How To Keep Moving Forward When All You Want To Do Is Stop!

It’s one of those periods in my life. You know, the ones where everything just seems too much. Drive my business forward. Be social. Write my blog. Cook nice dinners. Reach out to people I care about. Yes, all of it pretty much seems like too much these days. I have to admit that I have a lot going on. A business to run. A house that is on the market. An upcoming move to plan. Excruciating pain most days as I await surgery.  I know a nice relaxing vacation would go a long way toward fixing most of this, but it’s just not the right time to do that.

So, here I am. Struggling to find the energy each day to keep moving forward. It’s not easy, but I do have a few things that work for me. I know you have these days too, so thought I’d share them here.

  1. I keep my eye on the prize. Yes, I know I want to sell my current home to buy my next one. Rather than focus on the effort to sell, I focus on the fun it will be to buy and set up a new home.
  2. Living in bad knee is, well a pain. It’s with me all the time. It limits what I can do physically. For someone who is active and enjoys working out, waiting for a surgery to repair things feels like forever. Again, I’m choosing to focus on how wonderful it will be to have my knee restored. And how grateful I’ll be once that pain is gone and I know I don’t have to live with it. And, even more importantly, the knowledge that my affliction is easily cured and I can move on with my life. Compared to friends going through cancer treatment or worse, I count my blessings.
  3. I remember that life is for living. As a friend reminded me today, focus on the fact that you are alive, breathing and able to make choices!
  4. Even though most days, I’d like to just stay at home and read, I remember how much I love my work, the people I get to help and seeing them find new careers or new jobs. Yes! My work is important and helps people. Just two days ago, I learned that one client had landed a great new job, while another had secured a fascinating new position within their company! THAT is worth getting up and out of bed for!
  5. We all have a choice each morning when we wake up. We can CHOOSE to be happy and have a positive outlook. We can CHOOSE to keep moving forward, even when we don’t really have the energy to.
  6. And finally. If life permits. Take a nap! Nothing restores me more than a quick cat nap in the middle of the afternoon. Find what works for you and keep moving forward.

And BAM! Just like that, I have overcome my struggle. I’ve gotten through a day of client meetings, I’ve written my blog and I’m off to take that cap nap as a reward!

Read more career blogs at http://www.colecoach.com/blog

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Posted in achievement, appreciation, career, challenges, goals, gratitude, growth, life, passion, patience, resilience, strength | Tagged | Leave a comment

Resilience

pexels-photo-842155.jpegFor some time now, nearly 5 years to be exact, I’ve been sharing my journey here. I haven’t been as active in recent years because my coaching business has been growing and thriving (yay!).

Recently, I’ve been engaging in more speaking gigs, something I LOVE to do, and people have been asking more about my story. While I’ve shared bits and pieces of it, I thought I’d take some time to share one particular piece of my story, and that is the answer to what people ask me most, “How did you get so resilient?” Well, here we go.

I think it all begins with genetics, like so much of our lives. My ancestors, both lines on my mother’s side, and one on my father’s, were part of the Pilgrim migration in the 1600s. All landed in Massachusetts. Dad’s family went south to Rhode Island while Mom’s both headed to Maine. As I always say, wimps didn’t make that voyage alive, so those who lived through it produced individuals like me. We take what life deals us, find a way to work through it and carry on, most of the time without whining.

When I was 7 years old, it was discovered that I was legally blind in one eye. It moved like a healthy eye, so until I had my first eye exam in school, nobody had guessed. Luckily, having never had stereo vision, I didn’t know what I was missing. It’s never been an issue. It was never something I dwelled on. I played basketball in junior high (I was 5’8″ after all and a good blocker), I took tennis and ballet lessons, and learned to drive a car successfully. It never occurred to me to question my ability to do anything. It was truly a non-issue and I’ve never minded wearing glasses.

At the age of 13, again during a school exam, it was discovered that I have scoliosis. This required surgery to fuse bones onto the lower part of my spine to prevent further curvature. I was admitted to the hospital in September, had the surgery in October, and spent the next 6 months in bed with a body cast from my chin to my knees. Whatever. Again, it just was what it was. There were three girls per room, we watched school on closed circuit tv and had a great time. My amazing parents made the 20 minute drive every Saturday and Sunday to spend their days with me. I had frequent high school friends who would also come up, and made a bunch of new friends in the hospital. We even had visitors like the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins! A truly fun time for me. When Spring arrived, I was slowly rehabbed until I could stand for 30 minutes. That was the milestone for being able to get rid of the heavy cast and get a ‘walking cast’ that is lighter. The next step was to learn to walk all over again. That took some time, and in the midst, I sprained both ankles, causing me to use a wheelchair for two weeks, delaying my recuperation.

Once my ankles recovered, I could continue my learn-to-walk exercises. Only then could I take a weekend trip home. By June, I was released and returned home wearing a visible Milwaukee brace for a year. Yes, people looked and I would sing that old song “Everybody’s looking at me”….. The next school year was one of transition. In my hometown of Hingham, MA, they combined the students from two junior high schools into one high school, so half of the student population was unknown to me. Imagine this all happening when you’re 5’8”, insecure and wearing a back brace and glasses. Let’s just say this wasn’t a year of highlights. But by 11th grade, the brace was gone and I started looking ahead to college.

This period of my life was uneventful. I fell in love, quit school at UMASS/Amherst because my boyfriend had graduated and moved to Florida. In the middle of a February blizzard in Western Massachusetts, Florida and my boyfriend sounded a lot better. So, I quit college, much to my parents’ dismay. Life in Florida was fun. I broke up with my boyfriend, married a man too far my senior and divorced after 2.5 rocky years of marriage. Once again, on my own deciding what direction to take. As luck would have it, my employer offered me a transfer to Seattle and sent me out to see it one dreary rainy March. I instantly fell in love and accepted the transfer! Never looked back. Seattle is my city, where my soul soars!

Two years later, I married again and instantly became wife and step-mother as my husband had custody of his children. This seemed like the answer to my dream of becoming a Mom….something I’d always held as my #1 goal in life. Things didn’t work out that way. While I did all of the child rearing, and my husband complimented me on that, I never truly developed the close bond that I’d hoped for. When we divorced, I lost them all. Alone again.

There was some good during this time. I did finally graduate from the University of Washington with my BS degree in accounting – another major accomplishment on my list of life. I began work at Microsoft as a Financial Analyst. Life was good for a while until the marriage fell apart.

Looking for my next move, I decided to quit my job at Microsoft, leave Seattle for now and move to D.C. where my sister lived with her husband and daughter. I thought being near my niece while she grew would be lovely. And it was! I had some great jobs, traveled the world for work, even lived in England for some time. But I learned I was not cut out for accounting. It’s far too mundane and repetitive for me. Seeking a more suitable career, I enrolled at George Washington University for my Masters in Human and Organizational Learning. Life turned around with this move! THIS was the field I was destined for! Things improved dramatically. I graduated, went to work for a major non-profit and had the best career experience of my life, working with an extraordinary team, learning and growing. It remains the highlight of my career.

But, once again, life threw me a curve, well several actually. In 2010, my Dad passed away suddenly. In 2011, my long-term relationship ended, and in 2012 a leadership change impacted my happiness at work. At one point, I had to have major surgery that required a 2 month bed rest at home. With nobody to stay with me, I had to take care of myself. Without the best neighbor and friend in the world, I would have been completely on my own. That was a major aha for me. How could I have lived in a town for 13 years, have family nearby, and yet nobody made themselves available to even drop in and visit? I was a good person and a good friend, so this was telling. There were 4 very special people who each made one visit, but 2 months of bedrest is a long time! So, here I was, in a town I’d come to hate, alone again and looking for a new job opportunity. I simply felt lost. I was depressed and without much support. I’d never felt more distressed and alone in my life. Resilience was needed. Things did not come easily. I struggled to find a suitable new job and more and more, the idea of returning to Seattle came to life. I’d always assumed I’d move back for retirement, but now, I thought, might be the time. So, I tried to land a new job in Seattle, without success. Finally, one morning, March 3, 2013 to be exact, I awoke to the definite message that now was the time to return and things would just work out. That’s all it took. I immediately put in place a plan to leave D.C. and return to ‘My City’ as I’d come to call Seattle.

By April 1, my house was on the market. By April 3, I had a buyer and gave notice at work. By May 3, I walked out the doors of my employer for the last time, readied myself to move, closed on my house and IMMEDIATELY got in my car for the drive back to the West. People often say how brave I was to do this. To me, it was a matter of survival. I wouldn’t have had the life I want in D.C.. We were not a match – not in a single way. So mile by mile, I returned to my city. Seeing the mountains and evergreens brought tears to my eyes. I was home! I had no clue what I was going to do, but I knew whatever life was to bring, it would be here. Resilience.

Once here, I secured some contracts and started my career as a leadership development consultant and greatly enjoyed this work. The opportunity came to join a team doing outplacement work for a major tech company. That was when I discovered my love of career coaching! It was the start of my business pivoting to career coaching. So, now, here I am, living the life I’d dreamed, albeit without a husband and children, but guiding my own life, in control for once, and having a great time doing it. I work with college grads, helping them get their career off on a great start in the right direction. I work with mid-career professionals seeking a new job or a new career. And some of the most fun work – working with soon to retire individuals and coaching them through any obstacles or concerns they have about life after the 9-5.

Yes, resilience. I know I’m not done yet. There will be more challenges, and I’ve only shared the major ones. There have been many in my life. But each one is an opportunity to overcome, to learn and grow and know that no matter what, I’ll find a way. And you know what? I come out better and happier each time. People always comment on my positive energy and ability to make them feel better and more optimistic. I think when a person has been through as much, or more, then you learn to smile and appreciate all the good gifts that life brings your way. To me, that’s the only way.

Want to learn more, have me speak at an event, or maybe you’re looking for guidance in your career. I’d love to connect. http://www.colecoach.com or andrea@colecoach.com

 

Posted in blessings, challenges, faith, Learning, life, life lessons, New beginnings, resilience, strength | Leave a comment

Going For it in 2018!

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2017 will go down on record as one of my most difficult years. In early April, my mother passed away here at home with me. The relationship I had been in ended. It’s a good thing, but still a loss and all attempts at finding a new relationship have failed. Then shortly before Christmas, my beloved gregarious gold tabby died. Now, the loss of a pet may seem like a minor loss, but this boy was special. He was everywhere I was, following me around like a puppy and always in my lap if I was sitting down. A very large presence, so his absence is palpable and painful. On top of all this loss, I had nobody to spend Christmas with. For the first time in my life, I was home alone for what should be the most special day of the year. Despite having many good friends, I didn’t share this with anyone, and they were all busy enjoying the holiday with their family. It is a family day after all. So there I was. Watching the end of a pretty horrendous year, sad, alone and feeling sorry for myself. But, those who know me, know that I don’t wallow for long.

No, with the turning of the year, I decided to take control. The first thing I did was a little woo-woo, but what the heck! Why not try it? I burned sage and walked around my home making sure some smoke emanated into every room, cleansing the bad joo-joo. After all, two of my loved ones had died here, so cleansing was a good thing!

Next, I decided to stop trying to find a man. If there is one for me, we’ll find each other organically. None of the structured means have worked, so I’m leaving it up to the universe. Not focusing on it will allow me the space to be happy and just live my life, not thinking about the absence of what I want.

The next decision I made was to focus on my business. As a coach, I work with professionals to help them have great careers and plan for a fulfilling retirement. I coach through job transitions, professional coaching on difficult situations that arise at work, and also help people as they leave the workplace figure out what they are going to do with their time, and how they will deal with the challenges retirement presents. It’s rewarding work and I’ve dedicated this year to helping as many people as I can. That means getting out and meeting people. I love to speak in front of interested audiences, sharing my story, or tips on career advice, so I’ll be out and about more. In so doing, who knows, maybe ‘that man’ will manifest himself in one of these locations.

The final thing I decided to do came about as a result of being a single woman without children, alone on Christmas day. It WILL NOT happen again! I’ve reached out and started a group for similar women. Women who through no desire or fault of their own find themselves mid-life and alone. It sucks. I’ll be honest. All I ever dreamed of was being a wife and mother to 5 children. Fate did not give me what I dreamed of since I was a little girl. I don’t know why, but I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself. It’s time to take what life has handed and make the most of it. I have a lot to give and I’m going to do my best to spread that around.

So, 2018 is the year of my coaching business and celebrating being a single woman! No more wallowing. No more waiting for ‘it’ to happen. I’m just going to get out and enjoy everything I can!

Posted in alone, anticipation, challenges, change, childless, coaching, dreams, failure, faith, goals, helping others, life, loss, moving on, networking, New beginnings, reaching out, reflect, restore, self improvement, single, strength, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Make 2018 Your Best Year Yet!

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It’s tempting to fall in with the masses and set New Year resolutions. I have never been one for resolutions. Instead, I prefer GOALS. Goals have a purpose behind them. And, I don’t think goals have to be BIG GOALS. Why not set smaller goals that build up and amount to something more, like filling a jar with pebbles. Eventually, you’ll fill the jar.

So, here is my list of suggestions from my years of coaching and my own self-improvement. Pick just one, two, or be bold and choose 5! This time next year, you’ll be filled with satisfaction at what you’ve achieved.

  1. Gratitude journal. You have probably heard about these recently. I love this practice. Each night, before I go to sleep, I take a moment to write down 3 things I’m grateful for. Even through extraordinarily tough times this year, I managed to be grateful for what I had. It helps you focus on the abundance in your life. Remember, what you focus on grows. If you focus on the negative, you will bring more negative to your life. Having a gratitude journal turns your attention to the positive and helps it grow.
  2. Take up a hobby that’s always intrigued you. What is that hobby that’s you’ve always thought you’d enjoy learning one day? Mine is glassblowing. Take a class. See if you like it. There is nothing like letting the creative juices flow to help you feel renewed after a tough day at the office.
  1. Take a class related to your work to enhance you knowledge and skills. Many of us want to progress in our career. Often, that requires some additional learning. As a learning junkie myself, I can’t help but find new things to learn. For others, you need to put some effort forth. And, don’t wait for your employer to offer something. It’s YOUR career. YOU own it, so make a commitment to yourself and learn something new!
  2. Plan a long weekend twice a year. So many people tell me they are too busy to take a vacation. I’ve never been that person, and not quite sure I buy that, but everyone can take a few days away from the office. And don’t take them at home. You’ll be too tempted to get all your chores done. No, plan a short trip out of town. It might just be an hour drive away, or a 2 hour plane trip, but you’ll be away from home and able to rejuvenate. And the bonus? Three days away will feel like 7! You need downtime away from all the cares of the world. If you can’t fit in a full week, do yourself, your family and your job performance a favor and invest in some serious time away.
  3. Make a vision board. This is one of my favorite things. As stated above, what you focus on grows. I keep a vision board in my office, in plain view. On it, I write goals, big audacious goals, along with statements of affirmation. Some people like to include photos. Make it your own and post it somewhere you can see it frequently.
  4. Read a book a month. Everything you want to learn in life is available in a book. Prefer audio books? Well, that’s fine. I like the feel of a real book in my hands. And, you’ve heard how people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates devour books. Some believe it’s the secret to success. As I said, I love to learn, so I always keep a pile of books ready to work my way through. Maybe a book a month is aggressive for you. Ok, make it 6 books a year, whatever works for you. Just make it a stretch and do it.

I’m sure you can find other simple goals you can set for yourself. By making several smaller goals, you’ll be able to keep up with them, and in the end, you’ll be better off for it. And, you’ll be proud that you were able to stick with it for the entire year!

What’s your favorite goal to set? Let me know what you decided to do, and then next December, let me know how you did!

My mission is to see you live the life you desire. Through professional coaching, job search strategies and retirement planning, I guide you to develop success strategies to get you where YOU want to be. http://www.colecoach.com

Posted in achievement, career, challenges, change, coaching, colecoach, development, dreams, education, goals, gratitude, growth, job hunt, leaps of faith, Learning, life, new year, new year goals, new year resolutions, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What it’s Like to be Single and Childless During the Holidays

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You don’t hear much about this particular segment of the population. I’m speaking particularly of middle-aged women, who through no fault of their own, find themselves single and childless. I am one of them. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be married with 5 children. Well, life had other plans. I am divorced and for 20 years have been looking for Mr. Right….to no avail. I fear he may not be out there. As for children, I was just never able to have any. So, here I am, past the age of that ever coming true, and single.

And what are we surrounded, even bombarded with, at this time of year? Happy couples, parents shopping for their children, house parties where nearly every one is part of a couple. We stand out like sore thumbs. I find myself alone a lot this time of year. Good meaning friends are busy with their families, their partners, their children. So, even those who may have time for you during the year, melt away during the holidays. While I’ve always wanted to truly celebrate the holidays, I find myself getting more and more depressed each year when they come around.

We are simply alone. Nobody thinks to invite us to events. Occasionally, out of what feels like pity, a couple might invite you to tag along, but that’s the last thing you need to be – a third wheel on someone else’s date! And, in truth, I’m not sure what they could do – other than not throw their happiness in our faces. I avoid Facebook as much as possible, especially this year. I lost my mother and a favorite cat this year, leaving me feeling more alone than ever. My family is small and geographically disbursed. I have just two siblings, three aunts, cousins and a niece in my life and none of them are within 500 miles of me. We don’t  get together as a family anymore.

I don’t mean this to be a pity pot. I just want to help others understand why those like me might appear to pull away, especially when what we need is companionship. I know other women like me. We’re attractive, smart, independent (but oh so open to sharing our lives!), and fun. Why we’ve been given this lot in life is a mystery to us all. I love these women. They are my tribe. But, they, like so many, are in other parts of the country. I’d love to start a single women without children’s group. A chance to be with other women who completely understand our place in life, what we’re feeling and can support one another. Not one person out there who has a partner or children can possibly understand what it’s like to be us. It’s lonely, sad, frustrating and depressing.

So, as you go about your merriment. If there is some place in your busy schedule to have tea, or go shopping or see a movie with one of these wonderful women, reach out. They’ll welcome it. Just don’t drag the partner or kids along. Make it just the two of you…or a group of women. And, don’t spend the time talking about all the wonderful things in your life. You’ll only make them hurt when they are trying to feel some happiness.

 

 

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So Fun to Be Interviewed by Ladybossblogger!

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It was so fun to be interviewed by Ladybossblogger on my work helping people find personal and professional happiness through my work!

Take a read……https://ladybossblogger.com/andrea-cole-guides-individuals-career-fulfillment-personal-happiness/

Posted in achievement, avocation, career, coaching, colecoach, development, dreams, goals, helping others, job hunt, leaps of faith, Learning, life, networking, Uncategorized, vocation, work, your calling | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Success and Work-Life Balance Mutually Exclusive?

 

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Success. Work-Life Balance. Two terms that are bandied about and widely discussed. Are they mutually exclusive? Is it possible to be ‘successful’ and achieve work-life balance? It’s a real problem for far too much of the working population. And many will tell you it’s not possible in today’s 50 – 70 hour a week work environment, but I beg to differ.

Let’s begin by defining each of these terms, and they are not easy terms to define because they are highly personal, meaning different things to different people.

SUCCESS: What does success mean to you? There are the trappings of corporate success. A six-figure salary. The corner office. A big title. Then there are the more intrinsic measures of success. Happiness. A life full of meaning. A simple life full of family and community. Maya Angelou defined success as “liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”. This definition resonates with me. ‘

WORK-LIFE BALANCE: This is another definition fraught with interpretation. There are people who indeed ARE their job. Their identity is WHAT they do. And, they are happy. Most definitions I found in researching this blog, referred only to the amount of time you spent working. They all focused on ‘work’. I prefer going back to the origin of the term ‘work-life balance’ from the mid 1801s, when Paul Krassner provided his definition of happiness as “to have as little separation as possible between your work and your play”.

There was a time in my life where I recognized my life had become my career, leaving little room for anything else. Yes, I had recognition. Yes, I had financial rewards. But I had little else, and I do not define myself by my work, so I wasn’t happy. I was exhausted, emotionally drained, empty. I made the choice to leave my job in tech and pursue work in non-profit. While I took a reduction in salary, I still made a comfortable enough income, and was able to pursue personal pursuits and live a life that was fuller. To me, this meant a more ‘successful’ life, a life that allowed me to be happy. I will admit, it’s a struggle to maintain a balanced life. As an entrepreneur, I do find myself at times, working far too many hours. But, I constantly work to keep it in check. ‘Play time” and my personal life nurture a very important side of me, one that keeps me happy, content and energized to continue doing my work.

In my coaching work, I run into people all the time who are either seeking a new job to find that balanced life, or work with me to seek ways to balance their personal pursuits with the job they have. In the end, I believe Krassner had it right. The less your work is separated from who you are, the happier you will be at work. And very likely, you’ll perform your work better, and most likely with more ease, allowing you to put in fewer hours so you can attend to your personal life. This is at the core of my work. I truly believe far too many people have not found that work that ‘is’ them, that work that comes so naturally that it doesn’t feel like work. I used to be an accountant. It was PAINFUL! I was a top student and performed well, but the nature of the work completely stripped my soul. As a result, I was miserable, underperforming and scared. Only when I discovered my true calling, educating and coaching, did my work become, and I hesitate to use the word, easy. Easy because what I do now is who I am. I can’t separate helping people find happiness from the person I am. As a result, I love my work and most days, it barely feels like work. As a result, I don’t end my day mentally and physically exhausted, unable to get off the couch. No, I am energized most days and eager to engage in personal pursuits. This is what I wish for everyone.

So, no magic bullets here. It takes effort, reflection and time to discover the answer that works for you. It may be the 60 hour work week. For many, that is their happiness. But life is short and you spend more time each day at work than doing anything else, so if you’re not happy, if your life is out of sorts, do the work to make a change and discover the life that you are meant to live….happily. And that is success!

 

Want to get your life in balance? Seeking a new job or career? Contact me know to find out how I can help. Schedule a complimentary 15 minute call with me.

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