For those of you just getting started on your career, or for those who may be in a transitionary period, you may be running up against the “catch-22″ of the job hunt. You know what I’m talking about, that annoying part of a job advertisement that says “entry level position,” followed directly by “three years of experience required.”
Here are a few tried-and-true ways to get the career ball rolling. Remember, the beginning of anyone’s career is often sluggish, so it’s imperative that you follow the Three P’s, and stay patient, persistent and positive.
1. Take Any Opportunity That Comes Your Way.
Even if it’s volunteer work or an unpaid internship, if it has anything to do with your field, say yes. You can’t afford to be too picky at first. Any experience looks great on a resume, but more importantly, any experience equips you with the confidence in yourself to meet your career goals.
2. Be Conscious of Your Personal Brand.
What are your strengths? Where do your interests lie? How do these apply to the field you’d like to break into? How will employers perceive you, and more importantly, how are you demonstrating your skills and strengths? These are questions that you must be able to answer in order to be a competitive prospective employee.
3. Network, network, network!
Do informational interviews. Follow up on leads. Keep your LinkedIn profile and your resume current. You never know if and when you’ll encounter the big breakthrough, so be ready at all times.
4. Don’t Be Discouraged.
Sometimes the market is just plain old tough tough, and that’s not your fault. All you can do is your best. Don’t let a bad economy make you feel like you’re not qualified. Staying proactive even in when jobs are scarce will show employers your resilience, which will help you land the job when the time comes.
5. Take Advantage of the Internet.
We live in a unique time: the information age. There are countless online resources at your disposal, including social media sites, job listings, blogs, and event notifications. Keep your eyes peeled and learn all you can.
We show our true colors when things don’t go as planned. It’s easy to be kind, confident and happy when everything goes our way, but not so much when we encounter that unavoidable road block.
If you have a pulse, you’re going to hit road blocks. So how do you prepare yourself to deal with failures and letdowns with grace and character?
1. Take a step back.
Think of all the times in your life when you thought it was the end of the world. How often did that turn out to be true? I’m guessing never, since the world is clearly still here. It’s easy to get trapped in doomsday thinking when you run into a real problem. The truth is, it’s almost never as bad as you think it is at that given moment. When you learn to reinforce this while you’re brain is in crisis mode, you’ll be able to take a step back and see the situation more clearly.
2. Don’t give up.
Your self-destructive voice in your head I like to call your saboteur will take every stumble as a chance to encourage you to throw in the towel. Don’t listen!
It takes thousands of hours of work to reach success and mastery, and nobody gets it the first time around. Be patient with yourself, and keep plugging away.
3. Reach out.
Letdowns, failures, and detours can be embarrassing. The last thing you may feel like doing is going to someone else for help and support. But just remember, there’s no shame in failure, only shame in not trying in the first place. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how happy your friends and family will be to get behind you. You need only be humble and honest about your situation.
4. Revise your plan of attack.
If you’re constantly failing at the same task or project, there’s a good chance you need to change your plan altogether. The definition of insanity, after all, is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Take hiccups as a chance to reassess your strategy. What’s not working? Why? How can you make it work? You may need to reign in your goals a bit, and this is okay. It’s better to make incremental steps forward than to have grand plans that you’re unable to reach.
Take comfort in the fact that setbacks are part of the process, and keep plugging away!
Tags: Career Coach, Career Coach Advice, Career Coaching, Dealing With Letdowns, How to Boost Self-Esteem, How to Change Your Life, Improving Leadership, Leadership, Lifelong Learning, Margaret Smith, Stuck at the Crossroads, UXL
I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of excitement we get when we decide, gosh darn it, that we’re going to go on a diet, or get in shape, or work our way to our dream job. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? It’s a relief to know you don’t have to settle for less.
But if you’re anything like me, you’re also pretty well acquainted with the feelings that begin to creep on in the following weeks. You begin to rationalize: “I’ve been doing so great with this diet, I’ll allow myself some ice cream as a reward.” Or how about this one: “Well, I’ve had no luck getting interviews so far, and the job I have now isn’t so bad, so I’ll just stop looking and keep on doing this.”
Then you look back on the excitement you had only a few weeks prior, that eagerness to make a positive change, and you become discouraged when you realize you haven’t really changed at all. That’s when you’re saboteur, that voice of constant self-doubt, takes over. “You were never going to make that change. You’re just a mediocre person. Leave the big goals for the big people.”
Lies, lies, lies!
If you’re serious about achieving your goals, you need to understand that it won’t come right away. It’ll take work. Merely getting excited after deciding to make a change is great, but it takes more to achieve your goals.
It Takes 14 Days To Break A Habit
Keep in mind that you are used to living a certain way. If you let yourself, you’ll easily slip back into your default lifestyle. Part of achieving a new goal means intentionally behaving differently everyday until the new behavior sticks.
With bad habits, like overeating, smoking, or too much drinking, expect a voice inside you to tempt you to “reward yourself” by falling back into the very patterns of behavior you’ve worked so hard to alter. Think about the absurdity of that notion: that’s like saying to someone who is learning how to walk again after an accident, “As a reward for doing all this agonizing work to regain use of your legs, how about you take a break and stay in the wheelchair indefinitely?”
You Won’t See Results Instantly
Doesn’t matter. You resolved to make a change, so take that seriously. Your saboteur will try to tell you that it’s pointless, that you just aren’t cut out for this. It’ll use every setback as a way to try to convince you to go back to your old ways.
This is because it’s scared of your progress. It likes complacency. Ignore the negative voice in your head and keep doing what you know you need to do.
There’s Virtue In Following Through On Your Goals
Even if you don’t see results right away, you should be proud of the fact that you’re living according to your own personal standards. You’re taking away all the ammunition the saboteur uses against you. Besides, you know going in that there will be setbacks. You know what your saboteur will try to tell you. You’re prepared. This is just part of the journey.
Making A Change Isn’t A One Time Decision. It’s A Daily Resolve
Because of this, be sure that your goals are realistic going in. Will you really be the next U.S. President? Probably not. Focus on things you know you can do, and take steps forward daily.
What are your goals? What’s holding you back? What is your game plan?
This winter has been brutal. Being cooped up for long periods of time can have terrible effects on our physical and mental health. So, I thought I’d share some ways you can fight the bitter cold and stay healthy and happy.
1. Get out of your house.
“But where, Margaret?” you ask. “It’s below zero out there!” When it’s dangerously cold, obviously it’s best to stay indoors. But now that it’s warming up (relatively), bundle up and go for a walk or a jog. Take the kids sledding. Find a nature trail near your where you live, or a park nearby.
And I don’t just mean go outside when I say get out of your house. I also mean go to new places, see friends and do things. We tend to shut down in the winter until one day, we look around and realize that we haven’t been to more than three places, our home included, in months. No wonder we’re so down!
2. Keep A Routine.
Piggybacking on point one, you’ll feel better when you have a set schedule. This includes a regular bedtime and wake-up time, regular meals, and a good mix of work and fun activities.
3. Replenish Your Sunlight Deficiency.
It takes a long, dark winter to truly appreciate how much our bodies rely on the sunlight. Without time spent in the sun, we don’t get the amount of vitamin D required for a healthy mind and body. Taking vitamin D tablets is a great way to counteract this. For those who suffer from seasonal affect disorder, sun lamps work wonders. Whatever it is, be sure to be aware of your exposure (or lack thereof) to sunlight and take the necessary steps to stay healthy.
I just watched this great TED talk and feel it’s definitely worth sharing.
Smiling is such a no-brainer that we often forget to appreciate its immense power.
Speaker Ron Gutman points out that smiling is a sign of longevity. Those who smile wide and often live longer.
But beyond being a sign of good health, smiling has the power to encourage, to unite, and to inspire. Smiling is contagious. A genuine smile transforms both the smiler and the people around him/her.
Don’t believe me? Take a day or two to really pay attention to your facial expressions. I promise that if you tend to frown, and make a point to smile instead, you’ll feel better. You’ll notice that those around you will respond more enthusiastically as well.
Try it out!
Further reading: An article in Psychology Today describing the science behind smiling.
Some of my best memories come from the trips I’ve taken. Whether I’m remembering cozy summers with the family on the ocean, or adventurous backpacking endeavors in college, all my travels have left me with nostalgic, warm feelings.
And that’s great. But it’s not the complete picture, is it? I’m sure if I really tried, I could remember all the things that were stressful, exhausting, and uncomfortable; in other words, the inevitable parts of traveling we like to ignore.
So while I love the memories traveling provides me, it’s meant to do much more than simply create fuzzy feelings.
Traveling recalibrates our expectations and assumptions about life. When we stay in one routine for long periods of time, tunnel vision takes over. Without even realizing it, we begin to assume that all life has to offer is what’s right in front of us in our particular circumstance. Traveling wipes this clean when we see all the differences, big and small, between places and cultures. There are many ways of doing life. Traveling both inspires us to try new things and forces us to investigate our own lifestyles.
Traveling gives us the chance to test ourselves. This might mean a physical challenge such as a long hike, a mental challenge like learning a new language or familiarizing yourself with cultural customs, or the general challenge of relinquishing your sense of control as you navigate your way through new spaces and experiences. A family friend told me that after spending time in Colombia, she no longer found herself worrying as much about the trivial stresses of everyday life, because her experience abroad proved she was capable of handling all sorts of challenges. This is the kind of personal growth traveling provides.
Traveling forces us to prioritize. You can’t fit every trinket and comfort you own in a suitcase. You have to instead focus on what you really need to make your travels special for you. You’ll take this mindset home with you. How can you simplify your life at home to optimize your priorities?
Traveling doesn’t have to be long and grandiose to be meaningful. Take a train ride through the country, spend a weekend biking or camping, or coordinate a roadtrip to historical sites in your area with friends and family. As long as it transports you to new experiences, your adventure can be almost anything.
One of my favorite parts of business is brainstorming. I love getting all my people in a room together and letting them unleash their ideas and opinions. The energy level in these types of meetings is usually sky high, as laughter and enthusiasm for upcoming projects abound.
I’ve had a lot of experience conducting successful brainstorm sessions, but there was a time when I wondered whether these types of meetings were useful. After all, how often do they result in off topic digressions, scattered tidbits and unorganized, unfocused planning? A bit too much, if truth be told.
I had to learn that as the person guiding the brainstorming, it was my responsibility to keep the ideas pushing forward toward the end objective. To do that, I developed a few techniques:
1. First and foremost, keep the atmosphere light and low-pressure. Your team is with you for a reason. You trust their ability and their input. However, there are always those of us who are less eager to speak up. To get the ball rolling, make it clear that the brainstorm is a safe place to get creative without fear of judgement.
2. Lay out the objectives of the meeting beforehand. Giving your team time to think things through on their own before the meeting will help keep them focused and realistic. While improvisation and wild ideas are part of the fun of any brainstorm session, specifying clear objectives up front will enhance the meeting’s productivity.
3. Provide a visual map of the meeting as you go. I like using big sheets of paper and a box of colored markers. Friends of mine swear by a good old white board, while still others have gone digital and taken notes with a laptop and a projector. It doesn’t matter what medium you use, but I highly recommend guiding the meeting visually to keep the team from being bored, confused or disengaged.
4. Ask specific questions of each of your team members. Show them that they are valued by tailoring questions to their skill sets and asking their opinions.
5. delegate the work once a solution is reached, and email the notes you took for the team to go back to for reference.
Good luck, and have fun!