The Surprising Truth About Career Change and Depression


I want to talk about something different today. I want to talk about career change and depression.

I’ve struggled with paralyzing low moods since I was a young teenager. Depression, along with debilitating levels of anxiety, was what forced me into therapy in my mid-20s, which helped me to learn a lot about who I really am and how I operate in the world, which ultimately led me to coaching.

I say “forced” because I’m convinced that if I hadn’t been drowning in unbearably high levels of pain, I wouldn’t have taken the good, hard look at my life and what wasn’t working for me that was necessary for me to change paths.

And I’m not the only one. I’ve personally seen a strong link between career change and depression in others as well. I talk to people all the time who are trying to make a transition and feel hopeless, despondent, and lethargic.  Sometimes they use the word “depressed” and sometimes they don’t, but the same energy can often be felt in their words and mood. It’s quite normal, especially when people are in or facing a big change.

The Negative Feedback Loop

For some reason, most of us don’t want to admit that our careers have us depressed. While my mood is much better than it used to be and I no longer need to take medication for it, I still have days when depression rears its ugly head (or traps me in its web—take your pick of dark metaphors here). Often it comes from stresses at work, but I hate to admit that.

I want to look like I have it all together, that I can handle it, that something as innocuous as doing my job could never get me so upset. I want more than anything for that to be true, because there’s a lot of shame in our culture (and in my head) attached to being weak, messy, or out of control.

But when I deny the depression, I just make it worse. Like a tar baby, the more I struggle to free myself, the more entangled I become.

I believe that’s because one of depression’s key features is a disconnection from feelings. When I deny my depression, I squash my emotions, becoming further alienated from myself and less likely to do what I need to feel better. So the depression worsens.

The Surprising Truth

The good thing about falling into the cycle of depression a lot is that you have the opportunity to break out of it just as many times. And what I’ve discovered over the years of dancing with depression is not what I expected to find in the beginning. It’s far better, in fact.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Messy is good. 

When I really think about it, I can’t really come up with any good reasons not to be messy. In fact, it seems to be a pretty common natural state in the world. Once you embrace your depression, uncomfortable as it is, there are possibilities to enjoy it—for example, using it as an excuse to get outside more, call a friend, or treat myself to an uplifting movie (if it says “heartwarming” or “makes you want to stand up and cheer” on the back of a DVD, I’m pretty much guaranteed to love it).

Being messy also connects me to my common humanity, because no matter how bad I feel, I can be sure that there are lots of other people all across the world feeling the exact same thing as I am right now (it’s estimated that there are over 14 million Americans feeling depressed at any given moment in time). If I weren’t humbled by depression, I would likely try to convince myself that I’m the one human being on the planet completely in control of her emotions. How lonely would that be?

Bad feelings aren’t bad.

One time a few years ago before I was married I went on a date that let’s just say didn’t go as well as hoped. I woke up feeling depressed the next day. As I lay on the couch observing what was happening, it occurred to me that I was really just feeling disappointed. When I let myself feel the heavy weight of disappointment in my body, the depression lifted.

Often depression visits because I’m resisting some emotion—anger, fear, sadness, etc. The emotion feels too overwhelming, or the reason for it too small and inconsequential for me to welcome it in. I’ve found, however, that if I can honor and treat each feeling like a welcome houseguest (like in Rumi’s amazing poem “The Guest House”), there’s relief and wisdom to be found.

Depression isn’t a cruel dictator; it’s a determined teacher. 

Depression is kind of like that teacher you hated while you were in her class but then realized after you left how much you had learned.

In my experience, it slams you to the ground in order to make you listen. My depression almost always carries with it a message that I need to hear, but that I’ve been resisting. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “Slow down and get some rest.”  Other times it says, “Speak up for yourself.” Or, “Pay attention!  This isn’t the right path for you.”

Depression has taught me a lot. As I said before, I don’t think I would have sought out the support I needed or gone on the scary and difficult journey of learning the truth about myself if I hadn’t have been forced to out of sheer pain. And that journey has led me to my calling and brought me tremendous joy, purpose, fulfillment, and gifts to share with others.

The Way Out

If you’re feeling depressed, hopeless, or despondent, first of all, remember that it’s temporary. It never lasts forever. Every time I feel depressed, I think I’ll feel that way forever, but I never do.

Remembering this, the best thing I know to do is to reach out for support. Get out of your own head. Talk to friends and family about how you feel, or find a good therapist. Let them help you listen for what depression is trying to tell you.

We don’t need to be ashamed of our depression (or anxiety or fear or any other perceived neurosis). We don’t need to deny them. They’re part of who we are, which is both deeply flawed and utterly perfect.

Find Support to Make a Change

If you think your depression is related to a career change, please feel free to get in touch with me.

I offer individual and group coaching programs at various levels of investment designed to help you listen to your wisest inner self, discover what you’re meant to do in the world, and get started actually doing it.

To find out more, schedule a free 1:1 call with me. We’ll illuminate your goals, clarify your challenges, and discuss what each program involves and how it can help. There’s no cost for the call and no obligation to buy anything. Click here to apply for your free call today.

Photo credit: David // CC


7 Things You Can Do When None of Your Career Options Feel Right


I’ve always found decisions stressful, probably because I’m usually trying to find the right answer.  That’s how I know that having options can feel just as stressful as not having any if none of them feel right.

I meet people all the time who are incredibly discouraged because they feel stuck—they desperately want to find a new job but none of the alternatives they come up with feel good enough to pursue. It’s easy to become frustrated, self-critical, or even hopeless and depressed.

Is it the options, or is it you?

It may be that you haven’t yet found the right idea. But it’s equally possible, if not more likely, that something is blocking your ability to recognize what feels really right.

Even if you have a block, you’re perfectly capable of finding your path (and keep in mind that there’s probably more than one that lead to what you’re wanting).  Following are 7 things you can do to find your way when none of your career options feel right:

1. Get more information.

Lots of times nothing feels right because we don’t know enough about what it would look, sound, taste, or feel like. It’s like we’re trying to make a decision about which house to buy when all we know about it is the color and number of rooms.

Take time to do research. Read. Talk to people. Go and visit.  Sometimes we resist doing this because we’re afraid we’ll be disappointed and stranded without options if we don’t like what we find.  But disappointment is inevitable if you’re truly living your life, and you’ll never be without options. At worst, what you find will prompt you to generate better ones.

2. Try it out.

This is really an extension of the last idea. Sometimes you can’t know until you try. If I asked you if you like walking on the moon, you’d probably have a hard time answering without trying it.  Fortunately, trying jobs out is often easier than space travel. Shadow someone for a day. Get an assignment in a different department. Volunteer. Do a freelancing project on the side. Make something. Sell something. See what it feels like.

3. Get clear about what you want most.

Often we want multiple things, and each option offers part but not all of what we want.  If this is the case, try to prioritize your desires.  What’s a must-have and what’s a nice-to-have?  What’s most important to you? What’s been key to your sense of well-being or fulfillment in the past?

4. Look for the should.

Nothing can scramble your internal GPS more than the belief that you ought to be doing something. When you feel you should be doing something—say, making more money, doing the “practical” thing, or pursuing what others think you should—you tend to become deaf to your actual desires. Hence, nothing feels right.

Make a list of all the things you think you should do. (Think: “Fathers should…”  “Mothers should…”  “Responsible people should…”) Now ask yourself: where might you be shoulding on yourself when considering your career options?

5. Distinguish between what feels scary and what feels wrong.

Sometimes we get a negative response from our bodies because an option is clearly wrong for us.  Other times we get a negative response simply because we’re scared.  The anxiety of a wrong choice feels different in the body than the fear of doing something desirable but outside of our comfort zone. For most of us, distinguishing between the two sensations is a subtle discernment we have to learn how to make over time, but it’s a worthwhile effort nonetheless.

6. Brainstorm more options.

It is possible you haven’t yet found the right idea for you.  Once you’re clear on what you really want, take time to brainstorm possibilities.  Allow yourself time to generate wild and improbable ideas without judgment (you’ll have time to get practical later).  Ask others to help you.  And play around with tweaking your existing options.  How might you combine them?  Could you do them sequentially?  What would you need to add to or take away from each one to make it feel right?

7. Wait.

If all else fails, wait. It might just be that the timing isn’t yet right. I had a client who felt stuck in a corporate job because none of her ideas for leaving felt justifiable. She was unduly hard on herself for not taking the leap. Then, after having some time to get her ducks in a row, someone offered her a job to work on an upcoming political campaign. Suddenly, what before felt wrong now felt right. She jumped at the chance and never regretted it. Timing really can be everything.

Over to You

What’s helped you move forward when none of your options felt right?  Please share in the comments below so we can learn from your experience and/or insight.

Find the Right Path for You

Right now I offer a free, 60-minute Clarity Call to anyone who wants to find out how coaching can help them find clarity about their calling and how to pursue it. I won’t be offering this session for free for very much longer. I’ve gotten such good feedback on the calls and have had so many requests for them that once my new website goes live, I’m going to start charging for these in-depth sessions. If you’re interested in coaching and would like to experience it for free while you still can, click here to request a Clarity Call.

How to Make Hard Decisions Easier


A reader recently asked a great question in response to a piece I wrote about how to make impossible decisions.

That’s all fine and good, she said, but what about permanent, irreversible decisions, like whether to have another child? You can’t just try it out and you can’t choose another path later.

It’s a good point, and she’s not alone in struggling with such a choice. I know from experience how stressful, terrifying, and even paralyzing big decisions can be. It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and if you mess it up, you (and perhaps the people you love) will pay a huge price.

The thing is, most of our stress in making choices comes from a misunderstanding of what’s at stake. Here are 3 ways to make hard decisions—even permanent or irreversible ones—easier:

Embrace your lack of control.

When we face a hard decision, we usually want something.

Consider a decision you’re in the process of making and ask yourself what you want out of it.  Now think about all of the factors that influence these results. How many of these factors are under your total control?

The truth is that almost all outcomes depend in large part on the actions of others, genes, timing, circumstances, luck, and a whole host of other things that have nothing to do with anything you can change. Yes, you have influence and power, but you’re not even close to being in control.

And that’s okay.

I mean, you’ve made it this far, and without knowing you, I’m quite sure that you’ve accomplished a lot in your life even though you’re not in control. In fact, things often turn out far better on their own than they would have if we had been in charge of everything.

Flawless decisions won’t guarantee ideal outcomes. But we don’t have to control things for them to turn out just fine. Our best efforts and imperfect influence are enough.

Know that you’ll always have options.

Even if your decision is irreversible, you’ll always have options.

Example #1:

The other morning I was feeling overcommitted and desperately tired. I couldn’t think of a way to get out of my upcoming commitment and still feel good about myself, but I could find a way to make time for a nap later that afternoon.

Example #2:

I had a client who was fed up with her job but felt like she needed it for now for the income. So while she worked to get clear on her next steps, she also chose to advocate for projects she wanted and assert herself with her boss more. This took the sharpest edge off her work and allowed her to enjoy it more. She still had the same job, but her choices made her experience of it better, while opening up new possibilities for the future.

Example #3:

I had a friend who decided to go to Stanford’s law school. Three years and over $100,000+ later, she decided she didn’t want to be a lawyer after all—and there was nothing she could do to undo the debt she had taken on. So she made a choice. She took a corporate job that she really didn’t want and worked for a couple of years. She did everything she could to make her life as enjoyable as possible while she paid off her debts. When it was over, she made another choice to move to Europe with her family and make a fresh start as a teacher, writer, and speaker. Her choices may have been imperfect and irreversible, but they didn’t stop her from finding what she was looking for.

Don’t believe in heaven or hell.

There’s a story about a Zen master who’s visited by a samurai warrior. “I want to learn about heaven and hell,” says the samurai. “Do they exist?”

“Tell me,” answers the master, “why would I waste my breath explaining that to an ignorant brute like you? Don’t waste my time with your stupid questions.”

The enraged samurai lifts his sword and prepares to kill the man. Just before his sword descends, the master says calmly, “This is hell.”

Understanding dawns on the samurai as he realizes that he has just created his own hell of hatred and resentment. Realizing this, he is freed from it; his eyes fill with tears and he bows to the master in gratitude. “And this,” responds the master, “is heaven.”

Heaven and hell are internal states.  The best decision cannot guarantee joy, and the worst decision does not doom you to misery. You can find good in just about any path you take.

And if nothing else helps, remember this one thing: nothing—neither heaven nor hell—lasts forever.

The best thing you can do is make the best decision you can—and then breathe, try to relax, and enjoy the ride.

Over to You

What helps you make difficult decisions?  Please let us know by sharing your experience in the comments.

Make the Best Decisions Possible

If you’re struggling with a decision that feels impossible to make, come find help.  The next Pathfinders: Group Hike and Conversation to Find Your Calling is coming up.  You’ll meet other people facing difficult decisions, have the chance to talk through your dilemma, and learn techniques to get in touch with your intuition, all while going on a beautiful walk through the woods.  To find out more or to register, click here.

Photo credit: Bill Ohl//CC

Why Finding the Perfect Job Isn’t the Point


As somebody who helps people discover their calling, I meet a lot of folks who are desperately unhappy in their jobs.  They often feel stuck, frustrated, down on themselves, or even hopeless and depressed.  They imagine that the solution to their problems is to find better work.

They’re almost right, but not quite.

By the time my clients find work that they’re passionate about, they’re usually far more joyful, energized, and content than when we started.  But it’s not really because they have a new job.

Here’s why:

1. Wherever You Go, There You Are

You may find a job where you have a better boss.  But if your boss’s negative feedback makes you feel smaller than a piece of cockroach poop, then someone at your new job is eventually going to say something that makes you feel the same way.

You may find work that’s better suited to your talents.  But if you have a hard time giving yourself credit for what you do well, you’ll still feel like you’re falling short, no matter where you go.

You may find a more flexible job where work/life balance is allowed.  But if you have a hard time saying no or letting things be less than perfect, you’re still likely to work long hours and push past your limits.

Sure, how well our job suits us can make a big difference in how we feel.  But to find the type of joy, freedom, and fulfillment that most of us long for, we need to stop focusing on external changes and pay more attention to our internal world, because that’s what affects our mood the most, and that’s what we take with us wherever we go.

2. New Challenges Arise

I thought that when I found my calling in coaching and writing, all my problems would go away.

Hahahahaha.  [Wiping tears from my eyes.] Whew.  Yes, well, um, not exactly.

True, I love what I do, I know that I’m contributing my greatest gifts to the world, and I feel energized and inspired much of the time.

But you know what?  Answering my calling brings up all kinds of new challenges:  Fears, disappointments, failures, unforeseen obstacles, new skills I have to learn.  I have to let the world see more of who I am and what I’m capable of (or not), and I can no longer hide behind the excuse of not really caring about it anyway.

3. Your Answers Change

No matter how happy you are in your job right now, chances are you won’t be forever.  One of the great things about us humans is that we’re always growing and changing.  As such, what satisfies us now is unlikely to fulfill us forever.

Sometime down the line, you’ll be faced with the same question: “And what should I do now?”

Your job, no matter how great it is, can’t answer that question for you.

What Really Matters

Don’t get me wrong—doing work you love is a good thing, and a worthwhile goal.  It’s just that it’s a side product of something far more important.

What really matters is the journey we go on in order to find the work we love.

On that journey, we discover the truth about ourselves and our world.  We stop believing every negative thought we have as we find out for ourselves what’s actually true.

We discover how powerful and amazing we are as we uncover our true gifts and all we have to offer the world.

And we make lasting connections with others as we find our home in the world and all the places that we belong.

What’s Possible Is Far Better Than What You’re Probably Imagining

The good news in all of this is that you can find what you’re looking for—contentment, purpose, joy, freedom, happiness, peace, and so much more—long before you make a change.

So the next time you find yourself criticizing yourself for not yet having work you love, remember that you’re on the most heroic journey anyone can go on.

And remind yourself that your journey isn’t successful only when you have a new job.  So don’t evaluate yourself on that.  Instead, check your progress by reflecting on how much more you know about yourself and the world, how many times you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, and what contributions you’re making to those around you.

Find Contentment Wherever You Are on Your Path

If joy feels like a foreign concept, if you’re not sure what the next steps should be on your journey, or if you’re having a hard time taking the ones you’ve identified, click here to find out how to get some help.  I offer free Clarity Calls to discuss your goals and challenges and whether the individual and group coaching programs I offer could help you find what you’re looking for. A much better question than “What’s wrong with me?” is “What kind of support would help me get to where I want to go?”


Photo credit: Hartwig HKD//CC

What Type of Career Changer Are You?


We’re all unique and infinitely complex.  And yet, at the same time, we also share certain patterns of behavior with some of our other unique and infinitely complex fellow human beings.

The Enneagram is my favorite tool for understanding these archetypical patterns.  It divides up all personalities into 9 types and offers a model for understanding the motivations, fears, desires, and patterns of behavior for each type.

It’s amazingly nuanced and powerful.  That’s why I love the Enneagram.  I don’t love the fact that it’s so hard to know how to pronounce (enn-ee-uh-gram), or how difficult it is to explain its cryptic symbol, but I do love the way it helps people find a way forward.

Why It Matters

We’re not as special as we think we are, at least not when it comes to our challenges.  Though it can often feel like we’re the only ones who struggle in the way we do, that’s hardly ever the case.

I find that people in career change tend to get tripped up around a common set of issues that can be understood and explained through the Enneagram.

Identifying these shared issues can be extremely helpful—in better understanding ourselves, in realizing that we’re not alone in our challenges, and in pointing to ways to overcome them.

So without further ado, here’s a quick description of each of the Enneagram types in relation to career change:

Type 1: The Reformer***


Ones are conscientious, principled, and driven.  They’re often looking for work that makes the world a more ethical place and that challenges them to be the best people they can be.  They’re very concerned about doing the right thing, making constant improvements, and getting others to do the same.

Where They Get Stuck:

Ones want to get things right, so they often get stuck in career change because they’re not willing to risk making a mistake.  This often involves paralysis in decision-making, or bouncing back-and-forth between options without being able to decide.  It can also show up as resistance to taking any action towards making a change.

The Way Forward:

Ones do well when they learn to relax (massage is a wonderful thing for a One!).  They need to learn how to let themselves make mistakes and even fail, trusting that the world won’t fall apart if they do.  Finally, they benefit from learning how to get in touch with their feelings, which they often try to control or ignore, thus missing out on what their emotions have to say about their innate desires.

Type 2: The Helper


Twos are empathetic, warm-hearted, and generous about doing things for others.  They’re all about love and connection and therefore often want find work that’s social and allows them to care for other people.

Where They Get Stuck:

Twos can get stuck when they become so focused on others’ needs and desires that they’re unaware of their own.  They might stay in a position longer than is healthy because they feel needed, or they might not allow themselves to go after what they really want because they see it as selfish.  Twos are also prone to burnout because they don’t prioritize their own self care.

The Way Forward:

It’s helpful for Twos to learn to pay attention to their own needs and desires and give themselves permission to fulfill them first, before taking care of others.  They benefit from realizing that it’s actually better for everyone involved when they put their own oxygen mask on first.  When they pay attention to what they want and do more of what nourishes them, Twos often discover great passion and clarity about what they want to do in the world.

Type 3: The Achiever


Threes are self-assured, charming, and competent. They often seek work that allows them to shine.   Frequently ambitious, they like to win.

Where They Get Stuck:

Threes often spend more energy pursuing traditional measures of success than defining what is really meaningful to them.  Being multi-talented, they can get sidetracked by what they’re able to achieve and lose sight of what they want to accomplish.  In short, Threes can struggle to know what matters most to them.

The Way Forward:

It can be helpful for Threes to learn how to stop doing and start simply being so that they can get to know themselves more deeply.  They can do this by taking breaks, doing things that are fun rather than productive, and taking time for activities like meditation or journaling.  It can also be helpful for Threes to re-familiarize themselves with their feelings, which contain big clues to what really matters to them.

Type 4: The Individualist


Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and highly creative.  They’re able to dig deep into their inner world, learn about the human experience, and share what they find with others.  Having meaningful work is important to them, and they tend to do well in jobs that allow for self expression.

Where They Get Stuck:

Fours sometimes struggle with feeling vulnerable and defective, so they can become reluctant to take risks, pursue their passion, or share their creativity with the world.  They tend to disengage with others and retreat inward.  They can get stuck in their own heads where they discount their own abilities and create fantasies that make everything in the real world pale by comparison.

The Way Forward:

Fours do best when they get out of their heads, into their bodies, and out into the world.  When they develop more discipline in their work habits, share their creativity with others, and let themselves produce work that’s less than brilliant now and then, they can answer a true calling and find joy in what they do.

Type 5: The Investigator


Fives are independent, insightful, and innovative. They’re curious and want to understand how things work.  They tend to seek work that allows them to investigate and develop novel ideas and capabilities.

Where They Get Stuck:

Fives can get stuck in their heads.  Without access to their feelings and “gut”, they can struggle to know what option feels right to them.  In addition, they can put off taking action while they endlessly “prepare.” Anxiety takes hold as they get stuck trying to think through every possibility before doing anything.

The Way Forward:

Fives often benefit from reconnecting with their bodies through activities like jogging, dancing, or yoga.  In this way, they get out of their heads and in touch with their intuition. Connecting with others and hearing their point-of-view can also be very helpful.  With a wider perspective, Fives often find great clarity and confidence in their path forward, without having to overthink it.

Type 6: The Loyalist


Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy.  They’re concerned about security and are often good at anticipating problems.  They work well on teams, want to make a positive contribution through their work, and enjoy supporting others.

Where They Get Stuck:

Sixes tend to forget that things might go well and exclusively focus on what might go wrong.  They get anxious, worried, and indecisive.  They don’t trust their guts.  They get stuck because they’re not sure what they should choose, they’re too overwhelmed to take action, or they worry that no option is going to turn out well.

The Way Forward:

It can be helpful for Sixes to find ways to quiet their minds, through meditation, exercise, or creative activity.  Sixes are also helped by paying attention to their successes and noticing where the universe is supporting them—realizing that it’s not all up to them to make things turn out okay.  Sixes have phenomenal inner guidance, when they are quiet enough to hear it and courageous enough to trust it.

Type 7: The Enthusiast


Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, and versatile.  They constantly seek new and exciting experiences.  They tend to look for jobs that are dynamic, busy, and novel.

Where They Get Stuck:

Sevens sometimes have a hard time staying still because they don’t want to be trapped in a negative experience.  They can be impulsive and impatient, not giving themselves time to settle in or learn new skills.  They often have a hard time making career decisions because they second-guess their choices, wondering if something else wouldn’t be better, more exciting, or more enjoyable.

The Way Forward:

It can help Sevens to appreciate what they already have and learn that negative experiences and feelings are part of life, and that they don’t last forever.  By developing the ability to believe in their own ability to learn and handle challenges, they’re more able to stay with one thing and deepen their engagement with it.  And by learning how to reconnect with a deeper guidance than what they think will be exciting, Sevens get clarity about what they want and what path is right for them.

Type 8: The Challenger


Eights are decisive, strong, and assertive. They like to be in control of their environment and even other people.  They’re willing to do just about anything to protect those they care about and often seek work that allows them to lead, advocate, or fight for justice.

Where They Get Stuck:

Eights have a hard time admitting that they don’t know the answer, so when faced with uncertainty about their next step, they have a hard time letting themselves explore.  They think they already have it figured out, and can be reluctant to take in new ideas.  They also have a hard time admitting that they may have made a wrong turn somewhere.

The Way Forward:

It can be good for Eights to wait before taking action so that they can consider different perspectives and allow new answers to emerge.  Similarly, it can be helpful when Eights allow themselves to admit that they don’t have the answer—at least not yet—and to sit in uncertainty until things become clearer.

Type 9: The Peacemaker


Nines are accepting, optimistic, and supportive.  They often prefer social jobs and are good at working with other people.  They dislike conflict and frequently play the role of keeping the peace.

Where They Get Stuck:

Sometimes Nines put off making big changes in their careers because they don’t want to rock the boat.  They can struggle with procrastination and lack of follow through. Also, Nines are great at putting their talent and energy to work building somebody else’s dream, but they don’t often pay attention to developing their own vision.  As a result, when Nines want to make a career change, they often have no idea what would make them happy and put off taking action that would disrupt the status quo.

The Way Forward:

The opportunity for Nines is to turn their spotlight of attention inward, paying attention to themselves and their own needs, desires, and intentions.  (Exercise can be a great way for Nines to increase awareness of the feelings and body.)  Routines, structure, and support can also be key for Nines to step into action now that risks making waves in their lives or the lives of others.

Find Out What Type of Career Changer You Are

If you’re still not sure what type you are, you can go to and take one of their assessment tests.  I recommend the RHETI. Or, you can take a free test here. The tests aren’t conclusive, but rather suggest the types most likely to be yours. You can then read about each type and see which fits you best.

Find Your Own Way Forward

I offer individual and small group coaching that can help you learn how to move beyond personality to unlock you innate gifts and find your path.  Find out more here.

***Some of the general information about each type is adapted from the Enneagram Institute website, which has a wealth of other information and resources.

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3 Proven Ways to Stop Procrastinating


We all do it.

We want to make a change.  We have the best of intentions.  We’re going to clean the house, apply for a job, or start exercising more.

We plan, prepare, and get excited.  And then, when the time comes, we think: “You know, today isn’t such a good day after all.  The weather’s no good; I’m not in the right mood; I didn’t sleep well last night.  I’m sure this will be much easier tomorrow.”

In other words, procrastination’s siren song sinks our ship before we’ve even left the shore.

It’s Not Just You

Nobody is immune to the sweet promises of procrastination.

I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who desperately want a new career and know what they need to do to make it happen but who find, again and again, that they can’t get themselves to take any action to actually achieve it.

I myself have been meaning to write the next installment of my fictional series for some time now, but “later” seems to always be the best time I can find to write.

You Can Stop Beating Yourself Up

We don’t procrastinate because we’re lazy, and truthfully there’s nothing wrong with us.

We put things off because we get scared, anxious or overwhelmed.

We may anticipate how hard something is going to be, and it feels like more than we can handle right now.  Or perhaps we feel anxious because we don’t know how to proceed, the outcome is uncertain, or things may not turn out well.  Not taking action can seem like the perfect way to avoid unpleasant experiences and unsavory outcomes.

Procrastination promises to help us feel better, if just for a little while, and who doesn’t want to feel better?

The Way to Action

The key to dealing with procrastination is to recognize the duplicitous nature of its siren song and then do what we can to make our sailing smoother.

Step 1: Remind Yourself of the Lie in Procrastination’s Promise

As we’ve all experienced, we may avoid some potential discomfort by sticking close to the certain shores of the status quo.  But we also don’t make progress towards what we want and what we’re called to do.  And what’s more, we can’t help but notice that we’re not taking action on something that’s important to us, and that never feels good.

By procrastinating, we’re simply swapping one type of discomfort for another.

So, the first step to taking action is to acknowledge that procrastination isn’t really delivering on its promise of tranquility.

Step 2: Make It Less Overwhelming

If you’re still putting action off, you’re likely feeling at least a little overwhelmed.  That’s okay.  Don’t fight yourself.

Instead, be your own mentor:

  • Break down large or daunting tasks into smaller pieces.  Think through what’s required and list it out, step-by-step.  Then break each step down into smaller pieces.  Keep breaking each step down until you find an action that feels doable right now.  Then do it.
  • Lower your standards.  I had a client once who never cleaned her house because it felt so overwhelming to do it the way she felt she should.  Meanwhile the house got messier and the prospect of cleaning it even more overwhelming.  When she gave herself permission to lower her standards by, for example, clearing just the top of her dresser or getting her house clean-er but not spotless,  she found she was able to take action where she hadn’t been before.
  • Give yourself a reward.   Make a deal with yourself: if you do this challenging or unpleasant task you’ve been avoiding, you’ll get a reward.  It could be a bath, a cup of your favorite coffee, a TV show, or anything else you enjoy.  (Find some inexpensive, non-food ideas here.)  Just make sure you actually follow through.  Your inner mentor is going to lose credibility fast if you make promises to your inner procrastinator that you don’t keep.

Step 3: Find Support

What’s wrong with me? is a terribly useless question to ask.

Much more productive is: What would help me get started?

So ask yourself: What makes me feel stronger?  What would make this task easier?  Then look for the people, activities, environments, technology, and other resources that do exactly that.

Support that has helped me or my clients step into action includes:

  • Having a partner with whom to discuss strategy and check in on progress
  • Finding a new and inspiring environment
  • Doing something energizing, like exercise or a creative activity, before taking a difficult step
  • Finding an app or other technology that makes the task easier
  • Joining a community of peers with similar goals and challenges

Over to You

Odysseus found that ropes and lots of wax were key to resisting the sirens’ song.

What’s your wax?  What support helps you resist procrastination and step into action?

Please share your experience in the comments below.

Take Action Towards Work You Love Now

The next Pathfinders (a group hike and discussion to discover your calling) is coming up fast.

On this hike, you’ll find loads of support for taking action, including:

  • Connections with others  facing similar challenges
  • A beautiful environment
  • Inspiration and ideas for next steps
  • Loving accountability

…and perhaps even some yummy snacks as well.  Because what’s the point of answering your calling if it’s not fun and delicious?

Click here to take the first step towards making a change.

If you liked this post, you can sign up for my newsletter in the box below and share it with others using the buttons that follow.  If you sign up for my newsletter, I’ll send you ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change for free every other week.

Photo credit: kkmarais // CC

The Most Powerful Thing You Can Do Today to Discover Your Calling


I used to envy the people who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up.  It didn’t matter if their dream was to be a firefighter, doctor, or garbage collector—it was the certainty I craved, not the career itself.

Whenever somebody asked me as a child what work I wanted to do, I had no idea and just made something up.  I wasn’t any more certain by college, and I decided on my major (English) because I got tired of reading non-fiction and wanted to read more novels.

Even after graduation I still had no clarity.  I worked for years in many different types of jobs that I kind-of liked but didn’t feel at home in.

I longed to find my place in the world like some others I had seen, but after so many years, I began to doubt whether that was even possible for me.

What Doesn’t Lead to Clarity

Fast-forward fourteen years, and I’m finally doing work that feels like home to me.  It’s  fun, inspiring, fulfilling, and incredibly rewarding.  It’s certainly challenging at times as well and has its less-than-enjoyable moments, but I feel like I’m finally putting my greatest gifts to good use.

The key to discovering my calling, and to continually following it as it changes, no matter where it leads, is different than what I expected.

It didn’t come from a childhood dream.

It didn’t come in a blinding stroke of insight.

It didn’t come from an assessment that told me what I was good at or what I would enjoy.

It didn’t come from doing work that seemed reasonable, that felt safe, or that I thought I should be doing.

It certainly didn’t come from somebody else telling me what they thought was right for me.

The Key to Your Calling

What helped me clarify my calling was simply this: listening to myself.

It was only after developing a habit of self reflection that I finally got clear on what I wanted to do in life and what the world was calling for from me.

We all have many reasons for not listening to ourselves in daily life: We’re too busy.  We don’t know how.  We don’t want to feel the discomfort of the painful feelings that inevitably arise.

Or maybe we’re afraid of what we’ll find if we listen to what we really want.

And yet when we don’t tune into our internal world, we’re like a house whose thermostat is out on the porch.

This poor house will fruitlessly blow hot or cold air into its rooms based on conditions outside; it won’t know what’s actually needed within its doors to reach its desired temperature.

Similarly, when we don’t listen to ourselves, we don’t know what we need.  Maybe we’re hungry, or cold, or tired.  Maybe we’re scared and in need of reassurance.  Maybe we’re angry and need to speak up. If we don’t stop to listen to what’s happening inside, we’ll never know.

When we start to pay attention to our internal world—our mood, our reactions, our current experience—it’s like taking the thermostat from the porch and bringing it back indoors.  It closes the feedback loop and allows us to adjust and respond based on accurate, up-to-date information.

The Most Powerful Thing You Can Do Today

There are many ways to listen in to yourself, and it can take some experimentation to find what works for you.

To get started, try one of the following ideas today and see how it works for you.  Then try another one tomorrow and another one the next day.  Once you’ve tried them all and seen what’s most effective for you, commit to doing at least one a day.

  • Meditate.  Insight (or Vipassana) and body scan meditations are particularly good ways to turn your attention towards your current experience.  I recommend starting with 5-10 minutes of meditation daily and building from there.  Remember that the goal isn’t to quiet your mind, but rather to get to know your internal world, so there’s no way to do this wrong if you do it with sincerity. has some great resources for beginning meditators, has a thorough and actionable free mindfulness guide, and mindfulness instructor Augusta Hopkins offers multiple body scan meditations on her website for free.
  • Write.  For some people, writing is the key to self discovery.  Bestselling  author Julia Cameron recommends writing 3 pages every morning as a way of breaking through creative blocks.  To practice this form of self reflection, set a timer for 10-15 minutes once a day and then write, stream-of-consciousness style, about anything that comes to you.  Don’t worry about being eloquent or profound.  Just move your pen the entire time, even if you have to write: “I have no idea what to say” until something else comes to you.
  • Check in with yourself regularlyI personally find it very helpful to take a few minutes 2-3 times a day to get curious about how I’m feeling and why.  One way to do this is to pause before you eat a meal and observe:  What is your mood right now?  What body sensations do you notice?  What have you been thinking about?  If you notice a strong internal reaction, it can be helpful to become curious:  What are you responding to?  Why are you feeling the way you are?  What are you wanting?
  • Talk with othersSome people become more aware of their internal world by sharing it with others.  If saying things out loud tends to create more clarity for you, then it can be helpful to talk to others regularly.  Make sure, however, to find someone who can listen without offering their own opinions or advice.  This is a time to get clarity about yourself, not input from others.  The best way to ensure this is to ask the person directly for what you need before you get started.
  • Move your body.  Some people struggle with sitting still for meditation, and involving the body can sometimes make it easier.  Yoga is one form of moving meditation, but walking, dancing, or just about anything else that moves your body can work as well.  The key to this form of self reflection is paying attention to your experience as you move.  You might do this by focusing on your breath, or on sensations in your body, or on what you feel in your core.  Whatever you do, do it daily and keep bringing your attention back to your current experience as you move, over and over again.

Over to You

What are your favorite forms of self reflection?  What helps you listen in and take your current temperature?

I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your experience in the comments below.

The Perfect Opportunity for Listening In

The next Pathfinders (a Group Hike and Discussion to Discover Your Calling) is coming up on Saturday, June 27th.

This event is an opportunity to combine several powerful methods for self reflection in a beautiful environment with a supportive community.

You’ll talk with peers about what’s happening for you in your search for work you love.  You’ll have the chance to meditate and practice checking in with yourself.  And you’ll  move your body as you walk in the woods, one of the most effective environments for gaining insight and clarity.

As one participant put it: “The metaphor of finding one’s path became real through this grounding experience of connecting with nature and other people from an array of backgrounds. The conversations I had helped me process what I want in my career and in life. Perhaps most importantly, it reminded me that many of the questions we ask ourselves are universally human. And that everyone truly has unique gifts to give the world.”

To find out more or to register to join us, click here.

If you liked this post, you can sign up for my newsletter in the box below and share it with others using the buttons that follow.  If you sign up for my newsletter, I’ll send ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change to you for free every other week.

Photo credit: Woodley Wonderworks // CC

The Real Reason What You Want Feels Impossible


I was talking to a client recently who had a sense that what she really wanted was simply not possible for her.

Either her dream job didn’t exist or she didn’t have the qualifications for it or there was no way it would pay her enough to live on.

She could think of a lot of solid, air-tight, realistic reasons that a positive outcome wasn’t possible, so she felt defeated before she even started.

I myself am no stranger to the art of impossibility.  My default response to any new idea is to think of 101 reasons it wouldn’t work out.  I spent years telling myself that I couldn’t be a writer because if I relied on it for money I would no longer enjoy it, and if it didn’t pay the bills, then how could I take it seriously?

My mother used to call this “putting yourself in a box.”  It turns out I’m exceptionally good at it

We Have Good Intentions

Those of us who have a hard time seeing possibility don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, least of all our own.

To be fair, we’re actually trying to help make things happen by being practical, pragmatic, and down-to-earth.  Our intention is to be more effective by anticipating obstacles and planning for difficult circumstances.

And yet the actual effect of our focus on the negative is the opposite.  We miss out on opportunities because we’re focused on what can’t happen instead of what can.  We feel demotivated and discouraged.  And too often we don’t even start because we think we already know it won’t work out.

The Real Reason We Do It

When we’re having a hard time feeling a sense of possibility, it’s not because we know something other people don’t.  It’s not because what we want is impossible, or even unlikely.

The real reason we think something can’t happen is because we’re trying to protect ourselves.  Deep down, some part of us is afraid of failure, or rejection, or finding out that we’re not as capable as we thought we were.

We don’t want to be disappointed.

So we convince ourselves it’s not possible so that we don’t even try.  If we don’t try, after all, we can’t be disappointed.

But the Truth of the Matter?

We are capable beyond measure Sure, we have limitations.  But we also have great gifts to give, and our limitations are simply landmarks that orient us and point to where our greatest gifts lie.

We can handle disappointment, failure, and rejection.  In fact, these things can make us stronger and take us closer to success.

So much is possible.  There are no boxes except the ones in our heads.  No matter what roadblocks we hit, we always have choices and can always find another way.

Seeing Possibility

So the next time you find yourself thinking about all the reasons something won’t work or all the things that could go wrong, stop.

Remind yourself that:

  • The future is unknown. 

No matter what’s happened in the past, and no matter how you feel in the present, you cannot know what will happen in the future.

Remember that it’s just as possible that you’ll be surprised by a new opportunity or solution as by an unforeseen problem or obstacle.

  • There are more possibilities out there than you can think of right now.

We tend to think that we know everything and have thought of all the possibilities that exist.  In my experience, that’s almost never true.

For example, though the idea never would have occurred to me when I was younger, I now use writing as part of my work without having to rely on it entirely for income.

And if my client can’t find a job doing what she loves, she can go into business for herself.  If it doesn’t pay her enough, she can subsidize it with other types of work she doesn’t mind doing.

  • Things change.

The only thing constant about life is change.  If something isn’t possible now, it may be that all you need to do is wait.

Our economy changes all the time—for example, college degrees are becoming less important in hiring, and the highest-paying jobs are not what they used to be.  The context and constraints you are now in will not be the same next year, next month, or even next week.

It Takes Courage

Seeing possibilities is a skill we can learn.  But we have to be willing to not know.

We have to learn to see the bigger picture.  We have to allow ourselves to trust and begin to have faith.  We have to be willing to be disappointed.

When we’re ready to take that risk, possibilities are everywhere.

Over to You

What have you achieved that felt impossible or unlikely in the past?  What helps you to see the bigger picture?

Please share your experience so that others can learn from it.

See What’s Possible for You

This is the last week to sign up for this month’s Pathfinders: A Group Hike and Discussion to Find Your Calling.

You’ll meet others like you who want to make a meaningful career change and go on a beautiful walk in the woods—one of the best places you can find to see the bigger picture, reconnect to yourself, and begin to see the possibilities.

It’ll be fun, fulfilling, and free your first time.

For more information or to register, click here.

If you liked this post, you can share it with others using the buttons that follow, or sign up for my newsletter in the box just below.  I’ll send ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change to you every other week.

Photo credit: Joe Hastings // CC

The Biggest Mistake People Make When Changing Careers (Or Anything Else)


Almost anyone who has tried to make a significant change in their life has felt stuck at one point or another.

I talk to people all the time who:

  • Desperately want to make a career change but can’t get themselves to take any action.
  • Go over and over possible next steps but still have no idea how to move forward.
  • Apply to a bunch of jobs, don’t hear anything back, then lose all motivation and stop applying for anything else.

Stuck, stuck, and stuck.

Our Biggest Mistake

Feeling stuck is the worst.  It’s frustrating and humbling.  All sense of excitement dries up and it feels like all you’ll ever know is the same disheartening, unsatisfying, and miserable status quo.

And yet feeling stuck isn’t a sign that you’re making a mistake.  Running into obstacles is actually an important part of the process.

The mistake comes in how you respond to these obstacles.

Most of us grew up in a culture that encourages independence and a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality.

We don’t want to burden others.  We want to look like we know what we’re doing.  It feels like a personal failing to admit that we’re having problems and aren’t sure how to solve them.

So we do the only thing we reasonably can: we try to overcome the obstacles on our own.

Unfortunately, that’s where we err.  Because the biggest mistake that people make when making a career change is that they try to do it alone.

How One Woman Got Unstuck

I had a client once who knew she needed to find a different type of job but didn’t know what to look for.  The more she thought about it, the more anxious she became, and the less certain she felt about which direction to go in.

By learning to tune into her heartfelt desires and superb inner guidance, my client got clearer about what she wanted in a job.  But she still didn’t know what jobs might offer what she was looking for, and her anxiety that she would get it wrong consistently got in her way.

So we worked on reaching out to others.  As she shared openly and vulnerably with people she trusted, they helped her to see that everyone’s path is unique, and that despite her anxiety, she was exactly where she should be.

My client began to accept the notion that she was on the right path, even if it was longer or more crooked than the one she had imagined.   She also received new ideas about directions she could explore and valuable feedback about her unique strengths and gifts.

The Possibilities are Endless

Other people help us:

  • See things from a different perspective
  • Discover new options we hadn’t considered before
  • See how others have overcome the same obstacles we face
  • Realize we aren’t alone in our mistakes or limitations
  • Feel loved and supported enough to take risks
  • Feel more energized, inspired, and optimistic
  • See ourselves and our capabilities more clearly
  • Learn about particular jobs and whether they’re a good fit for us
  • Find out about openings and opportunities
  • Get recommendations and land jobs more easily

Your Solution

Take a moment to consider your biggest challenge right now.  What kind of help would be useful?  Who might provide that help?

If you find you’re still reluctant to reach out, ask yourself what you’re avoiding.  What would you lose if you ask for help?  What would you gain?

My biggest challenges at the moment are incorporating my business and planning a wedding.  Everyone from friends and family to lawyers and accountants could help me.

Part of me doesn’t want to reach out because I’ll have to admit that I’m intimidated.  I’ll have to let go of my identity as someone who can do it all.  And in the case of professionals, I’ll have to pay them, spending money on something part of me believes I should be able to do myself.

What will I get?  Peace of mind.  Ease.  Sanity.  An ability to stress less and have time for fun and joy.  Not to mention better results.

Seeing it in those terms, the choice gets a whole lot easier.

Over to You

What have others helped you accomplish in the past?  What help are you considering asking for now?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  By sharing your need for support, you can challenge the notion that we should be able to do it all on our own.

Get Unstuck

If you’re trying to make a meaningful career change and don’t want to do it by yourself, join us on April 18th for Pathfinders: A Group Hike and Discussion to Find Your Calling.

You’ll go on a beautiful walk through the woods.  You’ll have meaningful conversations with others who, like you, are trying to discover what they’re meant to do in this world.  You’ll receive lots of support for identifying and taking next steps towards work you love.

To find out more or to register, click here.

If you liked this post, you can share it with others using the buttons below, or sign up for my newsletter in the box to the right.  I’ll send you ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change every other week.

Photo credit: David Noah // CC

You Can’t Find Your Dream Job While Working Full-Time —True or False?


It can feel impossible to look for your dream job while still working full-time.

Your job is relentless, stressful, and requires huge amounts of energy just to show up each morning, so it’s no wonder when you go home all you want to do is lie on the couch and not think about anything.

You may dream about quitting your full-time job so you can look with leisure, but the truth of the matter is, most people need the money to come in until they find something new.

Not to worry.  You have plenty of time and energy to find your dream job.  Really.  Many of my clients transition into new jobs while working full-time or juggling serious responsibilities.

Here are my top 3 tips for how to find the time and energy to look for your dream job no matter how busy you are:

Manage your energy like the precious resource it is.

When I coach clients with full-time jobs, I start by finding out what energizes them.  Is it hiking?  Cooking?  Painting?  Spending time with friends?  Doing Yoga?  Reading?   Energizing activities can be active (like rock climbing) or passive (like watching movies).

I then invite clients to start to pay attention to their energy levels.  Energy, after all, is a renewable resource.  When our work requires us to expend a lot of energy, we need to take time regularly to put fuel back in our tanks.  The more we take time to do the things that energize us, the more energy we have left after work to do the things that are truly important to us.

So start to notice what gives you energy and what drains it, and then make time for what energizes you at least once a day.

Get your priorities straight.

If you’re like many of my coaching clients, you don’t ever want to let others down.  When someone asks something of you, you do it to the best of your ability, no matter how long it takes or what the cost is to you.

It’s a beautiful intention to do your best, but seriously–no wonder you’re so tired at the end of the day.

It’s a matter of priorities.  You can’t take care of what’s important to you if you spend all your time working on what’s important to others.

If you know you don’t want to stay where you are, why invest in making your work perfect?  Why not start getting curious about what could be good enough?

Not every email has to be flawless.  Not every request from your boss has to be accepted.  Working later isn’t always better.

There’s often much more room than we realize to say no, ask for more time, or do a good job, but not a perfect one.

Doing so isn’t a sign that you’re mediocre; it’s a sign that you’re committed to something incredibly important: finding work that preserves your sanity, brings you joy, and allows you to contribute your greatest gifts to the world.

Beware of your saboteur.

Often we say we don’t have the time or energy to do something when really we do.  We can choose not to watch as much TV.  We could decide to say no to a social invitation.  We can spend less time on Facebook or activities that don’t truly bring us joy.

When this is the case (and it usually is), our saboteur is at work.

The saboteur is that part of us that tries to undermine progress towards what we most want.  Why?  Because it’s scared.  It’s afraid we’ll fail, or not have what it takes, or lose all our friends if we step out on this limb.  So it convinces us not to even try.

But if it told us directly not to try, we would recognize it for what it is.  So it’s sneaky.  It says, “You don’t have time to do this,” because that feels pretty true to most of us.  We take its words at face value, not realizing that it’s actually fear that’s keeping us stuck.

I coached a client once whose saboteur convinced him he didn’t have time to do an exercise that would have taken 3 minutes out of his day.  Being too busy seemed so reasonable, he never questioned it.  But once he realized that “not having time” was a form of internal resistance, he was quickly able to choose to do the exercise anyway.

Awareness = choice.  So next time you hear the familiar refrain “I don’t have time,” look around and see if you can’t find your saboteur.

Over to you

What do you think?  How do you make space for what’s important to you?

Your responses might help others.  Please share your comments below.

Find Time to Discover Your Dream Job

If you know all this but still have a hard time finding time to make a change, fear not.  Knowledge is only one piece of the puzzle.

Sometimes we also need structure, encouragement, or practice to make these changes.  That’s exactly what coaching provides.

Click here to request a free clarity session and take action towards finding your dream job, no matter how busy or tired you are.

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver / Foter / CC BY

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