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Make It Happen
Career Management and Work-Life Balance

August 19, 2004, number 1

Welcome to the premier edition of Make It Happen. Whether you are actively looking to change your job, have just left, or are merely exploring the possibility, this newsletter can help. It is a supplement to Leaving the Mother Ship, and is designed to share additional suggestions and ideas.

1) Do You Dream at Night, or During the Day?
2) The Importance of a Daily Ritual
3) Coaching Credits
4) Book Launch: September 28th
5) Workbook Now Available
6) Coaching Corner
7) Extreme Intelligence
8) Keep Make It Happen Alive


Recently someone described to me the difference between a person who dreams at night, and a person who dreams during the day. The night-time dreamer is magically transported to a perfect world where every desire is satisfied. They bask amongst their riches, with no worries for today or tomorrow. Eventually they wake up, rarely even recalling their fantastic "accomplishments".

The daytime dreamer is different. They too, dream of what could be. But instead of dismissing their dream as a flight of fancy, they challenge themselves, and work step-by-step to make it happen.

While this story is cute, it underlies the reason this newsletter is called Make It Happen. If I have personally signed your copy of Leaving the Mother Ship, you will note that I always write "Make It Happen": now you know why.

Each issue of Make It Happen contains several insightful articles to help you be more effective, along with announcements, checklists, and other relevant material. We never sell our lists, and guard your privacy jealously. We hope that you enjoy the newsletter enough to share it with your friends, and that it provides you with enough of an edge to Leave the Mother Ship on your own terms, and on your own timing. Make it Happen!


Each day we intellectualize about our goals, but we rarely make the progress to achieve them. How often do we say we’re going to the gym -- but only suck in our gut as we look at ourselves in the mirror? How often do we think of spending more time with our family, but return from our day jobs only to find our children already in bed, and our partner disinterested? And how often do we read a good self-improvement book or attend a good seminar, but never actually translate the ideas into action?

Unfortunately, these things happen all the time. And when they do, we get frustrated with ourselves for not making the progress we really deserve. Yet, some people seem to excel well beyond their apparent capabilities. Think of the Olympic athlete, or the most successful person you know: are they smarter than us? Perhaps wealthier or better educated? Or are they just plain lucky? Maybe. But that is unlikely the only reason for their achievements.

There are two main barriers to reaching your goals: the goals may be fuzzy, and there may be no plan to achieve them. In this article, I wanted to address one element of the achievement plan that is so often missed: the daily ritual.

Think about it -- our parents teach us rituals from an early age: Get up, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, get ready for school, etc. At a certain point, we take responsibility for setting our own rituals. For some, it means jogging or walking the dog each day. For most people though, taking responsibility for their daily rituals means buying a coffee each and every morning. And maybe having a cigarette with it. Surely we can do better than that!

Unfortunately, most people never consider the daily rituals that move them closer to your goals. They use an ad hoc system of trying to squeeze things in -- when they remember.

When I started a sabbatical 18 months ago, I was faced with an interesting situation: absolutely no structure to my time. I had dreamt of taking 3-4 months off for many years, and here I was! I was living my dream! Unfortunately, very little got done in the first few weeks, primarily because I dabbled widely, but with little depth. I realized that if I were to use the time properly, I had to set new goals for myself -- then work to achieve them.

My goals, at the time, included losing some weight, giving back to the community, doing some personal development, spending time with my family, and starting to write Leaving the Mother Ship. I also wanted to get back to formal music training. Once my goals were clear, I set myself a daily ritual that helped me achieve them:

  • Get up and eat breakfast with my family
  • Go to the gym: one hour weight training, one hour cardio. While doing cardio, I watched CNN, read both the local paper and the Wall Street Journal.
  • Go back to my home office, and spend several hours writing down all of the Mother Ship ideas I came up with while at the gym.
  • One hour practicing the flute.
  • Networking lunches, emails and phone calls.
  • More writing.
  • Spend time with children after school.
  • Cook dinner, spend some time with my wife.
  • Go to Karate dojo for several hours.
  • Eat dinner, spend more time with my wife.
  • Prepare for next day’s activities.

While I am no longer on a sabbatical, keeping to a daily ritual has given me the inertia to achieve many other goals.

Discipline is not something that we are born with: it is something we learn. With practice, it becomes second nature, and very comfortable. Again, consider the Olympic athlete: the daily ritual of athletic training is what brings the athlete closer to the finish line.

To achieve your goals, examine your daily ritual, and consider where changes should be made. Some of the changes should be to get rid of wasteful activities, such as TV, gossip, and silly arguments. Another change would be to add goal-oriented activities to the mix. Ask yourself: have you segregated time each day specifically for Mother Ship activities? Recasting your daily ritual to include career and life quality activities does the same for you: each day brings you closer to your goal.

If you have not looked at your daily rituals recently, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Schedule daily time to accomplish specific action items from your Personal Balance Sheet. If you haven't completed the Personal Balance Sheet in chapter 8, this should be your first priority!
  • Be ruthless with your time. Cut all activities that don’t move you closer to your Personal Balance Sheet goals.
  • Consider doing the Networking Name process very early in the morning (eg 6:00am to 7:30am), before you get into the office.
  • Schedule daily time to Fill in the Gaps. The Workbook (see below) has an organizer on page 36 that can help you prioritize these activities.
  • Keep to the same schedule every day. A daily ritual that flips around drastically each day is not a daily ritual.
  • After one month, consider whether a slight adjustment to your rituals are necessary. And look back at the progress you’ve made: it will be substantial.


Not everyone has access to an unbiased, independent source of career and business counseling. Coaching provides you an experienced mentor who has only one interest in mind: yours.

Randall provides personalized coaching for a limited number of clients each month. Each coaching session is 30 minutes long, with the sole objective of helping you move closer to your goals. While each session is completely individualized, some of the topics covered could include:

  • Mentorship on situational issues (examples: severance, reduced work schedule, conflicts of interest.)
  • Leaving the Mother Ship: Prioritization and Planning.
  • Playing Devil's advocate to your plans.
  • How to identify and mitigate risks during change.
  • Negotiating strategy: severance, job offers, suppliers.
  • Job search strategy.
  • Interview role-playing.
  • Resume review.
  • Entrepreneurial issues: managing growth, finding partners.
  • Business Plan review.
  • New business start-up coaching.
  • Creative Brainstorming.
  • Completely open agenda: you ask, Randall answers.

Go to http://www.LeavingTheMotherShip.com/coaching for more details.


It’s official! The book launch has now been "booked" at the historic Roundhouse, located in downtown Toronto behind the Skydome. If you are available and would like to attend, please register at the following URL: http://www.LeavingTheMotherShip.com/rsvp; we’d love to have you! (You are invited to bring a guest who is considering making a change - or should be.)


A number of people have commented that Leaving the Mother Ship is exceptionally useful, but it would be easier if all of the forms, templates, and other resources were readily available. As well, there have been a number of practical ideas that didn’t make it into the Book, but did make it into the Workbook. This is where the Workbook comes in. The workbook might make the difference between your success and failure -- the extra material and forms will certainly save you time.


  • 14 Worksheets, organizers, guides, and resources
  • Resume Organizer includes how to build your mini-bio and elevator pitch.
  • Filling in the Gaps worksheet provides a prioritized checklist of activities, all in one place.
  • Business Plan Organizer provides details as to what you should do after the plan is complete.

The Workbook is available at the following URL: http://www.leavingthemothership.com/store/index_wb.html


Focus on Financial: Recently I met an individual who challenged me. He said "How can I even think about getting ahead when I am living hand-to-mouth." He went on to contrast his situation, which he characterized as sad, with my obvious success. He told me that he had to focus exclusively on his financial challenges. Only after he had achieved financial independence could he think about anything else.

While his words might help him rationalize his daily grind, the truth of the matter was something quite different. I asked him what would happen if his wife told him she wanted a divorce? Or one of his children is diagnosed with an incurable disease? Both of these are terrible, but call to mind the importance of family. Indeed, upon further discussion, it seems that he had invested in tremendously strong family relationships, and that these were actually more important to him than his day job.

Stressing about one part of your Personal Balance Sheet is unhealthy, particularly if other parts are actually quite strong. (This underlies the importance of actually going through the Personal Balance Sheet in earnest!) Continuing the theme of "Making It Happen", the question becomes one of planning -- then acting: taking small, concrete steps to address an obvious concern (financial security). In his particular case, he doesn’t have to go through it all alone: leveraging the support of his wife and family puts him miles ahead of many others. In the next issue of Make It Happen, we'll look specifically at the issue of financial stress, and making ends meet.

The Bad Boss problem: What do you do if you work in a caustic work environment -- and that environment is caused by your manager?

Presumably, you have gone through many of the exercises in the book, and are now in the mode of “Filling in the Gaps”. (If you haven’t honestly started doing them, what are you waiting for?)

The Bad Boss problem is one where they do not recognize that they are as bad as they are. Perhaps they are an authoritarian. Maybe they are passive-aggressive. Or maybe they are slyly sexist or racist. If you are honestly committed to the organization, and believe that your next few jobs will be there, then maybe you should try to work things out, by enlisting the aid of other senior managers, the HR department, or others. Remember though, it is very difficult indeed for a tiger to change its stripes! If you think that your next job may be outside, then you should use your limited energy to move you closer to your goals: let the organization - and the abusive manager - take care of itself.

For a moment, consider what you can control. You can control your reactions to the manager. You can control your attitude. But you cannot control the Bad Boss - so don't waste your energy trying. If you think about it, having a Bad Boss can be a real opportunity for you. Whenever there is someone whom you find disagreeable (manager, colleague, even family member), you can take it as a personal challenge to learn as much from them as you can. You can tell yourself, particularly when it is bad, that the day's lesson has been of an even higher value. And since you will be Leaving the Mother Ship, the bad situation isn't a "forever" one!

Each day, make a list of all of the things the Bad Boss has done poorly, and write down how you would have done them differently. Add to the list the things they have done exceptionally well. At the end of each day, ask yourself: What did I learn from them today? And then write it down. The more caustic they are, and the more caustic the work environment, the more you will learn. Even if your manager is not that bad: give yourself the same challenge: learn from them!

Personally, I still recall many of these lessons! Remember: Bad Behavior from your Bad Boss -- shame on them. Bad Behavior from you because you don’t learn from your Bad Boss -- shame on you!


We get many emails each week. From time to time we would like to highlight the most ridiculous, dumbest, "Mother Ship" emails that you receive. If you receive an email that epitomizes why you need to leave the Mother Ship immediately, please forward it intact to extreme@LeavingTheMotherShip.com. (We will hide all personal and corporate identities to protect the innocent.) If we use your submission, you will be eligible for a prize.


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Make It Happen
Copyright © 2004 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.

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