Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m going through a major life transition. I want to change my job (I
know, bad timing!), my health is tattered and my life seems not just
banal but permanently stuck. I don’t what direction to turn or how to
move. Can you give me some advice to start off the year that’ll do more
good than just joining a gym and losing twenty pounds? I need a
I’m empathetic. In a couple days I’m going to have back surgery and
as I’ve watched my world contract because of pain and medication I’ve
become much more compassionate about what it means to not be able
to do what I want. Readiness is a critical variable.
I’m going to answer you this week and next with 10 commandments
for starting the year off right. Hang in there with me. I’m going to
start with the outer world and end at the inner. They’ve both got to be
ready and work in synch to make the kind of change you’re talking
The holidays were last month. A few actual weeks of M-F, 9-5 and
reality is sinking in: the fun is over and they actually expect you to
work for your paycheck. No more parties, less schmoozing, no juicy
bonus fantasies to keep you smiling. It&'s back to the grind. Work,
work, work. Accountability. Yikes.
And if that weren&'t enough, those pesky, familiar, resolutions that
sounded so promising a few weeks ago are like one more should
sitting heavy in your gut. So how can you use January to turn them
into reality? How can you make 2006 a happy and successful time?
Commandment # 1. Clean your desk.
It may sound simple but it will force you to get a handle on where
you&'ve been lately. Fruitcake stupor or too much shopping, December
takes its toll. Rather than feeling like you&'ve been dumped onto
concrete, take some control of your re-entry. Buried under the seasons
greetings and the cookie crumbs are important things you need to
remember, things you once thought you wanted to do, things that
other people expect you to do. Get yourself off to a rolling start. Clean
through email, assemble files, make stacks, and make lists. Get out
your calendar and set priorities for the next few weeks, even if they
seem routine. Once you’re back in the saddle, you&'ll already start to
feel better and have some energy.
Commandment # 2. Update your resume.
Think about how other people will see you as you look for a new job:
your resume is the two-dimensional window they look through. It&'s a
reminder of what you’ve done in your current job, what you&'re good at
that you, your current and any prospective new employer should
value. Update your accomplishments, list new skills and current
references who&'ll sing your praises. Your updated resume will boost
your confidence for the here and now as well as for the future
possible. It&'ll help you be ready to apply for internal promotions as well
as identify areas in which you should seek additional experience or
Commandment # 3. Do a reality check of your career.
Survey your work life. Be honest and realistic. See what&'s fulfilling and
what&'s lacking. Make two lists: on the left side of the page write
everything you like about your current situation; on the right side
identify what you want different by next December. Step two: see
where your commitment and motivation intersect. On the right list,
highlight the words that are most important to accomplish. On the left
list, circle what you’d be willing to sacrifice some of in order to make
those changes happen. You don&'t need to start on all of them
tomorrow. But getting your brain wrapped around the trade-offs will
help make them real. Open your mind first; your body will follow.
Commandment # 4. Set some specific goals.
Your goals may be around those pesky 20 pounds and a new job.
Don’t be shy. Name them and plant them in the center of your psychic
bulls-eye. Believing you&'re worth the upgrade is the first step to
achieving it. Visualize yourself in the new situation. Imagine yourself
vibrant and strong. Then start every day with a mantra. Repeat
several times to yourself: I deserve to [your personal goals here].
[Note: it helps do to this quietly so people don&'t think you’re a
muttering loon, but it really does help to say them out loud. It&'s been
documented that speaking the words has an actual impact on the
value you give them and the motivation they give you.] Action follows
intention. Decide where you want to go and you&'ll start taking steps to