Miller Monday: Is All Change Good?

May 31, 2010

This has been another frustrating week for me.  I am making progress on my research, but the stuff I’m working on right now is slow, and not a little tedious.  It’s difficult to keep in mind that I am actually going forward, just at what feels like a snail’s pace.  I sort of feel like I should enjoy this, because I suspect June is going to fly by in no time at all.

Anyway…  Miller Mondays are just what I need to get keep me focused on what I am doing, and to find what I am moving towards.  So, with no further ado…

First and foremost, Dan Miller wrote 48 Days to the Work You Love for people who are not satisfied with their current work situation, whether they do not love what they are currently doing, or recently lost their job and are trying to figure out what they really want to do.  This book is written with the underlying assumption that you already have, or are getting ready to, go through some major changes.

The first section of 48 Days to the Work You Love is focused on helping you identify your strengths, and how you react to change.  The three main points are:

1.  We will all face changes, we have no choice about that.  We do have a choice in how we respond to these changes.

2.  Change will be challenging, whether you expect it to happen or not.  Instead of focusing on what is not the same, look for the new opportunities that have been presented in the change.

3.  We all have obstacles in our lives.  Instead of focusing on your liabilities, focus on your assets, and use these to respond positively to change.

Dan highlights the changing work environment around us.  Up until around the 1980s, the goal of most people was to get a “real” job with a large company, one that included company cars, insurance packages, and 401(k)s.  Now, this is not the case.  In 2005, only 2.6% of the companies in Nashville, Tennessee had more than 99 employees.  Over all, this country is seeing a huge shift from the large company to the small business.  This should also change the way we look to find, and love, our employment.

For many people, the thought of “work” means growing up after playing in college, and entering the “real world.”  Dan challenges this view, and wants you to try to find something you truly enjoy doing in life – then structure your work around that.  This thing you enjoy can often be turned into your career – and then aren’t we all having fun all the time!

Dan stresses that you need to do some introspection to decide what kind of life you want, and then plan your work around this life.  More time invested in a job does not necessarily equate to more money or more success on that career path.  Rather, if you are doing something you love, you are much more likely to be successful in all areas of your life, including money and career.  Imagine waking up every day and getting to go do something you love, while making money at it!  How many of us have that thought?  Why did you choose your current career/job?  Is it something you really wanted to do, or were you pressured by family, friends, or other circumstances?  At the end of the day, if your career/job does not align with your personal characteristics and beliefs, it is not a good fit for you or for your life.

Dan says (this is one of my favorite things from this section) that “not all change is positive growth, but all positive growth does require change.”  He talks about setting “positive goals,” and how this often requires that you stop doing something you are already doing, rather than just starting a new behavior.  This was a big one for me.

In general, the reason people are considered for advancements and promotions is 85% attributable to their personal skills (attitude, enthusiasm, communication, etc).  Technical skills and credentials only account for 15%!  What are your characteristics that fall into that 85%, and what can you do to develop them?  Any change should force you to reevaluate what your best options are.  What about your 85% characteristics can you leverage into something favorable from change (positive growth)?

Thinking about what you love, your positive goals, and your 85% characteristics, what can you do today to start on your new beginning?

Next week, Section 2:  What do I want to be when I grow up?


I miss my coffee pot

May 28, 2010

I sent my coffee pot/espresso maker/cappuccino maker back to its home to be replaced.  This was about a week ago.  I miss it.  A replacement is not expected for about another two weeks.

My mother-in-law loaned me their coffee pot (the silly people don’t drink coffee often).  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am grateful for the loaner coffee pot.  It has kept me sane.  However.  It is just not the same as mine.  Nowhere near as impressive.

It gets the job done.  Just not as fast.  And not as fun.  (And not as complicated, which is not necessarily a bad thing.)

The other morning, I spilled used coffee grounds on the floor.  It made me grumpy.  (Please don’t judge me for not cleaning the grounds out every day.  I do most days.  This time, I did it the next morning.  Which turned out to be a mistake.)  I composed a Haiku in honor of the event.

Wet coffee grounds spilled

on the floor makes me grumpy.

My feet are sticky.

I will admit the Haiku is partly inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s Josh Haiku.  But this Haiku is all my own.  I probably won’t be a poet.  Ever.

Dairy cattle welfare

May 27, 2010

On Tuesday, Mercy for Animals (MFA), a radical animal activist group based in Chicago released a shocking video showing abuse of dairy cattle and calves.  There has been a lot of buzz about this video.

My friend over at Hoosier Farm Babe Tells Tails has already posted a very good discussion of this video.  I will not belabor the point much longer, but there are a few additional points I would like to make.

This type of animal abuse is against the law in Ohio, and the employee in the video that was performing the abuse has been arrested.  I would like to know how the person filming this undercover video could sit by and watch this abuse occurring without trying to stop it.  How can this person say that they are concerned about animal welfare if he sat back and let this abuse happen with not even a word?

The Ohio Farm Bureau and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have both released statements regarding this video.  In a nutshell, both organizations feel that the abuse was unnecessary and remarkably cruel (obviously), and wonder what prompted this type of abuse.  I think it goes without saying that this kind of behavior is NOT acceptable under any welfare standards.  The AVMA has a number of welfare policies that have been in place for years.  I think it is important to note that this does not happen on all, or even on most, farms of any kind (dairy, beef, pork, or anything else), in any state.  At the end of the day, animals that are treated in this way are unhappy, and do not produce to their potential, resulting in the farmer losing money.  Please don’t misunderstand – I am not saying that the only reason for these animals to be here is to make money for the farmer.  But that is part of their job, and if they are not treated right, they will not perform, and no one will be happy.

Finally, I would like to point out the very last part of the video, if you choose to watch that far.  The video closes with a black screen and the words “Ditch cruelty.  Ditch dairy.”  Please, read these words, and think about what is the real mission of this organization and the real goal of this video.  They are not trying to improve animal welfare.  They are trying to use the aberrant behavior of one or a few individuals to cast a negative light on all of agriculture.  They are hoping that you will see this video, think that this is how all cattle are treated, and stop eating dairy and beef.  They would like for nothing more than to stop all kinds of animal agriculture.  I do not have a problem with them pushing that issue, but I do have a problem with them doing it under the veil of trying to advance animal welfare.

Gardening carnage

May 26, 2010

Yesterday I decided the weeds in my peonies and irises were out of control and were driving me crazy.  I mean, really, is this not ridiculous?  The weeds are taking over the world!

But I showed them who is boss!

Ahh…  much better already!  I cut the bulk of that drama down by half!  Now it’s just for those dead blossoms hanging on…  (It was starting to get a bit dark by this time.  I had to do some serious photo-tweaking to make this come out.)

While I was at it, I also deadheaded the roses that are just outside of this picture, too.  And this is what the carnage looked like by the time I was finished.

Would you believe this only took me 30 minutes?  Pictures and everything!  And the dogs barked at me the whole time.  You can see them in the background of some of the pictures.  They don’t like it when I go in “their” yard.  I just ignore them.  They don’t scare me.

They don’t scare me…  much.  Except at feeding time.
But that is some drama for a different post…

More troubles with ditches

May 25, 2010

Apparently my husband and I are compatible on multiple levels.  We both have issues with “staying on the beaten path,” so to speak.  Two weekends ago, he mowed the lawn.  He does this every weekend, usually without incident.  This particular time, there was an incident.

We have these deep ditches that run along the length of the driveway on both sides.  They are tough to mow, and he drives pretty close to the ditch to mow as much as possible with our mower.  Usually, there’s no problems with this.  This time, he got a bit too close to the ditch.

(The following story is actually remarkably similar to what happened to my poor little car not too long ago.  Just without the mud.  And without the water.  And this time I took pictures.)

John drove the lawnmower into the ditch.  He thought I wouldn’t notice.  But he had to come up to the barn to get the tractor, and I saw him out the window.  So I went to see what all the fuss was about.

This is what the fuss was about.


He had been trying to get out so hard that he dug a hole in the gravel driveway.  (I did this in the mud.  At least he didn’t spray mud all over the mower like I did with the car!)

So he went to get the tractor to pull the poor mower out of the ditch.

Here comes the tractor!

He hooked the back of the mower to the front of the tractor.  (That big spike is a bale spear.  We normally use this tractor to feed big round bales of hay to the cows.  Today it has a new job.)

And he lifted the mower up with the tractor to pull it out of the ditch.  My car got lifted higher than this.  And I was still sitting inside it.  (Remember those shoes I was wearing?  No way I was getting out of the car!)

He pulled the mower back out of the ditch, and aimed to go up the driveway.

Except the mower got a bit crazy, and didn’t want to go straight.

I was pretty sure it was going to end up in the other ditch.  (This is how my car ended up in the ditch in the first place.)

But he got it away from the other side.

And it ended up going back up the driveway relatively straight.

He made it back to the top of the driveway with no further incident.  Then he found out that one of the mower blades was bent, and the drive belt was broken.  So a trip to the lawnmower repair store was next in line.  He brought back the bits and pieces, and fixed the mower, and finally finished the lawn.  Just like driving home from Evansville by way of the mud, mowing the lawn took about three times longer than it was supposed to this time!

Miller Mondays, part 1

May 24, 2010

I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in my research for a while now.  Part of that is because I’ve had some setbacks and have had to almost start over on some of what I was working on.  I had originally planned to defend my thesis in July, but now I am pushing (and pushing hard) for late September instead.

Another part of my problem is that I have lots of projects started (work, home, and community involvement), but most of them don’t feel like they are headed towards a finish any time soon.

Recently, I finally pin-pointed the biggest reason I feel so stuck.  I don’t feel like I have anything I am working toward, past the actual degree.  During vet school, the goal was to finish school training so I could move on to my one-year internship.  During the internship, the goal was to finish the internship and move on to my residency.  Likewise, finish the residency, and start the PhD program.  Now I’m getting close to finishing my PhD, but don’t know what I am going to do (or what I really want to do) after this.

Enter Dan Miller.  He is a career coach, and a prolific writer.  He advocates finding the work you love to do, and then building it in around your life, rather than settling for work you have to do to make ends meet and filling your life in around work.  He is an entrepreneur at heart, and of course would love for everyone to work for themselves, but realizes that is not the best fit for everyone.  His main books are 48 Days to the Work You Love, and No More Mondays.  You can hear the overview of 48 Days here, why he chose this timeline, and the things you should aim to accomplish in that period.

Dan also does a weekly podcast (available on iTunes or through his website) and a weekly newsletter (also available on his website).  I’ve been reading the newsletter and listening to the podcasts for a while, all along thinking “I should be doing that!” but not taking the initiative I should be.

For Christmas this past year, John got me the 48 Days to the Work You Love Career Kit.  It included a copy of the book, an Interactive Study workbook, and audio CDs by Dan Miller that complement the information in the books.  There is also a “schedule” of how best to use the three pieces together.  I started working through this material earlier this year, but it has fallen off my priority list.  Which is unfortunate, because I could really use this, especially now!

While Dan recommends that you take inventory of yourself, what you have been doing, what you want to do, set some goals, and start making progress on these goals in 48 days, he realizes this timeline is not for everyone.  Having said that, without a timeline at all, most people (myself included) tend to procrastinate and procrastinate and never get anything moved forward or accomplished.  One of the ways he recommends working through the Career Kit is on a five-day plan, whether it’s all done in one week, or one night a week for five weeks.

Over the next five weeks, I’ll be working through the material in the 48 Days Career Kit and share it with you – what I’ve learned from the material, what I’ve learned about myself, and what I am going to do about it.  Then I’ll move on to No More Mondays.  All with the goal of identifying what I want to be moving towards, and taking some steps to get there.

Stay tuned for next week’s Miller Monday topic:  Is all change good?

Trying something new

May 21, 2010

I haven’t played with Blogger very much yet.  It seems that WordPress has some nice features that Blogger does not, and also vice versa.  I am going to cross-post to both sites at the same time for a while to see which I like better.  Check me out on both sites, and let me know if there is one that is more reader-friendly for you!

Alarm Clock Wars on WordPress

Alarm Clock Wars on Blogger