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June 16, 2011
| Issue 06.1.2011

In This Issue:

Steve’s Field Note
Advisory Board – Spread the word!
Trailblazing TV
Trailblazing Radio
Feature – “What Do I Do Next?”
Resources and Offers

Steve’s Field Note

Hello, Trailblazer!

Summer’s here, but it refuses to be the idyllic, magical season of my childhood memories. Back then it was a long, slow break before we even had to think about school again. There were cookouts and days on the lake and trips to the beach. I had all day to fill up with games and adventures and hair-brained ideas I cooked up with my friends. What happened??

I know it was hot back then, and I’m sure I sweated like a dog (such a goofy saying, since dogs don’t sweat), but hot sure bothers me more now! Check out this week’s episode of Trailblazing TV and you’ll see what I mean. I’m only barely hamming it up. Next school year really isn’t far off in the distance. My son will start middle school and I have a to-do list of things that have to be in place so we can start enrolling him in about a month and a half. I created a list of fun things our family will try to do over summer, but it seems like there’s not enough time to fit in all that we want to do.

Since I’m an adult now and was a kid way back then – in the last millennium – it makes sense that my view of summer is different. I had fewer responsibilities by far. I didn’t have to plan the trip to the beach or make reservations. Those things just happened! Now I realize if I want these things to happen I have to plan them and arrange the time, money, and energy to make them happen. It’s more responsibility, but it’s also more power.

In a Trailblazing life each of us gets to exercise this power to a greater level. We get to decide what we want in our lives and then make a plan and organize the resources to make those things happen. For some that’s a bonus. For others it’s the main reason we chose to live and work off the beaten path, so we could create lives that fit us just right.

Learning to use this power adeptly is a life-long learning process, but that’s part of the fun, too. The feature article presents an important skill set you can use to turn your ideas into reality. I hope you find it helpful.

Since my schedule in the summer requires more family time, and since I’ll be using part of my time to create some products, I have decided to publish The Traveler once a month in June, July, and August. I’ll still send you a weekly update when new episodes of Trailblazing TV and Trailblazing Radio are available.

Be cool, stay cool, and…

Enjoy the scenery on the Twisting Road !


Advisory Board

That’s you – my subscribers! You’re my best advisors.

Welcome to all of you who have signed up since the last issue went out. I’m glad you’re here and glad you’re now part of my Advisory Board. As you read through this issue, please remember: If you like what you see, please tell your family and friends. If you don’t like something, please tell me!

Trailblazing TV

Each episode of Trailblazing TV focuses on one idea for navigating your custom-designed life and work off the beaten path. An episode takes only 3-5 minutes to watch. This weekly (so far) show is my latest play project.

This week’s episode is “Question Everything.” Click the picture to watch it.
The intro: Some rules are important, based on sound principles and solid reasoning. But some were made up by people in a different time with different circumstances or different values from yours. Those rules probably don’t apply to you. How can you tell which is which?

Trailblazing Radio

Since Tapa Palapa is on summer hiatus I am producing a new weekly podcast, Trailblazing Radio. The first two episodes look at two big challenges people face when they’re making significant life changes: money worries and limited energy.

You can listen online or download the show by clicking here.

You can also click here to stream or download the show through iTunes.

Feature Article: “What Do I Do Next?”

As I read articles and books and listen to people I respect offering training around life and work design, I usually have my mind tuned to find the next big idea. I want to hear the new approach or new research or the new set of skills that will help people create their plans and then make them happen. This is a bias I’m trying to correct. Although new ideas and new information can be helpful, they’re usually not going to provide the best answer. And they’re not the answer most people need.

The answer most people need is often what is tried and true. It’s a process that works so well it’s become ‘old news.’ It’s not the latest or the greatest, it’s not exciting, and it’s definitely not sexy (sexy sells, after all, even in personal development programs).

I routinely rediscover the value of the tried and true process in this way. I’ll be talking with a client, or maybe a colleague, or possibly just having a conversation with people I see regularly. Yes, if you were in my orbit, you, too, could be the recipient of ‘drive-by coaching,’ the kind of encounter where someone unwittingly mentions a challenge to me and winds up with a downpour of ideas to overcome it.

Sometimes I’ll hear the person’s challenge, feel let down that I don’t have a wildly creative new approach to share, and then reluctantly suggest something simple and basic. I try not to sound apologetic, not to say, “Sorry, this is all I have.” It is, after all, something instead of nothing that I’m offering. But then the surprising part happens, reminding me why simple and basic is powerful.

The person – my client, or colleague, or acquaintance getting the drive-by deluge – lights up. That person gets energized when he or she starts sorting things or prioritizing ideas or fleshing out plans based on the simple process I suggest. Later, when I talk with that person again, he or she tells me how much that process has helped make things clear, either narrowing options or showing the path ahead.

This is one of those kinds of tips. This is a skill set that underpins what coaching is all about. It’s not the only thing that defines coaching, but it’s one of the core things. If you took this away, coaching would not be very effective.

I’m talking about accurately defining Next Steps. Every project is accomplished one specific step at a time, whether it’s organizing a family vacation or building a space station. Many people may be working on many steps at the same time, but progress happens one step at a time. You have to know specifically what to do next, and in what order things must happen.

When you’re baking, you need to know to mix these ingredients together in one bowl, and these ingredients in another, and then when and how to mix those two bowls of ingredients together. You need to know to bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until something turns golden. “Mix all this stuff together and cook it” isn’t specific enough information.

Specificity matters because it lets you know exactly what you need to do and how to tell when you have done it. It also matters because it leads to the sort of task you can put on a to-do list or in your schedule. Let’s say you’re trying to figure out if you can develop a profit center by being a freelance writer on adventure travel. “Figure out if I can sell articles on adventure travel” is not a next step. “Go to the book store to find magazines with articles on outdoor adventure and get contact information” is a next step. It’s a measurable action that moves you closer to figuring out if you can sell articles on adventure travel.

To use this process, write down a target goal you want to accomplish: choose a venue for a live event, get 3 new referrals, buy a new refrigerator… whatever you’re trying to accomplish. Then start listing what you have to do to make it happen. It might help to go backwards chronologically, starting with your desired outcome.

How will I choose a venue? I’ll need to compare locations and features and prices. How will I find those out? I’ll need to get information in a brochure, or maybe over the web site, or possibly by visiting. Do I have to visit them all? Maybe I can narrow it down to three and visit those three. What do I need to know to narrow the list down to three? I’ll want some prices and an idea of what they offer and where they are.

Working backwards like this, the next steps list might start with “Call Gary to ask what locations he recommends for this sort of event,” or with “List the hotels near the airport.” First on the list of next steps for this goal will be ways to generate a list of possible choices. Next will be looking for information over the internet.

But your next step won’t be, “Check out all these locations on the internet.” Looking at each separate one on the internet will be an individual next step. You may sit down in one block of time and look at five potential venues, but each one is a separate step in case you can only get to one or two at a time.

Interesting things happen when you break things down into next steps. Sometimes you realize that what you want to accomplish will take a lot of time and effort, and then you realize that’s part of why you’ve been putting it off. It feels like a really big project because it is! On the other hand, sometimes you realize your target goal isn’t very complicated, and you can get it finished in just a few easy steps.

Once you take a target goal of any sort and break it into ordered steps, you know exactly what you need to do next and how long it will take you. Specific steps are the kind of steps people are most likely to take. Plus, when you have a list of specific steps, you can fit one or two into those shorts windows of time that open up in your schedule once in a while. You’ll put off a whole project until some vague time in the future, thinking you need a full day to work on it. But if you have the next steps written down, you can accomplish some of them in a short amount of time today.

Sometimes this process teaches you something very cool. As you get used to breaking a target goal into specific steps, you become tuned in to taking steps so you recognize when you haven’t taken any steps. You notice that you’ve made some of your decisions by jumping to conclusions instead of going through a step-by-step process.

You realize the rushed conclusion “I don’t believe I can make money doing this” can become a target goal to “Find out if I can make money doing this.” Instead of deciding “Restaurants won’t be interested in having me provide specialty baked goods” you can create a target goal to “See if area restarts are interested in having me provide specialty baked goods.”

When you recognize that you’ve decided something with little or no information based on assumptions, you can set a goal to gather information and break that goal down into next steps. Anytime you can replace incomplete automatic thinking with intentional deliberation, your decisions will be more accurate and more valid.

Resources and Offers

Finding Your True Calling is a guidebook to help you discover your talents and strengths and understand your natural way of being. It includes a lot of ideas and recommendations, plus several exercises to help you design a career that fits just right and take steps to make it happen. It’s available as a physical book or a digital download.

You can order Finding Your True Calling
by clicking here.

(This is an affiliate link so if you purchase it I will receive a commission.)

Finding Your True Calling is edited and published by Valerie Young at Changing Course.

Strategy Session

Are you trying to figure out what’s next as you custom design your life and work? Wondering if you can make money doing something you love? I’d be happy to help you get on the path!

I will offer you a complimentary 20-minute Strategy Session to help you figure out where you are in the process and what you can do next. Call me at 817-416-8971 or e-mail me at Steve@SteveCoxsey.com to set up a call. Look at the information on my contact page to see What To Expect When You Contact Me.

Tapa Palapa is on summer break, so it’s a great time to catch up on past episodes. In January our theme was “Worklife Liberation.” All four shows are available here for you to stream or download.

If you prefer, you can click here to access the show through iTunes.

About Steve

Steve Coxsey is The Trailblazing Coach (TM), helping people navigate life and work off the beaten path. He helps people develop their strengths and natural talents so they can take ownership of their productivity and creativity. Then they become powerful, able to break free of other people’s boxes and cubicles and start living and working in alignment with who they really are. They are able to design their lives around their values, their purpose, and their natural way of being. They tailor careers that use their unique strengths and talents and support their life design.

Click here for more information than you could possibly ever want to know about Steve.

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Copyright (C) 2011 Twisting Road Media and Stephen Coxsey
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