Why you need morning pages more than ever

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I like backdoor ideas. You know the ones where you get a new view on how to approach a problem? 

When I consider how to find work that matters, what I know for sure is the answers often come in unexpected places.

What about the idea of  creating the fertile ground for answers to germinate?

I recently revisited an old idea that I pulled off the shelf.


Morning Pages. I first heard of this practice shortly after the 1992 release of Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. Morning pages are a daily activity to help clear away the cobwebs, to make room for creativity. All types of creativity.

But it isn’t just for artists. It definitely is not about making art.

The idea is straightforward. Each morning, before you do anything else, you write 3 long-hand pages. Whatever is on your mind. Whatever drivel is on your mind. 

I have had a morning pages practice a few times in my life. Here are the benefits I have seen:

  • clarity about what was happening in my life
  • working on a plan on how to deal with a troubling situation
  • taming down the inner critic
  • more inclination to write at other times in the day
  • not being attached to what I write
  • letting go of thoughts, ideas or plans that aren’t really that important

This year I had an insight about morning pages about how it could help with the work I do. Curiously, it happened when I was doing my morning pages. 

A key concept is I encourage with all my clients is listening, listening to themselves, to be able to get quiet enough to truly hear what they have to say.

In a world with so many distractions (and plenty of advice sharing all over social media), listening to yourself is a big challenge.

What morning pages does is dial us in to ourselves. That it is at the beginning of the day is brilliant.

Since I use my phone for my alarm clock, I can see how easy it is to check email or Facebook even before I lift my head off my pillow.

Suddenly I am plugged into the world! Other people’s thoughts. News. Events.

How quickly it is then for the day to unravel and not be in touch with what is going on for me.

So how does this work with careers?

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With a myriad of choices and dizzying thoughts about career choices, it is imperative to separate out what is useful and what is not. Some of this is our fears. Some of it is expectations we inherited from our families. It may be our own ways we limit ourselves.

All of this needs attention. The problem often is that those thoughts obscure our vision. And paralyze us.

What morning pages does is allow the doubts and questioning and inner critic to have their time so that we can get onto the important work.

What does Julia Cameron have to say?

"When people ask, 'Why do we write morning pages?' I joke, 'To get to the other side.' They think I am kidding but I'm not. Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, our negativity, of our moods."

If I clear off what doesn’t really matter, then there is space for what does.

Making morning pages a practice is where you can see the pay off.  By doing this day after day you are giving yourself a strong message about making room for your own voice.

What do we tap into during the morning pages practice?

Cameron says, “It is impossible to write morning pages for any extended period of time without coming into contact with an unexpected inner power. Although I used them for many years before I realized this, the pages are a pathway to a strong and clear sense of self.”

Are they any morning pages’ rules?

There are no rules for content. Write whatever is on your mind. What you are planning to do on that day. How annoying it is to try to come up what to write about. A scene that stood out from the day before.

The idea is to keep your pen moving for 3 pages. I am a slow writer so it takes me 45 minutes.

Don’t read what you have written, at least for a month. Reading what you have written is an invitation to the inner critic. If you have brilliant thoughts that you want to explore later, trust that you will remember.


“Morning pages are about tuning out our inner critic. “We learn to hear our censor’s comments and say, simply, ‘Thank you for sharing,’ while we go right on writing. We are training our censor to stand aside and let us create.”


Have you tried morning pages? I would love to hear how they worked for you. If haven’t and are into the idea of doing a morning pages experiment, let me know how it goes. See the comments below.

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What you may not know about Introverts

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The Introverts sat in a row, poised for the question. On the other side of the table, the Extraverts were ready. 

“What do you think of Extraverts?”

The Extraverts laughed.

Each of the Introverts was quiet, looking around or at the table in front of them. The pause was lengthy. An Extravert said, “you don’t have to answer.”

One of the Introverts spoke up, “I can answer. I was thinking.”

This exchange is classic between the two personality types. Extraverts wanting to fill in the conversation lapse and Introverts at ease with the lull.

During the quiet, plenty happening for Introverts. When I watch the Introverts closely, I can see they are deep in thought.

Over the years in facilitating Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) workshops, the highlight for me is how the opposite preferences engage with one another. It has helped me to understand people in my life and how my impressions have been inaccurate and sometimes totally mistaken.

In my previous blog posting, I highlighted 9 things you may not know about Extraverts and the definition of both. 

The question behind the preferences of Extraversion and Introversion is: Where do you get your energy from? 

Extraverts get their energy from being outer directed while Introverts are inner directed.

As an Extravert, I am aware of how Introverts have enriched my life. Here’s what I have learned from Introverts:

1.       Thinking before talking is a hallmark of an Introvert.

            Their preference is to go inward first. 

This can be unsettling for Extraverts who are dealing with the outer realm as their first go-to. Extraverts may want an answer quicker than an Introvert is providing.

Introverts can be perceived as not caring or not wanting to talk about an issue.

When you get to know Introverts, those perceptions are far from the truth.

2.      Introverts offer a good deal to conversations.

I was once in a relationship with an Introvert. We were having “the” conversation. When I asked him where he thought the relationship was going, he said he didn’t know. Then I asked him where he wanted the relationship to go, and he said he didn’t know.

Later I remembered he identified himself as an Introvert. I had a listing of 30 great questions for couples to help understand each other. I emailed them to him.

He began writing a response to the questions and ended up writing 13 pages in response.

When we got back to the conversation, he had a lot to say on the matter.   

Which helped me to understand:

3.      Introverts talk just as much as Extraverts.

            They just like to think first.

Often Introverts have a lot to say on a matter because of their preference of going deeper into a topic.

I have heard Introverts say they appreciate Extraverts to keep a conversation going.

What is intriguing to many is that:

4.      Introverts make great stand-up comedians.

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Or anything else where they are doing an activity on their own. This may surprise people as they see Introverts as quiet or wanting to be alone. Introverts have told me that they enjoy doing presentations, where they are in front of a group sharing information. They would prefer not to have interactive components.

One of the key things to remember about Introversion is that it is about how a person gets their energy.  Introverts get their energy from being inner directed.

Another way to look at it is:

5.      Introverts are not shy.

Shyness is a quality that both Extraverts and Introverts have. Shyness is a response to our environment. 

Because Introverts go inside to get energy, I have heard people (probably Extroverts) say that Introverts don’t like doing activities with people but…

6.      Introverts are quite fine with doing Extraverted activity.

To a certain degree. Depending on their energy level combined with the Extraverted activity, Introverts can feel energized. They may prefer to put a cap on the amount of socializing time or be with a smaller group.


7.       Introverts prefer one-on-one interactions or emailing or texting.

This allows them time to consider what the person is saying and how they want to reply. Writing can also be a preferred choice for Introverts.

8.      Introverts make great leaders

Because Introverts go inside first, when they speak they have many of their ideas worked out already, allowing them to articulate in deliberate ways. It works well with their ability to think deeply on an issue.

Introverted leaders include: Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi.

Each of these leaders demonstrates the Introverted quality of:

9.      Ability to focus

Rather than get involved in chit chat, Introverts prefer to focus on a topic. That ability helps them in preparing for presentations or conversations. They prefer to be purposeful when engaging with others.


Any other thoughts on being Introverted? What do Extraverts need to know about you?

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What you may not know about Extraverts

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The world is comprised of 50% Introverts and 50% Extraverts. Thankfully.

Because each type can find the other exhausting.

Extraversion and Introversion are the key “attitudes” for personality type. What we know as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI.

The MBTI assessment is used all over the world as a tool to help people understand themselves better.

For over 20 years, I have used personality type to help people find the work that will fit best. Where they will shine in the work world. And I have lived my life as an Extravert.

There are lots of misconceptions about Extraverts and Introverts. In this article, we will look at life from an Extravert’s perspective. In the next posting, we will look at Introverts. 

In 1921, Carl Jung, Swiss psychologist wrote Psychological Types and introduced us to the idea of dominant functions.

The premise is this: when you are using your dominant function, you are working in your strengths.

Your personality type is at the core of who you are and though individuation (moving towards wholeness by using all aspects of yourself) is the goal of humans, your dominant function is part of that fundamental part that doesn’t change in your lifetime.

What happens is that as you age, you become more and more of who you really are. 

As you get to know yourself, your functions as defined by Carl Jung, become clearer.

The question around Extraversion and Introversion is: What energizes you? 

Another way to consider this is:

When you are drained or exhausted, what do you do to recharge? 

Extraverts get their energy from being outer directed. They prefer to interact with the outer world; this includes being with others or doing outward activities.

Introverts get their energy from being inner directed. They prefer turn their attention inward; this may include doing things alone or one-to-one.

You perhaps are thinking that you have both tendencies.  Or you may notice that you have one more dominant than the other. We all have the ability to do both.

But we prefer one over another. It’s a function of how our brain works.

Over the my years of delivering MBTI, I have seen some awe-inspiring interactions between Extraverts and Introverts.

One of the activities I facilitate is dividing the groups into their types and then ask them to interview each other. What would they like to know to help them understand the other type?

Here is what Extraverts revealed:

1.         Sometimes what comes out of an Extravert’s mouth is the first time they heard it.

Because Extraverts prefer to work out their ideas by talking them through, they are energized by playing around with ideas. Introverts find this surprising because they will always have thought through an issue first. 

2.         Extraverts put their foot in their mouth.

Because Extraverts prefer to talk before they think, they can say things that may unintentionally offend others.

3.         They can be shy.

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Shyness is a response to an environmental situation. It is not a characteristic associated with either Introverts or Extraverts. Extraverts are also not necessarily confident.

4.         They are good initiators

Extraverts like the outer world of doing things, accomplishing and interacting with others. They like starting conversations or suggesting activities.

5.         They are expected to keep the conversation going.

Though Extraverts love to talk things through and start conversations, they find that they are often depended on to keep the party going. Extraverts appreciate being introduced to new ideas. And they can usually run with a new topic.

6.         They have a broad range of interests.

Extraverts preference is to skim the surface; they enjoy talking with a variety of people and are energized by many topics.

7.         Solitary activities are draining.

Going on retreats or spending a weekend alone can make a Extravert wilt. They might have a response like, “too much of a good thing.” Extraverts do not need to be with another person all the time but they prefer not to have extended periods of time alone.

8.         They like meeting strangers.

Going on solo trips is a great activity for the Extravert who is okay with travelling alone. This way they will meet new people and be introduced to new activities. An Extrovert will shine in work where they exposed to new people.

9.         Extraverts can find Introverts exhausting.

And vice versa. Extraverts like a fast-paced conversation. Around an Introvert who like to think first, Extraverts can perceive Introverts as having nothing to say on the matter if they don’t answer right away.

In the gap, an Extravert will want to fill in the space. So before an Introvert has answered a question, an Extravert is on to the next question. As you can see, this would be exhausting for both parties.

Any other thoughts on being Extraverted? What do Introverts need to know about you? 


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What's behind the first seven jobs phenomenon

What were your first seven jobs? In August the Twitter hashtag #firstsevenjobs ignited thousands of responses and an intriguing question: What is all of the hoopla?

I believe it is like passing by a house with its lights on and curtains open. We are curious about the insides.

In a world where we get to see a lot of finished products – books, renovated homes, photographs, the person on stage – we have no idea of how it got done.

It stirs our imagination.

Through the first seven jobs we see origins of a career path. Behind the job is a host of skills and experience at the core of who we are today. Each of those jobs gave shape to the ones following and ultimately what leads us to the work we love (hopefully).

Like many other young women in my generation, my first job was babysitting. There I learned a good deal about patience, compassion and how glad I was it was a limited-time offer. Tough work!

Babysitting also taught me about staying when the going gets rough, solving problems in the moment and there is nothing like playing to set the world all right again. Children know what is top priority. Having fun.

For finding work that matters, children would make good advisors.

            Here is the list of my first seven jobs:

  1. Babysitter
  2. Census enumerator
  3. Bookkeeper/Cashier
  4. Convenience Store Clerk
  5. Factory Worker
  6. Highways Department Clerk/Dispatcher
  7. Carhop

When I look at this list as well as the 27+ occupations that followed, the path is winding, about synchronicity and circumstance. I hear this from other people.

Where and who I am today has so much to do with the road that brought me here. 

For example, the factory work I did was my first “adult” job. At 19, I was one of the youngest workers. Daily I had a vision of my future life with a pension and yearly wage increases.

The promise of a growing bank account for a big dream of going to Australia began to pale during my mind-numbing shifts at the end of a conveyor belt.

I learned a lot about myself in that job. I hate routines. Read: I love variety. I hated being at one station once I learned the ropes. Read: I love a learning curve. I also learned the value of showing up.

Indeed the lessons of the first seven jobs are rich.

The popularity of the Twitter first seven jobs is also connected to a curiosity we have about roots. History.

Though the myth of the overnight success lives on, we know people who we consider successful followed a path. What brought them to the work they are doing today? And how do I get there?

Why also we love looking at first seven jobs is because it is fun. We can all use play in our day. Ask a child.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  What were your first seven jobs? Click on the comments button below.

Want something more but don't know how to do it?

Short days in Victoria

Short days in Victoria

During the dark nights surrounding solstice, time naturally leans to reflecting about our lives.  The down time after Christmas and as we launch into a new year is a perfect opportunity to consider where you want to go.

This season I have heard a few people say:  I thought I would do something more in my life but I don’t know what that is. 

My response is:  the answer is closer than you think.

Because here’s what I know after a long time of working with people struggling with this quandary, the 2 issues that blindside them: 

  1. People minimize their own gifts and talents.
  2. People want the answer to come in a neat tidy recognizable package.  And preferably someone else to tell them, thank you very much.

Now, here’s the thing.  These people have accomplished a good deal in their lives and have genuinely tried to figure it out.

And often for a long time.  So they are understandably frustrated. 

People minimize their own gifts and talents

For a long time, I thought that I was just like all other employment counsellors.  I figured they too were absorbed with helping solve the puzzle of what people were meant to do. 

After I got to hang around quite a few, I could see that there were many types of employment counsellors. Some didn’t much care about what I was spending a lot of time pondering.

Here's what I learned from that observation.  Where you focus your energy has a lot to do with what your gifts and talents are.  This is where your curiosity will amp up, like a 100-watt light bulb.  And because you do this all the time, you don’t recognize it as a gift or talent. 

Doesn’t everybody do this?  you will ask.  The answer is no.  There may be others who are intrigued in the way you are and it would be good to spend time with them.  But you will still come at your gifts and talents in your unique way.

There is something in your life you do when you look real closely is quite different than what other people do. 

My sister's amazing Christmas cake!

My sister's amazing Christmas cake!

A good example is my sister.  And what she does with food.  She contemplates food throughout her everyday activities – reading, shopping, talking with others, looking on the Internet.  She takes on the task of perfecting recipes, adjusting and blending with a fine-tuned palate.  This year she modified her Christmas cake recipe for my gluten-free diet and her vegan one.  And it was remarkable!  It also looks beautiful. The top of each of her cakes is decorated with whole pecans. 

How I see her approach to food is like it is an experiment.  Daily life is her lab and she takes one idea from here and one from there and brings it together to create her own brand of magic.

My sister loves food!  She likes gardening, canning, baking, cooking, selecting, planning, taste testing.  She spends her other time watching cooking shows and reading cookbooks. 

What does she like best about food?  This would be a long conversation with her.  And it is her journey to pinpoint exactly what intrigues her the most. 

Then once she does, she can look out into the world and see how her gifts and talents can help others. 

This is how we find that work that feels like something more.  The discovery isn’t just about work – it could be about a volunteer activity or a hobby or following an interest to see where it goes. 

But here’s the cautionary note.  The temptation is great to look for opportunities in the world before identifying exactly what your gifts and talents are. 

Don’t jump ahead.  Stay here and mull over it.  Let it percolate.  Observe yourself in the world.  Take your dreams seriously.

What I know is also true is you will experience resistance. 

Allowing yourself the space to consider what you have to offer is a courageous act.  Laurence G. Boldt has coined the phrase “The Voice of Diminishment,” for the part of you that keeps you small.  It is the not-good-enough, you-don’t-deserve-it or critical voice that lives inside of you, that rears its head when you move towards your dream.  Bravery is needed here. 

How do you deal with such a backbiter?

Recognize it.  Know that when you are entering a new arena, it will be there.

Acknowledge it.  This is an old part of you that developed to keep you safe.  It is merely an interpretation of a situation from a long time ago. 

Move beyond it.  The voice is not the truth.  In order for that voice to not dictate your life, you have to be firm in saying – this is not the truth. 

The second part is to invest your time and energy into believing in yourself.  Another courageous act. 

Those inner and sometimes outer voices can be subtle betrayers because they have been around for such a long time and there is some hint of truth.  They will give you a lot of messages. 

I want the answer in a neat, tidy package

This is where the second issue arises.  You will want a “lightbulb” moment, where suddenly everything comes together.  And if it doesn’t, you may think you have missed the mark.

Here’s some of the thoughts that accompany the “lightbulb” reaction:

  • The idea is too simple or too complex or not important.   
  • It has been done before.
  • Nobody will really want this.
  • It was meant to be, it would be easier.
  • There would be a sign if I was supposed to do this.

All of this dwells in the same neighbourhood as the Voice of Self Diminishment. We want it to come in a neat package because of another survival part of humanity – we want it to be easy. 

Ultimately, I think that what we are seeking is:  ease. 

I see ease as a recognition; when you are using your gifts and talents, it resonates throughout you.  There is both an excitement and a calmness.  One way of describing it is like coming home. 

Figuring "something more" is not easy.  And it would be nice if someone else could do it for us.  But like all worthy endeavours is best left to the experts.  And that would be YOU!