Career change success: How to improve the odds


Are you making a career change harder or more out of reach than it needs to be? Are you sabotaging your potential for career change success, or your willingness to even try?

Since 2001 in my Passion Catalyst work, I have had a front row seat on people’s career changes. And one of the biggest things I have seen get in people’s way is the notion that career changes need to happen quickly, with the flip of a switch.

Why does that get in the way? Well, note least because it’s often unrealistic. A more accurate view is that career change typically – though not always – happens over time. It can be a months-long (even years-long) process.

The immediate-change obstacle

There are a couple ways that seeing a career change as a flip of the switch becomes an obstacle to career change success. First, it can lead to a false negative in people’s assessment of their potential to make a change. They look at where they are currently and say, “I’d love to, but I can’t.”

And from the limited perspective of their current here-and-now, they might be right. They might not have the experience, or the network, or the money it would take to jump out of one boat into another. Or they might have obligations that stand in the way. And so they decide not to even try.

The other way the immediate-change perspective creates an obstacle is by directly diminishing people’s potential for success if they do jump ship. While it might be gratifying in the short-term to dive out of one career and into another, it can also be more challenging than necessary if you don’t build a foundation for that change.

Immediate or longer-term change: Which is right for you?

If making an immediate change works for you, great! Far be it from me to discourage that.

But just because you know you want to make a wholesale change right doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready for it. To explore whether immediate or longer-term change is the better option for you, ask questions like:

  • Could you get hired today in your new career, based on your current knowledge and experience?
  • Do you have the money to fund time in transition? (e.g., the time a job search would take, or the time it takes to build a new business)
  • Does making the change immediately feel doable, or overwhelming?
  • Is your response to the idea of making a change, “I can’t because ______”? (And are any of the reasons you give valid?)
  • What would support the success of this change (e.g., a network, experience in the new path, training)? Is it currently in place?

Take a dual-track approach to change

When people look at their current situation and decide a career change isn’t possible, I encourage them to question that assessment. Often what they really mean is that a career change isn’t possible “right now.”

If they add time as a variable to the equation, they often find possibilities begin to appear where they saw none. What feels impossible from the perspective of the here-and-now might start to feel more doable in the context of, say, two or three years.

But for time to have a beneficial effect, they can’t just sit and wait. If they don’t want to be at the same place, just two or three years later, they have to incorporate action into the mix.

That’s where the dual-track approach to changing careers comes into play. Let’s say you have identified a new career path, but from the vantage point of the here-and-now it doesn’t look doable.

But then you pull out that trusty question, “I can’t now, but could I with time?”

Let’s say the answer is yes. You are now ready for a dual-track career change.

From there, you start asking still more questions, like:

  • What steps will get me from here (my current situation) to there (a new career)?
  • What is getting in my way? What can I do to reduce or eliminate those obstacles?
  • What do I already have that I can build on (skills, knowledge, experience, connections, etc.)
  • What skills and knowledge do I need to build? Where can I get them?
  • Who do I need to know? What relationships do I need to build? What communities do I need to get involved in?
  • How can I start getting experience (e.g., taking a class, volunteering for a non-profit, etc.)?

Action & accountability

The clarity you’ll get from exploring questions like this is vital. But it means nothing if you don’t take action. Without consistent action, you risk finding yourself several years down the road in the exact same situation – waiting for the time to be “right.”

It’s all too easy to let the demands of life get in the way when you’re working toward an important but not immediately urgent goal. One way to counter that is to create some structure and accountability.

Maybe that is as simple as scheduling time for action each week, and holding yourself accountable for doing it. Or maybe that accountability comes another person, someone you can tell “this is what I plan to do in the next week” and set up a check-in about what you did. It might even be working with someone like me.

However you do it, action and accountability are integral parts of a dual-track approach to changing your career.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

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


Ask-0-Rama: Expand what’s possible, guaranteed!

Advice Help Support And Tips Signpost

Want a guaranteed way to blow the doors wide open on what’s possible in your life? Put this one simple word into play on a consistent basis:


It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? If you want something, asking opens the door to the possibility of getting it. Not asking…well, not so much.

And yet for many (most?) of us, asking is precisely what we don’t do.

The Ask-o-Rama

Much to my chagrin, that includes me. I’m naturally inclined to reach out and offer help. But historically I have pretty much sucked at asking.

Whether that has been asking for help or asking for the sale, that reluctance has had a negative effect on my ability to do what it feels like I’m here to do, to make the difference I feel called to make.

So I guess it was only a matter of time before I would create an opportunity to face that head on.

A couple days ago I decided to contact each of my Facebook friends with a request to share a link to my two series on how to feel more juice in your job and how to make work more meaningful.

It was a simple thing to ask. It was easy for people to do (or not do), and my motivation was wanting to get the insights and ideas of those posts into the hands of the people who need them. And yet doing it made me squirm, taking me headlong into my discomfort zone.

In an exchange with one of the first friends I asked (Patti Digh, author of Life Is a Verb and several other books), my effort to spread the word about the posts turned into something bigger. Rather than an isolated effort to spread the word on some blog posts, it became my first foray into “the year of making the ask.”

Or, as I like to think of it, making my life an Ask-O-Rama!

Turn your life into an Ask-O-Rama

The idea behind turning your life into an Ask-O-Rama is simple. Figure out what you need, then ask for it. Not exactly rocket science.

But the keys to the kingdom don’t come from just knowing what you need. They come from asking for it. Asking puts possibilities in motion. There are no guarantees that you will get what you ask for all the time, but some of the time you will.

And if you don’t, as hockey great Wayne Gretzky noted, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

Here are some thoughts on creating your own Ask-O-Rama.

Brainstorm ask-fodder

Before you ask, you need to know what to ask for. A good place to start is to spend some time brainstorming. Answer questions like:

  • What help do I need?
  • What support do I need?
  • What are my goals? What would help me move toward them?
  • What challenges am I experiencing? What would help me overcome them?
  • How can I ask people to join me?
  • What commitment do I need to ask people to make?
  • What contribution do I need people to make?

Embrace non-attachment

The very act of making the ask sets you up to hear no. Except for the occasional sales-type for whom hearing doesn’t seem to have the slightest effect, that can throw cold water on your commitment to keep going with it.

To counter that, take a non-attachment approach. Throw the requests out there, but do it with the understanding that living in an Ask-O-Rama is really a numbers game. Sometimes you’ll hear yes, and sometimes you’ll hear no.

In fact, the very nature of the Ask-O-Rama life means you’ll hear no more. You might even turn up the volume on hearing no by making a habit of making unreasonable requests.

If you let go of your attachment to hearing yes, and stop giving any meaning to yes and no (“Yes means success. No means failure, or rejection.”) your path is going to be a whole lot easier.

On a related note, when you do hear “no,” don’t make it about you. The more gracefully you can accept a no as simply an indication of what works for that person at that point in time, the more comfortable people will be getting requests from you.

Look at what’s getting in the way

Unless making the ask is easy and natural for you, you’ll probably run into obstacles that get in your way. For some people, that might be about fear of rejection. For me, it’s more about not wanting to impose on people, not wanting to put them in the uncomfortable position of having to say no to me, or feeling obligated to say yes but not really wanting to.

If the idea of making requests brings up any resistance, ask yourself why. The more insight you have into what’s blocking you, the more ability you have to do something about it.

Keep track

Finally, keep track of the yeses you get. Record what came out of it – what you were able to accomplish as a result, what doors opened, what obstacles you over came, etc. Review that on a regular that to reinforce that, even if asking inherently means hearing no more often, it also creates possibilities.

Don’t just ask – offer too!

One last thing to think about as you work to make your life an Ask-O-Rama. Don’t just focus on asking. Look for opportunities to offer as well. You want to create a balanced flow of the energy of giving and receiving.

Try a 30-Day Ask-O-Rama experiment

Let’s face it. Committing to wholesale change for the rest of your life can be a recipe for falling flat in your commitment. Instead of resolving to me the rest of your life an Ask-O-Rama, try making it a 30-Day Experiment. For the next 30 days, turn your life into an Ask-O-Rama. Brainstorm requests, the challenge yourself to make at least one request a day for the next 30 days.

What are you going to ask for first?

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

19 questions to find more meaning in your work

find meaning at work

In this series on making work meaningful, I have explored many facets of how to create a greater sense of meaning in your work. I wrote a lot of words in the process, but in a way it all boils down to three simple words you can use as your guide:

Find the meaning.

Yep. That’s it. Any given workday is packed with opportunities to find the meaning. Sometimes it will be glaringly obvious, like the positive impact your work is having. Other times you’ll need to do a little excavating, finding the diamonds in the midst of the muck.

Meaning excavation questions

The mighty question mark is an excellent excavation tool. Below, you’ll find a number of questions you can ask on a regular basis to help you uncover those gems. You might pick a few and make that the foundation for a daily quick-scan. Or you might choose one a week and focus on noticing as much as you can every day.

For those who are feeling particularly cynical, it can be tempting to meet some questions, like “why does this matter,” with a roll of eyes and say, “it doesn’t.” For the sake of finding the meaning, I encourage you to notice any response like that, let it go, and focus on finding the positive.

And now, on to the excavation! You can ask any of these questions before your day starts to help set the stage for noticing, during the day, or at the end of the day as a way to look back and review.

What feels meaningful about this?

Why does this matter?

What difference does what I’m doing make?

What am I learning here? What could I learn here?

How is this work giving me an opportunity to grow?

How is this problem/difficulty giving me an opportunity to grow?

How can I approach my work with mastery and excellence in mind?

How can I come from a space of love today?

How can I bring my heart to work today?

Where are the opportunities to serve?

How can what I’m experiencing lead me towards my long-term vision?

What aspects of my work do I value?

Where do I feel connection in my work (with other people, with my work, with the outcome, with something greater than myself, etc.)?

How does my work align with who I am? Where are the opportunities to make it align more closely?

How can I have a positive impact on the people around me?

How can my work be an expression of my spirituality? How can it help me grow spiritually?

How can my interactions be an expression of my spirituality? How can they help me grow spiritually?

How can the way I engage problems be an expression of my spirituality? How can it help me grow spiritually?

What in my life is this work enabling? (e.g., supporting your family, giving you the money to contribute financially to causes you care about, etc.)

Explore why it matters

If you go back to the definition of meaningful work we’re using here – “Work that matters (and you decide what matters!)” – a follow-up question to the answers of each of these might be, “And why does that matter?”

The goal of that question is to help you build a deeper picture of what matters to you, and why.

The more you understand that, the more you can both recognize opportunities to incorporate more of it into your work and be aware of it when it’s there. The more you are aware of what matters, the more of what matters you consciously experience.

And the more of what matters you experience, the more meaningful work becomes.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

Make work meaningful by aligning what you do with who you are

you target

Think back to a time when you felt in the groove, a time when whatever you were doing opened the door to a state of flow where you naturally immerse yourself and feel energized.

Now put that in the context of the definition of meaningful work we’re using in this series on how to make work more meaningful:

Meaningful work = Work that matters (and you decide what matters!)

Do you think work that lets you flow in that groove might feel like it matters? (Hint: I’m thinkin’ yes.) In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at how do that.

How to align what you do with who you are

As I described in the post on finding your energizers, my definition of passion is “the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.” It’s the definition I have used for the last thirteen years in my Passion Catalyst work as a foundation for helping people create careers that light them up.

In a nutshell, you experience passion when the work you do aligns with who you are – when your work becomes an authentic expression of self.

How do you align what you do with who you are? A great place to start is the exercise I discuss in that post about finding your energizers, taking a look at what you love and digging into why you love it, identifying the underlying themes (reasons why) that tend to be there when you’re energized.

When you understand the underlying reasons why you love what you love, you can consciously look for opportunities to experience them. That might be through something big and life-altering, like a career change, or it might be through something small, like recognizing an opportunity to experience them in a project, or even simply in how you approach your work.

Ultimately, it’s about having a solid self-awareness of “who you are” so you can recognize opportunities to align what you do with that.

Start with self-exploration questions

There is no end of ways to gain a deeper understanding of what makes you tick. Here are ten more questions to get you started. You can unpack more insight from most of them by following the answer up with asking, “Why?”

  • What am I doing when I’m in that groove? (Why am I in my groove then? What is it about that that lets that flow happen?)
  • What am I doing when I”m at my best? (Why am I at my best then?)
  • What are my innate gifts? What do I naturally do well? (Why? What allows me to do that so well?)
  • What do I feel called to do? (Why? What is it about that that is compelling?)
  • What would I do even if I didn’t get paid for it? (Why? What would I get out of it?)
  • How do I work best? (Why? What is it about that way of working that allows my best to come out?)
  • What do I dislike at work? If I could change that, what would the ideal be? (Why? What is it about that that would make it ideal?)

The more you understand about what makes you tick and how you naturally thrive, the more potential you have to make choices and take actions that align what you do with who you are.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

10 ways you can make work a spiritual practice

work as a spiritual practice

In my most recent post in my series on how to make work more meaningful, I outlined a framework for making your work a spiritual practice. That’s all well and good, but how about taking the idea out of the conceptual world and into the world we all live in? How, specifically, do you make your work a spiritual practice?

The answer to that could fill a book, but here are ten practice areas to get you started. Each of these merits a post (or more) of its own, but for now let’s get started with this overview.

10 ways to make your work a spiritual practice

Love: Imagine love – deep, accepting, unconditional love – as a character in a play. Now look at your experience at work through the eyes of that character. How would love see this challenging situation? How would love see this opportunity? What action would love take? What would love say? How would love hear what this person is saying?

Looking through the lens of love is a way to shift your perspective, stepping away of the small and restrictive stories we layer onto our experience and into a more expansive heartspace.

Note that coming from a space of love doesn’t necessarily mean a non-stop hippie ride of peace, love, and understanding (though that can certainly be a part of it). And it definitely doesn’t mean you’re a weak pushover. Sometimes it means making the tough choices and doing what’s hard (like firing a flailing employee who is a poor fit for a job), but coming from a place of love.

Compassion: On a related note, you can look through the lens of compassion and let that guide your actions and words. And that’s not just for people who are obviously hurting. It’s also for people who are angry, or irritating, or confrontational. You can use any of those instances as an opportunity to step back and say, for example, “This person wants the same thing I do. They want to be happy. It must hurt to be angry like that.”

Looking through the lens of compassion recognizes a deeper underlying humanity and desire for happiness that we all share and helps you not get sucked into the reactive story.

Compassion is also internally directed practice, showing the same compassion for yourself that you aspire to show others. In fact, I would go so far as to say compassion for yourself is a vital piece of being able consistently come from a place of compassion for others.

Service: This is simple and straightforward. It’s about both looking for opportunities to serve and to help and recognizing how you already are. It’s about stepping out of me, me, me and focusing on how you can benefit the world around you. It can be about both the intention to come from a place of service and the actual action.

Mindfulness: There’s not a second of your work day that doesn’t bring with it the potential to practice mindfulness. Whether you’re in a meeting, helping a customer, answering e-mail, or in heated negotiations, the time is ripe for coming back to the present moment.

Letting go: How many times during the course of a day do you have the opportunity to let go? To let go of the illusion that you’re in control? To let go of your expectations? To let go of your attachment to things being a certain way?

Patience: Impatience pulls you out of the present moment. Worse, it replaces the present moment with resistance and struggle against what is. You can’t feel peace and impatience at the same time. Where are the opportunities in your work day to practice patience?

Connection: Many people spend their lives isolated in the middle of the crowd. This can be especially true at work where so many are wearing their “professional face” and staying one step removed from showing up authentically.

Connection opens the door to caring. It opens the door to recognizing an underlying commonality we all share. And a connection that goes beyond the superficial requires openness, authenticity, and vulnerability.

Seeing the divine in others: In India, “namaste” is a greeting that can be translated as, “I bow to the divine in you.” If the word divine doesn’t work for you, you can think of it simply as a deeper spiritual core, however you perceive that.

Think about how that idea might apply at work. How often do you judge others? How often do you see them as what amounts to a caricature, a distorted two-dimensional picture of who they actually are?

Any time you notice yourself doing that, you’re presented with an opportunity to step back and look at the person in question as a spiritual core wearing a human costume, with all its quirks and fallibilities.

Stepping out of the center: We live in a me, me, me culture. And that me-centricity is a recipe for both getting wrapped around the axle and losing touch with our spiritual core.

Our jobs present us with no end of opportunities to step out of the center. Maybe that means helping someone when it’s not convenient. Maybe it means really truly trying to understand where someone is coming from in a disagreement instead of succumbing to a knee-jerk reaction. Maybe it means making sure that everybody involved with a success gets credit.

Across spiritual traditions around the world, you could describe one of the key themes as getting out of your own way to clear the path to something greater. Persistently, consistently looking for opportunities to step out of the center at work has the potential to be a powerful practice.

Discipline: This is a decidedly unsexy but vital component of spiritual traditions around the world. It takes discipline to bring your practice out of the realm of philosophical abstractions and into the world you live in. It takes discipline to say no when your ego/small-s self wants to say yes. It takes discipline to focus on the long-term good when you’re feeling the pull of short-term gratification.

Discipline is a muscle that has to be exercised. Whether that discipline is getting organized (and staying that way), or saying no to the compulsion to overwork, or committing to dive more deeply into any of the ideas I described in this post, your job provides countless opportunities to develop and strengthen discipline.

Make it your own and put it into action

These aren’t they only practice areas. They might not even all be ones that you feel called to diving into.

You can start the process of making this your own practice by going through each of the ten areas and asking if each of them speaks to you. If one doesn’t, cross it off the list (at least for now). If you’d like to go even farther, brainstorm other areas that align with your own spiritual perspective.

Once you have come up with a list of practice areas that speak to you, you can start visiting them on a daily basis. To keep from getting overwhelmed, try picking one or two you want to focus on.

Keep exploring additional practice areas as they become more naturally integrated into how you approach your job.

Experiment with it for 30 days. See what happens. Keep what works. Toss what doesn’t.

Let your on-the-job spiritual practice evolve and see where it takes you!

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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


How to make your work your spiritual practice


One of the biggest opportunities to feel a greater sense of meaning in your work, regardless of whether you love your job or loathe it, is to make work a spiritual practice.

A few weeks ago I posted about using time in traffic as a personal growth practice. The idea was that the time we spend behind the wheel is often a microcosm for a lot of the work we need to do on our life at large.

It’s the same at work. If we’re conscious and aware of the opportunities – and willing to work with them – work can be a powerful place of personal and spiritual growth.

Making your work your spiritual practice takes you out of the smallish perspective of me, me, me and creates an opportunity for your work, whatever that work is, to be about something greater.

Three caveats

Before I go any further, I want to be clear about three things.

First, I have no agenda as to what spirituality should mean for you. That’s 100% yours to define. My role here is to offer up some ways to start exploring and making this idea your own, not to give any definite opinion on what spirituality is or isn’t.

Second, none of what I’m going to describe here involves expressing your spiritual beliefs to any of your co-workers. You can use work as a powerful spiritual practice without anyone ever realizing it.

Finally, I encourage you to tailor this model to make it your own. Use the framework I offer here as a starting point, not a something set in stone. Take what works, leave what doesn’t, and add what’s missing.

A model for work as a spiritual practice

As I was preparing for this post, I spent a lot of time pondering what the pieces of the puzzle are when it comes to making your work a work as a spiritual practicespiritual practice. Yesterday, I distilled it into the following model.

My goal here is to give you a way to think about approaching work as a spiritual practice that you can customize to make it relevant to your own spiritual views and experience.

I will share more specific ways to apply and practice this in future posts, but first I want to outline the overall framework.

Your Spiritual Self

At the heart of the model lies what I think of as your Spiritual Self. This is something deeper than the chattering ego. It is the source of the “still small voice.” It is the place of deep peace.

You might call it the Self (with a capital S to distinguish it from the small-s self of the ego). You might think of it as soul. You might simply think of it as the space of Love and Peace you experience in the deep silence. You might think of it as the inner light.

It’s the place where you connect with God, or Spirit, or Source, or the Divine, or the Great-What-Is, or whatever way of thinking about it resonates with you.

Build your foundation

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not presenting this from the point of view of any particular dogma or belief system. Here’s where you make the model your own.

In this part of the model, you get clear on your own perspective. What are your spiritual beliefs? What does it mean to take those beliefs out of the intellectual and philosophical and actually live them? What are the spiritual principles you use to guide your actions and decisions?

This is an important piece of the puzzle, because it’s the foundation you’ll be standing on in all the rest of your efforts to make work your spiritual practice.


A vital aspect in treating work as a spiritual practice is staying present to what’s happening in the here and now. Only when you’re present and aware can you skillfully notice and take advantage of opportunities to make work your practice. And much of what takes us off the spiritual path is our ongoing immersion in non-now thoughts and responses.

Practice Points

As I ran through different ways that work can present opportunities for spiritual practice, I started to see several main “practice points.” The practice points are areas where opportunities both to practice your spirituality and to grow show up in abundance. .


Other people offer a big opportunity to embody your spiritual practice. Our interactions with others are where we shine, as well as where the work we still need to do is glaringly obvious.

The people around you provide an opportunity to practice love, compassion, patience, generosity, service, and a bazillion other concepts that align with what it means to live your spiritual beliefs. They also provide opportunities to see clearly where you’re out of alignment.

Your work

The work you do, how you do it, and the attitude you take towards it can also offer an opportunity for spiritual practice.


If there’s anything that makes us ripe for spiritual growth, it’s change. Most of us have some degree of challenge navigating change. We resist it. We cling to the old way. Treating work as a spiritual practice encourages us to let go of that resistance.

The constant flow of change in the workplace, and in the world that those workplaces operate in, provide opportunity after opportunity to practice the peace of letting go.

Your ego-self

The thoughts and responses you encounter in your own mind as you go about your day can also be a prime point for spiritual practice. Where are they out of alignment? Where are they in alignment?


When it comes to opportunities for spiritual development, the problems you encounter are some of your biggest gifts. Problems offer the opportunity to ask, “How can I engage this more skillfully? How is this helping me grown in my spiritual practice?”

Far from being a monkey wrench in the works that gets in the way of “being spiritual,” problems are the path.

Reminders & Rituals

Finally, there are reminders and rituals you can integrate into your day. This might be something as simple as pausing to breath and focus when the phone rings, before you pick it up, or saying a silent blessing for whoever is on the other end. Or it could be starting the day off stating your intention to serve and work towards the highest good of all involved. Or a sticky note that just says, “Remember.”

Clearly this post is a picture of how to make your work your spiritual practice that barely scratches the surface. In future posts I will go deeper with specific ideas you can put into action.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

An intentional focus makes work more meaningful


You can have meaning coming out your ears at work, but if your attention is habitually focused on what’s negative, the amount you’ll actually be able to feel is limited.

In an earlier post in this series on making work more meaningful I encouraged you to stop looking for meaningful work and start looking for opportunities to experience meaning at work. One way to work with that idea is to intentionally direct your focus (similar to my post on energizing your work by changing your focus).

Broadly speaking, you can do this in two ways:

  • Look for the meaning points (the opportunities to experience meaning)
  • Eliminate any focus on the negative

Focus on the meaning points

One way to focus on the meaning points is to regularly ask questions. Here is a list of questions to get you started. Some are pulled directly from the main categories of this series. Others are new additions.

  • What difference am I making here?
  • What difference could I make?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • How am I growing? Where are the opportunities to grow?
  • Do I feel a meaningful connection with any of my co-workers? Could I cultivate one?
  • How is this helping me get where I want to go / achieve my goals?
  • What feels like a fulfilling challenge?

Clearly this isn’t an exhaustive list of questions. What other questions would you ask to aim your attention at the meaning points in your work? Challenge yourself to add to this list. You might even want to put it somewhere you can see it at work as a reminder and add to the list as more questions pop into your head.

Eliminate the negative

While directing your focus to the meaning points is a huge piece of the puzzle, it’s also important to direct your attention away from the negative.

Focusing on what’s negative – what you don’t like, what irritates you, how you feel limited, who drives you nuts – not only drains your energy, it’s also a great way to ensure that the negative takes up a big chunk of your field of view. That both paints your world in less-than-flattering colors and reinforces that way of seeing things.

Some of it really is as simple as choosing to stop. A great place to start is any complaining you do. Just as an experiment, go on a complaining fast for the next week. Any time you catch yourself wanting to complain, don’t. See what you notice.

Shift the negative

Another way to take the negative out of the picture is to start shifting it to something more constructive, or at least more neutral. For example, if you find yourself feeling irritated with how a co-worker is doing things, you can stop and ask, “What is another way of looking at this? Even if I don’t like what they’re doing, what is their positive intention here?”

Or if there is a situation you find troublesome, you can ask, again, “What’s a different way of looking at this? Is there any positive her that I’m not seeing? How might I benefit from this (even if it’s just practice navigating difficult situations more gracefully)?”

Simple math

Ultimately what I’m talking about here is simple math. If you add more of what feels meaningful to what you choose to focus on, and subtract more of the negative that’s getting in the way, your experience is likely to feel more meaningful.

That’s especially true in the long run, because doing that over time wears a groove in your mind and creates a habit. As the habit develops, the meaningful and fulfilling view naturally expands to fill a larger portion of the screen.

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

Make work more meaningful: 11 ways to bring your heart to work

love ripples

If you want a simple way to experience more meaning in your work, there’s one super-simple way to do it without changing a thing about the job itself.


Yep. That’s it. Easy, right?

If putting those two words together caused your brain to wobble and bobble a bit, you’re not alone. Working and loving are two concepts that don’t automatically seem to go together in most people’s minds. You may even actively hold back from the idea of showing love at work. Love?? How unprofessional!

If that’s you, I can tell you that you’re missing a key piece of the meaningful work puzzle.

I would even go so far as to say that if you could do only one thing to bring a greater sense of meaning into your work, it would be this.

Bring your heart to work

At the center of the Wild About Work model is the idea of bringing your heart to work. That’s about showing up with love and compassion, both for yourself and for others.

In this post, I’m going to focus on love and compassion for others.

Bringing your heart to work is about opening the door to connection, to service, and to vulnerability. It’s about showing up in a way that lifts and supports the people around you. It’s about being willing to be real and authentic, and holding space for others to do the same.

Bringing your heart to work creates the potential for a deeper, richer experience that benefits both you and the people around you. Coming out from behind the armor and facade creates an opportunity for a depth of connection with both people and your experience that can never be had hiding behind a “professional” mask.

11 ways to love at work

There are a bazillion ways that love can show up in your work life. Here are a few examples.

1. Look for opportunities to help and support

Make it a habit to look for opportunities to help the people around you. Maybe it’s an official part of your job, leveraging your knowledge and skills in a way that has a positive impact on someone else’s job. Maybe it’s an unofficial role, like mentoring new hires. Or it could even be sharing knowledge and ideas with a co-worker around something in their life that has nothing to do with work.

2. Communicate healthily

How you communicate is one of the biggest ways to bring your heart to work. Does it open the door to connection and understanding, or does it feed conflict and divisiveness. Does it acknowledge the shared humanity of the other person, or does it make them an “other” to be dealt with? Does it encourage people to open up and fly, or shut down and protect themselves? Does it enable a healthy resolution of challenges, or does it pour fuel on them?

3. Express gratitude

Make it a point to sincerely thank people whenever the opportunity arises. This is a two-way street. The recipient gets the good feeling of being appreciated, and you get to bask in gratitude – a heart-based activity if ever there was one.

4. Acknowledge others

Along similar lines, sincerely acknowledging others’ efforts and achievements can be a way to work from the heart. It’s a validating and encouraging practice that requires little investment on your part, but has the potential to make a significant impact for the receiving party. And in the go-go, results-driven environment of today’s workplace, that kind of reinforcement is often all too infrequent.

5. Pay sincere compliments

Make it a habit to pay sincere compliments. That could be about something work-related, or something completely tangential to work, like their sweater, or a piece of art on their wall.

6. Be attentive

When was the last time someone was truly, 100% attentive to what you were saying? How did it feel? Good, I’m guessing.

Unfortunately, there is a chronic shortage of attentiveness in our culture. We’re incessantly listening in order to talk, rather than listening to understand. Conversations become self-absorbed tennis matches rather than opportunities to connect and comprehend.

Being 100% attentive when someone is talking is a way to love at work because it communicates, “You’re important. What you say matters. I’m listening.”

7. Be interested

This one is related to attentiveness. Here the opportunity is to get beyond the surface level volleys of conversation and listen at a deeper level. Stop and be fully present with the person you’re talking to. Ask them questions. Reflect what you hear and show that you get what they’re saying.

The idea here, again, is to send a message that, “Yes, you matter. You merit attention and interest.” In today’s short attention span culture, that message is often in short supply.

As an added bonus, asking questions and paying attention often shines a light on ways you can help people.

8. Be a source of positivity

How you show up adds to the collective experience in your workplace. You can either be one of the Gang o’ Grinches hanging out around the water cooler and bitching, or you can add a positive perspective to the mix.

You don’t have to be a naive Pollyana. Simply refraining from unnecessary negativity and focusing on what’s good can have a big impact, especially over time.

9. Show patience

We live in an impatient culture. Showing patience is a gift of love. Not only does it create more space for your interactions to unfold positively, it also reduces the negative impact of impatience-driven conflict.

10. Connect

You don’t work with co-workers. You work with people. Opening  yourself to connection with the people you work with takes you out of cogs-in-a-machine mode and creates the possibility of more meaningful experiences.

11. Facilitate connection

Just as connecting with other people is one way to bring your heart to work, facilitating connection between others is another. This might be as simple as instigating a regular lunch with the people you work with, or an after-work social hour. The more people see each other as people rather than roles and titles, the more potential love has to show up.

Putting it to work

That’s all nice and lovely, but unless you actually put some of those ideas into play, it will remain meaningless.

Try this: For the next week, do a bring-your-heart-to-work experiment. Look for opportunities to come from that heart space and do it.

Before you start, use the list of ideas above as a starting point to brainstorm specific ways you could bring your heart to work. The idea is to make it easier by creating a mental grab bag you can reach into and pull out heart-actions.

You might draw a heart on a sticky note and stick it by your desk as a reminder. Or set a timer to go off at intervals throughout the day as a reminder to stop and ask, “Where are the opportunities to come from the heart right now? What opportunities have I encountered today?”

Give it a shot and see how it feels. If you like it, try extending the experiment to 30 days.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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

1 2 3 4 5 6 9