Episode 18: How a LinkedIn Video Gave Me The Clarity I Needed To Make A Decision
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About Michelle Florendo
Michelle Florendo is a career and executive coach for Type-A professionals. Over the years Michelle has led workshops both domestically and internationally, showing hundreds of driven professionals how to use the principles of decision engineering to craft careers that energize them. She has spoken at a number of conferences and has guest-taught on career decision making in Stanford's famous Design Your Life course. She has also served on the inaugural coaching team for Seth Godin's altMBA, sits on the advisory board of FASTER Silicon Valley, and is a founding member of the Forbes Coaches Council.
Full Transcript - Enjoy :-)
Hi, I'm Victoria Hefty, and welcome to Activate Purpose, where I talk about finding purpose through action, while balancing motherhood and career.
In today's episode, I'm going to share how an exercise I found while scrolling on LinkedIn, gave me a well-needed perspective on why I was feeling stuck on a creative project, even after I thought I had made this great decision. I'll share how three simple questions allowed me to pinpoint exactly what the issue was, and I'll tell you what I decided to do about it.
This episode is sort of a part two of my last recording, which was episode 17. In that episode, I talked about how excited I was to come back from my unintended podcast hiatus, which was four months, and how a summer of slowing down led to some great realizations.
Now I'm going to share one of those lessons from that hiatus. If you've been listening to me for awhile, you know that I've purposely sort of stopped posting and largely stopped even scrolling my Facebook or Instagram accounts.
I don't have any big reason for that, other than I found that too many of those apps were becoming a time sink for me, which was not a good thing. And, since I have a bit of an extreme personality, I decided the easiest way to sort of get out of spending much, much more time than I would like to admit on those apps, was to delete them from my phone and only login via my computer once every couple weeks, just to check in what people are doing but not have it be this sort of hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute thing that was consuming me.
Like I said, while it's a good thing, it was kind of hard to give up the scrolling behavior, right? It is addicting, so to speak. So, I found myself actually using LinkedIn as a social media account. Kind of sad, but ... and, a little bit weird, because for me I never really read posts or articles on LinkedIn, it was purely professional. That's how actually a lot of clients find me for consulting work. And, you know, occasionally I might see like a friend got promoted or started a new job, but I rarely probably before this summer really started scrolling LinkedIn. I'm a little bit late to that game. Which is fine, but just letting you know sort of what that was like before.
So, earlier this summer, it was just a normal day or whatever, I was actually on LinkedIn, and I think some notification had come in, like a friend who got promoted, so I wrote "Congratulations". And then, I went on my feed to see what was happening and I scrolled through and actually found a post by Michelle Florendo. She's a career and executive coach who works for an organization that I do consulting work for.
So, Michelle works with driven professionals and she teaches them how to use the principles of decision engineering to craft careers that energize them. Sounds pretty cool, right? So, back to the LinkedIn post. So, the description in Michelle's post said, and I quote, "If you're feeling a bit lost in your career, today I'm sharing one of the first things you can do. I've found that when professionals struggle to figure out what's next for them, it's because one of these key components of their decision is unclear. Which piece is murky for you?" End-quote.
So, that got my attention. I actually feel like professionally I'm in a good place. Meaning, my consulting work allows me to work with some amazing companies. I largely do a lot of remote work or with minimal travel. So, I do the type of work that I enjoy, and I'm trained to do, but I also get to largely raise my daughter the way that I want to. And, I realize again that this is a privilege. So, sure, yes there are definitely trade-offs being a freelance consultant, but right now it's really working for me.
But, what isn't working is that I kind of feel or felt, whichever one you want to use, I felt like I was in a creative rut, especially when I was scrolling through and I read this post that caught my attention. If you're a new listener, you may not know that I started a website a few years ago for pregnant mothers and then last year I wrote a book called The Insider's Guide to Maternity Leave, and then most recently I decided that I was going to really focus on the maternity leave space. So, if you want to know how I came to that specific decision, check out episode 10, which again I'll have a direct link to, in the show notes for this episode.
So, the problem was, while the idea of focusing on providing services and products in the maternity leave space made sense on paper, right, because I've written this book about it, I was kind of stalling on actually making it happen. I did create a website. I had a good friend design an amazing logo. I wrote all the content for the website and posted it. And, you know, I even did some informal consulting calls for a couple of clients. But, my heart really wasn't in it. I don't know why, but I did know that I wasn't really all in. And, for me, that's a really important part. And, for some reason I just, I don't know, I just wasn't really into this idea even though I was sort of going about it, executing it.
So, I decided, "You know what, let me just watch this video that Michelle posted." And, again, I'll include the link to the video in the show notes. So, in summary, the video says, and I quote, "In every single decision, even career decisions, there are three components. One, objectives. So, what is the outcome that you want? Two, options. What are the things that you are choosing among? Three, information. What information do you have on how each of those options gets you the objectives that you want?"
I'll repeat that again. So, she says: "In every single decision, even career decisions, there are three components. One, objectives. What is the outcome that you want? Two, options. What are the things that you are choosing among? And, three, information. What information do you have on how each of those options gets you the objectives that you want?"
Michelle then goes on to say, and I quote, "When people are feeling lost or are struggling to figure out what's next, it's usually because one of those three components feels a little unclear."
She then recommends this exercise, which is, "Identify what piece of the decision feels murky. Is it the objectives, the options, or the information on how the two intersect?"
I personally love doing exercises like this. So, I don't know if it's my Type A personality, or just like writing things down. I really sort of hate trying to solve any problem in my head, and I kind of appreciated Michelle's structured approach. So, of course, you know, brought out my trusty journal in the evening, after my daughter was in bed, watched the video again, and then I did the exercise that she recommende
So, for the objective, I wrote that the end outcome for me was to be considered an expert and thought leader in the maternity leave space. Makes sense, right? For the options, I wrote that I was choosing among creating a consulting project just focused on helping companies figure out maternity leave, or perhaps expand on the book that I created, or develop workshops to help mothers figure out maternity leave. You know, stuff like that. I felt like I'm good at coming up with different ideas, so I had a whole lot of list of options of how I could sort of execute this objective of being an expert and thought leader in this space.
But, then I got to the last question, which was, "What information do you have on how each of those options gets you the objectives that you want?" At first I thought this was going to be difficult, but it wasn't. I was actually pretty clear on how each one of those options was going to again allow me to be considered an expert or thought leader in the maternity leave space. So, then I was like, "Okay, well, this isn't really helping me much, but let me just go with it."
Then I re-listened to Michelle's advice, and she says, "Identify what piece of the decision feels murky. Is it the objectives, the options, or the information on how the two intersect?"
When I really sat down for a minute and I thought about it, I realized that I was very comfortable with the options and information questions, but something about the objective was just bothering me. Like, I just sat there struggling to figure it out until I realized that the objective just didn't feel authentic to me, in some way.
Let me explain. So, I think that I just got caught up in trying to create this tidy, perfect narrative of who I could become and I was like, "Well, I wrote this book on Maternity Leave that people really seem to like and I get great feedback on. I'm good at creating resources for moms. I'm a consultant. Why don't I just combine all three." You know, boom. Done.
Because, that's what the chief activator in me always does, right? I move so quickly from idea to action that sometimes I get ahead of myself, and this was a perfect example of how I did that. So, doing this exercise really forced me to question, why did I pick that objective again? Because, I happened to listen to a Tim Ferriss podcast where he mentioned owning a space? Or, was it because I was 100% interested in the idea, or even curious about it?
And, if I was being honest with myself, I have to admit that it was probably more motivated by hearing that podcast which, again, it's in episode 10 that I talk about that podcast of getting excited hearing Tim talking about owning a space and trying to think, "Oh Victoria, I could do that. And, I could create a brand, and have it be this big thing." And, never really questioning, "Does that actually make sense? Am I actually still curious about that?" Or, was The Insider's Guide to Maternity Leave just the book to sort of, you know, fulfill this curiosity that I had, and was sort of been there, done that?
And so, once I was able to identify that I really actually did pick the wrong objective, I felt so much better. And, I decided to actually stop pursuing the maternity leave thing for now. I know it sounds flaky, but it's actually not. At least for me it's not. You know, I need to remind myself, just because I did something in the past, doesn't necessarily mean that I need to revisit that topic or create this sort of perfect plan on paper that again sort of fits this tidy narrative of who Victoria is and how she has evolved.
Yes, obviously it took a lot of work to create the website. You know, it took some money. Not a ton, but some. Put myself out there. I was telling friends and family that this is what I'm going to do for now. But honestly, I changed my mind. It's as simple as that, you know. There's nothing wrong with changing your mind. I don't think that there is. I think that that's why we wake up and it's called a new day for a reason.
I don't regret spending time and effort on the maternity leave stuff, because I can say at least I did something and I have tangible evidence of that. And, I did learn a couple new things along the way, like I learned how to customize a website. You know, I gave advice to a new start-up that wanted to create a really cool maternity plan, so I kind of have a sense of what companies are struggling with, especially new companies that want to attract awesome female talent, which is fantastic. You know, I think that's progress, right?
But, for me, it's time to move forward and open myself to new possibilities. I wouldn't have been able to really realize that without this exercise and, again, without feeling out of the three questions that Michelle provided, feeling just really uncomfortable with the first one, which again was the objectives.
So, my challenge for you is to think of a decision that you're struggling with. This decision can be professional, it could be creative, it could be personal. It doesn't matter. It just has to be a decision that you're struggling with. And, do the same exercise I did. And, ask yourself, what piece of the decision feels murky? Is it the objectives, the options, or the information on how the two intersect? And then, identify which piece feels the most murky.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, because I feel like I can't be the only one struggling with this in one aspect or another. And, if you feel like sharing your experience, or again, you just have questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find a transcript and show notes as usual at activatepurpose.com/episode18. And, I'll also include information on Michelle Florendo. A special thank you to Michelle for allowing me to share your words of wisdom.
Finally, if you enjoyed today's episode, make sure to leave a review and subscribe to next week's episode. Until next time.