If You Want Success In 2020…


When new year’s eve rolls around this year – and right now it’s so far off it’s likely not even remotely on your mind – you’ll be looking back at 2020 with either general regret or satisfaction. The difference between the two perspectives will come down to the decisions you made in this year; those decisions good and beneficial or poor and harmful to yourself.

So what’s going to guide you in your decision-making so that you make more good decisions than bad? Too many people base their decisions on what seems right at the time. What they want in the moment that would seem best. String together all these little decisions that felt right at the time and you end up having made all your decisions with very little thought to any long-term goal. As a result, the benefits to yourself are short-lived. For example, when you crave something that will satisfy your sweet tooth, you can eat a chocolate bar and enjoy it. However, when pull to eat it is gone, you may be left feeling guilty and disappointed in yourself because you were trying to avoid eating treats. What you decided on in the moment to feel good proved to be a poor decision and counter productive.

So how can you make better decisions this year; decisions which in the end you’ll feel really good about having made in 2020? The answer is to first establish what you’d like to achieve for yourself and second ensure that reaching that goal will bring you a measure of happiness and satisfaction. When you reach your goal, you will feel successful; that you’ve brought about this success by making good decisions which continuously moved you forward to the point you stand now – having reached that goal.

Now be careful and give yourself the best chance at success. If you say your goal is to have a job or lose weight, it likely won’t happen that you achieve your sense of fulfillment. Why? Well, those two goals – as positive as they sound – are too vague. What kind of job is going to make you feel you’ve achieved success? How many pounds would you like to lose to feel you’ve achieved success? A quantitative number is required to put some specific objective in your goal. When you say your goal is to lose 25 pounds or to have a full-time job and name the one you’re after, you increase you’re chances of success having something specific to work towards.

Now write it down and store it somewhere where you will notice it frequently as a constant reminder of your long-term objective. That’s great, but alone this isn’t enough. If this is all you do, you’ll feel guilt and poor self-esteem every time you see it as all it will be is a reminder of how you’re failing to move forward. This is why in January and February you might notice people stick up goals to lose weight on the fridge and pantries, but those signs / pictures come down in March because they’ve come to resent seeing these every time they reached for something they wanted to eat.

With a specific goal in mind though, you’re on the right path. Your next move is to make another good decision, and by good, I mean to make a decision that is in line with your long-term goal. It’s time to break down your long term goal into manageable things you can do – call them smaller goals if you will, or steps. For example, if losing 25 pounds is your year goal, maybe you decide to avoid buying treats when you’re out shopping. After all, if they aren’t in the house when you feel tempted, you can’t eat what you don’t have. So make a shopping list and stick to it, avoiding the candy or snack aisle intentionally to avoid temptation. Do it once and you feel good – a small victory. Do it a second and third time, you feel you’re making progress – and you are as you set a new pattern of behaviour.

And your goal to find full-time work? Get in a new routine. Dedicate a block of time – say a couple of hours a day – and do it in a dedicated space where you’ll be productive. Job searching from your lazy boy or the couch if you’d rather watch television is not setting yourself up for success. Maybe you head to the local library or an employment centre for two hours a day, three days a week. Maybe you just sit at the kitchen table. And perhaps you decide to actually do what you’ve only pondered for the last two years, actually reach out and speak to a professional; one in the job search business.

Plans are good at helping you stay on track so you move continuously towards your goal. Plans however require one other thing – actions. The best plans don’t mean a thing if they aren’t executed and put into action. And actions alone aren’t good if there’s no plan – that’s just a lot of energy and confusion.

So if you want to be successful and look back at 2020 with satisfaction, set yourself a realistic, attainable goal and make it specific. Develop a plan of action and set smaller goals which will all move you forward. You’ll feel good as you make small decisions and a series of small but good decisions sets you up for success.

Finding Happiness In Your Work


Yesterday someone said, “You really love your job don’t you.” (It was more of a statement than a question, so that’s why there’s no question mark at the end of that opening sentence.)

I immediately answered in the affirmative, but then within two seconds, I said, “Actually, what I love is the people I meet while doing my job.” I think I stand by that answer.

Pausing to look back at the many jobs and careers I’ve had over my lifetime, the one thing that’s made each one a pleasure or not has been the people. In this case, both the people I’ve worked with and the people I’ve met in the course of the work I performed. You learn to appreciate many things over a lifetime, and some of the things you learn replace or change things you believed years earlier. However, one thing I learned early that’s never changed is that for me personally, I’ve always made it a goal to surround myself with good people.

Good people make your days more enjoyable. Sometimes they roll up their sleeves and help you complete your work, they contribute ideas and tell you you’re a good person to work with yourself. Good people are positive, go about their own work with enthusiasm and contribute to the energy of the space you work in. As for the people that you come into contact with such as clients or customers, these too can make your hours more pleasurable. When you provide them with a great product or service, your interaction with them will by association be that much better. Deliver sub-standard services or goods and you’ll likely deal with dissatisfied people and you’ll feel less positivity from the experience of interacting with them. This it seems, is just logical to me.

And so it is that I’ve come to realize – for me personally – that the more I invest myself in the success of others, the better my own days go. This might be the recipe of success for you too, but not necessarily because we’re all unique and we have differing values, likes and needs. But for me, the more I extend myself and put in the work to make people’s interactions with me better, the greater the odds are of me having a good feeling walking away. And I do want to feel good.

I share this glimpse into my outlook because I often get asked about my apparent and obvious happiness doing my job. Many of those I work for tell me that they wish they could find work that would make them as happy as I am, and they’d like to feel as good about what it is they’ll do. Now let’s be honest. My days aren’t all roses. There’s a lot of running around getting things organized, planning in advance, recruiting participants, updating electronic files, documenting other’s experiences. There’s refreshments to prepare, rooms to set up, handouts to print and all of these take precious time; time that I always want more of to prepare. There’s interruptions, people to cover for, unexpected and yes, sometimes unwelcomed mandatory training that comes at the worst times … sure there’s all that.

It’s all worth it. Why? Because it brings me in contact with some of the best people I’ve ever had the good fortune to know; each one of them makes me better for who I am. For this, I am extremely grateful.

So, are you looking for work that will bring you a large measure of happiness and satisfaction on a regular basis? Most people are – unless of course they’ve already achieved that goal. There are some of course who don’t believe they care at all about job satisfaction. As long as money is deposited into their accounts, they’ll continue to work and don’t really care much about ‘happiness’ in the work they do.

Those people aside, if you truly want to leave for home feeling good about what you’ve just done for 7 or 8 hours, you have to know what it is that will bring you that happiness. My job entails leading workshops, making resumes, sharing interview tips and the career planning process. But – and it’s a huge but – it’s the people who participate in these presentations that have always and will continue to inspire me; bring me happiness. Having determined this, I am rewarded each day when I interact with them.

When people express their thanks and appreciation for something I’ve said or done, it makes me feel good to have been of help. When that happens several times throughout a day, the day is measured by me to have been successful. Not all days are fabulous of course, but most are.

So what would make you feel good? Do you want to feel appreciated and valued for what you’ve contributed? Is it your employer or the customers of that employer, (perhaps both?) that you would like acknowledgement from for your service? Is it a safe, caring work environment you’re after? What is it you want?

When you identify what it is that you want from the work you’ll perform, it makes it easier to focus your energy and time finding jobs and occupations that will bring you what you want.

My hope for you is that you find work that brings you happiness and fulfillment too. That your days find you surrounded by good people too.

Unemployed And Feeling Bitter?


Bitterness is a personal characteristic which most people don’t find attractive in others. It’s evident in the sneer or scowl, a smirk, the tight lips set in a smile of sarcasm. Bitterness is also one of the least desired qualities for anyone in the position of choosing applicants to extend job offers to.

While you’ve every right to feel what you feel, it’s equally true that employer’s have the right to choose the applicants they feel will add rather than detract from the chemistry and culture they wish to establish and maintain in the workplace. It’s hard to imagine any organization going out of their way to hire bitter people. Would you agree?

So yes, while I acknowledge your entitlement to feel bitter if you so choose about what’s happened in your past, it seems only logical to me that if you want to impress someone enough to have them welcome you onboard, you’d best either lose the bitterness or at the very least, conceal it.

Now if I were working closely with you and found you gave off this air of bitterness, I’d point it out. Further, I’d share with you what exactly it is you’re doing that I’m observing and interpreting as signs of bitterness. For only if you’re aware of this and you’ve some awareness of what it is that sends this message to others have you the chance to do something about it if you choose to do so. This is an important thing for anyone who works with a job seeker to do. So if you should enlist the services of a professional to help you out with your job search, let me suggest you extend permission so you’ll get honest feedback. What you do with that feedback is up to you, but allowing them to share has to be on the table.

Honestly, there are some professionals who are loathe to be entirely honest with the people they work with. It’s fine of course when there’s positives to comment on, but when there’s something unattractive and personal, not everyone is comfortable sharing their observation. This becomes what people call the elephant in the room; whatever it is, well it’s big enough everyone can see it but no one wants to acknowledge and talk about it. This can be out of a fear of confrontation, fearing an argument. It can be for fear of hurting the person’s feelings, not wanting to make them feel worse than they already do.

Here’s the thing though; whatever it is – in this case observable bitterness – it’s plainly visible, it’s a job search barrier, and until it gets addressed, it remains an obstacle to getting hired.

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘one bad apple can spoil the bunch’? This nicely sums up exactly why employer’s are fairly united in steering clear of bringing any new employee into their workforce who carries overt bitterness with them. Why would they want to introduce this person with a chip on their shoulder to a group of positive and productive employees? The fear that this one person might taint one or more (maybe everyone?) is too great to risk. The chance that the whole positive group might turn this bitter person around isn’t worth it. So it is that virtually all employer’s would rather settle on the person who will come in with a positive attitude, as demonstrated by the smile on their face.

Consider however this likely truth: You’re bitter because you’re getting nowhere with your job search; no calls, no interviews – well there was that one – but it went nowhere. It’s been some time and you’re disillusioned. Your optimism departed long ago and now you’re expecting the rejection that ultimately comes. With this belief, your body language and facial expressions reflect this prevailing mood. When you meet potential employer’s, it takes a lot of energy and mental focus to keep your predetermined presumption of failure to yourself. Over the course of a 30 – 60 minute interview, while your thoughts move from question to question and coming up with answers, your focus on concealing what has become your natural bitterness slips once – maybe twice. Those visual clues are likely to get picked up and send off warning signals to the interviewer. “Something isn’t right with this applicant…intuition…the experience of having interviewed many in the past…there’s just this something I caught briefly in a look…”

While you haven’t had any previous dealings with the person interviewing you now, your pent up bitterness from past experiences is nonetheless coming out and on display. The interviewer works under one assumption every time; this is you at your best. Well, if you’re at your best and your bitterness is on display, they can only imagine what it will be like when you’re hired and working there as your, ‘normal self’. It’s likely to be magnified and worse.

If you don’t care of course and want to showcase your bitterness that’s your call. Be prepared for a lot of rejection and as a consequence you’ll have many more reasons to justify your bitterness. Entirely your call. But that’s the thing isn’t it? It’s within your control, you’re the one in charge of how you feel and you’re the one – the only one I’ll add – with the power to change how you feel and how you come across – if you so choose.

It might make you feel better to blame others but ongoing bitterness is a choice you make.

“How Do You Always Stay Positive?”


8 people sat before me yesterday, only 1 of whom I’d met before. It was our first of a 7 day journey, embarking together on bettering knowing ourselves and then looking at the possible occupations that we might pursue. I include myself in that phrase, for although I am employed, I too will confirm what I know already and discover new things about myself as I facilitate this workshop.

It’s my practice to ask each person their name, why they are present and what they hope to get out of the experience. This is an excellent check for me to ensure we’re on the same page. It’s great confirmation for each participant, knowing they won’t be disappointed on our final day because if there is something they are expecting beyond my own objectives, I have time to build it in.

After hearing from them, I typically tell them about myself. Why not? I mean I’m a part of the group too. I know I always wonder about the backgrounds of  facilitators when I attend their presentations. However, yesterday I went about it differently. Rather than give them my career path, I opted to give each person an opportunity to ask me one question, which I promised to answer as best I could. This way I reckoned, each person would get at something they wanted to know, and I’d get an early glimpse of their thought process.

I was pleasantly surprised with one gentleman’s question. We’d only been together for about 20 minutes when he asked, “How do you always stay so positive? You have a lot of energy and I believe you are always positive.” I was surprised because as I say, he’d only met me 20 minutes earlier and had already picked up on my positivity. Here is the power of the first impression and I was understandably happy he’d picked up on both my energy and positivity.

I gave him a spontaneous answer; “I choose to be.” I went on to tell him and the group listening in, that we make choices not just each day, but hundreds of times a day. When things don’t go as we’d expect, we have a choice on how we react. Now the location I am in this time around is not my usual work destination but rather what is for me, a satellite office. I had technical issues with my computer login and as it turns out, had to download a new operating system which would take about 2 hours. My choice was to go around and express this frustration with 6 or 7 nearby co-workers, or – and this is what I did – contact IT and had them walk me through the process. This choice got me the result I wanted sooner, (connectivity) and conserved a finite amount of energy I’d otherwise have poured into complaining. My choice.

Now I know this sounds trite doesn’t it? I mean just choose to be positive. However, it’s the simplest explanation why any of us are typically positive; we choose to be. One thing I did share was an admission that I’m not always completely positive and yes there are some times I choose wrongly; later regretting I didn’t make a more positive choice. Thankfully those times are few.

Last week we had a snowfall which made the commute in messy and a coworker told me how much she hated the snow. I told her how pretty it looked to me and how it covers up so much dirt and grime of the city. “You’re always so positive”, she too said. Well, it’s a choice again isn’t it? I mean the snow has arrived and is now a factor for us all to interact with. It’s our response to the snow that makes it welcomed or something to complain about. We interact with the event in either a positive or negative way. I chose positivity and that choice makes traveling through it a more pleasurable experience.

Now as for you. Would you describe yourself – and would others generally describe you – as a person who comes across as typically positive? I tell you this, being perceived as positive in general is so much more attractive than the alternative. Given that premise, why wouldn’t we all choose positivity over negativity? And if not negativity (for that’s the other extreme), I’d rather be positive than fluctuating back and forth all the time to the point where others are never quite sure what mood I’m in from one day to the next, from one moment to the next. I like consistent positivity.

And here is a poorly kept secret of mine. I have found that surrounding myself with people who are generally positive and upbeat feeds my own energy and positivity. I get what I give, and I hope being positive attracts others who make the similar choice to me.

When you first make the choice to be positive it’s a change. When you repeat that choice a few times it becomes a pattern. When you come to act positively on a regular basis it becomes your reputation. This is perhaps why after only 20 minutes, this gentleman picked up that positivity was in my nature. How observant of him and what a kindness he gave me in both recognizing that quality in me and asking how I do it. Hopefully, he thinks about my answer and tries it out for himself. Positivity can be learned and it’s contagious.

An Example Of Shifting Perspective


Last week I made preparations to lead a one week workshop on the fundamentals of looking for work. One week, twelve participants. I prepared for it as I would any other workshop; gathered the necessary supplies including handouts, notebooks, pens, notepads and made sure I had all the refreshments stocked and ready to receive. As I left work Friday afternoon, I looked over a room that was neat, welcoming, fully stocked and felt good. That feeling of being prepared allowed me to spend the weekend enjoying it fully, rather than feeling some growing anxiety about all the things I’d have to do upon arriving to work Monday.

So there I was, opening the doors to the room at 9:15 a.m. and hoping that in the next 15 minutes, 12 bodies would walk through the door. I say hoping rather than expecting, because history has told me that in most situations, a full house is seldom the case. Well, as it turned out, two of the twelve showed up. A third person came on the off chance there was an opening and so he was admitted too. 3 people, 1 week.

Now yes, I know that life happens. What I mean by this is that in the lives of the people I support, many face multiple barriers to employment. Many have dysfunctional families, physical and mental health issues, some just have poor decision-making skills, weak problem-solving abilities and so yes, some are on social assistance because they do not have the necessary skills yet to be successful.

Three is disappointing. However, what an opportunity for the three who did show up! I mean, they’ve got an enthusiastic and knowledgeable Employment Counsellor for a week to split between them instead of having an additional nine people to share me with. By the way, being excited for the three present rather than focusing on the nine absent is a shift in focus I want to stress. It’s so easy to be disappointed and let it show which can rob those present of your enthusiasm and passion. Unintentionally, you run the risk of making those who did show up feel less than worth your time.

Now sure I communicated to the staff who made those referrals to the program who showed up and who did not. It’s their role to follow up and determine next steps for the non-attendees after hearing why they failed to show. My focus is on the three.

It’s not always like this of course. Last month I taught a two week class on the basics of using the computer. For that class, fourteen showed up for a class that could only accommodate twelve people. Twelve started and twelve finished with perfect attendance. That was a special group of people; as is every class.

Without knowing the reasons why, it’s easy to make assumptions why people fail to show up for classes that are free, supportive, fun and beneficial. In addition to learning subject matter which helps them move towards self-sufficiency and financial independence, they receive additional funding for transportation, networking, sometimes funds for suitable clothing and/or grooming too. Then there’s the social engagement; connecting with others in similar situations and feeling less isolated. And in the case of this workshop, job searching support; a stronger resume and cover letter, help with preparing for an anticipated interview too. All free.

I’m not angry lest you think I am. No never angry.  I suppose I’m just disappointed. I know the opportunity missed to get all the benefits I’ve mentioned above. I understand the circumstances in which these people live and the pressures they are under. I get the stress that sets them up to make decisions I’d not make myself, and I know sometimes they have every intention on coming but they mix up a date or forget about it until it’s too late. I know they have childcare issues, they have poor health in many circumstances; a consequence of not being able to eat healthy foods as often as they should. I understand they don’t all have strong accountability either, both to themselves and others. You see I get all this.

I’m allowed to feel what I feel though too; disappointed. Disappointed for them not me. It took me no time at all to gather up what became excess supplies. That’s the least of my concern. A very busy week for me, constructing or revamping twelve resumes and writing twelve cover letters got a whole lot easier with only three. The energy I was prepared to expel shifting between twelve people with varying career/employment goals was going to be substantially more than it is now too.

Yes my job got easier – substantially easier. You’d think that as I’m getting paid the exact same wages for three as I would for twelve that I should be ecstatic. Ah, but I’m not. Now, my disappointment isn’t so deep that I’m walking around with a long face and moaning about things. Far from it my reader. I’m happy and invested in the three I do have. I can actually accomplish more for these three than I would have otherwise and we’ll have many more significant conversations.

For a time though, I’m permitted to consider the ??? that goes with the missing participants.

I’m thankful for what I have, not consumed with what I don’t. Hey, that’s  good enough for me and worth reminding myself of.

Thoughts, Attitudes, Choices, Action


In life, there are the things we can’t control and the things we can. Without much real thought, I’m betting you’ve heard the advice urging you to worry about the things you can control and letting go of the worry and stress over the things you can’t.

Take Monday mornings; take this early November morning at 5:01 a.m. as I write. Outside, the temperature is 2 degrees and with the wind it feels like minus 2. At this moment it’s pitch black and the weather has rain in the forecast. If you reread this paragraph, I haven’t given any indication of how I feel about this day, but just from the words I’ve used, what are you feeling? Positive or negative?

My consciousness of the day began at 4:22 a.m. when I opened my eyes, looked across the room at the digital display on the clock and acknowledged the time. I closed my eyes again, rolled back the comforter and let the cooler morning air touch my body for a few minutes while my mind started to engage. Ten minutes later, a cup of tea is steeping, I’ve had my head outside the door to breathe in the air and yes, the laptop is fired up and humming.

This is my morning routine. It’s quiet time; Kelly time. I’m not fighting an urge to hit a snooze button, I’m not rushing around having left myself no room for the slightest change in my morning preparations. Outside it’s still and silent, dark and Monday all over.

I cannot change the calendar and make is Sunday; so Monday it is. I don’t wish it were Sunday, or Friday for that matter. It’s Monday and I accept that. It’s early in the morning and I’m in control of what I do at this hour. For me it’s blogging with a warm cup of comfort – tea with milk only please – the chair reclined and the fingers tapping away on the keyboard. I’m in control. At 6:00 a.m., I’ll have 30 minutes to shower, shave, dress, make lunch and roll out of the garage on the way for a 60 minute drive into work. Like I said, I’m in control over that which I can control.

Monday you see isn’t inherently good or bad, it’s just – well, Monday. 4:22 a.m. isn’t a bad time to wake up it’s just 4:22 a.m. How I see this day, this time, what I choose to do between now and when I need to get going, this is my choice; my time. It may differ from how you choose to spend your time and that’s perfectly okay. You may be blissfully sleeping away in lullaby land, slumbering in semi-consciousness and only becoming aware of the morning as it breaks on you. You could be staring at the clock in your room unbelievably amazed it’s 4:22 a.m. and you still haven’t slept a wink for all I know.

What we cannot control is out of our hands – this is what a lack of control boils down to. It stands to reason that putting any effort into attempting to change the things we can’t is wasted energy. No amount of effort on my part is going to change the day on the calendar even if I dreaded Monday and only slightly liked Tuesday better. If I had an intense loathing of Monday, all I’d be doing is setting myself to feel embittered and in a foul mood every seven days. I don’t want that!

No, I think it better to throw my energy into the things I have control over; my attitude, my reaction to the things around me, the day ahead and what my schedule calls for, the thoughts I have and the actions I take based on those thoughts.

Now you just know there’s going to be that person you meet today – you know, the one who will just be so down on Monday – as if the calendar has conspired to make their personal life a misery. I don’t mean down as in sad but down in the sense of wanting to battle Monday and put it down every chance they get. They’ll look for fellow conspirators too, other people who want to groan and complain together, (for misery does indeed like company) about Monday. Monday, Monday by the Mama’s and the Papa’s is on their playlists today… “can’t trust that day, Monday morning somehow it just turns out that way.”

I can’t afford to waste time and more importantly energy worrying about Monday. You and me, we’ve only got so much energy and because our actions are the manifestations of our thoughts, I choose to think the positive, hoping my actions will align with my thoughts.

It’s still dark outside, it’s still 2 degrees but feeling like minus 2. It’s still Monday on the calendar and the only difference between the people like me and those who are fighting Monday morning is the thoughts we choose to have; perspective. This is choice.

Choices we make are ours to make. We can choose not only at the start of our day but every minute of every hour of every day, how we interpret and interact with things that happen in our day. Positive or negative, good or bad; it’s within our control how we choose to see things. When others first interact with us and see us positive or negative they get an impression. When they interact with us and see us on an ongoing basis it’s a pattern. Then it’s a routine, then finally a way of being. Choose wisely!

Maybe You’re The Roadblock


That isn’t what you want to hear, but it might be what you need to hear.

Unfortunately, some of those that need to hear they may be the problem are no longer reading after that first line and some others didn’t even open the article because quite frankly, they figure they don’t need anybody telling them anything. They know it all.

Ah but here’s you! You chose to read! Congratulations! I appreciate your willingness to read and let some of what you read sink in perhaps and consider. The good news for you is that you might be open to changing a few things after reading; getting on track to have a better future than both your past and present.

Roadblocks to our goals fall into two categories; they can come from within or come from our environment. The ones that come from within are entirely ours to impose on ourselves or change. That’s the good news. The bad news, (well at least for some) is that this means the responsibility is 100% ours and ours alone to do something about this internal roadblocks. If you remove them, you deserve all the praise for doing so! If you not only refuse to move these internal roadblocks, you go about your life building more roadblocks to success, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. What I have always found to be sad and unfortunate is that there are a lot of people who set up roadblocks for themselves – barriers to their own success – and yet they say it’s Life being unfair to them; there’s other people out to get them, and society in general is holding them back.

Look, when you’re not having success finding the right jobs, getting interviews, getting hired or keeping jobs once you get them, it is a fool who refuses to consider that they themselves might be the problem. When your trying and trying and your success rate is 3%, you HAVE to at least consider that doing things your way isn’t working. If your way is the only way you know, then doesn’t it sound reasonable to do more listening than talking, heed some advice from someone who knows more than you do and benefit from their knowledge?

Acknowledging that others know more than you do in something doesn’t mean you’re inferior as a person and that you know less than they do in everything. In fact, seeking out people who are wiser than you are, especially in something you really want to become better at is a sign of intelligence! Smart people are always open to learning from others. And smart people do more listening than talking.

Listening is good but it isn’t enough however. To remove a roadblock, here’s what’s needed:

  1. Show a receptive attitude to learning which invites people to share with you
  2. Listen and give them 100% of your attention
  3. Think about or reflect on what you’ve heard (mouth closed)
  4. Be willing to consider and implement some or all suggested ideas
  5. Demonstrate your ability to actually implement the new ideas in the manner they were shared with you
  6. Check back and ask for feedback

Many who are their own biggest problem refuse to even do the first step. They fail to appreciate opportunities when they arise; they discourage those who have knowledge from sharing it with them.

Here’s a quick example. Yesterday I met a woman job searching on a popular job search website. She showed me how she’d cleverly set the distance field to only display jobs close to where she lived – and that’s good. I asked her what job she was after and she said, “anything but it has to pay well.” I asked her what skills she wanted to use in her next job and she said, “baking, customer service and stamina”. So I suggested a company I know where they are in need of Bakers but she shut that down by telling me they weren’t really Bakers there. She told me to tell her of any jobs that would get her money though, and in our conversation, her face never left the monitor as she scrolled quickly down a list of jobs which included Landscapers, Office Administrator’s, Medical Transcriptionists, Telemarketers etc. – all over the map.

Our conversation went on for about 10 minutes. Of the 6 steps above, she did zero. She didn’t show a receptive attitude despite the words she used, didn’t listen, never paused for thought on anything I said, shut down the ideas given to her, failed to implement anything and therefore couldn’t ask for feedback after having tried some. The impression she gave off was that although she said she was open to getting help finding a job, her actions, attitude and behaviour screamed, “I know what I’m doing, it’s not me. Had you been there, you’d have thought as I did, “Actually it’s you.”

There’s a saying that goes, “When the student is ready the Teacher will appear.” What this means is that sooner or later when someone finally is ready to listen and learn, they’ll find help is right in front of them. Yesterday wasn’t her day. Although the Teacher stood before her, she failed to recognize the opportunity for learning. You can’t learn and master any skill you believe you already have.

So my advice on this? Print and cut out those 6 steps above. Stick them in your wallet. Live by them.

 

Those Across The Table Struggle Too


Have you ever thought much about the people you deal with every day who sit or stand across the table or counter from you and provide a service? Far from robotic, these too are average folks who get up, go to work, do the best they can and go home. They have personal struggles, mental health issues, real-life disasters, hopes and dreams, wants and needs just like me; just like you.

Not many of us care to know quite frankly. When we go in to renew our licence plate stickers and get in that 12 person deep line, shunting our way up to the counter, we just want to pay our dues, get the sticker and leave. We may even share with those we meet for the rest of the day our complaint about the long line, the inconvenience of the process and high fees, and to finish off our rant, complain about the attitude and tone of voice of the man or woman who served us.

And this lack of thought isn’t confined to someone at the licencing centre. No, we likely don’t give much of a thought to the well-being of the Bank Teller who handles our transactions, the person who serves us in the drive-through, the shopkeeper who sells us an item in their store. If you’ve got something – some things – on your mind that worry, stress, preoccupy and keep you from focusing on what you’re doing with a 100% positive attitude, why is it hard to understand that the other people we interact with daily have similar challenges?

Now, to be clear, when we are dealing with such people, it’s inappropriate for both you and I to stop and ask with sincerity how they are doing and whether or not they’d like to open up and share their problems with us. We don’t all have the necessary training to start with and there’s that growing line behind you that you’re now holding up and in doing so, you’re compounding their stress to serve others. And surely, you don’t really expect them to honestly share much of anything with you in that public setting, nor expect them to fully trust you whom they don’t know much at all?

What you and I can do however is our very best to be everything we’d expect in return: courteous, respectful, kind, pleasant to deal with and yes, smile which makes us nicer to deal with.

You might think this is a given; it’s known, basic, interpersonal skills 101. However, I see many people approach those behind the counters and treat them poorly. Raised voices, a lack of manners, scowls at the outset, seemingly looking to provoke an altercation, foul language, animated faces and drama more suited to a theatre stage than a bank reception area. I’ve even found myself apologizing for someone else’s rude behaviour when it’s my turn. Just acknowledging the difficulty they had providing service to the previous person goes a long way.

The thing is we expect the people who serve us to be 100% focused on us. Some would say, “That’s what their paid to do so yes, just do their job.” And honestly if that’s your reaction, you’re likely one of the people who doesn’t care to think about other people as, well…. people. Why would you assume they shouldn’t be working if they’ve got problems on their minds? My goodness, many people would sit home for long periods were this the case.

The truth of the matter is that a great number of people with problems, worries, stressors and mental health challenges find the inner resolve and strength to go about their work day each and every day. They do bring their problems with them to work, then to the grocery stores where they stand in line served by others, then to the gas stations or bus stops where they are surrounded by more people and served by the Cashier or the Bus Driver. On the outside they may look like they’ve got it all together; not a care in the world. On the inside, hidden away from the public, they too may be dealing with all kinds of things we’ve no idea of.

So it’s important therefore to be kind, respectful and yes, even empathetic when we don’t get the absolute best from whomever we are dealing with. If the Waitress neglects to bring us the ketchup we asked for, it’s surely not something to make a big deal over is it? Ask a second time and be kind about it. Maybe she’s worried about getting a call from the school about her child’s behaviour, perhaps she received an eviction notice just before coming to work and she’s conflicted with being here at work serving you so she holds on to her job, but really would rather be packing up or planning to fight it.

To close, I often suggest to you readers that you take advantage of counselling services to unburden your load, share your troubles and in so doing, move forward. That person listening to you, for all their expertise is a human too. As you pour all your feelings out, you’re one of 3 or 4 to do so that day and every day. That’s a huge responsibility they take on gladly, and while they are paid well, they also pay a price you can’t measure.

Be kind, show gratitude, be understanding. Every day with everyone.

Happiness In Appreciating Small Things


If your workplace is a hectic, physically demanding or mentally exhausting place to work; if the volume of your workload has increased and you’re barely treading water, you might find that heading into work on Monday morning, you’re already living for Friday quitting time.

While weekends and days off are satisfying and something to look forward to for most, it’s not a good sign if you go into work just for the money, focused on getting out. This kind of mentality in the workplace can make it a toxic place to be if that attitude is spread among the majority. You could end up losing an appreciation for the work you do, think and talk poorly about your employer, your job, the environment and soon enough you become viewed as negative in general. If this happens, you might find fewer people want to hang out with you both at work and on their personal time; simply because most people would rather hang out with positive people.

Having said all this, you might be in agreement but wonder what you can do about it as there’s no way to change what you do for a living. The environment is intense, dusty, staff work in isolation or people bark to be heard over noisy machinery all day, etc. You might enjoy your job itself but just find nothing to look forward to except that weekend on the far horizon. Problem with this thinking is that if that’s all you look forward to in a day, even when the weekend is here, your thoughts of the upcoming return to work on Monday ruin your full enjoyment of Sundays.

One possible thing to try is to identify other things throughout the week that you look forward to and will enjoy. These can be things both at work and when you’re away from the job. I’m talking small things here; not major events. String together enough small things that you find pleasure, happiness or gratitude for in a day and your mood can shift slightly when they come to mind at work.

One small thing I personally look forward to each morning and have immense gratitude for is having a shower. It’s no simple feat from an engineering standpoint I suppose to get hot water readily available in every household in our community, but to me, it’s a simple thing I look forward to upon waking. Were my water to go cold or have to be shut off for even a day, I’d really come to appreciate what I’d lost even more and rather quick! It’s not that their long, but how I feel rejuvenated and invigorated gets me off to a great start each day.

I also look forward to the clothes I wear; that favourite pair of shoes, that shirt that usually draws a few compliments, maybe the colourful socks that I wear just often enough to be noticed and have a few laughs about.

Yesterday at work I was extremely focused at one point, working away on my computer and suddenly I thought of two things I was looking forward to once I got home. Those two activities each brought a physical smile to my face as I thought of them, and I could predict a pleasant evening ahead. What were they? Well, not everyone will share my view, but I looked forward to cutting the grass and watching my favourite football team play a game on television. Sure it’s only an exhibition game, but it was a first glimpse at the team after a long winter and early Spring.

You can view cutting the lawn as just another chore if you like, or you can view that same activity as one of the privileges of home ownership. I love the view of the backyard when the grass is freshly cut; the smell of the cut blades mixing with the lilac blossoms and everything at this time of year is lush and a mixture of intense greens. The tulips are in full blossom, the trees have their full canopy of leaves back, the hosta plants are healthy and spreading; it’s everything you strive for as an amateur gardener. It was so nice, I laid out supper on the back patio and it was just nice to sit back and take in the view.

Maybe your day gets a little brighter when you think of some facetime with a loved one far away; a grandson and daughter in my case, or perhaps a brother, mother, sister or father in yours.

Another thing I’ve come to appreciate and look forward to over many years of long commutes is the actual commute itself. Mine is an hour commute to work and another hour home. Being a mix of city and country driving, I realized a long time ago that I want to appreciate the changing scenery and the ride itself. The goal isn’t to drive fast and get to work or home as soon as possible, but rather sit back, take in the sights of rolling fields, rising suns and the odd wildlife here and there. Having a vehicle you enjoy driving might, as in my case, make the actual drive fun too.

My point is to appreciate the small, daily things that take up a lot of your time. Living consciously in the moment. having gratitude, looking forward to things might do for you what they do for me. Good for our mental health!

“Sorry, We’re Going With Another Applicant”


The call you’ve been waiting for finally came; the news you received however is not what you were hoping for. Another rejection to add to your growing list of rejections. This is one you’d really wanted too, which is why it hits a little harder and hurts a little more than some of the others.

It’s tough on your self-esteem though I admit. When you saw the number on your phone you lit up, answered with great optimism and had a smile on your face. As you heard the decision hadn’t gone your way, you moved from giddy anticipation to surprised disappointment. Like all setbacks, it’s not the setback itself but rather how you react to it that is going to define what you do now and whether you move further from or closer to your goal of finding employment.

First of all, I want to point out and commend you for one very important thing. The job you were competing for was a good one to go after; the hurt you’re feeling is indicative of the passion you felt for the possibility of working in the role. Had you felt nothing whatsoever in being rejected, I’d question how much you really wanted it in the first place. So the level of sting you’re feeling now is one good indicator of whether this job, or one similar to it is right for you.

Okay so now what to do. First of all, let me suggest you dash off a quick letter to the organization you just heard the bad news from. In this brief letter, share your disappointment at having heard the news and state your ongoing determination to compete once again when this or a position of a similar nature becomes available. Although you may not get a response, it’s professional and says a lot about your determination to move ahead beyond this setback if you also ask for suggestions on how to improve your chances in a future competition.

Why bother with such a letter when the job is lost? Simple really. Most if not all of your competitors will move on without any further contact. It would seem like a waste of time and energy, not to mention the cost of a stamp and stationery. This is precisely why you should pen one. With only 1% of people writing a letter of rejection, you stand out. So if another position opens up or the hired candidate doesn’t last long, they might just get back to you in a month or two and offer you the job if you still want it. Your character you see, came out in that letter.

With that letter sent, by all means it’s time now to turn to other opportunities. If you feel bitter and extreme frustration though, take the rest of the day you get the news off entirely. Scrap the job search for this single day and do other things you’d rather like read, go for a walk, soak in the tub, visit your son or daughter, work on a hobby or go window-shopping. You might even want to share the news with someone who will listen. Whatever you do to gain some broader perspective is good. The darkness of this evening will be replaced by the light of tomorrow’s dawn, the world will go on and you’ll go along with it.

This is a test of your ability to create a positive attitude which is needed to experience success. Your attitude is your responsibility alone. I know, I know, you didn’t want to hear that. You’d rather have had a sympathetic ear so you could commiserate with me and have me say things like, “oh you poor thing”, or “wow, you’ve got every right to just chuck the whole get-a-job thing.” Sorry to disappoint. Empathy I’ve got in abundance for you of course, but now it’s time to refocus.

You owe it to yourself you see. Those other jobs you applied to may just call with requests for interviews or the good news of a job offer. You don’t want your voice to showcase resigned apathy or profound ambivalence. You’ve got to respect yourself because the momentum you’ve built towards your goal needs constant attention. You’ve moved forward and come further than you were when you first made the decision to look for work. Don’t hurt your future chances by stopping now.

At any one time in your job search, you should have some organizations you’re waiting to hear from, some applications in the process of being readied to submit and an eye on new jobs and positions that you don’t want to miss. Interspersed among these should be some regular expressions of thanks to those helping you along, such as your references or supporters and networking both online and in-person. This balanced approach to your job search keeps you fresh and energized; active and engaged. Just sitting in front of a computer monitor day in and day out is a rough and isolating way to spend the hours you need to be successful.

I speak from experience my reader. Like you, I’ve had times in my life when I’ve been hunting down a job and it’s taxing times; filled with highs and lows. I do appreciate the disappointments are hard to take and keep coming back strong with a determined attitude. Ultimately though, no other approach has ever worked.