Confusing Activity With Action

Are you confusing “busywork” with progress?

Are you spending a lot of time researching jobs online and applying for lots of positions?

While it’s recommended that you spend at least an hour a day on your job search if you are currently employed (and two to three times that if you are currently unemployed), make sure you are tracking how much time you are spending, and what you are spending it on.

Spend your time on high value tasks — like identifying and researching companies you’d like to work for, and trying to connect directly with hiring managers and recruiters, and having coffee with someone who works for the company you’re applying at — and not just simply spending time in front of your computer.

The Myth of the Big Break

How many times have we seen a story about a successful person who talks about the big break they got that sent them on their way to fame and fortune? Too many times.

Why too many? Because the big break is largely a myth.

For every person who got that lucky break, there are a thousand others who worked hard, day-by-day, project-by-project, and built their own path to success.

If you’re looking for your next job or career this is especially important. Don’t wait for that perfect job to land in your lap.

Work for it.

Network, volunteer, intern, do pro bono work. Build your next career by putting in the work day-by-day. If you stop waiting for your big break you just may find yourself creating one.

Back-to-School Season as Career Motivation

As a teacher-by-day, job-search-strategist-by-night, I have always felt like September is the start of the year. Sort of a New Year’s II. It is a time for new beginnings, new goals and new challenges. So let’s use that momentum to jump start career goals as well. Let’s take some new risks.

For many of us January 1st feels more like Groundhog Day. I am going to go the gym 3 times a week, stop drinking soda, cut out ice cream and get in shape. Then, I am going to get serious about growing my career. I will start utilizing LinkedIn and grow my network, create an amazing portfolio, become an innovator at work and apply for that promotion.

Once and for all.

For real this time.

I mean it.

Well, at least until Spring, and it gets warm outside.

But less than half of us make it six months with our deja vu resolutions, meaning we’ll probably be making them again, next year.

Is there a way off the merry-go-round? Sure, but it will cost you.

Want to really lose weight? Want to finally change your career? Want to start out on your own?

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

So let’s make New Year’s II better than regular old, merry-go-round New Year’s. Whether it is getting off the diet/workout merry-go-round, becoming an innovator in our job or daring to dream of a better career goal, let’s take risks, be bold, do something we have never done before and reap the results, whatever may come.

Instead of making a New Year’s II resolution, decide on a New Year’s II risk. What big, scary step could you take this year that could lead to something great, but could leave you flat on your face?  Chances are, that is the change you really need to make.

A great way to do this is to involve some friends and put both pride and money on the line.

Instead of joining a gym, . Get some friends together and each put some money in the pot. Winner takes all by next September.

Instead of daydreaming of that promotion, get an accountability partner and sign up for a class to learn a new skill. Make yourself indispensable at your company. (And of course you’ll want to update your resume to include your new skill).

After all, Einstein said it best, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It is time to change. It is time to take a chance and risk something amazing. What better time than now.

Don’t Let Anger Beat You

“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.” ~ Plato

If you turn on the news lately it is easy to justify your rising blood pressure. And if you couple that with searching for the elusive next job or career then some righteous anger seems all the more acceptable.

But here’s the thing- it’s really not.  Anger is one of the most destructive emotions and it rarely leads us to anywhere positive.  According to Dr. Bernard Golden, author of the book, Overcoming Destructive Anger, anger is basically fool’s gold.  “[A]nger can give you a cortisol rush that makes you feel alive and energized. It can also help you avoid taking responsibility for your own decisions, since anger is a way of blaming others for your suffering. Plus, anger can temporarily give you what you want: It can distract you from pain…”

So what do we do about it? If what we are angry about is something we have control over then we have to try to fix it. If it is out of our control then getting upset is really just counter productive. We need stop being mad and start getting busy on the next task at hand.

For instance,  say you sent your resume and contact info to dozens of recruiters and heard nothing. What is in your control? Redesigning you resume so that it is a fit both for ATS and human readers, as well as networking with recruiters on LinkedIn. What is not in your control? Whether or not recruiters message you back. Do your best, dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. Then, don’t get mad, just move on to the next group of targets.

Believe me, I am not saying this is easy, and I am as guilty as the next person in letting situations completely frustrate me. However, it helps to take a step back and look at things objectively. Don’t let your anger at the situation beat you.

Be Who You Want Others To Be

“The sort of words a man says is the sort he hears in return.” ― Homer, The Iliad

Be honest. How many times a day to you complain about a coworker either out-loud or simply to yourself? If you need both hands to count on you’re probably pretty average.

Our boss doesn’t listen.

The client is not reasonable.

Our team-mate isn’t pulling her weight.

Now, how often do you ask the same questions of yourself?

Am I always listening?

Am I always reasonable?

Am I pulling my weight?

Be the person you want others to be first.

Stop Complaining At Work

“When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it…What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them.  It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.” ~ Epictetus

We have all done it. Sat in the break-room whining about the latest round of productivity or accountability goals passed down from those on high. Or maybe you are in management and you wish those under you could just see the big picture and stop worrying about their individual fiefdoms. No one demographic holds the patent on complaining.

Letting off some steam now and then is OK and can even be healthy – in moderation. But when your job feels like one big gripe session it may be time to make some changes.

Of course we’d love to be able to eliminate those things about our jobs that drive us crazy, but often that isn’t a possibility. So we must deal with what is in our control – our response to things.

This doesn’t mean we should put up with legitimately poor, or abusive, working conditions. Rather, we should stop and recognize those things that we can change, and those things we should just accept and get on with our day.

Believe me, I realize this is easier said than done, so here are a few concrete tips to help.

Take a leave of absence– No, you can’t go on sabbatical, but you can remove yourself from a poisonous situation. If the break-room turns into the “gripe-room” just step out of it.

Have a gratitude attitude– The next time you feel the urge to whine, remember all the things you should be grateful for. No matter how bad your job may be there are over 10,000,000 without one.

Be a problem solver- If there is a bad situation at your job, do what you can to fix things. Focus on what can be done.

So take a deep breath and remember that the calmer we become, the greater our influence and success will be. After all, the best way to take out your frustrations over the annoying aspects of your job is to succeed in spite of them.