“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
The world of work is very different for many of us than it was a year ago. For many of us, we are returning to offices after a year of being away, and for many of us the careers that existed prior to the pandemic have all but disappeared. Change can certainly be harrowing, but at The Optimist Daily, we see it as an opportunity for pragmatic optimism, strategic growth, and a chance to design a better tomorrow for both individuals and our world. If you, or someone you care about is at a career junction, then this Optimist View is the perfect chance to focus on what’s next.
Navigating the professional world requires creativity, flexibility, and ingenuity. With so many moving parts and people, it can feel almost like a dance. Mastering the art of dancing through your career is exactly what Ken Lindner had in mind when writing his new book, Career Choreography.
Ken is the founder of Positive Life Choice Psychology and the Positive Life Choice Psychology Lifestyle. His calling is to envision what can be in people, and to craft the steps that turn their great potential into a highly positive and productive reality.
Today we share an excerpt from Ken’s latest book, Career Choreography, which is targeted to those individuals who aspire to enter the workforce for the first time or want to re-enter it after taking time away from it, as well as to those who just aren’t happy, satisfied, or fulfilled in their current job, position, or profession and want to reset and find a new, stimulating and rewarding career path.
CH 4: CHOREOGRAPHY CONSTRUCTION—WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ATTAIN?
I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart…
–JOHN LEWIS, civil rights leader
Whenever someone seeks my counsel regarding how to achieve any life or career goal, the first thought that comes to mind is “What is the most enhancing and sure-fire choreography we can construct, to put that person in a strong position to succeed and thereby raise their feelings of core confidence and self-esteem in the process?” The keys to being a great choreography designer are to—
- Visualize “what can be” (what you want to attain).
- Identify “what is” (where you are today).
- Contemplate and write down the steps that will take you from where you are today to where you want to be, so that you can make your vision a reality.
Before you can construct the most effective goal-attainment steps, it is optimal to start your choreography by identifying where you want to end up or what you want to end up with.
Let’s be clear here. Throughout every choreography, the success- ful construction and accomplishment of each step or strategy is a mini-goal attained. Your Big-Picture Goal or “Goal” is one of your primary goals. It is usually achieved through a series of choreogra- phy steps. Your Gold-Ring Dream or “Dream” is just that—it’s what you want to accomplish above all else. Oftentimes, but not always, you must fulfill a series of Goals in order to live your Dreams. These Goals and Dreams are what every step that you’ve constructed and implemented is designed to culminate in. So, when constructing most choreographies, your first step is to identify—at the top of any page or List—your Goal or your Dream.
Essentially, this all-important choreography construction process focuses on valuation—you learning or confirming what you value most for yourself, your happiness and well-being, and your career. Your Goals and Dreams directly reflect your conscious and well- thought-out valuations. This brings us to Career Choreography Principle 3:
Below are a few of the Goals and Dreams that some of my clients and I have identified:
- “I want to own a public-relations company.”
- “I want to host Good Morning America.”
- “I want to have my own hair-color line.”
- “I want to be a partner in my firm.”
- “I want more meaning and job satisfaction from my work.”
- “I want to love what I do, be around interesting people, and have enough financial security to support my son and myself.”
- “I want to leave my career and my company and begin a whole new professional path. In essence, I’m ready for my second act.”
- “I want to get my first job in publishing.”
- “I want to incorporate my love of art, art galleries,
and charity in whatever I do.”
- “I want to use my love of people, my entrepreneurial passion, my marketing skills, and my legal background in the job I take.”
Throughout my counseling career, I’ve been surprised at the incredibly large number of people who don’t take the necessary time or make the all-important effort to search deep down in their heart of hearts in order to ascertain what it is that they truly want to accomplish during their lifetime. As a result, most of these individuals are unfocused and directionless. It’s no wonder so many people feel lost, empty, and unsatisfied! How can they feel ful- filled on a consistent basis if they haven’t taken the focused time to learn who they are and what they really want? This insightful self-examination is an ongoing process, for with the passage of time, your values and Goals may change. Unquestionably, I have found that the individuals who achieve their Goals and fulfill their Dreams are the ones who
- have a strong sense of what they want, or, at a minimum, know what they like to do and what they are good at;
- can visualize Goal attainment (“If you can see it, you can far more easily be it”);
- have core confidence and believe their Goal is attainable (“You won’t achieve it, if you don’t believe it”); and
- have a game plan or choreography as to how to attain their Goal(s).
Through the years, I’ve identified some of the reasons why people don’t take the requisite time to discern what they truly want. Often, it’s because they perceive that they’re simply too busy to do so, or that mining their true Dreams isn’t worth the time. If you’re one of these individuals, you probably waste tons of time flailing around, missing the mark, and being directionless, as opposed to maximizing your time and energy by taking logical, direct, success-evoking steps to attain your Goals.
As someone who wants to achieve your Goals and Dreams, starting today, you must make identifying your desires in life a major priority. I promise you that it will give you big-picture vision, clarity, direc- tion, and focus—all qualities that Goal achievers have developed. Also remember that if you consistently flail, you’ll probably fail!
By visualizing what you truly want, it will be much easier to be disciplined enough to stay on the often-difficult course of going for your Dreams and not opting for the immediate gratification of less-satisfying substitutes. Your Goal is to go for—and attain—life’s gold, and not settle for the quick fix of less-gratifying brass.
In many instances, people don’t search deep within to identify what they really want because they’re afraid they might be faced with the stark reality of how far they’ve strayed from their heart’s true Dreams, having settled and destructively compromised their Goals, their ideals, or themselves. Or they feel that the attainment of what they yearn for presents such a daunting or unattainable undertaking that they become timid and get depressed just thinking about it. This nonconstructive behavior is often caused by the way these individuals have been raised or by the consistent rejection or nonsuccess they have experienced in the past. As a result, these individuals are afraid to fail, or they are afraid to succeed, as they feel that one day they may be exposed as not really having the talent to warrant their success…
Before going on to the next section, I’d like you to identify what you—not your parents, not your spouse, not your friends, not your employer—truly want to attain in your professional life.
The key here is for you to commit the necessary time and energy to find a quiet place that allows you to decompress and break through the clutter of everything that is swirling around in your mind. I do this by taking long walks on the beach, bike rides, and scenic hikes. The prettier the scenery, the quieter the surroundings, and the fewer the distractions, the better. Find a place that transports you, moves you, inspires you, calms you, and/or makes you appreciative and introspective.
Once you’re there, think about what would put a smile in your heart and on your face. Visualize a career Goal that energizes you and captures your imagination. Ask yourself: “What do I want to do with my career?” Dare to contemplate your truest and most exciting Dreams—no matter how far-fetched or distant they may appear.
Let your thoughts and imagination run wild, and allow your heart and soul to well up with the anticipation and visualization of what can be—as wonderful ideas and cherished Dreams come to mind. Feel like a kid again—when there seemed as if there were no boundaries or impediments.
This contemplation process, which we’ll call the Examination Process, is essential. Keep in mind that even the most successful achievers have fallen short many times when endeavoring to fulfill their Goals and Dreams. So, as you go through the Examination Process and dig deep within, you may well feel pangs of sadness. This is part of the Process. It is commonplace to feel the deep pain of aspirations compromised or unfulfilled, and valuable time seemingly wasted. But be encouraged and assured that it’s just as important to know what you don’t want to do professionally as it is to know what you do want. For example, I worked for a corporate law firm during one of my law-school summers and disliked the experience. I learned that practicing law in that kind of an environment wasn’t for me. This knowledge enabled me to move forward with a career that didn’t include working for a law firm. Identifying what you don’t want to do is just as much choreographer gold as discovering what makes your heart sing. Envision the great things you can and will attain, and what wonderful experiences and accomplishments you will enjoy by constructing the most effective choreographies.
Know that it is not at all unusual for the Examination Process to take many days, weeks, or months of quiet time in order to uncover what you cherish most. The following poem may inspire you. Be excited and have fun as you immerse yourself in the process of mining, exploring, and identifying what you really want in and from your job, profession, and career.
DISCERNING WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
If you want to know what lies deep inside, You must drop your defenses and no longer hide, And become the most effective sleuth,
By searching your heart and discerning the truth.
Don’t pursue a goal ’cause you think it’s expected,
As your emotional well-being can be negatively affected. Don’t try to attain goals, just because they’re in fashion. Make your heart sing! Follow your passion!
Seize a dream that will make you happy and proud, Make the most of your life, don’t play for the crowd. ’Cause in life there are few greater sins
Than ignoring the dreams you’ve repressed deep within.
CH. 15: BE PASSIONATE ABOUT AND ENGAGED IN WHAT YOU DO
The harder I work, the luckier I get!
—SCOTT FREEDMAN, winner of the most national POP Tennis/paddle tennis singles and doubles titles in the history of the sport
We have already discussed how crucial it is to your success and happiness that your job, career, or profession incorpo- rate things that you’re good at, and that you work with supportive individuals. It is also vital to do something that you enjoy or are passionate about. Why? Because if you aspire to attain sustained success, in most instances, you’ve got to really want it and you have to be intensely focused on attaining it. If you lack either the requisite desire or focus, it will be too easy for you to be diverted into settling for more immediate and ultimately less-gratifying substitutes.
Desire is a powerful concept and force. It conjures up high-energy qualities such as passion, need, want, and the like. When these emo- tion-based energies are channeled toward healthy and constructive ends, they can have a huge, positive impact upon your Goal-attaining efforts. These energies can initially have a catalyzing effect on you. Thereafter, they can help you sustain your efforts and focus, as you face problems, crises, distractions, and weak moments.
At all costs, avoid hiding your true feelings from yourself to protect your ego in the event you don’t succeed in your quest. To the contrary, you must clearly identify your Goals, and not be afraid to put yourself on the line in your efforts to achieve them. Being dialed in to your Goal-attainment journey, both internally and externally, will enable you to enjoy the process and the victories so much more.
For example, I vividly remember the semifinal match of the 2005 French Open tennis tournament. Nineteen-year-old newcomer Rafael Nadal was playing Roger Federer, the number-one player in the world for the previous three years. In prior matches, I had noticed how focused and passionate Nadal was as he defeated opponent after opponent. In this match, the same held true. On the first point, Federer had Nadal running from side to side; he then hit a rocket forehand that sent Nadal running across the court, only for Nadal to hit a spectacular running winner. That one extraordinary shot by Nadal, that burst of speed, that intense passion, set the tone for the rest of the match. By his actions, Nadal told Federer in the most explicit and emphatic way, “I’m here, amped, dialed in, and coming at you!”
Upon seeing Nadal streak across the court and not only return Federer’s excellent shot but also hit it for an outright winner, the commentator explained, “Well, you can see that Nadal is dialed in right from the first point.” A few moments later, when Nadal won the first two games convincingly and Federer looked lethargic, the commentator remarked, “Roger better get engaged in their match, or he’s going to have real trouble.”
Those words were prophetic. Nadal was resolute, and immersed in his job, right from the start, and Federer, the number-one- seeded player, never seemed to be involved. The result: Nadal upset Federer. In fact, he dominated him! As it turned out, this match set the tone for the many future Nadal/Federer matches.
Those who reach extraordinary career heights are passionate about what they do, as well as engaged in the process. So it makes sense that if you want to be great at what you do, whenever possible, you must do things that you truly like or even love. Your positive energies can fuel great results!
YOUR HARD, FOCUSED WORK IS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR SUCCESS
As we are discussing the virtues of being dialed in, focused upon, and passionate about giving your best professional efforts on a daily basis, it is crucial to reinforce how important having a strong work ethic can be in your Goal-attaining strategy.
Throughout my adult life, I have seen that it is often the person who works the hardest and the most strategically who enjoys the sweet fruits of success. Time and time again I have observed that great talent can be reduced to mere potential, unless it is combined with smart, hard work. That said, if you do successfully coalesce your talent with a strong work ethic, you put the percentages very much in your favor that you will be a Career Choreography rock star!
ABOUT KEN LINDNER
Ken owns a successful and well-respected TV broadcast journalist representation firm in the country, Ken Lindner & Associates, Inc. Ken has been choreographing careers for nearly 38 years. He has represented some of the biggest names in the business including Lester Holt, Mario Lopez, Megyn Kelly, Robin Meade, and Liz Claman.
In addition to “Career Choreography™”, Ken is the author of four books: “Your Killer Emotions: The 7 Steps to Mastering the Toxic Emotions, Urges, and Impulses That Sabotage You,” in which he shares with readers how to master their emotions and break their destructive behavioral patterns and bad habits; “Crunch Time! 8 Steps to Making the Right Life Decisions at the Right Times,” which gives readers the tried-and-true emotionally intelligent life strategies that will enable them to fulfill their greatest potentials; and Editions 1 and 2 of “Broadcasting Realities,” which equip broadcast journalists and aspiring broadcast journalists with the essential information they need to make constructive career decisions. At the heart of all of these books is the concept that your life choices are precious and if made wisely and strategically, they can change your life in the most beneficial and wonderful ways.
Ken graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, from Cornell Law School, and from Brooklyn Polytechnic Preparatory Country Day School (Brooklyn Poly Prep).
He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Melinda, their twin children, Mary and Tristan, and their three adorable dogs, Peanut, Bert, and Clara.