different because it provides numerous examples of other people who’ve started their own businesses.

These examples include every day people, with no entrepreneurial skills, who discovered how to monetize aspects of their personal passions. This allowed them to restructure their lives and careers, in ways that gave them more fulfillment and freedom.

Their stories are super inspiring, and they provide enough detail to give you ideas of how you can accomplish what they’ve accomplished.

Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again

By Dr. Henry Cloud.

Have you struggled for success in your life and in your work, but always seem to fall short? Do self-defeating patterns keep you stuck where you are, personally and professionally? Then you’ll definitely want to read Never Go Back, by bestselling author Dr. Henry Cloud.

In this book, Cloud outlines 10 bad habits successful people have learned never to return to. They’ve become successful, largely in part by not making these common mistakes again. You can do the same, and Cloud shows you how.

I encourage you to at least read the preface and the introduction of this book before passing it over. I firmly believe this book can boost all areas of your life.

Lori’s summer reading list

In addition to the fun books I’ve been reading, I have plans this summer to read books my clients may also find helpful. This includes:

  • Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur, by Pamela Slim, who also wrote a book I highly recommend, called Body of Work
  • Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction, by Matthew Kelly
  • The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day With Passion and Purpose, also by Matthew Kelly
  • Powershift: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome, by Shark Tank’s Daymond John

I also invite you to check out my own books and e-books I’ve published, available on Amazon, in paperback and on Kindle. And feel free to share your book recommendations in the comment box. I’m always looking for good books to read!

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