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The Art of Conscious Compromise: Finding Your Perfection

I’ve been thinking a lot about compromise lately. Some people do it too much in life, others not enough. Over the past year, I compromised a lot to be with someone I thought I loved. If you asked him, he’d say he did the same. At some point, the question loomed: If all of this compromise is required, is this the right thing for either of us?

It’s a hard, gut-wrenching lesson to learn in romance, but it also applies to your career.

Compromise is indeed a requirement for successful relationships and successful careers. We can’t have everything our way 100% of the time. Holding out hope that you can is setting yourself up for a lot of pain. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice one thing to make other things possible. You give up a plan you had because the other person has a different one. You give up a ridiculously high salary because the job that actually makes you happy doesn’t pay as well as the one that makes you miserable.

It’s a matter of give and take, finding a middle ground where both sides still can be happy—where you’re able to say it’s a worthwhile exchange: By giving up this thing, I get this better thing.

Give up your plan, get love. Give up the salary, get job satisfaction.

It’s hard to know where that “perfect” point is though. You don’t always know the reality of what you’re giving up and what you’re getting and the true value of those things. You don’t always know what other options exist. You have to make choices without knowing if somewhere out there you really could, possibly, have it ALL. Your plan and love. The salary and job satisfaction. Or maybe just a version of life where you’re closer to having it all…

So here’s what I’ve learned about compromise, and it applies to love, career, anything.

Start by knowing what 100% looks like for you. What would your career/marriage/new home etc. be if you had 100% of what you want? Don’t hold back. Go big. Be bold. Define what you really, really want from this thing, whatever it is.

Then, as you survey your options—job prospects, eligible suitors, homes for sale—really ask yourself: What am I gaining and what am I giving up? And ask yourself if the trade is a win.

I call it Conscious Compromise. Too often, I think we compromise without consciously even knowing we’re doing it. We only realize in hindsight that we did, and usually when things aren’t working out, when we’re questioning our choices. At that point, the value of the thing we gave up seems enormous. And maybe it is, but maybe it isn’t.

Conscious Compromise doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly NOT want the thing you gave up. That ridiculously high salary? Yeah, it would still be nice. And you’ll miss it. But if you made the choice consciously—you weighed the gains and losses honestly—you won’t miss the thing you gave up as much. You’ll know it was deemed a reasonable price to pay for what you were getting in return. And yes, that could change. But at some point, you really did give it the thought it deserved.

Conscious Compromise also doesn’t mean you’ll make the perfect choices every time. You may still end up in a bad relationship, a job you hate, or a home that doesn’t really work for you. But that value question I mentioned earlier? The one in bold print? You’ll learn something about that. You’ll learn more about what you value. You’ll learn more about what you’re really willing to give up and what you’re not. And you’ll make different choices next time.

I don’t believe in perfect people or perfect jobs. But I’m still a romantic at heart. I do believe there is a perfect person for me, just like there’s one for you. In fact, there are probably many. And I do believe there’s a perfect job for me, just like there’s one for you—probably many.

By “perfect” I mean that the compromise doesn’t truly feel like compromise. It feels like winning. It feels like you lucked out. If feels like whatever that stupid thing was that you gave up…it never mattered to begin with.

If it sounds like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth here, I am. You really can’t have everything. But when the right thing comes along, you’ll have everything you need and then some. That’s the paradox that is life.

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How New Hires Can Make a Great First Impression

Congratulations! You got hired! Now the hard part starts.

The first 30 days on the job is a critical time for creating your professional reputation. Like it or not, first impressions are often lasting impressions. But most of us are so focused on learning the ropes, we forget to consider how others might be receiving us. So, how do you ensure you make a strong, professional first impression even as you ramp up to speed in your new gig?

This was the topic of my most recent interview on Fox 31 Denver’s Good Day Colorado. Watch the video below to get my hottest tips for how to get started on the right foot with your new employer and new colleagues from day 1.

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How to Keep Your Skills Sharp When Out of the Workforce

Whether you’ve voluntarily taken some time off work or involuntarily found yourself unemployed, it’s important to keep your skills sharp while out of the workforce. Whatever the reason you’re not working, every day that passes by where you’re not using your professional skills is a chance for you to fall behind the competition–and that could make it very hard to get back into the workforce when the time comes.

Here’s the good news: Even when you’re not working there are ample opportunities for using your professional skills if you know where to look. In my most recent interview on Good Day Colorado, I address this topic and share 5 tips for staying sharp and connected while out of the workforce. Enjoy the video below!

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Free Coaching Call: February 2014

In case you missed it, I hosted my quarterly free coaching call a little while back. You can listen to the recording using the audio player below or download the MP3 if you’d like. Please note: The sound quality isn’t perfect. I’m in the process of upgrading my technology setup so hopefully, in the future, this won’t be an issue. Thanks for understanding.

During this session we covered so much, including (but not limited to):

  • How to get attention from prospective employers when you don’t have an “in” at the company.
  • How to manage someone else’s calendar.
  • The number one thing you should do to improve your chances of career success.
  • How to make a good impression in your first month on the job.
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!!

If you’d like to participate in the next call, please register and submit a question by visiting this page. As usual, if you can’t attend the live session, go ahead and register and submit a question if you have one. You’ll be able to listen to the recorded version at your convenience.

BONUS: You can also listen to previous free calls from the registration page.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download MP3 here

Blog

How to Fall In Love With Your Job (Again)

Love-Lock

It’s that time of year again where love is in the air. I know most people don’t use the word “love” very often when discussing their work, but I think we should change that. So today, in honor of V-day, I’d like to share a few tips to help you fall in love with your job…again.

Why do I say “again”? Well, I’m willing to bet at some point—whether in the distant past or more recently—you actually did love your job. At one time or another, it probably held all kinds of promise and possibility. It felt exciting to get up and go to work. Maybe that feeling didn’t last longer than a day…or even an hour. But you’ve probably felt it before. Here’s how to get that loving feeling back.

Celebrate Victories (Even Small Ones)

If you’re not yet keeping a list of your professional accomplishments, it’s time to start doing so. After all, everyone enjoys work more when they feel like they’re actually making a contribution.

Of course, equally important to the task of writing your accomplishments down is the task of celebrating them.

Whenever you complete project, overcome a challenge, fix a problem, improve a process, or achieve anything else of any significance in the workplace, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Go get a massage, treat yourself to a frozen yogurt (with extra toppings!), buy a new sweater, toast yourself at dinner that night, take a long bath while listening to jazz…you get the idea. No need to go extravagant, but do something special to recognize and reward your efforts.

Keep a Kudos Log

The workplace is hectic and, unfortunately, people don’t show their appreciation as often as most of us would like. However, when they do, take note of it. Don’t let those nice compliments and gestures of gratitude just roll off your back. Relish them! Write them down in a journal or notebook, print out “atta-boy” emails, save thank you cards, etc. That way, on those days when you’re feeling like no one notices all that you do (and there WILL be many days like that, my friend!), you can look over your notes and remember that some days things are different.

Shake Up Your Routine

Routines are at once positive and negative. On the one hand, they’re helpful tools for making sure we get everything done. They help create habits and habits make us more efficient. However, routines can also be a source of boredom. When things are always the same, life gets…well…boring. Try shaking things up every once in a while just for a change of pace. It can be something as simple as taking a new route to the office in the morning, or doing your Monday tasks on Wednesday. Maybe you can shift your schedule to arrive and leave an hour later. Just minor shifts can create a whole new perspective.

Take on New Challenges

One of the biggest reasons people fall out of love with a job is that it loses its challenge. If you think about the last time you really felt in love with your work, it was likely somewhere around the beginning. Not necessarily the first month or two—most people feel overwhelmed by all the new stuff—but just after that. Right at that point where you know what you’re doing but things are still mentally stimulating. You’re engaged. You’re focused.

After a while the routine (there it is again!) day-to-day tasks and projects can create complacency, and that can feel downright depressing. As human beings, we want to constantly be growing. We want to feel our skills and capabilities stretching. We want to go to sleep each night knowing we’re just a little bit better off than we were when we woke up. The only way to achieve that is by challenging ourselves.

Take on challenging projects and responsibilities. Volunteer to do things that scare you and push you outside your normal comfort zone. Push yourself to achieve bigger and better things each day. And remember—these opportunities don’t always just fall in your lap. They don’t appear from thin air. Go out and make opportunities for yourself.

Proactively Manage Stress

Let’s be honest: Stress is a happiness killer. It’s hard to love something that stresses you out. And yet, work by its very nature is stressful. If you don’t have a stress management plan, now is the time to create one. Don’t wait until you’re actually under a tremendous amount of stress to do this. (BTW, my Stress Management E-workbook might be a helpful tool for you…)

The big key here is that you have a system in place to help you manage stress even when you’re not experiencing it in the moment—things you do that help keep stress levels manageable day-to-day. I’m talking about things like:

  • Enjoying a regular exercise routine (hooray for those feel-good mind chemicals!)
  • Taking regular breaks during the workday (yes, you get things called “breaks” so you can rejuvenate and re-energize!)
  • Following a reasonable, regular schedule (meaning: you leave the office at the right time…not hours later)
  • Getting consistent, restful sleep at night (8 hours folks!)
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises throughout the day, listening music, posting pictures of happy things in your work area, etc.

Look For the Good

I firmly believe that you find what you look for (a lesson I got from my infinitely optimistic mother). If you’re focused on everything bad about work, that’s all you’ll see. Likewise, if you’re focused on the good, you’ll see more of it everywhere you turn.

So seek out the good. Find the small things that delight you about your work—a favorite customer, a favorite task, a favorite co-worker who makes you laugh. Simple pleasures make life worth living and a job worth doing.

Remember: What you project into the world is reflected back at you…so smile, be friendly, share a joke, talk about the good stuff that exists all around you.

And before you know it, you’ll be swooning like a love struck teenager every time you walk into work!

Photo Credit: Allen Skye (Flickr)

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