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julie jakopic/ilead strategiesIt seems like it is finally spring. The weather is warming up.The landscape is returning to green. The sun is out and the days are longer. The leaves are coming back to the trees and spring holidays are almost here. This month, Stan Lankowitz, iLead Strategies Director of Coaching, shares his perspective on creating a life of your dreams through life planning.  Rachael Nathanson has compiled some fun resources about employee engagement. And from me, part 1 of a new perspective on guilt, that energy and power sucking emotion we are sometimes proud to feel.



√         Life Planning 

√         Not Guilty

√         Staying Engaged

√         What’s happening



From our coaching leader, Stan Lankowitz


Last year, one of my life coaching clients who is in her mid 50’s told me she was becoming lethargic about life. Her children were growing older, and she began to wonder if the best part of her life was behind her.  I suggested that we spend an entire day planning the rest of her life. She accepted. We spent a day creating her future, talking, and writing about her desires in all areas of life.

Creating and implementing long-range plans returned her to a productive and vital life. Weeks later, she was enjoying playing piano again, exercising, eating better, and losing weight. Her relationships at home and at work were more fulfilling. She said, “I needed to know that I could feel good, energized, and optimistic regardless of my age.” Life planning gave her exactly what she needed.

Life planning is not only a way to improve what’s not working. It is an effective way to shift from what is already good to something that is great or even extraordinary!

Oh sure, we all make long-range plans. We talk about the trip we’ll take next year or the need to start saving for the kids’ college education. But we don’t sit down and invest some deliberate, thoughtful time to map out the details of our desires in all areas of life and create specific, detailed plans to turn those desires into reality. Genius is in the details. Details increase the probability of dreams coming true.

Here’s a way to create a powerful life plan. First, make a list of all the major areas of your life. Categories might include family, friends, fun, finances, career, home, health, travel, education, spirituality, and contribution. Some people divide each area into the three domains of be, do, and have. What kind of person do you want to be, which activities do you want to do, and what possessions do you want to have?

Then start adding details. A general goal of having a “better” life will probably not take you as far as a thoughtful, comprehensive, detailed plan. Include sub-goals, dates, priorities, partners, and required resources. Invite others to give you input. Hire a coach. Make joint plans with other who share your dreams.

Consider planning significantly more than you can imagine completing. If you plan for paradise times four and end up with only ¼ of what you planned, guess what? You will still be in paradise. Your future will be outrageously fulfilling and joyful.

Why not try it? Bracket out some time to create a comprehensive, detailed life plan. You are likely to be greatly rewarded.



As a cashew, a person of Catholic and Jewish decent, I am an expert on guilt. I spent years living guilt squared. If there was a problem, surely I caused it. Or at least that’s how I felt. But I gave it up for Lent.

Back in high school and college, my friends would give up dessert or

 chocolate or coffee or alcohol or all four for Lent. It was a sacrifice (who can live without chocolate?) but also pretty self-serving. A religious diet and health plan.  After college bunch of us decided to do something that had more of a contribution.  Instead of giving up stuff we liked, we added service to our lives.  We volunteered at shelters and kitchens, on campaigns and other community efforts.  A little less self-serving. Actually not a bad idea.

I was the coordinator of the effort because at the time, I worked in the non-profit human service field.  So I knew which organizations needed help. I also spent my days helping people who were struggling. Many days though, I’d be working at all kinds of strange hours, habitually late heading home to my nice life. I felt guilty having a happy marriage, a nice home, and financial freedom when they were struggling.  But being miserable and guilty did nothing for the families I worked with, made my family resentful and created a circular trap for me. It created a cage in which I could do nothing right – couldn’t enjoy my life, please my family or have enough impact fast enough for those I served.  There was also an arrogant control freak thread. If it was my fault, then I could fix it. The truth is my guilt was also contagious. My family felt bad for resenting the time I spent at work. My team joined me in feeling guilty and so created a similar trap for themselves. Those we served tempered their joy when they succeeded, after all there were others still struggling.

All that guilt was exhausting and at times debilitating. It was a huge energy consumer that produced no positive results. It sucked the joy out of everything.

Giving up guilt was a necessity for me and for those around me. I wish I knew what made me stop but I do know how I did it. The biggest and most important step was instead of feeling guilty, I tried to focus on gratitude. I focused on gratitude for my opportunities. Gratitude for my home. Gratitude for the relationships that sustained me. Gratitude for the honor of helping those around me. Instead of being miserable, I was able to enjoy those things. I was able to model for my team a positive approach. I was able to put things in perspective and change my behavior.

I still work with families, organizations and leaders struggling with a variety of stresses and crises. I do sometimes wonder about being joyful when there is pain. But I try to avoid the guilt trap. Lent is a great time to make sure it doesn’t sneak back in like a bad habit. So this year, I am again giving up guilt and focusing on gratitude for what is working and how I can share it. Next month I’ll share a couple of other ideas to avoid the guilt trap.



You can tell the difference between someone who loves their work and someone who is just going through the motions to earn their check. Some people are internally motivated. But often it’s a two-way street. Workers care more about their work when they know their work is valued and matters. So why not find ways to let them know their value? Helping the team be engaged and understand that they and they work matter can also make sure your best team members stay on your team.



April 24-27                             Be the Change, Las Vegas, NV

June 6-7                                Business Leadership Mastery Intensive, Fort Collins, CO

June 9-12                              Kentucky Don’t Await It, Create It and the Community Action Kentucky 2014

                                            Annual Conference

January 16-19, 2015              Don’t Await It, Create It WOMEN, Washington, DC




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