Tag Archives: Blogging

Six things to do when you don’t know what to do.

Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:  You’re not happy in your current job but aren’t sure what else you’re qualified to do.  You’re not making enough money but you can’t afford to quit.  You want to do something meaningful but you haven’t found your “passion”.

Go back to school?  Start your own business??  Join the circus??? 

If you’ve become paralyzed by indecision, the best strategy may be to stop, take a breath, and come at the problem from a different direction.  Here are some ideas to get you moving:

Dive deep into a new subject.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  Pick something that interests you (work-related or not) and start learning everything you can about it.  Explore it from different perspectives and thru different mediums.  Follow footnotes and interesting asides.  See where it takes you.

Get an activity tracker and start walking.  Feeling aimless drains your energy and you may find yourself in a sedentary rut.  An activity tracker (I like the FitBit) will help you focus on getting up and out.  And walking will clear your mental fog and get you thinking big thoughts.

Declutter.  Our physical space and our mental space are deeply entwined.  Clearing our  material baggage has a magic way of clearing our psyche as well.  Purge ruthlessly and then examine what’s left.  It may hold clues to what really matters in your life.  (Marie Kondo’s book on the magic of tidying up explores this in depth.)

Keep a time log.  “I don’t have time.” is probably the biggest excuse we use for not moving forward.  But you probably have more than you think.  Track everything you do for a week and see where your time is really going.  Then evaluate what you can change to make time for something new.

Start a blog.  Pick something that interests you and start writing about it.  It doesn’t have to be ground breaking stuff, but commit to writing something on the regular.  Explore other blogs and start connecting with people online.  Be open to the process and again, see where it takes you.

Volunteer to work with someone from another country.  Volunteering is good experience in general, but working directly with someone from another culture – tutoring a non-native speaker, for example – is an excellent way to put your own life in perspective.


How about you?  Have you ever felt aimless?  How did you deal with it?


(This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.)


Telling our stories in the digital age.

olympia 2 by glasseyes view

When I was little, I remember my dad pacing the living room floor, dictating, as my mom typed his words on our old electric typewriter.  It was a big, humming machine and the keys made a satisfying chunk sound.  The manuscripts were typed, edited, typed again and then mailed off to magazine editors.  After my dad passed, my mom sent me the 30-year-old copies of Ranger Rick and Owl that held the evidence of their hard work.

Way back in 1994, I started a newsletter about local music in my hometown – The Perimeter: McMinnville’s Premier Music Publication.  I typed the articles on our high-tech word processor, then carefully cut them into columns and pasted them onto graph paper.  I hand-lettered the masthead and had a local print shop make 50 copies.  A few issues in, my family got a PC, outfitted with Microsoft Publisher and a dial-up internet connection, and my production value went up considerably.

Last week, I helped a single mom, with not much work history but lots of life experience, draft her resume.  We emailed back and forth, discussing different ways to describe her skills and tell her story.  We changed fonts, reworked the design, and uploaded to her LinkedIn profile, all with a few clicks of a button.

Kitty Ireland remembers typing her first resume on a rented typewriter at the public library.  Reading her post, I was reminded how hard getting our ideas out into the world used to be. Crafting a good story, one that deftly explains who we are and what we can offer, is still hard work.  But the mechanics of story-telling have definitely gotten easier.


(Photo by glasseyes view via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)


When did overwhelm become a noun?

Mosaic Salsa by brillianthues (cropped)

As in “How to Fight Overwhelm” or “Overcoming the Overwhelm.”

This use of overwhelm as a noun is a pet peeve of mine.  Now, I don’t exactly consider myself the Grammar Police.  I can overlook the occasional your/you’re or there/their mistake.  I can appreciate the creative use of language.  (Think different.)  And I understand that language evolves.  (Because internet.)  So why does this overwhelm thing get under my skin?

Feeling overwhelmed.  Finding a task overwhelming.  These are transitive states.

But when we take overwhelm as a noun, it becomes something outside ourselves.  An entity.  A separate thing that we can’t control.  It implies that taking on more than we can handle is an unavoidable fact of modern life.  Like gridlock.  Or the Kardashians.

But is it?  We certainly have an increasingly large number of demands on our time, energy and attention.  But to overwhelm is an action.  We need to remain clearheaded about who is putting stressful demands on our resources.  Because ultimately, it is a person, and likely, it’s ourselves.

I find this much easier to deal with than some amorphous entity we’ve dubbed Overwhelm.

What do you think?


(Photo by brillianthues via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)


My love/hate relationship with travel blogs.

The Road - AZ by irishwildcat

Let me start by saying that the original title for this post was

“Does the world really need another travel blogger?”

But that just begs the question

“Does the world really need another management blogger?”

And let’s just say that’s a can of worms we can probably leave unopened for now.

But seriously…the reason I changed the title is because I truly enjoy travel blogs.  I love to travel and I love reading about other people’s unique and interesting travel experiences.

But here’s the thing: there’s a particular tone to some of these blogs that just rubs me the wrong way.  It’s the assumption that we all secretly wish we could quit our boring desk jobs and with just a bit of gumption, we too could live out the universal dream of world travel.  And if we’re not willing to pack it all in and hike across Slovenia or some such, then we must be soulless automatons who are dying a slow death at the hands of our corporate overlords.

Okay, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic (and no offense meant to the Slovenian hiking community).  I do realize I’m making a sweeping generalization, and I admit that my visceral reaction may stem from the fact that I have felt like a soulless automaton at points in my professional life.  But I resent the implication that the only solution to an unsatisfying career is to abandon it.

Work can totally suck.  I get that.  And the idea of a dramatic career reinvention can be tantalizing, and perhaps for you, an entire life overhaul is the best solution.  If that’s what you need to do and you feel compelled to blog about it, please do.  I look forward to reading about your adventures.

But if that doesn’t really feel like the solution for you, it doesn’t mean you have to be resigned to career stagnation.  There are so many ways we can improve our situations incrementally – by acting purposefully, by building on the assets we already have and by finding ways to intersect with our work in new ways.

Many of the reasons we are drawn to travel – freedom, adventure, meeting new people, challenging our personal limits – reflect basic human needs.  And if we think in terms of those needs, we may find the root cause of our dissatisfaction at work.

We need autonomy.   We need purpose.   We need to grow and be challenged. 

I believe just about any job can meet those needs, if we approach it in the right way.  And if it can’t, we can use it as a platform for the next job, or the one after that.

I guess that’s the basic belief that informs my work on this blog: There is a whole world of opportunity for a rich and fulfilling career between the extremes of dead-eyed desk jockey and carefree adventurer.

So please forgive the rant and let’s go make it happen.


(Photo by irishwildcat via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)