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Consider What to Keep and Stop to Reinvigorate Life and Career

Consider What to Keep and Stop to Reinvigorate Life and Career

As a career and leadership coach, I work with many individuals who are stalled or stuck in a stagnant routine of life and career that zaps energy and enthusiasm.

A simple exercise can transform your world. Keep & Stop helps you clarify and define what's important to you on a personal and/or professional level.

The Keep & Stop reflection will help you unpack what’s working, what’s not, and what you need to make your life uniquely better.

I featured Leidy Klotz, author or Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less, on my Your Working Life podcast. He shared:

We pile on 'to-dos' but don’t consider 'stop-doings.' We create incentives for good behavior, but don’t get rid of obstacles to it. We collect new-and-improved ideas, but don’t prune the outdated ones. Every day, across challenges big and small, we neglect a basic way to make things better: we don’t subtract.

Leidy Klotz’s pioneering research shows why. Whether we’re building Lego models or cities, grilled-cheese sandwiches or strategic plans, our minds tend to add before taking away.

Even when we do think of it, subtraction can be harder to pull off because an array of biological, cultural, and economic forces push us toward more. But we have a choice — our blind spot need not go on taking its toll on our cities, our institutions, and our minds. By diagnosing our neglect of subtraction, we can treat it.

[Related: Three Steps to Avoid Overwhelm and Burnout to Thrive at Work]

1) Keep.

Identify and continue to do the things that strengthen your career and/or personal life. This is positive pattern recognition.

What are you doing that is having a powerful impact on your life and career? Spend some time journaling your keep intentions.

2) Stop.

Successful leaders are effective and quick when it comes to recognizing negative patterns.

Ask yourself if there are any thorns in your side -- any frustrations you keep having to deal with? Any counterproductive measures you could eliminate or change? What has a negative impact on your career or personal life? Journal your stop intentions.

  • Am I being my authentic self in my career and personal life? If not, what is holding me back?
  • What would I do less of if I had the option?
  • What would I do if I were not afraid? What do I need to do in order to make this a reality?

[Related: It’s All a Myth. Self Care Isn’t Selfish. Five Tips to Make it Your Superpower.]

Remember that designing your future is not a linear or one-solution process and you need not do it alone. Ask for help and provide help in return. There is no shame in asking for help and wanting to create a future that better aligns with your values, interests, and strengths.

Having the courage to reach out to those you trust and ask them to support you on the journey will reveal that others are also on a quest to design a new future. Having a support system is empowering.

Input from others will help you gain clarity and focus, but honor what you want and have the courage to define success on your own terms. Don’t put limits on your design plans and give yourself permission to test drive multiple new options.

Most success happens after a myriad of trial and error and failing forward. Think like an entrepreneur and learn the art of recovery and resilience when you fail to unlock the teachable moment that will propel you forward.

Don’t let the inertia of life carry you into the future. Regain your control and design the future you can enjoy – and consider what you can subtract.

[Related: Allow What You Want to Show Up]

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Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Vice President of Career Coaching and Employer Connections for the Ivy Tech Community College system and contributes to Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, Medium, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. Her online video series about career and life empowerment for women is on YouTube. She hosts the three-time award winning podcast, Your Working Life, on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. Her TEDxWOMEN talk about reframing failure and defining success on your own terms is available on YouTube.


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