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The Good Fight

I've noticed an interesting trend. The majority of my coaching clients and the majority of the participants in my seminars are asking about "discipline." They are grateful for all of the information I provide about HOW to go about a proper job search, HOW to network, HOW to get their CV and professional plan properly thought through and written. My (frankly) innovative approach and legion practical tips make a big difference. BUT.

BUT, they need help actually DOING THE WORK. They want to know how to become motivated and how to stay motivated to keep on track. I'll distill my perspective on that here. And, just so you know, I've developed these strategies out of my own failure, stumbles, and few successes along the way. So this is the voice of experience talking here, believe me:

1) If you aren't motivated, LISTEN. This is an important issue for you. The reasons can be myriad because lack of "stick-to-it-ive-ness" (as my folks say) is a SYMPTOM not a disease. So, it could be: a health issue (mental or physical); it could be that you are not "on track" professionally; that you have some other non-professional detail that you have been avoiding. The list could go on forever. Sit back, take an hour, or three, or a weekend: figure out what it is that you are NOT taking care of. The 'interior' mind is VERY persistent: if you do not do the number one priority, the most burning of issues on a long list of burning of issues, your interior self will not permit the active mind to go forward. So, figure out what is so important and bloody well do it. Next.

2) Once you've dealt with the issues above, look back at your professional plan--that is usually where the disconnect is. Some part of it is not 'ringing true' with your inner governor. So, you need to read, re-read and read again your plan (or write it out on paper for the first time!) and take a good long look. What parts have you been avoiding? If they are just details that you hate and can get away with not doing, fine. Just force yourself to do them in one fell swoop and give yourself a break/treat afterward--no biggie. But it may be that you are avoiding the CENTERPIECE of your plan. If that is the case, either you have #1 issues (above) or you are simply not headed in a direction you REALLY want to be in, or you don't believe the plan will work. Try to think of ways to change it; maybe there is an EASIER path to your goal. Usually, easier is better.

3) OK. Let's say your plan is the right one and you ARE on track but still lack the motivation to stick with your weekly plan. I won't spare the time to write out my entire model on the nature and definition and functioning of motivation, but I'll give you a few pointers:

a) You need to do a little work exploring your desires/fantasies/daydreams. Write them out without 'self-editing'. Now read them. Do they have any relationship at all to what your current professional plan calls for? There's no 'right' answer to that as we all have to make compromises, but just getting out on the table some of your perhaps stifled goals or aspirations may help clear the air sufficiently to let you move on your current plan.

b) You need to explore your fears. List them out. Don't hold back. I've even tape-recorded them and then transcribed them because sometimes they come out of my head too fast to write down. It's important to look at these. Some are rational, some aren't. But putting your big fears out on the table and letting your mind work on them dispassionately, rather than having them nag you, may also help.

c) Discovery who your heroes/heroines are. This is important. Then realize what they are telling you about yourself. Usually, our heroes are telling us a great deal about ourselves. If we don't resemble the core attributes of our heroes, our minds may be throwing up roadblocks until we start acting more in line with our core values.

d) Get healthy (already touched on that one). I suggest that everyone in a transition get a complete physical (if you can afford it at all). Tell your primary physician that you not only want to get a physical, but you want to talk a little bit about your circumstances and any concerns you have about how you are bearing up. I'm trying to be subtle: ask him/her if they think anything you say could be a warning sign about depression or other issues. Not addressing issues like these will stand in your way.

e) If you actually engage in these exercises, you'll begin, naturally, to function at a better level (higher level, better resonance, pick your metaphor). The bottom line is that we will be able to begin to be more aware of what is going on at all levels of our consciousness--the point being that once things are brought to light--lots of monsters can be seen to be much less scary, and much smaller, than our psyches make them to be.

The point? We must, must, must! stop trying to 'keep things at bay' while we 'work'. We must take time, on a regular basis (weekly is best), to do a little check-in.

OK: A few more concrete tips:

1) Put EVERYTHING you need to do on your Outlook calendar, even if everything overlaps. You are going to have to start compromising. The calendar has no option for more than 24 hours a day.

2) You may need to make changes in your routine to incorporate more time for your professional aspirations. Make a date in advance with your significant other to talk about any changes you want to make, and why. Also, try making changes on a trial basis with a firm deadline ("let's try me working until 7:00 pm Mon-Thurs for a month and see how it goes."---that sort of thing).

3) Check in regularly with your professional 'posse' (you can do a search on this site for my piece on that concept and discipline)--weekly is best. But every other week will do. You can't make it big without bringing others into your 'inner circle'. Um---one person does NOT a circle make.

4) Be rigid; be flexible. Last resort: Remember, there are parts of us that are 'all grown up' and parts of us that are still infants and everything in between. Try treating yourself as the subject of your own private coaching session. Literally have a two-part dialogue (in your head if you don't want stares!) about why you didn't meet your weekly goals. Be rational. If that doesn't work, move it down a maturity notch: use punishments and rewards. If that doesn't work, and you really HAVE done all of the above, call me and I'll give you my super-ninja advice--for free. But it's not a method for everyone.

Did I mention getting a professional coach??????? :-)

Post your experiences as a comment or email me at and we can discuss any aspect of this you wish.

Good luck!

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