Sunday, January 27, 2008

Turn to a Professional Career Counselor

Whether you're seeking a career change or a new job in your current field, a professional career counselor may help focus your thinking. If you go to one, you may be asked to take a standardized test such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which categorizes personality types along the lines of introverted/extroverted, sensing/intuitive, thinking/feeling, judging/perceiving. The results are used to determine the kinds of work you might enjoy. To find a counselor, try the Career Counselors Consortium Directory ( or call 212-859-3515). [Source: "25 Ways to Reinvent Yourself" originally published in Modern Maturity January - February 2000, transcribed by Greg Olszewski.]

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Find The Courage to Change

If you're looking for inspiration, read Dennis Wholey's The Miracle of Change: The Path to Self-Discovery and Spiritual Growth (Pocket Books, 1997), which contains more than 60 personal stories about navigating life's transitions, by such notables as Mary Higgins Clark, Tim Russert, Laura Schlessinger, and Jack Valenti.

[Source: "25 Ways to Reinvent Yourself" originally published in Modern Maturity January - February 2000, transcribed by Greg Olszewski.]

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Write Your Eulogy

What would you want people to say about you after you're gone? Addressing that question can help you better understand who you are and who you want to be, advises Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute? (Ten Speed Press, revised and updated annually). This career-hunter's bible offers a checklist of values to help you set priorities. [Source: "25 Ways to Reinvent Yourself" originally published in Modern Maturity January-February 2000, transcribed by Greg Olszewski.]

GTO's Thoughts:

I stopped publishing this blog for a few months while I thought about my eulogy. I wasn't going to continue until I had figured out exactly what I hoped people would say about me when I die.

So here we are.  And here I am.  And I got nuthin'.


Here's two things that I don't want my family and friends to say
at my funeral:
(1) "He was a 'nice' guy."
(2) "He had great potential."

Ugh, the "nice" guy thing.

Nice guys have their points. (They hold doors, they say hi to people in the park, they'll listen when strangers tell them their entire life stories waiting in line at the grocery store.)

But a part of me wants to scream -- "NICE GUYS FINISH LAST!"

(I mean, look at me -- I'm in a casket! If I wasn't so nice, I'd still be alive!)

But, seriously, nice guys are (often) afraid of the world - and of life!
Nice guys don't (often) get what they want from this world.
And nice guys are not remembered (often).

Now "great potential" - that's something I think about everyday.
I'm more haunted by it actually.

I'm not doing enough with my life. I'm doing little things, but they're just not adding up to a colorful life. I want a colorful life.

I want to travel. Go on adventures. Stay with friends wherever they live. I want to see the Aurora Borealis. Skydive. Pilot a glider. I want to be interviewed by a magazine. Any magazine. Swim with dolphins...

(Yeah, just some basics. I'll start with them, then move onto more creative ventures.)

But I've got to stop having potential, and start having:


That's the real trick.

Thanks for reading!
GTO ("the nice guy with great potential")

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Start a Journal

Cleopatra, Marco Polo, and Anne Frank all kept journals as a tool to help them make sense of their lives. "Along the way," says Lois Guarino, author of Writing Your Authentic Self (Dell Publishing, 1999), "each of these people discovered more about who they really were, even though at the time they may not have consciously known this is what they were doing."

"Take Marco Polo. His intention was to chronicle his world travels, yet among the dates and descriptions are personal insights and observations of himself and others. As Marco Polo broadened his horizons, he also broadened his sense of self." [Source: "25 Ways to Reinvent Yourself" originally published in Modern Maturity January - February 2000, transcribed by Greg Olszewski.]

GTO's Thoughts:I've journaled for a majority of my adult life. Since high school.

I don't remember why I started the practice.
(I should read my earliest entries to see if they provide a clue.)

But speaking as someone who's kept journals for over 20 years, here's a few reasons why I think they're important.

(1) We are our memories. If I want to know how I felt about something in 1984, I can find out. If I want to know who I loved in 1991, I can find out. I already know the basic facts, but the journal helps me to round out the picture. It goes a bit deeper than my natural memory does. The journal adds detail to those memories, color. And keep them more fully alive.

(2) I always wanted to be a writer. Something inside of me always felt that if I wrote a journal, taking the next step and writing a book wouldn't be as difficult.

I haven't written that book yet. But I have enough journal entries now that they could fill at least two books. Heck, maybe three. (Point #3 is a book by itself!)

I'm not a prolific journaler. Most times I don't sit for hours and hours, though sometimes I do. If you sat down for just a few minutes each day (or week) to write a little something, I bet you'd have enough words to fill a book too.

(3) Journaling helped me come out of a very dark place in my emotional life by making me aware of trends (some a decade long) that had overwhelmed my life.

For about 10 years after college, I fell into an obsessive/compulsive state that did serious damage to my psyche.

You've heard the stories of teenagers obsessing over a single pimple on their face, and thinking themselves ugly and unattractive? That was me in my mid-20's.

You've heard the stories of men and women, worried whether they will be called back for a second date, obsess over things they could've done differently to "really impress" their date? That was me in my mid-30's.

In my 20's and 30's I was living like a stereotypical teen. But my obsessive/compulsive thoughts weren't only limited to personal attractiveness. They were limited to anything that entered my brain.

I'd alternately obsess about one thing while behaving compulsively toward another, all while being addicted to, of all things, the Internet. Which, back then, was charged on a per-minute basis. It wasn't unusual to see $200, $300 or $400 AOL bills each month. I lost a lot of time and money.

I also lost myself.

Keeping a journal helped me to become aware of how much damage I was causing myself. Not just financially, but also emotionally.

Let's say the woman of your dreams has just moved to California. Despite the distance, your feelings for her do not decrease. You don't date anyone else because you know that you're destined to be with this woman. God has something good in store for the both of you. And you know that, despite how difficult it is now, you're going to be together someday - and you're going to marry her.

You hold onto these thoughts even when she comes back to town for the holidays, but doesn't contact you. You hold onto these thoughts even after she stops returning your calls altogether.

Eventually, you hear from a friend that she's a lesbian.

But you know God will bring her back to you!

I'm stopping there. Hopefully, you see my point.

If you read enough of these entries, you start to see trends in your behavior. And you start to see how things like denial and naivette and pure stubbornness play in your decisions. These are important lessons.

Your journal can provide a wake-up call. A slap in the face. Even if it's a slow-motion slap in the face that takes 5-10 years to make contact.

Better late than never.

Start journaling.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Create A Mission Statement

In 25 words or less, jot down your life's purpose. Bob Buford, author of Half-Time: Changing Your Game Plan From Success to Significance (Zondervan, 1994), suggests starting with some basic questions: What is your passion? What have you achieved? How are you wired? What are the "shoulds" that have trailed you through the first half of your life? [Source: "25 Ways to Reinvent Yourself" originally published in Modern Maturity January - February 2000, transcribed by Greg Olszewski.]

Monday, January 7, 2008

Find Out if You're Gandhi or Cobain

Try the Keirsey character and temperament sorters, two online personality quizzes. They'll tell you whether you're more like the Mahatma, Cobain, Einstein, or Mother Teresa and suggest the types of careers you're best suited for.

[Source: "25 Ways to Reinvent Yourself" originally published in Modern Maturity January - February 2000, transcribed by Greg Olszewski.]

GTO's Thoughts: 

Just call me Oprah.

So I tried the Keirsey temperament sorter. And Mom was right! (More on that later).

The sorter was free, though you get more extensive reports if you pay a small fee. Personally, I like free! So the only price you pay for the basic report is a valid email address. (And, as always, I recommend using an email account setup expressly for junk mail). Once logged-in, you answer about 70 "Are you more like this, or Are you more like that?" types of questions and - Viola! It went pretty quickly.

I wasn't overthinking it. I wanted to be as true to myself as I could. (Not the future Greg, not the married Greg, not the Dad Greg..) I stuck with the "right here, right now" Greg and, as it turns out, of the four Main Personality Groups: Artisan, Guardian, Idealist or Rational, I am an Idealist. (I was hoping to be a Guardian, or an Artisan. They sound cool!)

But truly, I *am* an Idealist. I'm not surprised by this outcome, nor can I argue with it. It is me. For better. For worse.

I know Idealists have a dark side. (Seeing things as they should be can leave you out of touch with reality sometimes. And waiting for "ideal situations" often means you never take necessary action).
But the Keirsey temperament sorter focused on positives.

Such as: (1) Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom. (2) Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic. (3) Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials. (4) Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders.

Now here's where Mom was right...

There are four types of Idealists: Champions, Counselors, Healers & Teachers. (I was hoping for Champion or Healer because, again, they sound COOL!) but alas I am a (drum-roll)........... TEACHER.

Which makes absolute sense! -  to me, and to Mom. (Just ask her.)

Teachers have a natural talent for leading students or trainees toward learning, or as Idealists like to think of it, they are capable of calling forth each learner's potentials. Teachers also are extraordinarily tolerant of others, are easy to get along with, and are usually popular wherever they are. Teachers also identify with others quite easily, and will actually find themselves picking up the characteristics, emotions, and beliefs of those around them.

Kind of like a human chameleon. Yep, that's me.

According to Keirsey I'm in good company: Oprah Winfrey, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, Ralph Nader, John Wooden, and Margaret Mead are examples of Teacher Idealists.

So, it doesn't hurt to give the Keirsey assessment a try. It's a silly little diversion that might shed some light on your personality type. Give it a shot and let me know how it worked for you.

Did I mention it's free?  GTO

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Make the Ultimate "To Do" List.

Thinking he was about to die in a plane crash in 1983, America Online executive Ted Leonsis started writing down 101 things he would do if he survived. The plane landed safely - but the list changed his life. So far, Leonsis has crossed off nearly two thirds of the items, which include catching a foul ball at a baseball game and owning a sports team (he became majority owner of the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals in 1999). Leonsis wants the list passed out at his funeral. [Source: "25 Ways to Reinvent Yourself" originally published in Modern Maturity January - February 2000, transcribed by Greg Olszewski.]

GTO's Thoughts:I can only remember a few things in my head at a time, so I like the idea of creating lists. I'm an expert listmaker and have a list for everything. Business concepts, creative outlets, social activities, web passwords, groceries, Christmas lists, etc. I like lists! But to me the trick is not creating the list (though it might be for you). To me, the trick is seeing the list.

We're surrounded by thousands of pieces of information at any given time in our homes, office, cars, etc. We'd go insane if every glance around our desk assaulted our consciousness with the same information we learned yesterday as though it were new. [Sunday: "Oh, look! I have a calendar! And blank disks! And a talking Jeff Foxworthy Clip-On Doll!"] [Monday: "Oh, look! I have a calendar! And blank disks! And a talking Jeff Foxworthy Talking Clip-On Doll!"] [Tuesday: "Oh, look!...]. I don't want each day to be an assault of information I've already gathered, do you? Maybe you'd be lucky enough to harness your skills and learn to woo Andie McDowell (as Bill Murray does in "Groundhog Day"), but I'd get buried alive in the details. I'd never make it past my livingroom. My brain would be shocked by all this great old stuff.

"Oh look, a calendar and blank disks...!"

So, to combat this informational assault, our brains take everything in and (depending on how your brain works) begin storing new information in the periphery of our consciousness. Just out of sight, but very close by. This is a wonderful blessing.

Of course when we really want to remember something, it's a bit of a curse. We fight our brain's natural inclination to protect our sanity. (Most of our battles are against ourselves, aren't they?)

So the trick to seeing your To Do list is to get it in a place where you will notice it and acknowledge it. Somewhere where it won't blend into the clutter. I used to print my To Do list and tape it to my fridge, bathroom mirror, monitor, etc. I recommend anything that works. It should be somewhere you cross paths often. Try everything. Have a friend come to your home and move the list to a new place everyday! (I've never tried that. Let me know how it works).

One spot I've found very useful for my To Do list is as a background to my computer's desktop. (If you need tips on how to do this, let me know.) This way, each time I sign-on to surf the web or write or play games, I get a glimpse at the things I don't want to forget. It's a pretty good spot if you ask me.

If only I kept my eyes open when I turned on my computer.