“I have that planned for six months out.”

“I’ll get started in about six months.”

“I’ll be ready in six months.”

Six months from now seems to be a magical time. It doesn’t matter if it’s actually January or July or October or March. Six months from now is always better. I am not sure what the allure is about6 months in the future but that is usually the date that people give me for when they will finally looking for that new job or start that new business. It’s like that golden period where apparently we have our life together.

Spoiler: You will not have your life together in six months.

Plot Twist: There is no such thing as a put-together life. Some of us are just better at carrying our baggage.

Even that friend on social media with the perfect hair, the perfect kids, the perfect spouse. You know who I am talking about- the one that always seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to trends from dove gray living room paint to fancy Brussel Sprouts. Yeah, that lady has her own baggage even if she has found a Pinterest-worthy way of packing it. Her secret is rolling, not folding, FYI.

Trust me, I have met a few Instagram lifestyle influencers and seen the life behind the filters.

So, what do you do when life does its predictable chaotic life thing and rolls over your vision board aspirations?


You can plan your heart out (and you should build a strategy), but always know that even the best battle plans change when you hit the field.

Lady Victory doesn’t choose who has the best plan or the most talent, she goes with who started and then kept at it.

Like Ulysses S. Grant said, “In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.”

Balance is the watchword that has launched more self-help books and blogs than nearly any other concept in career development. We want balance and rail against chaos.

Sorry, Charlie. Balance is a myth. Chaos is reality.

Life has seasons, there are ebbs and flows, but you will never have a day where you have a balance between work, family, friends, hobbies, etc etc etc. When we expect chaos, when we anticipate delays, and we make consistent daily steps, no matter how small, that is when we make progress in our journeys.

Stop pushing off your dreams to wait for a fantasy time period where everything is perfect, your life is in balance, and no one will be inconvenienced. It ain’t happening, sister.

Embrace the crazy!

Bless the mess!

Use that chaos as a ladder, honey!

If you start now with consistency and conviction, you might actually get your goal in six months… instead of wishing that you had.


You have the power to change your life.

Yes, you.

Even if you don’t think so.

Just because you walked through a door, that doesn’t mean that you can’t just walk right out again and find a better one.

You have more than one chance.

The trick is that you need to believe that you do.

This can feel like a stretch goal depending on the topic. We all have areas where we feel we excel and others where we feel as effective as a fish flopping on a dock. Some people are confident at work, but feel hopeless when dating for example.

Even if you lost faith, you can find it again just like a set of house keys.

If you never had it then understand that faith in yourself can be cultivated.

One of my favorite quotes on the mind is from the sci-fi masterpiece, Dune, “Fear is the mindkiller.”

Most of our mental quandaries stem from fear: fear of the unknown, fear of people seeing us fail, fear of instability, etc. When adults let fear win, we often call it growing up. We tell ourselves that cynicism is a sign of intelligence. We use societal ills, climate change, and woe-as-me memes to justify the fear.

If your inner cynic is scoffing right now because this seems too woo woo, here is a bit an of non-fluffy reality- being a Debbie Downer makes you a pill to be around. And no, I am not talking about the clinically depressed, so hold back your indignation for the mentally ill. I am talking about the tendency of us too-cool-for-school millennials who have mistaken cynicism for intelligence and passive-aggressive self-sabotage as a power flex.

Sure, you can walk around with a stick up your butt, but won’t your life be more pleasant if you pulled it out? How does being a sad sack help the planet or yourself? The good news that you don’t have to be a miserable sod! I say with a cheeky winky face emoji. 😉

Most likely you are reading this from a computer in the US or the UK where by virtue of birth and citizen, you are already living better with more opportunities than 80% of the planet. I don’t say that to shame you or the dismiss any real institutional failings in the developed world, I am saying that you remind you that you have more than you know at your disposal. It’s just a matter of opening your eyes and seeing what you have in your corner.

Vision is a funny thing. We can have 20/20 vision and fail to see what is right in front of us. It doesn’t matter if it is a typo in an essay or an opportunity in our career. It’s like the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon in reverse. As people grow up, even in lands of plenty, we put blinders on our dreams.

We abdicate control.

We fall into cynicism.

We stop believing.

Cue a Journey power ballad.

Ownership over yourself is the greatest act of self-care, the most empowering act of resilience, and the most humbling part of analyzing your own demons. There is a cold comfort in surrendering to external limitations. You can always point the blame outward. It’s tougher to stare in the mirror at your own demons, the decisions that you made, the paths you took yourself… We all have to accept that we have caused a percentage of our own problems.

Some people might be triggered by that last sentence. I am not talking about victims of crimes or natural disasters, I am talking about the times where we have lost our temper, made the wrong choice, did the bad thing in the place with the people, etc. If you’re honest with yourself, you can think of at least a handful of times when you have shot yourself in the metaphorical foot.

But what does this have to do with changing your life or belief?

The power to change your life is born from the ability to control your thoughts and gain a better awareness of your mind.

You are not your thoughts. You are not your feelings. You are not your perceptions.

Sounds philosophical, but it’s not.

Your brain is waterlogged gelatin rattling around in a funny-shaped bone dish, sending out electrical impulses and secreting chemicals in response to stimuli. Stop giving it so much power. Your feelings might be valid, but they don’t need to be humored all the time.

Depending on where you start, it can feel like a stretch to go from zero to confident. Here are some ways to clear the mental field so you can start cultivating self-belief:

1. Nip the negative self-talk in the head by noticing it, detaching from it, and confronting it. Example: ‘I suck at photoshop’ can be framed as ‘I am new to photoshop so mistakes are expected and I am still improving every day.’

If you are caught in a negative loop of insults and criticisms directed towards yourself, you don’t have much room in your brain for much else. It’s not just limiting for you on the inside, that mental environment shows up in your body language and in your vibe. That hate in your head can spew out at the wrong time and even cause you to act against your best interests. When you call yourself names, you are rewiring your own lack of belief and forging a prophecy for failure. It beats you down. You are beating yourself down even if the thought was planted externally.

The path to self believe starts with how you talk to yourself.

2. Write down your new beliefs.

Write down new beliefs about yourself just as how you learned to spell by practicing writing down words. It feels goofy at first so start with simple affirmations then move the goalposts as your mindset improves. This is important if you want to actually achieve something. If you don’t believe that something is possible then you’ll never achieve it. It doesn’t matter if that is finding a better job, a better partner, or building a better world.

3. Detach

There was a rule in the support groups that I helped facilitate that was pretty simple: assume best intentions. This is a nicer way of saying: quit taking everything personally. Most things in this world aren’t about you. It’s easy to take it that way because your perception puts you in the center. That is pure ego. Life is harder when you see insults everywhere.

4. New people, places, and things.

It’s a cliche in recovery that addicts need new people, places, and things to overcome their addiction. You don’t need to throw everything away, just be mindful of what gives you energy and what brings you down. Hate liking things might be a common hobby on social media but it is bad for you. Start curating what you expose yourself too. Some factors in your life might be permanent but not everything. Never forget that you can take yourself out of the firing range.

This isn’t an easy process and can take some time so be gentle but firm with yourself.

You can reprogram your brain. From the Buddha to the personal development gurus to the latest in psychology techniques, there is more evidence and guidance than ever on reprogramming yourself. You can create new pathways for your thoughts that promote grit, positivity, and yes, even luck!

It all starts within.

ACE THE FIRST IMPRESSION: Get Their Attention With Your Resume

Before I dive into my words of info-spiration, I have to put this warning: resumes are subjective.

You can get 10 career specialists, HR people, and recruiters together and you can get 10 different opinions on one resume. People get hired with hard to read, clunkily written, and obtuse resumes all the time. Maybe they had a connection in the company, maybe they got along well with the recruiter, maybe they sacrificed a goat to the god of fortune under a full moon… It happens.

Also, if you are experienced in a high demand niche skill set and you have recruiters and companies headhunting you with lucrative offers then you can turn in whatever. I have worked with machinists, welders, and the like who move from contract to contract with the grace of a noble chimp swinging in the trees. Usually these are careers are short and eventually, the candidate needs to retrain once their bodies can no longer do such work.

Most of us, especially if we are career changing, can’t just waltz into a job.

We have to put some elbow grease into our applications.

And for my lovely developers who are scoffing at my advice because they are constantly in demand now… many of my clients are talented professionals in their 40s-50s who now have to try harder to fight ageism in a youth-obsessed tech culture. The average web developer and fashion model have something in common- the calls dry up after 35.

I recently read a post about a position at Amazon which had 3,500 submissions, 50 recruiter screenings, 8 onsite interviews, and eventually had 3 offers handed out. To keep it in perspective, your average company, that isn’t a globally known powerhouse, isn’t going to get that many applications. However, you can expect to have a couple of dozen candidates as your competition in most cities for a role with a company in good standing. Add more if you are in a ‘cool’ city like Austin or Berlin. Add even more if there is some fun or glamour or creativity to your field.

So how do you stand out if you are just another brick in the wall… *ahem* resume in the applicant tracking system?


Let’s break it down even further.

1. Ditch the generalist resume.

Get some clarity around your career goal and make sure that you know what is important for your desired audience to know. This is more tricky if you have to reach deep into your transferable skills, but make sure you don’t fall into the trap of only listing routine duties if you are a career changer. You don’t have to have a fancy format to your resume (just make sure you keep it to easy to skim 1-2 pages), but you do need to toss the recruiter the red meat. What can you show that demonstrates that you can do the job?

This is very important for UX designers because your skill set is supposed to include boiling down complicated communication in a pleasing visual fashion. Your resume is the first design piece that the company will see.

2. Develop a system so you can combine efficiency and tailored applications.

If you have a few different types of roles that you are going for (example: UX Design, UX Research, UX Writer) then create three versions of your resume that focus on the skills/results/accomplishments that are most relevant to the position. Have realistic expectations: the industry average is 26 applications to 1 interview and 6 interviews to 1 offer. You might hit a hole in one, but I would still put a good system in place for your job search.

You can create templates for cover letters that are fast to put together yet seem custom made for the role. You want to at least make sure that you are listing the right company and job title in the cover letter… No one is impressed if you call them by the wrong name, it doesn’t make if its a company that is looking to hire or with a person on a romantic date. As Liz Lemon says, that’s a dealbreaker, ladies!

The resume that looks the most like the job lead is the one that gets called to the interview. Be smart and create a job seeker version of marketing funnels for the roles that you are going out for.

3. Apply at the company page and if they give you the opportunity to do a video, attach a portfolio, or share more information, take it!

Job boards are a crutch. They are great to scouting out who is hiring, but if you are only applying at the job boards then you are dropping your resume into an extra applicant tracking system. Who knows if your resume will end up filtered out immediately? I have done recruitment contracts where the applications that came in from Stackoverflow just didn’t look as good as the company page ones so you can end up inadvertently looking lackluster.

If the company gives you a chance to humanize your application, do it! Videos are a great way to stand out and show some of your personality/culture fit. People are hiring folks whom they will have to be trapped in an office with for 40+ hours a week. They prefer to hire someone that they can stand or better yet, enjoy to be around. Even for web developers, the age of keeping the techies down in the bowels of the building, only to emerge for the Christmas party, is over. Hard skills can be taught, being pleasant to be around cannot.

Keep in mind that your resume should evolve as your career does. I suggest switching up the format every six months, keeping only the last decade worth of experience, and making sure that it can be read easily on a phone, tablet, or laptop. Your resume is the first step in the hiring process, it’s the first impression so make it a good one!


As a career advisor, I get asked many questions from current and prospective clients:

“Do others really find jobs in this field?”

“How easy is it to find X job?”

“Can you guarantee results?”

These all boil down to the very simple question- “Can I do it?”

Yes and no.

If my clients implement all the suggested strategies then I am very confident that they can find that desired job. However, the results always depend on them.

The real question is – “Will you do what it takes to make your dreams happen?”

The frustration for me as a career specialist is that I can’t guarantee anyone’s results. Even when I worked on site and I was writing resumes, arranging interviews, picking out the client’s outfit, and driving them to the company… they eventually had to market themselves. Then ultimately the decision was for the company. Now, working virtually, I have even less control over what my clients implement.

Everyone can learn, everyone can listen, but how many actually DO?

The truth is that in life that most people don’t take the next step. By virtue of audaciously going after your dreams, you have entered the top 20%. If you put in the extra effort in the beginning then I am sure that you will make it. I know this because after working with thousands of job seekers, I can tell quickly who is a do-er. That is one of the biggest signs of who will achieve their intentions.

You don’t need to be the smartest.

You don’t need to be the most popular.

You don’t need to be the best looking.

You need to be an action taker!

I know this not just from coaching others, but from personal experience. I didn’t go to the right schools, I didn’t know the right people, and I certainly was a late bloomer when it comes to looks and charm, but I hustled.

I juggled three jobs in college.

I went to networking events even when I felt social anxiety.

I stayed up late to work on my passion projects even if I was tired.

I wanted it so I acted like it.

Everything that I tell my clients, I have tested myself. I don’t coach because I can’t. I coach because I can, did, and came back to show others how to do it too.

It’s important for me to lead by example so I kickstarted my own life and career. I designed my idea career to include my multiple income streams, hobbies, and an international nomadic lifestyle. This is what MY dream looked like. Yours doesn’t need to be the same. It just matters that you go for it!

Whether in careers, life, business, love, creativity, etc., achieving your dreams isn’t effortless. Anyone telling you any different is lying to you.

The strategies might be simple. Depending on where you are in your career/personal development, it might happen quicker for you than for others. I have refused some clients because I could sense that they were looking to pay someone to tell them that it would be easy, cheap, and quick. I am happy to be a cheerleader, but I am not here to blow smoke.

But what if it is tough?

Most things are tough when you start out. That doesn’t make them any less worth doing.

Elizabeth Taylor said once that, “You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you.”

Is it tougher to DO THE WORK or LIVE WITH REGRETS?

That depends on how much your goal means to you. This is why it’s key to know yourself so you can decide what is worth the effort.

When you go for your dreams, you have the satisfaction, win or lose, that you went for it. Most people live with regrets. They tell themselves that they could have been a contender but X, Y, or Z stood in the way. They let the fear of failure cow them.

Do you want to throw your dreams on the compost pile?

I am not saying to not be judicious with your time, effort, or money. I am saying that to make your cherished goals happen that you will need to step out of your comfort zone and take it on faith and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

The climb up might feel like a slog at times, but you will get stronger as you go along. When you get to the top of the mountain and look over what you achieved, you’ll know that it was all worth it.


For the last year, I have been living a double life.

No, I am not robbing banks across Texas or singing cabaret in a Berlin nightclub.

My double life is that I am a mild-mannered career coach by day and a writer at night. By the light of the moon, I pull out my laptop and play with my fictional friends in my invisible sandbox. I have written the drafts of three novels to date with a fourth almost finished.

I haven’t shown them to anyone. Even when asked, I murmur that “it’s like Outlander with vampires” and then frantically change the subject. I keep saying that I am an aspiring writer, a hobbyist, or that its just a little story… I have written over 330,000+ words in the last year. This little story has gotten out of hand!

This isn’t just a confession of my double life. It’s a confession that I have been a hypocrite.

I tell my clients so often to proclaim themselves what they are that I might as well have a shirt that says ‘name and claim.’ If I have a client call themselves a junior, I virtually shake them through the computer. Stop dismissing yourself, I say, your work is better than that!

Eeep, cue the hypocrisy. The doctor hasn’t been taking her own medicine.

I have 100% faith in myself as a career coach because I have helped thousands of people change careers, find jobs, and design more aligned work lives. In my nonprofit work, I have triaged cases that other career coaches turn away from. My clients have run the gauntlet from homeless people to business development executives. It makes it easy for me to bang that “I am a fab career coach” drum.

Fiction writing, however… I turn into a squirrelly fresher who can’t make eye contact. I received a scholarship to a writing residency in September and I am terrified! I will have to sit with writers and not run out yelling that there was a terrible mistake. Someone might actually have to read my scribblings!

Every morning, I journal and I have been writing affirmations about how I am a writer. I force myself to not put a modifier like unpublished or aspiring or amateur. The first time that I wrote that simple affirmation- ‘I am a writer’- it was so hard!

I used to be a very confident writer until my first year in a creative writing program at university. Cliched as this sounds, I let a professor’s criticism over my preferred subject matter (sci-fi/fantasy) and my work scare me out of the program and then I didn’t write fiction again for nearly 10 years. It’s been a long road to regain this budding faith and it will be longer still before I will be as confident as I was as a young lass. However, confidence and faith are like any other muscle. You can strengthen them!

What builds confidence?

There are many techniques and I prefer cognitive behavioral therapy tactics to reprogram the brain and thought processes. However, the most impactful way to gain faith in yourself is by action. You need to prove to yourself that you are serious.

Talk is cheap, after all. Action is the real currency.

After a year of action, building the writing habit, and taking my paperback writer dreams seriously, I have the confidence now to claim what I am.

This blog post is to say that I am not going to be living a double life anymore. I am stepping out of my comfort zone to say- I am a writer!

I am naming what I am and claiming the title for myself.


Closing out the first session of my Career Brand Accelerator with a new client, I asked them how they felt and what came up. I wasn’t surprised at their response- “there were parts that felt like therapy and it made me realize what areas that I have been holding myself back in.”

I focus the first session on gaining more clarity on what the client wants and needs from their career, but that can’t be a coldly logical back and forth about salary expectations and corporate perks. It has been like that with some clients yet with others, I have had to ask a few deeper questions once I detect a mental block around interviewing, portfolio building, networking, etc. This is vital to their success. A large part of the value of a multi-session coaching package is accountability so I need to know how I need to monitor them for self-sabotage.

When I first started working in career services, I didn’t fully grasp the role that self-sabotage could play in increasing the length of a job hunt. I played the role of advisor and consultant and I was the ‘just the facts’ lady when it came to building a career strategy. I wasn’t raised in a family that really did emotions. My mom thought that therapy was for rich people who needed friends (note: bless her, but she is wrong). This was before my own journey with personal development, mental wellness, and training in cognitive behavioral therapy. I was great at the tactics and the strategy so I didn’t think to triage my clients for anything more.

Until I noticed a pattern with the electrical engineers that I served.

Primarily veterans who were older than the traditional college student, they were smart men who paid attention, did the work, and excelled in school… then started making stupid moves once they graduated.

I was not only advising them but directly connecting them with employers and arranging interviews.

With one student, I had pretty much sealed the deal with a lucrative position that would pay more than double his current salary. He was a month away from graduation and I wanted him to walk across the stage as an employed engineer. The student literally just had to show up to the interview and the employer was ready to take him. This was a job not just on the platter but spooned up for him.

I was so excited when I walked into the office that day because I assumed that by 3pm, I would get a happy update. Then I got an afternoon peeved call from the employer asking where my guy was.

The graduate didn’t show up.

I spent the next 30 minutes trying to repair the connection with the employer and frantically look through my student list to find another bilingual engineer. I tried to get ahold of my student.

Since I am persistent and I am not the kind of career specialist who hides in my office, I tracked him down on campus to ask him what in the HELL-o Kitty happened.

The student, a grown man with kids and an honorable military career, shook his head. All he could articulate was that he panicked. He didn’t oversleep an alarm or pop a car tire or have a family emergency. He just choked on the cusp of success.

He eventually ended up employed, but that was the day that I realized that it wasn’t just the job market that my clients were up against, it was themselves.

I have used him as a cautionary tale and have gotten many responses including from people who laugh and say they wouldn’t be so stupid then they end up doing the same thing. I have gotten gently ribbed by colleagues and clients alike for my emphasis on journaling, self-care, and critical self-awareness. Then the madness in my method becomes clearer as a job hunt stretches on.

This emotional stuff isn’t hippie woo woo. We are ruled by our emotions even as we like to claim that we are rational logical beings. The sooner that we can face the mirror and understand how our subconscious can trip us up, the sooner that we can prepare for it. Ask an Olympic Athlete, your mental game needs to be on point to ensure victory.

Job hunting isn’t easy. That is why it’s called a hunt and not a cake walk. You can’t take half a dose of medicine and expect a cure. You’ll get the results when you follow the program. The trouble happens when we hold ourselves back. I can give a client all the tools, insight, and materials to ace their job hunt, but I can’t be there pulling the strings and moving their mouth like a puppet master in the interview.

By golly, I have tried. I have literally picked out clothes, done interview role play, picked out a sympathetic interviewer, and driven clients in my car to interviews only to see them psyche themselves out either in the interview or soon after being hired. As someone who takes a lot of pride in my work, it was a hard lesson to learn that I can’t will my clients to work the program and get their metaphorical shit together.

Your success always depends on you.

Self-sabotage can take many forms. Essentially, we are self-sabotaging when we are undercutting our own goals. Maybe we fear success, maybe we are insecure. There are many blocks that can lead to hindering our career development. I see this most often with clients who get a strategy and then hold back on implementing it.

Some examples of self-sabotage in career development…

👉🏻You struggle to finish portfolio pieces because you are paralyzed by perfectionism created through parental influences.

👉🏻You resist networking because you are scared to connect with others after being hurt before.

👉🏻You stay in a job you hate because you are insecure about your skills and fear the responsibilities that come with success.

These mental blocks can be compensated for when we are aware of them. We can build accountability, self-care, and other tactics into a career strategy. As a career coach, I have to be aware of what is going on so I can ensure that you have what you need for success and kick your booty in a loving fashion when you need it!

Self-sabotage doesn’t need to be a permanent trait! How can you stop yourself from sabotaging your career goals?

👉🏻 Face the person in the mirror then, critically and compassionately, examine your current goals and see if your actions are meeting your intentions.

For example, if you know that you are in an area where networking is vital for a career changer and you have a plan to connect with five new people each week, but you keep avoiding the coworking space or logging into LinkedIn. This is a sign that there is a gap between your goals and your actions. Journal or talk to a friend/mentor/therapist on why you are resisting networking.

👉🏻 Drop the excuses.

People are the masters of rationalizing their own nonsense. We can use even the best reasons to pump the breaks on our dreams. I had a client tell me once after reading a personal development book that she resisted the advice because it was inaccessible to lower-income black women in Flint, Michigan. This was a white woman in Europe going for executive roles, mind you. She was the exact audience for this book. Note: I used to be a librarian, I know how to recommend a book. After probing deeper, I discovered she was triggered by the chapter in the book about knowing your dream because she didn’t know what hers was anymore.

👉🏻 Forgive yourself when you self-sabotage and learn from it.

It’s okay to stumble. Sometimes you miss an opportunity, that is the consequence of inaction, but there will always be another one around the corner. Failure is a byproduct of human existence. Make peace with your failures and try again.

Self-sabotage has affected all of us at one point or another, but you don’t need to be your own worst enemy. You can design a career that satisfies you, creates an impact, and propels you forward. This is 100% possible. Just make sure that your intentions and your actions are aligned. You can do it!


Networking is a concept that so many people struggle with when they are job hunting. For me, it brings to mind standing awkwardly at a conference with a lanyard around your neck staring at clumps of people waiting for the next workshop to begin. I used to think that I was bad at networking because I am an introvert by nature. This is a common issue with a lot of introverts. Spoiler for the rest of the article, introverts can network with the best of them! In fact, we can be better at it than some extroverts.

I am one of those people who many assume are shy when they first meet me especially when I was younger. It took becoming a salesperson at Radioshack for me to learn out to break out of my shell and talk to strangers. My mom likes to joke that when I was a kid that all she had to do was give me a book and I would be in the same spot that she left me in even hours later. However as I have grown my career, I realized that networking as actually as simple as making friends.

This was made more clear to me when I was sitting with some friends, new and old, on a boat ride organized by a digital nomad group in Lisbon. The topic of networking came up. One person made an example of a marketer whom everyone agreed was really nice but they had trouble connecting with because they had the feeling that it was always business with her. They had the feeling that she didn’t actually want to connect with them beyond the idea that they would be a good addition to her network. This marketer was doing all the things that the experts agreed that you should be doing to network from the business cards to asking what she could do for them. However, her efforts weren’t landing right because the soul and genuine desire for friendship weren’t there.

It made me realize that being too business oriented when you are meeting new people can actually hurt your chances at networking. Most people don’t want to feel like they are being sold to. Humans are all different, unique little snowflakes that we are, but all of us are looking for genuine connections.

If you approach networking with the idea that you are just trying to make a human to human connection then not only is it easier to meet people, they will be more comfortable with you.

So how can you make networking more fun and effective?

1. Think about networking like a kid on the schoolyard. When you are a kid, you aren’t thinking about how someone can be useful to your agenda. You are just looking for a buddy to pal around with. Reframe networking as making friends! It will be more fun for you and whomever you are hanging out with.

2. Be a good listener. They have done studies that being a good listener is a trait that people prize in their friends. Not only is listening prized, but it also makes you seem more interesting! If you are someone who might not be quick with the jokes or are slow to warm up to people, don’t worry, just by listening, you are building a better connection and a touch of mystique! This is a skill that introverts can excel at, by the way.

3. Think outside the box when you are networking! If you are a UX Designer then don’t just go to networking events for UXers, go to the events where they NEED UX Designers. Taking this further, don’t just go to standard networking events for your field.

You want to increase your odds in meeting new people in your field by going to events that attract them but that doesn’t mean that you need to go to just conferences. You can check out coworking spaces, art walks, geeks who drink, board game nights organized by people in your industry, and more. Think about the type of events that you already enjoy, where you will already be comfortable and have fun, and try to go to those.

If you can’t find events in your area, think about organizing your own! Meetup.com and Facebook have made it easier than ever to bring people together. Don’t overthink it! Start by inviting people to meet up at a coffee shop or at an event.

Don’t forget that serendipity can happen. One of the most impactful job referrals that I have ever had came from a woman that I meet in a Zumba dance class!

Networking is one of the most effective ways to find a job. Most people find work through other people. They have done studies that up to 60% of people find work through referrals. Networking is how you hack the hidden job market and find positions, especially junior ones, that won’t appear on any job board. Networking is a skill that you can build especially once you let it be fun!



Passion and purpose are terms constantly thrown around in the personal development and career coaching field. What is your passion? What is your purpose? What is your passion’s purpose? It’s enough to give anyone a complex.

I was talking with a web developer about the subject of career passion and he admitted that he didn’t think that he found his yet. He felt like he was falling behind because so many others seemed to have found their passion. That web developer isn’t alone. I have worked with many people who panic because they haven’t found their passion yet.

It’s a heavy question, isn’t it? Up there with the meaning of life.

I have struggled with that question because I have gone through a few passions before the age of 30. I changed my major in college to history before doing something completely different later, I changed careers from librarianship in my mid-twenties, and I am reconnecting with my love of writing. I am still passionate about history and libraries. I still use many of the skills that I learned in both those fields. I just use them in different ways as a career coach.

I also am one of those people who want to live as many lives as possible. We only have a one-way ticket on this rock and I want to make the most of it! It is as hard for me to say what my passion is as it is to pick my favorite book or place that I have traveled too. I very much sympathize with my clients who are still looking for their passion.

We build up this idea of a career passion as much as finding a soulmate. Millions are swiping through dating apps with the same desperation as a job seeker on a job board. We assume that everyone else has perfect jobs that blow their skirts up 24/7. We expect this romantic idealized experience with the breeze blowing through our hair and the angels sing as birds chirp in time. This only leads to disappointment because nothing is 100% amazing all the time.

Even if you are doing a hobby like surfing, you still have to deal with sea water burning your eyes. Reading a book can still lead to paper cuts. You can find your passion purpose and still have days when you want to give it all the middle finger. That is called life, amigo!

And that is okay.

Your passion might not be something that you can make into a job. Find work that you can get satisfaction and pride from and then do your passion after hours. Some passions are destroyed after you monetize them.

It’s okay if your job isn’t your passion or your purpose! Work to life, if you gotta, chica! You don’t need to live to work.

Social media creates the illusion that everyone else is living these amazing lives. Don’t forget: most people just share the highlights of their day. You can be a personal development master and still have a meh day. Let yourself laugh and find joy even in the mundane because it is still there even during the gloom.

It’s okay to be human, to be confused, to still be seeking.

Isn’t the journey what makes life fun?

Don’t sweat finding your passion or your purpose. It will find you!

Going a step further, I would argue that you should find a collection of skills that you like to do, that you are good at, and that produce the kind of impact that you want to bring to the world. Then you can mix and match when it comes to job titles, industries, and career paths. When you have a flexible approach to your career, it prevents career stagnation and boredom. Let yourself evolve!

Focus on the Dream to Make it a Reality

Sitting in a cafe, looking over a charming square in Lisbon, Portugal with the ruins of a cathedral in the distance, I am on the cusp of my birthday month. In classic Leo fashion, I celebrate all July long. Why have one day when you can have a month?

This morning I treated myself to a hearty brunch and a long journaling session where I went over my vision for my 31st rotation around the sun. I spent too much of my twenties following a ‘five-year plan’ that didn’t actually account for what I wanted to do. Just what I thought was the smart steady thing…

My teenage self was reading Kerouac and Fitzgerald, dreaming of a life outside my small town where I could mingle with creatives and explore cities like Lisbon that I had only read about. The adult me thought that it was an impossible dream. I had to be sensible. Hence the five-year plan.

Spoiler: it didn’t lead to anything beyond student debt, career dissatisfaction, and general ennui. Typical millennial issues. I was following all the rules but I didn’t realize that the game had changed! I wised up for my graduate degree which I have no debt for, but I still thought that I couldn’t have the career of my dreams- working online, traveling the world, and having enough time to pursue my love of writing.

I didn’t wake up yesterday and wake up in Lisbon. I have been roaming Europe and South America with my laptop since 2017.

The common response that I get from people who find out about my life is how lucky I am. Fortunate. Or ‘what a luxury, your parents must have money.’

That makes me laugh since I am the second youngest of six with a mom who works as a nursing home aide. Dad is a university accountant. The only money in the family are the coins that fall in the couch cushions.

Beyond the inherent skin and passport privilege, I don’t come from a background where people go abroad. People don’t really leave my hometown unless they join the military. They either work in a copper mine or in a nursing home.

It took me years of freelancing to build up the skills and then a year of journaling, visualizing, and getting my metaphorical shit together to make it work. While the skills I learned have come in handy, I truly believe that the year of personal development in 2016 was what gave me the edge to jump off the edge into my dream. I am not saying that I pulled a Tony Robbins to awaken my inner giant in some weekend seminar. No, I did daily work in my journal to clarify what I wanted, deprogram my inner critics, and utilized cognitive behavior therapy techniques to let myself embrace my ‘crazy vision.’

I don’t know your situation, I benefited by not having kids or pets to care for. I just have to keep myself alive. However, I have seen families and even single moms shoot for the stars and success. If you want reasons and examples for why you will fail then you will find them. Look for reasons and examples for why you can succeed!

Never forget that you are capable of more than you think!

How can you hone into your vision so you can design a strategy to achieve it?

1. JOURNALING: It doesn’t matter if you muse on random guided journaling prompts or follow a specific regime like the morning papers outlined in the Artist’s Way. Analyzing your brain is how you master it. 15 minutes a day can flush out the crud so you can focus in on what you want instead of the mental debris of dramas, anxieties, and confusion. Journaling helped me figure out what, why, and how I wanted to achieve my digital nomad dreams.

If you want some prompts to journal too, you can get my short ebook called ‘Career Clarity Now’ here: https://samigardner.lpages.co/career-clarity-journal-prompts/

2. FIND YOUR PEEPS: Go out and find the people who are passionate about what you are passionate about. You need to find likeminds to bounce ideas off of and more importantly, understand why this dream is important!

When I was burnt out from working at a nonprofit as a career specialist and hustling hard on my business, a mentor of mine told me that I needed to mentally focus on my dream like it was the reality and focus on it whenever I could. This was easier when I joined networking groups and met people who made it happen.

3. TAKE ACTION: If you are confused about what you want to do, try out the field a bit. If you want to be a web developer then take a short affordable coding course to see if you like the work. If you want to change careers to UX design for example then take a UX designer out for coffee and learn more about their work day. Freelance, volunteer, free/low-cost courses are all ways to dip your toes in the water.

I won’t be a cliche and tell you that if I can do it, you can do it or even assume that you want to roam with a laptop, but I bet you have a dream that you have been putting off. Maybe it is a career move or a lifestyle goal. It doesn’t matter because the techniques are the same. You have to understand your vision, find your squad, and take aligned action.

You are writing the book of your life… so what is going on the next page?