It’s Probable You’re In The Wrong Job


It’s a huge world we live in, with everything from densely populated urban areas to rural districts and places of relative isolation. There’s mountainous regions, prairies and wetlands, coasts, deserts, wastelands and watersheds. Out of the billions of places you might have entered the world, chance plopped you into it where it did. Where you entered this game of Life is one of the key determinants to what you’ll do job/career-wise.

Speaking of jobs and careers, there’s an abundance of these world-wide too. If you attempted to list all the jobs that exist in the world, how do you think you’d fare? My guess is you’d do poorly – and so too would I for that matter. There are those jobs we’d readily find in many populous areas world-wide like Servers, Teachers, Factory Workers, Drivers etc. and we’d likely have these pop to mind. However would you also have Dolly Grip, Actuarial Analyst, Pet Insurance Agent, Bung Hole Borer or Brand Evangelist on your list? No, not likely.

The thing is, there are more jobs we don’t know exist than those we do. So what are the odds that you’re in the single perfect job – I mean, THE one you were put on this planet to excel at? Doesn’t it appear rather unlikely that of all the places you could be in the world, somehow you occupy the one city block you were meant to occupy, and that the one job – that single, perfect role you were meant to aspire to and succeed at is within an easy commute? While we’re at it, if you believe soulmates and partners are a one in a million catch, what are the odds they live nearby too? You’re odds of having the perfect job, in the perfect community, living happily with the person you were put on this earth to love for all eternity is astronomical!

Hang on a moment, let’s not get carried away. As we look around, we do see people – and plenty of them – who are happily engaged in the work they do, they’re in healthy, loving relationships and they fit in with the environment they live in. So how did they beat such incredible odds? More importantly, if they did it, how can we duplicate that happiness and success?

It begins with discarding the notion that there is only a single job in existence that will bring us satisfaction. This notion that we have to find that one job we were meant to do is the delusion that keeps many from finding job satisfaction. You can travel to other cities, countries, continents even, and end up doing a job that had you looked, you’d have found nearby in your own community, or in dozens of communities around the globe. So if you’re born in the city but dig a mining career (hope you enjoyed that one), yes you might find yourself relocating to a mining town, but there are lots of those to choose from.

The truth in my opinion is that we’re a multi-talented creature we humans, and as such, there are many jobs that will stimulate our need for job satisfaction. If being around people and helping others is our thing, we can fulfill this desire in many professions; any one of which will bring us happiness and have us feel satisfied at the end of a day. If we’re more inclined to like work that we do in relative isolation, we don’t have to be a Forest Ranger in a lookout tower or even leave the cities we find ourselves in. There exist jobs right in the heart of densely populated cities that people do in isolating roles.

One thing I’d encourage you to do, and do with periodic regularity, is find a quiet space and listen to yourself. It sounds trite, it sounds corny, it might sound downright silly and a right eyerolling, “you’ve got to be kidding?” moment, but listen to your inner voice. If you don’t go to work happily on most days, if you don’t find satisfaction in your work and find yourself clock-watching every fifteen minutes, what are you doing there? You’ve got this one life and time is ticking. As time goes on, options you once had start disappearing. The prison you might find yourself in, chained to a job you come to loathe is one of your own design. Get out into the world and move on before you close the door on yourself. If you don’t, blame yourself, not the world.

If you don’t hear that inner voice pulling you in some other direction, excellent! However, if something keeps nagging at you that there has to be something better, something different, more fulfilling; shouldn’t you be paying attention to that pull? I mean at least explore the possibility of whatever it is that suggests there’s something else you could and probably should be doing? The price you pay to look around is cheaper than the fortune it’ll cost you to lock yourself into a job that brings you nothing but money.

Sure, there’s the usual snags to this thinking: “I have bills, responsibilities, people depend on me, I have to play it safe, my time has come and gone.” Seriously? That’s sad isn’t it? You’re hearts still beating right? Oh good, because it sounded like you were already dead.

A stimulating job or career is nearby; open your mind and your eyes to the possibilities and do something great!

Coming To A Decision


All through your life you make decisions. By their nature, some of those decisions are bigger or smaller than others. Some are so huge they affect the course your life runs as a consequence. At the other end of the spectrum are those decisions you make automatically; seemingly without much thought or difficulty; like switching on a light when you enter a dark room.

It’s important to acknowledge and affirm you make decisions; that we all do, because when you linger over making a choice for what appears too long, you may just say outloud, “Why can’t I make decisions without all this stress?!” And it’s then, at those moments, you have to remind yourself that yes, you do make decisions. It’s just the gravity or importance of what you’re weighing over that has you paused until you choose.

Have you ever considered just how many decisions you make in a day? I’m not surprised you haven’t. You’d likely miss many even if you tried to recall all the decisions you make. What time to get up, to shower or not, turn on the light or stumble in the dark? Which pair of underwear? Slacks or skirt, shave or not? Cereal or toast and if it’s toast, butter, jam or peanut butter? Do the dishes now or when you come home at the end of the day?

Okay, so you’ve given yourself credit over the small ones. Good. Now, to the bigger ones; maybe one you’re fretting over now for all I know. Okay so let’s look at that process. First of all, if you’re upset that it’s taking too long to make your choice, consider on the positive side of things that you won’t be upset with yourself for having made a rash, spur-of-the-moment decision without giving things the time and reflection they require. Every made a rash decision without thinking and regretted it? Hopefully it wasn’t over something huge; yes, hopefully it was choosing one ice cream flavour over another; something with small consequences.

When considering 2 or more options, we generally weigh the pros and cons. We look at the benefits of each choice, (the good) and the negatives (consequences). Can I suggest by the way that we both remove the word consequences as a negative. Make a good choice and the positive outcomes are consequences of having made that decision. Consequences go both ways. Too often someone warns us of consequences in our decision-making and like the word stress, we come to associate it with a negative. But stress and decisions can both be positives.

Okay so you’ve got your pros and cons. If you’re looking for a choice that has all positives and zero negatives, you’re not likely to find it. Just as obvious is that whatever you don’t choose in the end likely has some upside or positives too. Believing there’s an option with nothing but positives, where everything is a win, just doesn’t happen much of the time when you’re faced with 2 or more big choices and you have to decide.

Take choosing a school to go to as an example. Is it the College or University close to home or the one across the country. One close to home might mean you could continue to live with your parents and save on residence costs, but then again, sometimes the freedom to do what you want without the constant scrutiny of your parents would be a welcome positive. You might mature faster by doing your own shopping, washing and cooking. On the other hand, you’ll miss dad’s barbeque and mom’s lasagna. As for programs, they may be similar but one has a slighter better reputation but comes at a higher fee. One’s in a densely populated city and the other isn’t. Maybe your family encourages you to go to one over the other, but the other is close to those ski hills you’d love to get out on. Ah decisions.

Consider that having decisions to make is a privilege. Some on this planet are fighting passionately for the rights you enjoy; the right to choose. Be it school, a political party to vote for in an election or if and whom to marry. Never wish you didn’t have to decide; that others would make decisions for you. Coming to a decision helps you grow. Some of your decisions, yes, you’ll regret those choices. This makes you human. We all make decisions we’d like to reverse, and yes, some of those are big ones. While you hope to learn the lessons that go with those choices you wish you could have back, the key is to look forward and make better, informed choices, not relive and beat yourself up over choices made in the past.

Go ahead and get information when weighing your choices. Pay attention to your gut too. If you flip a coin between two important options, do you feel hopefully of one over the other as the coin is in the air? What does that tell you? Grab the coin and put it in your pocket without looking at how chance might have played out.

In the end, DO choose. Spend the time you need but please make a decision. Don’t run the risk of missing a deadline, losing an opportunity, then feeling bad because you waited too long.

In the end, go with the positives of your choice and feel good!

Success? Here’s What It Is


Success to me is being able to seize opportunities now because your past decisions placed you in a position to take advantage of them. Future success is having the decisions you make in your present put you in position to take advantage of opportunities in your future.

Let’s be honest here, we can’t know with absolute certainty, exactly what our futures hold. Furthermore, the further we gaze into the future, the odds continue to get lower and lower that what we imagine, guess, hypothesize, or yes – even plan for – will actually turn into our reality.

So if this is true, some people would take this to mean why plan anything? Indeed, why plan at all if what we do in the future can’t be predicted with absolute certainty? I found myself cooking hamburgers last evening instead of chicken breasts, rice and vegetables. Why? Because just as it was time to start preparing the evening meal, my wife had a change in what she wanted and having both options available, she surprised me and opted for burgers. What I’d planned at 11:30a.m when out shopping wasn’t what I started preparing at 6:00p.m.

Now yes, it is only dinner. But what about the big stuff? You know, choosing courses in high school that lead to College or University? What about planning on graduating and getting a job instead of post secondary education? These choices to be made and more importantly, decisions to be made, have consequences years down the road. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, “I wish I’d stayed in school”, or, “I wish I had my degree.” Then again, less often but now and then, I also hear, “I wish I’d just got a job after my degree instead of getting my Masters.” Additional schooling isn’t always the right choice.

Yes, we can’t know with any certainty that Life (with a capital, ‘L’) will turn out exactly like we envision it will when we look ahead. That being said, I don’t advocate just throwing up your arms in submission and winging it until you die. We’ll all have regrets in the end; choices we made that we wish in retrospect we could go back and alter. Some of our regrets will be larger than others, and I suppose the best we can hope for is that our regrets tend to be minor and not major ones.

As good as the burgers were, I’d rather have had the chicken. However, as I bought both when out shopping, I still get the chicken tonight; a day later than I had planned, but I can only do so because I had the foresight to buy both. A minor delay in getting what I want most. However, we can’t always have it so. No, some of the choices we make send us down roads that never seem to have a U-turn; and there’s no going back. That person you should have told how you felt but never had the guts to do so moved away, married someone else, and you just wonder ever so often, ‘what if…?’

Education is a great example of this whole concept of putting yourself in a position to succeed further ahead in life. While you’re only in your early teens now perhaps, school officials are on you to choose your courses – the university or college stream. The choices you make either keep both doors open or close the university option. Sure you can always go back and upgrade courses later in life as a mature adult, it just means you take a longer route to get to University.

Keeping doors open sounds like a reasonably smart thing to do though, especially when you can be influenced by so many things between now and when high school is done. By the time you’ve finished with school and you’re in your late 20’s, you’ll either be happy or disappointed with the choices you’re being asked to make now in your early teens re. those course selections. The jobs you are considering in your 20’s require some level of education. If you opted for the degree, you have more options than the college diploma; the college diploma more options than the high school diploma and the high school diploma more options than dropping out without finishing high school.

Now some make a wonderful life without having finished high school. The jobs they hold and enjoy doing don’t require post secondary education, so let’s acknowledge them. However, many more people are happy they stayed in school, graduated and went on to get a degree or diploma, and a lot of people wish they had. Even the ones who lie on their resumes and say they have their high school when they don’t are demonstrating they know it is an advantage to have it.

Whether we’re talking education, volunteering, working or relationships etc., the principle is exactly the same; the decisions we’ve made in our past either allow us to take advantage of opportunities in the present or they don’t. The thing is, our past decisions can’t be altered.

What we can do is think about the decisions we make today and moving forward. It’s these decisions that will put ourselves in position to seize opportunities in the future; some of which we can’t possibly even imagine now. The good decisions keep the doors open.

Doubt Yourself? This Is A Strength!


Do you doubt your abilities or skills in your workplace? Do you wonder if you’re as effective or as productive as you should be? Good! You my friend have just identified a strength.

I bet that comes as ironic because perhaps seen your lack of confidence as a weakness. I mean after all, how can self-doubt be good? Well, read on and see if what I’ve got to say doesn’t make you change your point of view.

Think of doubt as your instincts kicking in when you’ve got a decision to make. Should I choose one thing over another, or even when presented with several options and having to make the best choice. Some people confidently make a choice and stick by their decision, sure in their ability to make the correct one. You however, are less sure, so you pause, hesitating while you think and weigh the pros and cons of the choices before you and even as you make your choice, an inner voice is crying out, “Wait! Not all the information has been processed yet and we might be wrong!”

Now if the top prize always goes to the person who makes the quickest decision, sure the confident person might win more than they lose. However, even the most confident person will tell you that their confident decisions turn out to be incorrect every so often.

Self-doubt is a good thing if it causes us to check on the information we already have or gather more information when necessary to make the best choices. So if you teach or instruct, you may doubt your ability to communicate a topic to your audience; to get through to the extent you’d like. The ideal thing to do is to check with those you’re teaching; essentially determining if you’re being as effective as you’d like or as your employer expects. Checking with your audience might be done verbally as in asking for them to paraphrase what they’ve learned, or it could be in the form of a test. Have you ever considered that tests don’t only show what someone has learned but also show the ability of the teacher to instruct?  It’s true!

Self-doubt can also benefit you if you are feeling pressured into doing something that goes against your moral compass. Ever had one of those moments when you were dared to do something that you just felt was wrong? You wanted perhaps to impress someone or a group, but to do so meant hurting someone intentionally? You doubted your ability to actually do it though and said something like, “I don’t know if I can do this. It just seems wrong.” That was self-doubt kicking in and it was a good thing back then and it’s still a good thing today.

Now while self-doubt is a good thing; a strength, in its extreme, it can be a negative. When self-doubt has you completely paralyzed, unable to go ahead and make any choice at all, that frozen state of inaction that robs you of your ability to choose is not a good thing.

If you know you have to compile a report for your boss by a certain date and you’re completely at doubt about if you can do it, it will definitely be an issue if the day comes and you haven’t even started. However, I don’t think that’s just self-doubt kicking in, that’s also the fear of asking for help until you gain the confidence to do similar reports on your own in the future. Not everybody learns at the same pace, and you might need more help before mastering the skills needed to compile reports on your own.

Of course self-doubt takes energy. Many who doubt themselves wish they had more self-confidence, especially when it comes to big choices and big decisions. I have to say though, at the root of this self-doubt there’s often an explanation for this present behaviour in the past. Many who continually doubt themselves had little praise, support and encouragement from people in influential positions while growing up – parents, teachers, employers and yes former/present partners.

An abusive partner who constantly looks for every opportunity to be critical and demeaning, can unfortunately cause a lot of damage in a person. If you were told all the time, “This coffee tastes like crap!” you’d start to doubt your ability to make a good one. This lack of confidence and heightened self-doubt is a cruel result of bullying and abuse. In fact, if you as a co-worker or boss find you’ve got an employee who seems plagued with self-doubt, you could help them immensely with some encouragement to make choices and not come down hard on them when they make a choice you’d rather they didn’t. Words of encouragement will do more to achieve the desired result than any words said in anger and frustration. In fact, just by being such a person’s boss, your title alone is something they’ll feel intimidated by.

Good advice? Start with small decisions; those with small consequences. If you can, look for work that might have less responsibility for decision-making; at least until your self-doubt gradually subsides. Increasing your confidence is also something you might share with others, so you receive encouragement more often. Remember self-doubt is a strength and can often have you re-evaluate your thinking and come up with a better result.

All the best out there today and every day!

Making Bad Choices, Then Feeling Bad


Out of control; moving from one chaotic event to the next, over thinking things and then having everything you do questioned, analyzed, evaluated, summarized and judged; these the things you do to yourself.

Sometimes the one who judges us the hardest isn’t a stranger, family or friend, but rather the one who greets us each morning when we look in the mirror; ourselves. After all, we know ourselves more intimately than anyone else. Only we know each thought we have, why we do the things we do. Check that last one… there are times we haven’t got any explanation for the things we’ve done. Could be we often ask ourselves, “Why on earth did I do that? What was I thinking?”

Living daily in chaos and under constant pressure and strain stretches our resources to the point where our thinking becomes skewed so the decisions we make are flawed. We end up making bad choices we then regret; lowering our opinion of ourselves and feeling worse than before. Rather than learning from our mistakes, they get repeated, and later repeated yet again, and how we perceive ourselves sinks each time. The pattern of feeling bad about ourselves a lot of the time can lead us to make even poorer choices.

The funny thing is (only it’s not funny at all), when we make all these bad decisions, they seem so right at the time. That’s the hardest part for us to understand later. Trying to explain this or justify this to someone else who questions us is just impossible. We can’t help feeling so small; like a child being scolded by an adult who catches us doing something dumb. But as a child, at least we could be forgiven for not knowing better. By now, we should have grown up, matured, learned to make better decisions and have our stuff together. Instead, we can’t even make simple decisions without a struggle; like what to pack the kids for lunch.

You’d think that asking for help would be easy; a logical step to make sense of all the chaos, but think about that – if it was easy, you’d think you’d do that – so is not asking for help just another thing you’re doing wrong? Figures!

If everything above sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. If you struggle to do things that others find simple, like find something on the internet, open a bank account, file your taxes or get your child tax credit, don’t feel you’re the only one so there has to be something wrong with you.

The thing about making decisions is that when you make a good one you feel better. Make a second and a third good decision and you develop a pattern. Repeat the pattern and you start to gain confidence and view yourself as having good decision-making skills. The same however is true when the decisions you make don’t turn out the way you’d hoped. One bad decision on its own is exactly that; just one bad decision. A second followed by a third etc. establishes a pattern and you can easily feel that based on results, you make poor choices.

Decisions we make are always based on the information we have at the time. So when trying to figure out what to pack the kids for a school lunch, we look in the fridge or the cupboards and what we pack is based on what’s available. We can’t send what we don’t have. While it’s clear to someone else we sent something inappropriate, it was at the time the best choice we had, avoiding sending something worse or nothing at all. Unfortunately, other people only see what we sent and judge our decision-making solely based on what they see, not what possible items we rejected. In other words, you may have actually made the best choice anyone could have made based on what you found as options.

The same is true for the big decisions that go wrong in the end. You might choose a job that doesn’t work out and then another; then start to question why you make such bad choices. It could be that you just lack the right information in the first place about how to go about finding a good fit. The thing is, at the time, the choices you made – and continue to make – seem right. You’re not dumb or stupid; you lack the knowledge to make a better informed choice. Without that necessary information, its like a game of hit and miss; with a lot more misses.

Getting help with making decisions from people you trust is not a sign of weakness, but rather wisdom. But I get it; people you’ve trusted in the past, abused your trust and things didn’t go well. That’s led you to only trust yourself, and as things aren’t working out any better, this has you feeling worse, with no one to turn to.

Decide for yourself of course … but you may want to find one person you can share small stuff with and see if they can help you. If they do help you make good decisions, they might help you with the bigger things later.

Good decisions are hard to make in times of chaos – for anybody. Learning how to make better decisions, like any other skill, can be learned and could be exactly what you need.

This Is Not About Mark And Julie


When Mark was first approached with the offer of help finding a job over a couple of weeks, he accepted the invite, but openly expressed his doubts that I could teach him anything he wasn’t already doing on his own. You know what? I relish that honesty in people; I wasn’t insulted in the least.

Now Julie on the other hand? While her feelings were similar, her choice of words and her decision to decline the help offered was received quite differently. Not only was she sure I couldn’t do anything to help her, she said two weeks with me would be a complete waste of her valuable time.

What made Julie’s reaction and decision all the more puzzling at the time was that a highly respected colleague of mine had referred us to each other and Julie was touted as a ‘Superstar’; someone I’d absolutely be impressed with. Well she made an impression. I can’t convey in words the tone of voice she used on the phone, the emphatic disdain she communicated for the help offered.

So you should know, what both Mark and Julie were offered was to be one of twelve participants in a two-week intensive job search group. All twelve have to have: 1) A résumé 2) Basic computer skills 3) A clear employment goal 4) strong motivation to find work 5) Give me permission to give them honest feedback and 6) come dressed daily in business casual clothing ready for interviews – because they will get them. Beyond making the self-investment of time to realize their financial independence, the cost to attend? Free. In fact, I’d see they got money for clothing and grooming needs, full transportation costs to get around, funds they could use for lunch if they chose to and when they did get a job anywhere up to $500 to buy whatever they needed to get off to a good start.

Now to me, this is a pretty easy choice to make. After all, Mark, Julie and the other people I extend this offer to are all unemployed or severely underemployed; sometimes working part-time outside their field of training or volunteering. Now I know that most people are already doing a job search on their own, and that some of what people are doing already is quite good. However, if the results are not forthcoming, doesn’t it seem sensible to take advantage of free help from someone recognized as a professional helping others find work?

My accumulated years of experience has told me that when most people don’t seize such opportunities, something – or some things are going on beyond what is known. Yes, they could be secretly working and don’t want to be found out, but that’s not typically what’s going on. One of the key things I do actually is work with people and after establishing mutual respect and trust, make it a point to get at what barriers they are facing which prevent them from moving forward and realizing their goals.

Now you might not think this approach is necessary; if you help somebody write a cover letter and resume, prepare them for the interview and wish them the best, they’ll get work soon enough. That may be true of course, but if this is all you do, you’ll be puzzled and disappointed when they lose their employment in short order. Some will contact you and ask for more help, while others will feel embarrassed and not contact you as they don’t want to let you down.

You might wonder then how far I can get with twelve people in only two weeks to set up the trust required to have each person open up and share what they would otherwise keep buried. I tell you this, the faster a person opens up and the more they share, the better the counsel I can offer, and the more effective the help will be they receive. In the end, what most end up with is a job best suited to not only their education and experience, but in an environment where they’ll not only survive, but thrive. Now as an unemployed person, doesn’t this sound enticing?

The most significant factor in achieving success is wanting what you’re after with enthusiasm. If you want it – I mean REALLY want it, that inner motivation and enthusiasm will be exactly what it takes to get you through when the roadblocks pop up. Instead of throwing up your hands in exasperation, you’ll roll up your sleeves and dig deep. Make no mistake, the job seeker has to want work more than the person helping them find it.  If it’s the other way around, lasting success won’t come.

Here’s the thing about Mark; recall if you will he’s the guy who expressed doubts but accepted the offer. When we wrapped up our time together, Mark told me that he was really suspicious but it was at noon on day 1 that he realized how thankful he was that he got the offer and accepted. His is a success story in that he did find work. He ended up moving from Ontario to British Columbia, accepting a full-time job at $120,000 per year. Quite a significant change from receiving social assistance and feeling frustrated, low self-worth and getting less than $15,000 per year.

When opportunity comes your way, make a change; say yes if you typically answer with a, ‘no thank you’. There’s a lot of great help out there to seize!

The High Cost Of Indecision


So you have a big decision to make. You’ve been wrestling with it for some time, weighing out pros and cons of the choices before you. Somehow though, you just can’t bring yourself to make that choice. Two questions for you: why the delay and what’s it costing you to delay?

As to why you are stalling on deciding, you probably don’t want to make the wrong choice. Could be that in the past you made other big decisions with what you thought was sound reasoning and good judgement and those decisions didn’t turn out so well. The last thing you want to do is repeat making a poor choice and coming to regret it.

This is often the case when the choice before you is similar to one you regret from the past. Like deciding if you should commit the next two or three years to going to College/University and going into debt in the process. Years ago you borrowed money and started school but never finished the program because it didn’t turn out to be what you’d hoped it would. All you got was the debt and an incomplete education; one year of a 3 year program. The fear now is you’ll make another bad choice and add to your debt.

You might also be wrestling with taking a job – any job – versus waiting to find the right job. You figure that if you’re working in a job you don’t like just to make some money, you won’t have the time to properly look for that dream job, and you won’t be able to go to an interview if you’re working now will you? So you’re stuck.

This indecision isn’t confined to work or school either. Perhaps you’re indecisive about asking someone out, wondering if you should or shouldn’t pop the big question to the love of your life, or indecisive about whether you should tell everyone your big secret.

Whatever you are indecisive about, there’s a cost you’re paying now, and a cost you’re going to pay the longer you put off making a choice. The choice to choose is entirely yours to make or not of course (and that’s the real issue) but don’t pretend you’re not paying for your indecision.

What’s the cost? Anxiety, low self-esteem, self-doubt, dangerous thoughts about what’s wrong and the pressure, pressure, pressure! Deadline dates for enrolling in school might get missed, the love of your life might get tired of waiting on you to pop the question, that guy or girl you’re mad about might end up going out with somebody else; not because they like them any better, but because they actually got around to asking. As for employment, the job you dream about might appear and you never get an interview because of the present gap on your resume…and it’s only getting wider and becoming more of a problem.

Help!

Okay, here’s help. Suppose you have two options you’re trying to choose between. Let’s start with something with relatively less pressure; ice cream. Is it going to be Butterscotch Ripple or Raspberry Thunder? The problem is you like them both, and no you can’t get a scoop of each. Choose. Maybe for you this isn’t a big deal and you don’t see the relevance to your problem. Go with me on this. Choose. So you went with the Raspberry Thunder figuring you like it just as much as Butterscotch Ripple and after all, you figure you can always choose it the next time you want a cone. Decision made and you’re enjoying the ice cream instead of standing there in the heat salivating but being unable to decide.

The choice between two post secondary programs, or two universities is exactly the same just on a bigger scale. Don’t fret it. Choose. You would enjoy both programs and more importantly you’d be happy in the career possibilities a degree in either opens up. Great. You’ve got a choice between a winner and another winner, just like the ice cream.  Make the choice and the anxiety over having to decide is eliminated. Second guessing is not helpful. Commit to your choice. Oh and by the way, after you’ve graduated, you might decide to find work in the field or perhaps add to your education with the other choice – but let your future self wrestle with that one – you don’t have the information at present to know how you’ll feel in 3 years.

Now when you have to make a choice but don’t know what the choices are, (like trying to decide what to do with your life; what to be), it can seem harder. Really though, you just lack the information upon which to make a decision. You need to learn what kind of work is out there, what education and experience is needed, where the jobs are located, the hours, pros and cons etc. In short, you need to research to get the information you lack now to make a good choice.

Then again, when faced with a decision flip a coin. When it’s in the air, see if you don’t suddenly in that 2 seconds find yourself hoping it lands one way or the other. You’d be surprised how often the way you hope the coin lands is more important than how it actually turns out; you know instinctively what you want; just don’t look to see if it is heads or tails – you’ll only be confused.

 

Problems In Addition To Unemployment?


If you’re out of work its a pretty safe bet that the lack of a job isn’t the only problem you’re facing. Quite the opposite is likely the case; you’ve got a growing list of issues that would seem to be multiplying.

As these multiple issues arise, you’ve also likely come to doubt your ability to handle things effectively, and this is yet another thing that’s giving you reason for concern, because handling things effectively so they didn’t get out of hand used to be a strength of yours. Now though, well, you’re doubting yourself. And this self-doubt is happening more and more isn’t it?

Here’s the thing about problems; we all get them from time-to-time. For many people, the problems can be anticipated and quickly averted; say in the case of knowing you’ve got a bill to pay by the end of the month. The smart thing to do would be to pay the bill, avoiding any more charges for a late fee and then crossing this potential problem off your list. Seems easy enough.

The thing about mounting problems however is that when one problem comes along, it often brings several more. So not only is a particular bill due, there could be several due, and just as you’re thinking it’s going to be difficult to pay all the bills, this is precisely when the furnace acts up, the curling shingles on the house you didn’t repair or replace blow off completely, the dog has an untimely medical visit to the vet clinic and suddenly the washing machine is knocking so loud you can longer ignore it. Then your child innocently reminds you it’s hotdog day at school and they’ll need the permission form signed and $3.00 to cover a dog and a drink. That’s the last straw!

All that pressure and strain erupts like Mount Vesuvius, and you’re snapping at people one moment and apologizing the next. Great! Yet another thing you’ve got to worry about! You’re losing it! Sound familiar?

Thing is, the above scenario is more common than you’d like to think. It’s not just you experiencing these issues, it’s many of the people around you – even though on the outside, they – like you, are doing a really good job of appearing totally in control. Why, you’d never guess from looking at them that they’ve got a similar set of problems all their own.

There’s a certain irony you know in that when problems first arise, many people don’t mind sharing them with others, but as the problems mount and multiply, sharing with anybody all the problems we’ve got becomes less and less an option. You see, it’s in sharing our problems with others that we often find workable solutions. Perhaps what you’re dealing with now is a problem someone else has recently dealt with and put behind them. Even if you don’t get a ready-made solution from sharing your problem, just talking it out to a receptive ear is healthy; better for you than you might know.

Another good reason for talking through the things you’re dealing with – or rather finding hard to deal with – is that you’re usual good judgement isn’t what it was. This isn’t a long-term issue to worry over in addition to everything else – let me stress this. However, at this particular moment, right now, your decision-making skills are under pressure. The result? You think you’re making the best decisions possible but to outside, objective people looking in, those decisions are questionable at best and poor at worst.

So, what to do? First, do you have someone you can confide in with confidence? You know, someone who you can trust? If you do, ask for their ear and tell them how much you’d appreciate sharing some of your immediate challenges and worries. You may get some ideas and possible solutions, but even if they only listen, that’s a start. If you have someone, great. Remember, this person you’d like to confide in won’t judge you or tell you to keep your problems to yourself. If such a person isn’t easily found, seeing a Mental Health Counsellor through a local Mental Health organization might be an option. Often at no charge, you’ll get a confidential appointment, judgement-free and yes, maybe some strategies to deal with some of your current problems.

You’re smart enough to know that a problem ignored doesn’t usually resolve itself or just go away. A problem ignored usually escalates and becomes a bigger problem over time. Facing the problem head-on might not seem like something you can take on at the moment, but it may be exactly the thing to do. If it helps, start tackling a relatively minor problem and clear it from your mind. You’ll feel better! Don’t immediately worry about the big problems you’ve yet to deal with until you acknowledge your small start and give yourself credit for this success.

Could be that the income from a job will resolve many of your worries – especially the financial ones. However, would tackling some problems outside of getting a job be a better place to start? Perhaps. You see without tackling these other issues, you might not do as well as you need to be in a new job, and problems ignored could mean time off to deal with them – resulting in losing the job. Only you can decide what’s the best strategy for you given what you’re experiencing.

Dear Mom: How I’m Feeling (Please Read)


Hi mom. How are you?

Me, I’m not so good. I want to talk with you about how I’ve felt for a long time now, but I keep putting off saying what’s really on my mind. Mostly because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, and I know I’d probably shut down again if I tried and keep how I’m really feeling bottled up – once again – so this is why you’re reading it instead of having me tell you myself.

When I was younger, you used to tell me I could do anything; I could be anybody I wanted to be. I don’t know exactly when you switched or why, but now you tell me just to do anything, just be anybody, and while the words are the same, the meaning has changed. Pretty soon I wonder if you’ll tell me I’ll never amount to anything; I’ll never be anybody. And what you really mean with those words is I’ll never be anyone of value in your eyes.

Living up to your expectations is hard. I know you only had the best in mind for me, and I really hope you still do. The pressure I’m feeling though and the stress that comes with it to make my next few moves and not mess up is actually having the opposite effect. See I’m starting to feel paralyzed; unable to move forward and actually do anything because I’m afraid of making what in your opinion is just another bad choice or mistake.

Don’t be mad. Oh please don’t be mad, just hear me out. This isn’t easy mom. You know one of the greatest things a parent can do is teach their kids to make decisions on their own. It must be hard when you think you know better; when you wouldn’t make the choices I’ve made. Saying, “I warned you”, or, “I told you this would happen didn’t I?” might seem the helpful thing to do or say, but all it’s really doing is adding pressure and shutting me down. That’s not what you want and it’s not healthy for me either.

Sure I regret some of the choices I’ve made. Those choices were mine though mom, and the regret is mine too. But here’s the thing; I made the choices, I have the regrets and I am the one who hopefully learns the lessons from the choices. What I’ve learned is to put more thought into the big choices. The small choices with small consequences don’t matter near as much as the big ones, and with the bigger decisions I know I need to think them through more, do some research about what job to get, what schooling I need to train for it etc.

You want the best for me, but comparing me to other people isn’t helping – and honestly, it’s not fair. I’m my own person just as they are. We’re different mom. It’s not about, “just getting a job”, but more about getting THE job that’s right for me, one that’s going to bring me some happiness, one that I’ll do well in and feel good about doing. I’ve got responsibilities I know and believe me I want to stand up on my own, pay my own bills, be my own woman and not just survive but rather thrive. I don’t need you to remind me of my responsibilities; sorry mom but you remind me of that way too often; sometimes with words, sometimes with that look.

Okay so that’s how I’m feeling. But now I have to move on and tell you more than that. Now I want to tell you what you can do that I’d appreciate; what I’d really find helpful. Are you willing to listen to this and think about it. Please say you’ll think about what I’m saying here; maybe even for a few days before we talk?

First of all mom, please stop asking me what I’m going to do with my life. I don’t know what the next 30 years is going to look like; I don’t even know what the next 5 years is going to look like. Does anybody? Really? I’m looking ahead believe me, but I’m concentrating on the next year or two at best. My self-esteem is shaky; sometimes it’s okay but there’s more times it’s not. I doubt myself more than I’d like to admit, but I do. Still, I have to figure things out. If I can make a few good decisions; decisions that turn out well, I can build on that and make more of them, and it would be nice to have your support and recognition when I do.

Give me a little space mom. If I’m ever going to ‘make it’ on my own, I need permission to fail without those, “I told you so” looks. You were the one who said, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” See I was listening and I do remember. If I don’t succeed the first or second time, it doesn’t mean I never will, I just haven’t yet.

I’m smart mom; smart in some things and not so smart in others. This makes me normal. And mom, I value you and what you’ve done for me – what you keep doing for me – really I do. That’s why you’re reading this mom. You matter to me and I want you to be proud of me.

Choices And Consequences


Not everybody wants the same things; nor do people who do want the same things want them to the same degree.

Take yesterday. So there I was on day 1 of a 7 day career exploration workshop. 7 days isn’t a long time to invest in looking at the various options and settling on one to pursue for the immediate future, but on the other hand, when you receive guidance and encouragement and go at it with some enthusiasm, you can indeed learn a lot about yourself. So yes, you could progress to the point where you move forward with confidence towards an employment goal. Even if there’s homework left to do researching a couple of options after the class has ended, this too is progress.

Now one of the things I made clear – and ALWAYS make clear on day 1 of any workshop I run, is that attendance is critically important. Missing time won’t get a person removed automatically; after all, previously scheduled appointments can’t always be shuffled around outside of the 7 days. I tell participants on day 1 that they have to be present to get the most out of the experience. While it’s true they would return from time away to find all the handouts on their desk, completing them on their own just isn’t the same as doing it in a facilitated discussion.

If a day is missed, not only would they have to catch up on the next by completing the self-assessments we covered in their absence, their voices would be missing in the discussions which occurred in their absence. So not only is the experience for the person lacking, so too is the experience of the entire group who loses out from the missed persons vocal input.

At one point in the day, one woman announced she had something to talk with me about after class. Odd to announce to an entire class I thought and not to come up at break or lunch and mention, but there it was. After class she told me she had a dilemma. As much as she wanted to be in class everyday and not miss anything, she also wanted to go with her daughter’s class on a school trip. She said she’d make up the work and asked my permission.

I told her the choice was hers to make – as I believe it always is – to be where she wanted/needed to be. I wouldn’t decide for her, or tell her what I would do in her place. Yes, I reminded her, she would get the handouts to complete, but she would not get the full value of the experience, including the discussion that accompanied each one; nor would she be able to contribute to those discussions to help others. Her choice.

I get that what most people want is for me to give them my blessings. I understand that single mothers such as her are highly motivated by their children; that they are their entire world. Because they live for their children, they hope that I’d see things exactly the same way and say, “Oh of course, that’s important so go have a good time and do so with my full support.” I didn’t say this though. I’m not hard or cruel either.

Life is all about choices and every choice comes with a consequence. Some of those consequences are minor and some are major. As we’re all different, and see things different, what one person might consider to be the right choice for them might not be the choice someone else would make given the same situation. Letting people make their own choices empowers them; making the choices for them or severely punishing them for making a choice we wouldn’t make does the opposite. So missing a day out of 7 comes with consequences,  but the decision is not mine to make for her.

There is however another consequence to her decision to which she is entirely unaware. This career exploration workshop isn’t the only one I run. There is one workshop which is an invitation-only, intensive job searching workshop. What participants in all my workshops don’t know is that I’m watching, listening, evaluating and re-evaluating each and every one of them throughout our entire time together. I’m watching for the words and actions that tell me people are either ready for that opportunity to be extended to them or not. In other words, although everyone might tell me they are ready to work and want to work, not everyone wants it to the same degree.

Having been told yesterday in the larger group that these 7 days were a rare opportunity to get to know themselves better and explore what kind of work would make the most of each persons talents, interests and bring them the most satisfaction, I’m looking at each person and gauging their commitment to that end. Who is putting in the time and effort, who is contributing and getting the most out of this experience which many working people would love to undertake if only they could; learning about themselves and what would make them most happy.

We shall see what she chooses, but my money goes with missing the day to attend the school trip. It’s not the wrong choice in many ways; but it is a choice just the same.

Make your choices with foresight and conviction and whatever you choose, consider the implications.