Feel Just Like You Did Last Year?


In every household around the world, the calendars flipped on January 1st, marking not only a new year, but a new decade. The internet is full of people posting about the new hope that this brings, the fresh starts, the opportunities that await and it would seem all we have to do is jump on board the bus and we’re on our way with an overly enthusiastic and energetic group of positive people. How can we not have a grand time?

Yet, something is wrong. Today seems just like yesterday and yesterday felt pretty much like previous days before that. While the calendar turned over, your life seems pretty much unchanged otherwise. So you’re starting to wonder, “With everyone I read about touting the arrival of 2020 as a reason to celebrate, why do I feel left out? If anything, these overly happy and positive people have me feeling more depressed than I was before.”

Let’s be clear about one thing shall we? The turning over a calendar alone hasn’t brought about magical change for ANYONE. Having said that, it’s what flipping the calendar represents that has people excited and optimistic. Take reading a story in a book. The chapter you’re reading seems rather long and is really moving a little slower than you’d like. It’s You flip the pages just to see how long it will be until you reach a new chapter and you see there’s another 12 pages. You could skip the 12 pages of a book but you can’t do so with life. The arrival of 2020 is like the first few words on that next chapter; the one you hope will speed up the action, draw you fully in to the plot and get you wanting to read more; really caring about the protagonist and wondering how they’ll fare in the end. So this is what 2020 is and why so many are excited.

But here’s the catch; you and I – them too for that matter – we all have to work to put ourselves into the positions we need to be in for us to take advantage of the opportunities 2020 is going to bring. If we don’t invest ourselves in the work it will take, the phone won’t ring nor will we get that single email that we dream of that leads to an employment offer. 2020 can be the year that we look back on and believe was the moment our lives were forever changed for the better, but we have to do things that bring about such change.

Ah change. It’s what you want isn’t it. That’s not a typo because it’s not a question but rather a statement. You want change. But change doesn’t happen when you sit and do nothing and the chance of change happening for the better is only marginally better when you keep doing whatever it is you’ve done in the past. Real, significant change occurs most often to people who do things differently and with applied energy.

Whether you’re job hunting, looking for a promotion – hey maybe even looking for Mr. or Miss Right, two things are needed; 1) a change in how you’re going about things and 2) a lot of work on your part. The thing about the work first; it is work to find work or to land a promotion or to be discovered by the person who is hoping to meet you this year. Work though in this sense is something you should relish; after all you’re going after something you really want, so your motivation should be heightened. As for a change in how you’re going about things, it stands to reason that if you keep doing things as you’ve always done them, it’s likely the results you get will be similarly the same.

Okay, so it’s January 6th today, we’re about a week into the new year and you’re feeling down because you’re standing alone with your 2020 party hat on, the streamers are on the ground and the noisemaker in your hand just seems so phony.

Avoid looking for company so you can be miserable and disillusioned together. Misery might like company, but this isn’t the company you want. If you really want to feel alive and celebrate success, what is it going to take to get you personally motivated? Again, might be talking a job, losing weight, repairing a family issue, buying a car, improving your mental health, being more assertive etc.

My suggestion is to consult an expert in the area you want to obtain success. What they’ll want from you is a commitment to your end goal and this means you’ll have to put in the work necessary on your end if you want their help to be truly beneficial. Otherwise, you’re just giving away your time and money.

If you are genuinely and honestly wanting to improve some aspect of your life, there are all kinds of people who want to work with you and support you. Be prepared however to do things that will require stamina; both physical and mental. If you want it bad enough however, I’ll guarantee – that’s right I’ll guarantee – that you’ll achieve your goal. Why? Because when you want it bad enough, you discover that putting in the work takes less effort as you build on your own momentum. Getting started and building that momentum is the hardest part.

If you feel nothings changed, maybe it hasn’t – yet. But it can and it will if you really want it.

 

2020 Your Opportunity?


About this time of year, I read a lot of posts from colleagues or listen to them as they talk about the year ahead. What I read and hear is brimming confidence and hope that, “This is going to be my year!”

Well, I wonder about that. I mean, what do they mean? Generally they mean that things are going to be different; they plan on taking advantage of opportunities as they come up, really commit to something they want (and this generally in turn means self-improvement of a fashion).

However, I don’t see the required change in behaviour much of the time; oh there’s short bursts of it yes, but not the sustained, repetitive actions that in sequence result in real change. These false starts are sparked by initial good intentions, but without being repeated, no pattern of new behaviour comes about; the very behaviours that cumulatively form new reputations, nurture commitment and enthusiasm to keep going. Without a change in behaviour on a consistent basis, the, “This is my year!” rant fizzles out and is replaced by a defeated-sounding, Same old, same old.”

Opportunities you see are around us every day no matter what day of the year the calendar proclaims it to be. Sure January 1st is a good time to mentally adjust our thinking. However, the first of January is an external cue not an internal one. The internal cue is that voice that you know is there deep inside you that whispers all the time what it is you want most. It’s so palpable and real too isn’t it? I mean you know what you want most; whether it’s losing weight, a new job, the courage to tell someone just how much you love them, ask for a promotion, etc.

That internal voice is no louder on January 1st than it is the rest of the year. It’s just that the flipping of the calendar gives us permission to pay that voice a little bit more attention. And with people all around us making new year’s resolutions, that collective energy makes it easier for us to proclaim our own good intentions to change something and feel universally accepted and supported. In short, it’s easier to make a resolution to do something when others are doing the same thing.

However, there are those who believe that the slightest little slip up puts the whole resolution bit in jeopardy. So you have a slice of cake when out with friends and your inner voice that’s been at you to lose weight is drowned out by another voice that says, “Failure! Told you so!” And there goes that unblemished resolve to not eat fatty foods that taste great but detract from your goal. Well might as well pack in the, ‘lose weight’ resolution for another 12 month’s and try again. Nonsense! Don’t be so hard on yourself. Just start again.

Opportunities come up every day and many in any given day. I suspect however that many people fail to see opportunities for what they are until they pass. I include myself in this number too. On a small scale, we all have the opporunity to get up, walk over to a colleague and compliment them. Perhaps it’s something they’ve achieved at work or in their personal life. Or perhaps it’s the risk they took that you compliment them on rather than the result. (This by the way is one of the things the enlightened recognize and do more than others).

That doesn’t sound like a big opportunity does it? I mean choosing to get up, go over and say something nice to a colleague. Big deal you might think. Do it once and it’s noteworthy for it’s uniqueness. Do it a second time and a third time and it’s establishing itself as a new pattern. Continue with a pattern and you build a reputation. This is true whether it’s complimenting a coworker, visiting the gym, reading a book, going to concerts or anything in fact.

It’s the small every day choices we make that in the larger context we look back on and say we either seized an opportunity or let it slip past. Could we have lost that weight last year or three years ago? Sure we could have, but we missed those opportunities out of the choices we made. However, it’s 2020. On this day we could make the decision to seize an opportunity and resolve to commit to some new behaviours. Be kinder, be more forgiving, go a day without dessert – then maybe another, drive the speed limit rather than 20 km’s above it.

I’ve resolved to ask of three people how I might be better. I’ve yet to decide who the three will be, but I’m wanting to choose people who know me well. Why three? It’s manageable and until I hear what they have to say, I’ve no idea the effort required to be better will take to sustain such change over time. We’ll have to see…

Consider yourself one this day as you read. What opportunities are you hoping for and looking forward to in this coming year? To bring them about, what are you doing this month, this week and this day? For most opportunities require us to do things that put us in position to take advantage of them as they arise.

Cheers to you, to me; to us! For we are in this together.

 

Work No Longer What It Once Was?


Call it running on autopilot or coasting on cruise control, the stimulation you used to feel when the job was challenging has disappeared. When you’re talking with friends and family, you’re heard telling them you could do this job with your eyes closed and one arm tied behind your back. When you first felt this way, it was a statement of bravado and self-assurance, but more and more, well, it’s become mundane and easy.

It seems like you’re never completely satisfied. I mean in the past there seemed so much to know and you struggled to master all the information required to be really good at your job. You wondered how those co-workers around you knew so much and performed so well. Suddenly though, you became one; now you’re the go-to person who effortlessly sails through the day, never really having any drastic lows or highs. You’re dependable, productive and instead of using your head to increase your intelligence of the job, you’re using all your mental energy just to get through the days. It’s not that it’s hard to do the job, but it’s exhausting when you keep hoping and looking for additional challenges and find there’s none to be had.

Now you’re in this dilemma aren’t you? You know, the old problem of choosing to either stay in this comfortable role you’ve got with a decent income and some security, or to step out into the stimulating world of job searching once again for something better. Hmm… security vs. stimulation. Autopilot vs. sanity.

I bet by now you’ve already had the little voices in your head whispering conflicting thoughts. “We can’t leaves; obligations we has.” “Stay we must; easy it is, nasty job searches – hates them we does!” You’re inner Gollum has taken route and when there’s nothing around you but the silence, the conflicting differences of opinion and positions keeps whispering. How’d you get here you wonder?

It really does come down to a matter of choice. It may eventually come down to whether or not you stay in this current job or whether you leave for another employer. However, before those become your only options, are there other possibilities at work? If you could transfer to another department, take on another role in your own area such as cross training or maybe even develop a new job position to present to Management, would that be possible? If you could do any of these things, you’d maintain your security, pension, seniority, vacation entitlements and of course income, but you’d feel rejuvenated and stimulated anew.

It’s not possible for me sitting where I am to know if any or some of the above are options for you in your workplace with your specific circumstances. Creating your own job when it doesn’t exist in the organization you currently work in might be an option you’d not thought of. Not only is the idea of doing something new a spark, but the energy required to conceptualize what this new role might be, prepare yourself to present and defend it to Human Resources or Senior Management and then extol the virtues of how it will positively impact on the bottom line could be exhilarating. If you only go to your boss and ask them what they’d say to you inventing a new job for yourself, it’s likely to go nowhere.

Like I said above, it may or may not be possible in your work to transfer to some other area. If you’re a welder and the whole company is 3 of you, there might not be any movement possible.

You might also be a person who has been doing the same job for twenty years or more, and feel that this job you’ve come to master is all you know. Reinventing yourself at this point might be too much of a challenge; returning to school, re-training, having to come up with money for all that and then facing a job search without the security of knowing you’d be hired. Are you worrying about that infamous dilemma, “Who’d hire me when I finished school at my age?”

It’s scary isn’t it? This problem of whether to stay in a job that’s easy but consuming yourself or venture out with great uncertainty; being afraid that whatever you choose will be the wrong choice. Consider that it’s going to be a struggle either way though. You’re either going to struggle coming into work knowing you lack the courage to do something about your fading self, or you’re going to berate yourself because one day you’re going to look back at this point in time and regret you lacked the courage to take a leap of faith.

Perhaps it’s the very lack of a guarantee that you should be thankful for. I mean, that’s part of the stimulation, the invigorating feeling you get from self-determination and creating your next chapter. Yes, you’ll have setbacks, barriers, challenges, raised expectations and disappointments. You may just feel alive again too, find a new identity and come to admire yourself for having the required courage to take a chance and risk your life on something better.

I’m certainly not going to tell which is best because I don’t know what your existing skills and education are, what you’re considering, what you’re gambling on and how stuck you are at the moment. But I do know somebody who knows all these…you.

After 12 years Together We Part


We’ve been through a lot together. It was approximately 12 years ago that he was walked over to where I sat, extended his hand introducing himself and sat down. Coming from outside the organization, I knew nothing of him prior to that moment; well nothing beyond my office mate was male.

“Hi I’m Trevor, nice to meet you.” Are those his exact words? Truth be told my memory isn’t that good! However, it was something like that. Now our office isn’t that large. In fact, the Supervisor that occupies the office next to us has the same square foot space all to himself. We’re so close to each other we can lean back in our chairs and high five each other if we want. In short, it’s the kind of space where you’d better get along with each other because once you add the two chairs, tables, a lateral cabinet and one chair for a guest, you don’t have a lot of free space to move around.

Our time together is soon coming to an end, as Trevor has made a decision to take a lateral move and work on one of the other teams in our office. That move necessitates a relocation and thus it is that as the longest serving partners in our office, we’ll each get new office mates. While he’s leaving, the change isn’t reserved for him alone though. Spend a dozen years working alongside anyone and when that time is up, both of us will be impacted. Whether I remain in the same space or get relocated myself to a space new to me is as yet unknown, but it will represent a change for me even if I don’t physically pack up and move.

If you’re in a similar situation to me, having shared your workspace with someone else for a long period of time, you know how you work things out together. Over time you get to know how you work best together. For example, I found that being sensitive to light and getting headaches as a result, he appreciated it greatly when we had the overhead bulbs removed from our lighting. That leaves our office darker in the a.m.; so much so that I have two small lamps on my desk which exudes a warmth until the morning sun through our window lights the place up sufficiently they aren’t required.

We’ve come to respect the other guy a lot too. I’m so much better for his wisdom, support, kindness and his generosity. I hope he feels the same way about me too; in fact if I’m honest, I know he feels the same way. We’ve always had great care for each other, especially when we’ve vented, been stressed over something or wanted to pitch an idea. It’s curious that over all that time, we’ve actually done very few workshops together as co-facilitators. We’re both very adept at sole facilitation, and as we’ve grown to a dozen of us on the team, the times we’ve been paired up to co-present has waned. Ah, but everyday we talk with each other about our groups, how the people are coming along, those that shine and those that struggle.

We talk sports with each other too; him with his college football team out of Alabama and me with my Alouettes out of Montreal. Yesterday he told me just how much he’s going to miss our sports conversations. It’s not that we can’t get up, walk around the office and have those chats, it’s just that they won’t happen on the spur of the moment, natural like. And of course we’d have to be mindful of the other person sharing that space; be it in his new location or the office we currently share with someone else sitting where he sits now.

As much as we’ve got along so well, it’s time he left. We’re at different stages in life and he’s destined for new challenges, new responsibilities and perhaps down the road a promotion. Diversifying his experience now puts him in a better place to make such a move, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

So one day this week, I suspect there’ll be an email go around announcing the pairings to come. With 3 new staff in our office arriving this week, and some staff in addition to Trevor on the move, we could have as many as 20 people impacted with those changes. With these moves, change is going to impact the entire office. Knowing someone and sharing a space with them are two different things. You have to find the boundaries all over again; music no music while working? Lighting or none? Who gets the lateral cabinet or do you share it? And of course the personalities of the two people in such a small space have to gel in some way. That adjustment period can be short or long depending on care, styles, attitudes and respect.

As for speculation, I’m not really doing that. I don’t have any guesses really, and I’ve other things to think about beyond whom the next office mate is. I do hope the two of us hit it off and if we come even close to the relationship Trevor and I forged together I’ll feel fortunate indeed.

You don’t go into a job thinking about developing a strong relationship with someone but it can happen. Thanks Trevor; for everything.

Think You May Lose Your Job?


There are several reasons you might find yourself thinking more often about losing your job. Has your company been downsizing and your seniority eroding so quickly your long-held belief that it couldn’t happen to you is eroding right along with it?

Maybe it’s restructuring, poor performance on your part, a change in Supervisor and it’s pretty clear they want to clear house and hire their own people or for some reason, the boss you knew and liked has changed and their new behaviours and actions have given you reason for concern. There are many reasons you see, for being worried about your employment. So what’s a person supposed to do?

For starters, and this is nothing really new, find your resume and start updating it with all the training, additional education and employment you’ve had since you last looked at it. Open up that drawer of certificates you’ve earned at work, or that computer file with the courses you’ve taken. Now is the time to get those things on your resume; and take these certificates home!

Why now? Okay let’s get to the worst case scenario. Suppose some people come to your work area today about 15 minutes before your lunch and tell you that you’re being let go. Suppose too they tell you they are here to walk you out, that your things will be boxed up and ready for you to pick up in a couple of days. You’re to take nothing but your coat, your lunch and they’ve brought backup just in case by the looks of it.

Not very nice I admit, but my point is to make it clear that you may not have the time to get things before the axe falls. Oh and by the way, employer’s walk you out not because they feed off the power of humiliating you, but rather they want to protect their assets, and emotional employees (and you will be) sometimes don’t act fully rationally, nor do employers and employees always agree on who owns what. While your personal photos and knick-knacks are clearly yours, other things that aren’t so clear might be materials you created on behalf of the employer, USB sticks, cell phones, personal computers, keys, access cards, etc. Yes, the escorted walk out off the property might be embarrassing but it could have you later wishing you’d taken the time to gather your things personally.

So it comes down to two things; is your looming departure beyond or within your control? If you feel your performance is the cause for your worry, then you must ask yourself if you’re interested and motivated enough to change your ways and up your performance. If you don’t care whether they fire you or not and you plan on behaving exactly the way you have been, that’s your call.

Now, another thing to consider is whether you’re up for a personal, closed door chat with the boss. Knowing where you stand is important for many people; even when the news is bad, a lot of people actually feel better knowing the situation they are truly in rather than stressing over the situation they think they might be in. You might not be called on to use your imagination much at work, but it will be working overtime creating all kinds of possible scenario’s in your mind until you know the truth of where things are.

Why does imminent loss of employment worry people so? Well it’s more than just the loss of a job. It’s the loss of a reputation, the loss of an identity as an employee and whatever your job title is at the moment. It’s financial worry too, and depending on your age and job prospects, it could have you fearing your days of having an ongoing income are done if you lose this job. When you fear this, you fear the future and however you imagined it is now in jeopardy.  There’s also the stigmatism of telling family and friends or doing what some do; leaving for work as usual but having no job to go to while they job search so they can avoid upsetting others in the hopes they’ll get another job immediately.

When you really feel the axe could fall any day now, best to start taking home whatever personal possessions you’ve got in the workplace. The last thing you want is to suddenly recall 4 weeks after being let go, some item you believe you left at work and having to contact the employer in the hopes of getting it. If they tell you it’s not there, you may be convinced they threw it out or possibly even kept it and this will just result in more anxiety, more bitterness and this isn’t healthy.

Start getting your references together too. You know, the phone numbers, job titles and emails of the people you trust at work will speak well of you if/when you’re gone. It’s so much easier now rather than later.

Whatever you do, don’t start stealing company property. This is one way to get fired for sure. Do check into your financial situation. Cut back on your spending now to buffer the possibility of a loss of income. If you have benefits, think about a dental or optical visit now too.

Start looking for other employment; put out feelers and network. Wouldn’t you rather leave on your own terms?

 

 

It’s What’s Inside That Counts


Let me ask you a simple question if I may. What’s holding you back?

Whether you’re not getting interviews, not getting job offers, getting passed over for promotions or not even looking seriously for work when you’ve no job at all, what’s holding you back?

Some of you know exactly what the answer is. You haven’t even paused as continue to read because you know yourself so well, the answer is constantly in your self-consciousness. For others, to really answer this question intelligently, you’d have to pause after reading the opening line and really think about it because honestly, you’re just not sure. Of course another possibility is the list is longer than you’d like.

So what are you thinking? Age? Outdated education? Expired certifications? A lack of experience? A growing gap on your resume? Uncertainty over what to pursue? Lack of drive and personal motivation? Weaker skills in some areas than those of your competitors? Having such a small circle of friends and contacts you don’t have anyone to provide you with leads, support, tips and advice? Low self-worth and/or self-perception? What’s holding you back?

Without sitting down together and having a personal conversation, let me nonetheless offer up a broad generalization; I’ll bet the true answer is more about what’s going on inside you than the world around you. How we see ourselves determines in large part how we interact with the world around us. How we are perceived by others is how we project ourselves when we interact with one another. When we see ourselves as qualified, assertive, prepared and competent, we move and talk with inner confidence that projects outward. Conversely, when doubt about our abilities and qualifications is on our minds, when we wonder if we could ever be prepared enough, worrying ourselves to the point of being nervous and full of anxiety, these inner feelings manifest themselves in our behaviour, come out in the language we use and the overall impression we leave on others is less appealing. In short, when we doubt ourselves, we give others reason to doubt us too.

So how is it that over years, some people developed inner self-confidence and others didn’t? Much more important is what can we do NOW to grow some confidence and belief in our core that we are competent; that we are qualified and more than just deserving of a shot at something? For if we could transform our self-perception deep down in our core, we’d move forward; we would no longer be held back, we’d reach our goals with increasingly regularity and feel entirely more confident. How does that sound to you?

No matter how long that process might seem before us, all progress – whether towards a short-term or long-term goal starts exactly the same way; taking a single step, then another, followed by more and before you know it, the distance grows from where you were to where you are now. So too does the distance shorten between where you were and where you’d like to be. A single step. Remember that…a single step. The journey might seem daunting or overwhelming if you look at the entire journey before you, but a single step is achievable.

Lest you wonder at where to start, what direction to take that single step in for fear of walking in the wrong direction etc., realize that even as you read this, you are mentally engaged in reading about the possibility of change. A seed is being planted that change is possible; that your future isn’t sealed based on your life choices up to now. Your past decisions and choices have led you to the present; but you must realize that your current choices and decisions can change, and changing these affects a change in where your headed in the future. Make the same choices as the past and yes, your future is similar. Make changes in your decisions and new choices and you shift your journey. You are therefore in more control of your destination than you might have realized.

I believe that acquiring skills and varying experiences is far more essential to a healthy future than fixating on a final destination and going all in to get that one job. You might envy the person who at 17 knows exactly what they want to be and by 24 has landed the job, but what’s the likelihood of that same job bringing the same degree of satisfaction when they are 50? Or even 29 for some? We evolve.

When you first begin to work on your inner view of yourself, you may not feel all that happy about how you see yourself. Expect this! When change is what you realize you want, assessing yourself now doesn’t mean this is you moving forward. This is just the starting inventory on the journey you are embarking on. Like any adventurer, you’ll acquire things moving forward, drop some excess baggage you no longer want or need. Your journey isn’t a quest taking you to far off lands necessarily; this quest is more for transforming your inner-self so that how you present yourself to others and therefore interact with others changes for the better.

If you’re hungry for this change; wanting to grow in confidence, to truly believe in yourself and feel better about who you are, you have already taken the first small step forward; expressing a private desire for change.

What’s holding you back?

 

 

Pushing For Change With My Supervisors


I feel for my Supervisors past and present. I mean, it has to be trying at times to look up from their work and see me standing at their door, leading with, “Have you got a few minutes? I’ve been thinking…”

You know, I think that’s it in a nutshell; I’m always thinking. Where it came from I can’t say, but each day I find myself looking to make improvements in the way the services I and my team deliver. Most of the time the creative ideas I have are limited to my own workshops. You see I consider myself fortunate to work in an organization which allows each of us workshop facilitators the freedom to deliver content using our own materials, provided the overall message we deliver is consistent with others.

Every time I run a workshop, I find myself looking at handouts I’ve made in the past and wondering if there isn’t a better way to communicate whatever the topic is. Sometimes an improvement means simplifying words, adding some colour to make things more interesting to read, or finding just the right photo or illustration for the visual learners in a group.  There are times as well when I just feel something isn’t working to my standards and I scrap what I’ve got entirely for another approach.

These changes are personal ones of course. They don’t impact on my peers unless of course they ask me for permission to look over what I’ve got in order to see what they themselves might like to duplicate and use in their own presentations. Sharing of resources is encouraged where I work; it’s one way we come to appreciate each other’s talents and as no one person knows everything about all things, we acknowledge it’s a good way to learn other approaches and inform ourselves on subject matter at the same time.

Some of the ideas I have for change however are of a different nature. Sometimes the ideas I have are systemic changes that if implemented would impact on the entire team and also have a residual impact on how our peers interact with us. For example, how referrals are made to the workshops we run, the pre-requisites for those participating, and the development of new programs altogether, responding to the real needs of those we serve.

Pushing for change is exhilarating and seems to be in my DNA. I mean, I don’t sit in my office and consciously say, “Today I want to make significant changes to the way we deliver our services. What can I think of? How can I be positively disruptive?” It doesn’t work like that. No, it doesn’t work this way. The ideas I get are often borne out of conversations with my co-workers, when we talk about how we currently do things and the challenges we encounter. Sometimes it’s learning about some technology and envisioning how, if implemented, would enhance our delivery. An idea might arise from a participant who made a suggestion or asked a question of me that began, “Could we …”

Oh yes, I feel for my Supervisors both past and especially present. My last Supervisor jokingly told me I was restricted to bringing her 3 new ideas a week. She couldn’t handle anymore. She’s moved on and upward and is now the Manager where I work, sitting right next door to my current Supervisor. I can only imagine when I leave after having presented, “another great idea”, that they must commiserate with one another, roll their eyes while shaking their heads simultaneously, saying, “Oh Kelly, Kelly, Kelly!”

Coming up with new, innovative and creative ideas is exhilarating and produces enough spark in my work so that things stay fresh. I feed off that process and it fuels my day. As those ideas pop up, I work through the budding concept, look at pros and cons, create and rework the idea, then want to act on it. When I present the idea however, the person on the receiving end hearing it for the first time may not be in the right headspace for something new. I mean, I don’t know what I’ve caught my Supervisor in the middle of. Presumably she isn’t just sitting there waiting for me to drop by and make another pitch for something. No, I may not know what she’s working on at any one minute, but I can appreciate whatever is on her mind, there must be times when she thinks to herself, “NOT NOW KELLY MITCHELL – please not now!” But she smiles, turns, and listens.

A lot of my ideas get rejected; some ideas take root and get implemented. This is the price innovative and creative people pay I suppose when not in positions of power to just implement all the ideas we have. Having your ideas rejected can do one of two things; stifle your enthusiasm for bringing forward ideas in the future or not.

Like I say however, I think this job as an Employment Counsellor delivering workshops has tapped in to my Innovation and Change chromosome somewhere in my DNA. Pushing for change does mean a disruption in the way things are done and not everyone is ready for change when change is proposed. Those that like doing things the way they’ve always been done precisely because they’ve always been done a certain way will attest to that.

I have to end now. I’ve just had another idea.

The Workplace Workforce Inventory


As an individual, you should know your strengths and areas for improvement. These become essential when it comes to applying for a new job, making your case for a raise, competing for advancement or making your case for a lateral move into a new role. If you don’t know yourself well enough to accurately articulate your core assets, this my friend, is a major liability to which you are possibly unaware.

Now think beyond yourself; think of the broader workplace in which you contribute your skills, education and experience. Think of the other employees; your co-workers, and the talents they bring. If you look objectively at those around you, you’ll likely identify certain employees who are standouts in certain areas; people generally known to be the on-site experts in certain aspects of the organization. These are the ‘go-to’ people when specific problems and challenges arise. These are the ones recognized by most as having special skills, knowledge and advanced expertise.

In addition to skills, experience and education, there are other assets which people have in varying quantities. Softer skills such as attitude, work ethic, punctuality and attendance, genuine affinity for teamwork, leaders in action if not title and interpersonal skills. As you read each of these, perhaps certain people in your organization come to mind as the best examples; maybe you even see yourself has being at the forefront in a few areas.

Okay, now it’s not my job or yours in fact to actually put together a summary of the workforce in the organizations we work for. However, this is precisely what great organizations do, and they do it on a continuous basis. When an employer intimately knows the strengths of their workforce on an everyday basis, this knowledge positions them well to add whatever dimensions they believe they both want and lack when the individual pieces – you and I – move on or move out. Organizations that don’t assess the status of their workforces on a continuous basis are more reactionary when staffing needs arise, having then to make decisions about what they are lacking and need when time is pressing.

So how does this impact on you when you’re working as one of the front-line employees? Excellent question to ask and in answer let me ask you a question. How closely does how you perceive yourself align with how you are perceived by Senior Management? If the way you see yourself is mirrored by how decision-makers see you AND this is an overly positive assessment, you’re in good shape.

However, when the way you perceive yourself is not a shared view by others who are in decision-making roles with respect to staffing, you’d be wise to give this matter some attention now while you’ve the time to address things.

Suppose you see yourself as a team player. You can cite many examples from your experience where you have been involved in committees, projects and even covered the workload of absent co-workers. You assess yourself as I say, as a team player. Perhaps you’d find it surprising to learn however that your employer has been approached by several of your co-workers over the past year who have voiced concerns that while your part of these committees and projects, you actually contribute very little. Some might go so far as to say you’re more concerned with having your name attached to successful teams than actually putting in the work contributing to that team’s success. You’ve really been identified as more of a coat-tail rider. This causes the employer to recall the times when you’ve been asked to cover for absent co-workers and while you do it in the end, there’s always an unwelcome discussion to be had getting you to pitch in.

Now honestly, very few people who would benefit from checking in with how they are perceived by others actually ask for such feedback. Some don’t care what others think of them (as long as they get paid to work), and some are perceptive enough to guess that they aren’t going to like what they might hear.

Here’s the thing though: whether you check on how you are perceived or you don’t, you’re still being evaluated and assessed for your attitude, work ethic, strengths you bring to the team, shortcomings, etc. You are assessed by co-workers, Supervisors and/or Upper Management just as you assess their strengths and areas you see for improvement in them.

You can help yourself to keep the job you have now as well as position yourself for your next challenge in an organization if you give these matters some serious attention. Starting with a co-worker you feel will give you some honest feedback and generally be positive, ask them to share how they see you. Don’t get defensive, be a listener and express appreciation for their opinion. Now repeat this with some others, and include the boss.

What you don’t want to do is put this off until how others see you is cemented in any kind of negative way. If enough people tell you they see you in ways you don’t, you’ve got a choice to either carry on and not care, or make the necessary changes to how you go about your work day to alter their perception, bringing theirs more in line with how you wish to be seen.

May your work days be good days.

Fresh Starts Happen When You Want Them


Okay so the calendar today reads December 10 and New Year’s Day is still a few weeks away. Typically the days leading up to a flip in the calendar are when most people think of making some major changes and starting fresh. Be it losing weight, changing a bad habit, getting a job, or any number of other goals, January 1st seems to be a day when the majority set out to put their new behaviours into action.

However, when you think about making some changes, think about that line, “there’s no better time than the present.” I suppose the reason that right now is the best time is simply because it’s now that you’re thinking of whatever you want to change so take the opportunity to get on that change while you see the value in going after your goal. If you put off making that decision until some point in the future, you might not feel the same compulsion later. So what are to do? Wait another year until another January 1 comes along?

As for needing some external stimulus for change – like flipping the calendar to a new year, there’s plenty of those moments. For starters, we all flip the calendar 12 times a year; that’s 12 times we could opt to start some new behaviour. There’s your birthday too, although that comes around once a year, you might just be motivated to change things up on this anniversary of your birth.

The thing about your birthday is that it’s very much like New Year’s Day in that it only comes around once a year. If you’d like more opportunities, consider that there are 365 days in a year, and every day you wake up could be the sign to hit the reset button on something you want to give up or something you want to start.

Now suppose it’s a new job you’re after. Whether with the same employer you work with now or a new one, a new job might be just what you want. If you plan on getting hired January 1st, 2019, you can’t put off applying for jobs until December 31 can you? No, of course not. You’d actually need to be doing an active job search now; researching, job applications, resume and cover lettering writing, interviews and networking meetings. Even so, how many employer’s are even open on New Year’s day and of those who are, how many are training the new person on January 1? Not many.

Of course, you might be telling yourself that January 1st is when you’re planning on starting the job search. Nothing wrong with that goal. Of course, between now and January 1st you may be missing some good job postings, and it would be a shame if the job you’d really love has a deadline that you miss when you’re kicking back waiting for the calendar to roll over. The people you’re competing with will thank you for that one!

Let me give you a small piece of warning and advice if I may. When you make the decision to change your present behaviour and start to seriously job search, it’s going to be a challenge to first make the change in behaviour and then sustain that momentum you start. Your body and mind are going to rebel and in both cases because the status quo is easier.

So if you have a job already, the extra work you have to put in outside of work hours with a job search might come across at times as too much extra pressure and extra work. If you’re unemployed you won’t have that problem, but when you’re out of work, the habits you’ve developed – possibly sleeping in late, having a nap mid-afternoon, watching too much television or playing video games etc., might get in the way of sticking with the job of finding a job.

So be ready for the kick-back; that want to fight change and just go on with things the way they are. It might take some real perseverance and stamina to sustain change. What will help is keeping your mind focused on why you started the change in the first place. In other words, if your goal has enough meaning to you, it’s easier to stay focused on it because you want it bad enough to fight past the barriers that stand in your way.

It’s when you don’t want something enough to fully commit to it that you’re likely to fail. So in other words, if other people keep telling you to get a job and you grudgingly agree to start looking for one, the chances of success are lower as you’re more likely to revert to your old habits when no one is looking. When YOU want to work more than you don’t, that’s when your odds on succeeding will rise. It’s not just about getting a job by the way, the same is true of any goal we talk about; changing eating habits, learning to drive, being more polite, expressing more gratitude, taking up a new hobby. Whatever you’re contemplating, it will come about sooner if you commit to it.

Finally, if you’ve been after your goal in the past and not had success; so you haven’t got interviews or job offers, think about going about your job search in a different way. Trying a new strategy may get you different – and better results.

Career Planning Isn’t Mandatory


So here’s something that might surprise you; long-term career planning and mapping is NOT a mandatory requirement for career happiness and success. Well, that statement certainly flies in the face of the advice some very well-meaning professionals will give. And quite frankly, even the ones that acknowledge it isn’t absolutely mandatory will be wrong if they believe that only a small percentage of people reach career happiness without long-term planning.

Here’s why I believe the majority of people need not stress about the lack of some grand long-term plan.

First of all, when you’re in your teens and making choices about what courses to take in high school in order to eventually end up in college, university or a trade, you’re only basing these choices on the very limited exposure you’ve had in life to the world around you. You’re in your early teens and the people you’ve interacted with, the jobs you’ve acquired knowledge of are extremely confined to the ones you’re going to learn of in the next decade of your life. In other words, excepting some of course, it’s highly likely that with all the jobs that exist in the world – and will emerge in your future that don’t even exist in your teen years – the odds that what you want to do at 15 and 16 years of age will be what you’ll want to do until you’re 65 is very low.

In fact many high school graduates will take a year off before deciding what to do or what school to attend, simply to give themselves a year to make a better choice career-wise. Some will even do what they call a victory lap; another year of high school classes after graduating.

Further evidence are the people in first year university classes who take 5 very different subjects, just praying and hoping the light bulb goes on in that first year, and something grabs their interest. Maybe the first year classes include World Religions, Introduction to Philosophy, British Literature, Introduction to Sociology, and Introduction to Psychology. Oh by the way, these 5 were my own in year one. As it turns out, Sociology caught fire and so I loaded up with future courses to eventually graduate with a degree in Sociology.

In transitioning from a teen into a young adult, it is normal to expand your knowledge of various jobs and careers. As you start interacting independently with the world, responsible more often for things yourself, it only stands to reason that every so often some job catches your interest. Learning about the world around you and the people who live in it, many find themselves attracted to what others do. It follows naturally then that every so often you pause and think, “I could do that!”

Now of course we don’t act on every whim we get, but if we’re unsatisfied, curious, searching for something better or different, open to possibilities etc., we live consciously observing and then assessing pros and cons of various occupations. Sometimes we’ll also have conversations with folks in these jobs, asking them what they do, what skills and education it takes, how long they took to get started, the highs and lows, the good and the bad aspects of the work. Then we look and assess ourselves, what we both have and need if we wanted to head down some career path branching out from the path we’re on now.

This is normal by the way. To stay completely rigid, never varying from the path we imagined and set out on at 15 years old in this light seems the more peculiar. And yet, when we do decide to change our direction, for many it seems so hard to tell our parents, family and friends that we’ve had a change in what we want to do. Yes, we fear they’ll somehow think less of us; they’ll worry and think we’re indecisive and making an ill-informed choice. However, these family and friends haven’t been privy to the thoughts we’ve had – the deep, inner thoughts and feelings we’ve been experiencing for some time. It’s precisely these thoughts and feelings by the way that have acted as our guidance system. The more they cause us unease, the more we believe there has to be something else.

Even into our late 20’s and all the way into our 30’s and 40’s, it’s not uncommon for us to re-examine what it is we want to do with the rest of our lives. And why stop there? People in their 50’s and 60’s often take stock of where they are and what they want in their remaining working days often causing a job change.

When people near the end of their working life, it’s the norm – not the exception – that they’ll have amassed a varied career with several jobs and some career changes. Rather than meaning they fluttered from job to job aimlessly, it means they were wise enough to seize opportunities for change as they came along in life; and in the end they’ve had a diversified career. They may have in fact been very happy overall, where staying in one line of work may have caused them to feel trapped and less stimulated.

Now of course, one can be happy with one long-term career or several careers over a lifetime; even people with many jobs but no single career. Yes, you can win in the world of work any number of ways.