Experiencing Mental Health Issues?


Be positive. Look on the bright side. Turn that frown upside down. You’re never fully dressed without a smile. See the glass as half full. Don’t be a sour puss.  Things can only get better. You’ve got nowhere to go but up. Nobody wants to be around a grumpy Gus.

Sayings from the past and present that all send the same message; look at things with a positive point of view and present yourself to others with a cheerful disposition. Easier said than done for some folks; at least for some folks some of the time.

It’s likely true that most people do enjoy being around other people who are upbeat and positive. When you surround yourself with optimistic people who are positive, you feel some of that positivity rub off on you. When you walk away you feel better, encouraged, hopeful and in a better mood. Whether that feeling lasts but a moment or you carry it forward for a while depends entirely on you.

On the other hand it’s also the case that if you spend some time with someone who is moody, brooding, negative and talks about doom and gloom, you’re likely to walk away feeling down yourself. Given the choice of the two, most would certainly choose to surround themselves with positive people.

The challenge for some people however is that they are not accustomed to smiling or looking positive. When they are at ease, their faces take on what the rest of us might consider a serious countenance. They look intense, maybe even uninviting; radiating a, “I’d rather be left alone thank you” impression. Unfortunately this may not be how they are really feeling at all, but they come across this way and they know it. They know it because people have told them over and over for ages to smile and look happy.

This issue becomes compounded of course when they experience stress and pressure, especially if it lingers as in the case of a prolonged period of unemployment or financial hardship. As job searching can be fraught with highs and lows, built-up expectations and dashed hopes, it becomes even harder to stay upbeat and hopeful. That advice to put on a smile and fake it until you make it just sounds near impossible.

Empathizing with people who are anxious, depressed, edgy, stressed and immobilized means in part to accept them where they are; appreciating the circumstances in which they find themselves and having a measure of respect. Unless you’ve experienced what they have experienced – (and if you recognize that each person experiences things in their own unique way) it’s difficult to understand sometimes why they can’t change.

Telling someone to just snap out of it and expecting they’ll immediately slap a lasting smile on their face is unreasonable. If it were that easy, they’d have figured that out on their own. They’re likely to think or say, “Don’t you think I would if I could?” What if perhaps this condition you later discovered wasn’t so much a conscious choice the person is making to come across as sad and morose but rather an ongoing mental health issue?

What continues to be difficult for many to truly appreciate is that sometimes this mental health condition isn’t one of choice. No more than say, telling someone with a broken wrist to, “just write or type with it anyhow”, or “suck it up buttercup and deal with it.” That would be insensitive, and at the first sight of the cast on their wrist and forearm we’d be much more likely to acknowledge their injury and perhaps offer our help, extending some empathy or at the very least some sympathy.

But a mental health issue is so much less obvious isn’t it? We don’t know if a person is behaving the way they are by choice or not. Unlike seeing someone with a cast on their wrist and making small talk about how it happened, it’s highly unlikely we’d go up to someone who looks depressed and say, “Are you just sad or are you coping with a mental health disorder?” The other person might be so shocked at this that they wouldn’t know how to respond. They might respond with a, “Mind your own business”, “Is it that obvious?”, or possibly a, “Thanks for asking, actually I am…”

Imagine how much energy it would take to mask and attempt to cover up a condition like social anxiety or full-blown depression. Picture yourself having to force an insincere smile and generate some artificial laughter with those you meet, feeling that to fit in you have to be someone you’re not at your authentic core. That would be exhausting. How long could you keep that up? Could you pull it off? Don’t we all want others to accept us for who we are; aren’t we being told again and again to just be ourselves?

Many people who experience mental health issues are getting some form of help. They are doing the best they can to fit in but their not always successful. They experience the world around them from their unique perspective which may be different from others. Treatments vary as does the outcomes of these interventions.

If you don’t understand it or get it, can’t really empathize with them but wish you could, don’t compound things. Tolerance; acknowledging and accepting them as they are is a start.

How Many Jobs Should You Apply To Per Day?


The short answer is a nice big fuzzy, “it depends.”

Now of course the logical question you’re framing in your mind is what does it depend on? Am I correct? While setting goals for yourself is commendable and strongly encouraged, it’s not always the best strategy to set a number of jobs to apply to each day when you’re out of work. That may come as a surprise to some of my readers given that I’m an Employment Counsellor.

An effective job search is about more than just filling out applications and firing off resumes to organizations online or via email. In fact, a healthy job search allocates time to a number of activities which will keep you busy and productive.

Now while you may be driven to actually apply for employment, it’s not always the case that the person who applies for the most number of jobs is ultimately the first one hired. Nor is it the case that the one who applies for the most number of jobs is the one who lands in the right job; and that can lead to many job changes when the positions don’t last long.

Sure you should look for jobs daily. By all means set aside some time in the morning to see what new postings may have come out in the last 24 hours. You don’t want to miss an opportunity that you’ve otherwise kept your eye on and find it has some extremely short deadline to apply and then miss it. How unfortunate that would be! If you also look into postings once during the afternoon, you’re already doing a good job of staying on top of what’s available.

There are other things you should be paying attention to however; and it’s these other things that will keep you productively engaged in your job search and give you enough variety so you avoid discouragement. Here’s a list:

  1. References. Now is the best time to put together a list of the people you know who will vouch for your work performance. Current or former employers, supervisors and/or co-workers are excellent choices. You’ll need a minimum of 3 of these, including the correct spelling of their names, titles, company names, phone numbers and emails. By the way, send them a current resume to have on hand as well as a note of appreciation for their ongoing support.
  2. Social Media Profile. When applying for a position, many employers will turn to the internet and dig around to find what they can about you. If you started a LinkedIn profile but never really developed it much, now is a great time to devote some attention to developing and fleshing out your profile. Put in a little effort now and you won’t feel embarrassed about your profile later.
  3. Exercise. Job searching is stressful for almost everybody and it manifests itself in physical ways. Getting out for a walk, bicycle ride, the elliptical gathering cobwebs in the basement or a trip to the gym will not only improve your physical fitness but ward off aches and pains.
  4. Enjoy A Pastime. If you need permission to spend some time doing things you enjoy, here it is. Get out in the garden, work those knitting needles, pound those keyboards, pick up that paintbrush. Setting aside some time to do things which bring you happiness and keep up your sense of normal day-to-day living is strongly encouraged. Job searching need not be all-consuming.
  5. Practice Interviewing. I know, I know, I know. This is likely something you don’t enjoy and only want to do when absolutely necessary. Still, without practice and more practice, you’re not going to be at your best just winging it on the day of the big interview. You’ll feel mounting anxiety if you put off practicing and end up sitting in some Reception area wishing you had dusted off your interview skills earlier.
  6. Work Your Network. Networking is essential; engaging with other people, taping into their resources, gaining support and advice, drawing on their expertise and experience. Be it phone calls, face-to-face, over the net, etc., devote some time to reaching out. All those friends on FB and connections on LI you’ve been building are a good place to start.
  7. Diet. By diet I do not mean lose weight. What I do mean is pay attention to both the quantity of food you consume and the quality. When you’re off work, the proximity to your pantry and fridge is considerably reduced, and your trips to both may be much more frequent. If you don’t bring junk into the house in the first place it won’t be there for you to over-indulge in during those weak moments when you crave comfort food.

There’s more you could be doing for sure, but these 7 are a good start. Setting yourself an arbitrary goal of say, 8 job applications a day will either set you up to fail or have you applying at jobs you don’t really want at all just to meet this quota.

If you’re only applying to a single job every week or less you’ve got to step things up my friend. What I’m saying is balance is the key; apply for jobs that you’re truly qualified to do and motivated to do – absolutely. It’s equally important however to get out from in front of a monitor and keep living.

 

You Know What You SHOULD Be Doing But…


Some people are handicapped because they need help deciding what to do next when it comes to moving forward. If someone in the know would only tell them what to do and why, they’d take action. Others though, know what they should be doing yet fail to actually do what they know they should.

Sometimes it’s not a big deal really; you go to bed with good intentions of cleaning out and organizing the garage in the morning. When the day dawns you just don’t feel like it so you don’t. It’s not a big deal because not doing it on this particular day doesn’t impact on anyone in particular. It’s been disorganized for a few weeks and one more day won’t matter. With the passing of another day – maybe even a week, you find the motivation to clean and organize and the job gets done.

However, there is a problem when you know what you should be doing, you’ve got no good reason why you aren’t doing what you need rather than want to do, and the problem of inaction persists. Take the whole unemployment and job search picture. It’s probable that you know you should be looking for work, making up those resumes and actually sending them off. You tell yourself you’re going to get at it first thing in the morning and go to bed with the best of intentions. Well done.

Upon waking up however, you don’t feel that same degree of motivation. Unlike putting off cleaning up the garage however, getting down to looking for work weighs on your mind. You get restless, your intellect tells you what you should be doing but you can’t or won’t motivate yourself to get going. You pace around the place, sit down, get back up moments later, look out the window, walk around some more, lie down but can’t sleep, get up and walk around some more. So what’s wrong?

It’s not like you don’t have the skills to do what needs doing. It’s not like you don’t know what you should be doing either. You know the potential payoff is achieving your goal of getting a job which would be good and the money of course would help. So you’ve got the incentive, skills and resources and yet, here you are, almost incapacitated and paralyzed and can’t figure out why. Meantime of course, you’re wracked with guilt because your brain just won’t shut down or move on to other thoughts. You don’t find satisfaction in reading, watching the television or whatever normally brings you comfort.

By the way, we all have days such as these. So if you have the odd day like the one I’m painting above, the experience is normal. Definitely doesn’t make it more enjoyable of course, but it is normal. Looking for work when you’re unemployed is definitely frustrating for many what with the rejections, the unanswered letters and emails, the hanging around waiting for interviews etc. The danger lies not in having the odd day like these then but rather, having day upon day of days like these. If this experience is your ‘normal’ day, this isn’t the normal experience.

It’s not likely I’m telling you anything so far you don’t know yourself. Now you might be asking yourself the classic, “What’s wrong with me?” question. In a very real way, I’m thrilled if you are. Why? Simply because if you are asking this question or some close version of it, you recognize that something if off, you’re not behaving and acting the way you’d like and most importantly you would appear in the asking of the question to be wanting to change. So to summarize, you know something is wrong, you want to be actively engaged and that requires some kind of change. Good!

Now, have you been able to – for lack of a better word – ‘fix’ things yourself? If this was an occasional thing you’d have moved on and you haven’t had you? No. So if you want to feel better and know change is needed, and if you haven’t been able to bring about the change you want on your own, it’s only logical to come to the conclusion that you need the assistance and help of someone else. This my friend isn’t a weakness. Sure years ago if you sought out help you would possibly be called weak; be told to just suck it up, man up, get over it, etc.

Many people today believe that reaching out for help is a sign of wisdom. Organizations like Bell promote a Mental Health Day which endorsed by celebrities and widely promoted. Many workplaces have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) which workers can confidentially access to discuss concerns. So where to start? Starting with your Doctor is a good idea. Remember you know you want to feel differently than you do at the present so admitting there’s something wrong is okay.

If technology isn’t your thing, get out the phone book and look up counselling in your community. Walk up to the local hospital and walk past the Emergency Department and head to the Information Desk. Ask for the location of the Dietician and get some information on eating right, as what goes in plays a huge part in your physical health which you shouldn’t ignore or abuse. It’s all connected. Get out and walk. Talk.

Your wellness and good mental health are worth it. Other suggestions?

Social Supports Work


If you never need to make use of the services provided in your community for financial assistance, mental health counselling, employment coaching, childcare, subsidized housing etc. congratulations. You’ve been fortunate enough to have your needs met both as a child and into your teens, and once in a position to make decisions about your own destiny, apparently you continue to make good ones.

For many however, the circumstances they were born into differed and the supports they had growing up which shaped their thinking and ability to make knowledgeable, positive decisions just wasn’t in place. When you sit down and listen to people tell their tales and hear first-hand their life stories, you come to appreciate the ongoing struggle that they face on not only a daily basis, but on an hourly basis.

Sometimes I admit that I sit and wonder why someone I’m listening to can’t see the situation as I do. If they’d only do what I’d do in the same situation the problem would soon be resolved; a barrier removed. Yet the choice they decide on is one which I can predict with a high degree of accuracy is not going to resolve the problem whatsoever and may even escalate things, compounding the initial challenge with additional issues. Oh if only everyone were as clever as me!

Of course I’ve become wiser over the years listening to people and taking what they say, massaging the information I receive and returning it back to them to make their own decisions and perhaps build on resolving this one issue so they can work on others. What I’m giving is perspective, an objective opinion, options, talking about foreseeable consequences and resisting the urge to tell people what to do. It’s tempting of course! Better however to ask people in the end what they plan on doing; after all, if they make a good decision it’s theirs to feel good about and if they make a decision that turns out bad, it’s their learning opportunity.

Let’s face it, sometimes, “Life” happens. You know, the things that happen to us all that we couldn’t have predicted but have to respond to in some way. Make no mistake, these things do happen to us all. So why is it then that when unexpected and unpleasant things happen, not all of us respond in healthy, productive ways? In other words, why do some people make better decisions than others when faced with the same events?

It goes back to the 2nd paragraph; right from the time we were born and well into our teens, some of us didn’t get the good parenting, mentoring, leadership, guidance, support, direction, teaching and support that is so crucial to developing the skills needed later in life when we have to make our own decisions. You might think that having such a setback might excuse someone’s poor choices as a youngster but as they move into adulthood the lack of good building blocks early in life can’t be used as excuses any longer.

The reality is that the circumstances in which many adults are in now are directly proportional to the circumstances of their upbringing. A family living in poverty – and I take the liberty of painting with a very broad brush here – has economic restrictions. A lack of financial resources limits opportunities for their children to participate in activities where children can socialize at the same level with other children from affluent or middle-class environments. They fall behind. They get less support in learning basic life skills; money management, goal setting, they find out less about education and employment opportunities which hinge on higher learning.

Now as adults, I admire the sheer resilience many of those receiving social supports have. Somehow through it all there remains for most a desire to improve not only themselves but the lives of their children. They still have hope. They may not use cover letters, those resumes might have spelling and grammatical errors, but they don’t give up or give in. They keep trying. They will only stop trying as it turns out if they keep getting told they can’t, they never will, it’s hopeless, they are a failure. Hear it often enough and they’ll believe it. So why can’t the opposite be equally true?

Hang on second…is that it? Is that a simple starting place? Is the key to surround a person who’s had nothing but poor mentoring and a lack of supports with positive, helpful, inspired and empowering people? How long would it take to see results? Months? Years? Never? I don’t believe it would be never, but it might take a long time. Then again, not everyone has the same problems, the same degree of difficulty nor the same number of issues.

Granted there will be those who despite all efforts will always need social supports and financial aid. While they need supports in place, unfortunately there is an extremely small chance of them becoming self-sufficient. There are also those at the other end who will pull themselves up with or without needing much help as they have the skills. However, in the middle are the vast majority of folks receiving some kind of support and if they get it they progress, and if they don’t they regress.

Want to make a difference? Become a mentor and/or helper or back those who are.

It’s Time For A New Job When…


These days the likelihood that you’re going to get a job at 19 and retire in that same job at 67 are almost nil. So it stands to reason that in your lifetime you’ll be transitioning from one job to another, or from one career to another. When’s the best time to go? How do you know when it’s time to go? Here’s a list of some indicators that your expiry date is almost up.

The first thing you do at work when you fire up the computer is to search internal job postings. If you’ve got into the routine of looking at what else you could be doing, it’s fair to assume you like the organization you’re in but have an interest in seeing what other opportunities there are. Sure you could just be checking out what’s opening up out of casual interest, but EVERY DAY? Don’t kid yourself; recognize the lustre has worn off what you’re currently doing.

Your boss suggests moves rather than promotions. Oh oh… If you had the skills your organization needs for those at the next level you’d be sitting down with the boss and they’d be encouraging you to put your name forward for upcoming openings at their level. However, if the boss is suggesting you look elsewhere so you can grow in other ways, that could be a sign you’ve reached a plateau. Are you a bad worker? No, not necessarily. In fact, they might just have your own best interests at heart when they suggest you look elsewhere for opportunities. Maybe they see potential in you in fact but know there aren’t going to be those kind of openings where you work now for years. The boss isn’t always bad y’know.

You wake up, realize it’s a, ‘go to work day’ and start thinking of reasons you could call in and skip out on showing up. Oh sure I suppose everybody does this once in a blue moon; especially on a sunny warm day when you’d rather be out in the sunshine. But if you’re finding these kind of thoughts are among the first to enter your consciousness on a regular basis,  you’d be smart to pay heed and address why you’re automatically looking to get out of going in to work instead of looking forward to the day.

You look around at work and see conspirators, not co-workers. While it’s true your co-workers need not be your friends, you do spend a lot of time with the folks you work with and so it’s reasonable to expect you’d at least communicate and support one another in your common organizational targets and goals. That being said, if you feel your co-workers are plotting against you, setting you up as the fall guy for projects that fail and you’re left holding the bag for things you feel you aren’t solely responsible for, ask yourself why no one has your back. Is it worth it to stay in what is being a toxic environment?

You’re counting down the days to retirement. First off let me acknowledge that if you’ve got less than a year to go, I can see the reasoning and the behaviour, so I’m not talking about you. However, I once worked with a person who had 7 years to go and kept checking off the days on their calendar on a daily basis. There focus was pinned on getting out as if they were serving a life sentence and had weekend visitations with their family. Is that any way to live? It certainly isn’t living in the present but rather pinning all ones thoughts and hopes on what will be in 7 years. Think of what you’re missing.

Anxiety, Stress and Uncertainty are your new best friends. If you find yourself anxious on a regular basis, you’re not sure why and can’t put your finger on it but you seem to have lost your focus that could be more than concerning it could be downright lethal. Exaggeration? Not if you work around heavy equipment, power tools or at heights etc. When you’re not thinking straight you put yourself and those around you in danger.

Anonymous hands put job postings on your desk; external job postings. When someone or worse yet, some people put external job postings on your desk it might signal you’re no longer tight with the in-crowd. While it might not matter to you at all, being excluded from simple things like joining others for a walk at break time or drinks at the pub after work could work against you and grow feelings of social isolation. If this is something you value, being excluded and essentially having it suggested to you that you should resign and move on could really sting.

The thrill is gone. What a great line from that oldies classic. But there is a reason that line endures over time; everybody who has ever lost the fire and passion gets it. If your job has become a chore and nothing more; if you find yourself watching the minutes drag by until quitting time….

Stay or go of course, it’s your choice. If you opt to stay at least make some kind of an adjustment in your thinking, looking at what you could do to make it better. If you opt to go, you could be giving yourself a tremendous gift. And who deserves it more than you?

Consider Sharing Your Condition


Yesterday I sat down with someone I’ve recently been helping to find employment.  It was a very productive meeting of just over two hours in length, and the reason it was so productive is we got well beyond the surface chatter quickly. As you’ll soon read, the time was apparently right for her to make a trusting disclosure.

We’ve just completed a couple of weeks in others company as she was one of 12 people invited to attend an intensive job searching program; the kind where those attending actively job search for much of the day with the guidance of myself and another Employment Counsellor.

One of the key things I stressed throughout the two weeks was the element of trust. When you trust someone who is in a professional position to provide help, opening up about your personal barriers can be profitable. The problems you’re experiencing may be similar to ones that others before you have had, and there is a chance that whomever you trust your challenges with just may have some viable options to lay before you to consider; one of which might just address your problem.

In the middle of the 2nd week, this particular lady mentioned that although she found it embarrassing, she wanted me to know that she was hard of hearing in both ears and was wearing a very well hidden hearing device. This explained a lot. Suddenly I looked at her differently; not badly you understand. No I looked at her and taking a few seconds to process this new information,  it helped me to re-evaluate what I’d previously experienced and as a result come to wonder about.

English you see, is not this person’s first language. It’s quite good in my opinion, and I can easily carry on a long conversation with her without ever misunderstanding her words, but she herself feels her English needs improvement. Where you and I hear someone speak and respond quickly to their questions, she hears a question and then translates the English to her native tongue in her head, knows what she wants to say and then translates it back to English as the words leave her mouth; all in a matter of seconds. That’s impressive; well to me at any rate. However, those few extra seconds required to perform all this sometimes have her concerned that she appears slow or unsure of herself.

In addition to the process I’ve just described for you however, she also has diminished hearing, and so she’d often ask for questions to be repeated, especially if the speaker was facing her or spoke very quietly – and speaking quietly was something I’d been doing when working with her one-on-one with the others present in the same room. Aha! My lower voice when speaking quietly off to her left or right meant she didn’t grasp all the words I spoke; she was only getting a portion of the sentences which led to the requests for repeating myself and the turned head to face me as I spoke quite often.

Her fear in revealing this condition was twofold; one she’s a proud woman and doesn’t want to appear weak and two she’s afraid that as a Receptionist or Administrative Assistant, she’d be discriminated against for having hearing loss.

We talked about this condition and here in Ontario we’re fortunate enough to have organizations like the Canadian Hearing Society. This is a fabulous organization who helps people just like her in a number of ways. They have employment programs specifically to help job seekers with hearing loss. They have devices that can amplify phone calls and most importantly help people come to speak with assertiveness when sharing their condition. So I put her on to them for help.

We also talked about the idea of if and when it might be appropriate to share with an employer her hearing condition. This she could do at the application stage in a cover letter, at the outset of an interview, or towards the end of the interview after having just proved she could carry herself well throughout the conversation. Her fear of course is that the employer might discriminate as I say and she’d be out of the running for a job. But, as I said, how long would she last if the employer didn’t know and it appeared in the first few days that this new hire needed so much repeated? Maybe it would be better to miss an opportunity during an interview than to be hired and then let go by keeping things to herself.

Another idea I floated was just telling the interviewer during that, “Tell me about yourself” question that she has a slight hearing loss and that looking directly at her when speaking and speaking clearly would be very much appreciated. A small plaque on her Reception desk if hired saying pretty much the same to anyone who approached her would also make things easier.

The option of whether or not to share what you perceive as a liability or disability is a personal one. I’d be very interested – as would I’m sure others reading this – in hearing from you if you’re experiencing something similar. What’s been your experience? When we open up and share this way, not only are you helping yourself,  you’re helping others.

So I ask you my reader, if you’ve disclosed your own condition, how did you do so, at what point, and what was the result?

Problem? Show Your Skills. Solve It


One of the most common skills you’ll find on many job postings is the requirement to solve problems. As an Employment Counsellor, I notice the relative ease with which many people happily add the ability to solve problems to their resumes. Ah, but when faced with problems that I observe, they are sorely lacking in this area.

It would seem that many people don’t think about their problem solving skills outside of the workplaces they are trying to get employed with. It’s as if they are saying, “I have to get a job before I can show you my problem solving skills.” Really? Uh, no that’s not true.

We all have problems; some are small, some large and some are truly huge which we have to work on over a long period of time. All problems however have certain characteristics in common and the process for eliminating them is similar.

Problems by their nature threaten our goals. When we identify what we want to achieve, we then determine if things stand in our way be they small, medium or large and then we have to evaluate whether those things, (let’s call them barriers or challenges) are worth the effort to overcome or not. If we determine our end goals are important enough, we set out to tackle the barriers. If the barriers themselves are too massive to overcome and we aren’t willing to put in the effort to move past them, the goals we want aren’t important enough to us and we might as well stop ‘wanting’ the end goal. We’re setting ourselves up for failure; well at least until achieving the end goal takes on greater importance to us than the work it will take to eliminate the barriers standing in our way.

Simply put, make sure your goals are bigger than your biggest problems.

Suppose you’ve looked at what you want to do career-wise, and you’ve determined that a return to school is absolutely critical in order to get the academic qualifications necessary to compete for that dream job. You’re looking at 2-3 years of College or University. This means you’re also going to have to take on 2-3 years of debt and you’ll be 3-4 years older when you graduate and ready to compete with others for your end goal. Depending on a number of factors such as your age, how much you really want that career and your perception of debt vs. an investment in yourself, you either have to pass up the end goal because going to school is standing in your way or you enrol and invest money and time in yourself.

Or perhaps you find the job you really want is in another neighbouring city and it’s going to take you 1.5 hours to get there and another 1.5 hours to return each day by transit. You know you COULD move closer, but you’ve got your child in school and at 8 years old they’d have to change schools and you’ve got family just down the street for emotional support. One person will choose to stay put choosing unemployment for the present and the status quo while another will choose to pick up and relocate, rationalizing that the child is only 8 and kids make new friends in no time; what’s the big deal?

The thing about problems or challenges is that they always come with choices. The good problem solvers know that the first step to solving problems is to see them for what they actually are not what they imagine them to be. They weigh the importance of their end goals against the problems standing in their way and then brainstorm the various options they have to eliminate the problems. One thing they also do is ask other people for input; after all, other people might present options they themselves haven’t considered.

Smaller scale problems that crop up are solved the same way. You wake up and there are salt stains on your favourite pair of pants; pants you were planning on wearing. One person might just toss them in the laundry and pull out a second pair while another person might let that small problem paralyze them entirely; throwing off their mood, upsetting their plans and they just don’t go to work or that big interview because they have, ‘nothing to wear’.  (It’s true actually; I’ve heard this one many times.)

When you tackle a small problem and succeed, two things happen. First of all the immediate problem is overcome and you’re closer to achieving your goal. Secondly you build some confidence in your ability to solve problems, and that confidence gives you the courage to tackle other problems. Start to solve a few problems and you feel you can apply the same thought process and actions to tackle even bigger issues, and soon you’ve got a track record of solving your issues. Now you can truly say you are good at solving problems AND you’ll have examples to cite when asked in an interview as proof rather than a baseless claim.

So when faced with a problem, stack it up against your end goal. See the problem for what it actually is. Brainstorm your options. Get ideas from others. Take action if the end goal is important enough to you and if it isn’t, ditch the goal you’ve got in mind. Remember, if your problems are bigger than your goals, nothing happens unless you change the value of the end goal.