7 Common Vocational Pitfalls to Avoid

I love helping people find their calling in life.  Unfortunately, I have not always chosen the wisest routes when it comes to avoiding common vocational pitfalls!  I am sure that I am not alone in this!

Photo credit: Anthony DeLorenzo / Foter / CC BY

Seven common vocational pitfalls that you should be aware of are:

1. Setting sights too low- This one breaks my heart.  How many people are out there taking abuse in jobs that they hate?  How many high quality, talented, personable people are getting beat up in corporate cultures in which they are not valued?  How many people could be the boss but are unaware of it or too afraid to achieve a higher level in life?  My friend influenced my thinking in this regard.  When it came to his education he did not ask “What is the cheapest community college I can attend?”  Instead, he asked “How far and how high can God take me in my educational journey?”  In the end he studied at Oxford and through a divine appointment built a personal connection with a member of the British royal family.  Instead of setting your sites low, what might happen if you opened yourself to God taking you to a greater level of influence?

2. Working for money rather than to fulfill calling- The time when I saw the futility of this approach first hand was in a season in which I needed short-term employment.  Our family was waiting for our home to sell before embarking on a three month sabbatical.  In my infinite wisdom I thought to myself “I like working with wood.  That’ll pay the bills for a few months.”  So off I went into a variety of construction jobs.  Well, that might as well have been a prison sentence for me as I derived no enjoyment from the work.  Dan Miller of www.48days.com offers brilliant advice on this point.  He urges people not to run out and find the quickest job when they need employment, but rather to pause and consider how they can get into work that they love for the long-term.  Most people have a ‘worst job’ story to tell, but those jobs should be a stop along the way rather than our destination.

3. Not finding a match in culture and values- Within any field or industry you can find yourself in a work place that either matches or runs contrary to your values.  It is not just a matter of working within your field of interest, it is also important to find the closest match in terms of priorities.  For example, is the culture of the organization progressive or staid?  Is integrity valued or are indiscretions tolerated for the sake of the bottom line?  Are whiners and complainers catered to or are leaders honoured?

4. Not understanding the components of job satisfaction- Michael Hyatt (www.michaelhyatt.com) asserts that the three components that must be present for you to experience job satisfaction are:  (1) you must have passion, (2) you must be competent and (3) you must have a market.  If you have all three of these components—passion, competence, and a market—you experience satisfaction. Few things in life are more rewarding. However, he says, you have to be wary of having only two:

Passion + Competence – Market = A Hobby

Passion + Market – Competence = Failure

Competence + Market – Passion = Boredom

5. Getting timing wrong- No job lasts forever and eventually you need to discern when it is time to transition out.  Often people leave a job prematurely before they have gleaned everything they could have gleaned.  On the other hand, it is possible to stay longer than you should in an unhealthy situation.  If and when you feel it is time to transition out of your current role it is crucial that you surround yourself with wise counsel.  “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” (Prov. 11:14)

6. Burning bridges- It is normal to hit points of frustration in your work life, and there are times that you need to move on to something that is a better fit for you.  However, far too often people take shots at the organization- or the people they were working with- as they are on their way out the door.  In our thirst for vengeance we burn the bridge and close the door to relationships and opportunities with those people.  This is not a calculated decision!  There is little thought given to the fact that you may need a reference from that company, you may be branding yourself as a complainer or you may need to return to the organization at a later date.  I have lived long enough to see work relationships that did not seem ideal at the time become instrumental at a future date.

7. Working for someone else’s dream- You have a limited number of years on planet earth, so I want to impress on you the reality that you are running out of time! In the last couple of years God has been impressing on my wife and I a sense of urgency. The choice was ours.  Either we could continue to invest energies in the values and priorities of others or set out and do what what we were designed to do.  We chose the later and have not looked back.

May God richly bless you in your vocational journey!  Drop me a line if you feel you would benefit from vocational coaching at robparkman [at] live [dot] ca!

How Absorbing Truth Refuels Your Soul (another sneak peak into my new book!)

One of the keys to refuelling, as we will discover, is increasing your ability to absorb, appreciate and appropriate the life-giving promises of Scripture.  As a starting point I want you to receive hope by finding a quiet space and meditating on Jeremiah 31:25, where God says:

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”

Photo credit: DVIDSHUB / Foter / CC BY

At the time this promise was given, God’s people were going into a period of captivity.  The prophet Jeremiah’s heart was broken because people were unaware of the misery that awaited them because they were unwilling to return to God.  But God wanted them to know that this was not the final chapter for his people.  God reminded Jeremiah that there was a time of restoration coming for them.  Jeremiah, and the people of God, needed to know that in the end God would tend to the heart of each person that had become discouraged and depleted through what they had experienced.

In the meantime, they were to meditate on and anticipate the fulfillment of each promise that was on its way towards them.  By these assurances and promises (found in Jeremiah 31:3-5 & 9-14) they would be nourished and sustained:

  • You have been the object of His care up to this point- “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
  • You will continue to experience His undying commitment to you- “Therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
  • You will be personally rebuilt by God- “Again I will build you, and you shall be built.”
  • You will have your joy restored- “Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.”
  • You will prosper and be provided for- “The planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit… I will make them walk by brooks of water.”
  • You will be secure and stable- “…in a straight path in which they shall not stumble”.
  • You will be fathered and kept by God- “For I am a father to Israel… (I) will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”
  • You will be delivered by God- “For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
    and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.”
  • You will be revived- “and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord… their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more.”
  • You will see a great exchange- “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.”
  • You will have a full and satisfied soul- “I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.”

Think about that.  Each one of them that were shattered by oppression would have God personally attend to them and faithfully nourish them back to full strength.  They had a reason to hope.

I also want you to notice the response that Jeremiah has to these comforting truths.  He believed that the promises were true and would be fulfilled, so Jeremiah awoke revitalized and re-energized- “At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me” (Jer. 31:26).

Such is the power of believing and internalizing the truth of God’s words to us.  When you really get it, you begin to live in the benefit of that truth even before the fulfillment of the truth.  Even now, allow the promise of restoration to your soul to begin to lift and sustain you.  Allow the ability of God to redeem and ransom to begin to increase your joy.  Allow hope to rise that the everlasting God will renew your strength.  If you tap into the resources that God has provided- your tank will be full again.

Seven ‘Baby’ Steps to Financial Freedom

If you are like me, you’ve had to work hard at improving your financial intelligence. Everyone wants financial freedom, but having greater financial freedom is not an end in and of itself, rather it helps position you to:

  • Pursue your life goals
  • Live with less stress
  • Increase your options
  • Help those you love
  • Support worthy causes

 Photo credit: vathiman / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

One of the books the most influential books that helped us to get focused and on track in our finances is Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover“. Here is my Canadian adaptation of his seven steps to financial freedom:

1.  Save $1,000 Cash as a Starter Emergency Fund (as fast as you can)

Money magazine says that 78 percent of us will have a major negative event in a given 10-year period of time. Life happens, so be ready. Stop everything and focus. Twist and wring out the budget, work extra hours, sell something, or have a garage sale, but quickly get your $1,000.

2.  Pay Off All Your Debt Using the Debt Snowball

List all your debts (except the house- covered in step 6) in order of smallest payoff balance to largest. Then pay the minimum payment to stay current on all the debts except the smallest. Every dollar you can find from anywhere in your budget goes toward the smallest debt until it is paid. Once the smallest is paid, the payment from that debt is added to the next smallest debt. When debt number two is paid off, you attack three, and so on.

3.  Finish the Emergency Fund

A fully funded emergency fund covers three to six months of expenses. When the big stuff happens, like the job layoff or the blown car engine, you can’t depend on credit cards. If you use debt to cover emergencies, you have backtracked. A strong foundation in your financial house includes the big savings account, which will be used just for emergencies.

4.  Invest 15 Percent of Your Income for Retirement

The rule is simple: Invest 15 percent of before-tax gross income annually toward retirement. Make the most any RRSP matching program that your employer offers. Invest in a diverse portfolio of mutual funds with a good track record.

5.  Save for College

When you save for your child’s college tuition, you must make at least seven percent per year on your investment to keep up with inflation increases. You can contribute up to $4000/year to an RESP and it allows tax sheltered growth, plus Stephen Harper will throw in an additional 20% for good measure.

6.  Pay Off Your Home Mortgage

Put all of the intensity and financial power you put toward your debt snowball to pay your house off as quickly as possible. Imagine how good the grass will feel under your feet when it’s paid for. Without a house payment you have control of your greatest wealth-building tool—your income.

7.  Build Wealth

Here’s the payoff. After all your hard work you have finally gained control of your most powerful wealth-building tool and it is yours to do with as you will. You have all this financial muscle, so now you should do something intentional with it. Have fun, invest and give.

 You can do it!

Sneak Preview From My New Book- “It Is Well With My Soul”

This summer my new book It Is Well With My Soul-  Proven Ways to Get Replenished and Stay Healthy For the Long Haul will be released!  I’m excited to get some of the content of my live presentations into the hands of many people that need practical ways to keep their buckets full. Here’s a sneak peak from the introduction…

Imagine that we are sitting down for a coffee (no, neither of us have froth on our upper lips).  I’m sitting across from you and asking, “If you were honest, how full would you say your emotional tank is right now?  Have you been remembering to refuel?”  How would you answer?  You probably know what it is like to walk around sometimes with your tank on ‘empty’.

Sadly, we often don’t realize that we are depleted until the tank gets low.  You find yourself:

  • expressing anger out of proportion to the circumstances
  • losing interest in activities that used to bring you joy
  • struggling to maintain a sense of hope and optimism
  • having difficulty feeling motivated
  • feeling fatigued and burnt out
  • withdrawing and isolating yourself
  • turning to activities you know you will regret later

 

Your ‘low fuel’ lights have been flashing for a while- but you tend to push on.  Few of us want to admit that we are feeling spiritually, mentally and/or physically depleted.

If you are in denial- and most high achievers are- I want to awaken you to the dangers of not caring for your soul.

If you are feeling drained- and most leaders are- I want to show you how you can and will be replenished.

If you are not sure how you got to this point- I want to help you understand what drains you and what to do about it.

If you feel alone in the journey- and many of us do- I want to introduce you to flesh and blood characters in the Bible who felt what you feel.

If you are feeling like there is little hope of feeling better- I want to imprint on your mind the promises of God that you will be restored.

If you are not sure where to go from here- I want to help you design your own custom plan for renewal that is based on what ‘fills your tank’.

Watch robparkman.com for details book launch offers that will be available this summer!

Do Nice Guys Finish Last?!

Often, “YES”. But, if you are wise, ”NO”. Let me explain.

You know you are a ‘nice’ guy or ‘gal’ if:

  • you are self-sacrificing and conscientious
  • you are hard-working and overly dutiful
  • you want to please people and you tend to defer to the wishes of others
  • you ‘grin-and-bear-it’ even if you see or experience injustice
  • you expend yourself for others at the expense of your own health
  • you are a rescuer
  • you are religious

While these qualities are often applauded, they are surprisingly dangerous. Drs. Minirth and Meier in “Happiness is a Choice” contend that the personality type the most likely to get depressed is the ‘nice guy’. Nice guys and gals make ‘helping people’ their business, but often they are driven by a need to be accepted and praised by others. When they don’t get the reaction they are looking for they face emptiness, frustration and even rage. In addition, they often are taken for granted or even abused because they are so willing to extend themselves.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter / CC BY-NC

[As a side-note, I want to point out the difference between 'niceness' and 'kindness'. 'Niceness' is me going along with what you say (even if I don't agree or even if I feel it could be harmful). 'Kindness' is me giving consideration to your feelings and needs and then determining a fitting response (even if it is not the response you were hoping for). In this post I am pointing out the dangers of 'niceness', but I am sure that we all want to see more 'kindness' in our families and workplaces.]

If you want to avoid the dangers of being a ‘nice’ guy or gal, what can you do? Here are __ proactive steps you can take:

  1. Find your security in Christ- Knowing that God loves you thoroughly frees you to be able to say “no” to people when it is appropriate. Resting in His comfort and care frees you from yearning for the affirmation of people- even people who are not good for you. “You are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).
  2. Trust God for complete healing- If you have been damaged because of your choice to be ‘nice’, take responsibility for the choice (that moves you away from being a ‘victim’). Also, understand that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). God is able to heal you and even to leverage the experience for your good and for the comfort of others.
  3. Courageously set boundaries- Structure your life and relationships so that you do not fall prey to the dangers of ‘niceness’ in the future. “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Prov. 22:3 ESV). Give yourself permission to consider your own well-being. Don’t worry- those around you will adjust to the new reality!
  4. Stick to your values and convictions- We all have to learn how to not cave in when people pressure us to compromise what is important to us. My grandfather, a WWII veteran, would say “That’ll put hair on your chest” (I realize this will not be desirable for many of my readers!). That was his way of saying that you will be a stronger man or woman for the experience because you faced pressure but would not back down.

May God deliver you from ‘niceness’ my friend!

EVERYTHING Hinges On The Health Of The Leader

Rob Ford- another reminder that much is at stake when leaders are not healthy. Not only is their personal well-being is threatened- their organization is also placed in a precarious position.

We should not expect leaders to be perfect, but we should expect leaders to be moving towards wholeness and health in each area of their lives. Leaders who are seeking wholeness relationally, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually will not risk seeing all they have worked so hard for crumble to the ground.

Photo credit: Rocco Rossi / Foter.com / CC BY

Here are 3 principles of personal leadership that I stress when developing and coaching leaders:

  1. Take Care Of Business- Unresolved issues from the leader’s family of origin and/or traumatic events leave them vulnerable to drivenness, isolation and addictive behaviour- thus inhibiting their ability to make sound decisions. Get the help and support you need before personal issues become public.
  2. Be Teachable- When confronted with truth, opt for openness and willingness to change rather than obstinance and denial. Be alert to warning signals that you have blind spots- particularly from those who care about you and your success.
  3. Fill Your Bucket- Demands on a leader have a draining influence, so it is critical to have a personal replenishment strategy for filling up your ‘bucket’ with healthy activities that renew you and bring you life (i.e.- adequate rest, good company, prayer).

Remember- leadership flows out of who you are.

God is for you- and I’m cheering you on as well!

 

 

The 4 Mistakes People Make When Setting Goals

I believe that it is possible to make real progress towards what we truly value and desire in life- but why do we so often miss the target when we set our goals? Have you ever been frustrated by not achieving your goals? Have you decided that it is better to not set goals at all?

2014

Photo credit: Bust it Away Photography / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Eliminate goal frustration by avoiding these 4 mistakes:

  1. Goals Not Aligned With Values- Often we set goals that are inconsistent with our deepest values- such as adopting the goals of others. Then, when motivation wanes, there is nothing to keep us tied to the goal. One of my goals for 2014 is to have a vocationally ‘rich’ year. That means that I will love my work, I will work with people I love, I will work for causes I would die for, and I will see an increase in impact through writing, consulting and speaking. Because my goals are aligned with my deepest God-given values and passions I will make progress in 2014.
  2. Goals Not Written Down- It has been repeatedly demonstrated that those who write down their goals more consistently achieve their goals. Why? Because the act of writing them down brings clarity and focus to the mind. For example, in 2014 I have a goal tied to the percentage of audiences I speak to that will commit to changing the life of a child threatened by poverty and hopelessness through child sponsorship. This brings a focus to my preparation and my prayers.
  3. Goals Not Reviewed Daily- By reviewing your goals daily you give the mind and heart their focus for the day. If you do not bring the focus for your day, someone else will be happy to! Endeavours that are not linked into your top goals for the year are ranked in order of importance. You will give the best of your time and energies to your highest objectives. When you are presented with an opportunity, you can then use your values-driven goals to determine if it is something worth pursuing.
  4. Goals Not Pursued Daily- Think of each day as an opportunity to make a deposit in the bank. Each phone call or each task you accomplish is moving you one step closer to the day when you can make your large withdrawal. Until we are committed daily to pursue our goals we do not really have goals- we simply have daydreams! For example, I have set a goal in 2014 to speak at a certain number of leadership events. As a result, I need to consistently be in touch with people that are decision-makers and gate-keepers who will invite me to be part of their events.

If there is any way I can be a help or encouragement as you set your goals for 2014- drop me a line at robparkman [at] live [dot] ca!

Happy New Year!

Got Backbone?

If there is something positive I am taking from the current Duck Dynasty controversy it is this- be willing to get some backbone.  Voice what you believe in. Speak about what you know to be true. Do it with gentleness and respect- but do it.

Our society has gone ‘soft’. There are fewer and fewer people who are willing to stand for what is right for fear of reprisal from the politically correct ‘police’. If you get some backbone you may stir up a few hornets nests, but at the end of the day you can rest in the assurance that you did not bow to pressure and you were not intimidated by the consequences.

What do you see around you that you are not OK with? What in your organizational culture or school needs to change? Where are there forms of abuse or injustice that have gone unconfronted?

Photo credit: State Farm / Foter.com / CC BY

If you are ready, here are a few things you can do to get a stronger backbone:

  1. Understand what the Bible says- Society’s opinions change but the word of God stands forever. Here you find timeless wisdom that is a firm foundation to build your life on.
  2. Study the ‘greats’ of history- Follow the example of those people who went against the flow of their culture but lived and died with passion and conviction.
  3. Align yourself with fearless people- Over time you will become like those with whom you associate.
  4. Consider what type of person you are becoming- Do you reflect back to society what it wants from you or do you carry within you a vision of how things can be better and work towards that daily?

Ladies and gentleman- it is time to get some backbone.

7 Proven Ways To Get “Unstuck”

There once was a baby elephant that was captured from the wild. Its captors chained it to a stake in the ground. The elephant longed to be free. Each day the elephant pulled and strained against the chain. When it could not break free the young elephant resigned itself to its seeming fate: lifelong captivity. Never would it be king of the plains. The chains were too strong.

The elephant grew into adulthood, but it did not know what its captors knew- that at any time it could have gone free. As the elephant grew the captors did not increase the size of the stake in the ground or the chain. You see, the captors knew that they had taken from the elephant its belief in its own strength. The elephant was powerful- and it could be free- but it passed its life in subjection and humiliation.

Do you feel stuck in a work situation that is stiffling and draining? Are you not progressing in your personal finances the way you need to? Are you hungry to connect with God but struggling to find your way forward? You CAN be free.

Photo credit: VinothChandar / Foter.com / CC BY

Tired of being stuck? Follow these 7 proven ways to realize the power you need to get ‘unstuck’:

  1. Change your mindset- When we haven’t reached our potential there is usually a measure of faulty thinking that says “I can’t achieve that” or “I don’t deserve that”. Believe that God is good and his plans for you are good.
  2. Change your inputs- Are the things you are listening to, watching and reading propelling you towards a better future or inhibiting you? Is it building your faith or tearing it down?
  3. Change your company- Are the people in your inner circle those who are still stuck or those who have found paths to greater freedom and blessing? Gather friends and mentors around you who will call out the best in you.
  4. Change your reactions- When you experience a setback do not think “This will be the end of my dreams”. Rather, say “I will learn from this, leverage this, and watch how God ultimately uses this for my good”.
  5. Change your goals- Do not be afraid to raise your expectations of the good that you can accomplish in the world with the resources you have been provided with. You go only as high as you aim. Bring your goals to God in prayer.
  6. Change your practices- Each day you must sow into the type of life you desire so that you can harvest in the future. Build into your routine the practices you will need to achieve more freedom (i.e.- networking, researching, investing, submitting proposals, etc.).
  7. Change your countenance- Smile! It will do your soul good and provide you the lift you need when the going gets tough. Also, people will tend to be more eager to work and partner with you!

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up- Gal. 6:9

 

Chocolate Is My Kryptonite

‘Tis the season when northerners enjoy big meals and book all-inclusive vacation packages. Having just returned home from indulging in heaps of food at a sunny resort, I am feeling the need to step-up my healthy living program!

However, negative motivation (i.e.- my expanding waistline) never has lasting power.  What we need to have enduring drive, rather, is an image of a desired future- a worthy goal that helps us make wise choices on a consistent basis. 

Photo credit: BMcIvr / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I know that I will struggle at times with consistency (chocolate is my kryptonite), but I also know for certain that I will always return to these life-long motivating reasons to make healthy choices. Note that these reasons are stated in positive language that adds to the image of where I am headed:

  1. Longevity- I make healthy choices so that I can give my best energies to what God has called me to for as long as possible.
  2. Energy- I get off the couch so that I feel energized and alive.
  3. Example- I make my way to the exercise room so that my boys have a model of an active lifestyle.
  4. Clarity- I monitor what I put into my body so that my mental faculties and decision making abilities are sharpened.
  5. Enjoyment- I put effort into injury recovery so that I can continue to draw enjoyment from sports and activities that add colour to my life.

I am not talking about New Year’s resolutions here! Find your enduring motivations for healthy choices and enjoy life to the fullest!