Would a Seamless Work-Life Existence Work For You? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself.

Do you ever wonder if you could make your life more “seamless”?  Would it work for you to have less division between your work and personal lives?

In these glorious summer months, I am reminded of how much I like a seamless work-life existence.  I like that when I get up in the morning at our house in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, I can spend an hour wandering around the vegetable and flower gardens and then take the big 2-second commute to my upstairs office.

I like the fact that I can join a conference call from my backyard hammock, or pause on an all-day bike ride to return a call to a client.  I like that I can be on-line returning emails five minutes after arrival at our house in Mexico, and then go up on the rooftop to watch the sun set.

A seamless existence works for me.  I think I have developed a reasonable skill at focusing on work…and then just as intently focusing on leisure.  Furthermore, I would suggest that if you are running your own business – or contemplating running your own business – it is a vital skill to learn.  Too many people leave the stresses of a full-time job, only to be just as stressed, or more so, at their own company.

Not everyone can switch channels from work to leisure easily.  If you can’t find that switch, you can find yourself permanently on the work channel or conversely, forever on the play channel.  It is one of the most important factors to consider before you launch yourself on a career as an independent consultant, coach or any other career direction that requires self-management.

So if you are thinking of heading in this career direction, here are 5 questions you might ask yourself to test your ability to lead a seamless existence:

1.  Importance of work colleagues: ask yourself how important it is to have work colleagues close at hand?  The old water cooler conversation (or modern day equivalent!) is considered key to many people in being able to maintain not only work relationships but also keeping abreast of what is going on in the company.  Give this one careful consideration because it may be that this element is a critical success factor for you.

2.  Ability to have someone to bounce ideas off:  running your own home office based company can not only be lonely, but some people miss the close proximity of having someone to bounce ideas off.  Do you have a network of people that you could call or meet over coffee who could be sounding boards for you?  Remember this does NOT always include your clients – they pay you to know the answers!

3.  Stimulation of the work place:  are you a person who enjoys the buzz and activity of an office?  Do you need a certain amount of visual and audio stimulation to get your juices going?  Will you be able to recreate that in some way in the quiet of a home office?

4.  Closing off distractions:  if you are a person who needs quiet in order to work, can you create that in your home office?  Kids coming home from school, dogs barking, your partner asking you to do things – these are all common distractions.  One home office consultant told me that she has the cleanest kitchen floor in Vancouver since she creates the distraction of sweeping the floor to avoid working!

5.  Self sufficiency:  be tough on yourself: can you truly manage your own calendar, create your own power points, remember to buy post-it notes?  If you are accustomed to having a support person, it can be difficult to teach yourself new tricks and remember all the little and not-so-little things that keep an office functioning and keep you efficient and generating those billable hours.  Is it worth learning to do these things yourself or can you afford to hire someone to do them?  A good solution is to engage a Virtual Assistant on an as-needed basis.  But if you are used to having someone in the next office, this might not be enough. These are just a few of the things to consider.  Another colleague of mine said the thing she missed most was getting dressed up to go to the office.  Her solution was to put on a business suit and makeup every morning and then go to her home office!

I have developed a tool kit for people looking to start their own businesses, including a list of resources.  If you would like to find out what’s in that tool kit and further test your readiness for a seamless existence, please send me an email or give me a call.

And enjoy the rest of the summer!

Linda Oglov

A week in San Miguel de Allende that might change your life!

If you’ve been thinking about career transition but haven’t been able to muster up the energy to take action, and you can clear November 30-December 7, 2013, please consider joining me in enchanting San Miguel de Allende Mexico for the Step Into Your Future workshop.

When I first started holding workshops in San Miguel de Allende, a colleague of mine joked that they sounded like the “perfect boondoggle.”  Imagine: paying to do a “serious” workshop in a beautiful, art and history filled town in Mexico! Three years later, I am pleased to say that many people have found that combining an opportunity to enjoy San Miguel and contemplate their life and career – works!

There is something special about stepping out of your day-to-day life and into another world.  For decades, San Miguel (www.sanmigueldeallende.com ) has been a haven for visual artists, musicians and a host of other people who seek a travel experience as opposed to just being tourists.  It is far from “undiscovered” and yet its UNESCO protected status and the fierce vigilance of its residents has kept it from becoming touristy and preserved its charm.

As part-time residents of San Miguel, my husband Stan and I revel in our Mexican neighbourhood complete with its crowing roosters, barking dogs and the occasional midnight mariachi band!  We like to watch visitors shift gears into a bit of the Mexican way of life when suddenly the only thing on your agenda is drinking coffee in the jardin (town’s central park) or finding the perfect rooftop bar from which to watch San Miguel’s legendary sunsets.

The list of things that make San Miguel special is long.  But what about the workshop part?  Since the program is the same, what makes taking the Step into Your Future workshop in San Miguel different from taking it in Vancouver, Victoria or Kingston?

Here are five things that I have observed or heard from workshop participants:

  • San Miguel is indeed magical:  several people have had this delightful Mexican town on their “must visit” list for a long time and find that the opportunity to be there – with the added purpose of examining where their career is headed – is a powerful cocktail.  Whether it is the chance to see what it would be like to live a different life, or simply the indulgence of time for contemplation, this is a good place to be.
  • Sun drenched terraces in November are good!  The workshop is held in a beautiful colonial house in the centre of town.  The house boasts several sun drenched terraces, private rooms with en-suites and lots of nooks and crannies for quiet conversation.  You can stay in this house for just over $300/week, or choose a nearby boutique hotel or apartment.
  • Unique bonding: the power of what happens in groups cannot be underestimated.  When you are with a group of people from different parts of the world and with diverse career backgrounds – in a neutral setting – you can’t help but form a unique bond.  (And for the introverts, don’t worry: lots of space to escape to your own devices!)
  • Revitalized energy:  Who knows if it is the sun, the town or the workshop – whatever it is, participants report that they come away with revitalized energy to make a change in their lives.  That change might be to bring new energy to what they are already doing, or to go in a completely different direction.
  • A virtual board of directors:  every workshop cohort has not only bonded during the workshop, but kept in touch afterwards.  Quarterly follow-up calls are scheduled not only to catch up but also to act as a virtual board of directors to support and hold each other accountable for the actions they committed to.  The San Miguel workshop has the added benefit of reuniting people who have not only shared stories and aspirations, but also margaritas and morning walks (also known as “Mexican butt lifts”, please ask!).

If this missive has piqued your interest in being at the Step into Your Future workshop in San Miguel de Allende, November 30-December 7, 2013, please check out http://www.oglov.com/step-into-your-future.html

Thank you and Happy Summer!

On the Work Train of Life – Is This My Stop? 5 Questions to Help you Decide if it is Time to Retire.

For a few years now, people have been asking me when I am going to retire.  At age 63, my answer is: “when I no longer enjoy what I am doing!”

Bit of a flippant answer, but I mean it.  I love the business development and coaching work that I do and I am having a good time doing it.  Isn’t that what we hope for at every stage in our lives and careers?

Many people in my age bracket, and younger, are obsessed with deciding when to retire.  Most common refrain being: “do I have enough money to retire?”   But I would suggest there are other questions that are equally valid.

The analogy with a train, let’s call it the work train, is apt.  I have a friend and colleague whom I would say got off the work train too soon.  It wasn’t his stop and I think he has regretted it ever since.  And it is not always easy to get back on the train, or figure out where your destination actually is.

Here are 5 Common Work Stops and the questions you may want to ask yourself to determine if this is indeed your stop:

1. The “I Have Enough Money” Stop – just as money is not the only reason we work, it shouldn’t be the only reason we stop working.  If you are in the lucky place of having enough money to live on for the rest of your life, perhaps this is your stop.  But, in my view, it shouldn’t be the leading decision maker.

• Question: Where does money fit on the scale of what is most important to me?  Are there other factors that are more significant?

2. The “Everybody Else is Getting Off Here” Stop – when you starting hitting a certain age, you look around and see many people your age getting off the train.  Maybe you should too?

• Question:  Take a look at the folks getting off at this stop: are they headed for a similar destination to you?  Have you made other major life decisions based on similar criteria to that of these folks?

3. The “Looks like a Nice Golf Course” Stop – how many times have you heard someone say, in response to the what are you going to do when you retire question, that they are just going to play golf, or work in the garden or lie on a beach.  Really?  For 365 days of the year?  For some people it works, for others they are bored to tears in a few months.

• Question: if you looked at your calendar for the next 365 days, how many of them do you want to spend on this activity?  What else will be in that calendar?

4. The “This is the Place I Can Do Good” Stop – this is a hard one to argue with.  If you have long had a desire to volunteer, contribute your talents to a worthwhile cause, start a values-based business – maybe this is your stop.

• Question:  Is this the best way for me to satisfy a desire to do good?  For some people, making a regular financial donation has a major impact and satisfies their need to make a difference.  For others, contributing their time is the ticket.

5. The “I Want to Spend More Time with My Partner/Grandkids” Stop – this is another good one.  Many of us have sacrificed time with our partners and families for work for too many years.

• Question:  What will it be like to actually have that much time with my family?  Does my partner want to spend that much time with me?  What happens when the grand-kids get older and are less interested in hanging out with their grandparents?

You may well have convincing answers to these questions.  The saying that nobody lies on their death bed and thinks “gee, I wish I had spent more time at work” is worth heeding!

“Keep working” is not the only answer.  In my view, the people who are happiest and most fulfilled in their older years are those that figure out where the fulcrum point of work and other pursuits lies.  Maybe there is a new business to start that also allows you to get off at one of these stops?

Beware the point that looks like your work stop.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but if it isn’t, it may be hard to find another train or destination that will carry you through the rest of your life in the way that you truly want.

This is a topic I love to discuss!  Give me a shout anytime you would like to mull it over!  linda@oglov.com.

Promoting You! 5 ways to help you get better at asking for what you want.

I have a client who is so articulate, compelling and charismatic that she could pretty much sell you anything.  Unless it was selling her own professional services or asking to get paid to do them!

“I can sell anything but myself”, she says.  Other people have variations on the theme: “I have trouble articulating what it is I can do” or “I can ask for a raise for people who work for me but when it comes to discussing my own salary, I am at a loss.”

Why is that?  Of course some people are just plain shy.  Even the idea of talking about themselves is abhorrent, much less asking for something.  There are also people who are not shy, but still go into freeze mode when it comes to making the ask.

And yet, we know that there are times when we have to promote ourselves and ask for what we need.  Others may sing your praises but can you count on them to get your story right?  As an example, I have some wonderful colleagues who have always been generous in promoting me, but they really know me as an Olympic marketing expert – work that I no longer do.  It is my job to equip them with the tools they need to continue to promote me for the business coaching and development work that is now my passion.

I am of the belief that you need to take personal responsibility for promoting yourself in a manner that is natural and works for you.  And it starts with exhibiting self confidence, even if you do not feel it.

If this is you – not feeling confident but you still want/need to promote yourself – here are some tips that may help get you rolling:

  1. Get your story right – at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it really does all start with having a personal career story that reflects the “why” you do what you do, not just the what, how and when.  Get it so you believe it first, then crisp it up and get ready to take it out into the world!
  2. Develop a list of the people in your network – think beyond the obvious and be strategic according to what you are currently looking to do (get a new job, start a business, etc).  Then prioritize that list and keep it as a living document that you revisit and update on a regular basis.  And START NETWORKING – begin with the people that are easiest for you to approach and use them as a training ground.
  3. Pick a friendly venue – if it is easier for you to start promoting yourself to someone whom you are comfortable with inviting to your home or meeting in a coffee shop, do that.  If it is intimidating meeting someone in an office setting, you can build up to that.
  4. Dress the role you want – if you are looking for an office job, dress in business attire even if you are just meeting a friend.  This is true for both men and women – you don’t want the person you are meeting to sit there the whole time thinking “really?  Dressed like that he thinks he is ready to work in X?”
  5. Act the role you want – we all know the old adage “fake it till you make it”.  Maybe faking it is not in your definition of a natural approach, but use those first test grounds to act the role you want, in whatever way you can.  Want to start a consultancy?  What would it take for you to look and sound like a consultant?

ASK!  A belief in fundraising is that one of the biggest reasons people don’t donate is because they are not asked.  I believe the same is true of asking your friends and colleagues – your network – for what you need.  Set the stage, relax and just ASK.  The person may say no or it may not be something they can do, but you will not know until you ASK!

Your immediate network of friends and colleagues is a great place to get started.  Practice may not make you perfect but it will move you along the continuum towards being able to promote yourself and ask for what you need.

Linda Oglov

Never say “whoa” in a bad spot!

Never say “whoa” in a bad spot!

“Never say whoa in a bad spot” is an expression I learned from my father Sterling Laffin, seen here as a young man.  He just celebrated his 93rd birthday.

When you are driving a team of horses across an icy patch of ground, the worst thing you can say is “whoa” (that’s horse driver language for “stop”).  If you do that, the horses are certain to stop and quite possibly not start again, or at least be slipping and sliding and much more unsure of themselves than if they had just kept going across the ice.  And quite possibly, they will end up stuck.

The relevance to your career is this:  often the best time to stop what you are doing is not when you hit a bad patch.  As tempting as it may be to pull the plug when the going gets rough, I have learned that if you do that, the only thing people may remember is that you quit.  Not all the great work you had done before, or even the circumstances of why you gave up…just that you gave up.

Even worse, if you actually quit your job, you may find your career gets mired in all sorts of things for a while, even a long while, and you are stuck.  That’s when second-guessing yourself may come in to play.  How bad was it really?  Should I have ignored the fact that my boss is a jerk and just kept going?  Others seem to be making it across that icy patch, maybe I could have too?

So how bad does it have to be to warrant stopping?  What are the circumstances that make it worth shouting “whoa” and declaring to yourself and others that you are done?

I suggest that everyone needs his or her own personal set of standards to help assess whether it is worth the risk of quitting.  What are the things that are truly “no fly” zones for you?  Taking the time to establish these standards in your own mind can give you the measuring stick you need when the going gets tough.

While I encourage you to think on what your standards are, here are a few of mine that may kick-start the discussion for you:

1. Integrity feels wobbly – it is easy to say “I would never sacrifice my integrity” but what does that actually mean?  If something is clearly dishonest or illegal, that’s a clear call.  But what if the integrity of a situation isn’t totally clear and just feels wobbly?  At that point, for me, it is simply time to listen to myself and decide if the situation crosses my personal boundaries.  Feeling the integrity go wobbly is enough for other measures to come into play and if the feeling persists, it is likely time to get out.

2. I’ve looked at all sides, and it still looks bad – I have made more than a few wrong calls based on being fixated on only one side of things.  An issue, particularly one that brings into question whether you should quit, rarely has just one side.  Ask yourself: have I looked at all sides?  Or am I so focused on this one thing that is so wrong, I can’t see beyond it?

3. My health and well being are being compromised – these are two sure fire challengers.  If a situation gets so bad that you are becoming ill, or the quality of your life and those around you is negatively impacted, its time to seriously consider bailing out.

4. What are the consequences – quitting a situation or a job, will not be without its consequences.  The old axiom “look before you leap” is an important one.  Jumping off the train may seem like the only alternative, but consider whether you will be landing in a bed of thorns and how long it may take you to get back on track!

Having taken measure of your situation, you may still feel that it is time to make a change and maybe it is.  My advice:  don’t do it in the heat of the situation.  It is always better to leave under the best possible circumstances and that is not likely to be when you steam out of the office in a fit of rage.  May feel good for a short time, but then the consequences set in.

Does this mean you have to stay stuck in a bad situation?  Absolutely not!  There are times when you need help to set those personal measuring standards and take a full account of where your career is at.

If you would like to talk about whether it is time for you to leap and what the consequences might be, give me a call!

Happy Springtime!

Linda Oglov

PS – hope you can join us at one of the upcoming Step into Your Future workshops.  Next one is May 2-5 at beautiful Poet’s Cove, Pender Island, BC.  I will lead 2.5 days of work focused on YOU!  Peter Ciceri, international executive turned psychotherapist and business coach, will be a special guest speaker speaking on the topic of career transition and self-esteem in the wake of job loss.  To find out more please click here >