Five Ways to Get What You Want (Sorry Mick Jagger)

There is no doubt Mick Jagger rocks it out; his poster graced my bedroom wall growing up while peers were drawn to the comelier visages of Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez or John Stamos. But unlike his refrain from the enduring Rolling Stones hit “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” believing that you can achieve your heart’s desire is important in personal momentum.  Here are five ways to get what you want in your professional and personal life:

  1. Have a clear vision. There’s a big difference between stating “I want to be successful in a big corporation” and “I want to be a Vice President leading Business Intelligence in a Fortune 500 company.” Being specific about the essence of what you desire, i.e. leadership of a function in a certain size business, without being tied to how it takes shape or form (B2C versus B2B, narrowing it down to a particular industry) is the first step in making this vision a reality. Then bring it to life by creating a vision board, writing about it, designing a screen saver to reinforce this goal, posting the intention where you can see it, etc.
  2. Move forward with intention. Using the corporate job example above, research the credentials of others who hold the kinds of positions you ultimately desire. Identify key factors that helped them stand out; perhaps it was actively speaking at industry conferences, going after complex certifications or being proactive about starting new initiatives. There is power in understanding the lay of the land. Someone I respect just moved from a warm, fuzzy culture to a place where directness combined with political one-upmanship is critical to rise to the top. Take the time to understand those behaviors and cultural landscape as cues for how you can succeed in your career path.
  3. Honor your life goals. My friend Steve loves to travel. Formerly a Senior Vice President at a major bank, he took a career sabbatical last spring to see the world. Naysayers claimed it would be hard for him to re-enter corporate America without a job in hand. Fast forward nearly a year later. In addition to enjoying spots like Auckland, Prague and Spain, Steve fell in love and is about to start a terrific new job working for the best boss he ever had. Yup, a total case of #winning.
  4. Practice resilience. Called stupid by his teachers as a child, Thomas Edison has 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb before getting it right. Stephen King’s manuscript for “Carrie” was rejected 30 times before it became an international bestseller. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and had his first business fail before starting Microsoft and becoming the youngest self-made billionaire. There are always going to be setbacks and challenges along the way. How you handle adversity and pick yourself back up directly impacts the likelihood of achieving goals.
  5. Go for “Yes, and…” Do you believe getting what you want will necessitate a difficult choice? You know, having a happy family life or a successful career, living near loved ones or moving across the country for an exciting opportunity…you get the picture. Rather than focusing on “either/or,” look to the concept of “Yes, and…” which involves accepting an idea and then adding to (rather than negating) it. This standard improvisational comedy practice has been adopted by a growing number of businesses who realize it fosters ideation, brainstorming and greater collaboration. Take a moment to consider how “Yes, and” can jumpstart the path to your heart’s desire – whether it is getting into better shape, going back to school to earn a degree or being selected for a popular reality TV cooking show.

Have a story to share about getting what you want? Know someone who has inspired you in this area that we should learn about?

Four Ways to Love Yourself While Loving Your Job

iStock_000016251684_SmallIn developing business communications, I often quote  thought leaders like Albert Einstein, Jack Welch and Sheryl Sandberg. My all-time personal favorite quote  though comes right out of the mouth of Carrie Bradshaw during the final episode of Sex & the City – “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Those are sage words. I’m lucky enough to have a great husband who really loves me, even when I repeat tired jokes about impending zombie apocalypses and often eat 80% of the premium chocolate bar he bought for us to “share.”  But I have had to recalibrate another area of my life recently   – balancing a job I love with taking care of myself.

I returned to corporate America last October as the Executive Vice President of Communications for the National DCP, which is the $2 billion supply chain management cooperative serving the franchisees of Dunkin’ Donuts. (Yes, they stock our break rooms with goodies but I don’t have any samples to share.) The job has been like a Reese’s peanut butter cup of excitement for me – I have gotten to build our internal, external and corporate communications strategy from scratch while also leveraging my executive coaching skills at work each day.  Incredibly fast paced, the 24/7 environment never stops. I have been on the road for much of the past two months and given my level of responsibility, frequently work on weekends while constantly staying plugged into email and texts.

Exciting stuff, indeed. Until you realize that your healthy eating habits have left the building, normally high energy level has plummeted and the bags under your eyes wouldn’t fit in the airplane luggage bin. As I’ve been working on balancing my love for work with loving myself, here are some tips that are yielding results:

  1. Treat nutrition like a project plan. You’ve mapped out that new project launch in detail and know three quarters of financial forecasts like the back of your hand, but never give a thought to what you are going to eat each day. So diving into leftovers from another department’s catered breakfast or fast food discards tends to constitute most of your lunches. I’ve been planning ahead by bringing healthy lunches and two sets of snacks into work, which helps me pass up the leftover cookie pile. The same is true for work travel. Keeping natural protein bars or nuts in your briefcase or purse curbs your hunger in transit. If i know where our team is headed out for dinner, I will check out menus online in advance to select healthier options.
  2. Get enough sleep. This one can be hard, especially if you have to get up early and go to bed late after a work dinner. I love exercising before work but have realized that sometimes getting seven hours of sleep is going to do me more good than anything else and adjust my schedule. Plus its natural for sleep deprived souls to gravitate towards lots of caffeine and sugar to stay awake during the day so getting enough rest helps you make better choices.
  3. Start and end the day focusing on yourself. My best days are spent journaling, even for 10 minutes, before I go to the gym first thing and then work. At night, I try to stop checking emails an hour or two before bed and drift off reading a good book or listening to a positive recording.
  4. Take breaks and time off. My boss told us to book vacations in advance to ensure we keep our commitment to taking time off. So I listened to his advice and now have fun breaks scheduled for September and December; just writing about this makes me smile. But also try to balance the hard work with more frequent, smaller breaks. I have had to work a number of weekends recently and plan to take an upcoming Friday off to just focus on myself.

How have you handled making time for yourself with a challenging job? What practices keep you healthy and happy on a daily basis?