Career Changes

Me: What kind of work you like to do?

Client: I’m not sure.

Me: Do you have any favorite hobbies?

Client: Sure—but how can swimming become a job?

Me: Ahh…that’s a challenge. Have you ever dreamed about what work you’d like?

Client: No. Why dream? Isn’t that unrealistic?

Me: No. Dreaming expands our mind. By letting our mind wander, we can creatively brainstorm ideas.

Client: Really?


YES! Long after I wrote Goal Getting, I realized that we need to dream before we identify a goal. Dreams expand our minds; they also spur us to action.

My client might need to make some smaller dreams into goals before she gets to the core goal—what work she wants to do.


Let your mind go—from the practical “I need a job”—to the exotic “I want to vacation in Hawaii every year.”

Ask yourself, “What do I want?” Jot down whatever comes to mind. Let that list sit a day or so. Then…

Pick a Goal

Review your list. Ask yourself:

  • Does an item jump out and say “Yes, do me first!”
  • What common themes or characteristics show up?
  • Could I make a small dream into reality now?
  • What do I enjoy doing?

Pick one item, perhaps a small dream, and start there.

Action Steps

  • What tasks do you take to make this happen?
  • Do you need someone to help with any of the tasks?
  • Add due dates to each task—that will keep you accountable.
  • Create an action list so you can tick off those tasks.

Visualize Success

Visualize what you will look like when you reach the goal.

One of my mentors used to remind me to “Keep your eye on the prize!”

  • type up the goal in colorful creative fonts OR
  • hand-write the goal using vibrant markers
  • post the page so it’s in front of you—in your workspace, kitchen, den…

Create a Visions Poster visions poster

  • gather magazines
  • cut out pictures that are colorful, match your dreams and goals visions poster section
  • choose a cool colored poster board–or settle for plain white
  • glue the pictures to the poster
  • hang the poster in a prominent place (I use my fridge!)

Celebrate Success!

  • join with friends or family for a festive event

What action steps do you take to create your vision?


Photos © Sherri Leah Henkin 2016


My first job out of college was at the Greater YMCA in Boston. I started as a receptionist (not what I went to college for!) and about a month later was promoted to payroll clerk. This was an unlikely turn of events for the student who barely made it through math class. My co-workers and manager had a lot of confidence in me and taught me the ropes – most of them.

So what’s so hard about being a payroll clerk? It’s all automated, right?

No. This was in the mid-1970s; computers took up an entire temperature-controlled room and data entry was via keypunch cards. (You may have read about this method.) To prepare the weekly payroll, the Payroll Director gave me a green and white print out each week with all employees listed by branch. Each branch rep called me and gave me their employees’ hours and gross pay. I dutifully hand-wrote the information next to each person’s name.

One week, two employees were to receive $300.00 each. So I dutifully wrote $300 (no decimals, no extra digits) next to each of their names. On Payday, they each received a check for $2.52! The key puncher had entered in $3.00 (notice the decimal point); the government entities took out taxes!

Good thing the employees had a sense of humor that Payday. They showed me the check and we had a good laugh. Even the execs thought it was funny – and they graciously corrected the error immediately. We couldn’t believe that the one could have taxes taken out of a $3.00 paycheck!

I quickly learned the value of a decimal point! I also learned that perhaps Payroll Clerk wasn’t my calling!


I’m expanding my editing skills at work. I’m honing my interviewing skills as we help others understand their technical systems. And there’s some travel along the way.

It’s an interesting experience to travel for work. There’s the “pack professional but light” challenge. Sometimes there’s the rush to the airport and trying to look calm and professional as TSA checks me out. And trying to look especially calm when they remove the peanut butter from my carry-on, with “You can’t take this, Ma’am; it’s too large a jar.”

“Really? What’s wrong with peanut butter? It’s solid.”

“No, Ma’am, it’s not. I’m sorry, but according to the Rules, peanut butter is a cream.”

“Oh! A cream? (Well, the jar did say, “creamy peanut butter”!) I guess I can’t take it, huh?’

“Right. I’m sorry.”

“Me too; part of that was dinner.”

And I trudge out of the check-in line in search of some nuts or something protein-y I can eat for dinner.

Traveling by car is so much easier! I can throw in whatever I’d like to take. As long as I make sure there’s gas in the car and I have good directions (and some snacks, of course), I’m on my way. I can even find interesting sites to see while on work travel. For example: Who knew that there was a cute park with a lake a mile from Disneyland? Complete with ducks, geese, and picnic benches! What a great place to relax after a charged day! by car for business wins hands-down. Yet air travel does present some great learning experiences – like finding out that peanut butter is a cream. Who knew?

So the first decision was how to write the title of this post. Is it “decisionmaking”? Or is it “decision-making”? How about “decision making?” Since this isn’t the style guide or the Chicago Manual of Style or APA standards, and I get to choose – I chose one word.

How do we make decisions?

Some of my favorite methods are:

♦Clearly state the choices.

♦Create a pro and con list.

♦Review similar past experiences and the choices I made.

♦If the choice is not critical or significant – choose something creative…like spelling “decisionmaking” as one word!

♦Trust my gut.

♦Ask mentors for guidance.

♦Pray for the clarity to select the best choice.

What’s your decisionmaking process?

A friend of mine will begin to play The Career Search Game. Given the new rules of this Game, she’s not quite sure which direction to take (and definitely wants to pass go and collect $200). My friend decided that before rolling the dice, she would create her “I can” list.

“Your what list?” I asked incredulously.

“I can list – a list of any and all activities I can do to make a healthy livelihood. You know, things like, ‘I can tell stories. I can teach. I can walk dogs.’ …”

A positive free-form list! What a creative way to begin The Career Search.

“Well, what happens after you have that list? Are you really going to look for dog-walking jobs?”

“Ha! Not exactly! Then I review the list and decide which tasks I really could do and which I absolutely won’t do. The goal is to get the list down to some jobs that I’d really like to do. Then I start looking.”

“So you’re looking to expand the type of work you could look for?”

“That’s one possibility. The free-form list may reveal some type of activity I’ve never thought about but have the skills. And who knows? Maybe dog walking is a clue that might lead me to Veterinarian Assistant (doubtful, but it could)!”

Here are some items my friend has on her list:

  • I can organize work flow and materials.
  • I can listen to people with empathy.
  • I can walk dogs and care for cats.
  • I can supervise and motivate teams of people.
  • I can be a storyteller.
  • I can do and teach arts and crafts.
  • I can drive and use maps or a GPS.

It’s 2012. The rules of The Career Search Game have changed – even in the last year. Why not begin the game with an “I can” list?

I can write lists.

  • I can edit.
  • I can write a blog.
  • I can pass go and collect $200!
  • I can…

What’s on your “I can” list?

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Advice from the Woodland:

Find your path…Start from the ground up…Stretch your limbs…Branch out…Root for others…Make room for new growth š

From Your True Nature calendar.




What’s in a toolbox? Typically, there are tools and accessories needed to complete a job. Carpenters have hammers, nails, angles, screwdrivers and maybe wood glue. Homeowners – and apartment renters – have a hammer, some nails, picture-hanging equipment, screwdrivers, and maybe a small flashlight. It’s best to have quality items in the toolbox.

What could be in an “interview toolbox”? A resume, portfolio, interviewer(s) name(s), and directions to the interview (in case the GPS malfunctions). What kind of resume? What does the portfolio look like? What’s the quality of the work in the portfolio?

Jack Molisani answered these questions at a recent LASTC meeting. He sparked discussion, encouraged us to think “outside the box,” and awarded us with mint-flavored chocolates! A winning presentation!

What’s a resume?

The audience volunteered many definitions – and received chocolate in return.

The Jack Molisani Definition:

“It’s a vehicle that shows whether or not you match what the reader is looking for.” The resume needs to match the job requirements. “Ensure your resume is FBC – Fully Buzzword Compliant.”

What’s a portfolio?

Jack showcased his portfolio: “A tool that shows I’m an expert in my field to the level I’ve been trained.” Include:

  • Resume (the one that matches what the interviewer is looking for)
  • Document Plan or Project Plan
  • Short sample of work – preferably the sample from the document/project plan
  • Samples of items we’ve documented and use “colors that pop”
  • Articles we’ve written
  • Articles that quote us
  • End with pizzazz: a sample that shows how you made order out of chaos!

What brand of portfolio tool should we use? Jack suggested:

  • Use classy leather or faux leather portfolio
  • Clear page protectors
  • Consider not labeling tabs

Jack explained that we use these tools during an interview to walk the interviewers down a path that leads to the next steps (preferably a job offer).

My take-aways

  • Inventory my Interview Toolbox.
  • If my toolbox is low on supplies, go get the tools.
  • Make sure I use quality tools.

What’s in your Interview Toolbox?

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Thank you, Jack, for sharing your tools, your time, and for inspiring us!

 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Jack’s LavaCon Conference is coming up – details are here:

From the emails I received about Career River Rapids, it seems as if many of us are canoeing down rapids – either the career or personal. Thank you, Readers, for emailing your thoughts and questions.

One reader’s query:
“I was very intrigued by your ‘boulder’ post.  I’m trying to wrap my brain around it.  Would you be willing to give a real life example of how you broke apart the boulder, stepped over the pieces, learning-moving forward, seeing how you may have contributed to the obstacle, etc?”

What were the steps I really took to break apart the boulder? Are there tools that we could use for professional challenges and, as one reader stated, “life boulders.”

I was vague about the original details on purpose; I did not want to reveal the specific companies or the negotiations. Generally, the challenge I faced was selecting an appropriate work situation for me. There were lots of pros and cons in the situations I faced; it was not easy to figure this out. Yet, I knew I wanted to move forward.

For me, “breaking apart boulders” is taking a huge challenge and splitting the boulder into small pieces, or manageable parts. Some of the manageable parts I used in the recent challenge:

  • Construct a pro and con list of each position.
  • Review the list – what points jump out and say, “Listen to
    me! I’m important to consider!”
  • Speak with folks who have held contracted positions to learn
    their views on this type of work.
  • Discuss the options with my personal, professional, and
    spiritual mentors.
  • Know that the decision is mine.
  • Be at peace with the decision.

I had to step over some of the pieces. For example, as a contractor, I’m paid per hour so I’m not paid for time off. I decided that specific situation was OK with me. And I’m grateful for the clarity granted to me to make the decision.

♦What professional or personal obstacles have challenged you?

♦What helped you smash those boulders?

→In memory of those who perished on September 11, 2001. May their memories be blessed.

Next Page »