Cleaning Out Your Closet

Cleaning Out Your Closet

For the new year, I cleaned out my closet. I’m a big believer that external clutter can become internal clutter, and my closet had become a metaphor for my life: too full of stuff and fairly unmanageable.

It felt good to complete this task, especially because it had a visible, pleasing result. But as I handled different clothing, I noticed two things. First, I wear the same ten things over and over during the pandemic, and second, going through my clothes is very contemplative. It led me to think about big questions like:
– Who are you?
– Who do you think you “should” be?
– Who are you becoming?

I’m going to talk about these questions over the next couple months in the blog. Let’s start with “Who are you?”

Is that an easy question for you to answer? Maybe not. But what if I asked you “what is important to you all of the time?” You probably could at least begin to answer that.

One of the exercises I do with my individual clients, in workshops and with teams I work with is a values exercise. Values are what’s most important to you – not sometimes, but always. Your core values form when you are young (just 5 or 6 years old) and show up as themes throughout your life. While how you express a value might change over time, the values themselves don’t usually change.

A lot of coaches will let you choose your values from a long list or by sorting a big deck of values cards. I did that exercise in my late 20s. I ended up with a result that looked like this: responsibility, commitment, hard work… Well, you get the picture. The problem is, those weren’t my values. They were my mother’s values.

Don’t get me wrong, those are great values. And I do think those things are important, but they are not always or most important to me. They are not my core values.

In coaching school, I learned the technique I use with my clients to uncover their values; it’s the storytelling of peak experiences. And I learned my own values using this exercise: belonging, creativity, growth, play and kindness.

My true core values are very different from the aspirational ones I chose to subconsciously please my mom. As you consider what’s important to you – who you are – make sure it’s real and authentic to you. Don’t choose a made up version that you think will please others; that’s just confusing for everyone and can lead you off course.

Think about your core values and who you are, and next month we’ll talk more about who you think you “should” be.

And consider cleaning out your closet. Insights await!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

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What’s your motto for 2022?

What’s your motto for 2022?

I often like to choose a word or phrase at the end of December, since I’m not much for new year’s resolutions. (Most resolutions fail in approximately three weeks.)

I was talking to a friend recently, and she said her phrase for 2022 would be “I’m not f*cking with that.”

I told her I wanted to want to say that mine was “I’m open,” but the best I could do was “I might be open.” And then I realized the full phrase was “I might be open to f*cking with that.”

All joking – and cursing – aside, you may be clear on what you want or don’t want next. You may have the energy to back up that clarity and move forward. You may have goals you want to set and work toward. Good for you!

Or if you lack clarity but might be open, have a look at the image on the right. There are some great questions there to ponder. Maybe they point to what you need to stay aware of or the general direction you should head.

Or if now is a time to conserve energy, just consider question #6: “In what ways will I take better care of myself in 2022?” Remember this may be physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally. Your health and self-care are always an excellent use of your energy. Then, when you are recharged, you can ask yourself what you might be open to f*cking with.

Wishing you all the best in 2022!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

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Too tired for gratitude? Try this… (And an online career coaching group starts Dec 13)

Too tired for gratitude? Try this… (And an online career coaching group starts Dec 13)

What if you’re grateful, but don’t quite feel it?

I mean, this year has been a doozy. Sometimes I’m tired or focused on the negative – or I remember to look at the positive, but just feel kind of numb.

That’s ok; I think that’s a call to extreme self-care. Slow down, take care of yourself, and find the power of the nap. Or a walk in the sunshine. Or a chat with a favorite friend. Everyone rejuvenates a different way, and as we continue to re-enter the world, our favorite ways to “fill our cups” are becoming available again.

Once you get that little bit of self-care, it can be easier to pause for a moment and find your attitude of gratitude. Still having trouble? Write a list of around 10 things you are grateful for. As you re-read your list, you may start to feel the gratitude creeping in. (That’s because our brains believe that what we write down is true. Cool, right?!)

This year? I’m grateful for you – and for my work and my clients who inspire me all year long. I’m grateful for my friends, family and boyfriend. I’m grateful that I have everything I need (i.e., a new hot water heater) and so much of what I want (i.e., a new plant on the window sill). I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made in the past 12 months with my broken elbow and frozen shoulder. (I’m back in yoga!) And I’m grateful for the small things that fill my cup like outdoor dates on sunny fall days, seeing a doggo eat a puppachino, and watching some football on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Looking at that paragraph I just wrote, a smile has come to my face. Try writing your list and see if some of that fatigue or numbness doesn’t disappear. I’d love to hear what you are grateful for. I hope you’ll share at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

If you’d like even more thoughts on gratitude, here are my blogs from the last 7 (!) years:

Happy Thanksgiving!

ps An online career coaching group starts Dec 13 and there is room for one more! More details here: https://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group/

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Compression and release: life lessons from architecture

Compression and release: life lessons from architecture
Small, dark hall and low doorway…

I had the opportunity this month to visit Taliesin West: visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arizona winter home and school.

One of the things I got to experience on the tour was Wright’s use of “compression and release.” He would force a visitor through a small, tight entry space (the compression) before the person would pass into a larger space – and a feeling of freedom (the release).

I think life is like that, too. We go through new challenges that provide us with growth spurts. When we learn the difficult lesson that is in front of us, we often find new confidence and the release of leveling up in our lives and careers.

Growth can be tough and even painful. And sometimes it feels like multiple lessons are piled on us at once. (I know I have muttered an old Oprah prayer on occasion, “Lord, please don’t teach me anything new today.”)

Into the release of this amazing space!

But the real trick, I think, is to not avoid the challenge. The lesson may be hard, but it can be even more painful to remain small. It’s like the Anais Nin quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

The best we can hope for is that life serves us up right-sized lessons/compressions at a pace that isn’t overwhelming. And as we meet these challenges and grow, we are released into even better phases of life and work.

Where have you experienced compression and release in your life or career? Have you met those challenges – or tried to avoid them?

Here’s to your growth!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

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An entrepreneur’s success story – plus some tips for being a podcast guest

An entrepreneur’s success story – plus some tips for being a podcast guest

A talented freelance graphic designer, Alec, participated in my autumn 2018 career coaching group. During one meeting, as Alec brought up podcasts yet again, I asked the group, “Who here thinks Alec needs to start his own podcast now?” All hands went up.

Sometimes it’s easy for others to see what we can’t see in ourselves. Indeed, Alec had the ideas, enthusiasm and technical know-how to start his podcast. Before the pandemic, his new podcast, named “Ideally” after his temperament, was a top 50 self-improvement podcast on Apple.

Then he put it on hold as he chased a bigger dream. He started Parasaur and facilitates the success of other folks’ podcasts by being a creative partner as well as doing all the technical stuff like recording and editing (see his services at parasaur.co). Today he has a thriving business.

Alec missed doing his own podcast though, and is starting it up once again. I was lucky enough to be invited on as a guest for the reboot of Ideally, which is largely aimed at creative entrepreneurs. We talked about a wide range of topics, from values to advice to books to having a successful business. And [bonus!] I got to meet the baby squirrel he was rehabbing! If you’d like to listen, here you go: https://www.parasaur.co/ideally/episode/24805e40/1-finding-your-purposeful-career-jen-frank

Have you been invited to be on a podcast, but felt a little reluctant or nervous? Here are my tips for being a guest:

  1. Don’t worry. You were probably asked to be a guest because you know something about the topic. You can ask for the questions in advance, but I wouldn’t prepare much. Your authentic, unrehearsed answers will be great! And if you make a major mistake, the podcast creator can probably edit it out.
  2. Yes, you’re interesting. Only you can tell your story. Your point of view is unique, so please share your knowledge, experience and wisdom. It will resonate with folks. Show up – and be kind to others and yourself…
  3. Look for what’s right. If you talk for an hour, chances are you will say something weird. That’s ok. Look for what you said well. I confess, I haven’t listened to the podcast yet. I need to be in the right mood so I can be my own fan – and not pick apart what I failed to say eloquently. (And honestly, does anyone like the sound of their own voice?!)

Is there something helpful or inspiring you’ve been wanting to share? Maybe it’s a podcast, but a social media post will do. We want to hear from you!

Happy sharing!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

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