• The author on a spring afternoon in Seattle
    Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Success Strategy

    Looking Back: Five Years of My New Career and Life

    Today is the 5th anniversary of my post-Microsoft life :). Hard to believe how time flies! It was not just a new career I wanted to pursue; I also wanted to be part of the neighborhood I lived in. Being someone coming from a totally different culture and moving towards an even more unknown career I had to go through a steep learning curve many take for granted.  Today I decided to take a pause and celebrate by reflecting on the past five years of my life. Other than completing the coach training to obtain a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and Associated Certified Coach(ACC), here is a snapshot of what…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Success Strategy

    There Is More Than One Reality – Choose That Serves

    “Reality is reality, there is no point to sugar coat it “– a friend of mine uttered with a great sigh! I agree and there is more. It reminded me of the story of a young woman, Irene, who didn’t try to sugar coat a gloom “reality”. Instead she chose to focus on another reality –It turned her around from being stuck to being successful. When Irene reached out to me during February this year, she had been feeling stuck. She was not able to make any progress in her PhD thesis for a very long time, every time she tried to force her, it backfired. Her thoughts/ideas got crippled by…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness

    Career Satisfaction: What is in your way?

    “Not enough time”, “Not enough support from others”, “Lack of ideas”, topped the list for my survey question: “What is in your way of having more satisfaction from your career”. All these seem correct and expected. It would be wonderful if these external factors of time and support were resolved so you and I could flourish. But alas, the sad truth – “We cannot choose our external circumstances” has already been revealed by Epictetus, a Greek philosopher 2000 years ago. I guess he actually wanted to say that sometimes we can choose but not always. So what is the big deal about it? The deal is, if I desperately want to…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Personal Brand

    “What do I Want” is a Hard Question

    A few weeks back I was giving a talk at a big tech company about focusing on the vision. As usual, someone asked this basic question- “I don’t know what my vision is”! I am not surprised. This was my question only a few years ago. Over the years, by resolving my own dilemma and by working with my clients, I found a few ways to address this. Why it is hard? While growing up we were given standards to meet, tasks to accomplish. We were rewarded to achieve hard challenges, to score higher than others. Things we did for our own pleasure (if any) was a privilege and was not…

  • Career satisfaction,  Personal Brand,  Success Strategy

    Job Interview : How to Avoid Negativity about Your Employer

    Everyone knows this interview tip: “Don’t bad mouth about your employer”. But interesting enough this happens quite often. I got some clue when I was talking to my client Tom a few weeks back. Specifically, he wanted to learn how to avoid falling in the trap of talking negatively about his current employer. Apparently he made this mistake in a recent one. To get his perspective, I asked him about his genuine feeling about the current employer/job. What I heard was that he had been looking for growth in certain areas that were not available in his job. This company’s priority (to fix legacy code issues to quickly unblock the…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Personal Brand

    Know your Strengths, Capitalize on Them

    Too many times companies send employees to trainings to fix the areas of weaknesses, we expect people to be well rounded to be successful. The fact is excellent performers are hardly “well rounded”, they are sharp. The difference between an excellent performer and an average performer is that the former ones are aware of their strengths and are cultivating it through their day to day work whereas the later ones are spending time and energy in places other than their strengths. What I Mean by Strength 1. An activity is your strength when are able to do it consistently, repeatedly, happily and successfully. 2. You don’t have strength in every…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    Fulfilling Achievements are Good, Experiences are Even Better

    I often ask this question to my clients and class participants: Describe some occasions from the recent past when you felt excited and fulfilled. The common responses I get are, “when I graduated college”, “got my dream job”, “had my last promotion”, “had my baby”…. Interesting to note, the “recent past” part gets ignored easily. Another observation, all those listed are mostly focused on achievements and not on the activity or the experience of doing something. You can ask me why this is a problem. The problem is when we are only focusing on achievements, we need to wait (sometimes long) for those to happen again for us to be…

  • Career satisfaction,  Personal Brand,  Success Strategy

    Align with Passion – What, Why and How

    “I don’t get it, how do people mix passion with their career? I do love to paint but I can’t even think of taking it as a career and doing it all the time.  That would be too much for me” – Katherine snapped at me and dismissed my own motto – Align with Passion! This is not the first time I got such a comment, and Katherine is a good friend, so I could see where she was coming from. She was referring to a commonly known definition of passion – mapping it to some particular hobby or an established career/profession. Metaphorically it is like buying off the shelf solution for…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    Don’t Focus on the Problem – Focus on your Ultimate Vision

    Last year, an engineer, let me call him Tom, came to me. He looked very tired and unhappy. “Sharmin, I am working long days, late nights, still my manager wants me to do more, have more impact, show more leadership…where is the time…why can’t he see my contribution already! With changes going around all the time it is so hard to get anything done on time. I even wanted to change this job, but in this economy, it is so hard to get an interview even!” – Tom gave me quite a vivid picture of his life. I felt compassion for him. Not too long ago I experienced this first…

  • Career satisfaction,  Personal Brand,  Success Strategy

    Why Do You Do It? 3 Steps to Clarify Your Commitments

    Common wisdom goes as we do paid work for money and volunteer work to fulfill other needs. Whatever we do, paid or volunteer work requires some commitment from our part. Sometimes we get so much fun that it doesn’t feel that way, but there are times we need to renew our vows – why am I doing it again?  It is more productive and rewarding when we have some clarity for it.  Here are three ways to get there. 1.     What does it give me  – Alignment with my longer-term goal How does this particular involvement align with your bigger purpose? For example, your three-year goal is to become an event organizer.…