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Got Mojo?

“Lost,” she stated. Simply. “I feel lost.”

...in a dark wood

Having “mutually” agreed that she should leave her job as a highly-paid management consultant due to the recession and re-structuring at her firm, my client was burning through her severance package…and feeling very unsure of what to do next.

Another client, that same day, also recently “dismissed” — through no fault of his own– from his accounting job at a Wall Street firm, joked casually about “running a ski resort” (he has recently taken up skiing and loves it!), but quickly dismissed that as an “idle fantasy”…and returned to the more measured state…of “feeling lost.”

No motivation. No direction. A sense of having been ripped off track by huge winds of change…and sucked up into a dark fog…with no light at the end of the tunnel. In other words: NO MOJO!

We’ve all been there. Shift happens. Especially somewhere along the trajectory called, “mid-life” (30-40-50 and up…), the rug gets pulled out from under us–a lay-off, an illness, a divorce–and suddenly the “story” we’ve been telling ourselves about WHO WE ARE no longer rings true. SO…how do we re-claim our MOJO?

As my “unstoppable” guest on my radio show, Life Shifting with Dr J, Frankie Picasso, stated: “We need to reconnect to our deepest dreams…not dismiss them but re-discover over how they fuel our MOJO for living full-out.” You got it Frankie, Bravo!

My “lost” client, above, actually dreamed about being a doctor when she was a child…but got de-railed on that path by parents and life events. Today, she is a mid-lifer who would dismiss the possibility of med school as far-fetched and impractical. Maybe. BUT what about the QUALITIES of being a doctor that her childhood fantasy was attempting to live through her? There are myriad ways to “doctor” the world; she only needs to re-connect, at a deep level, with the dream…and re-configure it to her current life story.

Likewise, my client who fantasizes about running a ski resort: why is this dream so quickly dismissed? He’s a former venture capital consultant; he knows a lot about how to raise money, how to run a business. But perhaps “running a ski resort” IS too far fetched, impractical. No matter. In the dream are the seeds of possibility. By exploring his fantasy–and seeing what’s POSSIBLE instead of what’s WRONG…the MOJO — the motivation, the enthusiasm the creativity can be tapped…and soon he’ll find his way out of the FOG.

mojo in motion!

It turns out that he loves to be in nature, to get his hands dirty…to make THINGS (maybe skis?). Whoa…is it out of the question that one day he just might discard the suit and tie, roll up his sleeves and glide off to manage a ski manufacturing business in Vermont? Sounds like a dream worth exploring, no?

I heartily encourage you to listen in to my conversation with executive coach, radio host, Frankie Picasso, author of “Midlife Mojo” –a guide to re-inventing yourself AT ANY AGE! Her story of becoming a certified master life coach after surviving a devastating motor cycle accident and having to RE-LEARN, literally, how to walk…is inspiring and wise. She never gave up, and today she has a successful coaching business, is a sought-after speaker/teacher…and works on major, multi-million dollar non-profit projects–supplying portable homes to the homeless all over North America! Way to go Frankie!

So…if you are feeling a bit LOST these days…listen in here to my talk with Frankie, and remember: Don’t discount your dreams!

the nugget of GOLD in an endless sea

Dream On!

Dr J

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Releasing that S.O.B. called J.O.B.

A recent article in the NY Times called attention to a huge paradigm SHIFT that I’ve been noticing for a few years now: The “JOB” as we know it is on its way out! Like a wave that is building…getting ready to make land fall and wash away a cultural icon, the linear, full-time, boxed in life mode called “having a JOB” seems to be dying out. The article pointed out how millions of people coming out of the recession are making a conscious decision NOT to look for a job — but to craft a life built around consulting assignments, part-time work, and freelancing gigs. Welcome to the brave post-JOB world, where we are ALL called to be entrepreneurs and to create businesses, to craft work/life-styles that mine the talents, visions and passions that make us unique…and to bring those forth. In a word, welcome to the “portfolio” world!

Of course, we all know how painful it can be to lose one’s job, to be laid off, or re-engineered out of a corporate gig that we thought was a “secure” position. Losing a job can wreak havoc on our finances, our families, and our sense of security, but sometimes equally important is what it does to our sense of identity, raising the inevitable question: Without this JOB, who am I?

It may sound rather fantastical or unrealistic to speak this way, yet we are so quick to forget that the “full-time” job, and picture we have of work life made up of 60 hour weeks with a couple of weeks break in the summer or at holiday time if we are lucky, is relatively new on the cultural scene. The work world that we consider “normal” actually grew out of the Industrial Revolution–a time when factories arose to replace farms and people became cogs in the new machine of productivity. The “job” –as an arduous, exhausting, all-consuming, clamor up the rungs of a corporate ladder or scramble to get off the factory floor–is not etched in our DNA!

That said, writing as one who has felt the sting of unemployment myself over the years, I don’t want to be cavalier about this transition. It is a big SHIFT in our culture…and in our lives. BUT, and this is a big BUT, there is a true silver lining here, if we choose to see it that way. By letting go of the cultural fantasy that life is a straight line trip up the job/career ladder to nirvana (or golfing by the sea shore), we can reframe the change and see through to an opportunity to reinvent our relationship with WORK. We can begin to create new ways of being in the world that not only pay the bills, but nurture and nourish our creative spirits…and keep our soul’s alive.

So, if you’ve recently lost your job or are just wondering if it is time to step off the corporate ladder and try to fly solo or create a business, non-profit, or other way of working that might better aligned with your soul’s desire, here’s what I consider to be the 3 key steps for making the SHIFT (oh, and read my new book SHIFT too…where you’ll find a whole host of tools and practices to support your transformation:

Your Workbook for Life-Shifting!

1. Release: Letting go–or “being let go” (if the rug-pulling comes from outside your control, as is often the case) can be emotionally devastating to our egos. Grieving the loss, of a job, of an identity, of who we thought we were…takes time. Don’t criticize yourself for feeling a sense of loss, or sadness, just let the feelings come up and flow through you. Exercise, eat well, sleep a lot, if necessary, and be sure to share your true feelings with a loving companion, therapist or coach. Grieving is part of the process of letting go–it doesn’t take forever but it does need to be honored.

Try not to be freaked out by the symptoms of change. Anxiety, stress, worry, lethargy, boredom, mild depression are all naturally occurring symptoms when we are feeling stuck, in a RUT, or experience a rupture in our lives. They, and you, are NORMAL! Our protective egos will try desperately to “rev us up” (anxiety) or shut us down (boredom/depression), as a way to protect us from CHANGE.

Vent...breathe...vent some more...breathe...and...release!


We are bombarded with advertisements and self-help books all wanting to help us alleviate the symptoms and get back on that treadmill. It is ok to want to feel better–but don’t miss the forest by getting caught up in the trees. Sometimes symptoms of FEAR (which most of these are!) are a gift in disguise, calling us forth to do the inner work of re-inventing our relationships, our careers, jettisoning our small view of ourselves as “nine-to-five-ers” or just good enough to hold on to that S.O.B. of a job.

2. Reframe: Step back, take a deep breath, and look for the gift, the opportunity, and the possibilities that are all around you, even in the wake of a major job loss. Do a lot of journaling–about your passions, your gifts, your dreams. Put together a list of what you KNOW YOU ARE GOOD AT…and ask everyone you trust and love what gifts they think you bring to the world. Letting go of the victim energy and going inside ourselves to re-connect with the “through-line” of our passions, our talents and our capabilities is the crucial transitional shift required to begin again.

Embrace your ever-present inner beginner!


3. Re-invent: Create a vision–not a specific goal, but a picture/fantasy–of how you’d like to be living and what work you see yourself doing a year from now…and five years from now. Write a mission statement and create a “vision board”–a collage–that operates as a billboard for the new brand you are crafting in the world. As Tom Peters would say: the advert for YOU, INC.

Then start reaching out to people and offering to help, to serve and provide your talents/capabilities to the world. Don’t “network” in the outmoded ways (collecting business cards: NOT!), but connect with like-minded people, build relationships with key people who you admire, who are doing work in the world that is aligned with your passions and your new ways of seeing yourself. Remember: one deep, abiding relationship is all it takes to link you to the next great adventure in the work of your life. Networking is not about quantity…but quality!

the cirle of giving...always gives back!


Create a whole surfeit of resumes, websites, and FB pages that proclaim your gifts…and, finally, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to GIVE AWAY your time, your energy and your efforts to those who need your help. Giving of yourself, in the areas aligned with your passions/talents is the surest way to have the universe return the favor–in the guise of paid gigs, consulting/p-t work…and very likely, (God forbid) that old stand-by, another J.O.B.

We live in a time of great upheaval–where SHIFTS have become the norm…and the full-time j.o.b. seems to be disappearing. But, deep down, I believe this is all good news: a new day is also dawning (a key theme in my new book: ENDINGS always segue into BEGINNINGS!) when the idea of a “job” is being replaced with something new, something better, something more connected to who we are as humans: the integration of work, passion and play. Can you imagine a day when our adult lives are no longer bounded by “work days” and “vacation days?” A time when we love our work so much that we don’t “need” a vacation from it?

Step up to your growing edge...take the leap...and soar!

Or am I just crazy? What do you think?

Cheers,

Dr J

Sun may set on your job...but rise to the work of your life!

Jubilation!

Well, wow! What a historic week. I’ve normally stayed away from politics in my blogs — and will continue to do so — but since Oprah got unleashed this week with the election over, I guess it’s ok for me to CELEBRATE publicly as well. So, even though I’m normally an unapologetic Independent in all things political, this week I do feel jubilant. Here’s what I wrote to my west coast friends early on the post-election morn:

I found myself tearing up in front of the TV way after Midnight last night here on the East Coast…just watching history unfold before my eyes. I had just gotten off the phone with friends who were cheering and celebrating in Times Square…and I could feel the sense of elation and camaraderie and connectedness that was alive in the air– breaking through the tyrannical shroud of fear that we have lived under for 8 long years–with thousands of people just over-flowing in the streets: jubilant and exultant that AMERICA finally got it right!!!

I too, am hopeful again… for our little ones who, when they grow up to vote for president, will no longer think of skin color or any other fear-based “otherness” that has for so long torn us apart. ..and for our friends around the world who had pretty much given up on the U.S. ever being a beacon of human rights, equality and compassion once again. Yahoo…we’re back!

So, as you can clearly see…I was very pleased with the outcome of the election. I was moved deeply by the historic nature of the event, and the quality–and qualities–evident in the man who will symbolically, if not literally, lead us out of this dark period in American history. It is time to celebrate.

It is also a rare moment for me in the Adventures in Life-Shifting: I get to write about my favorite stage in the six-stage process of self-renewal: REALIZATION.

Most of the time in this blog, I focus on one of the other five stages in every cycle of major life change: the Rut, the Release, the Retreat, The Revival, and the Rehearsal. For obvious reasons, we all struggle mightily with the fears and anxieties and challenges that accompany being stuck, letting go, re-inventing ourselves and re-committing to new adventures and new behaviors. What I don’t get to write about as often as I would like is the great moments of culmination, success, and victory that DO arrive now and again in life.

Sometimes we really do break through a glass ceiling. Sometimes we really do transcend our own limitations and transform our lives. Sometimes we realize our dreams. AND sometimes it is important to stop working long enough to relish the moment!

Truth be told, as moved as I was by Obama’s somber and eloquent acceptance speech on Tuesday night, I was also just a tad disappointed. I am hopeful that he went home to Michelle, the kids, and his close pals…and threw a big party, at least for all the tireless workers that carried him along the long, long road to the White House! They–and he–deserve it. I know that pundits were saying that it was “appropriate” and “impressive” that he avoided the triumphal tone of self-congratulation. Ok, I’m all for humility and gratitude. Apple pie and Chevrolet…those are the down home American values. Tried and true.

BUT…

in my experience with clients who reach a pinnacle of accomplishment and achieve hard fought goals: it is important to ENJOY YOUR SUCCESS. Sometimes the puritanical American cultural baggage of our forefathers and mothers makes it supposedly unseemly to really experience the joy, the exultation and the delight in realizing hard fought dreams. To that, I say BAH HUMBUG: let’s party!

Far too many of my clients–and I see some of this tendency in myself as well–achieve some goal or dream and never bother to even stop, breathe and relish the moment. They are just on to the next mountain to climb.

I remember calling my client Colette, just after the press release had come out that she had received the job as head of Global HR for a major international bank. I was so happy for her, so proud of her. Here was someone who had been let go from another very senior position in HR with no warning or explanation, in the midst of a divorce, who rallied her spirits and quickly nailed down an even bigger job. I wanted her to celebrate — to acknowledge herself and her gifts, her hard work, and her perseverance. Her reaction: “oh yeah, I saw the press release but didn’t read it. I’ve got work to do.”

OK…I get it. We are a nation of Do’ers. Strivers. Worker drones scurrying around always busy, busy, busy on this dust ball called earth. So I guess I shouldn’t have expected to see Obama out there with a big grin and glass of champagne. And he’s right, we do have a huge climb to get out of the deep hole of angst, despair, and distress that we’ve dug ourselves (don’t forget, we elected G.W., sort of) for the past 8 years. Nevertheless, for today, for a moment, it is important to celebrate.

So here’s my question for the day: do you celebrate your life? Do you feel real joy–lasting joy–in your accomplishments?

We are not talking about boasting or ego-stroking or putting others down here. We are talking about celebrating the miracle of transformation–in this country, in ourselves.

So, in unbelievable gratitude for the miracle of a new, black, proud and unvarnished voice that has arrived on the American scene — in a defining moment of history — I suggest that we all step back, take a breath, and embrace the realization of a true shift in collective consciousness! We now know that anyone, of any color, of any race, of any creed, really can become the leader of the free world. Not, of course, without a whole lot of hard work, talent, grit and determination–not to mention a crack campaign team, but it IS possible.

Humanity really is sometimes a marvelous machine of possibility. Evolution is nothing if not a series of unheralded, natural, mystical leaps in the dark. But humans–creatures of natural selection though we may be–are different: we can turn on the lights! We can light up the skies, penetrate the depths of the universe, and pierce through the veil of separation. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

We can jump, as thousands in Times Square, Chicago, Paris, and Kenya, were doing on Tuesday night–for joy!

Yes, we can!

They’ll be plenty of time for work when the next Rut stage sets in…but for now:

Oh Happy Day!

Dr J