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Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives
November 2003

My goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and prosperous life.

    In this issue, you'll find:
  1. A Thank You
  2. Design Your Ideal Life
  3. BossWoman coaching
  4. Up and coming workshops
1. A Thank You

This week, the U.S. celebrates a day of giving thanks. I want to give thanks to all my students, clients, and readers. You have taught me, challenged me, and helped me deepen my ability to serve you.

2. Design Your Ideal Life

About fifteen years ago, Wendy's had a series of television commercials in which "people on the street" were asked to pick what kind of hamburger they would eat, the "hot and juicy" which we all knew was the Wendy burger or the shriveled up dry burger from the leading competitor. The "people on the street" were obviously not real people but actors who playing caricatures of American stereotypes. One woman with a frumpy pin curl hairstyle and her purse sitting on her lap chose the dried up burger. The announcer asked her if she wouldn't reconsider her choice, "Wouldn't you like a hot and juicy burger instead?" She answered, "Well, I would like that hamburger but I'm not used to getting what I want. I asked for a glamorous hairstyle and I don't think I got it. What do you think?"

Are you getting what you want out of life or is it time to think about what you want and design a life that helps you get it? Is your life hot and juicy or feeling stale and shriveled up? Even a previously satisfying life can become less than ideal when there is no longer a fit between what you want and what you get. When I ask workshop participants what stands in their way of getting their ideal life, people list money, time, and other people. No one ever guesses the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of getting the hairstyle or the hamburger that they really want. At the end of this newsletter I will tell you what that obstacle is.

Dream a Little Dream
The first step in designing your ideal life is to use your imagination to picture what you want. If you had your ideal life, what would be happening in the major areas that are important to you.

  • Work: Are you doing work that is satisfying and that meets your economic needs?
  • Relationships: Are you giving and receiving the support and love that you want from friends and family?
  • Environment: Are you living and working in environments that support you and your goals?
  • Financial: Are you making what you should for your training and experience? Are you managing your finances in ways consistent with your values?
  • Community: Do you have connection and involvement in your community consistent with your stage of life, i.e. school-aged children often need your support with school volunteer activities, scouts, sports, etc.?
  • Spirituality/inner life: Do you take time to reflect on how your life is going? Do you have worship or practices that are meaningful to you?
  • Intimacy: Do you have an intimate partnership or a few intimate friends? How are these relationships going?
  • Health: Are your health habits supporting your present life and helping to promote your long term well-being?
  • Recreation: Do you have hobbies that refresh you? Do you spend some regular time pursuing them?
  • What are some aspects of your life that are important to you even though they are not listed above?
Umbrellas for Rainy Days
Most people can develop a description of their ideal life. The problem comes in the implementation. Once you have your image of your ideal life, you need some ways to make it happen and some ways to protect that image from assaults. And they will come.

The best protection of your image is to get crystal clear about how your image ties into the real you. The more you anchor your image of your ideal life to who you are, the easier it will be to get momentum going on the bad days.

Building a Foundation
Here are the steps for building a strong foundation for your ideal life. Imagine the solid structure of a pyramid with four levels, like the floors of a four story house. The most basic level will be labeled "purpose," the second level "mission," the third level "vision," and the fourth level "goals." Most people race from the image of their ideal life to setting up goals and then are surprised that the plan falls apart. Take a brief detour to get in place the tie-in of your image to who you are and you will gain much needed protection for those difficult moments.

Your purpose expresses the reason you are here. What is it that only you can do in this world in your unique way? What are you about? Often purpose is tied to one's inner life in whatever spiritual or secular way you might use your inner life as a guide. Your purpose will probably be stated in very abstract terms. That is just the way it should be because your purpose might guide you for a very long time. Although some people may discover only one purpose for their whole life, rarely does anyone change their sense of purpose more than once or twice.

Darlene, a coaching client who made her living as a college professor, said she had discovered her purpose "to love both knowledge and people." She reported that she had found many ways to express that purpose over the years but as long as she kept it in mind, her purpose kept her grounded in making decisions about which directions to take. Whenever she lost sight of her purpose, she found herself taking on overwhelming tasks and building resentment instead of satisfaction.

Your mission answers the question, "If I have the purpose of ______, then what should I be doing about it?" Your mission is more specific and behavioral than your purpose and will probably be revised as often as every five years. Here is a formula developed by author Laura Beth Jones for writing your personal mission statement:

  • Pick three verbs (action words) that describe what you do well.
  • Decide on at least three values (could be as many as eight) that are important to you and those around you. These values are usually abstractions such as truth, beauty, and justice.
  • Pick two or three groups of people that are important to you. They could be clients, family, or friends.
  • Fill in the blanks below: I _______, ________, __________ (verbs) for (to, with) ________, ________ (people) who want ___________, _________, ___________ (values).
  • Once you have filled in the blanks for your personal mission statement you can repeat the same exercise for your professional mission statement. It might be similar and overlap with your personal statement but it may draw on different aspects of your complex personality.
Darlene wrote this mission statement.
"I teach, empower, and inspire students, family, and friends who want knowledge, wisdom, and perspective."

Without Vision, the People Will Perish
Remember that image of your ideal life? Now is the time to pull that image together with your purpose and mission by writing your vision statement. Your vision statement answers the question, "If I live out my purpose by doing my mission, what will be happening to me and the world around me?" The "me" part can include where you live and work, how much money you make, what you gain from your work, etc. The "world around you" part can include your immediate environment, both physical and social, as well as the larger world that you might impact.

Vision statements are stated in the present tense even though they are about creating a future. Future tense makes them more immediate. They can change quite often, sometimes in less than five years. You may have several successive visions developed from one mission statement. Or they may be revised just slightly and continued for longer periods.

After designing her vision statement, Darlene wrote about her teaching:

"As a result of my well-prepared classes students are learning information that is helping them live more intelligently in the world around them. They are gaining the professional training they will need for their jobs. They are developing the critical thinking skills to evaluate information and sort it out with wisdom and discernment. They are having a learning experience in the positive atmosphere that I create. Many of them are taking their knowledge and love of learning to their families and students and organizations where they work. I have the satisfaction of knowing the impact I have had on them. My teaching of them is like pebbles I drop into a very large lake. I am making a good salary and teaching courses I enjoy. I am saving for the future and traveling with my husband and family. My life is worthwhile and has meaning."

Write your vision as vividly as possible. Like Darlene's image of pebbles, use sense images to see, hear, and feel what is happening as result of you living your mission.

The Most Important Reason Why You Might
Not Get Your Ideal Life
Don't expect it to be easy to figure out the first three levels of your foundation, your purpose, mission, and vision. The above exercises are described briefly but take time and perseverance to complete. Yet even when they are completed, the hardest part is yet to come, the emotional part. You might think that once people start to dream about their ideal life, they should be absolutely elated at the possibilities. However, no sooner do they create the dream than a strange feeling begins deep in their gut. If I asked you to guess at what this feeling might be, you would probably say, "discouragement that the ideal is so far away from the reality." Discourage- ment can be part of the feeling but more accurately what people in my workshops experience is a surprising feeling of total panic. They hear a rush of thoughts whooshing through their heads:

  • That's nice but it will never happen.
  • Who do I think I am, to deserve that life?
  • I don't even know how to begin.
  • I feel alone.
  • I'm scared and I don't even know why.
  • I might start and fail and be a big fat loser.
The biggest obstacle to reaching your ideal life is your inability to tolerate the anxiety of wanting something you do not currently have. If you want to work on your ideal life, you will be anxious, you will be panicked. The panic can get so uncomfortable that many people give up before they start. To find out the cause of this panic and what to do about it, well, you will have to wait until next month's BossWoman newsletter. Once you learn to conquer the panic you will be ready to plan your best year ever. I'll give one hint: it has to do with how you move up that foundation to your goals. Next month we will explore a proven method for working with goals guaranteed to building your tolerance to this strange, unexpected anxiety. Learning this secret will be easier than you think but most people never figure how to do this. It's too bad; they settle for the dry shriveled up hamburger when they could have had the hot and juicy one.

You deserve your ideal life. The world needs what will happen as a result.

Susan Robison

Reference: Laura Beth Jones, "The Path"

3. BossWoman Coaching

About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach women who want improvement in:

  • work-life balance,
  • career transitions,
  • building your business or practice,
  • time management,
  • increasing productivity.
If you want to work on getting closer to your ideal life, take advantage of my November offer to new clients that I made as I started a coaching course on Strategic Career Design. New coaching clients that commit to three months of career coaching will have their first two months at half my usual fee for whatever package (depending on length and frequency of sessions) they chose. As always I offer a complementary hour session to see if we are a good fit to work together. This special offer is a two-winner solution. You get a financial break for signing up for coaching with me and I get to "practice" my deepening career design skills. Call 410-465-5892 or write Susan@BossWoman.org to inquire about setting up that complementary session.

4. Up and coming workshops

Susan provides keynotes and seminars to business and organizations on the topics of:

  • leadership strategies for women,
  • relationships,
  • work-life balance,
  • designing your ideal life,
  • change.
Now scheduling keynotes, workshops and training for 2004.
Subscribe to BossWoman e-Newsletter by sending an email with in the Subject to: susan@bosswoman.org

BossWomen e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling, psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.

Copyright 2003 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without my permission.

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