Sitting around waiting for something to happen has never been my thing. I’m unhappiest when I am prevented from moving forward with new ideas and plans. When things stall, I chomp at the bit.

This week a LinkedIn status update on two professional acquaintances triggered me to send a “how are you, and what can I do to help?” email to each. One person was facing a layoff at the end of the month because his company had run out of financial gas, and the other’s company recently offered thousands of her colleagues significant buy-out incentives.

The contrast in their responses was striking. One was looking forward to adding new challenges and forming new associations, after a career spanning more than 35 years. We will be getting together to explore some collaborative efforts. The other, in her mid-20’s, indicated, “I’m staying until they get rid of me. Morale is low here.” I couldn’t imagine a more depressing environment.

When individuals are unfulfilled in their careers, they often dream of indulging their passions. Translating them into paying work can present a challenge, but happiness and fulfillment need not be sacrificed in a challenging economy. Certain people have always known how to distinguish themselves within various disciplines to provide value. The key elements to success in any endeavor are interest, belief and enthusiasm.

careerrenegade_book_cover_medJonathan Fields, in his marvelous book, Career Renegade, explains this. By now, you’ve probably encountered one or more reviews of this book from some of the bigger guns in the blogosphere, like Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits (who is mentioned in the book), and others. As I’ve come to know from participating in Triiibes, Jonathan is the real deal. Career Renegade provides an outstanding, comprehensive outline for someone seeking fulfillment.

The good news: accessing a passionate endeavor and making a living from it don’t have to be exclusive. Bold moves and commitment are required, though. What holds us all back?  Fear.

We know we are vulnerable when we’re dependent, especially upon things over which we have little or no control – like companies going out of business, or falling home values. All of a sudden, we’re paralyzed by fear, getting nowhere fast. Some, used to little or no control, are far more comfortable with the status quo. As fearfully depressing it may be, it’s even scarier to shove off and captain the ship. So, inertia sets in.

When inertia comes to visit, we focus on what we can’t do.  Too much negative focus strips away our humor and optimism. We want to retract and contract, retreat, hunker down and ride the storm out. It’s understandable. That’s conventional wisdom. It’s also slow suicide.

Lucky for those with strong principles and a mission to accomplish, conventional wisdom keeps potential competition out of the way. This makes it easier for innovators to eliminate dysfunctional activities in favor of real accomplishments. Rather than lowering expectations and looking toward the sky expecting it to fall, those who are moving deliberately with goals and objectives will be far, far ahead of those who are waiting to see what happens.

stamp-animationThe conversations I had with my two contacts this week reminded me that diversification is more important than ever. I was grateful that Pete and I have taken opportunities to set up several different ventures. His latest, Wedding Wire, is at right in the side bar. His stores on Zazzle and CafePress have been expanded to accommodate data we collected. Pete pinpointed the characteristics of attractive buyer/product profiles in key merchandise areas, and opened up several specialty “shoppes” to become dominant in certain categories and trends.

I’m looking at the potential for diversification in the franchise I operate. It’s clear that relationships will be even more critical as the economy transitions and our competition is affected. I’m grateful our customer base is strong. Still, in that our business is retail, we face many challenges. Because we sell to businesses rather than consumers, we’re still subject to client budget cutbacks and stagnation. Keeping in touch and identifying additional ways to serve will be the most important focus we can take.

Pete and I recently were introduced to another opportunity that seems like a great fit with our goals and objectives, too. We’re currently developing a strategic plan to assess its merits. Should we elect to proceed we want to start strong. We’ll keep you posted.

It feels good to set out tactics and objectives. The more control we have, the more we present ourselves with confidence. Taking action, seeking and strengthening relationships, and acting in keeping with values and principles will not only position us for maximum success, but create meaning in our lives.

Ed Brenegar underscores:

Hard times are a transition point between the past and the future. It is time of purging of old ways that are no longer effective, and the acquisition of new ways that are. We build the future in the midst of transition. Now is the time to change how we will approach everything we do. Now is the time that we become committed to creating an impact in our personal and professional lives. . . You don’t create this impact in your head. You create it in action, in participating and contributing, in doing personally meaningful things that are socially fulfilling. . . . Do this and you will have prepared yourself for the good days that are coming.

What are you doing to play offense with your life’s work?


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