How to Change Your Life When You Don’t Know What You Want — in 7 Easy Steps

How to Change Your Life When You Don’t Know What You Want — in 7 Easy Steps

With 2017 approaching, some people have already started thinking about their upcoming goals for the next year. These individuals are the ones that always seem to know exactly where they are going and always seem to be in control. They know what they want, and they are going for it! And, they even seem to like and enjoy what they are doing in their lives.

In other cases, however, there are individuals who don’t like what they are doing in their lives or careers. They don’t know what to do next, and they don’t know what they want for their future.

If you are in the latter group, you may be wondering, “What’s my next step? How do I change my life for the better, if I don’t even know what I want?”

If you’re in that situation, and would like some answers — and to change your life — there are seven steps you can begin to take (today)! Feel free to check out the highlights in the following presentation, or keep scrolling to read the entire article!

 

Step 1: Let go of the idea that you need an epiphany before you take the next step.

I have worked with some clients who feel trapped and stuck by their decisions. They may have built up their education and expertise in an area that turned out to be unappealing, or they may feel like they have plateaued in their career.

In the vast majority of these cases, I have found that these individuals know they are unhappy, would like things to be different, but don’t know what they want. As a result of not being sure of what they want, they just keep waiting for the “lightning bolt” to strike them. They keep hoping for an epiphany, that moment of clarity which gives them all the answers. In fact, in many cases, they may be seeking answers in the wrong places, or asking lots of people for advice, but getting nowhere because they keep waiting around for that unattainable moment of hearing, “Do this exactly.”

Therefore, the first step to changing your life, is to actually let go of the idea that you need an epiphany or major moment of clarity to make change in your life. Waiting around for inspiration will lead to simply more waiting around, and typically no answers!

 

Step 2: Shift your mindset: you just need to know the very next step…not the exact destination!

Building on Step 1, once you let go of the idea of needing an epiphany, it’s best to start shifting your mindset to the idea that you don’t need to know all the answers, or even what your eventual path or destination will be.

The key to changing your life is taking action. While it’s important to think before you jump into something (more on the process of deciding the next steps shortly), the most important thing to consider is to take a next step in the first place! The idea is that taking action will actually give you more answers.

For instance, once you take the very next step, and you begin the process of getting data and feedback about what you are trying or attempting, you’ll start getting the answers you have been seeking — such as “I like this” (or don’t like it). Beginning this process will enable you to collect feedback as you go along and eventually you will be able to “course correct” and make adjustments because your goals will become clearer as you collect the data you need to make your decisions.

 

Step 3: Take inventory: Write down all the things you know how to do and all the things you are interested in!

Now that you have let go of the idea of an epiphany, and understand the importance of taking action, it’s time to start the process of figuring out what those next steps will be! To do this, it’s often helpful to “take inventory” of your life. Often we are running on autopilot — we don’t even realize what we know (or don’t know). Therefore, I recommend taking a few minutes to list out your skills and interest areas. This will give you something concrete to work with in the next steps, and it will help you get organized!

 

Step 4: Identify the next step for each skill and interest area from your inventory.

Once you have your concrete list of skills and action areas, you can create an adjacent column, and list out the very next action step for each of those skills or areas. For instance, if you have writing skills, the next action step would be to further those skills or make a product from those skills, such as a book or a blog. You could list out the next action step to read a book on the subject of writing or publishing a book.

Though you may have a “hunch” about an area you should explore, it’s best to attempt to be as objective as possible during this process so that you consider all options and possibilities. Therefore, be sure to list out your next action steps for every area you listed!

 

Step 5: Choose one of the next steps you identified and start it.

Now that you have everything laid out on paper, everything from your interests and skills to the identified next steps for each of those areas, you can visually see all the possibilities available to you. After reviewing all this visually, you can more easily choose an interest or skill that you would like to pursue further.

Naturally it may be difficult to make this choice. Taking some time to examine your feelings about each of the areas, and also what may make sense logically for the ones you feel strongly about, will be helpful for your decision on which area to pursue.

It’s also important to consider that it’s not “the end of the world” if you start to pursue one of these paths and later determine it’s not right for you (more on this in the forthcoming steps). To a certain extent, you need to rule things out so that you can narrow your focus. Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you try it. Again, this is better than sitting around and waiting for inspiration to hit you. You’ll have made the most of your time by beginning the process to get feedback and answers for your life.

Once you have chosen which next step you’d like to take, you’re ready to take the action associated with that step!

 

Step 6: Identify and take the very next steps for the path you started

After taking that first step, it’s important to assess what the next few immediate steps would be for the path you began, and take the corresponding actions identified. This part of the process is a “data collection” period. Often you don’t know if you like something or if it’s right for you based on the very next step; you need to take at least a few action steps, and spend a few weeks or months on it. Of course this is case-by-case and dependent on the specific area you chose.

The important thing is to be observant during this step: notice if you like this path so far and focus on your progress. The first few steps of any process, especially something new or outside of your comfort zone, will be difficult, so be careful not to immediately rule out a path. After you hit a milestone and have completed a number of steps, however, you can get a better assessment of where you are (and where you’d like to be).

 

Step 7: Evaluate and make adjustments based on the feedback and data you collected.

Collecting data, feedback and making observations from Step 6 will enable you to implement Step 7, essentially to “course correct” as needed. As mentioned in Step 2, having additional information will enable you to make informed decisions about your path forward. You can determine if you’re on the right path, or if you need to tweak your path slightly. You may be able to refine your focus and create a goal around that path. There are so many more possibilities that will open up to you once you have taken these steps, especially as opposed to waiting for an epiphany!

In summary, these seven action steps are not hard in and of themselves — in fact they are quite easy to take, once you have accepted the idea of making change through very small, daily changes (which is more realistic than waiting for a bolt of lightning or overhauling your life)!

To learn more about this, and to access special checklists and additional information and resources on this topic, check out my new book, Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life.

Success-Blueprint-Get out of Survival mode, regain control of your life, and get ahead at work and in life

You can access the Amazon version by visiting: http://success.lisakardos.com!

 

5 Concepts Every College Grad Should Know

5 Concepts Every College Grad Should Know

College students and new graduates often seek advice from me. Typically, they want to know how they can maximize their chances to gain employment at various companies in industry. What we often don’t get to discuss, however, is what they can do to maintain their jobs once attained – and even better, how to grow their career inside and outside of the company going forward.

 

Interestingly, it is the “soft skills” that often defines a young professional’s chance for professional growth. Typically, people have fairly comparable technical skills for the roles in which they have been given. But it is the soft skills, the ability to have a bigger vision – for themselves and the company – and how they can best serve and provide value to their colleagues and leaders, that distinguishes them.

 

Unfortunately there are some cases where politics and workplace issues may negatively impact one’s chances for career growth at a particular company. The other issue that comes up is that individuals often think that career growth means jumping from company to company. And while it is true that we can often get a better title and salary by changing companies, we also need to make the most of our current roles, to develop our experience and demonstrate why we can handle the next level roles. If there is no leadership experience, as an example, it’s hard to make a case or justify hiring someone from the outside applying for a leadership position.

 

Ultimately, regardless of the paths taken, if one’s goal is to truly grow as a person, and provide value in his or her profession, then cultivating and incorporating the following five concepts will be beneficial for that individual:

 

Growth Mindset

As discussed previously on my blog, recent psychology research from Carol Dweck, Ph.D. emphasizes the importance of having a growth mindset (click here to access that post).  Very quickly, a “fixed mindset” means that we believe we have a finite amount of intelligence or ability (and wind up defending or proving that in our endeavors), whereas “growth minded” individuals go through life thinking that they can always improve and learn more. Essentially, growth minded individuals focus on the process of learning and essentially don’t pressure themselves into thinking they only have so much ability or intelligence — that ability and intelligence are not necessarily innate.

 

This is something I absolutely wish I knew at 22 years old. Interestingly, I recall one of my first managers talking with me about how it was okay to make mistakes, that it’s part of the learning process. I’m not sure why he mentioned that during a conversation with me, but I suspect he detected that I didn’t want to take much risk with my work! I remember thinking, “How could I possibly allow myself to make a mistake? I could get fired!”

 

But in hindsight, I think his real message was to adopt the growth mindset. I now realize his true warning, that by pressuring myself to be perfect all the time, I wasn’t giving myself the permission to grow. And putting that undue pressure on myself was making my life more stressful and perhaps inhibiting my learning.

 

Therefore, when we start our careers, it’s best to acknowledge we don’t know everything and to do our best to keep growing, that we “just haven’t mastered it yet.” This mindset will be more fruitful in the long run.

 

Optimization Framework 

If you’re familiar with my first book, or a member of my coaching program, the Design Your Success Academy, then you know what the “Optimization Framework” is. But if you haven’t heard of it, it can be boiled down to this:

 

We can apply engineering concepts to our lives. We can look at ourselves as a “system to engineer” and put all extraneous things outside of our system.

 

While it may sound simple, I explain in my book that most of us do not operate that way. The world is so complex, with so many distractions, and it often requires conscious effort to separate ourselves from everything entering our attention. That’s why we have to consciously realize that the only thing we can 100% control is ourselves, and therefore we can look for ways we can “optimize” (as an engineer would) our success by optimizing ourselves.

 

If we applied this concept as new grads / working professionals, it would be so helpful. I have had hundreds of conversations with friends over the years about stressful work situations, managers, colleagues, etc. But the fact of the matter is, we really can’t change the things we complain about (and yet most conversations always ended with the glimmer of hope that the other entity – the perceived source of the issue —  would change!) The best we can do is control ourselves, and perhaps by being our “best selves,” we can influence things for the better.

 

Adopting this framework would help reduce the stress, thereby allowing management of the multitude of issues that come up to be better. In turn, we can focus on our growth more and spend less energy on being upset about everything else.

 

 

Perspective: Practice Different Vantage Points to Develop Strategic Thinking

This is a concept I touched on it a previous post (click here to access it). The bottom line is that we need to develop strategic thinking. One of the best ways to develop strategic thinking is to practice looking at situations from different perspectives. For instance, if I start to get stressed by something in my life, I take the 30,000 foot view of it. Somehow, pretending that I’m in a plane, looking down on an issue, helps me separate and get the clarity and objective view that I need to make better decisions in a situation. Learning this skill is very valuable, especially when you start working and need to be objective as you manage various issues.

 

Entrepreneurial Mindset: Be the CEO

Thinking of myself as the CEO of my own company, as if my company is being paid to deliver services where I’m employed, is a subtle but powerful mindset shift for a working professional. This entrepreneurial mindset is an advanced version of the optimization framework I mentioned earlier, where you are learning to take responsibility for yourself. If you can get to this point, where you are taking full responsibility for every action (or lack of action) and looking at everything as an entrepreneur, you can really boost your effectiveness.

 

One of the reasons I think this is so powerful is because many working professionals I know don’t read any personal development books; however, entrepreneurs often do. I find it so interesting that “career development” and “personal development” are often different in terms of topics. One of the reasons I like to frame everything in the “engineering” or “optimization” framework is because it actually brings all of this together: figuring out how to optimize or be your best self;  it doesn’t necessarily boil down to having the best resume. It boils down to having both the best resume and a DEEP foundation in terms of mindset, skills, approach, etc. — essentially the best of both the “career development” and “personal development” worlds.

 

Adopt a Productivity System that Works for You

I have experimented with many different approaches to be productive (hence my inspiration for my productivity book). There is no one system that is perfect for everyone, which is why it is important to find the system that works for you. Some systems are very complex while others are simple. My focuses on a system you can use if other systems haven’t really worked for you, and furthermore will focus on root cause analysis and deeper issues to help you in the future.

This post is only the tip of the iceberg (many books could be written on this topic); I hope it served you. Feel free to comment below!

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To learn more about Lisa and access free resources, visit:

Free Mini-Course: http://lisakardos.com

Free Kindle Book: http://success.lisakardos.com

Free Productivity Book: http://productivity.lisakardos.com

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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D. blogs about how we can optimize our lives for the better! (achieve happiness, success, and what we hold in our hearts!) She enjoys helping people overcome challenges to achieve their dreams.

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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa Kardos has experience in chemical engineering, management, higher education, public speaking, and career development. She is the Founder of the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence and the Amazon Bestselling Author of Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams.

Why We Don’t Achieve Our Goals (or Resolutions)

Why We Don’t Achieve Our Goals (or Resolutions)

First, I’d like to thank you for your support. I really appreciate that you’re reading this right now! The past few months have consisted of rapid growth and change for me, since I get more email subscribers every day. I also have thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers (it’s mind-boggling to me – in a good way 🙂 )

Due to the rapid growth, I took some time over the holidays to do some “soul searching” about what I want to focus on this year. These are my main goals for 2016:

1) Provide more value and engagement with you (expect to see more videos!)

2) More focus on how we can optimize our lives for the better! (achieve happiness, success, and what we hold in our hearts!)

3) Release my next book (stay tuned on that!) Blog subscribers will get first access to get it for free!

I will keep you updated. Now onto today’s post…

It’s that time of year where most of us have likely abandoned the New Year Resolutions that we declared a few weeks ago. Today’s post consists of a quick video to discuss a few of the main reasons we often don’t accomplish our goals or resolutions.

This video is a brief excerpt from the Optimize Your Productivity Course inside Design Your Success Academy (the Academy resides within the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence).

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To learn more about Lisa and access free resources, visit:

Blog: http://optimizebooks.com
Design Your Success Academy: http://learn.lisakardos.com
Free Webinar: http://lisakardos.com
Free 14 Day Email Course: http://optimizebooks.com/freecourse1
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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D. blogs about how we can optimize our lives for the better! (achieve happiness, success, and what we hold in our hearts!) She enjoys helping people overcome challenges to achieve their dreams.

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Dr. Lisa Kardos has experience in chemical engineering, management, higher education, public speaking, and career development. She is the Founder of the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence and the Amazon Bestselling Author of Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams.

Daily Tool for Your Benefit

Daily Tool for Your Benefit

Hope you’re having a great weekend! As mentioned previously, I wanted to provide more resources for you as we get into the stressful, end-of-the-year period.

I have included an access link to a video from Design Your Success that talks about a daily tool you can use (and download immediately):

Inside the video, you will learn:

  • The importance of observation and awareness
  • Steps you can take to assess your life
  • How to see opportunities more clearly

and more!

This video is part of my paid programs; to access it, click on the button provided and provide your email address so that you can receive it:

Click Here to Get Free Video 

You can also choose to receive my free course and receive the video that way (along with more free videos and content):

Click Here to Join Free Course

Enjoy!

Sincerely, Lisa

My friend’s passing and Thanksgiving

My friend’s passing and Thanksgiving

I lost my closest childhood friend eleven years ago. Though I honor her memory throughout the year, Thanksgiving is a time when it feels a little more painful than usual. She would have turned 32 years old tomorrow. Instead, she turned 21 on November 25th, 2004 and passed away five days later from a very aggressive form of cancer.

A year before that, no one would have ever suspected that would have happened. She was thriving in college, preparing for the LSATs, and was planning her future out. She was one of the most conscientious, caring, diligent, and hard-working people I have ever known. Valedictorian of her class, she pursued excellence relentlessly. She spent most of her time preparing for her future…a future she never got to have.

I didn’t have many close friends growing up. I was shy and it took me time to develop friendships and relationships with people (something I got much better at in my adult life). Her passing was extremely difficult for me to process and I still miss her dearly…I wish things were the way they were in high school and college. We always celebrated her birthday the weekend after Thanksgiving…it was tradition to go to her favorite Italian restaurant and then a movie.

I bring all this up not to depress you, however. I think the holidays are a tough time of year for most people. On the one hand, they help you take a step back and count your blessings. On the other hand, you often think of loved ones you lost, people you won’t be celebrating with this time around. And then, of course, there is all the preparation that comes with the holidays — cooking, cleaning, shopping, parties, end of the year goals (personally and professionally), etc. It’s a lot in a short period of time.

So I just want to sincerely wish all of you peace. I truly hope that you have an opportunity to rest and enjoy the moment with your loved ones, and that it will not be stressful for you as we get into December. It is an important time of year to remember what we are grateful for, and I’m certainly grateful for a whole lot that has happened this past year:

  1. My home and family.
  2. Graduating in January with my Ph.D. (an endeavor that took years of hard work at night and on the weekends)
  3. Publishing my book, starting my blog, starting my online school. Though it’s very challenging and hard to “put myself out there,” I know that it’s for good reasons. I am happy to discover that my programs have been helping some individuals manage their lives more easily. I was very touched by some feedback I received recently.
  4. YOU! I really appreciate that we have connected through my blog or programs! I mean that sincerely. Thanks so much for your support. I sincerely hope that you are finding value in my blog / programs.

On the aforementioned note of peace — I am working out the details now to provide some resources during December to help manage the holiday stress. Following that, as we get into the new year, there will be a new blog series (details to come).

Again, I wish you all a peaceful and very Happy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Lisa

PS If you are seeking resources I have available currently, you are welcome to look at the free email course page. Some aspects of the course discuss how to manage your life/day more easily.

Did you like this post? Click here to get blog updates!

Workshop: “Design Your Success in 5 Steps:  Achieve the Life and Career You Want”

Workshop: “Design Your Success in 5 Steps: Achieve the Life and Career You Want”

Recently I launched my online school, the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence. I am proud of the individuals who have enrolled thus far; they are people who:

  • Recognize the value they can bring to the world
  • Are interested in serving their family, community and organizations
  • Are challenging themselves to attain a level of excellence
  • Recognize the importance of living intentionally
  • Realize that you cannot help others until you have helped yourself be the best that you can be
  • Have a “growth” mindset; they KNOW they can continually grow and achieve more in their life for themselves and their families

The individuals who have enrolled so far were those who attended my webinars/workshops; people who understood the importance of owning their success.

If you would like to attend my next workshop, “Design Your Success in 5 Steps:  Achieve the Life and Career You Want,” where you will learn:

  • 5 Success-Killing Mistakes You Need to Avoid
  • The Importance of Using a Results-Driven System for Your Personal Success
  • How Strategic Thinking is a Game-Changer
  • How to Increase Your Confidence while Designing Your Success
  • The Right Focus and Tools You Need to Get to the Next Level: Walk Away with Action Steps You Can Implement Immediately

sign up at http://lisakardos.com!

Also, for those of you who have attended a workshop or were already thinking about joining my school, please visit http://learn.lisakardos.com. It’s important to note that these courses are at introductory prices. There will be a price increase for most courses (including the Design Your Success Academy and Course versions), on Wednesday, November 11th, 2015.

Looking forward to seeing you at the workshop! I wish everyone the best of success 🙂