There are a few cornerstones of my methodology for change.

  • Get clear on what you want and use that as guidance and motivation for action.
  • Get busy.  Make small changes and learn by doing.  Less agonizing, more checking things out.
  • Recruit (and optimize) the moments of your life to better support your dreams.

That last one is really important.

I love this quote:

Vantage Points

because it highlights that wherever you are, whatever you have, you can (and must!) do something today.  I heartily discourage people from assuming that they’ll have to “blow up their lives” in order to realize their dreams or resolve their problem.  You can make SO. MUCH. PROGRESS. by working within the boundaries of the life you have right now.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that understanding, appreciating and working within the boundaries of the life you already have might just be the most distinguishing feature of my method.  My expertise is in helping people get a LOT of leverage from the systems, structures and moments they have already have in place. I ROCK that house.

So imagine how disorienting it has been for me to have my own life turned completely upside down last Friday!  In a classic case of crazy-town coincidence I was offered EXACTLY the job I’ve always wanted but I had to start “tomorrow.”  I already have a job, mind you, and I’m not a jerk so I can’t just leave “tomorrow.”

Thus, for the past week I have been working two full time jobs- one of those jobs (my “old” job) is at an extremely nimble 15 person education design firm where I’m a researcher and coach. The other job (my “new” job) is at a behemoth of a bureaucracy and I’m a professor (BACK IN THE CLASSROOM BABY!).  The systems, structures and moments of these two organizations could not be more different and I’m finding that my go-to optimization strategies are falling flat.

Example: At Eskolta (old job) if you want something to happen quickly can usually call a single person on the phone, discuss and/or barter with them and they will take care of it very quickly. At Hunter (new job) if you want something done quickly you need to sit down and wait.  If you try to prevail upon people they get a very harried look in their eye… their eyes say “Don’t you think I’ve tried everything there is to try!  Everything in triplicate! Original ink!  Let me do my job!’ all while they are smiling and trying to help me feel heard. And they are right- they know what they are doing, I should just leave them to it.

It’s a completely different set of systems, structures, and moments and I feel somewhat like I’m starting over from scratch. But do you know what?  It’s kind of fun!

I’m not finding it nearly as stressful as I thought I would and I think it’s because the first two cornerstones are providing a sense of internal clarity and agency.

  • I’m very clear on why this job is AWESOME. I want to form solid relationships with my co-workers and establish with them that I’m not going to be the person who makes their life more complicated.  Keeping clear about that helps me to calm down and deploy my sense of humor instead of my  impulse to CONTROL.
  • I know how to learn my way into a new situation.  I don’t get as stressed as I used to when I’m not completely sure what’s going in. I know that if I do a little bit every day I’ll figure out this new environment before very long.

After all, I know that even in a bureaucracy there are opportunities, options, and choices that I can take and make that will carve a path that supports the life I’m committed to creating for myself.

About the author

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist and business coach who helps accidental entrepreneurs get more clients and have a bigger impact. She is the author of Great Work, the host of the Unleashing Your Great Work podcast, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda's TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED's Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.