Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

Tara Sophia Mohr, Playing Big. Find Your VOICE, Your MISSION, and Your MESSAGE.

Taking Time Off to Figure Out What’s Next

While I’m caring for my new baby, I’m sharing some favorite posts from the past few years. This is one of them – enjoy!   ~ Tara

Taking time off

A few years ago on my book tour, I met a woman named Lisa. After twenty years doing something that she felt was “just a job,” she’d taken a few months off from working, hoping to find her passion and figure out what kind of work she really wanted to do.

At the end of the four months, she didn’t have answers. She had even more problems, including the loss of much of her savings which she’d spent down during that time, more confusion about her next steps, and now having feelings of regret and failure about her time off.

This is pretty much what has happened to everyone I know who has taken time off to “figure out” what they want to do next, including myself. No one I have known has ever figured it out during long stretches of downtime.

Instead, during that downtime, we tend to get more confused, overwhelmed, and isolated. We end up spending way too much time in pajamas, and with reality tv and almond butter.

I’ve come to believe we don’t really ever need full days to sit around and “figure out” our next big career steps.

Instead we need a recipe of elements including:

1. Courage to be honest with ourselves about the ideas and inclinations we already have and probably have had for a long time.

2. Some daily practices for dealing with the fear and self-doubt that come up in times of transition.

3. A little time for reflection and research (but as the side dish, not the main course).

4. Support to take action from people outside our usual friends and family circle (peers on the same journey, a supportive group, a coach or a therapist).

5. Lots of opportunities to do small experiments with different possible directions, and to therefore learn by doing.

The Inner Mentor, Inner Critic, and Leaping chapters of Playing Big can help with many of the things above. And there are so many wonderful resources for finding support from others, whether a Playing Big course or another kind of circle or coaching relationship.

If you are looking to figure out your next chapter, don’t expect to go it alone or figure it out by yourself. See how you are doing with the items on this list, and fill in the gaps.



Being on the Transition Team

While I’m caring for my new baby, I’m sharing some favorite posts from the past few years. This is one of them – enjoy!   ~ Tara

Transition team

Recently I wrote to all of you:

If the angels could have sat you down for a chat when you were on the way in to this life (among some other comments about love, fear, and your glory), they might have said this:

Now, my dear, a little context: you are entering into a transitional time.
The past: A world led, designed and defined by men.
The future: A world led, designed and defined by women and men.
The present: The transition. Yes, we’ve put you on the transition team.

I’ve been captivated by this notion of all of us being on the transition team.

Imagine you were hired into a company to job x – let’s say to manage the marketing team. You notice that the old way of doing things at the company doesn’t work so great. In small pockets of the business, you see a new way of doing things emerging – a way that makes a lot more sense. You keep hearing side conversation where people are talking about the business in such a wiser, healthier way than what you hear in the mainstream conversations.

But none of this is so relevant to you: your job is just to be the marketing manager.

But if you had been hired for a different kind of role? What if you’d been told, yes, your job is to manage the marketing team, but also, to be a key player on the transition team, as the company moves from the old way to the new way?

If you knew that, you’d do everything differently.

You’d communicate and coordinate with other people on the transition team.

You’d look for opportunities for everyone to taste the new way.

You’d look for opportunities for people to feel how the old way was limiting them.

You’d expect resistance from those invested in the old way, and you’d accept it as a part of the process.

On an emotional level, your experience of the two jobs would be very different. In the first scenario, you’d probably be exasperated by the push-pull between the old way and the new way. You might experience it as a kind of whiplash. But if you knew you were on the transition team, you’d see that push-pull between old and new ways as an evolutionary stage of a process that was leading somewhere. You’d breathe, smile, and keep going.

So, today I invite you to walk through your work, whatever it is, in some new shoes. Step into the idea that you are on the transition team, here to help forge the path from a world led, defined, and designed by men to a world led, defined and designed by women and men. It’s part of your role to help women’s authentic voices, women’s wisdom, women’s ways of working, become a guiding force in your corner of the world.

Or course, a major cultural transformation is different than an organizational change. The transition we are really speaking about will be less organized than an organizational change would be. It will be more distributed, more bottoms-up, and made up of thousands of strategies, not a centrally developed one. But the metaphor of a “transition team” inside an organization can help us imagine our work and our roles in this more oceanic transition.

If you step into that role as being on the transition team, how do the challenges you face at work and life look differently?

How do the things that drive you crazy feel different?

How does your role change?

How does your engagement in your work and life change?




P.S. If you are thinking of joining us for a course or training program this year, be sure to check out our recent post about what’s coming up in 2017 HERE, so you can plan ahead and sign up to get early information on programs you are interested in.

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Ridiculous. Naive. Who Does She Think She Is?

While I’m caring for my new baby, I’m sharing some favorite posts from the past few years. This is one of them – enjoy!   ~ Tara


Ridiculous. Naive. Who does she think she is?

A few years ago, while I was getting prepared for a speaking event, I found out that someone quite famous (famous in the women’s leadership world, anyway) would be attending, sitting in the room for my talk.

Let’s call that person Judith, for the sake of this post.

Here’s what I knew about Judith: she’s super smart, she’s well-known and well-connected, and she and I disagree about a LOT of things in the women’s empowerment conversation.

My inner critic took all that in and started feeling really worried about what she’d think of my talk. I started feeling unprepared, less than, not my normal self.

During the speech, from time to time, I’d get so distracted by thinking about her presence, that I’d fall out of flow and stand outside my words, listening to them and imagining how they might sound to her.

And of course, in my mind the answer to that was always that they sounded incoherent, irrational, mundane to her.

After I finished, I went over to one of the hosts of the event and said I’d love to meet Judith. After all, despite all my worries, I did also have a lot of respect for her, and wanted to say hello.

“Oh,” they casually said, “she couldn’t make it. Her child got sick and she needed to stay at home.”

It was the oddest moment.

All that worry, for nothing. I had been steeped in my fears about what she would think of the talk. I had imagined her presence in the room as I was speaking – and her judgments, her criticism, even her scoffing at some of what I had said.

But she was not in the room.

All that imagining was simply that: imagining.

I immediately thought: Ok life, I get the joke. I get the metaphor.

This was such a great metaphor for what I often do. Special guest or not, when I’m writing something particularly vulnerable or risky, or when I’m giving a talk to a group that intimidates me, I often find my mind imagining and projecting the most critical, skeptical, even mean view on my work. I imagine Judiths, people like Judith I’ve never met. I imagine some figure saying my worst fears: “That’s ridiculous, Tara. That’s naive. Who do you think you are?”

I know I’m not alone in this. Women have been trained into fearing that critic – that individual or collective critic raging or scoffing at what we have to say.

And the truth is, those imagined voices and judges are almost never really in the room in the way that we imagine them to be. They were more present for our great great grandmothers than they are for us.

And when they are still there for us, we can find an internal resourcefulness to handle it. We really can.

What I’ve learned is that sure, there will be a range of responses to my work, but most of the time, the external criticism I encounter is so easy-peasy compared to what I fear, so deal-with-able, so simply “it is what it is” – nothing like the big boogie-man my own fears make it out to be.

If you’re not doing something because you imagine the harsh criticism that could come your way, or if your joy and full expression is diminished because like me, you hold in your head what the skeptic would be saying about your work, ask yourself: how would I behave if I knew that voice was really, truly not in the room?

And then do that.



P.S. If you are thinking of joining us for a course or training program this year, be sure to check out our recent post about what’s coming up in 2017 HERE so you can plan ahead and sign up to get early information on programs you’re interested in.

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Want Clarity on Your Purpose?

While I’m caring for my new baby, I’m sharing some favorite posts from the past few years. This is one of them – enjoy!   ~ Tara


Want Clarity On Your Purpose?

You can listen to this post in audio, too. Click the player to download an mp3 file, or you can read below …


Doing the work I do, I’m often in conversation with people about this question: What is my purpose?

My answer, my conviction, is this: we all have the same life purpose.

We have it by dint of being born on earth.

Our purpose is to create more love and light on this planet that is a dense and tangled mix of light and dark, love and fear.
Our purpose is to repair what is broken, to heal what is wounded here.
Our purpose is to make this place a little more worthy of the souls that inhabit it.

There are as many ways to do that as there are moments, and we don’t have to find our one big way, or our right way, before we start living that purpose.

We can each live that purpose in whatever job we are doing today, whatever circumstances we are in today.

I’ve written about this idea before here. But today I want to delve into one aspect of it, one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: how that purpose is our shortcut to joy.

Watching my son play when he was around 9 months old pretty much debunked for me the contemporary California-y spiritual notion that we should be able to be perfectly content in the stillness, in the emptiness, just witnessing our breath.

I watched him – always reaching for the next object, in love with novelty and stimulation of all forms. I watched him work intently on challenges that he devises – how to get the shoe in the basket, how to clank the two cups together, how to pull the lid off the container. In him, I see so clearly how much we are wired to problem-solve, to work with purpose, with a goal. When he fell into focus intently working on one of those problems, with none of the squeals or screeches that come with boredom, I saw in him the part of all of us that is so content when we are absorbed in a puzzle, a project, a problem.

What I want to suggest to you today is that there is one grand puzzle that we are all here to solve and that is always available for our devotion. When we become devoted to it, we have found our shortcut to joy.

It is the problem of how to light a candle in the darkness.
It is the puzzle of how to let kindness flow forth where harshness is present.
It is the question of how to let love rule.
It is the challenge of being a ray of light in the world, discovering what that means in its every application.

The remarkable thing is that life absolutely fills our days with opportunities to work on this problem, if we move through the day with the mindset that it is our job to see those opportunities and to step up to the plate to meet them.

When you make this deep and big work your purpose, you receive clarity and contented absorption and fascinating daily adventures in return. And, you have your shortcut to joy.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.



P.S. If you are thinking of joining us for a course or training program in the coming year, be sure to check out our recent post about what’s coming up in 2017 HERE, so you can plan ahead and sign up to get early information on programs you are interested in.

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Reminder: Calling All Women in Academia!


If you are a woman working in academia (or have some dear friends or family members who are), this note is for you.

Over the past few years, my team and I have been watching something quite notable happening in our work: tremendous adoption of the Playing Big model among women professors, academic advisors, and university staff and administrators.

These women have shared with us how the Playing Big model has helped them:

   • find their own authentic voice and path in their scholarship
   • take on new leadership roles at their institutions
   • mentor and advise in a much more effective way
   • thrive within what can be the very tough culture of academia
   • navigate decisions about pursing work outside of academia

… and much more!

I’m so thrilled about this. It’s personal for me: my own experiences with higher education gave me tremendous gifts, developing my mind, my knowledge, and my community. But my experiences in higher education also showed me the many ways our university cultures are often still male-dominated, and not at all what they could be as places that truly include women’s voices and ideas.

With all of this in mind, we have created some special offerings for women in academia for 2017 and beyond.

If you work in academia or higher education and are interested in learning more about our Playing Big professional development programs and our special cohort for women in academia, sign up HERE to learn more.

We’ll share program details with you as well as supporting materials you can share with your institution if you’d like to explore having your participation funded by them.

To learn more, sign up for our special Women in Academia Interest list HERE.



Tara & team