Saturday, March 26, 2011

Where Am I Going and Where Have I Been?

This past week I fell ill and had some hours of quiet to think about what was happening in my life. I'm very lucky.

I have a beautiful, loving family.

I have a fun boss and a job with lots of room for growth.

I am a part of a vibrant community of online bloggers, social media-types, association and events folks who constantly inspire me.

I am surrounded by an amazing support system - I couldn't ask for a better husband or sister who will hear me out whether I make sense or not.

But when I was tired and sick in bed, I felt out of touch and out of balance. Why?

Success begets success

...or at least, that's my usual view of how the world works. You put out positive and you receive positive. You put out good work and good things come your way. So why was I feeling so low?

I soon realized I was waiting for something more. The next big project. The next big speaking gig. The next big goal to go after and achieve. I know it seems a little ridiculous - but I was nervous about the pace I was keeping and also afraid to slow down at all. Why would I feel I need more? After all, I can pay my bills and my family is healthy, what more could I want?

But I have this niggling voice in the back of my head telling me to try harder, do more, be more. Sometimes that voice should probably be muted. But other times it drives me to better success. The question is: What should I do with that voice right now?

Remembering the why

Ann Oliveri, a gifted consultant who has been working with me as my career coach these past few months, suggested re-framing the way I approach meetings and projects. She advised setting up a list of my criteria for accepting (or turning down) a project or speaking gig.

Here's what I've come up with so far:
1. It doesn't keep me away from my family for over 4 days
2. It (at minimum) covers my transportation fee and related expenses
3. It fits into my overall goals for furthering my business
4. It allows me flexibility in presentation style
5. I have enough advance notice to do a quality job

I'm still working on my list and I am open to suggestions. Have any of you done this for your own use? What was on your list?

What do I bring to the table?

I am happy with the publicity I am bringing to DelCor, but I would like to achieve more than that. I am busy working with a few great clients right now, but I wonder if I could be doing more with the client work. For example, I have some great training materials for social media training for staff that is ready to go - should I try to do more to bring in clients that need that kind of help? I enjoy working with organizations to add a social media element to their conferences and events - am I really telling people that I am available for that kind of work? I really love working with chapter leaders to inspire them to do more with their groups using technology and other motivations tools, so how can I create more projects like that for myself?

DelCor has placed no pressure on me to meet any kind of sales goals or even billable hours goals and of course I want to rock my employer's how do I do that with everything I am doing (the webcasts, the blogs, the tweetchat moderation, the public speaking, and the client work) and stay sane for my family while doing things like writing a book, studying for a certain exam I want to take again, and running a freelance makeup artistry business on the side. The heat is on.

On the other hand, with all the speaking I do, maybe I should concentrate harder in that area. I enjoy speaking to groups, but I find myself wishing for more. Maybe I should look into developing my media skills and presentation ability to take things to the next level? What would going to that next level mean? More travel away from my family? Do I want that? *sigh*

I guess with Spring in the air, we all do a little mental cleaning. Maybe it is only natural to periodically review what to keep and what to toss; to examine what needs sprucing up and what needs to take a back burner.

What about you? Do you do this with your own life? With your career? What do you want to take a closer look at this year?

*Note: Ann Oliveri is AMAZING. She is not only knowledgeable, but supportive and empowering. I cannot recommend working with her enough.

Also, if you haven't read Joyce Carol Oates' story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" get thee to Amazon right now!

Ooh, and shout out to Elizabeth Weaver Engel who is always there for me with her smart and savvy self - talk about someone who has it all together...she's a super smart cookie!


  1. Kiki, this is something that I think many of us struggle with, especially as mothers (balancing)integrating growing careers with growing families. I think part of what our partners love about us is our drive to better ourselves and share knowledge with the world around us, even as they struggle with the frustrations of being the sole caregiver as we pursue our goals / dreams. Like you, I am blessed with a partner who gives me and our children an incredible amount of support. Is there a right answer? Not really... but it is good time to reflect - even if it takes being physically wiped out to have that happen. Onward and upward and btw DelCon knows how lucky they are to have you!

  2. My list would include if I would learn something from it, if I would enjoy working with the people involved and if the work was interesting

  3. Great post, Kiki! Sometimes our bodies know what we need more than our mind does, and they arrange for us to get recovery time even when we want to keep going. Smart body to give you time to think deeply so you can live a more aligned and balanced life.

    Many years ago, I was sick with Lyme disease for nine months. That time of enforced reflection led to me leaving a job I hated to pursue my dreams. I am deeply grateful for that illness, as it transformed the trajectory of my life.

    I agree with AnnMaria that your list should include joy in the work and personal growth in some form when possible. Sometimes it's from being of service, which is a win-win for all. And sometimes it's just what we need to do to grow our business in the direction we choose. Balance and alignment are what's key for me.

  4. KiKi, I love the JCO story "Where are you Going, Where have you been" -- one of the few I remember from high school. (Yikes. Should I admit that?)

    Everyone asks the questions you're considering at some point or other but for those of us who work in social it becomes even more essential to do so. Social is round the clock and so we tend to stay "on" a little longer than those in some traditional jobs. We look at each web entry as part of a greater picture. Figuring out the intricacies of social – and I think we’re all still figuring it out -- can be draining. (Of course, it's also thrilling to be working in an area that changes with every day.) Our job descriptions are only a part of what we need to do as we are constantly adjusting our social media plan, driving business and trying to better serve our audience.

    You have done some incredible work with Delcor and I know you will continue to find new and inventive ways of spreading the social media love. Thx.

  5. Andrea, AnnMaria, Christina -

    Thanks so much for your comments and support. It is definitely an interesting time for me and the reflection has been helpful.

    I can't tell you how helpful your comments have for thought, to be sure.

  6. KiKi, I think this post is fantastic. Many bloggers make me consider a new approach to some of the small things that I need to change in my world or in my work, but you have made me think about something so much bigger. I have been taking time to really dive into where my career should go from here, how I can best succeed in my long-term goals, and how I can help others to do the same. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to let me know if there is something I can do to help you. We, your friends and followers, want you to succeed and be happy!


Thanks for your comments!