“Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.” – Mason Cooley, English professor and American aphorist
What better time to take a leap into something creative and new, meaningful and different than during Leap Year. And this week, we gain the extra day that shows up on Feb. 29 every four years or so – time that we could claim as our own to advance our careers and our businesses.
In a Wall Street Journal piece, Sue Shellenbarger says the Februaries of leap year are good for business, with airlines booking more travel and accountants having more time to finish taxes for clients (plus a little extra sleep). Disney will keep its Magic Kingdoms in Florida and California open for 24 hours on Leap Day.
So what’s good enough for Disney is good enough for Dan and Danielle and everyone who longs for something more or better in their life or their work. Here are five of my best tips on making the most of Leap Year for your career:
- Start working on something that makes your heart leap. Start your slash career, so you can add some creativity, enthusiasm and passion to your basic, pay-the-bills job. The key: Get started now, and keep the momentum going. “Doing is a quantum leap from imagining,” said Barbara Sher, author of Wishcraft and Refuse to Choose.
- Give yourself permission to experiment. This could be as simple as answering inquiries on Quora or as complicated as signing up for a job swap for six months. It could mean returning to drawing and painting as Heidi Phelps has (and is bravely blogging about her work too). Take a different route to work each day for a week. “The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” said musical star and dancer Agnes de Mille.
- Adopt “Leap and the net will appear” as your motto. This quote by John Burroughs urges us to just jump into it, and stop putting on limits or constraints. In the blog Zen Leadership, Jeff Arnold suggests a vision and aligned action are crucial. He tells of an unexpected opportunity that led him to leap and then “literally spent the next year making it up as I went along.” Your leaps may be modest or massive or a mix of both. What’s important is the action of leaping and the faith that you will find your way afterward. (Please note: I am not advocating that you leap from a decent but dull job without something else lined up, unless your bank balance is quite cushy.)
- Use your day in dribs and drabs. Divide leap day into 24 parts. This will give you an hour a day through March 23, or even into early April if you skip weekends, to work on a new habit or new project. If you schedule the hour twice a week – with a pop-up reminder on your calendar – you will have 12 weeks of work in on your book, your business, your social media profile, your salsa dance techniques. Yes, dance could be advantageous for your career since it certainly will make you stand out amid the sea of accountants, engineers and social media managers seeking new jobs.
- Take a Leap Day to advance your dreams. It need not to be on Leap Day, but it does need to propel your goals or vision for yourself. So set up five coffee conversations with people in the field where you want to work. Or spend the day volunteering, picking causes and charities that will either inspire you or strengthen your resume (best if they do both). Or take a day to attend a small business start-up boot camp or visit the college where you want to earn your master’s and see what kinds of part-time programs and scholarships they offer. Use part of it to launch your website and part of it to file for your LLC. The keys here are action and advancement.
This year, I’m leaping into a couple of new philanthropic efforts – the Awesome News Taskforce in Detroit and an exploration of launching an “online hiring hall with a heart,” a project that could help open doors to short-term assignments for long-term unemployed individuals, homeless and veterans among others. So I will use my Leap Year in small pieces – an hour or two a week to advance these causes. I don’t know what will become of this hiring hall idea, or how I could possibly pull it off, but leap I have.
That’s where we start trusting our creativity, our networks, our persistence, our communities to help us fly after we leap.
“Say your dream is possible and then overcome all inconveniences, ignore all the hassles and take a running leap through the hoop, even if it is in flames. ” - motivational speaker Les Brown
My thanks to BrainyQuote, which gave me the great leap quotes for this piece.