Ben Stein On Achievement

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this; decide what you want. – Ben Stein

One exercise I give all of my clients when deciding on the ideal next job is to make a list of everything they want. This typically numbers in the dozens – salary, bonus, flexibility, great boss, mentorship, etc. Then, they pick their top half. Then, the top half of that. Then, they keep dividing in half until they can no longer imagine taking a job that doesn’t meet the remaining criteria. These things are the real deal breakers. These things are what you really want.

You can do the same exercise outside of career – with your personal goals, your weekly to do list, even your list of approved cheat foods (my deal-breakers here are chocolate-covered nuts and ice cream).

What are the nice-to-haves and what are the MUST-haves? How much time and attention are you giving the MUST-haves? How can you better preserve your limited bandwidth for what you really want?

Ralph Waldo Emerson On Obstacles

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine. – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

One of my favorite scenes in the sitcom, Seinfeld, is when perennial loser George commits out loud to Jerry that he will change his life, do what he really wants, get on the path of a dream career. He names history, sports, and other interests. Then, Jerry shoots him down at every turn. It’s funny because it rings so true, except in real life, the role of Jerry is played by that inner voice that stifles our dreams before we have a chance to go after them.

Are you standing in your own sunshine? Do you talk yourself out of dreaming too “unrealistically”?

When your negative inner critic surfaces, visualize the shadow and the sunshine. Tell your critic to step aside so you can enjoy the warmth and light of your natural optimism, hope and confidence.

Henry David Thoreau On Change

Things do not change: we change. – Henry David Thoreau 

What is bothering you? In what areas of your life are you hoping that something or someone else will change?

You have a role in this tension. If your workplace should be more collegial, you can start by being a better team player, becoming more approachable, or listening more. If your family should be more helpful, you can ask for what you need and step back when people do try to help. If your results have plateaued, you can switch your strategy, get help, or drop old goals altogether.

We can hope for change or be the change. What are you going to act on right after you read this post?

Louis CK on Boredom

“I’m bored” is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless, it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say “I’m bored.” – Louis CK

Are you bored? How can you get back some of the amazement that Louis CK is talking about?

What is the most amazing thing that happened to you this week? If not amazing, think surprising, pleasurable, or even just nice?

From a professional standpoint, if you recognize your life is amazing, that gratitude is a career advantage.

Jerry Seinfeld on Growth

To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving. – Jerry Seinfeld

Are you moving or in a rut?

What is one small change you can make to your routine – even a different route to work, a different go-to meal for breakfast, a 10-minute refresh of one small space in your home?

From a professional standpoint, it comes down to keeping your skills, expertise and network updated. If you don’t need to update your resume with anything new in the last year, you’re not growing professionally. Review these seven reasons why your career has stalled, and resolve to keep it moving.