Monthly Archives

October 2013

Communication, Money

Career Satisfaction = Happy Marriage

Hands up if you’ve heard that money problems can cause the demise of a perfectly good relationship? Me, too. Oh, and been there, done that. Well, so can being miserable in your career – whether your job is street cleaner, social worker, mother or president of the entire planet. It doesn’t matter, your levels of satisfaction impact everything.

Let’s start here, with some of the reasons people go to work:

Group A:  Purpose – I love it!

Group B:  Stimulation – my brain gets a kick out of being utilized

Group C:  Money – pay check to pay check, or love having lots of it

Group D:  Boredom – got to fill the time somehow

Group E:  Habit – uhhh, do I have a choice?!

And some of the reasons people are unhappy at work:

  • It has never occurred to them that doing something they enjoyed and were good at was an option.
  • They lack basic communication and boundary-setting skills and therefore keep finding themselves in disempowering situations where they feel not trusted and under-appreciated.
  • They don’t know how to ask for what they want.
  • They don’t like the boss or co-workers.
  • The values of the organization clash with theirs.
  • They are uncomfortable asking for help from a coach or other expert, preferring to try and figure things out alone – and so it drags on…

The majority of people fit into groups C, D and E and spend 40 plus hours a week (over 50% of their weekday waking hours) being broke, bored or on autopilot. It’s no wonder people proudly sport t-shirts with “Living for the Weekend” and “T.G.I.F.!” on the front. Who wouldn’t want a weekend to come around if half their weekday life was spent partially comatose, drooling at a desk.

Sylvia came to see me for this very reason. “I’m asleep at work! I don’t like the people or the place, the job itself has okay moments but I’m really overwhelmed,” she was almost crying. “Worst of all it puts me in a bad mood and my fiancé, Tom, has just about had enough of me. I’m worried about the impact it’s having on my relationship but I’m too scared to make a change. There are no jobs out there and I don’t want to end up in the same situation – or worse! – again.”

As we talked, Sylvia slowly began to hear herself answer the hardest question ever asked; the question that most people have no idea how to answer… What do you want?

Sylvia had been so focused on her fears of losing Tom and how awful and powerless she felt on a day-to-day basis, that it hadn’t occurred to her until now to explore what she wanted. It turned out that during her 15-year climb up the corporate ladder of accounting Sylvia had been finding it harder and harder to navigate the politics, growing work load and increasing levels of responsibility. All her energy went into getting through each day, so when she arrived home at the end of the day she had nothing left to give and often opted for a glass of wine or television just to numb out from feeling bad. She was grumpy, had mastered the art of pointing out all of Tom’s flaws and things he hadn’t done, was often disconnected from her relationship, and the concept of waking up feeling joyful with an authentic smile on her face seemed like a pipe dream.

Raise your hand if you’re looking forward to spending the rest of your life with someone who’s miserable at the end of each day? Nope. Nor me. Career satisfaction plays a significant role in happiness levels. People who are unhappy at work are typically unhappy to some degree period, and coping behaviors such as drinking, eating, smoking, or Internet browsing are often present. Let’s face it, if you’re drowning your sorrows you’re probably not listening too well as your honey shares how her day was…

To be fair, the concept of doing a job you absolutely love and that causes you to expand your potential and connect to your purpose, is a fairly new phenomena. But having the communication and boundary-setting skills to make where you work right now more enjoyable, this is a basic. Everyone deserves respect and appreciation, plus the opportunity to do their job well. But sometimes you’ve got to ask for it. And this is what Sylvia discovered.

A job that seemed like entering the gates of hell on a daily basis, became one she enjoyed. Sylvia began to ask for the positive feedback she needed (she was getting plenty of ‘constructive’) and this increased her confidence; she began to proactively say ‘no’ to things that wouldn’t work for her, and to ask her boss for more notice on projects, so she felt more autonomous. In these small ways Sylvia chose to empower herself, and they made all the difference. It turned out that she didn’t really need a new job, she needed a new approach!

You’re probably wondering about her fiancé, Tom? Did she make the changes in time? How did it work out? Well… as her confidence rose at work, as she began to feel more respected and trusted, that authentic smile became a daily way of expressing her new found joy. And, no surprise, Tom loved that because it made him feel like he put it there.

Clara Chorley

Career Satisfaction Coach for Strong, Smart Professionals; Founder and CEO of Clarity Unlimited. She has an extensive and unique background as a Career Satisfaction Expert, business consultant and humanitarian.

Clara grew up in England, has lived in Germany; India; the Hawaiian Islands; Rwanda; and now resides in San Francisco, California. She has traveled and worked across 4 continents and 40 countries with organizations as diverse as Fortune 500 Ernst and Young, to humanitarian Millenium Village Project. Developed over two decades and 40 countries, Clara’s powerful 4-step process: T.U.R.N.™ has helped women and men around the world find satisfaction and fulfillment in their work (and therefore their lives). She is author of the book T.U.R.N.: 4 Steps to Clarity in your Life and Career, and creator of the online program: T.U.R.N. 4 Steps to Career Clarity for the Unclear Professional. An international speaker, Clara is a proud TEDx presenter, and currently lives in San Francisco, California.


Mastering Your Business Plan for Love

You searched, found love and are ready to profess your undying commitment to your partner. Congratulations! When you walk down the aisle, in front of your family and friends, you are creating a new entity – a “we” that needs to be cared for properly. Consider yourselves entrepreneurs who have just started a co-venture together.

This “we-ness” business could very well be the most important thing you do in your life. In the longest study of humanity to date, the Harvard Grant Study followed 268 male Harvard undergraduates from the classes of 1938-1940 for 75 years, collecting data on various aspects of their lives over regular intervals. George Vaillant, the psychiatrist who directed the study during it’s last 30 years, wrote a book about the findings called Triumphs of Experience. Overall the study showed that love is key to a happy and fulfilling life. As Vaillant puts it, there are two pillars of happiness. “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

Vaillant states the study’s most important finding is the one thing that truly matters in life are your relationships. A man could have a successful career, money and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, he wouldn’t be happy. It has been clearly established that this we-ness is crucial to our happiness. An investment of time and energy is worth it for the rewards you will reap while raising a family, after the kids are gone, and long into your golden years.

So how do you proactively work on this we-ness business?

Seed or Launch Phase

First steps first, I know it sounds a bit wild but I suggest co-creating a marriage business plan. Essentially this involves creating a shared vision and mission of what your marriage means to both of you and establish a few of the initial objectives. Going into any venture without a clear idea of why and how to proceed is simply not smart and will set you up for failure. It’s the same with marriage. Before you get married, you have your own preconceived ideas of what a marriage is and what roles each partner plays. These may or may not be in alignment with your partner’s ideas. Don’t leave the destiny of your marriage to happenstance. Ask each other good open-ended questions about what your marriage should look like, sound like and act like. Study other successful marriages. Review the results of your research and decide what you want incorporated within your vision. Write it down and dedicate yourselves to succeed in these goals and dreams. Revisit and update your plan from time to time as you grow and mature in both your relationship and as individuals.

Start-Up Phase

The “honeymoon phase” is filled with excitement and backed up with a mix of good body chemistry including dopamine, endorphins, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine. Use this time and chemical cocktail wisely. You’re poised to be able to remember memories more vividly and have more energy with these love molecules in your body. Be creative when designing your quality time together. Along the journey, it’s important to document the good times by taking photos, having others take photos of you, putting them in photo books and picture frames, and looking at them often. Write cards and letters to document these good times.  This documentation will be crucial when it comes to overcoming the inevitable bumps in the road. And yes, they always do occur. In fact, if you aren’t having an occasional disagreement it’s a warning that you are a conflict-avoider which means you are at a higher risk of divorce. FYI: It doesn’t matter who you marry, studies show on average 69% of all marital issues stay with the couple through the lifetime of their relationship, according to the research of Dr. John Gottman, renowned researcher of marital stability and divorce prediction. So having visual references of just how great your relationship can be is part of creating a solid foundation.

Building Your Brand

When someone from the outside looks in at your we-ness what do you want them to see? In order to best navigate the road together, know your patterns and your partner’s patterns. Do you speak the same love languages? Do you prefer to think outside the box or do you feel most comfortable staying inside the box? How do you recharge your batteries? Is it by being in a quiet setting or with a group of people? What rituals do you as a couple have to keep connected and keep the romance alive? While studying your own patterns, check in to see if certain patterns work well in combination with your greater we-ness vision. When you see a misalignment, and if the certain trait or quality is changeable, then make the decision to work at shifting to a perspective that is more in tune with your mission. If it’s a pattern that is core to who you are and not one that can be shifted then discuss ways in which you and your partner can work with it. If it poses a consistent challenge it could be a part of the 69% of issues that will be a part of your relationship for its lifetime. If that is the case, see where you can inch a little closer to your partner’s perspective, utilize humor or agree to simply disagree each time it comes into play in your partnership.

Inflection Phase

Pause and look at what is working and what may need some tweaking.  Studies by Richard E. Lucas at Michigan State University have shown that the happiness boost that occurs with marriage lasts only about two years and then individuals return to their happiness “set point.” It is also important to note within a marriage the partner with the lower level of happiness tends to set the relationship’s overall “set point.”  As I see it, couples need to make a concerted effort to keep their individual happiness levels high. Taking care of yourself first is not selfish. It is necessary for the greater good of your relationship. If you are able to fill up your own “love cup” most of the way, to use Dr. Gary Chapman author of The Five Love Languages’ terminology, then the love your partner gives you will simply be the whipped cream topping off your love cup.

What can I do to ensure the continued success of our we-ness business?

Rapid Growth Expansion Phase

For a majority of couples this phase will include starting a family. Watch out because this is where you can slip into a routine, a comfort zone or simply a place of exhaustion. Thriving relationships do not run on auto-pilot. Also patterns you were conditioned with during your childhood, which may not be in alignment with the mission of your we-ness business, could now creep into play. Having a way of dealing with conflict before starting a family creates an extra layer of insurance against a decaying bottom line. I enjoy teaching couples something called The Rules of Engagement where they discover their own patterns, how those work in conjunction with their partner’s patterns and how to proactively discuss challenging subjects. Without these skills solidly in place, maneuvering with more elements and curve balls in the mix becomes a recipe for declining revenues.

Throughout all of your phases, but in particular during the growth phases, you will need to schedule several “business off-sites.” They are a way to recharge your batteries, check in with your partner, review your mission, make any needed adjustments in your approach and utilize the benefits of physical touch to reduce your levels of stress. In my coaching, I recommend the following recipe for your relationship’s success: five hours a week, one weekend a quarter and at least one week a year scheduled for just the two of you.

Steady Growth Phase

You should strive to be in a constant state of learning throughout your marriage. Learn new things together. Learn about yourself. Learn new ways to be your best in your we-ness position. Admit where your skills could be improved and strive to get the necessary coaching to improve. Study the competition, hire coaches or consultants. Implement what you learn. Course correct when necessary. Don’t rest on your laurels. It’s amazing how many people say the words “till death do us part” yet spend so little time becoming educated on how to be their best in relationship with their partner and how to co-create a thriving partnership.

During the steady growth phase, it’s pivotal that you mind the overall health of your we-ness. A study was done which involved 37 married couples.  Each person was given a vacuum blister on their arms after which they were asked to engage in conversation for 30 minutes. The findings showed that the couples who healed faster had an increase in oxytocin. “Oxytocin is a protective hormone,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, the lead author of the study. The study concluded that better communicators had the highest levels of oxytocin in their blood samples.

Reinvestment in the Company

It’s worth it. Take care of yourself first, your relationship health second and then your family. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology and author of The How of Happiness suggests asking yourself each morning, “What can I do for five minutes today to make my partner’s life better?” I’d take that a step further and encourage couples to become familiar with their partner’s love language as detailed in Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. Our time is precious. We must be loving, effective and efficient with our time together.

Annual Report

In my book, only boring people use the word bored. Challenge yourself to ward off hedonic adaptation, the act of becoming “habituated” to positive circumstances so the “good” is no longer seen as “that great” over time. Adaptation tends to creep in after the first few years of marriage. Fight it by becoming a perpetual student of surprise, creativity and spontaneity. If you adopt that type of passionate drive plus add a healthy dose of appreciation for your partner, you are sure to keep your “we-ness business” thriving, meaningful and positive.

While some of these steps may seem obvious, many married couples forget to put them into practice. The rewards of building your we-ness are priceless. It’s worth the time, energy and commitment. Keep this strategy in mind for the long-haul: Shared Vision + Shared Purpose + Passion to Be Your Best = A Successful We-ness. Now go celebrate your relationship’s success!

Joy M. Nordenstrom is founder of Joy of Romance, Inc., a certified matchmaker, relationship coach, wedding proposal planner and special romantic event and vacation planner. Joy emphasizes making relationship maintenance fun, sexy and intelligent by educating individuals on a practical, scientific and passionate-based approach to maintaining their romantic relationships.

Joy received an MBA in Entrepreneurship, and a BA in both Communications and Economics, with a minor in Psychology. All degrees are from Mills College in Oakland. Joy is a certified matchmaker from the Matchmaking and Behavioral Science Institute in New York City.

Joy coaches internationally via Skype and in-person locally in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a new mother and lives with her fiancé and their son in Sausalito.

To learn more, visit, follow @joyofromance on Twitter, become a fan at Joy of Romance fan page on Facebook, subscribe to the vodcast Intelligent Love: 411 for Men on iTunes and/or email directly at

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