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Harder Than I Ever Imagined

October 3, 2010

Wow – this move and reaching my goal is harder than I EVER imagined it would be. I had really underestimated how difficult it would be. Through it all, I have loved and lived every moment of this past year. It has been incredible.

I am so thankful for this experience, but PHEW, it has been hard. I’ve had my share of tears and triumphs.I have made wonderful new friends here in North Carolina and had wonderful experiences. I am so happy to have moved. But damn, this is hard.

I’ve missed my friends in Colorado more than I could have ever imagined. Let me say that again, I miss my friends. I thought that since I’m so integrated into social media that I’d be able to keep that sense of connectedness. It isn’t the same. Life gets in the way. Time differences change waking hours.  I miss getting drinks, listening to other people’s problems and venting my own.

I miss the familiar places and foods of Colorado. I watched the Colorado Girls spoof on the California Girls video and wiped away tears. I lived in Colorado for 25 years. It was home.

Now, North Carolina is home. I am very thankful to be here and I naively thought that the difficulties would end once we moved. Wow, I was wrong. New streets to navigate, new places to eat, new cultural norms to accept, new terrible drivers to accept.

I have lived every day that I’ve been here. We pack every weekend full with events or beach trips or get together with friends. We’ve gone out on “school” nights and I’ve put in long hours at work. I go to sleep everyday knowing that I’m getting the most out of this experience.

When working towards a goal letting yourself acknowledge how hard it is to achieve is also important in reaching a goal. The down slope of reaching a big goal and the maintenance that follows is a challenge in itself. For a long time you have been working towards one single goal. Once you’ve achieved it, now what? What is the next mountain to climb?

My next mountain is to just “be.” For a long time I’ve been pushing to personal and professional goals. I need to figure out how to just be good at my job, good at my life, good at being a friend, good at being a wife.

I am working in the weeks to come to download lots of great tips to this blog – back logging the dates so I have 52 weeks of tips for “Living a Networked Life.” Living a Networked Life is a phrase I’ve come up with to describe how I live my life. I am constantly making connections online and offline to build a web of support for myself and for the people in my network. I am always buzzing around putting together the pieces of my puzzle.

Now the network I’m building is my life network. New friends and creating a support group in our new home. My work is to be in the present and find joy in being me.

Have you ever achieved a huge goal? How did you deal with the maintenance phase? Did you just mount another goal? I’d love to hear your advice!

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Social Connections Check

August 15, 2010

If your goal is career orientated, you will need to get your social connections in line. This does not mean delete crazy photos or bleach your online personality, it just means be conscious of what you are putting out there.

It’s important to not take this to an extreme. Make sure you are still being you on your professional accounts. Your future boss wants to hire a person not a robot. Be professional and personable. If they don’t like something you say, you probably don’t want to work for them in the first place.

I’m going to do separate posts on tips for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging, but here are some general tips on getting your social life in shape:

  • Create a professional name for yourself – I use my first name, middle initial, last name as my professional handle – Dawn A. Crawford. (Granted, even I’m not consistent with this one since my professional Twitter feed is under that handle and my professional Twitter is actually @SocMediaRckStr. Oh well, we can’t be perfect). Having a consistent way of identifying your professional accounts and resumes will increase your SEO and make you easier to find by employers.
  • Add a professional photo – Make sure it’s a very attractive, professional, CURRENT photo of you. It will help put a face to your name.
  • Google yourself – It’s not vanity, it’s essential. Make sure no crazy stuff pops up with your name. If it does, bring it to your personal networks.
  • Grab your Google profile – You can make a free Google Profile about yourself – great for SEO. This just makes sure that people find the real you.
  • Open up your professional accounts – If you are choosing to have a professional and personal accounts, open up your professional ones so people can see those more easily. People are curious, so if you bait them with a more open account they will gravitate to this account rather than dig any further.
  • Lock down your personal accounts – Lock down your personal accounts to only people who can help you achieve your goal. Unfriend and block people to keep your innermost circle free of people who can negatively impact your goal. By doing this you can use your personal accounts for venting and blowing off steam without recourse.
  • Connect your professional ecosystem – Add your Twitter and Facebook to your LinkedIn and blog. Connect your Facebook to your Twitter. Creating an ecosystem for your professional connections will keep people looking at the content you want them to see rather than digging for personal pages.
  • Consider starting a blog – Creating a blog about your career interest can help set you apart as an influential. It can be in many forms – written, photos, video, reviews – just adding professional content about your interests is helpful in solidifying your expertise in an area.

Having a social presence is essential for anyone who wants to live the networked life. It makes it easy for people to find you when they have new opportunities for you.

Warm This House

August 8, 2010

Throwing our house warming was our way to Raleigh this week. Officially, we are settled…right?

Regardless, it was great to connect with new friends and enjoy an evening together. We kicked off our evening with a delish shrimp boil, some chow-chow and lots of beer.

The best part of the party was how everyone kept saying, “hey, you look really familiar. Have we met before?” Most of the group are active Twitter users and had all either connected online or seen each other at local events.

I am so thankful for all my new friends here in NC. It feels so great to be in my new home.

It warms my heart to know that I can add to the Raleigh network by being a pivot point for others to grow their own network. Networking is such a powerful and rewarding practice. I love being a community builder.

The best request of the evening was from Becca – “So you’re going to connect us all on Twitter, right?” Oh, you know it!

Shout It Out Loud

August 1, 2010

Now that you have a clear goal in mind, share it. Oh, my, I know this is a terrifying step. Yes, you need to tell any many people as you can about your goal. You need to tell your loved ones, your friends, your trusted network and, if it’s safe to share at work, your boss and co-workers.

Shouting your goal from the mountain tops will help make it real and make you accountable to your goal. People will ask you about it, you will have to share about your progress or goal realignments.

I told everyone I knew about my goal. I was able to share my goal very transparently because it was so life-changing for myself, my family and the people in my life. Making a big change needs to be shared.

This step is terrifying. Do not underestimate the fear and anxiety that comes with this step. It will cause sleepless nights and butterflies in your stomach.

With my goal of moving out of the state, I knew it was important for my boss, and dear friend, that I was looking to relocate within in the year. It took me weeks of psyching myself up to tell her. It took many a fretful conversations with my husband at the kitchen table talking about the consequences of sharing my goal. We went through all the possibilities – What if she fires me on the spot? What if she said, okay, you only 6 months left in this job before we’re hiring someone else? What if she really wants to keep me and wants me to work remotely? What if she gets really supportive but personally hurt? What if…

You can’t be afraid of the “what if” in achieving your goals. If the goal is beneficial to you and the people you love most, it is worth every poor outcome. That is scary to say, but it’s true. Setting goals has to be about you first, the people you love second. Everything else really doesn’t matter.

You can come back from a financial set-back or a career mistep. If you are unhappy in your current situation or if it is hurting the people you love, you have the responsibility to get out of that situation.

Sharing my goal was also incredibly rewarding. I found that I had a HUGE team of cheerleaders who were there for me when I was down or feeling that I’d never make my goal. It was my act of sharing my goal that made it possible.

There are varying degrees of sharing a goal:

  • Talk to your Trusted Network – Just talking to your partners, friends, family and trusted network of colleagues can make the goal real. Your trusted network are the professinal connections that you trust not to carry your goal back to your bosses or other people who can have a negtive impact on your goal. For smaller goals, this might be the only step you need to take.
  • Sharing with Life Influencers – There are times when you will need to include people who are “Life Influencers” like your boss or coworkers in a goal. Life Influencers are people who can have a outside positive or negative effect on your life. Be careful with this share. Make sure that you are prepared for the outcomes. Do not be fearful of sharing your goals with these Influencers if you think it will help them or you, but just fully think through the possible outcomes.
  • Living a Networked Life – The biggest way to share your goal is to share it with strangers and a very expanded network. You can do this through a blog, setting up a Twitter account or joining a group of like-minded people. This is by far the most transparent way of sharing your goal, but it also has a lot of rewards.

Without a doubt, I achieved my goal as completely and quickly because I expanded my goal sharing to the Networked Life level. I shared my goals wildly with everyone I met. I made it clear that this is what I was working on at the moment. I found so much joy in sharing my goal, I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Be Laser Targeted

July 25, 2010

The first step to achieving a goal it to, well, have a goal.  The more focused your goal the more likely you will be able to achieve it.

In my case, my goal was “To move to my family to Raleigh, NC as a nonprofit communications or public relations director-level position by my 30th birthday, June 30, 2010, so I can live near the ocean.” While my actual achievement was “Moving my family to Raleigh, NC to work as a manager of social media by July 2010, so I can live near the ocean.” The important part is not perfection, it is about setting a clear goal.

Goals can changes and you need to be flexible to the end means. This can be difficult when you are in the thick of working towards a goal. You will have stumbling blocks, indecision and discovery along the way. That is all part of working on something worth achieving.

So what goes into a good goal statement?

  • Set a deadline – Having a time constraint will keep you motivated. Without an end date, you will likely put off your goal and keep putting other things in your life first. Also, for the sake of sanity, make your deadline plausible. There is nothing more defeating than having to slip deadlines because it as impossible to reach in the first place. Give yourself some time to work on the goal and enjoy the process of personal growth.
  • Measure your success – Adding concrete numbers or locations or job titles to your goal will keep you laser targeted. For me, Raleigh, NC was my measurable. It was the focus location of my job search. For you it might be going back to school to get your MBA or managing one person.
  • Reason for the work – In your goal statement, remind yourself WHY you want to do all this hard work. For me it was living near the ocean, exploring a new state and advancing my career. Having a positive, real reason of why you want to put yourself through all this craziness will make it easier. We all need that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Now that you have a goal statement, come back to it periodically to make sure it is what you really want to achieve. In your discovery of working on your goal, did you realize that you don’t want to achieve it anymore? That’s an awesome discovery. Let yourself adapt to  your perfect goal. You might achieve an augmented goal, just to realize that you need to go back to the original goal.

Most of all, be kind to yourself through this process. You are trying to reach a very difficult goal or else you wouldn’t need to go to these lengths to achieve it. Take it a step at a time. Be real with yourself. Be happy in your pursuit of dreams.

Secrets to My Success

July 17, 2010

Now that I’ve achieved my dream of moving to North Carolina and living near the ocean, I want to share some of my tips and tricks to help others network into a dream city or job. These will be a menu of tactics to help get you integrated into a community of people. These tips will augment your already shining personality and skills to help you achieve your dreams.

Do you have a favorite tip that always works? Or do you have any questions on how to live a networked life? Let me know! I’d love to hear about it!

Exhausted

July 11, 2010
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Finally hit the wall. All my adrenaline and excitement from the move is gone. This week we got into the groove of living in Raleigh. That is all.