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What can bravery do for your career? In this episode of Career Relaunch, Raluca Comanescu, an architect turned productivity trainer shares her thoughts on an emotions-based approach to setting authentic goals, the power of accountability, and the importance of self-love. I also share some thoughts on how you can inject more bravery into your own career decisions.
Key Career Insights
- People too often “borrow” goals from others that sound good on paper but don’t really carry the same meaning or importance.
- Finding and having an accountability partner can help you stay on track with your goals.
- Emotions are a big part of goal setting. That means you need to pay attention to which emotions are serving you and how you can recharge those emotions.
Tweetables to Share
- Raluca mentioned that she got her first client on Odesk (now Upwork). Read more about where you can hire freelancers.
- Brave businesses learn to love failure– great article about bravery from the Drum Marketing Magazine. Geared toward marketers, but applicable to anyone who’s interested in the topic of bravery.
During this episode’s Mental Fuel segment, I talked about the importance of bravery. I’d welcome you sharing your brave decision in the comments below. Also, if you’re looking for an accountability partner, consider joining the new Career Relaunch Facebook group.
About Raluca Comanescu, productivity trainer
Raluca Comanescu is a Productivity Trainer, and creator of thefeathers.ink Navigator – the planner to break dreams down into actions. Passionate about design and curious about experiences and emotions, she’s gone from being a full-time architect, to unfolding her design agency, then launching two products to give people more time. After experiencing work addiction herself, she’s now training people to take control of their time, strip away all the junk, and get down to action. Follow Raluca on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
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Comments, Suggestions, or Questions?
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Thanks to the Forest App for sponsoring this episode of Career Relaunch.
Forest is the mobile app that helps you stay focused and present while also helping to plant real trees on the earth. Visit JosephLiu.co/Forest to download the app on iOS or Android today.
Episode Interview Transcript
Teaser (first ~15s): People usually hide behind easy stuff. In order to see real progress, it’s good to try to do brave things, like things that really scare you. Those things that take you out of your comfort zone.
Joseph: Hello, Raluca. Thanks for joining me here on Career Relaunch. Can you just kick us off by telling us a little bit about what you’re focused on as both a productivity trainer and also the founder of thefeathers.ink?
Raluca: First of all, Joseph, thanks for having me here. Basically, I want to tell that I’m pretty much splitting my time between two directions. One of them is having my graphic design agency, from where I actually learned a lot of techniques about productivity and how to work with people. Using all those lessons learned, I’m now also focusing on taking my clients and helping them break their dreams into actionable steps and be productive about their work.
Joseph: You have also created a really cool planner called the Navigator. Can you just give us a very quick overview of the Navigator, which I have right here in front of me. Thanks so much for sending one to me.
Raluca: The Navigator is a step-by-step planner that helps you break dreams down to the next action. It’s not really focused on rigid goals. It’s actually focused on experiences and emotions you want to sign up for and how you are going to bring those experiences and emotions in your life through actions and through manifesting intentions and through connecting with people.
Joseph: I definitely want to come back and talk a lot more about the Navigator planner because having flipped through it myself, I’m very fascinated by the various aspects of it. I’d love to talk a little bit more about that. Let’s come back to that, but let’s go back in time a little bit here, Raluca, because I know you haven’t always been running thefeathers.ink. I know that you’ve always been passionate about design, but that came to life in a different way. Could you tell us about your time as an architect there years ago in Romania? Then we can move forward from there.
Raluca: It all started as being an architect first. When I was in high school, at the end of the high school, I decided that I want to actually experience something completely different than everything I was doing. I decided to go to the architecture school. I actually went to the architecture and urban planning school, and after that, I was for five years an employee as a full-time architect.
It was kind of fascinating because I was learning a lot of things. The most fascinating part about being an architect is the fact that you’re actually connecting with a lot of people, and you’re actually listening to what those people are telling you and how those people are living their lives and you’re somehow trying to connect the dots and create a product for them that fits their lifestyle. This way, we create houses, or even more, I have designed big buildings like hotels. It was very interesting.
Joseph: You’re building these big buildings and different types of structures, and then at some point, you decided that you wanted to move on. Can you just take me back to the moment when you made that decision to make a shift in your career?
Raluca: It wasn’t that fast from one way to another. There was this economical crisis, and there were no more big projects I could work on in our office. The owner had to fire 90% or 80% of the employees. When that happened, that exact moment, that exact day, I was like somehow fascinated because I thought I was going to be fired as well. That was actually the moment when I understood that my mind was somehow shifted to a different direction.
I didn’t do any move right there. It took me like three or four—I don’t exactly remember—a few months anyway, until I understood that there is no more for me to do there. My mind was actually open to experience many more other things.
Joseph: Actually that moment when you thought you might get fired made you realize that that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, and then it got the wheels spinning to move along?
Joseph: I know you mentioned that you felt like there wasn’t anything left to do there. What did you do to extract yourself then from your role as an architect to then move on to the next chapter in your career?
Raluca: I started learning to design illustrations, build illustrations. Once I did that, I pushed myself to sell those illustrations online so I can see some sort of a progress. I was doing this during evenings and during night times until morning hours. Every day, I was doing this on my own time. At some point, I noticed a job online. My first client was from America, who actually needed my brand new illustration skills. I was like, ‘Well, yes. I would like to try that out.’ I actually took the project, and I noticed that I could make money outside my day job.
Joseph: How exactly did you find that client again? The reason why I ask is sometimes people are really curious, how do you get your first client. I’d be curious how you located that person.
Raluca: I was probably searching something on Google, and then this project was posted on a platform, on a freelance platform. Back then, it was called oDesk, and now it’s called Upwork.
Joseph: I know you got involved when we last spoke about this in some sort of a trailer project. That was a pretty big gig that you had in the United States. Can you tell us a little bit about what that involved and how that project ultimately transpired?
Raluca: I knew somehow that something big is going to happen. One day, I received this message from the founder, describing to me the idea and telling me, ‘I know you have the skills to make it happen.’ The project is about building a mobile car service for oil changes. It’s like a Jiffy Lube on wheels. It comes to your house, make the oil change, and then moves on to the next client. We were kind of giving people time back with this project.
Joseph: You mentioned something a second ago about you kind of felt like you knew that something big was coming your way. Can you explain what you meant by that, or what were you feeling inside and how did you know that something big was coming your way?
Raluca: There is this flow you’re feeling throughout the year, energy you’re feeling throughout the year. The first part of the year was very relaxing. I was recovering from the transition of being an architect to being a brand new graphic designer. I felt I was growing throughout those months. At some point, I felt it was an emotion like deep inside me, saying that all I’ve learned is for something bigger, and that something bigger is going to happen. Honestly, I think it’s some sort of a gut feeling or intuition.
Joseph: I’d love to talk a little bit more about the Navigator now. How did you come up with the Navigator, which I kind of interpret it as a planner/journal.
Raluca: When I started the first time, I wanted to create a basic planner for me. While I was working with my clients, because some of them did not have the clear picture of their work, of their business, I shared my planner with them to help them get more relaxed and take the heavy part from their brain and put it on paper. I got feedback from them. The feedback was very great, so I decided, ‘Okay, you know what? Why not make this public?’
Because of the feedback I received and because of the struggles people were facing when they were using the initial planner, I actually started questioning myself. I started listening to people. I started connecting dots. All those lessons learned have translated into a new improved version of the Navigator until what it is today, which is most like a coaching tool or an instrument you can use to empty your brain and start organizing your ideas until you find the next step to follow tomorrow or today.
Joseph: I’ve got the Navigator in my hands right now. I just got it in the mail yesterday. I’m looking at it, and one of the things that really struck about the Navigator is, compared to a regular planner, this Navigator seems to have so much personality to it. I felt like it had almost a voice, similar to what you had mentioned before, kind of like a coach. I was wondering if we could just touch on a couple of these things I’m seeing in here. Number one, I see that there’s space here for brave actions. Why did you decide to include that as part of the planner?
Raluca: People usually hide behind easy stuff. In order to see your progress, it’s good to try to do brave things, like things that really scare you and those things that actually expand your comfort zone, or even better, take you out of your comfort zone. Those brave things are going to actually boost your business. You can do a brave thing in two minutes, and the results might be bigger even than your work for an entire week.
Brave is different for each of us. For me, scary is picking up the phone and calling people. Imagine that after I quit Facebook, I was standing in front of my phone and realized that there is no other way I can keep in contact with people if I can’t call them. So I took the phone and started calling people.
Joseph: I think one of the interesting things about flipping through this planner—and I think you’re kind of touching on this—is the emotional side of planning and goal setting and how, sometimes, with goal setting, we just put a goal out there, but we don’t really think about the implications on our emotions. Can you explain your emotions-based approach to planning?
Raluca: Goal is a good word, but I don’t like to use it that much because, ‘Oh, I have to set up my goals,’ they decide to do something rigid like I want to be a CEO for what kind of company. They set up the goal, and then they are trying all these actions to actually reach the goal, but they never actually ask themselves, ‘Why do I want this? Why is it that important for me? What would I feel if I’m going to be in this position, if I’m going to experience this? Who are the people who I’m going to work with and I’m going to enjoy working with? What are the places I’m going to see if I’m going to reach this goal of mine?’
There are so many things behind the goal. It’s not just the goal itself. It’s the emotions that are triggered. It’s the people you want to meet and the places you want to see. Somehow, it’s better to know those things first because the more you know about you and about the way you want to feel and the experiences you want to sign up for, the goals or those things you want to reach will come your way. Sometimes, it will come your way in a different aspect that you haven’t considered.
Joseph: I was looking at your Instagram page, and I don’t know if this relates, but one of the things you mentioned there was this concept of goals remorse. What did you mean by goals remorse? Is that what you’re talking about here?
Raluca: Usually, people start creating this unrealistic goals, and those goals are not always honest to themselves. Some of them are borrowed. Like if you have a lot of people talking around you, and you hear about their goals, you hear about their actions, it’s kind of inevitable not to borrow those goals. Whenever you start making your own, it happens that you set up an unrealistic goal for yourself or a borrowed goal for yourself. As soon as you start actually working on that goal, you realize that it’s not for you. So you have this goal remorse soon after you start your action or your journey to reach that goal.
Joseph: How do you go about maintaining your accountability with your goals?
Raluca: First of all, I decide what I want to achieve in a month, and then I split it on the next actions to follow every single week. I put those actions inside my calendar, inside my Navigator, and then I start making them happen throughout the days. However, I also have an accountability partner. I’m not 100% relying on the Navigator. I also have an accountability partner I talk to. We share our progress, and we share how we experience them and what is working and what is not. That is also one way I suggest people to do it: it’s really important to find a person to hold accountable for their progress.
Joseph: How did you go about finding your accountability partner? I think that that is such a great idea. I think about that, and I guess I’m not sure where to start in terms of what makes for a good accountability partner and how you go about finding one.
Raluca: My very first accountability partner was my partner. It’s not that something official. We were going home every evening, and we were walking home actually. During our walk, we were actually exchanging ideas like, ‘How was your day? How did you achieve? What happened? Why did that happen?’ and, ‘What’s next?’ Those are pretty much the questions. We kept talking and talking and talking, and he has for years kept me somehow, with my mind, clear about what I should do next.
My new accountability partner was actually referred to me from another friend. I clicked with her. She’s also emotions-oriented as I am, and she’s also an entrepreneur as I am. We are now sharing our progress, and it’s working very well.
Accountability partner is good, and you can find it in your house, you can find it in your circle of friends, you can find it in the circle of clients. You can pretty much find them everywhere. What’s important is that you click with that person. If you don’t click with that person, it’s okay to move on.
Joseph: The last thing I wanted to talk about related to the Navigator is this section you’ve got on here. I guess it’s self-love activities. Can you explain the importance of self-love? Then we can wrap up by talking about some of your workshops.
Raluca: Self-love activities are pretty much in connection with the brave activities. Whenever you do something brave, why not just give yourself something in return? Experience some activities that really brings you joy and pleasure. I’m not really talking about expensive activities here.
I was talking with a client just last week. She was telling, ‘You know what? I really want to go to the church for so many times.’ I said, ‘Yes, why not do it. If you feel you have to do that to take care of yourself, take care of your mind, do that.’ We so much forget about taking care of ourselves.
Throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the month, we are constantly rushing and rushing to achieve things, because if we don’t achieve things throughout the day, we feel useless, and we feel like we haven’t done much. We feel absent in our life, which is kind of a fake thing to feel, but we feel those things. We feel those emotions.
We forget that doing something for yourself is actually very good for you, but it’s also very good for the people that are around you. You cannot expect me to love you if you don’t start with yourself and if you don’t love yourself first.
Joseph: As you’ve gone on this journey, Raluca, what’s something that you’ve learned about yourself along the way?
Raluca: I have learned that I have to give myself time. Whenever I make a decision, whenever I make a change, I really need to give my mind some time to connect with that new direction or that new journey. Somehow, when you do a change, it’s very easy to do a change. Like, if next week I want to give up on anything I’m doing right now and start being a bartender, I can do that, because it’s just a change. The thing is, the mind is not really ready to embrace the new direction.
What I’ve learned throughout these years is that my brain is wired that it really needs time to accommodate all the changes, and it really needs time to experience or to live a lot of experiences in order to make a shift. Don’t rush through experiences. Don’t rush through your actions. Don’t rush it. Just enjoy every second. Give yourself time. Give your mind time. It’s going to be fine.
Joseph: Very good advice. I’d love to wrap up today, Raluca, by talking a little bit about your workshops. Can you explain to people the kinds of productivity workshops you’re now running?
Raluca: I started two kinds of workshops for adults and for teenagers. The workshops for teenagers are less related about productivity and more related about finding their own super powers and actually creating something in their own life with those super powers. It’s mostly a motivational workshop.
The workshops for adults is about building projects that pay off. Those projects that pay off are actually using a lot of my technical and business background that I’ve learned throughout the last 10 years. I take in all these information and all these techniques for productivity and help people build projects that pay off.
Joseph: If people want to learn more about your workshops or the Navigator or the work that you do, where can they go to find out more?
Raluca: They can check the website, and that is thefeathers.ink. In there, they can find more about the Navigator, and also, they can find when the next workshops happen. Also, they can find a bit about me.
Joseph: Thank you so much for your time, Raluca, and thanks for telling us about your career and the importance of connecting with people outside of social media, those points about the emotions of your goals, and also the importance of having an accountability partner. I definitely want to wish you the best of luck with your upcoming workshops. I am going to try out this Navigator. It’s very cool and very interesting. Maybe it’ll help me achieve my goals too.
Raluca: Thank you so much.
I’m almost 50 and just divorced after 30 yrs of marriage , i now need to survive on my own with no real employment background because i officed for my husband for 20 yrs.
i feel lost and depressed… i want to feel independent but i don’t know where to start
Beth, it sounds like you’re at a major turning point in your life, one where you’re going to have to dig really deep to find the resources ands strength to find your way. It’s difficult to point you in the right direction in a message thread, but perhaps one way to start is to reflect on what skills you developed during those 20 years working for your former husband. Perhaps that can serve as a starting point for you to understand where you could go from here, or at least some sort of part-time work that could help hold you over until you figure out your next steps? I hope things go as smoothly as possible for you.
I feel like don’t love my present job of school teaching although I spent 7/8 years doing that n took education also. I want to do some creative work such as writing or painting but my job n household chores make me tired n I don’t have any professional guidelines for this work.
I can completely see how finding the energy to squeeze in your side interests would be tough with everything you have going on. Have you considered dipping your toe into the waters with pursuing your interests in writing or painting in a manageable way that doesn’t require a tremendous amount of commitment? Another idea you might also consider is freelance work through one of the online platforms like Upwork to see how you like writing for a living?