dream job

What if Your Day Job WAS Your Dream Job?

I was telling a colleague that bringing our whole self to work isn’t a fantasy; it can be a reality. She wasn't too sure about this and asked, “How so?” "I don’t think we have to silo our passion and profession. We can blend our work and recreation so we have the best of both worlds and our day job becomes our dream job.

She still wasn't too sure about this. She asked, What’s an example?”

“I will always remember a woman who took my workshop at San Francisco State University. We were discussing how our life-work satisfaction is directly proportionate to whether we feel our contributions at work are being rewarded and recognized. It’s hard to like our job if we feel our skills, talents and efforts are going unnoticed and unappreciated.

A twenty-something woman raised her hand and said, “I’m in trouble then because I’m really unhappy at work. I work for a law firm downtown. I’m one of twenty paralegals. We work sixty hours a week but we’re mostly anonymous. I don’t even think my boss knows my name. He probably wouldn’t recognize me if he ran into me on the street.”

“Okay, time to get proactive. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan said, ‘Anyone who waits for recognition is criminally naïve.’ It’s time to take responsibility to raise your profile at work.”

“I agree with that. I just don't know how to do it."

“The way to enjoy and look forward to your work is to ask yourself:

* What is a talent, skill or hobby I’m good at?

* What is something I enjoy doing? (Please note: it doesn’t have to be work-related)

* What would I do more of if I had the time, energy and resources?

* What did I used to do for fun that put the light on in my eyes?”

She thought about it for a moment and then said, “Well, I was Student Body President at my high school. I loved being in charge of activities, so I guess I’m good at organizing events.”

“Okay. Combine that with something you enjoy. What do you like doing in your free time?”

“Well, I used to enjoy reading books, but I don't have time for that anymore.”

“Bingo. Why don’t you host a monthly book club at your firm? Is there an empty conference room you could use at noon? Keep it to a half hour and make it BYOL (Bring Your Own Lunch) so even the busiest staffers can attend. If you focus on business books, your company will see this as a win for them and will be more likely to approve it.”

She loved the idea. Several months later, she got back in touch to report in.

"Work has turned into my own private Cheers – everyone knows my name. When I proposed this to my boss, he asked what books we would be reading. I followed your suggestion and had selected business classics like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Deborah Tannen’s Talking from 9 to 5.

“Not only did he approve the program, he said our law firm had a budget for professional development and offered to purchase up to 30 books a month for book club attendees.

Four employees showed up for our first meeting. I wondered if it was going to succeed. But everyone promised to bring a coworker next time. They did more than that; they brought two and three. Now, we max out the conference room every month.”

“Kudos to you for initiating this and for proving we can bring our whole self to work."

She said, “It gets better. My boss called me in to his office. I was afraid it was to cancel the program, but it was just the opposite. He gave me a promotion and said, 'We need more self-starters around here. You demonstrated that you’re a natural leader who can create a community and add value to our work culture. You earned this.'

Best of all, I feel like I’m my old self again. I’m organizing activities people really enjoy and I get to use my event-planning skills. Who knows where it will lead?”

Good for her.

How about you? Would you like to look forward to going to work?

Would you like to boost your professional confidence and create a higher profile so your talents, efforts and contributions at work get noticed and appreciated?

Ask yourself, “What am I good at that I enjoy ? What did I used to do that put the light on in my eyes? What do I wish I could do more of? How could I initiate that at work?”

For example, maybe you used to walk but don’t have time for it anymore. Maybe you could propose to your office manager that you lead a walking group at lunch. There are probably co-workers who would welcome the opportunity to get outside for a walk-talk (after all, sitting is the new cigarette smoking). Plus, it will boost morale and create a workplace camaraderie where employees get to know each other beyond their job descriptions.

Furthermore, you’ll be taking your career satisfaction and success into your own hands.

Don’t just think about this. DO IT.

This time next year you could enjoy your job and look forward going to work – all because you initiated on your behalf and turned your day job into your dream job.

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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, IDEApreneur and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and presented to YPO, Boeing, Intel, NASA, Cisco, Capital One, Nationwide. Want Sam to share her inspiring keynote with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com.


Someday is the Busiest Day of the Week

"On the last day of the world, I would want to plant a tree." - W. S. Merwin Do you keep promising yourself that someday you'll make time for your creative project or something you really care about?

Please understand there will never be a right time and you'll never have more time than you have right now.

Someday is the busiest day of the week.

You might want to follow Poet W.S. Merwin's example and get serious about your passion project instead of frittering away time and talent on lesser priorities.

As Executive Director of the Maui Writers Conference, I had an opportunity to interview Merwin at our very first Presenters Reception. On a full moon night, under the palm trees on a Kapalua beach, I asked him, "What is one of the most important lessons-learned from your career?”

I'm paraphrasing here because I did not write down what he said (that’ll teach me) however the gist of his remarks was choosing to concentrate on his craft was the best decision he ever made on behalf of his career.

As the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Merwin received dozens of invitations every week. He realized it would be oh-so easy to become part of the “glitterati” and that his work would suffer if he said yes to every request. He and his wife Paula were clear that continuing to live in NYC would mean they would continue to be surrounded by temptations that would pull him away from the work he was born to do. So, they moved to Maui to live a simpler life where he was freer to concentrate on his true priorities.

I thought, "There’s a man who knows what is important to him."

I’ve come to believe this is one of the biggest challenges we face as creatives. We are constantly torn between craft and commerce - between making art and making a living.

I've also come to understand that our environment either helps us or hurts us. If we are surrounded by distractions and demands, our dream projects may never get out the door. It is up to us to take charge of our circumstances so that, like W.S. Merwin, we can concentrate on what will matter in the long run.

Are you taking your creative contribution seriously? if you believe your work will add value, it's up to you to devote yourself to it instead of allowing yourself to waste time on lesser activities that, at the end of the day, won’t contribute to the greater good.

You may be thinking, “I agree with this in theory, but it’s tough to do in practice.”

Agreed. Which is it is so important to establish clear boundaries on what you will and won't focus on. Here are a few best-practice tips on how to do that (culled from my ConZentrate and IDEApreneur books). Hope they help you stay finish your projects and get them out in the world where they can make a positive difference for others and a prosperous living for you.

1. REDUCE time online. Many writers admit they are addicted to their digital devices. To what purpose? How much time do you spend online every day? When you look back at the end of your life, will those thousands of hours have made an enduring difference? Commit right now to policies with metrics. For example, vow to check email and social media only AFTER you finish writing instead of all day, every day. A study by MIT reveals we check our phone 140+ times a day. What a misuse of time that could and should be spent on completing higher-priority work that will have positive impact.

2. Wake and Work. Wake and Work means exactly what you think it means. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Get up, grab your cup of coffee or tea, sit down and apply what Power of One author Bryce Courtenay called, "Bum glue." Tackle other tasks only after you have produced something tangible (two pages?) to show for your efforts. The Psychology of Complettion says we get a thrill of achievement and a boost in self esteem every time we finish something. And, as you know, "rewarded behavior gets repeated." So, if every time you sit down to write, you complete two new pages, you set up flow and forward momentum and feel you're making progress. This feeling of accomplishment will make you eager to come back and pick up where you left off.

3. Find your Third Place. The science of Ergonomics (the study of how our environment influences our effectiveness) says your home is your First Place and your office is your Second Place. If you work on your creative project at your home/office, that’s your First and Second Place.

Ergonomic experts say it’s almost impossible to stay focused on creative projects in your First and Second Place because your environment keeps reminding you of the laundry, bills, client work or household chores you customarily do in that space.

Your Third Place (a nearby coffee shop? local library?) is a public place where you can work in private. Working there kick-starts creativity because it 1) it socializes your work process but without the downside of being constantly interrupted by people asking you to cook dinner or find their backpack. 2) Instead of stalling because you're operating in isolation, you get to piggy-back off the energy of people in the room.

3) Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? If working on your dream project is the only thing you do in your Third Place, it sets up a repeat ritual where the faucet of flow opens up every time you walk in because THAT's what's associated with that environment. Many clients tell me their Third Place is their saving grace. It is the only time and space where they can escape their job/family responsibilities and make their creative priority their top priority.

4. Reduce accessibility. Are people constantly asking to pick your brain? Do you find it difficult to say no when someone begs for your advice, support, time, mind or dime?

Mark off time on your calendar where you devote yourself to your creative project. Set aside certain days (every Tuesday?) where you are available for public appointments and activities. And, instead of letting someone buying you lunch or a cup of coffee, go for a walk/talk so at least you're outside getting fit.

You may worry you will offend people by taking yourself off the grid. You might want to ask yourself, “Am I supporting everyone else’s priorities at the cost of my own?”

it is our responsibility to think big and to think long on our behalf of our dreams.

What is the long-term cost of being available to others 24/7? I am not suggesting we become a recluse. W.S. Merwin isn’t a hermit; he is simply selective about how often he is accessible. He balances public requests with his dedication to his legacy work, which keeps the light on in his eyes and keeps him contributing at his highest level.

How about you? How will you hold yourself accountable for focusing on what will matter in the long run ... now, not later?

Joseph Campbell said, "The big question is whether you are going to say a hearty yes to your adventure."

Remember, someday is not a day in the week. How will you say YES to your adventure? How will you NOT wait to the last day of the world to plant your tree?

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Sam Horn is on a mission to help clients create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her books - including POP!, Tongue Fu, IDEApreneur! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? - have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC and on NPR and presented to NASA, Boeing, Capital One and National Geographic. Want Sam to speak to your group? Contact Cheri@intrigueAgency.com.

How to Do Work You Love That Matters

"To do what you love and feel that it matters; how could anything be more fun?" - Katherine Graham of the Washington Post Know what could be more fun? To do work you love, feel that it matters, do it with people you enjoy and respect ... and get paid for it.

Are you thinking, "I'd love to do that, I just don't know how to do that."

Well, here are some ways to make that happen. First, a story about our "calling" - and then I'll share some questions that can help you create yours - because we don't find our calling, we forge and facilitate it.

My sons grew up on Maui. Ever night we'd go for a “walk and roll” through our neighborhood. I would walk and Tom and Andrew would ride their big wheels, bikes or skateboards. One night, when Tom was about eight, we stopped to pick some plumerias off a tree and I asked him, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

Tom paused and then pointed to the sky and said, “Something to do with up there.”

Guess what? Tom got a degree in Aerospace Engineering, Astronomy, Physics and Math from Virginia Tech (go Hokies) and landed his dream job at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he and his team are responsible for the environment on the ISS - International Space Station. It gets better. He met and married his future wife (who has the world's coolest job title - Astronaut Scheduler) in Mission Control.

It gives me chicken-skin (Hawaiian for goose bumps) every time I think about how Tom ended up doing exactly what he envisioned doing - when he was eight years old.

Are you thinking, "Well, good for Tom. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up!"

Join the club. One way to figure out what you're "called to do" - is to take a good look at what you do when you're not working. What do you do, by choice, in your free time? What’s FUN for you? What do you look forward to and do because you want to?

Noticing what we do when we're not working can reveal our real work - the career that is calling us. That is what happened to a colleague and client, Dana Wright.

Dana always used to “noodle and doodle.” Instead of listening to her teachers, she would be filing in the margins of her workbooks and textbooks with what she was seeing in her mind’s eye. Even as an adult, she always had a pen in her hand and was sketching or drawing. It was what she did naturally.

Guess how Dana now earns her living – a good living in every sense of the word? She’s a graphic facilitator. She is the person you see at conferences and strategic retreats, listening to and facilitating the discussion while simultaneously drawing a colorful word-map/mural of what’s being said. She literally and figuratively gets everyone on the same page with her meeting art that illustrates verbals with visuals.

Dana turned her joy into her job. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could turn your joy into your job? You can. The good news is, it's not too late.

Your career calling is where meaning and money converge. You can start clarifying what that might be by answering these questions:

1 What intrigues me? What do I do that puts the light on in my eyes, fills me with joy?

2. What did I love to do growing up and wanted to do as a career but was told I "needed to get my head out of the clouds" and pursue something more practical?

3. What skills am I good at that make me feel good? (Please note: these don't have to be typical professional skills - they can be riding horses, playing the piano, gardening, etc.)

4. Who in business do I admire? I look at their career and think, "I wish I could do what they're doing."

5. Where can I provide a shortcut? Where can I expedite people's success, health or happiness? How can I save them time and money or make them time and money?

6. What don't people know how to do - that I know how to do? What aren't they good at - that I'm good at? What don't people want to do - that I actually enjoy doing?

7. What do I find meaningful, purposeful? In an ideal world, how would I like to leave a lasting legacy and make an enduring difference by contributing what I find fulfilling?

After answering these questions and clarifying what calls you, follow Pablo Picasso's advice, "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."

Actually, if you want to make your joy your job, it's important to get paid for your gifts instead of giving them away for free. One way to do that is to get paid to teach what you're good at to others or to to do it for others. Turn your calling into a career by creating a quality course, product, service or business that's wrapped around your gifts.

If you do, you’ll never have to “work” another day in your life because you'll be in that sublime state of SerenDestiny where the light is on in your eyes and you’re earning a good living doing what you love most and do best.

And by the way, it's not too late to "answer your calling." You can do this at any age or stage, and you don't have to quit your current job. You can do this part-time as a "side hustle."

P.S. If you want specific ways to do that, you might want to check out my IDEApreneur book. which provides a step-by-step process for monetizing what you do well by turning it into a program, process or product people will gladly pay for.

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