2011 - Sean's Year In Review

I have high hopes for the year ahead. I always do. I’ll tell myself – This is the year. It’s time... It’s time.

The words carry profound resolve and belief; yet at the same time harbor a seed of inadequacy. I’ll inevitably feel as if I didn’t do enough, that I could have done more. The New Year beckons and once again I’m enamored with its anything-is-possible, be-all-you-can-be type optimism. I have a passion for possibility.

And while yes, anything IS possible, without defining what that “anything” is, even vaguely, it’s difficult to evaluate our progress and we risk feeling as if another year is over and nothing has changed.

For 2012, I’ve decided to write down both specific goals I plan to realize the year ahead, and also less tangible goals that are associated with a feeling I’d like to embody one year from today. In reflecting on the past, trying to gauge just how far we’ve come, it’s easy to focus on “the numbers”– mountains conquered, countries visited, workshops attended, hobbies acquired – I think it’s equally if not more important to reflect on how these achievements impacted us. Did they add to us, or take away? The aspects of our life that typically add a more profound sense of contentment are not as easy to measure – for example, our personal and spiritual growth or our friendships and connection with family.

In writing goals down for 2012, my hope is that when 2013 approaches I can look back and see how I grew.

But first, I thought it would be beneficial to reflect on my 2011. I’d forgotten how much happened – thanks to Google calendar for reminding me.

An incredible highlight of the year came in January with the premiere of our feature length documentary, One Week Job, on national Canadian television (CBC Documentary Channel), and at the Pacific Cinematheque theater in Vancouver. It was sold out, with a line up down the block! This kicked off the One Week Job Discover Your Passion cross country tour.

From there, the tour continued and I spoke at 43 different colleges, universities, high schools, and companies across Canada. From Vancouver to Halifax, it was an epic road trip in the middle of a Canadian winter. Brrrr…

At the end of the tour, I headed to Hawaii with my family to celebrate my mom’s retirement. Way to go, mom!

From there I headed to Mexico to meet up with a group of friends to celebrate one of my best friends birthday - a great way to finish up the tour, and kick off spring.

In spring, I was honored by my Alma Mater, Capilano University, with a One To Watch Alumni award. I also started running in preparation for a 31km Stroke Awareness run inspired by stroke survivor Ernie Kasper who asked me to run with him. At the 29km mark, Ernie had a seizure, but still found the strength to finish the run afterward - very inspiring!

This past summer was a year of weddings and workshops – 5 weddings in which I was the MC at one (my first time!), and 3 workshop retreats on the beautiful Cortes Island at Hollyhock Resort: Social Change Institute, The Art Of Leadership, and African Drum and Dance.

I also turned 30 with an amazing 80’s themed party boat celebration with 50 of my closest friends - it was truly special, and no doubt the highlight of my summer!

I was fortunate enough to once again attend the Burning Man festival in Nevada. 50,000 people come together to create a temporary city, based on a gift economy. Something to experience at least once in life.

This fall I was back on the speaking circuit with another 18 speaking engagements, the highlight of which was speaking at TEDx Vancouver in November. A beautiful theater, Chan Center for Performing Arts, packed with 1000 inspiring people all with interesting ideas to share.

In December we launched One Week Job: Australia. Our first international market with 24-year-old, Paul Seymour, setting out to find his passion working 52 jobs in 52 weeks throughout Australia.

And as for the immeasurable 2011?

In short… this New Years Eve I was lucky to be with some very close friends. At one point in the evening, the six of us found ourselves in a circle arm over arm. I asked the group, “What is one thing you are grateful for in 2011?”

As the question went around, I tried not to think of what my answer would be, to just listen and trust that when it was my turn to speak the answer would arrive. It did.

I closed my eyes and heard myself say, “I’m grateful to be one step closer to loving myself unconditionally.”

As I start 2012, the intention I will hold is this – “Live your love.”

This is the year. It’s time... It’s time.

- Sean

What if your love was liberated?

I've been thinking a lot about love lately. Why do we choose to love who we do? Are we capable of loving everyone?

In the past, I've been very selective of my love - reserved only for those close to me, namely family and friends. I only have so much love to give and I must be careful who I choose to share it with, I thought. If I love too much, reveal too much, become too vulnerable, I'll stretch myself too thin, lose control, and it will only lead to hurt.

But when given freely, without the expectation of reciprocation, our love is infinite. It doesn't take away from us, or make us weak, it makes us stronger. It grants permission to love ourselves. Love heals hurt.

When my heart is full, I feel that I have enough love for everyone in this world.

Of course I don't have to love everyone; it's a matter of holding in my heart the belief that I am capable of loving each person I encounter as much as I love those closest to me. The possibility exists.

And just because I hold love in my heart for someone doesn't mean that I would choose to spend time with them, or always condone their behaviour. It's the recognition and respect of a fellow human being, knowing that no matter what appearance they project to the world, they, like I, crave love, intimacy, and belonging. They are my brother or sister on their unique journey of life.

If we approach each encounter with love and respect, we release our fears, acknowledge our similarities, and open our hearts to a more authentic interaction and meaningful connection.

In practicing love, I try to ask myself after each exchange: Did I leave that person with a little more love than when we first met? Did I add love to their life or perhaps take some away?

When I'm fully present with an open heart, I find myself speaking with people and at moments saying in my mind, "I love you", or "You're beautiful." It may be someone I've known for a long time, or a new friend that I met in the street or at a coffee shop. The thought typically arises when I let go of judgement; when I see, hear, and accept them as they truly are; when I acknowledge their truth and embrace the divine in both of us.

A profound recognition of our similarities; I see myself in them.

It's not important whether that love is reciprocated. When we offer our love freely, with pure intention, it's irrelevant how it's received. The beauty and wholeness we feel exists in the act of loving.

To fully engage in life, we must love. For love elicits life.

So let us not be selective of our love. Let us give it openly and freely - to ourselves, to each other, to each day, and to each beautiful breath of this magnificent moment.

And with that my dear friend, I wish to say… I love you :)


How To Deal With Criticism

I received a semi-critical email a while back and finally got to responding to it this week. The majority of emails/feedback I receive are extremely supportive, but every so often there is someone who sees the One Week Job Project, and what it represents, in a different light.

I wanted to share the email with you and my response. It's likely that other people might have had similar questions, and so this way I can share my perspective with everyone.


Yes we should all have jobs we like, but not all of us have the opportunity to leave Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire or the local warehouse... Yet we still came to the same realization that we should all be doing a job we like.  Is that not you’re main point?

Kind of. I think it's important that we're able to fulfill our passions in some aspect of our life - it doesn't all have to be in our job. We may not all have the opportunity to leave Tim Hortons, Can Tire, etc, but we do have the opportunity to explore our passions outside of work. I met a lot of people who weren't in their dream job, but they were content with their position because it allowed them to fulfill their passions outside of work. When we don't have an outlet to express our creativity or explore what truly fulfills us, I believe that can lead to discontent. Alternatively, when we are fulfilled by what we do, whether in a career or outside of work, that improves our relationships with our family and friends while making us more likely to contribute to our community.

It’s adorable your website says you were a Chiropractor for a week, a Radio DJ or even Brewmaster! Obviously that’s a bit of an embellishment considering these sound more like week long take your kid to work day. Maybe I’m wrong?

Most jobs I was actually doing the job, ie: on the air as a Radio DJ, assisting the vet with tests as a Vet assistant. Other jobs that were more technical, ie: Chiropractor, Tattoo artist, it was more of a job shadowing experience.

Have you ever worked in fast food? Retail?  For more than a week?  For more than 6 months even?  Have you worked 60 hour weeks for months at a time?  I didn’t do these things for a lack of courage to change, it was to seek my own enlightenment and generate enough income to live.

Great! In whatever we're doing, I believe that's the ultimate goal - to seek our own enlightenment - regardless of the path we choose to get there. Everyone's path will be different.

The silver lining is, you’re very positive and seem to pass that along to many.  I just think you forget that some people simply have limitations.  What you did was unique. Why? Because most people don’t have the opportunities you have. I would love for you to prove me wrong.. Such a positive message should be passed along. So with my e-mail in mind can you explain how someone can “take a leap” to find a career they love without money and without education past high school?

Thanks! In regards to your question, I was extremely surprised how open employers were to sharing their knowledge about their profession. I suggest that people think about what interests them and professions that they think might be the right fit. Then, before fully committing to going for it, see if you can volunteer with someone in the industry, or take them for coffee to find out as much as you can and if it might be right for you. Why they like it, what are the challenges, how does someone get into the industry... I think the most important thing is to DO. To get into the work force, no matter what job we have to take. As we do, we learn more about ourselves, develop skills, and get closer to figuring out what our ideal career would be.

Again, I hope to hear from you.  Hope this didn’t come off as a Sean bashing session. Obviously you made me think a little or I wouldn’t give this the time of day.  To be honest, some of this may be spoken out of jealously.  I would have loved to do some of the things you’ve done.

All good bud! Thanks for sharing your story and thoughts!


I used to feel down when people didn't "get it" - I wanted to speak with each one directly to explain where I was coming from. During my year I was given some great advice to deal with it: "A third of people will love what you're doing. A third of people will hate what you're doing. And a third of people won't care what you're doing."

When you put yourself out there, you're bound to face some critics, but I've found the most important thing for me is to know why I'm doing what I'm doing, and to know that my intentions are genuine. This applies even when the feedback is positive, and there is an inclination to feed the ego.

Or, if you prefer a good Buddha quote:

"As a solid rock cannot be moved by the wind, the wise are not shaken by praise or blame."

The 50 Best Work And Passion Quotes Of All Time

Have you ever found yourself wrapped up in the fetal position, sucking your thumb, while a loved one desperately tries to pull on your suit jacket so you don’t miss your carpool? 

Have you become so bored with work that you’ve started keeping sandwich crusts under your keyboard, just to see how many ants you can attract?  Have you started thinking about work as simply…work?

Everyone needs a little career inspiration from time to time. 

Whether it’s to reframe your workplace goals, or to give serious thought as to why you’re working a specific job in the first place.  It’s nice to know that others have been there before, questioning, suffering, and wondering just as much as the rest of us sandwich-hoarding, ant-counting, schmucks.

So take a moment to read the "words about work" of those who have gone before, with grace and hilarity.  Perhaps then we can take a step back, pull our thumbs out of our mouths, put on our suit jackets, and get into that carpool with pride.

- Amanda Lowe, One Week Job Blogger

1.  To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work.
 - Sister Mary Lauretta

2.  Trust not what inspires other members of society to choose a career. Trust what inspires you. - The Lazy Person's Guide to Success

3.  You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances 
are you'll end up boring, stupid, and monotonous.
 - Bob Black

4.  I believe you are your work. Don't trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That's a rotten bargain. - Rita Mae Brown

5.  Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood . . . Make big plans; aim high in hope and work. - Daniel Burnham, American architect (1846 - 1912)

6.  You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. 
- Mark Twain

7.  A career is wonderful, but you can't curl up with it on a cold night. - Marilyn Monroe

8. I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate. - George Burns

9.  I'm sick of people sittin' in chairs stating their problems. Then we roll the videotape... then we have our experts on the topic... I'm in the 'What's next?' phase of my career.  - Oprah Winfrey

10.  Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true. - Brian Tracy, American Author

11. If we resist our passions, it is more through their weakness than from our strength. – Francois de la Rochefoucauld, French Author

12.  The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else...The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career! – Earl Nightingale, Motivational Speaker

13.  The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
 - George Bernard Shaw

14.  If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all. 
- Michelangelo

15.  Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. 
- Buddha

16.  If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. 
- Katherine Hepburn

17.  My mother said to me, "If you become a soldier, you'll be a general, if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope." Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.
 - Pablo Picasso

18.  Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures. - Joseph Campbell, American Mythologist, Writer, and Lecturer

19.  Any human being is really good at certain things. The problem is that the things you're good at come naturally. And since most people are pretty modest instead of an arrogant S.O.B. like me, what comes naturally, you don't see as a special skill. It's just you. It's what you've always done. 
- Stephen Jay Gould, Evolutionary Scientist

20.  If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. - Michael Evans

21.  There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. - Jim Hightower, Radio Commentator and Author

22.  He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. - Nietzsche

23.  Many of us have created lives that give very little support for experimentation. We believe that answers already exist out there, independent of us. What if we invested more time and attention to our own experimentation? We could focus our efforts on discovering solutions that work uniquely for us. 
- Margaret Wheatley, Author and Management Consultant who studies organizational behavior

24.  Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
 - Abraham Lincoln

25.  We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
- Carlos Castaneda, Peruvian born American Anthropologist and Author

26.  Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.
 - Bobby Unser, Retired Car Racer

27.  People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.
 - Brian Tracy, Author

28.  A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately, they don’t have a J.O.B.
 - Fats Domino

29.  What if "the hokey pokey" is REALLY what it's all about?
 - Curtis Spencer

30.  There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.  - Federico Fellini, Italian Film Director (1920-1993)

31.  Would I ever leave this company? Look, I'm all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I'm being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly, I'm going wherever they value loyalty the most. – Dwight Schrute, from the television show ‘The Office’

32.  I am not young enough to know everything. - Oscar Wilde

33.  In fifty years, he never worked a day. To him, nine to five was odds on a horse. - Archie Bunker, from the television show 'All in the Family'

34.  When you're following your energy and doing what you want all the time, the distinction between work and play dissolves. - Shakti Gawain, Pioneering Author & Teacher in the field of Personal Growth

35.  I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. – Jerome K. Jerome, English writer and humorist

36.  Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable...Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

37.  Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot. - D.H. Lawrence, English Novelist (1885-1930)

38.  Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade.  Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still. - Robert Sternberg, American Psychologist and Psychometrician

39.  Passion kept one fully in the present, so that time became a series of mutually exclusive 'nows.' - Sue Halpern, Author

40.  They  may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. – Carl W. Buechner, Author

41.  We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it. – Che Guavara

42.  Rest in reason; move in passion – Khalil Gibran, Lebanese American artist, poet and writer

43.  Throughout my career, if I have done anything, I have paid attention to every note and every word I sing...If I cannot project this to a listener, I fail.  - Frank Sinatra

44.  If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. – Benjamin Franklin

45.  I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day. - James Joyce, Irish Novelist

46.  If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time. - Joseph Campbell, American Mythologist, Writer, and Lecturer

47.  I think everyone should experience defeat at least once during their career. You learn a lot from it. - Lou Holtz, American football coach and author

48.  If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development. - Brian Tracy

49.  One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar. 
- Helen Keller

50.  The belief that you can have a meaningful career is the first step to finding one.  - Sean Aiken, Author and Creator of the One Week Job Project

Did we miss any great quotes on passion and work? Share in the comments!

Chapter-Closing Words.

Around three months ago, I set out with one major desire. As a One-Week Job (OWJ) participant, I sought to be an ordinary woman who achieved something extraordinary. I believe I did that. People ask me if it was everything I dreamed of, and I tell them yes. Yes, it was.

I mean, yeah, there were times that sucked.

My twitter account tells me that most of those times happened to be while on the Greyhound. Irritable tweets, oopsies. But I wouldn't trade all my experiences with public transportation for anything. After all, I chose to bus across the country for a reason, and many of the people I met every weekend on my journey had no other options. I am a fortunate human being.

I was tired all the time. I never seemed to get enough sleep. My eating schedule was a mess. And sometimes I felt lonely because I was constantly “the new person.” The combination of these three things gave my mind and body some serious pressure. But I got to meet loads of unique and passionate people, whose kindness humbled me daily. This is all I needed to deem OWJ my personal eight-week holiday. I got free meals, free beds, and free wisdom. I am a fortunate human being.

Organizing EVERYTHING was a ton to handle. Adaptability was crucial to continuing on with the journey, and it was so hard to stay focused and upbeat during some moments. But at least I got the chance to have these wonderful trips to organize. Not many could say the same. a fortunate human being.

I could keep trying to find all the worst parts about my time with the One-Week Job Program, but aside from the growth I got from them, I don't care to speak of them much.

Because I did it. I finished the Program and I did so with all the strength I had in me. And that's all that matters.

People are just people. They shouldn't make you nervous.”


The best part of it all is that I didn't do it alone. You (the reader, the employer, the voter, the host, the supporter, the OWJ Program itself ) were with me the entire time. You gave me an opportunity to feel loved, encouraged, capable, “powerful beyond measure”...all that good stuff.

I am overwhelmed by the thought that I may never be able to repay You fully. But if there's one big lesson I learned through One-Week Job, it is that it can be a beautiful thing to receive as it is to give, because sometimes, by receiving, you are giving.

You are giving the gift of trust.

It was something completely new for me, but I trusted You entirely, and it was the best thing I could've done. You gave me more hope and more gumption, and a stronger ability to love and cherish the world - everything it has to offer us. Now, I truly feel as if I can do anything. I did what I had said I was gonna do. I've practiced what I have preached and I will continue to do so. That is riveting to me...for me. And for You.

And this new growth You've given to me is so timely, seeing as I need it for my current...what do they call it...oh yes - “job search.”

You were probably wondering that too – what I'm doing now, “what's next.” Well, I don't know what will come for me. I don't know. But I've been without all the answers many a time before, and things have worked out so...okay, I'll tell you what is next:

...“Great things.”

That's what I tell people nowadays, and they laugh. No really what's next, they ask. Really – great things, I respond. And now, when I meet new people and they ask me to tell them what I'm really all about, I say:

My name is Michelle, and I’m a 22-year-old college graduate who majored in Psychology. I like dancing, music, green tea, showers, deep discussions, and people. I’m also an avid learner, which is why I have a serious habit of googling everything .

I like dogs. I used to avoid them, but I see now that they really can be a personal therapist. I still don't know how to swim after all these years, but I desperately want to. I will learn! I don't fear water anymore, so that's good. I'm not the best cook, but I love experimenting and most of the time, my creations are edible. I'm trying to get better.

I like coffee, and I like it black. I'm less self-conscious about my body than I used to be. I've decided that this is the only body I've got and I'm doing my best with don't have to look if you don't want to. I want to, so there. I like being outside in the fresh air. I feel closer to my spirit when I'm not indoors. Natural light makes me feel productive. I think bike riding is mandatory in paradise.

Driving calms me down.

I love music and reading. I love interacting with people, and discovering who they are, what makes them happy. I believe I can help more people be themselves just by asking them the right questions, listening to them at the right moments. Being there for them.

I want as many people to be happy as possible, because I think it'll bring us real close to world peace.

I desire truthfulness in everything, and I'll pursue it for as long as I live.

I dream a lot, and then I work hard to make my dreams a reality. No matter what.

...One summer, I traveled the country for eight weeks, doing a different job each week. It was the most wonderful time.

Haha, oh wanna know what the experience meant to me? Well, I'd say that:

...I know I am brave enough to follow through."

I like my new self-description. Has a lot more "meat" than the old one, don't you think? If You haven't gotten the message yet, I have One-Week Job to thank for the upgrade in me. The "upgrade in me" - mmm! Tastes good.

Well, i thank You all for everything. I can't say "thank you" enough, so I won't try to. But one last time: Thank You. I'll miss all of this very, very much.

This is not a Goodbye! Just a See You Soon...


Wanna get in touch? Talk to me!

email: michelle dot attah at gmail dot com

twitter: twitter dot com slash itsninson

Amanda's One Week Job Summary - Part 1 of 3

Well.  Here it is.  The end of my One Week Job adventure across Canada. So much has happened over the last 8 weeks!  So many people, so many cities, so many jobs!  I'd like to take this opportunity to THANK EVERYONE who helped me along the way.  Whether you were a voter, an employer, a co-worker, a family-member, a friend, or even a stranger who read my blog - it's because of YOU that I'm here, and it's because of YOU that I had this crazy opportunity.

To Sean and Ian - you guys are hilarious, and it was so great to meet you during my time in Vancouver.  Thank you for welcoming me into this adventure and being brave enough to create such a project in the first place.  I've learned so much - about myself, and the work force in general.

This blog is my attempt to take all the lessons I've learned, and bring them together into some sort of cohesive lesson-plan.  I will include my gut-reactions, job satisfactions, and any sort of future projections that I happened to see in my job-choice-o-the-week

Week 1 - Photographer: Toronto, ON

My first week was spent doing something I have legitimately cared about for a long, long time.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love to take photographs.

Gut Reaction: I was gonna LOVE this week.  But the challenge was: How could I translate my love of pictures into an actual career?

Lessons Learned: Enter Henrietta Haniskova and her constant hilarity!  To work in this industry, you not only have to have the creativity - but you have to possess the technical knowledge necessary to produce a quality project.  The lesson I learned most from Henrietta though, was that of persistence. If you recall, when she was first starting out in the 'biz, she heard the word NO fairly often: "No, you're a girl." "No, you don't have enough experience." etc, etc.  She took all those NO's and kept pushing through them.  Then, there we were: a hot day in June 2010, I was shadowing Henrietta as she shot photos for a national drug store chain's website!  I have no doubt that this woman will become one of the heavy-hitters in the photography industry.

Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: It was great seeing the ins and outs of the pre-production involved in a shoot, but sometimes I worry if I would be able to bend so much for an advertising client.  Of course, that's where the money is - but I wonder if I'd get frustrated by having someone else tell me how and what to shoot.  The freelance world is a tricky one, but it does allow for some freedoms.  In the end, I was satisfied.

Future Projections: I love photography, and will keep shooting my own prints.  This summer I had the opportunity to do Wedding photos for a couple friends, which turned out very well.  If I can organize myself properly, I think I could make a solid GO of family/event/small business photography, with a little artsy shooting on the side.

Week 2 - Coffee Shop: Toronto, ON

My second week was spent as a local barista at Pennylicks Gourmet Cafe in the trendy Kensington district of Toronto.

Gut Reaction: Nervous, but excited.  I didn't want to let the owners down, or waste any of the store's milk on my 'frothing attempts!'

Lessons Learned: I chatted with the owner, Steve, about what it takes to open a small business and what goes into making an amazing cup of coffee.  I learned how to froth milk, deal with crazy customers, and that most people don't enjoy HOT drinks during a heat wave ;)  Steve was gracious in letting me spend the week with the Pennylicks team, and made me realize just how much of your life you have to commit to operating your own business.  Location, quality, and staff were all key points to the success of an independent coffee shop.

Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: I didn't get as much time practicing drinks as I'd hoped.  The heat wave in Toronto that week is probably what did it, but there weren't too many people out searching for steaming-hot beverages in 40C weather!  But I did enjoy learning about the business/life-style side of things from Steve, and actually spending time at the shop.  The coffee was great, the team was fun, and the customers kooky - what more could I ask for?!

Future Projections: I've often thought about running my own coffee shop one day, and owning a place for people to unite and create.  This week taught me that I CAN do this, and to go out on a limb with you and with myself: one day, I will.

Week 3 - Butcher Shop: Beaverlodge, AB

Now THIS week was a bit out of my comfort zone!  It was definitely a week that I'd been looking forward to, and I wasn't disappointed.  Bob and Laurie from the Beaverlodge Butcher Shop welcomed me and put me to work right off the bat, and I felt like I was working for them as opposed to simply shadowing.

Gut Reaction: I was going to see guts...and oh, did I ever...

Lessons Learned: 1. Know where your food comes from. and 2. Take PRIDE in your work. The satisfaction the team got from doing a great job was apparent while they worked.  It's such a simple lesson, but Take Pride!  This is the difference between simply doing your job and doing a GREAT job.  Also, the more you respect your employers, the harder you want to work for them.  Integrity is kind of a big deal...

Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: I legitimately felt like I was contributing to the final product - whether it was making sausage links (not so good at that), or wrapping beef jerky (oh-so tasty), I was part of the team.  I enjoyed talking with every employee there, and learned a lot about the meat production industry.

Future Projections: Not so sure I'll start up my own butcher shop, but I definitely appreciate the meat I eat and where it came from!  And I'll also be sure to stop in to the Butcher Shop and get my fill of jerky every time I visit...

Week 4 - Yoga: Calgary, AB

Oh yoga!  Now, where's my mat...?

Gut Reaction: Ready. Pumped. I've practiced yoga for a few years now, but needed to know if it was something I could be serious about career-wise.

Lessons Learned: This week was my most chilled-out, yet taxing week to date!  I was stressed at the beginning because of travel-plans, but felt it melt away under the guidance of the yogi's at Moksha Yoga Calgary .  I practiced every day that week, something both my body and mind desperately needed.  Physically, I felt great!  I was healthy, awake, and nimble.  Emotionally, it gave me a place to rest my thoughts and try to practice what studio owner/teacher Lisa Whitford taught me: One of the goals of yoga is to take the grace you use on your mat, and bring it into your everyday life. This is what true yoga practice is all about - not just your physical well-being, but your day-to-day practice as a human being.

Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: I loved greeting people as they came in to their practice.  Everyone was looking forward to time on their mats, which led to high customer satisfaction ;)  Even the cleaning I had to do was fairly simple: mop the floors, wash the towels, and clean the bathrooms.  

Future Projections: I can see myself getting my teaching certificate after practicing for a few more years.  I feel like I should learn more about my own practice before teaching others about theirs.

----- CLICK to check out Amanda's Summary - Part 2 of 3 to hear about Weeks 5- 8! -----

Yoga on My Mind

Deep Breath. I've been practicing hot yoga off and on (more off, than on, really) for the last 3 years.  I can still remember the first time I came out of a class...I felt completely peaceful and at ease.  I was relaxed and energized at the same time.  My mind was clear, and my body was elated!

Due to daily commitments and pressures, yoga has come and gone in my life.  But thankfully, the results are always the same - inner peace and outer strength.

As of today, I have completed 3 days straight of my yoga practice.  To some, this probably doesn't sound like much, but that's the most consistency I've ever experience!  I feel so safe in the probably sounds cheesy, but I know that I'm there for myself and the only person I have to please is me.

Yesterday I met with Lisa Whitford, co-owner, studio director, and teacher of Moksha Yoga Calgary.  When I originally talked to her about spending time with the studio as part of my OWJ program, she was immediately interested.  Lisa has been teaching for about 8 years, and originally got into yoga because of some discomfort she was experiencing with her back.  Talking with Lisa is calming in and of itself.  She has a lot of insight into the whole crazy-yoga-trend, and hasn't let herself forget why she came to practice in the first place.

Personally - I'm kind of enjoying using the term 'practice.'  To me it means that yoga is always a work-in-progress - you're not some 'professional' yogi who never makes a mistake, you're growing and trying new things in order to get better at it.  I've never used the term before, but I love the way it applies.

One of the first points Lisa made about yoga, is that it's not just about the physical state of the postures.  She explained that there's a certain grace needed to physically transition through the postures, and that one of our goals should be to transfer that grace off of our yoga mat, and into our daily lives.

This makes so much sense. It takes concentration and guts to get into (and then hold?!) some of the positions yoga teaches.  If you can perform these postures without giving up, without complaining, and with a sense of determination - all the while being realistic and honest with yourself and your limitations - you have practiced with grace.

"It's not true until it's true for you." - Lisa Whitford, Moksha Yoga Calgary

When Lisa made this point, she was talking about yoga and the different variations and definitions it has grown into: Moksha, Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha, Anusara, etc., are all different forms of yoga practice.  But no matter what you call it, or what postures you assume, the purpose of these variations remains the same: to unite the body and the mind.

The term 'yoga' roughly translates as 'yoke' or 'union.'  The Yoga Journal notes that the purpose of yoga is to,

"...strengthen the body, to bring flexibility not only to the spine, but to the mind, and to calm the nervous system and quiet the mind enough to connect the practitioner more deeply to his or her spiritual center."

Lisa's original statement, however, really applies to the One Week Job Program: "It's not true until it's true for you."  Have you been forcing yourself into a career that you're not totally sure of?  Do you feel pressure to please others in regards to your job description, as opposed to yourself?  Have you been selling yourself short?  What it really comes down to, is that if you don't believe in what you're doing, why are you doing it?!

I've personally struggled with my own lack of direction, and in the end, you need to do what makes you happy.  It seems like an obvious point to make, but from my conversations with others - it's not always the case.

What's your yoga? What unites your body with your mind?  Is it running? Making music? Writing? Driving a combine?!  Whatever it is, embrace it!

I am absolutely embracing this week of yoga - and am really thinking that if I had the opportunity to do it full time, it would be an amazing experience.  I owe it to my body, and my mind could definitely use some conditioning as well...  Maybe there should be a OWJ devoted especially to learning about yourself through yoga...thoughts?!

Thanks for sharing this experience with me...

Namaste - the light in me, honours the light in you!

- Amanda

An Idea Worth Sharing

Happy New Year - I wish you all the best for 2010! "One Day" - Matisyahu

One Day sometimes I lay under the moon and thank God I'm breathing then I pray don't take me soon I am here for a reason sometimes in my tears I drown but I never let it get me down so when negativity surrounds I know some day it'll all turn around cause all my life I've been waiting for I've been praying for for the people to say that we don't wanna fight no more they'll be no more war and our children will play one day it's not about win or lose we all lose when they feed on the souls of the innocent blood drenched pavement keep on moving though the waters stay raging in this maze you can lose your way it might drive you crazy but don't let it faze you no way sometimes in my tears I drown but I never let it get me down so when negativity surrounds I know some day it'll all turn around cause all my life I've been waiting for I've been praying for for the people to say that we don't wanna fight no more they'll be no more war and our children will play one day one day this all will change treat people the same stop with the violence down with the hate one day we'll all be free and proud to be under the same sun singing songs of freedom like one day all my life I've been waiting for I've been praying for for the people to say that we don't wanna fight no more they'll be no more war and our children will play one day

You Matter

I just posted something from Seth Godin a couple days ago, but he's just that good. This was his latest post. Have a read and see why you matter. During my week as a Yoga Instructor in Week 7, I met Henri. I remember he said to me:

"When my students come into the class, it is my opportunity to impact the outer world through my inner studio. If I can change their mindsets, so that when they leave here, they are feeling calm and relaxed, that will alter how they experience the rest of their day and the other people they encounter. In doing so, I am creating a ripple effect far beyond I know the implications of."

Every day we have the power to impact those around us - a kind word, a genuine smile, an inspiring blog post - whether that impact is positive or negative is up to us to decide. The important thing to remember is that either way, our ripples will be felt.

A Revolution In Work Consciousness

CreativityThis comment was left by Izabella Tabarovsky, a career exploration and transition coach. I found it very interesting so thought that I would share. -----------

Hi Sean,

I can't tell you how much I'm inspired by your project and your message. Your statement in "My Generation" sounds like a manifesto I would sign a hundred times over! Really, wake up, people, realize that you were not supposed to waste your lives working in boring, soul-destroying jobs where you leave your spirit at home along with your values, passions, and creativity! There is more to life than that, and it is your responsibility to apply all the gifts you were given - not just the ones your company wants you to use for its own purposes.

This is a subject that really gets me going, because I've spent most of my life looking for that amazing feeling of connection in the work that I do - the feeling where work feels like play, where you can't wait to get up in the morning and get back to work, where you'd do what you're doing even if you weren't getting paid for it. I, too, tried out many different occupations and did a lot of soul-searching to discover who I was and what I had to contribute. Now, at 38, I finally have it, and I've made it my mission to help others find their true path.

One of my favorite authors, Marsha Sinetar, who wrote the bestselling career exploration classic "Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow," says: "Work needs to fit my personality just as shoes need to fit my feet, otherwise I'm destined for discomfort." And also: "Our right work is just as important to personality health and growth as the right nutrients are for our bodies."

I'd take it even further. In my view, our right work is an essential part of our spiritual growth. To search is more natural than not to search. It really is a part of being human. So to all of you who are still searching - don't give up! It's all part of the journey, pieces of the puzzle. One day they'll come together, and then you'll know that all was not in vain!

I've commented on your project on my blog for my readers, and I look forward to continuing to track your adventure. I really feel there is a quiet (or maybe not so quiet) revolution taking place in our society - a revolution in how we as a culture view work and our relationship with it. Your generation is definitely leading the way, and people who are older are beginning to wake up as well. As a career exploration and transition coach, I'm going to do all I can to help that along!

Izabella Tabarovsky

One Step Further ; Another Lesson Learned

My week of work with CADFEL (Centre d’accueil et de formation en langues), a language school here in Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, hasn't been all too exiting, but I did come to another realization which is great. It is something I had previously recognized, yet I really understood it today; I really enjoy the creative process and developing a vision for the future. I was speaking with the president about the french immersion programs they have, ones they are thinking about developing, his passion to share the french language and expose as many other Canadians as possible to the distinct Quebec culture.

We were discussing the direction of the program and generating ideas as to how we can cultivate our vision of its future. During this talk, I had a lot of energy as I was contributing my ideas and was passionate about the possibilities and where it would lead. Then, I was assigned to do some research on the computer in which I was lucky not to fall asleep on a few occasions.

I realize that I am going to need to be in a creative position, a visionary type role in which I am sharing my vision with others and seeing the potential of a certain idea or opportunity. I am not all that interested in the day to day (for more than a week that is), yet I love to look to the future and develop a plan as to what needs to be done in order to get there. And thus, one step further...

My first article in the Globe and Mail came out today, I am not able to pick up a copy as I am currently in rural Quebec, though I could tell that my mom was pretty proud in an email this morning, so I guess it turned out pretty well.

Next week I would like to head to Quebec city, yet do not have a job lined up as of today, so perhaps I might just go straight to Montreal. If you have any contacts or ideas for potential One Week Jobs in Quebec city, or if you live in Quebec city and just want to meet up, give me a shout!

If you haven't checked out the 'Pledge Your Passion' section on the site as of yet, give it a read and make your promise today:)

keep searching,


Finding Congruence In The Workplace

I am on a journey to discover the point at which my skills, aptitudes, personality, values, and passions come together to formulate a career in which I would be happy doing; a certain point of congruence. The interesting thing is that with One Week Job, I am in that situation presently... except for maybe the skills part! I am constantly in a new environment, continuing to challenge myself every day, learning new things week to week, meeting tonnes of great people, I am really passionate about my message, and I am helping others. 'One Week Job' the career? Well, not likely as the gig doesn't pay too well;)

I think one thing we must remember is to continually assess why we are doing what we are doing, and if indeed we are enjoying it. One of the quotes that is on my bedroom wall at home is, "It's not what you do or how much you do, rather it's how you do it and why you are doing it" I think that we can sometimes lose direction of what we initially set out to accomplish. As I recently received in an email, we must often ask ourself when presented with a new decision; 'Can I draw a reasonably straight line from where I am, to where I want to go?'

The reason I have been thinking of this lately is that after coming home to Vancouver for a friends wedding and having a week off, I have been able to take a moment away from the whirlwind ride that I was on. With all the media attention throughout Canada the project has received and with the interest of turning One Week Job into a show, I have been forced to stop and think in order to re-evaluate my reasons for setting out on such a journey. I do not want to make it something that it is not, in that I have it all figured out and know exactly where I am heading. The reality is that I have no idea where this is all going to lead and by pretending that I do as a host of a show would only be defeating the purpose of why I began One Week Job to begin with.

I think it would be beneficial if through video, people are able to experience the adventure with me; the uncertainty of not knowing where I will be the following week, how I am going to get there, being scared/excited when presented with a new and challenging situation, overwhelmed with the amount of work I have created for myself, seeing my ups and downs throughout, etc. yet staying true to the experience. In this way I think documenting the journey with a video camera would be quite beneficial in that it would be easier to bring people through the experience with me, allowing them to draw more from it and the lessons that I learn a long the way.

Okay, decision made, sorry for seemingly thinking out loud!

If there are some sponsors willing to get involved with this project to help out with equipment expenditures and to pay a small crew, an installment could be released each week in which a different company could sponsor it. It will then stay online with the companies logo who sponsored that weekly installment appearing at the beginning as well as a watermark in the corner throughout that episode.

I imagine it would look something like this, yet with interviews of my employers, my take on the particular job, what it takes to do this job, and what I am learning throughout the experience.

Let me know what you think, or if you have any other ideas!


Here's To Not Settling!

Do you remember Erin who I met while I was working in Alberta a few weeks ago? Well, she sent me a quick email that said: "Hey Sean! So I quit my job on Monday (finally!!!) at 11:45am and at like 2pm I got a call for an interview for this job I applied for April 10th, had the interview today and got it an hour later!!! So I'm starting my passion next Monday and never settling again thanks to you! Cheers."

Great to hear Erin, go for it!


PS - If you haven't yet, make your promise today.

Make Your Promise Today

Shortly after graduating from college, I made a promise to myself: I will not settle for a career that I am not truly passionate about, I will not allow yearning for weekends and the illustrious two week vacation a year to define my life, I will be in a positive work place situation and I will love what I am doing.

I made a promise for passion and I think you should make that same promise today.

What exactly will this particular situation look like and how am I going to get there? I am not too sure, yet I believe it is far more important that we first start by making this commitment to ourselves, taking the leap wherever it leads, and find the courage to persevere in the face of our fears, self-doubt and uncertainty.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." - Ambrose Redmoon

To me this "something" is our happiness, our well being, our choice, our life.

I think we would all agree that it is well worth it, yet many of us still choose to let this innate fear paralyze us and settle into comfortable, secure positions despite being unhappy in them. The encouraging thing is that every day is a new opportunity to change this.

Here is another one of those opportunities. Leave your name in the comments section below to make your promise today!

Inspiring Youth, Inspiring Me

Yesterday I accompanied Robert Manolson, a career development professional, to help facilitate a Communication/Leadership session for about 16 youth, aged 12-15 years. I spoke to them about my project, various things that I have learned throughout the experience, defining success with terms such as meaningful contribution, passion, courage, and how each new challenge we are presented with is just another opportunity to learn. Week Seven - Communication/Leadership FacilitationIt was awesome talking to kids about life skills that I feel are so important, and to hear them taking positive things away from the experience, made it so worthwhile. It is an important message and it will definitely be something that I will be doing in the future. One of the kids actually wanted my autograph afterwards which was really cute, so I signed my name a long with a reminder note: "Keep it real!"

Only one day left before I teach my first yoga class. There will also be a camera crew in as well just for some added pressure!


Sean's Yoga Marathon

I think I mentioned yesterday that by Friday I was probably going to be pretty sore. Well, it is now Wednesday morning and guess what? I am sore. Justifiably so though as I participated in four different sessions yesterday, five and a half hours of yoga in total! I am sitting in on as many classes as I can and will be co-teaching a class on the Friday. Am I nervous? Yeah, and that would explain the five and a half hours of yoga training I participated in yesterday. I had a teacher who would say, "if you are going to do something, might as well do it right!" This is also why it was necessary I visit Lulu Lemon on Whyte Ave in Edmonton who generously donated some clothing so I would at least look the part. Everyone working there is so nice and we had lots of fun picking out the outfit.

I am meeting great people each day and working with some amazing individuals (come and meet them!) who breath life into me when I am finding it difficult to stay on top of everything with the project. Seeing people excited about what I am doing, wanting to get involved and help out in some way is quite empowering and it continually reminds me of the unique opportunity I have to positively influence the lives of many.

If you are in the Edmonton area, be sure to drop by the studio and say hello!


Meet Henri Ferguson - Lifelong Learner

The first day of my crash course to becoming a Yoga Instructor went very well. I haven’t done much yoga practice in my time and was quickly reminded that it is quite challenging and that I am definitely going to be sore by the time Friday comes around. I wonder how many people arrive to work on the first day with a suitcase full of clothes, their computer, and day pack all in hand? Well that was me yesterday. Just another typical Monday morning; time to make the transition into a new working environment, new challenges, new co-workers, new housing arrangement, all over again.

Week Seven - Yoga Instructor 026I was asked recently what skills I find to be the most consistently necessary through my jobs so far. I think that I would have to say ‘Transitional Skills.’ More on that in a post later this week, yet first I want to tell you about an amazing talk I had with Henri Ferguson, an incredible man and Yoga Instructor at Lotus Soul Gym, the Yoga Studio in Edmonton, Alberta where I am working for Week Seven.

I arrived at the studio around 11:00am. A class had just finished with no other classes scheduled for the afternoon. Henri greeted me warmly right away and we ended up talking for over two hours. We discussed One Week Job and the learnings I am taking away from it, all the different careers he has had, how his life has led him to his current career at the age of 57 as a Yoga Instructor, and how we can positively contribute to the lives of many simply by helping one person.

One of his career decisions really stuck out for me. He owned a catering business and had built it to the point where after 7 years it was doing $1 million worth of business each year. But, he and his partner were burnt out and came to the realization that their happiness was more important than their material wealth. So, they sold the business. Henri moved to the Cayman Islands in his forties and became a scuba diving instructor. He said that when he looked down at his first pay cheque with an hourly wage of $5.85, he couldn’t have been more happier, and that he would have framed it… had he not needed the money.

He spoke of how we must have realistic perceptions as our perceptions manifest to become our beliefs which then in turn become our truths. In this manner we are continually setting our own barriers, our own limitations. When we can come to the realization that the only thing preventing us from achieving a certain outcome is ourself, we suddenly then become capable of anything and can glimpse our true potential.

It was great speaking with him and I am happy that he was willing to share his experiences, insights, and wisdom with me.

It was also quite empowering to see somebody with such diverse and rich life experience genuinely excited about what I am doing, about my future, and to hear him say, "Sean, you inspire me.. I can’t wait to see what you are doing in 20 years, because you are going to do some amazing things in your life."

It was truly touching and I suppose adds to the mounting responsibility I seem to be creating for myself. A responsibility that just might take me more than a 'One Week Job' to suffice.

If you are ever in Edmonton, I encourage you to drop by Lotus Soul Gym to take a class with Henri and meet him for yourself. Also, check out his poetry here.


Where Do All These Pieces Go?

Although we are only entering Week Six of One Week Job, I have already seen myself grow and develop in ways that I had never thought. Sean is developing professional skills! In launching One Week Job, it was my way of taking the leap into the working world, the “real world" so to speak. I think it proves to be a scary thought for many, it sure was for me, yet it is getting easier each week. It seems as if every single day I am putting myself in unfamiliar situations, continually out of my comfort zone and am presented with new challenges, more uncertainty.

I think a big thing preventing me from taking that initial leap was a fear of failure, self-doubt, and this inevitable uncertainty that comes a long with any situation which requires us to step out of our comfort zone. Yet seeing these changes in myself as a result, having only completed Week Five, is truly incredible and I suddenly find myself seeking out new challenges as I know that I will be all the better for it.

I am also realizing that my teachers were right when they said they were teaching us “life skills” and I am beginning to recognize how the skills that enabled me to be successful in previous areas of my life, namely school and sports, are in fact the same skills that provide the framework for us to be successful in the “real world.” How everything that we do in life, the various skills and aptitudes we have developed, our many diverse life experiences, the challenges we have overcome, all come together and help formulate our “career” or “life purpose.”

The implications of this for me are really quite exciting; anything becomes possible! The realization that we create our own reality, and that I too, like everyone else, has an innate value to offer the world.

By finding the courage to take the initial leap and continually pushing myself to discover my potential, I am beginning to recognize the pieces of a much larger puzzle.

Now it’s simply a matter of finding out just how all these pieces fit together!