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How to Have a Good Life: Do These 7 Small Things

What does it take to have a good life?

As a career coach to those currently going through career and life transitions, I often have clients coming to me because they’ve realized their jobs are eating away at their personal lives.

They feel like they’re life is no longer good because they’ve lost their passion or can’t enjoy their passions due to the rat race.

When this happens, I guide them through several exercises to help them get unstuck so they can either move forward or move on to something new.

These exercises include the following seven small things you can do to help you have a good life.

And who knows? Maybe one or more of these exercises will help you discover a new purpose for your life and career!


1. Know What Energizes You and What Drains You

Pay attention to the daily things that energize you and the daily things that drain you. Be aware of what gives you peace and what stresses you out every day.

Incorporate more of the energizing and peaceful things into each day, while reducing the number of draining and stressful things.

Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries to accomplish this if you have to.

One very simple thing I do is I don’t take phone calls from people I know who will drain my energy unless I have enough energy to give them. I usually wait and call them back when I have the energy to do so, but within a reasonable amount of time (within 24 to 48 hours).


2. De-clutter

De-clutter and get organized!

Get rid of clothes you no longer wear. Get rid of devices you don’t use.

Straighten up your surroundings. Make your bed everyday.

Organize your schedule a few days ahead of time.

Having things neat and organized creates a sense of serenity.

A few years ago I reduced my closet down to a capsule wardrobe (about only 30 garments). I got rid of 2/3 of my closet.

Since doing this, I don’t have as much trouble deciding what to wear each day, and therefore I don’t get frustrated and don’t waste time trying on several different outfits.

This also makes me less moody in the mornings and I get out the door on time.


3. Treat Yourself

Treat yourself every once in a while.

If you’re the type of person who never puts yourself first, you need this!

One of my favorite ways to treat myself is going out to eat with a friend.

Another way I treat myself is making time in the middle of the week for my favorite hobby, stand-up paddle boarding.


4. Become Uncomfortable

On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who goes overboard treating yourself, find a way to become uncomfortable. This will challenge you and build your character.

Step out of your comfort zone by taking a class to learn a new language, or volunteer in a setting that makes you nervous. Do something that seems scary, like speaking in front of a group.

Maintain a balance by rewarding yourself only after you’ve done something productive or something where you’ve served others.

My personal goals each year are to learn something new, serve others, and share my knowledge.

While I was able to do all of the above in one week while on my mission trip to the Amazon jungle, I’ve found it easier and more manageable to spread these things out over the course of a year instead!


5. Ask, Listen, & Apply

Ask about and learn from other people’s stories.

Listen to them.

Find out how they got to where they are.

What have been their biggest regrets thus far?

What did they learn from both their failures and their successes?

Apply what you learn from them to your life in your own unique way.

I love having one-on-one conversations like this with people from different backgrounds.


6. Break Out of Your Everyday Surroundings

Break out from your everyday surroundings once in a while.

Take a drive to a nearby town and be a tourist there for the day. Or go visit an attraction in your own town you’ve never been to.

Every year I drive two short hours away to spend a weekend at a monastery where there is complete silence.

They have accommodations and a cafeteria for people to come there for a silent retreat, and it only costs the amount I’m led to give as an offering.

It’s one of the most peaceful weekends of my year.


7. Reflect

Take time to reflect on what you’re truly passionate about (note: this requires some peace and quiet!).

What are the things you lose track of time doing?

What are things you’d do without getting paid?

Incorporate these things into your life as recreation or find a way to make money doing them.

My own passions include helping others pursue their passions, writing, and stand up paddling. I’ve found a way to incorporate all three into my work as a career coach.


How to Get Started on Having a Good Life

If all these ideas sound a bit overwhelming, just choose one or two to try for right now. Give them a long enough chance for them to become habits. Once they do, then try a couple more.

You can also get started by subscribing to the paNASH newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. Following the steps in this plan will help you not just set goals, but also achieve them!

Before you know it, you’ll see a major impact on your life. You’ll have more joy, peace, and positivity. You’ll have a good life!

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Sunday Inspiration: Why You Shouldn’t Take On Something You’re Not

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly blog posts. Enjoy!

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to take up His “yoke.” A yoke is a harness made of solid wood that fits on an ox’s neck. The yoke is attached to the plow the ox pulls. Yokes were considered good if they were made to fit the ox comfortably without hurting it.

There are some people who believe it’s irresponsible or selfish to pursue work you’re passionate about. They don’t think it’s smart or practical to find a job you love, especially if it pays less than most other “practical” jobs. They think work shouldn’t be joyful or fun, because, well, it’s work.

But I think there is truth in what Jay Cormier, author and deacon in the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire says.

“God has ‘fitted’ us with our own ‘yokes.’ God has given each of us some talent or skill, not just for our own use but for the benefit of all. The ‘ease’ of it’s ‘burden’ is that God asks us to give what we have and not take on something we are not; it is ‘light’ in the joy and satisfaction we experience in contributing the work we love and excel at – all for the good of our families, our church, our community.”

So, don’t worry about what others think of your career choice. Boot up your laptop, pick up your hammer, tune up your guitar, or wipe off your paint brush. With joy take on the work Jesus has inspired and equipped you to do for the betterment of your life, those around you, and God’s Kingdom.

I can’t think of a more HONEST day’s work!

What Happens When Your Passion Disrupts Your Career?

It was 2011 and I was working as an image consultant and media coach for recording artists. I was waiting for my new client in his publicist’s conference room. He was coming in to begin his media coaching with me to prep him for his next radio tour.

In our first session he told me his life story, how he got to where he was, and what his future looked like. He was different from most of the other recording artists I had worked with. His values and priorities were on a whole other level.

What was typical.

He told me about how he grew up poor with humble beginnings and how he’d always been passionate about music with goals to pursue it as a career. Not an uncommon story among most musicians who eventually make their way to Nashville.

He was the first person in his family to finish not just college, but also high school. This inspired him to become a high school social studies teacher, something else he was very passionate about.

After college, he pursued teaching to support his music career goals. He did both until he couldn’t any longer.

His music caught on like wildfire. In fact, he was getting so many bookings and selling out so many venues his music career completely disrupted his teaching career. He had to leave his students to fulfill his new obligations to his fans.

Again, this is not an unusual story or scenario for most recording artists as they begin their careers. Most start off doing something else to make a living until they’re able to afford to pursue music full-time.

What was different.

But here’s where it gets different with this particular artist:  he said to me,

“When this whole music thing dries up, which it probably will eventually, my plan is to go back to teaching social studies.”

I had never heard a recording artist talk like this. Most get so caught up in their rise to fame and fortune they think it will never come to an end. They don’t think long-term.

In fact, most of them believe, and are also told by numerous music industry executives, if you truly want to make it in the music business you can’t have a Plan B. Their theory is if you have a Plan B, you’ll never be fully motivated to pursue the Plan A of a music career. They believe you’ll give up too soon and default to your Plan B before Plan A gets off the ground.

This client was the only artist I knew who didn’t fall for that. He strongly disagreed with that mindset and felt it was totally irresponsible not to have a Plan B. Like everything else, he knew Plan A will eventually come to an end.

He also told me something else I’ll never forget. His first big headline show completely sold out, and acts as big as Brantley Gilbert and the Zac Brown Band were opening for him! He said to me,

“To this day, there’s not been one stage I’ve walked onto that didn’t beat the feeling I got the first day I walked into a classroom.”

Talk about a mic drop!

Whether he realizes it or not, this musician is still teaching others in his role as an artist. There are so many lessons from this interaction and his statements I almost don’t know where to begin.

But let’s try to unpack as much as we can here.

1. It can’t be all about the money.

It’s obvious he wasn’t doing any of this for the money. Everyone knows there’s very little money in education. And for someone willing to go back to education after a more lucrative career shows money isn’t a top priority.

As a career coach specializing in helping people pursue their passions, I can tell you if you’re pursuing something only for money with no passion behind it, it’s likely to fail. All the experts will tell you this. This includes business experts, successful entrepreneurs, other career coaches, and the ones who learned this lesson the hard way.

And not only is it likely to fail, you’re also likely to be miserable. If you’re not passionate about what you do and you find no meaning in it besides earning a paycheck, you’re likely to dread going to work everyday. This will wear on you over time.

2. You have to think long-term.

Nothing lasts forever. You could be laid off tomorrow from your current job. Your business idea could take off like a rocket and then just as quickly crash and burn. My former client’s bookings could easily dry up since music fans’ tastes are fickle.

So then what?

While it’s important to learn to live in the moment, there needs to be a balance between living in the moment and considering the future.

One of the things I work with my coaching clients on is establishing long-term goals and helping them figure out how their passions can evolve with those goals.

Sometimes this requires re-evaluating and altering their short-term goals. And sometimes it may require them to alter their long-term goals.

3. It’s not a bad idea to have a back-up plan.

As a result, you may need a Plan B to your Plan A, or even a Plan C to your Plan B.

These plans don’t have to be completely different from each other like they were for my former client. They could be something in the same industry but in a different role or function.

Back-up plans can be a great solution when you’re feeling stuck in your current career situation. I’ve helped many clients brainstorm and test potential back-up plans which eventually got them unstuck.

Do you see any other lessons here I missed? (If so, please comment below!)

Conclusion

My former client had two very different careers he was equally passionate about. One disrupted the other much more quickly than he expected. And it could happen again some day.

This happens to almost all of us, including myself when I went from career coaching to image consulting then back to career coaching again.

What will you do when the career you’re passionate about gets disrupted by another passion? Or if it gets disrupted by an entirely new passion you’ve discovered? What will happen if you don’t have another passion (a Plan B) to fall back on?

If you don’t have an answer to these questions, it may be time to consider the lessons outlined above, or even some career coaching for yourself. To find out if career coaching is your next best step, click here and complete the paNASH intake form. Completing the form does not obligate you in any way.

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Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is the Wrong Approach

I was sitting at my desk in my office when the email showed up in my inbox. It was another request for an informational interview. (If you don’t know what an informational interview is, Google it.)

But this request was different from all the others. It wasn’t the usual lame offer to treat me to lunch or coffee.

As much as I really want to accommodate each request since I’m such a big believer in informational interviewing, I can’t say yes to every request. I don’t always have the time to take away from my clients to drive out in Nashville traffic for a meeting and drive back.

So what was different about the request that caught my eye?

This person offered to BRING ME my favorite hot beverage. It was evident she wasn’t just thinking about herself and what she wanted. Instead, she was taking my time into consideration (along with my hot beverage preference).

She showed up at my office with a hot green tea. I loved that she actually asked me what I like instead of assuming I’m a coffee drinker, because I’m not.

I also loved that she didn’t ask the question, “Can I pick your brain?” Why? Because when I worked in the music industry I quickly learned anytime someone asked me that question it was code for, “Can I have some free advice?”

“Can I pick your brain?” always puts me on guard.

I went on to have a great meeting with this bright and considerate young woman. A month later I hired her as my assistant.

This exchange occurred several years ago, but I tell this story all the time to my clients so they understand the importance of practicing proper etiquette when asking for an informational interview.

(Want to learn proper networking etiquette? Check out my on-demand program The Secret To Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively.)

A better approach

If you’ve inadvertently made the gaff of asking, “Can I pick your brain?” don’t worry. There are several ways to correct your approach.

And if you’re someone who gets the “Can I pick your brain?” question frequently, there are several ways you can respond appropriately, especially if you have to say, “no.”

It’s all listed below in an article written by Darrah Brustein, author, speaker, and consultant (originally published at www.forbes.com). Darrah was nice enough to allow me to re-publish her article here on the paNASH blog.

It’s a must-read for anyone who’s trying to expand their network (which should be everyone!). Enjoy!

14 Ways To Ask And Respond To The Question: Can I Pick Your Brain?

by Darrah Brustein

I’ll share with you here a number of ways you can respond, some which might even turn into a way to get paid for your knowledge.

These tips also translate if you’re hoping to get advice from someone with more expertise in a particular area.

We all have things to offer that are valuable to others and will help them on their path. Sometimes we charge for those; other times, we don’t. Undoubtedly, sharing knowledge is important.

But we get to choose to whom, what, where, when, and how we offer this advice and counsel.

It feels great to be the one who gives this help. It’s nice to share what we know. It’s even touching to reflect back on the times when we needed help and others offered.

But don’t use that against someone to force them into spending time with you. And don’t let that guilt you into having to say yes to everyone either.

Because we each have a finite amount of time and our own priorities, here are some important things to consider when you want to ask someone for help in this way:

1. Be considerate of someone’s time and intellectual property.

Sometimes that means being willing to offer payment or a value exchange. Would you go into a store, grab some merchandise, and walk out? Hopefully not, because that’s theft. So why do we expect people to offer their intellectual property so easily without expectation of payment or value exchange?

2. Consider the depth of your relationship to the ‘brain.’

It’s most likely that someone with whom you have a real relationship will want to help. But when can you consider a relationship to be established? If you’ve emailed several times or exchanged Facebook messages, does that count? What about when you’ve met once? When do you go from stranger to someone for whom I will make time? There isn’t a clear-cut answer as it’s subjective and personal. However, if you feel it’s a grey area, err on the side of caution, if simply for the sake of being polite. If you don’t have a pre-existing relationship, try to get introduced by a trusted mutual contact. The recipient will be much more likely to carve out time for you because of the carryover of trust they have from the connector.

3. Do your homework.

If it’s not possible to be introduced or to ask someone with whom you have an existing rapport, then it’s imperative that you demonstrate in your first contact that you did your homework. Why should that person take the time to help you if you didn’t take the time to extract as much learning as you can about the subject online beforehand, both in general and specifically from any content they already have shared.

Here’s a quick story of hope to insert at this point: one of my business idols is Julie Aigner-Clark, the creator and founder of Baby Einstein. When I published my book on financial literacy for kids, connecting with Julie to understand her journey in the space was of utmost importance to me. I knew no one in common with her, so I spent hours watching videos, reading interviews, and consuming everything I could learn that was already out on the internet about her. Then I wrote a thoughtful, complimentary and concise email via her contact form. I made it clear that I had done my homework, how much I respected her work, why I was reaching out and what my hopes were for spending some time on a call with her if she’d be open to it.

Much to my surprise, less than 24 hours later, I got an email from her welcoming a conversation. She was flattered by my depth of knowledge about her work, and that ingratiated me to her. Shortly after, we spoke for an hour, then several times after that. And I was careful to ask only questions of her whose answers I could not find online.

4. Don’t be insulting by presuming that coffee or lunch is a good exchange.

I didn’t ask her for time in person, and here’s why. When you add up the amount of time it would take for someone to commute to and from a given location and share their ideas and expertise with you, rarely will they consider your offer to pay for coffee or lunch a reasonable one. It can come off as insulting, and will quickly close a door to that interaction.

5. Intend to pay or offer value in some way.

If you’re not willing to pay for someone’s time, or offer value in some way before you want to take it, consider if there’s another way to obtain the information you’re seeking. If you can’t afford to pay, be upfront about your desire to give before you take, and suggest a way you could be helpful without paying.

6. Beware of sounding presumptuous.

Don’t craft your message as though their saying yes is a foregone conclusion. Saying something like, “When would be a good time for us to connect for coffee?” in your first correspondence is presumptuous and not respectful.

Now that we’re clear on how to ask someone for their time and advice properly, let’s consider how to reply to these types of requests.

7. It’s okay to say no.

Here’s a piece I wrote about saying no. It’s a helpful starting point for any time you want to decline an offer respectfully.

8. Make email templates.

Consider making email templates for these requests, using a tool like MixMax to auto-insert them into your emails. Ignoring them often leaves me feeling guilty, so this is a great way to reply respectfully without taking too much time.

9. Create a buffer and save time with a virtual assistant.

If you need to put a barrier between you and the asker, or if you get too many requests to handle by yourself, get an inexpensive virtual assistant to intercede. It can be a lot easier for this person to say no, to offer a resource you’ve already produced, or to share your consulting rate.

Or, before handing it off, you can reply by introducing the asker to your assistant. He or she can get a specific agenda or purpose out of them and offer 15 minutes to see if they might translate into a client.

10. Offer pro bono work.

You may want to offer some pro bono consulting. If so, determine what your own boundaries are for this.

For whom will you always make time? For whom not? Allow for some flexibility. Sometimes, you’ll surprise yourself with the ones to which you’ll say yes, because the asker was sincere, authentic and demonstrated that she did her homework, respected your time and was clear in her ask.

11. Refer the request to someone or something.

It’s always great to refer the requester to someone else who is a better fit, or to someone else’s relevant content.

Or, if you have content which you’ve already created on the subject, point them there.

If you get a lot of these requests asking the same thing, write a LinkedIn or Medium post to publish the common answer(s) and then direct people to that. It will also help to solidify your thought leadership in that area.

12. Get paid.

You can try to convert the asker into a client by saying, “I’m at capacity right now, so I’m not taking any meetings. As I’m sure you can appreciate, sometimes you have to put your head down and get work done 🙂 If you’re interested in becoming a client, I can send over info on that. If it’s simply a quick question you have, feel free to email it, and I can see about answering it by email.”

Or, “I’m happy to connect, and I charge $X/hour for consulting. Please let me know if you’d like to set up a time to do so.”

Or, “I’m not available for coffee, but you should really consider checking out my _____ (your product or service). I designed it to help people like you in this exact situation!”

You can also create an hourly or flat-rate consulting platform for these requests. Make the dollar amount worth your time, so if someone buys it, you’re happy to do it.

13. Implement office hours.

If it’s best for you, create ‘office hours,’ which is a specific slot of time that you use for these conversations. It will keep you sane, as well as weed out people who aren’t open to work around your schedule when they’re asking to glean from you.

I’ve found that most of these requests disappear when I offer one specific time frame that’s convenient for me, offer to do it for an exchange of payment, or ask for them to be more clear about their question(s) before we hop on a call.

14. Make it personal.

Sometimes someone reaches out it in a manner that is complimentary, but it sounds like a social call, and doesn’t specify that they want to ‘pick your brain’. However, you know that’s what they want. Reply by saying, “I’ve made a personal rule not to take any meetings when I haven’t made time to spend with my best friend recently (and she and I haven’t connected in ages due to my schedule). I so appreciate your kind words, and hope you understand why I need to pass.”

Ultimately, respect your time and put a value on it. Don’t be afraid to ask for payment, to say no, or to respect your own boundaries. And if you’re in the market to ‘pick someone’s brain,’ put yourself in her shoes to position yourself for success.

Thank you again to Darrah for allowing me to re-post this article!

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Sunday Inspiration: Strength for Speakers

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!

“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” Isa 40:31 NKJV

Describing the emotions evoked in having to address an audience, a respected writer says:

“Public speaking is listed as [our] number-one fear, before death at number five, and loneliness, which weighs in at number seven. That means that most of us are less afraid of dying alone than of making fools of ourselves in front of others. Fear is a powerful motivator…There is the fear of being seen as exceptional and different; the fear of the unknown; the fear of being a fraud; the fear of forgetting everything you were going to say; the fear of being at risk publicly; and the fear of being up there alone. They all come together for most of us in public speaking.”

In The Bible on Leadership, author Lorin Woolfe writes: “Leadership takes an almost bottomless supply of verbal energy; working the phones, staying focused on your message, repeating the same mantra until you can’t stand the sound of your own voice—and then repeating it some more, because just when you start to become bored witless with the message, it’s probably starting to seep in.”

If you do a lot of teaching, preaching, or public speaking, you’re probably smiling and saying “Amen!”

The fact is, you can’t fill an empty bucket from a dry well. In order to keep giving out you must keep your batteries charged spiritually, emotionally, and physically. And the Bible tells you how: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” 

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/strength-for-speakers

Related Post: Want to Be a Public Speaker? Beware of the “Exposure” Bait