Q. I'm looking for a new job and plan to work with a career consultant next month. Meanwhile, I'm working on the garden and some friends are coming to stay for a week.
A. When you're in serious transition, a week can be a long time. Time sneaks away and you need to see where it's going. And you need to keep moving to maintain momentum and stay motivated.
1. Create a priority list.
Starting a business? Your number one priority involves responding to paying customers. Second priority: Market for new business.
Searching for a job? Your number one priority will be meeting with people who have the power to hire you. Your second priority: networking to meet more people with hiring power.
And if you don't know what to do, your absolute top priority is finding answers from a consultant, coach or mentor.
2. Negotiate with everyone in your life to get support for your priorities.
Charlotte feared the worst when her relatives announced they were coming for ten days.
We considered her options. Say no (and alienate her whole family)? Postpone her goals? Go out of town for the duration? Charlotte needed to get her business going. She needed the money and she was working on deals that had taken months to set up.
She decided to tell her visitors, "I will not be available from one to five in the afternoon." At first she physically left her house for a library, coffee shop or borrowed office. But by the third day everyone was used to her schedule, so she worked from her home office - with the door firmly shut.
Charlotte's story had a happy ending. But when a spouse or other close family member resists, I encourage clients to meet with a family therapist or counselor. Left unresolved, these resentments will linger for years.
3. Anticipate interruptions.
Sometimes you have to stop and deal with a real crisis. But you can begin to ask, "Am I really needed? Can someone else help? Is the problem serious?"
Bill almost caved in to pressure when a local charity called. "You've helped us every year! We need you again!"
I asked Bill, "What if your company had transferred you a thousand miles away? Would the organization survive?"
Bill still felt selfish. But he realized he'd soon be on the receiving end of a charity if he didn't reach his goal. And if he became wildly successful, he could be even more generous with time and money for the next ten years.
Bill did agree to meet with his replacement for a briefing meeting - which lasted all of fifteen minutes. Bill's replacement said, "I don't need you! I've got my own ideas."
Bottom Line: Time moves fast when you're job-hunting, starting a business or getting ready for a major move. You'll be challenged to set aside your goals to help others with their priorities. And it's easy to say, "Another week won't matter."
In my experience, people who reach their destinations quickly have a sense of urgency. They realize a day - not just a week or a month - matters. They allow time for leisure and love. And they believe in the value of their destination and what they must do to get there.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., helps midlife professionals create career changes in sizes small, medium and huge. Strategize, get unstuck, start a business or start over.
Free Report: Ten secrets of managing a major life change.
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