9 ways to have your best year ever (even if it sucks)

9 ways to make this the best year ever

Every New Year, a frothy chorus starts to swell in the self-help world, exhorting us all to make next year the Best! Year! Ever! It’s a message that feels increasingly like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

Part of that is an increasing disenchantment with what feels like the self-help version of consumerism – more! More! MORE! More success. More happiness. More passion.

On the surface, that all sounds great. Who wouldn’t want more of those things?

What grates on me is the way it so often gets sold (and if I’m honest, I have to admit I’ve been guilty of this myself). The message, intentional or not, seems to be that if you want to have the best year ever, you have to have that job you love, a relationship that meets all your needs, make more money, and in general have every part of your life shine.

In short, you need to have the picture perfect life.

This isn’t a condemnation of those things. They’re all wonderful, but in the end they’re all external sources of fulfillment. And that would be fine if it weren’t for the pesky fact that picture perfect is seldom the way life works.

In the real world, in addition to the juicy good stuff, things go sideways. Sometimes life is grand. And sometimes, let’s face it, it completely blows.

So if you rely on external circumstances to have the best year ever, it’s a crap shoot. You can influence what happens, but you can’t control it.

But what if you didn’t have to rely on external circumstances to deliver your best year ever? What if your best year ever really had its source in your head and your heart?

One of the most important concepts I talk about here is the way our thoughts and beliefs create the world we experience. Not from a “manifestation” perspective, but by the way your thoughts and beliefs shape the lens through which we view the world.

What you experience has little to do with what is actually happening externally. There’s a Buddhist saying that “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” It means that, while painful things are bound to happen in the human experience, suffering only comes as a result of the story we tell about it.

In this post, I want to explore how to shape your lens to minimize the suffering and maximize the happiness, contentment, and even delight, regardless of how your external circumstances shake out in the year to come.

Build a foundation

One of the key components of the Wild About Work model is building a solid foundation to stand on. That foundation is made of the things we all know we need to do, but so often don’t. These include:

  • Healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Staying hydrated
  • Reaching out and connecting with people
  • Getting enough sleep

None of this is rocket science. But it’s amazing what a difference it makes just making each of those a reliably consistent part of your life, regardless of what’s happening.

Develop a grounding practice

I can’t stress this one enough. I usually include this in the list of foundational elements, but it’s so important I’m breaking it out as its own topic. The winds of suckitude the world outside can deliver are strong and can blow you in any direction of you don’t have a solid ground to stand on.

Having some kind of daily grounding practice, whether meditation, yoga, tai chi, or something else, is a cornerstone to not being buffeted by the winds of suckitude the world outside can deliver.

Practice mindfulness

The less time you spend caught up in the past and the future, the less time you will have for regret and worry. Practice mindfulness, and keep bringing yourself back to the here-and-now.

Not only that, the more present you are, the more you get to experience the full juice of what’s happening in the here-and-now. (Think of it as the difference between inhaling a delicious meal with little to no awareness and savoring every bite.)

Direct your focus

Imagine your focus over a 24-hour period divided into three parts – a focus on what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s neutral. Over the course of any given day, how would your focus be divided? How much of your focus is on what’s good? How much of it is on what’s bad?

To make it easy, think of each day’s focus as a pie chart divided into 10 equal parts. How many slices are devoted to each of those three?

Your mind is limited in what it can hold in its awareness. The more slices you devote to the positive, the fewer you have available for the negative.

Below are a couple ways to consciously direct your focus to positive slices o’ pie.

Focus: What’s good?

Get in the habit of asking this question on an ongoing basis. It can be on a large scale (what rocks about my life right now?) or a small scale (Here I am on my commute home – what can I notice that’s good?).

The more you direct your attention to what’s good, the more your mind will start to naturally notice what’s good.

Focus: Gratitude

Gratitude is the wonder-drug for both mental and physical wellness. Research has shown that a focus on what you’re thankful for makes you happier and healthier.

Make it a habit to focus on what you’re grateful for on a regular basis. That could be keeping a gratitude journal, dedicating one commute a week to reflecting on reasons to give thanks, or just pausing throughout the day and asking, “What can I be grateful for right now?”

Develop self-compassion

If there were one thing you could wave a magic wand and create that would make the biggest difference in your life, this might well be it.

Most of us have a well-developed inner critic. We treat ourselves in ways we would never treat others, or let others treat us.

That has a constricting and contracting effect on both how we feel (about ourselves and about the world) and on what we have to give.

Commit to learning and growing from whatever comes your way

A while ago I was having a really tough time. Something happened that kind of sucked and I commented to a friend, “Yeah, I hate this – and I’m also blessed to have the chance to practice releasing attachment.”

He looked at me and said, “Curt, sometimes things just suck.” I said, “Yeah, but if it’s going to suck anyway, I might as well get something out of it.”

Your life is the biggest, most intense deep-dive of a personal growth seminar you’ll ever attend. You can read books till they’re coming out your ears, listen to all the best experts, but it’s only when you have the chance to put the learning into practice that you really absorb it.

When things suck, you can either just shake your fist at life, or you can say, “Yeah, I hate this, AND what a blessing to have this intense opportunity to grow!”

Make a difference

This one does double duty. Not only does it make life feel more meaningful, it also takes you out of a focus on yourself and brings your focus to others. It’s all too easy to create an echo chamber of troubles and tribulations when you focus overly much on your own challenges.

Don’t just limit yourself to things that will make a big impressive splash. Look for ways to make a difference in your day-to-day life. Once you start looking, you’ll notice them everywhere. Paying someone a compliment. Smiling at that person in the grocery store with a scowl. Saying thank you sincerely. Letting someone know that what they do matters. Picking up litter.

Reach out for connection & support

Reach out and connect. Have fun. Help your friends when they need it. Celebrate their joys and successes and share yours. Ask for support when you need it. Let people help you.

Humans evolved to be social critters. Take advantage of that.

Love

Finally, imagine a life where your default was coming from a place of love, both for yourself and for the world around you. I don’t mean transactional, conditional love (“I’ll love you if you _______” or “unless you ______”), which is a lot of what passes for love.

I mean simply coming from a space of love. You know that feeling you get looking at a beautiful baby, or maybe even a sweet puppy, where you just kind of melt in a loving glow? That’s closer to what I’m talking about.

I recognize this is easier said than done. It’s a natural place to come from when we get out from under the layers of stories we tend to slather on our experience of life, but for most of us it’s a challenge to find consistently.

So don’t get worked up about trying to hit the mark 100%. Instead, look at the next year as an opportunity to cultivate and develop your connection to that space. Imagine if December 31st saw you spending an additional 10% of your time connected to that sense of love. Think it might make a difference?

So there you have it. Nine ways to make the coming year the best year ever. If what’s happening outside is rockin’ and rollin’, great! This will make the experience even better. If the world is going sideways for you, the ideas I have described here will help you feel a greater sense of peace despite external events.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

Wild About Work on Pinterest!

Truth is stranger than fiction! I took the Pinterest plunge last week and have been busily creating a Wild About Work resource there. Check it out!

I’m creating boards there focusing on a wide range of topics, ranging from self-exploration and self-awareness to mindfulness to physical wellness.

Stop on by. Tell your friends.

Enjoy!

 

How to visually reinforce your growth and success

inspiring words

A few years ago I had the good fortune to interview Howard Behar (former President at Starbuck’s) at his home office. Hanging on his wall were several framed quotes.

He kept the quotes there to reinforce their importance and to give him a reminder of the insights they contained as he went about his work. Framed quotes on his wall had played an important role in his career for decades.

collageThat idea stuck in my head. I liked the idea of framing them, rather than just taping quotes to the wall. It made them more aesthetically pleasing and gave them more substance.

Along the way, it cross-pollinated with the idea of making collages. Quotes are great, but as simple text on white paper, they can be flat and one-dimensional. What if I combined them with images in a collage?

That idea evolved, as ideas tend to do, away from the original idea of using quotes and toward using words and concepts. I finally created one last week.

This particular collage is aimed at bringing a greater action orientation and focus to my natural tendencies to dream, visionize, and explore (tendencies which are simultaneously some of my greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses).

Knowing how things like this tend to fade into the background after they’ve been around a while, my plan is to make a whole series of them that I can swap out regularly. I have a collection of 8×10 frames I bought at Goodwill, and will keep the collages I’m not currently using in a three-ring binder in plastic sheathes.

What I love about small, framed collages is that they make it easy to both create visual reinforcement of specific ideas and keep it fresh enough (by swapping the collages out intermittently) to keep having an impact in your mind.

What to collage about?

The potential subject matter of your collages is pretty much limitless. You could collage about, for example:

  • Goals
  • Aspirations of how you want to show up (e.g., love, patience, determination, etc.)
  • Changes you want to make
  • New patterns and habits
  • Quotes that speak to you

.

There really is no “right way” to do it. These are just some broad ideas.

The collage I made isn’t particularly creative, but it contains some key ideas I want to reinforce. You might want to go more deeply into the creative aspect of it. Play with what works best for you. Is it primarily images? Words? A combination of the two?

How I make them

The easiest way to make your collages is with a simple glue stick. I decided I wanted to make something more long-lasting that wouldn’t fade, so I used acrylic medium both as an adhesive and to coat the whole thing once it was done.

In addition to the frames, I buy the magazines I cut up at Goodwill or other thrift stores (they cost 50 cents apiece at Goodwill). Over the last few months I have gone through a bazillion magazines or so, and keep the images and words in file folders and envelopes in and expanding file.

Having a large store of words and images to draw from allows me to look through them and see what wants to emerge.

So how about it? Up for some collage making?

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

 

How a 10-year vision makes work more meaningful

 

How a 10-year vision makes work more meaningful

Imagine yourself stuck in a small box of a room with barely enough space to turn around. The air is stale and the light is dim. You have a suffocating sense of being trapped with no room to maneuver. That room is all that exists in your world.

Now imagine your view pulling up to give a higher level perspective on the world. You can still see the box of a room, but you can see what’s beyond it as well. You discover that the room isn’t all there is, and that inspiring possibilities lie beyond it.

You realize you’re only trapped because your mind believes the present moment of that musty little room is a long-term experience.

All too many people experience this small-box effect in their careers. They mistake their current situation for a long-term reality. And it’s unfortunate, because that prevents them from tapping into the inspiration and meaning that a focus on a long-term vision can give.

How a 10-year vision makes work more meaningful

I wrote recently about the benefits of having a 10-year vision (as well as some ideas for how to identify yours). In a nutshell, having a vision for what you want to accomplish, what impact you want to make, who you want to be, etc. in the next ten years expands your perspective to something beyond the immediate demands of your day-to-day work. It takes you out of the here and now and creates a context for something bigger.

Here are some of the ways that can make work feel more meaningful. A 10-year vision:

Helps you break free from stasis

One of the great meaning-killers is feeling stuck in stasis, repeating the same day over and over and over. When you put your work in the context of a 10-year vision, it opens the potential for a momentum generated from a source beyond whatever is happening in your career right now.

Helps you break free from a limited view

On a related note, looking at your work from the perspective of a 10-year vision breaks you free of the limited view of that small box. It’s hard to dream of flying when your focus is constrained by four grimy walls.

Just like a movie camera lifting up on a crane to give a sweeping view, a 10-year vision point of view helps you see a broader, more expansive picture.

Gives context for planning

A 10-year vision brings with it the energy of action. It gives you an energized context for planning. Whether you are currently on a path you love, or your work feels stuck and stale, a 10-year vision opens up the door to planning.

Asking, “How do I get there,” and taking steps based on the answers is like opening the door to that musty room and suddenly being able to breathe fresh air. It creates a sense of space and ties the present moment with a vision that matters to you.

Provides a sense of direction

One of the things that contribute to a sense of meaning is a clarity about where you’re headed and why. Having a 10-year vision (and acting on it) gives you a frame of reference and helps you see whether you’re on target or off track.

Creates a context for learning

When you have a vision for what you would like to achieve or create in the next ten years, it does two things for your learning.

First, it gives you a context where you can ask, “How does what I’m learning right now in my work contribute to that? How could it?” Even if your vision isn’t directly related to your current work, skills and insights you are gaining now might be applicable.

Consciously exploring how your current learning relates to your vision connects your current work to something greater.

The other learning-related question it opens up is, “What do I need to learn to get there?” That allows you to seek out opportunities for on-the-job learning, job-related workshops and training, insights from mentors and experts, etc. that will contribute to breathing life into that vision.

Provides a source of inspiration

The great thing about a 10-year vision is that you get to define it. And you’re not going to imagine a ho-hum vision into being. It’s going to be something that inspires you. Something that compels you to move towards it.

The very act of committing to that 10-year vision can be a source of inspiration and energy.

Guides your choices

A commitment to a 10-year vision that moves you gives you a whole new way to evaluate your choices. You can tap into that guidance with questions like, “Will this help me turn this vision into reality? How? What impact will this have on the vision? How does this move me closer to / farther from that vision?”

Creates a context for relationships

When you’re engaged in a journey towards a long-term vision that feels meaningful, you have a completely different context for networking and building relationships than if you are looking exclusively through the lens of what you’re doing right now.

As before, there are two broad questions at play. The first is, “How do the people I currently know relate to my vision? Can any of them help me move toward it or play a role in its creation? Who should I talk to about it? Who would find it inspiring? Can my vision be helpful to anyone I know? How?”

The second is, “Who do I need to know? Where and how can I meet them?”

Don’t wait for the perfect vision

If you already have a clear picture of what your 10-year vision would be, great! But if you don’t, whatever you do, don’t wait for the perfect vision to appear.

Start with some basic exploration. Set any practicality aside for a moment and ask, “If I could make any vision reality, what would it be?” You might surprise yourself and discover your vision, or it might give you insights as to some of the qualities and characteristics that would be relevant.

Go through the exploration in my post about how to identify your 10-year vision. See if you can identify a “lump of clay” vision. Not a final version, simply something to work with and shape and form.

Once you have that lump of clay, start exploring it. Start talking to people about it. Make changes and adjustments as you learn more about it.

An imperfect vision you act on is infinitely better than a potentially perfect vision that never sees the light of day.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

5 steps to a support system to help you get Wild About Work

friends support

We humans are social critters. When social connection is missing, it impacts both our mental and physical health.

Given that, it’s not surprising that an important component of Getting Wild About Work is creating a support network.

I have interviewed many people who have successfully pursued their passion over the years. To a person, they all said some variation on, “I couldn’t have done this alone.”

As you look at creating and continuing a career that lights you up, spend some time with these five key questions.

1. What support do I need?

Being aware of what support you need makes it easier to reach out and find it. Look at it from multiple angles. It might include:

Emotional support: Friends and communities where you can show up, be authentic, talk through challenges, etc.

Goal support: Do you need help keeping your focus on your goal and taking action? (This might be professional, like a career or life coach, or personal, like a friend or colleague who is also working towards goals of their own you can mutually support.)

Clarity support: Do you need someone to help you sort through things? Do you need a sounding board for ideas, or someone to help you unravel points of confusion? (This could be either a coach like me or a friend/colleague with a gift for diving in and sorting things out.)

Inspiration support: Do you need to spend more time around people who inspire you? Remember that in many ways we become who we spend time with. Do you need more people around you who inspire you to be your best, to achieve your goals, etc.?

Professional support: Are there specific areas where you need the expertise of an expert? (e.g., a marketing consultant, and accountant, a career coach, a dietician, etc.)

Authenticity support: This isn’t an area people tend to think of when they think of the support they need, but having people around you who encourage and celebrate your showing up authentically can play a hugely important role in creating a career and life that aligns with who you really are.

Fun and play support: Again, not a stereotypical support role, but for some people life gets entirely too serious. Having people around you who don’t can be an important part of lightening up.

Activity support: Having people around who are always on the go and initiating things can be a great spark of energy, especially for people whose inertia leads them to couch-sitting blobdom if they’re not careful.

This is far from an all-inclusive list. It’s just something to get you started. Spend some time exploring those, then ask what other forms of support to mind. Keep adding to the list as forms of support spring to mind.

2. How do I currently get that support?

Take stock of where that support already exists in your life. This is the low-hanging fruit that is already there and available.

3. What support is missing?

Looking at those first two questions together lets you do a gap analysis of sorts. For example, maybe you feel inspired to think big and make a difference, but that mindset  isn’t one most of the people around you share. You might realize you need the support and energy of others who are inspired and driven by making a difference.

4. Where can I get that support?

The beauty of identifying what’s missing is that you now have a starting point for exploring how to find that support. You can think of this in a couple different ways.

  • Individuals: Who can offer specific assistance or play a specific role? For example, if you’re self-employed and realize you need help on the business side of things, who can offer that? Or if you need more social time with like-minded individuals, who are the people you currently know you can reach out to?
  • Group: What are the groups or communities where the kind of people who offer the kind of support you need hang out. Maybe it’s a professional organization, or a spiritual community. Maybe it’s a meetup of people with a common interest.

5. What action can I take now? (Then take it.)

Last but not least, you have to do something! Pick someone and reach out to them. Schedule a time for coffee, or schedule a meeting. Send out an e-mail blast and get together a group of people to go to listen to a speaker sharing insights you all have a common interest in.

You don’t have to create a full-on support system all this week. Instead, think of it as a regular, recurring part of your process. Make a date with yourself once a month (or however often feels right for you) to ask the questions I outlined above.

Make a deal with yourself to come out of that meeting with yourself with two things. First, identify what support is critical for moving forward right now. Then commit to figuring out how to find it in the next week/month/whatever time frame works.

Second, identify the next steps you can take to keep building a stronger, more robust support system. Remember, this isn’t about doing it all at once. It’s about consistently, persistently building that support into your life, one step at a time.

 

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

Want to energize your career? Make a personally meaningful difference

make a personally meaningful difference

Woven through all the work I do is a simple question: “How do I bring more of what energizes me into my career, and my life?”

In my work with clients, that frequently boils down to two lines of inquiry:

  • What are my sources of energy?
  • How can I create opportunities to experience more of those energy sources, more often?

Over the last thirteen years of my Passion Catalyst work, I have spent a lot of time thinking about where that energy comes from.

One source of energy that is frequently overlooked is making a difference. Not just any ol’ making a difference, but what I call a “personally meaningful difference.”

A different look at making a difference

To tap into this one requires a little different way of thinking about what making a difference means.

Here’s the thing. All work is inherently about making a difference. Something is different when you’re done than when you started. A product was created, a customer was helped, the peace was kept, a burger was served. Whatever.

So if you’re going to be making a difference anyway, doesn’t it make sense to figure what kind of difference has the most juice for you? Put another way, what kinds of outcomes have the most charge for you? What do you find most compelling?

Because I’m willing to bet that all kinds of differences are not created equal. Some will leave you feeling engaged, while others will leave you ambivalent.

When the difference you make energizes you and feels compelling, it’s what I call a “personally meaningful difference.” 

My own personally meaningful difference

To make this a little more specific, I’ll use myself as an example. For me, one outcome that has a huge charge is seeing the light bulb going on as someone gets clarity. On the other hand, if I work all day to create some sense of order in my office space, I might find it satisfying enough, but there’s not much energy to it.

If I explored why the first has such a charge, I would say that it’s really about two things. First, it’s specifically about helping people. Making a positive impact on the environment, or helping a company improve its bottom line are outcomes I know intellectually are important, but they don’t have the deep resonance for me that helping people does.

Second, it’s about creating clarity, and the doors that insight opens and the possibilities it creates.

No, it’s not about joining the Peace Corps

Note that in this context making a difference isn’t necessarily the do-gooder activity we typically think of. It could be, but it might also be the executive assistant who feels completely energized knowing that the order he or she creates is making it possible for someone to do more and achieve more.

So it’s not inherently about changing the world in the stereotypical way.

And it’s not about what anybody else thinks is important. Identifying an outcome as energizing isn’t a value judgment of whether or not it is important in the scope of the world.

It’s about noticing how you are wired as an individual.

What anybody else thinks is important has zero, zip, nada relevance.

Find your personal meaning characteristics

Ultimately it boils down to this. What are the characteristics of the kinds of outcomes you find particularly compelling?

If you could wave your magic wand and work toward any outcome you wanted, what would that look like? Would it be about helping people? Would it be about the environment? Would it be something that had a clear, immediate impact? Would it be something that has a bigger picture strategic impact? Would it be up close and personal, or would it be making a difference at a large scale? What else?

You might start by just paying attention to your current work. What do you find compelling about the outcome of what you are doing now? Why do you find it compelling?

You can also look at the outcomes other people are working towards (not the actual work they are doing, but the outcomes). Make a list of outcomes that make your heart say, “Yes! That’s important!” Then dig into why each of the scenarios on your list has such a charge.

The more you understand about what a personally meaningful difference looks like for you, the more consciously you can look for opportunities to tap into that energy.

Otherwise, your best hope is just to luck into it. Not the best career planning strategy.

 

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

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

–-

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.]

–-

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!]

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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 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

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