I bought a quote-a-day calendar for my office and will share interesting sentiments as I find them. Here's one from Walt Disney:
"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles have strengthened me. . . You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world."
Anyone who loses a job unexpectedly or has a job offered pulled has been kicked in the teeth. I like this quotation from Disney because it reminds us that difficult experiences make us stronger and are often are best teachers. We don't think so just after the kick, but with time and perspective most setbacks do make us stronger.
A new jewelry store has opened near my office. Every day the store owner puts a sign in the window saying what she is thankful for that day. We need to do something similar with our careers, and there is no better time to do this than Thanksgiving. Take 10 or 15 minutes and write down everything you are grateful for as a professional. Even if you are unemployed, think about your strengths and be thankful for them. Psychologists have found that expressing gratitude helps us stay balanced and keep a positive outlook. My wish for you this Thanksgiving is that you find many reasons to be grateful, especially when it comes to work and your career.
A good friend’s son got unexpected bad news today. His division is being disbanded, and he’ll be out of a job in six weeks. When he called me, I worried about how he would be dealing with this misfortune. I would have been angry, maybe even self-pitying (poor, poor me).
My friend’s son was the exact opposite. While not happy, he was looking forward and even sounded excited about some jobs he had found online. He told me that he was ready to try to apply his skills in some new ways, which will give him even more opportunity to find a new job quickly.
This incident reminds me of one of my favorite lessons from Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, says that we cannot control our fate. What we can control is our attitude toward that fate. My friend’s son has managed to stay positive even in the face of bad news. That’s the best way to handle a layoff.
Are you happy at your job? If not, the problem might not be your job, but the way you are approaching it mentally. In a TED presentation, Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Thinking, Inc., explores how the “lens” we use to look at life affects our attitude and our performance.
Achor is a very funny, engaging presenter. However, his science is serious, especially for those people who are cheating themselves by focusing on negativity. Achor’s discipline is called “positive psychology,” which shouldn’t be confused with any kind of simple self-help program. It is a new and growing specialty in psychology that focuses on how our attitude can be readjusted through exercises that emphasize gratitude and helping others. Achor’s studies have found that a person with a positive outlook is 31% more productive at work. More importantly, positive people are focusing on what they have, not what they lack.
I strongly recommend this 12 minute video. It’s fun and insightful.
A store across from my office is closing. The building's owner wants to rent the space to a tenant who will pay a higher rent. Rather than simply post a sign announcing a closing sale, the store owners put up a sign that thanked the neighborhood for its support.
We need to keep this kind of positive thinking in mind as a tool for the job search. It’s easy to be discouraged while looking for work. Find different ways to be grateful. Think about the people who are trying to help you. Think about what has gone well in your job search. What if nothing has gone well? Be thankful that you still have the ability to keep looking for work.
Gratitude empowers us to move forward. It picks us up when we’re down. Find some way to let this force be an asset in your job search and your life.
“Every noble work is bound to face problems and obstacles. . . . Once a positive goal is chosen, you should decide to pursue it all the way to the end. Even if it is not realized, at least there will be no regret. “
As the new year approaches, many people think about changing jobs or careers. The thought of another years of doing the same thing motivates them to think about change. Sadly, too few act to make changes in their life. They know that there will be “problems and obstacles,” so they bow their heads and sink back into misery.
What’s the alternative? Focus on where you are and where you want to be. Make a plan, but keep it flexible enough so you can adapt to new realities. The most important thing to think about is your happiness. If your current job or career is not satisfying, what do you have to lose in making a change?
A realistic approach to career change will make you more likely to achieve your goal. The path will not be straight or easy, but with the right attitude and effort you can get to where you want to be as a professional. As the Dalai Lama says, to stay where you are not happy will not just bring you misery, it will add to it “regret.” Don’t cheat yourself. Make 2012 the year when you pursue the life you want to live.
“When our self-defeating attitudes, emotions, and conceptions cease, so will the harmful actions arising from them.” The Dalai Lama
The job search is always difficult, especially in the current market. When someone applies for work every week without getting interviews, despair sinks in. When good interviews don’t lead to an offer, it is easy to quit. The greatest challenge job seekers face is staying strong in the face of rejection.
How can we deal with this problem? Accept reality. You will hear no again and again. Employers will hint that they really like you, but they never call you back. Expect rejection and not hearing back. Your challenge is to keep doing things that will lead to a job: networking, filling out applications, and distributing resumes. Stay active and hold to a positive attitude.
Henry Ford put it best:
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
Find a way to “think you can.”
“We all dream of a kinder, happier world. But if we with to make it a reality, we have to ensure that compassion inspires all of our actions.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama
I read this quote today and immediately thought about my clients. People beat themselves up when they are unemployed. They feel sleights and insults that normally would not be a big deal. They worry and often fall into despair. These emotions are understandable given the current job market. What we need to do is to find a way to limit their impact.
Start with compassion for yourself. We are often more forgiving of others, more supportive of others, than we are to ourselves. In most cases, people have lost jobs through no fault of their own. Don’t blame yourself for something that is out of your control. If you were let go from a job because of something you did, take this circumstance for what it is. Learn from your mistake and move on. As the great writer and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, we cannot control the circumstances of our live, but we can control how we react to those circumstances. Work is a big part of our lives, but so are family, friends, and the other things that make us happy.
Invest in your happiness. This can be done for little or no cost. Go to a museum on a day when admission is free. Take a book out of the library (or download a classic from Project Gutenberg). Walk in the park and enjoy the big, beautiful world that we often forget about while we’re stuck in the office. Enjoy!
Two of my recent clients told a very similar story: They fell into their careers. Both were college grads who had no intention of going into sales. Guess where they ended up? Both men are now very happy and successful as sales professionals. Other clients I’ve worked with are not so lucky. They have fallen into jobs or careers that work against their natural talents or gifts.
How can we protect ourselves against the wrong kind of fall? Take control of your career, which means making choices. If you need a job for income, it makes sense to take any kind of work. However, it doesn’t make sense to do that work forever. Staying in a bad place (job, marriage, school) is a choice, and sadly it is a choice too many people make. They fall and stay on the ground.
Successful people know what they want to. They identify the skills and knowledge that employers need. Then they make a connection with the right kind of company. It’s not easy, but it’s better than falling and staying on the ground.
I was listening to the radio today and heard that the song “Roxanne” by the Police is now 32 years old. A few years ago Sting and his band made millions by singing their old hits. Earlier same day, I was surprised to hear a commercial promoting a tour by the Monkees, a group that is a generation older than the Police. The Rolling Stones tour almost every year. Bands that were stars now cover their own hits. Some still play in big stadiums and arenas. Others have moved to the smaller halls and theaters.
What’s the moral of story? Work changes. Few people do the same thing in their 40s, 50s, and 60s what they did in their 20s. The key to being successful is to adapt and to keep doing the kind of work that makes you happy. If you’re stuck in your current job, that’s a great starting point for change. Ask yourself these questions: What kind of activity or skills makes me happy? What kind of work doesn’t feel like work? Take a lesson from Mick Jagger. Keep singing and dancing.
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