Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How to Navigate Temptations of Career and Life

Hello New and Old Readers,

I’ve realized it’s been over 2 months since I last posted.  Life at work and at home has been grand, busy, and so much fun.  I love getting comments and hearing that people are enjoying the previous posts.  Today, I wanted to take a holistic view of career.

I know many EAs are not lifers and are using the EA role as a stepping stone to other roles or careers.  And if you are an EA lifer, I predict that in general, most of my readers are smart, go getters, and proactive.  We are constantly looking to better ourselves, get promoted, and juggle our personal life against a demanding career.  

1. Do more of what you love (paid or unpaid) for the fun of it and tangentally good things will come

It’s a struggle to write consistently on this blog because I like writing when I am really passionate about a topic or a question someone asks me.  Inspiration is hard to come by, making a difference, and having an eye-opening response is not something that happens every day.  Knowing this, it’s why I write for free on my blog and column and write only when I truly feel like it (and not feel bad when I don’t).  I always WANT to write, I just want to write an insight that hasn’t been over explored.  I would rather write something very meaningful and helpful versus churning out a post because too much time has lapsed.  Quality over quantity.  

When you do something with love, passion, and excitement, it shows and it pays off.  Through this blog, I’ve heard from readers saying how helpful a piece of advice was, or that they felt heard and validated.  I’ve also been offered the chance to be a guest speaker at both national and international conferences.   Just recently, I received a fun, interesting offer for work.  I feel extremely blessed that my love for being an EA is being recognized with positive feedback, monetary gain if I accept, and great experiences.  

2. Say no to great opportunities

While these great opportunities aren’t frequent, every time it happens, they take me by surprise, throw me for a loop, and have me pause and re-evaluate my life, goals, and plans.  If you’re a long time reader, you know I love Penelope Trunk.  She says the sign of a great career is having great opportunities and saying no.  What’s truly difficult is saying no and NOT regretting all you are missing out on:  great pay, fun projects, great people, challenging work, and a once in a lifetime opportunity.  In general, most people do not like saying or hearing no.  On the surface it sounds INSANE to turn down such a great opportunity.  At times it may sound or be perceived as insulting, ungrateful, or rude.  However, if you know what you want, the decision should be very easy and there should be no regret.

For the first time in a long time, I am questioning my decision to say no.  The project interests me, it’d be a great add to my resume, it could open a lot of other doors, and it’s not a long term commitment.  However, the realist in me and my gut feeling tells me I am doing the right thing by saying no.  I am extremely happy where I am in my life and I don’t need more money, more work, or even more fun new things to explore.  So what trumps all of the great things I’d supposedly gain?  A lot actually - things that money and secondary career advancement can’t buy - more sleep, more rest, more relaxation, more personal time, more breathing room, more scheduled unstructured time, more balance, and more things that fall into the category that the best things in life are free.

Here are some questions to ask yourself in case you struggle with temptation as well.

1) Why do I want to say yes?
2) If I say yes, what are possible negative consequences, if any?
3) If I say yes, how will that alter my life as I know it now?
4) What do I want more of in life?  What do I want less of in life?  What do I value?
5) How will this decision affect me 5 min, 5 days, 5 months, and 5 years from now?
6) How does this decision help or hurt my goals, plans, and overall life trajectory?
7) Is this really the only and last opportunity that can come along?
8) How will my decision benefit/affect others in my life?
9) If I am very successful or completely fail, what will my next step be? 
10) Have I given this enough thought and soul searching time (72 hours, a week)?  

3. Guard your happiness and path

So  here’s today’s lesson.  Say no in the beginning if you have no expectation and are absolutely sure you are not going to say yes.  Saying no instinctually comes with practice and knowing exactly what you want and don't want.  If you have no clue what you want or who you are, google the Myers-Briggs personality test and you'll learn what you value, enjoy, and what career you'd excel at.  This is my plea to you to be confident in your decision and to not get sidetracked by shiny, sparkly things just because they are shiny, and sparkly.  Know your path; stick to it.  Everything else in life is filler.  I'll leave you with the below quote.

"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment. It’s easy enough to pray when you’re in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments."   

-Elizabeth Gilbert

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the post?  You can just write “Thx!” or something!  :)  

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.


  1. So glad you are back!!! This is a great post and food for thought.
    -NYC EA

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Exec Asst.March 7, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      NYC EA - Awwww! So nice of you to comment. Glad you liked the post! :)

  2. My pleasure! You answered one of my questions back in August and I can't thank you enough for that. :)

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Exec Asst.March 20, 2014 at 6:10 PM

      I remember your NYC EA handle! :) Glad you are a returning reader! Have a great weekend!