Career Freedom in it’s most basic form is exercising your power to choose, what you do, when you do it, and how you go about doing it. Many like to take the position that they do not have a choice when it comes to their career, that they are some sort of trap because of financial, family or other reasons. They are still making a choice to put whatever it is over the choice concern their work. The key to freedom here is being aware of where you have choices that you previously did not see, and perhaps making different choices.
Career like almost any other endeavor in life, can be looked at as a game. Most people are in career games they did not consciously choose ,or chose for the wrong reasons. Everyone in their family is a doctor, so they became one; or they chose if because it was lucrative, or for one of many other reasons.
They are playing the game of wealth, status, and prestige. A game that has been handed to them. Unfortunately this is a game that relatively few people win. If everyone could win that wouldn’t be very much fun. It is no surprise that so many people suffer from work related stress illness, ranging from discontentment to hatred ,or even depression over their work.
People feel trapped to some degree; they don’t see they can make the decision to start playing a different game. Choosing the game you are in, and what you are playing for is a huge responsibility, it would mean freedom. Pursuing what you want, not what your parents want for you, teachers think is best for you, or the media suggests you should want. In the end this is the only type of game worth playing, a game whose outcome is intrinsically important to the individual playing it.
As in traditional games, not only does winning have to be important to you, but playing well does too. While winning is much more fun, you can still do really well, play great, and not have the highest score. I wouldn’t mind the payout the losing team at the Super Bowl or World Series receives.
Playing to win requires perseverance, courage, and heart, which you can only sustain when something is intrinsically important to you, it connects to who you are at your essence;
- An athlete is willing to endure hours of practice and injury because their game is important to them.
- An actor goes through thousands of rejections because it is important enough to them.
- Doctors are willing to take someone else’s life in their hands, because it is the game they are meant to be in.
So how does one figure this out. I have had clients that figured it out in a couple of weeks and others have taken longer. The process of discovering can be played like a game as well. Before you can even name the game, consider what winning looks like? If you were looking back one year from now, and your situation was perfect what would it be like? What would it feel like? How would you know that you were winning your career game?
What would have to happen for you to win?
Taking this on is not for everyone. It requires a strong commitment and can be challenging at times. After all it were too easy, that wouldn’t be a game worth playing. If you take this path, there will be lots of distractions and pressure to play a game someone else thinks you should play, a game that seems like it has an easy pay off, although it will be on someone else’s terms.
Consider this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th Century German Poet: “Concerning acts of initiative there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic in it.”
- Steve Jobs was fired from Apple before being rehired years later.
- Between 1843 and 1855, R.H. Macy opened four retail stores, they all failed. In 1858, he opened a new Macy’s store at Sixth Avenue and 14th Street in NYC, the official start of the chain we know today.
- Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections.
- Before starting his own business, F.W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21. But his employer would not let him serve any customers because he concluded that Frank “didn’t have enough common sense to serve the customers”
- Steven Spielberg has won 3 Academy Awards and ranks among the most successful filmmakers in history. Spielberg dropped out of junior high school. He was persuaded to come back and was placed in a learning-disabled class. He only lasted a month and then dropped out of school forever.
In a feature that aired on CBS News “Sunday Morning” they point out:
The copy machine was invented in 1937, but the idea was rejected by the likes of GE and IBM. It would be 10 years before Xerox’s machine would make its debut. John Grisham’s first novel was rejected by a dozen publishing houses … and Henry Ford went bankrupt 5 times.
Feeling a little low on your capabilities or self-confidence? This kid in this short video has the best attitude.
Citing an American Psychological Association(APA) study, Medical News Today reports three-fourths of Americans say they are stressed about work & money; one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress, and the most commonly cited source of stress— mentioned by 74 percent of respondents — was work.
If you are think you are one of these people with a high degree of stress and poor quality of life due to work, take notice! companies large and small are recognizing that happy & healthy employees affect the bottom line in a positive way.
This month the APA recognized five organizations for their comprehensive efforts to promote employee health and well-being while improving performance. Companies presented with the American Psychological Association’s 2008 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award (PHWA) were Arkansas Educational Television Network, Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico, Nike Tennessee, Porter Keadle Moore (Georgia) and Westminster Savings Credit Union (British Columbia).
If you run a company or own a business and believe that it wouldn’t be practical for you to implement this, listen to what these organizations report: A turnover rate of 11 percent compared to the national average of 40 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Surveys completed by employees of the winning organizations showed overall well-being and job satisfaction for employees to be significantly greater compared to national averages.
According to the APA report; at Westminster Savings Credit Union, high employee satisfaction and low turnover means that two thirds of WSCU’s openings are filled internally, lowering administrative costs. Increased productivity is another benefit for the organizations. In 2007, Nike Tennessee increased productivity by 51 percent, while reducing injury rates by almost 30 percent. And at Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples, an insurance company in Puerto Rico, employee loyalty is high with a 15-year average length of service and a turnover rate of less than two percent.”
In a New York Times article published this week on the same subject, they point out that “48 percent of the employers in the survey said stress created by long hours and limited resources was affecting business performance, but only 5 percent said they were taking strong action to address those areas.”
The Times highlights some well know organizations that are showing initiative in this area as well. They include:
GlaxoSmithKline has program called “Team Resilience” which combines things like health assessments, discussion groups and follow-up evaluations to deal with workplace stress.
PricewaterhouseCoopers also addresses stress in multiple ways. For example, in annual surveys, employees asked for more coaching and opportunities to connect with more experienced colleagues — and got them.
Workplace Options, a provider of work-life employee benefits, reports that a recent poll of more than 700 working adults found 76 percent believe it is important that companies offer employees wellness programs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The U.S. Surgeon General states that 50 percent of this year’s high-cost employees in terms of health care were not in that category last year, and more than 87 percent of health care claims costs are due to an individual’s lifestyle, according to a study by Indiana University. To combat these trends, it is important for companies to consider adopting wellness initiatives that incorporate coaching for maximum results.
Predominantly from the viewpoint of Corporate Wellness, Talent Mangement cites the benefits of coporate wellness programs and coaching. “According to recent studies, pairing personalized coaching with employee wellness initiatives leads to higher success rates.”
What i think is evident is that employers are starting to realize that a happy healthy employee performs better. In order to affect this employers are recognizing that they must look at the employee in terms of their whole life, and how they can help them maintain a quality life.
TED started as an invitation only conference in the 1980’s; bringing together the most innovative minds from Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It continues today, with selected guests invited to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. While these talks were initially only heard by those in attendance, the evolution of the web sparked the creation of Ted Talks, a video archive of these presentations. They have graciously made them available to the public.
These speakers are not just leaders in their fields, they are the trailblazers knocking down the walls of conformity. They are using their position, gifts, talent, resources and knowledge to make the world a better place.
The talks are classified in categories that you don’t ordinarily see on other sites. They include “most jaw-dropping” which is led by Blaise Aguera Y Arcas, co-creator of Photosynth a monumental piece of software capable of assembling statis photos into a synergy of zoomable navigatable spaces.
Deborah Scranton who tops the “most courageous” category shows clips and discusses her film “The War Tapes” which documents putting cameras in the hands of a unit of The New Hampshire National Guard for one year while in Iraq
The “most inspiring” category includes Richard St. John who spent more than a decade researching the secrets of success — and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book; Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich: Spike’s Guide to Success
There is a dose of inspiration here for anyone and everyone.
60 Minutes did a segment on Happiness.
Here is a 12 minute excerpt, followed by some highlights from this episode and some additional perspectives on how to be happy.
Denmark tops the list of the happiest country in the world. The segment takes a look at what makes Danes so happy. As one of the researchers puts it, this may be due to the Danes modest expectations. It may also have to do with the fact that college students get paid to go to school, a dad gets paid for 6 months to stay home and care for his child, free healthcare for all, subsidized child care, and 6 weeks vacation. As one of the Danish college students interviewed for the segment “we are secured from the day we are born.” The average tax rate though is about 50%.Some Danish college students state what is important to them, work they enjoy, time with their families, low stress, and one of the students offers advice to Americans “don’t depend too much on the American Dream, you might get disappointed.” I don’t agree with the notion not to attempt something because you could fail.U.S. comes in as the 23rd happiest country. Dont worry we come in ahead of Iraq.Tal Ben Shahar a professor and researcher at Harvard University teaches the “most popular course on campus; “Positive Psychology”. He is also the author of the recently released “Happier”. He suggests Americans would not be willing to pay a 50% tax rate for the lifestyle the Danes have. Americans have higher expectations a “want it all” mentality focused on material things, which does not make one happier. He loosely defines happy as the intersection between doing something that has meaning to us and which gives us pleasure.Ben Shahar offers 5 easy steps to happiness:
- Simplify-Do less rather than more. More is not necessarily better.
- Exercising as little as three times per week can have an impact as powerful as some psychiatric drugs.
- Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Do you see the glass half empty or half full?
- Accept your painful emotions such as sadness or frustration. They are a normal part of life.
- Appreciate what you have. When you appreciate the good in your life, the good appreciates, you get more of it.
Shahar goes on to say that the number one predictor of well-being is close friendships and relationships in general.
60 Minutes is not the only media outlet covering happiness as of late.
Good Morning America and 20/20 both did stories just last month on Happiness. GMA Interviewed UC Riverside Professor and Sonja Lyubomirsky; author of the recently released “The How of Happiness.”
Her research shows “If we observe genuinely happy people, we shall find that they do not just sit around being contented. They make things happen. They pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and control their thoughts and feelings. In sum, our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above the effects of our set points and the circumstances in which we find oursselves.” Based on her findings she offers 12 scientific strategies for happiness. ABC News has an excerpt of her book available.
This academic and scientific research on happiness stems from Positive Psychology, founded by Dr. Martin Seligman; Director of the Positive Psychology Center at The University of Pennsylvania. On their Authentic Happiness Website there are free questionaires which will measure different degrees of happiness, character, and other related areas.
I have great respect for the area of positive psychology. It serves as part of the foundation for the Life Coaching that I am trained in. While the academic research and findings are quite interesting, this look at Happiness would not be complete without mentioning “The Art Of The Happiness” by The Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler. The book is a dialogue between the two authors. While not free of modern science and research, the core premises of this book are steeped in Buddhism.
These premises are:
- The purpose of life is happiness.
- Happiness is determined more by the state of one’s mind than by one’s external conditions, circumstances, or events—at least once one’s basic survival needs are met.
- Happiness can be achieved through the systematic training of our hearts and minds, through reshaping our attitudes and outlook.
- The key to happiness is in our own hands.
Gretchen Rubin is a New York City based author an fellow blogger, currently working on a book called “ The Happiness Project”. It states on her blog that it will be “a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier.”
So while there are a number of different perspectives and the subject of happiness is on a lot of people’s minds, with varying conclusions. One take-away for me is that so much of it has to do with our own attitude. The way that we choose to see things. The glass half-full or half-empty perspective. Do you need to have what you want, or want what you already have to be happy?
In 1945 Gunder Hagg of Sweden set the world record for running the fastest mile at just over 4:01. The record remaining static for almost 9 years, purpotrating a myth that it may just be impossible for a human to run a mile in less than 4 minutes.
It is evident that not everyone believed it was impossible, as there were a number of runners feverishly competing to be the first run a mile in less than 4 minutes. One of these runners, Roger Bannister set the world record in 1954 by running a mile in 3:59:04. Interestingly, almost 2 months later John Landy beat Bannister’s record. Later Bannister bested his own and Landy’s record in a race with Landy who also set a new personal record. Was this just a coincidence?
This story illustrates how important it is to question our own self-limiting beliefs, and the constraints that others may attempt to place on us. There may have been an almost famous runner who decided not to attempt a 4 minute mile because he bought into the idea it was not possible Regardless, of how ingrained a belief may be in our minds, culture, community, or society it is worth challenging these beliefs.
If all believed that a 4 minute mile was impossible, Bannister nor anyone else may have never set that record. It is interesting to note that once he broke this barrier, other runners followed suit. His achievment opened up the idea that it was possible for others as well. The current record is just under 3:45 having been set in 1999.
What do you believe is impossible? What would happen if you believed it was possible?
In considering living to a ripe old age, the ideal is to maintain independence and a quality of life. A recent study takes a look at 5 common behaviors of men who have lived past age 90. Yes, I have friends who have had a grandmother that smoked into their 90’s, I would guess those are exceptions and not the rule. A new study led by Dr. Laurel B. Yates at Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that a “healthy lifestyle in one’s elderly years may contribute to living past age 90 in men.”
Specifically the study mentions weight management, exercising regularly and not smoking as being factors that could play a role in increased life span. The researchers
estimate that”a 70-year-old man who did not smoke and had normal blood pressure and weight, no diabetes and exercised two to four times per week had a 54 percent probability of living to age 90.”
Any of these adverse factors could play a role in reducing probability of livng to age 90; Sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, obesity, smoking and diabetes. Various combinations of these factors raning from two to all five of them might give you only a 4 percent chance of living to age 90.
A key component of this study is that these factors also played a role in a better quality of life with better physical function, mental well-being, and self-perceived health in late life.
As the New York Times points out in an article citing this and other studies, there can be other mitigating factors including level of education and degree of social isolation which affect life expectancy.
The Times article cites another recent study which found that a large proportion of people who lived that long and lived with minimal or no assistance did so despite long-term chronic illness. In other words, instead of delaying disease, they delay disability. Dr. Dellara F. Terry, of Boston University, the another studies lead author.
Fast Company published 18 of the most innovative business minds of the past year. There are some familiar names on the list and some new. Regardless of the industry you are in, chances are you will find someone on this list who inspires you.
Included is Timothy Ferris; Author of The Four Hour Work Week.
Ferriss is a Princeton University guest lecturer in High-Tech Entrepreneurship, the first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango, a national Chinese kickboxing champion, and even a MTV breakdancer in Taiwan. But, what he’s most known for is his 80-20 principle, suggesting that people outsource everyday tasks. He adds, “I’m asking some important and long-avoided questions that make people uncomfortable.”
Follow this link for the other honorees;
Often people feel stuck in their jobs, or have this underlying feeling that they are underperforming and underearner. “This is not how it was supposed to turn out.” Their situation could range anywhere from a financial crisis to being quite successful yet they end up getting stuck somewhere. You may be an underearner. Do you indentify with these symptoms?
- You blame something or someone else for your situation such as parents, boss, or business-partner.
- Have low self-esteem and placed an unconscious ceiling on your earning capacity.
- Minimize the importance of money in your life and attempt to rationlize it by saying things like “money doesn’t buy happiness.”
- Fear that earning more or having success means loss of freedom, or will somehow negatively impact your personal life.
- Have negative stereotypes about wealthy people. “Rich people are not nice.” “Rich people are greedy.”
- Are Waitiing for someone or circumstance to do it for you, you believe you’ll marry rich, win the lottery, or some benefactor will recognize your special qualities and change your life.
- You choose to stay in your comfort zone by not doing what is uncomfortable, such as promoting yourself, asking for a raise, or gave up on your dreams so you don’t have to take risks.
- The 5 people you spend most of your time with are also underearners.
- Believe they are trapped by their lifestyle or obligations such as bills, family.
- Lacks clarity on the finances, monthly expenses, debts, etc.
If you are an underearner, the first thing you need to do is stop denying or pretending you aren’t one. Then there are some great steps you can take like finding a mentor, going to Debtor’s Anonymous-Don’t let the name fool you they have some great programs on underearning. Build a support network, find some friends who are earning more than you. A couple of great books to read on this subject are “The Soul of Money”; Rich Dad Poor Dad, and Millionaire Mind.