Five Friday Favorites: April 11, 2014

Five Friday FavoritesThere is so much great stuff being written out there, I wish I could just take a funnel and pour it all into your heads. But, given the impracticality and infeasibility of that, not to mention the potential restraining orders as I track you down, funnel in hand, I’m going to settle for the next best thing.

I’m starting a weekly feature called Five Friday Favorites. In it I will suggest my…wait for it...five favorite blog posts for the week (bet you didn’t see that coming!). And, because it starts with F and alliteration makes me smile, I’m doing it on Friday.

So let’s get rolling.

5 ways hating your job can ruin your health (according to science)
(OK, this is actually on Huffington Post, but I first read about it on the author’s blog, Chief Happiness Officer, so it counts. So there.)

Give a little. Get a lot. Generosity matters.
from Business Fitness

5 ways to bring yourself more career success and happiness
from Work Happy Now

Trying to find ‘your thing’? Here’s a clue: you’re probably driving everyone around you crazy with it.
from Free Range Humans

How to uncover greater possibilities despite gloomy circumstances
from Shake Off the Grind

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How to maximize your Failure ROI

trailerfail

Let’s face it. At some point, despite your best efforts, you’re going to go splat. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to flop and fall on your face. That’s especially true if you aim high and reach beyond your comfort zone.

The occasional failure is an inevitable part of the road to success. And unpleasant as it is, failure is also – potentially, at least – one of our best teachers. So if you’re going to fail anyway, doesn’t it make sense to squeeze all the value out of that investment that you can?

Here are some questions to help you maximize your “Failure ROI.” (ROI = Return On Investment)

What role did I play in this failure? What role did circumstances beyond my control play?

Taking ownership for your own part in the process and letting go of responsibility for what you had no control over lets you focus on what you actually had the power to impact.

What were the causes of this failure?

Trace the failure back. What were the pieces of the puzzle that contributed to your belly flop? See if you can find the root causes, the underlying sources that contributed to that failure. Challenge yourself to go deeper than your initial assessment. Keep asking, “and why did that happen?” as you peel back the layers.

What might have prevented this failure?

Can you identify specific steps, preparations, support, etc. that would have led to a more favorable outcome?

What would I do differently if I did this again?

Trace the whole process from beginning to end. What would you do differently? Why?

Was the cause of the failure a flawed idea, or flawed execution? A bad concept, or a poorly planned process?

They both might lead to failure, but the reasons behind each of them are vastly different. Make sure you’re focusing on the right thing.

What did I need to know that I didn’t know I needed to know?

Looking at your attempt from beginning to end, where did it begin to go wrong? How? Was there more than one point where it deviated from the path to success? For each of those points, what could have been done differently to stay on track?

What support did I need that I didn’t have? Where could I get that support in the future?

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. It’s a lot easier to see where you didn’t have a clue or were woefully underprepared when you look back than it was along the way. What support did you need that would have contributed to your success (e.g., a subject matter expert with more knowledge than you, a partner whose gifts and talents complement yours, etc.)?

What knowledge did I need that I didn’t have? Where could I find that knowledge in the future?

Sometimes failure comes because you don’t know what you don’t know. With the benefit of hindsight, what knowledge were you lacking that contributed to the lack of success?

What action should I have taken that I didn’t?

Can you see steps left undone, initiatives left uninitiated?

What action shouldn’t I have taken that I did?

On the flipside, are there things you set in motion that contributed to your failure?

What do I understand now as a result of this failure that I can put to use in the future?

Odds are good you have a better understanding – of the obstacles, of the system as a whole, of what works and what doesn’t, etc. – than before you started down the path you failed on. What do you understand better?

What are the key learnings I can take away from this failure?

Distilling what you have learned into these key nuggets turns your learning into easily applicable insights for the future.

Parting thought: Keep a failure journal

You might want to get on friendly enough terms with failure that you keep a failure journal. Make it a habit to debrief and learn from the bits of your career (and your life) where things go sideways. You could wind up creating one of the most valuable resources you’ll ever have.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Download my FREE audio course and let the adventure begin!]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Energize your career with the Gain-to-Drain Ratio

Want to energize your career? Or maybe take it a step further and energize your whole life? Well, duh. Of course you do.Who doesn’t?

If pretty much everyone would answer yes to that question, why are so many people dragging their butts off every morning to another zombified day at work like, a bad sequel to Night of the Living Dead?

There are a bazillion reasons for that, but I’m convinced that one of the big ones is that people don’t realize how much lies within their power to change, and just how simple it is to do si.

I’m a fan of simple. In my past thirteen years helping people create careers and lives that energize and inspire them, I have found that often the simplest ideas are the most powerful. And it doesn’t get more simple than this.

It’s an approach you can use to consciously, purposefully raise the energy in any aspect of your life. I call it “maximizing the Gain-to-Drain Ratio.”

Conceptually, it couldn’t get much simpler. All you do is:

  • Bring as much as possible of what gives you energy (the Gain part of the equation)
  • Do whatever you can to minimize the things that drain your energy.
The Gain-to-Drain Ratio is essentially a fraction. Visually, the idea looks like this:

The more you can incorporate the kinds of things that energize you into your life, the more Gain you have. And the more you can change the things that suck your energy away, the smaller your Drain will be.

You can start applying the Gain-to-Drain Ratio by applying it to your work. Take a look at your job and do what I call a “personal energy audit.” Ask questions like:

  • What do I love about this job?
  • What about this job leaves me feeling energized?
  • What about this job leaves me feeling engaged?
  • When do I feel in the zone in this job?
  • What about this job is fun?
  • What do I dislike about this job?
  • What about this job saps my energy? What leaves me feeling drained and depleted?
  • What about this job feels like a grind?
  • What is tedious about this job?

Once you identify your Gains and Drains, you can ask questions to help you start increasing the Gains and reducing the Drains, like:

  • What can I easily bring more of into the picture?
  • What can I easily change?
  • Which changes would make the most impact?
  • Which changes do I want to prioritize?

While I’m at it, I need to give my ever-present caveat that this isn’t a magic wand. It’s not going to take a crap job and make the angels suddenly sing. But it does create an opportunity to start taking control of what you can and change things for the better.

I encourage you to make it a regular habit to stop and ask yourself, “Where’s the Gain here? Where’s the Drain?” It’s a simple way to shine a light regularly on what impacts your energy so you can manage it as you go, rather than trusting to chance or taking action when the Drain gets too strong to tolerate.

Keeping in mind that your work unfolds not in an isolated silo, but in the interconnected, holistic system that is your life, you can also use the Gain-to-Drain Ratio to examine your life in 360 degrees. Look at the different areas of your life, like:

  • Attitudes & Beliefs
  • Finances
  • Health & Wellness
  • Hobbies & Activities
  • Home Environment
  • Meaning & Making a Difference
  • Relationships
    • Romantic
    • Friends
    • Family
    • Professional
    • Community
  • Sex & Sexuality
  • Spirituality
  • Work

As with so many things, much of maximizing the Gain-to-Drain Ratio is about awareness. You can’t change what you aren’t aware of. Examining the Gain and Drain breaks it down into specific, tangible things to work on.

[Want to do a deeper dive into maximizing your Gain-to-Drain Ratio? My Passion Catalyst coaching can help.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

The 3 dimensions of getting Wild about Work

3 dimensions to getting Wild About Work

Every once in a while I come across an article calling bullshit on the whole “do what you love” movement. Usually my take on them is the same: “Good points, but too narrow and black-and-white in their view.”

There seems to be two camps in the question. On the one side is the follow your bliss crowd that seems to see pursuing your passion as a potent elixir that will lead you to success and a rollicking good time along the way.

On the other side is a smaller contingent that seems to be convinced that the advice to do what you love is a slippery slope to a career hell of impractical decisions, poverty, and failure.

It’s probably no surprise that I’m not a big fan of either school of thought. I lean toward the follow your bliss side, obviously, but I find it’s too often colored by magical thinking

There’s more than one dimension to loving your work. It’s not all “follow your bliss.” That can certainly be a part of it, but using that as your sole approach is unnecessarily limiting.

Below are three dimensions you can use to get Wild About Work, bring more juice to your job, and dig your days just a bit more.

I. Do work you love

This is what people typically think of when they think of following their bliss. “I love photography,” the thinking goes, “so I should be a photographer.

I have a different way of thinking about this one than most. I think it’s very seldom that people have The One Thing they’re called to do in their careers. Getting Wild About Work is less about finding The One Thing you’re meant to do, and more about finding a path that allows you to experience what energize you. 

When you understand the recurring themes that tend to be present when you feel energized and alive (the underlying reasons why you love what you love), it opens the door to creating a career that allows you to experience those themes. That’s a lot more flexible and packed with options than trying to rigidly pursue The One Thing.

(Download my free short Wild About Work audio course for more ideas on how to do this.)

II. Love the work you do

Getting Wild About Work isn’t just about doing work you love. It’s also about loving the work you do.

Here’s the thing. You live in the real world. And sometimes that means you need to stay exactly where you are, even if it isn’t your dream job.

If that describes your situation and you buy into the black and white binary view of passion vs. work as a four-letter word, you’re pretty much screwed, condemned to suck it up and wait for the weekend.

In this dimension of getting Wild About Work, rather than pining over the work you wish you could have, you direct your attention to finding ways to love the work you do have.

You can start by asking questions, like:

  • What do I enjoy about this work?
  • What do I appreciate about this work?
  • What challenges me in a good way about this work?
  • What positive aspect of this work can I focus on?
  • What difference am I making? Who am I helping?

You can also do what I describe as a “personal energy audit,” asking, “What is energizing/fun/enjoyable about this? What drains my energy about this?” Then use the answers as a starting point to explore ways to bring more of what energizes you and reduce the energy drains.

The basic gist of this dimension is that you can a) start directing your attention to what works and, b) start to sculpt your job and how you do it to tilt the balance towards what leaves you feeling energized and alive.

III. Sculpt your story

Finally, there’s the dimension that happens entirely between your ears. While it may seem the most insubstantial, it is also potentially the most powerful. Why? Because it’s the one we have the most control over.

We all tell ourselves stories about what we experience. That’s how we make sense of the world around us. If you have never taken a conscious look at those stories, they may seem like they’re reality. But in fact they are simply the lens through which we look at the world around us.

So why not use that fact and shape the lens you use to see the world?

At its simplest, sculpting your story is about shifting your awareness and attention away from what’s wrong towards what’s right. Looking around you and asking, “What can I appreciate about this? Where are the opportunities here (to grow, to enjoy, to connect, etc.)?”

The job is still the same job whether you focus on what’s negative about it or what’s positive. You still spend the same amount of time there. There is no risk to sculpting your story, and nothing but upside.

Putting it to use

You can work with each of these dimensions separately or simultaneously. Look at your work and ask:

  1. How can I move more fully towards doing what I love?
  2. How can I feel more love for what I do?
  3. How can I lean my focus more towards the positive?

And don’t just ask those questions once. make it a habit to ask them on an ongoing basis. The more you do, the more potential you have to consciously take advantage of some or all of those three dimensions to help you get Wild About Work.

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How to discover your 10-year vision

10-year vision

In my last post, I talked about the idea of having a 10-year vision. That idea has become a huge part of how I look at the future and where I’m going, as well as the context for what I’m doing now.

As valuable as having a 10-year vision is, putting your finger on your own can be easier said than done to start with. So I want to share some ideas here for how to start helping it take shape.

As you explore this, keep in mind that it’s likely to be more of an evolutionary insight than a lightbulb moment. So really what you’re doing with the exploration below is priming the pump and raising your awareness about what’s important to you.

Once you have that, you can start scanning the horizon, exploring it in conversations with friends and colleagues, or maybe keeping an idea journal to start collecting the possibilities it inspires.

So, without further ado, let’s get started. Below are some questions to help you identify potential elements of your 10-year vision.

 Who

  • Who do you feel inspired to help? Are there particular groups or demographics (e.g., at-risk youth, entrepreneurs, single mothers, business managers, companies, etc.)?
  • Who is doing work that inspires you? What is it about that work that feels so compelling?

What

  • What subject matter do you feel drawn to working with (e.g., careers, leadership, sustainability, software programming, etc.)?
  • What change do you feel compelled to make? What would you like to be different because of the work you do in the next ten years?
  • What causes do you feel drawn to supporting (e.g., eliminating poverty, helping at-risk youth see their potential, rain forest preservation)?

Why

  • Take a look at the answers to the questions above. Why do you feel called to those? What is it about those that inspires you? What is it about them that feel so compelling? What is it about them that feels so meaningful? The more you can understand this, the more you can recognize opportunities to fulfill that.

How

  • In your ideal world, how would you fulfill the vision? What would you be doing on a day in and day out basis? What would your work look like? What would you find energizing and engaging to do?

When

  • When can you start taking action? It might be the action (e.g., volunteering in an area you care about, or taking a class, or beginning to network in a particular field) that leads to more clarity and insight about what your 10-year vision could be.

Where

  • Where do you see this vision unfolding? As an employee? If so, with what kind of organization? As a self-employed entrepreneur? If so, are you more called to be a solopreneur or build a business you can scale?

Spend some time with these questions. Give your mind the fodder it needs to start recognizing the possibilities. Journal about them. Have a discussion with friends about them. Actively brainstorm where it could take you. Tuck the insights in the back of your head and let them percolate.

In short, let the questions plant the seeds of awareness and cultivate those insights with both active exploration and letting the dots connect in the back of your mind.

[Want some help identifying your 10-year vision? Check out my Passion Catalyst coaching.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

What is your 10-year vision?

lastbreath

If you somehow magically knew that ten years from today you were going to breathe your last breath, how would you spend that decade? What legacy would you want to create? What would feel like a deeply worthwhile focus for those remaining years?

I think a lot about the idea of having a 10-year vision. One of the things I love about it is that it’s a relatively small period of time (compared to trying to figure out something like a “life purpose” for the whole shebang), yet big enough to have some real substance.

This blog is part of mine.

This next decade of my work (and quite possibly the rest of my career) is focused on helping people live energized, impactful, heart-based lives.

If I could look back at the end and can say, “I made that impact,” I can’t say I would be ready to go when my time was up, but I would be deeply satisfied with how I put my last years to use.

If your goal were to look back in ten years and be deeply satisfied with the outcome, what would your focus be during that time?

Benefits of a 10-year vision

“OK,” you might be thinking, “that’s nice. But what’s the point? Why should I put time into figuring out a 10-year vision?”

Here are a few of the benefits:

Focus: Your 10-year vision gives you a focus and frame of reference for the choices you make and the actions you take. You can ask, “How does this choice or this action move me toward that vision? What are some things I can do to move toward that vision?

It also helps put things in the context of the big picture objective. Say you want to change careers to pursue a path that aligns more closely with the legacy you want to leave in the world, but you’re not able to immediately. You might stay in your current job for the next couple years, but its role would change.

Instead of being a place where you feel mired and stuck, your current job could become a springboard for what’s next. Say you decided to stay put for two more years, taking steps towards your new path in parallel. Instead of a place to feel frustrated and stuck, you could see your current job in light of the way it is enabling you to take those steps. Even if it has nothing to do with your vision, the current job then becomes work in service of that vision.

Purpose: A 10-year vision gives you a defined sense of purpose. It puts everything in the context of something you care about deeply.

Purpose is motivating. Purpose is inspiring. And purpose helps you get through the bumpy parts (and trust me, there will be bumps!). As Nietzsche said, “He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How.” A 10-year vision gives you a why.

Direction: Your 10-year vision gives you direction. It’s like having a landmark across the water you can use to make sure you’re still sailing in the right direction. The wind will probably blow you this direction and that, but you can keep adjusting so that your overall course is aimed at the vision.

Opportunity recognition: A 10-year vision helps you recognize opportunities to move toward it. If you have ever had the experience of buying a car and then suddenly seeing that car everywhere, you’ve experienced something similar. It’s not that those cars suddenly sprang up out of nowhere. It’s that your frame of reference changed.

Your 10-year vision gives you a frame of reference that shines a light on choices, actions, and opportunities that will help you fulfill it.

Coming up next…

Now, if I came up to you at a cocktail party and asked, “So what’s your 10-year vision,” you might look at me like I’m off my nut as you tried to figure out what the hell I’m talking about. It’s not something that typically pops up off the top of your head. Putting your finger on your 10-year vision takes work.

Next week, I’ll be taking a closer look at how to identify your 10-year vision.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Download my FREE Audio Course and get started today!]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

What is passion?

These days it seems like everyone and their dog is talking about finding passion in your career. But what exactly does passion mean? And how do you find it? If you want to get Wild About Work, those questions are a pretty good place to start.

Since 2001, I have been using this simple definition of passion to help people create careers that energize and inspire them:

passion definition2Passion is the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do. 

That’s it. Simple. Nothing mysterious – or even vaguely out of reach – about it. It’s just doing the kinds of things, in the kinds of ways, for the kinds of reasons, etc. that leave you feeling naturally energized.

Finding your riverbed

I like to use the analogy of water moving from one place to another. Imagine two scenarios. In the first, you’re trying to get water up and over a mountain. You build a pipeline and continually expend fuel to power a pump to keep the water moving.

While it’s possible to do that, it also takes a lot of work. And at the end of the day, if it’s not replenished, that pump winds up running on empty (which, not coincidentally, is how many people feel about their work).Unfortunately, that’s precisely how many people spend their careers – digging into their energy reserves to make something happen that doesn’t come naturally.

Contrast that to water flowing along a riverbed. Not only do you not have to power its movement, the water actually gets energy from the path it’s taking

Bringing more of YOU into what you do is like finding and following your own personal riverbed. When what you do and who you are is aligned, you feel energized by it. Not only do you not have to dig into your reserves to get through the end of the day, doing the work actually generates energy.

How to bring more of YOU into what you do

We’ll be talking at length throughout this blog about how to consciously, intentionally bring more of YOU into what you do. But if you want an easy way to dip your toe in the water, try this.

Look at your current job. Make a list of the things you have loved doing over the course of your life, work or play. Pick one of those things and ask, “Why? What do I love about this? Why is this so much fun?”

Do that with multiple things from the list. Then start to look for the common themes. What are the “reasons why” that tend to be there when you feel energized?

Looking for ways to experience more of those underlying themes (the recurring reasons why you love what you love) is an excellent way to bring more of you into what you do. That could mean something as simple as modifying how you work or pursuing specific projects, or as complex as changing careers.

(If you want more insights on finding your flow at work, you can download this free audio course based on The Occupational Adventure Guide, the framework I use to help people create careers they love.)

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

The Wild About Work ecosystem

I’ve been thinking about how to visually convey the Wild About Work ecosystem that’s at the heart of what I’ll be talking about in this blog. I went to the whiteboard and this is the model that popped out of my brain.

[Note: There’s a refined version of this model at the Wild About Work Basics link.]

Wild About Work pyramid med

There are four main components to the model. Getting Wild About Work entails:

  • Doing work that energizes you.
  • Bringing your heart to work.
  • Creating a stable foundation of well-being to stand on
  • Recognizing that work and life are interconnected

All of the areas outlined in yesterday’s post about where this blog is headed are encompassed in these four things.

Doing work that energizes you: This is about doing work that lights you up. It includes finding a sense of meaning. It encompasses energy management – maximizing the gains and minimizing the drains. It contains the success factors that help you create it, and the work you do to navigate around the obstacles in your way.

Bringing your heart to work: This is as much attitude as it is action. It’s about love and compassion, both for yourself and for others. It’s openness and a willingness to connect. It’s what brings your full humanity into the picture.

Creating a stable foundation of well-being: There are some things that are woven into the fabric of your well-being. When your life incorporates them, it helps create a solid foundation to stand on. When they’re missing, things start to get a bit wobbly. These are a healthy diet, staying well-hydrated, grounding practice of some sort, exercise, and sleep.

Life/Work interconnection: Your work life doesn’t exist in a silo. What happens in each part of your life has an impact on how you experience the others.  The more energized you are in 360 degrees, the more space you will have to experience all the juice your job has to offer.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Get started today with my FREE Audio Course!]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How DO you get Wild About Work?

If you want to get Wild About Work, discovering a path that lights you up is one piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the only piece.

At the heart of this blog is the idea that being Wild About Work is the net effect of a holistic system, not one single thing. 

All the pieces of your life are interconnected. What happens in one aspect affects the other aspects. There is no “work silo” separate from the rest.

Ultimately, my goal here is to give you the insights and the tools to experience as much juice on the job as possible. I want to help you create an energized, impactful, heart-based career.

Here is an overview of the key areas we’ll be exploring:

Energy management

At its simplest, this is about incorporating more of what energizes you into the picture and reducing or eliminating what drains you. Some of the things we’ll be looking at in this section include:

  • Ways to gain a greater understanding of what energizes and inspires you.
  • How to bring more of what energizes you into your job and your life.
  • Reducing and eliminating what drains you.
  • How the rest of your life impacts your work (and vice versa!).
  • Stress management.

Meaning

A sense of meaning can have an immensely positive impact on how you feel about work. Here, we’ll be looking at things like:

  • What does meaning even mean?
  • What are different ways to experience meaning?
  • What are different sources of a sense of meaning?
  • How do you put your finger on what feels meaningful to you?
  • How does a sense of meaning impact you?

Heart

This may seem a little out of place in a career blog, but I firmly, absolutely, resolutely, 100percentedly believe that this is a foundational piece for a vibrant, fulfilling, meaningful career.

What is “heart?” It’s love and compassion, both for yourself and for the world around you. It’s openness and a willingness to connect. It’s service, and generosity, and more.

As we delve into what bringing your heart to work means, we’ll explore things like:

  • Why love matters to your career
  • How to work from the heart
  • The value of authenticity
  • The power of self-compassion

External Success Factors

There are a bazillion things that can contribute to your success, both external and internal. Some of the external success factors we’ll be exploring include:

  • Taking action and getting traction
  • Creating a support system
  • Goal-setting
  • Identifying and leveraging your resources

Internal Success Factors

What’s happening internally can have a gigantenormous impact on what is possible in your life. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” We’ll be diving into a variety of topics related to internal success factors, including:

  • Creating positive, enhancing beliefs
  • Self-awareness
  • Personal growth exploration
  • Positive psychology findings
  • Building confidence and belief in yourself
  • Resilience
  • Motivation

External Obstacles

Of course, any adventure is bound to have obstacles. And getting Wild About Work is no exception. In this area we’ll look at things such as:

  • How to build an obstacle-navigation mindset
  • Problem-solving tips and techniques
  • Being a solutionist

Internal Obstacles

In the last thirteen years helping people create careers and lives they love, I have seen first-hand how the internal obstacles people face can be infinitely more daunting than the external ones (and it’s often the internal obstacles that make the external ones seem bigger than they really are).

With that in mind, we’ll be taking a look at things like:

  • How do you get in your own way?
  • What limiting ideas, assumptions, and beliefs are holding you back?
  • How are your stories about the ways things are holding you back?
  • How can you transform your limiting perspectives into more empowering ones.

Will there be more? Almost guaranteed! But this is a good basic framework to hang our adventure on.

So get comfortable. Get curious. Put on your Hat of Openness and Wonder. And get ready to dive on in.

It’s time to get Wild About Work!

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

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