What’s Your Thing?
I admit it: it’s a fascination. A necessity. A mission.
I found my thing – and kapow! finding my thing was a game-changer, a life-changer – and over and over again, that’s what clients come to me for: help figuring out what they want to do with this one wild and precious life.
Again: necessary. A mission. For you and me.
So if you’re asking yourself “What’s my thing?”, then Thing-Finding Thursday is for you…and we’re kicking it off college and closets and cupcakes, oh my!
In other words, I talked to Jenny Blake. Jenny Blake is a popular blogger and life coachess with the mostess (umm, my words, that probably wasn’t in her official bio), creator of Make Sh*t Happen, an eight week course where you take your “improbable idea and turn it into inevitable success”, and author of Life After College, a book she describes as what happens when Twitter meets What Color is Your Parachute. It’s part journal, part motivator, and part guidebook, and all useful – like having a life coach in your purse. If you’re carrying the book around in your bag…and you’ll want to.
And oh yeah, Jenny worked for a lil’ company you might have heard of. Google. Which she loved…and helped her find her way to her thing, which is coaching. So she knows a little sumthin’ sumthin’ about life-changing, “soul-stirring” decisions.
That’s why I had to talk to her for Thing Finding Thursday - and why I think you’ll connect with what she has to say about how you can find your thing.
I love it when it’s simple: what do you really want?
Or maybe it’s the question that is simple, because the response is magnificent. When you answer it – with words, spirit, action - the joy begins.
So keep asking it. Every time you ask it of yourself, you’ll get a little closer to your thing.
And I’ll keep asking it, too. Every Thing Finding Thursday.
Transcript for your reading pleasure
Tanya: So, Jenny Blake, how did you find your thing?
Jenny: I found my thing – I use this analogy that it’s like revamping your wardrobe – I had started working at a startup company out of school and little by little I just, it’s like cleaning out your closet, where I looked at the things that I was doing in my day to day job, what I really enjoyed and how I could do more of it and what I was not so happy with and how I could get rid of it or offload that or move into something else. And that kind of took me along this path of working at a startup company doing online advertising, managing our websites, managing the office, into Google where I started delivering AdWords product training. I realized I loved working with people but I was sick of talking about AdWords.
Jenny: I eventually found coaching and then from coaching it led me to my two parallel lives of eventually making it onto the current development team at Google, and also starting my own blog, which was truly where I really get to express myself and explore what I’m most passionate about. And that blog has since led to the book, Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want.
Tanya: We can see what your thing is. Like, this is where you are really lit up.
Tanya: And then, so you’re in this illustrious university and you’re sort of partway through your studies and doing really well because you’re Jenny Blake and you do really well. And so, halfway through this is when you decided to go for the startup. Right?
Tanya: So, you and I like to use coach-y words like “values.” So what? You know, just because it was a zigzag. It was a zag, I guess, when you could have zigged or whatever, but you when over here. What values were you honoring in that moment for making this pretty bold decision?
Jenny: What an amazing question. No one’s ever asked me that before. The values that it honored for me were growth. I knew that I had been working with this professor, when she offered me the job I knew that the potential for my own personal growth was going to be astronomical being the first employee at this company.
And possibility, and that feeling that I was really going to be challenging myself.
Almost too, part of it was like, I have a value around independence and with trusting my gut, and I think a big part of it was I just knew I would regret saying no. But there wasn’t really a scenario in which I could see myself regretting saying yes and just giving it a shot.
Tanya: Two things are showing up here too. One of them that probably makes you a hellaciously awesome coach is that your intuitions are really, really, really strong right, so that’s awesome. And second is clearly ease. Like, what I’m loving about this is that there really doesn’t seem to be a lot of struggle.
Jenny: Yeah. And I think it’s just creating the space, and then listening for things to happen and sometimes I listen better than others and sometimes I have what I refer to as my, “Universe smacks me upside the head” moments where it’s like I haven’t gotten the signs early enough. But we all figure it out eventually.
Tanya: Absolutely. Okay, so let’s not be afraid of walls. Walls create clarity. Like, we get really clear on what we don’t want, right?
Jenny: One of my favorite quotes is, “You have to say no to the good so that you can say yes to the great.” Sometimes you’re saying no to a good job or a good opportunity, but for you as an individual or for me, it’s not great. It’s not soul stirring.
Tanya: I had this conversation fairly recently with somebody and she was saying, “Don’t say yes to your good ideas. Say yes to your genius ideas.”
Tanya: Oh, yeah baby!
Tanya: There is a question that you and I both know is like, the key to everything and that is, “What do I really want?” So why is it such a hard question for people to answer? Some of the viewers right now are sort of thinking, “If I knew what I want I’d be going for it.”
Jenny: “I wouldn’t be here!”
Tanya: That’s right! So why is it such a hard question? What’s wrapped up in, “What do I want?”
Jenny: In my thinking, there’s two things going on. One, that question is like a layer cake. And I love cupcakes so I’m just going to go with the cake metaphor that we can ask, “What do I really want?” And it’s not the first answer or the second or the third, sometimes it’s the tenth time in a row that we’ve had to ask that we really figure it out.
Another, when I’m teaching coaching I use the metaphor of a tree. And the first time we say, “What do I really want?” it’s the roots. We’re getting at the surface. But every time we ask that question again and again we’re getting really deep, deep, deep into the very lowermost roots of the tree. And I think sometimes people give up at the first surface level answers that come up. “What do I really want? A good job.” Okay, what’s important to you about that? Like all these questions that you and I use all the time, but I think people stop too soon and don’t give themselves the space.
And then I think a second barrier is exactly what we were talking about, about having to throw things away. Sometimes in order to admit what we really want there are some scary questions that we don’t know how to answer yet about are we going to disappoint someone or do we have to let something go. Sometimes I think it’s just too scary and we don’t want to look under the hood at that moment.
Tanya: In this kind of work a lot of saboteurs do tend to show up.
Jenny: Yeah, raging.
Tanya: Well, there’s a lot of, “Why haven’t you figured this out yet?” So, a lot of judgment, a lot of judgment.
Jenny: Right. Everyone else has figured it out.
Tanya: Yeah, what’s wrong with you?
Tanya: What other saboteurs do you think show up when people are trying to find their thing, and what kind of swords can we give them?
Jenny: First of all, I’m so glad that you asked this because inner critics exist, and we all have them and those of us that beat ourselves up because we have them, we’re missing the point that it’s like, part of the human condition for some odd reason, that we have these. And one of the exercises in my book, I call it the “Inner Critic Inventory.” I always tell people when you have this rushing wave of inner critics, first of all it’s a sign that you’re on exactly the right track, and second there’s information there.
You’re too old, you’re too young. I think a lot of times, when we’re answering the specific question, “What do I really want?” or, “What am I most passionate about?” it’s like, “Well, am I even capable of that? Is that possible?” I had a coach tell me, “Don’t get caught up in the tyranny of the hows.” We get so worried about how. “Well, if I want to be a blogger, how do I set up a blog, and how do I get started, and how do I build an audience?” And the noise level there becomes so high that we’re paralyzed out of taking action.
Tanya: And the inventory. I mean, I think it’s really cathartic stuff to have people sort of start to identify, and then even personify them a little bit. So you really have a sense of, “Oh, that’s Bertha. That’s Bertha, oh yeah bring it Bertha! What do you got to say today, Bertha?”
Jenny: And there’s a quote I read somewhere that I loved too, that “intelligence is about knowing what questions to ask.” It’s not necessarily having the answers yet. So I love that idea that, if we can at least just frame up the questions: “What do I really want? What do I most desire?”, that we are more than halfway there.
Tanya: Oh, yes baby! Thank you, thank you! Jenny, one final, where can people find you?
Jenny: You can find me, my blog is lifeaftercollege.org, the website for the book is lacbook.com, and I’m on Twitter@jenny_blake. I would love to hear from any and all of you, so thanks so much Tanya for having me.