by Jeff Hittner
Each day, our Facebook feeds are inundated with this or that ‘life-hack’, advice from ‘the experts’, an article on how to follow your dreams, another listicle.
A quick scan of all that noise offers wisdom nuggets from self-made millionaires, alleged transformation authorities, and people simply vying for your attention.
Yet, much of what you’re looking to unlock and transform in your career and life is already inside you.
We’ve compiled proven techniques that give you the mental and physical space to get in touch with your inner self, reassess its pulse, and make necessary adjustments.
As with any other profound and lasting change, the big caveat here is that consistency in following these techniques is key.
Habits that get you outside of your comfort zone are what make change happen.
Much of what you’re looking to unlock and transform in your career and life is already inside you.
1. Tap into the wisdom you already hold.
Your unique knowledge about yourself, your circumstances and experiences should not be discounted. If you are reading this post, you’ve managed to make it this far and learn a few things along the way. Now use it.
Write one piece of advice you would have given younger self. Then, take that advice and come up with two ways you would apply it to your life this week.
Make a plan to take that action before the end of the week. Email it to yourself and your closest friend to stay accountable.
2. Take a recurring digital break.
It’s no secret that we spend too much time on our phones. We mindlessly scroll through social media, respond to emails, and post endless selfies to watch the “likes” flood in.
The idea of putting away our tech gadgets for a short period during our busy week to reflect, journal, meditate or spend time with friends and loved ones has been gaining traction. As more people report feeling overwhelmed by the demands of their digital lives, taking a digital break presents a worthwhile solution. Carving out one digital-free day in your week can do wonders for rewiring connections in your brain and unleashing an incredible force of creativity in the process.
The key here is to plan the disconnect in advance, have support, get a good book or a ‘paper’ newspaper for the inevitable time when you become fidgety, and, most importantly, leave your phone far, far away from the bedroom.
3. Draw your future.
Making your vision tangible is an important first step towards turning it into reality. When we daydream about the lives we want for ourselves, we often have a foggy vision of what that might actually look like. Even if it’s a specific outcome, we rarely accomplish it when we don’t make it tangible.
When we draw our future, we increase our awareness of what we want, clarify our vision, and stay focused on our dreams.
So here’s what to do: Sketch a point in your life three months from now. This sketch can be literal or more of a metaphor. You can draw yourself (will you be a successful opera singer?) or a situation that you’d like to see happen in your life (perhaps traveling to Machu Picchu after turning in your notice). You can draw in stick figures or in rainbows or anything in between.
Get creative — the most important thing is to not hold yourself back and draw what your heart desires.
4. Commit to Morning Pages.
Morning Pages is the writing trick artists use to keep creating. Maybe you are too shy to call yourself an artist, but our economy rewards creativity and being part of the creative class. The notion that creativity belongs to one special group is outdated. Everyone is creative. It’s in our nature.
How do you give this creativity a voice? Start small and find 20 quiet minutes for yourself this weekend. Be deliberate about making this time for you alone. Take out 3 pieces of paper from the printer or the notebook you might keep in your bag. Write your morning pages: Three pages, free writing, whatever comes out, for the next three days (or at least three days this week). Then, stick to it each week, and eventually, each day.
5. Expand your network of support.
We all have people that inspire us but our fears of inadequacy or rejection prevent us from reaching out. Yet, more often than not, the people you look up to enjoy feeling helpful and giving advice. Whether you’re reaching out to a VP at your company, a leader in another career field you’re curious about, or someone like Seth Godin, all you need to do is take that (thoughtful) first step.
Be authentic and vulnerable. Ask for what you want, but also think about what value your request is to the person you’re contacting. Reaching out is always a two way street.
Think about the subject line and the content. Be transparent and put yourself in their shoes. They’re not ready for your life story yet. Brevity and authenticity rule the day here. We like to start with a short sentence on something of theirs that resonated with us, then move in with our ask.
Make your ask small and finally, don’t limit yourself to one person. Try to send out 3–5 requests and see how your network can grow to support you in your endeavors.