Yes! Get Excited About Getting Stuff!

I’m sure by now you’ve come across those social media posts where there’s a lovely picture in the background and some famous quote or suggestion someone has for living your life in the foreground. I see this on a regular basis and if you enjoy these, just type, “quotes with pictures” in your favourite search engine and you’ll see thousands.

So yesterday evening, I happened to come across two such items and in both cases, they were broadcasting a similar message; don’t get too hung up on acquiring stuff because one day you’ll realize it’s people, not owning things that’s important. Now these random quotes that pop up unexpectedly have become for many, the words of wisdom which in generations past, you’d have received from the revered and older members of your family; i.e.. pre-internet, pre-computer world. Someone you greatly respected would tell you to live your life a certain way and you’d think about that seriously, because of your respect for them. Not only that, you didn’t have too many people giving you this sage advice way back when.

However today, all you have to do is go online and it seems everyone is not only sharing such quotes they like with the world, they are creating their own words to live by and taking or finding pictures they feel convey the right mood to go with them. It’s not like these are being passed on by the elders of a village, a wise man nestled in some mountain retreat, or a woman who has lived a long, rich life having traveled the world several times over and experienced life to its fullest. No often these quotes on how to live your life are coming from adolescents who haven’t reached their 14th birthday yet, troubled people looking for an outlet and/or audience to make them feel validated, heard and followed. How much living have they done? Based on what are they in a position to prescribe how you and I should live our lives?

I thought for a moment and paused over this post that came into my evening unasked for. There it was, reminding me that wanting and getting things in life isn’t important, and that one day I would realize that it’s people I should be going after, not things. And I thought, “no; you’re wrong.”

There’s nothing wrong (in my opinion) with going after things in life we want, surrounding ourselves with objects and possessions which bring a smile to our face, that make us feel good and that just by owning, make us happy. We can still get and have these things in our lives AND have positive relationships with people if we so choose, at the same time. In fact, for those that don’t enjoy being surrounded by people in their lives, owning things that make us feel comfortable and good – well, that’s a good thing.

Take the 4 or 5 year old at their birthday or Christmas. We encourage excitement, happiness and good feelings as they open presents. If such a child said, “Well thanks, but you know, none of these really do it for me, I’d rather just go over and spend a few minutes with dad”, we’d be both amazed and question if we got the wrong thing. We might wonder why they aren’t happy and as excited as we’d have expected. No, we set our kids up to be excited when given a gift or possession. As they get older, we get excited when they show us something they’ve bought that makes them feel good; we say things like, “Well done! I’m so proud of you!”, when they buy their first car, rent their first apartment, get handed their diploma or win some competition in school or community sports.

For most of us, surrounding ourselves with the things we want means needing to exchange money for those goods; money that typically comes from employment. Whether it’s a souvenir from a trip, the latest technology, a dress, shoes, new tattoo, comfortable bed or a new car, all these things bring us some measure of happiness. There is nothing wrong about going after them and being excited to acquire them. Nor should we feel we have to hide our accomplishments, like getting our Masters, passing a course with great marks, or getting a promotion or raise at work. These are THINGS to share with pride and yes, we who hear of others good news should just applaud their accomplishments and be happy right along with them.

Somehow though, a warm and cuddly picture of a puppy with the quote, “Get a job, get money, buy stuff”, wouldn’t go over as well I don’t think. So perhaps it’s the balance of acquiring things that make us feel good (and feeling good is what we’re all after) and having people in our lives (if this is what we want of course) that we strive for? Just perhaps. The thing is this… no one person has ever come up with a quote or way to live your life statement that universally applies to every person who has ever been, nor who will ever be, nor who lives at the moment.

Live your own life, go after the stuff that makes you feel awesome inside. An outfit, new wheels, toys, trips, a job, furniture or an address. Go for it! Get excited about that stuff!


Our Choices Spread Jobs Around

Of late, my wife and I have been actively looking at where and how we want to live  from now until retirement and then hopefully long into that next stage. There are a lot of tradespeople and others who will ultimately gain or lose work based on what we decide. Ever thought about that yourself?

So we live in a bungaloft; a home with a main floor, finished basement and a second storey that overlooks the living room on the main floor. Outside we’ve got many floral gardens; 95% of which are filled with perennials; so there’s less work than it looks at this stage as the bulk of the work is done. The folks at garden centres have a lot of our money!

The thing is, we can’t at the moment, decide on what to do between the choices we’ve presented to ourselves. We could:

  1. Stay put and do some renovating to make a really nice home even better
  2. Move to some property with a great view, and a house that ticks off all the things on our ‘dream’ list
  3. Buy a lot and have a home built from scratch just the way we want it
  4. Move to a smaller place; like a condo and buy a recreation vehicle and travel weekends and on our vacations

Now I’m not just sharing our discussions for the purpose of garnering ‘likes’ such as one would on FB. No, I’m sharing because there are a lot of working people who will make money or lose opportunities based on whatever we decide. And who knows; there could be more options yet that come to light.

There’s the RV sales people; and if you’ve not been inside some campers and trailers for years, you should think about taking in such a show. Things have come a long way in comfort and options. Bigger isn’t always better, but it sure is nice to have some comforts when you’re coming in after a day on the trails, white water rafting or having been out doing pretty much anything active. Yes the RV sales people will be happy to know that we’re potentially in the market – again.

Now we’ve moved 8 times if you include the first three years of our marriage where we were in 3 apartments in the first 3 years. 5 different houses representing 10 real estate commissions, 10 lawyer’s fees, 3 home inspectors and way too many people in administrative roles to count giving buyers and sellers approval for this and that. In the last house, we stood and watched it go up right from the foundation. So many builders! There’s the tradespeople; the carpet layer, the hardwood installer, the trim team, the counter top manufacturer’s, the roofers, the framers, the dry waller’s, the landscapers who brought in the armour stone and made the waterfall, the plumbers, electricians, asphalt team, city inspector, gas, hydro, cable and water installers, the people delivering turf. Forgot to mention the heavy equipment operators, window installers and manufacturer’s, and of course all the people who produce and sell all the contents from lighting and bathroom fixtures to painters and HVAC people. Then too there’s the movers who transport all the ‘stuff’ from one house to another. So many people!

That’s a lot of jobs for a lot of people and we’re only one couple. When the housing industry is booming, it’s not hard to see that for every time you pass a new development going up, a lot of people are benefitting from the work created.

And what of that RV? There are owners of campgrounds hoping we’ll be among the many who frequent their sites. There’s the gas station employees and owners who hope we’re on the road, the people who build, sell and install the appliances contained within. Then there’s plumbers, electricians, framers, again. There are folks on automotive assembly lines who work at construction, engine installation, wiring, lighting and depending on the model, even the kitchen sink and toilet!

Then we’ve got to find a place to store the vehicle perhaps, for if we stay put, that new RV can’t stay in the driveway. Nope, by-laws forbid that. So someone makes money storing and maybe winterizing that RV.

I see a lot of Mitchell money going out. Oh, and to pull it unless it’s self-driven? Yep, that’s one of our cars to sell and replace with a vehicle with better towing capacity. I just keep thinking of all the people happy to take my money; our money. Oh well, it is only money. Right? Then again, I’m about 7 years (give or take) from retiring and then the money coming in drops. That bears thinking about.

That we’re in this thought process isn’t the thrust of the piece, but a look at who in the world of work will be affected and receive income/work from our choices. Say, what if we stayed put and just did some traveling of a different sort? Then the people taking our money might be airlines, hotel owners, restauranteurs, theatre owners, valets, RV rental agents, train operators, etc. What about all the souvenir creators and vendors relying on us, the servers, hotel staff, bed and breakfast operators and tour guides? What of the amusement operators – why even the road crews who pave the roads we’ll drive on?

There are a lot of people potentially taking our money. Stay tuned contractors, agents, builders, vendors, assembly line workers, …

Take A Short-Term Job? Why?

So you’re looking for a job. Excellent! Good for you. You even know what you’re looking for and it’s something you’re qualified to do in terms of your education and experience. The problem? It’s taking longer than you would have thought. Your financial resources are being depleted and the stress of unemployment is mounting. Sound familiar?

While it’s commendable that you have this narrow job focus and aren’t being distracted with the temptation of every job opening that comes your way, you’re entertaining the idea more and more of applying for positions other than your targeted career. Is this something you should or shouldn’t do?

These jobs you are thinking about applying for more and more are typically called survival or transition jobs. The idea of pursuing these kinds of jobs while at the same time still putting the bulk of your time and energy into your ideal career job has been around for a very long time. So if you’re thinking more and more about going this route, you’re in good company.

Let’s look at some of the pros shall we? So we are clear, you haven’t given up entirely on your career job. You’ve just come to the point where you looking at another job for the here and now. Don’t worry about that voice in your ear that keeps telling you if you seek out one of these other jobs you’re somehow a failure and have given up on yourself. That’s rubbish and can only lead to lower self-esteem and is anything but productively helpful.

First of all a transition or survival job (and from here on let’s use either one of these terms interchangeably) is short-term in nature. By short-term, the actual length can vary and is only intended to be kept once secured for as long as it takes to land your career job; a longer-term proposition and source of income. The fact that it is short-term should appease that fear you might experience of making a big mistake by taking one.

These jobs are typically entry-level positions in organizations and come with lower pay as a consequence, but the lower pay and the entry-level status also means you’ll have fewer responsibilities and that in turn means you should have both physical and mental energy left to devote to your career-based job search. Please don’t misread that I believe short-term transitions jobs are always filled by people who don’t have to use their brains whatsoever and you could do the job blindfolded. We’re all made up different and so the job you take as a sideline until something better comes up might at the same time be someone else’s career job bringing them great satisfaction. I’m not judging the people holding these jobs and you shouldn’t either.

As these are entry-level and lower paying positions more often than not, there is also a greater number of people available in the job market with the necessary skills to fill vacancies as they come up. Hence if and when you quit a short-term job you’ve taken as a survival job, the employer will have less of a challenge filling it come your departure. Less guilt for you if you’ve got a conscious.

A job by its very nature is going to provide you with income; income you need perhaps to pay some bills and keep your debt to a minimum. The nice thing about seeking one of these positions is that you’re likely to hear the words, “you’re hired” quicker than holding out for that dream career position you’ve been applying for. There’s likely only one interview, two at the most; and you’re in. That’s good for the self-esteem; ie. somebody wants me.

Another benefit of these jobs is the human connection. Job searching is isolating as in unemployment. It’s you against the world and it seems like you’re the lone wolf scavenging to stay alive. When you’re working in a transition job you benefit from being part of a team, meeting people and having adult conversations about just about anything other than your own lack of employment success. So even if you’re making someone a sandwich or selling them a sweater, what you’re doing is exercising your people skills; communication skills, customer service skills etc.

Play it right and you might also be working in a job where one of the other benefits is a break on the purchase of whatever it is your producing. Need some shoes and income? Take a job in a shoe store and perhaps you get an employee discount. Need to update your wardrobe? A job in a fashion store means they’ll want you wearing their goods, so count on some of your income going towards an outfit or two which could in turn become your new work clothes when you leave.

You won’t lose sight of your long-term objective in a short-term transition job. There are people however who have taken short-term work and found they liked it so much they actually stayed for years and it became their career jobs as they moved up the ladder. Hey, if you like it once there, why not?

Other benefits? They get you out of the house, keeping a good pattern of behaviour, fill up your gaps on a resume and get you current references. There’s a lot of good to be found in short-term survival jobs if and when you’re ready.


You’ve Got It Wrong Pizza Hut

One thing that seems to be a constant is change itself. Change can be good or bad and is often one or the other depending on the perspective you bring to the situation and your role in the change process. Recently my wife and I experienced a change in the service we received and neither one of us were impacted for the better.

After a day in which we were hundreds of kilometers from home, we were traveling home and talking about where to stop for dinner. We made a decision to find a restaurant where we could sit down, rest and enjoy a relaxing meal, but at the same time, we weren’t dressed for, nor desired a fancy experience. Having had burgers earlier, we chose to eliminate those restaurants and opted for pasta.

We were in Barrie and as we drove south along what appeared to be restaurant alley, we were almost at the end of our options when we spotted a Pizza Hut sign and we settled on it. We’d soon regret that choice as it turned out, but at the time, the combination of food choices, location, time to stop and price seemed right.

The parking lot was pretty empty even though it was on a major highway so that was a bonus but maybe in retrospect could have been an omen.

When we walked in there was a small reception area and some bench seating, presumably for those who order and wait to take their meals with them or who show up early for their pick up food and who must wait. We stood there; my wife and I, waiting to be seated as is the proper etiquette for the same restaurant in our own town. From what I could see, there were two young women working in the kitchen and two groups of people eating in the restaurant itself.

One of the women from behind the cash register gave us a pleasant hello and I returned the greeting and told said, “Two please.” Right up to this point everything had happened the way I’d experienced eating in the past at this chain. Change however, as I said at the outset is inevitable, and this is right where change jumped up and caught me off guard. The employee said to us, “Oh we’ve changed things recently. We have no servers or wait staff. You order your food here and we’ll call you when it’s ready.”

Gone was the promise of a relaxing experience where we’d be seated, have a drink, order, eat, be checked in on and have our bill delivered and leave. The shift in their practice meant we had to stand there at a cash register and quickly choose from a menu instead of having time to read the menu and talk between us on what we might want to share or order individually. It kind of felt like, “C’mon, make your choice quick or you’ll create a bottleneck for other customers who come in behind you and we don’t want that!”

Well we should have said that we were looking for a different experience and walked out, but we stayed, ordered quickly and went to find our seats. We’re evolved my wife and I; yes we can find our own seats without being guided to a table. However, it was clear to me that with two staff in the kitchen and zero staff in the dining area, there was another problem and that was maintaining cleanliness. Every table it seemed needed cleaning and at no time did anyone come out during our stay to do so. That’s a turn off. However, we’d paid when we ordered so we stayed.

When I looked up at a wall-mounted television in the dining area, I expected they had it set to some sports channel like successful sports bars, but I was mistaken. There on the screen was a listing of names – mine included – and a countdown telling everyone when the food ordered would be ready. Kelly would have his food in 8 minutes and those before me must have been phone orders, because no one else was seated and waiting.

Looking around, even the plates, napkins and utensils were self-serve so we grabbed what we needed there. I wondered if I should tip my wife or myself but not being a big tipper the point seemed moot. Apparently the restaurant is saving money on salaried staff acting as wait staff and hostess staff.

For the two of us, they missed the mark completely on this new practice by neglecting to provide the customer service that diners want. The price didn’t reflect a drop in overhead and salary, so that isn’t being passed on to the consumer. It appears that you pay the same and get less of the experience you once had. Bottom line, we’re never going back there, and here I am sharing a poor experience with you the reader. Did they factor poor reviews in to their budget?

I wonder too if – horror of horrors – other chains may or already are going this way. Let’s hope not for the sake of us customers and those staff they’ll let go on the race to the bottom of the customer service experience. This is one change I wish they’d put down to a bad idea and reverse.

Respect And Applying For Welfare

If you’ve never had to apply for social assistance you probably can’t fully appreciate how demeaning it can be to many who have no other option.

In Ontario Canada, the first part of the process once you reach the decision to actually apply starts with a phone call. Now phone calls aren’t so bad for most people actually; you’re speaking with someone who can’t see you after all. During this call you give a lot of personal information over the phone and at its conclusion, you‘re given a date and time for the in-person interview.

The shame and embarrassment if it’s going to be felt at all, starts for many the moment they push open those doors and enter the reception area at a local Ontario Works office. Notice the name, “Ontario Works” is proactive and sounds more appealing than the word, “Welfare”. That’s not an accident, but despite the name, many recipients themselves refer to it by the term welfare. It is what it is by any other name I suppose.

When your time waiting is done and your name is called, you and the person conducting the interview move from reception area to interview room. I have to tell you that most Intake Verification workers are real pros; they understand what sitting there being asked normally intrusive questions is like, but ask they must. To every question asked, an answer has to be forthcoming, and while most questions are matter-of-fact, when you’re on the receiving end, many of these questions probe areas one normally doesn’t share – especially with someone they don’t know. There’s no passing on an answer, and if the answer you give is a poor one, you may be subsequently asked again for a clearer or deeper answer.

With questions probing into your financial commitments and debts, bank account numbers and balances, personal identification numbers, details on absent partners in the case of applying with children and all your assets, you can find you’re handing over more than just the facts and numbers. You may feel that with your birth certificate and health card, you’re also handing over your pride, self-esteem and self-worth. It’s not a dignified process; especially if the only personal information you’ve ever handed to anyone is your doctor or a credit card to a cashier.

One of the most difficult things you can hang on to at this point is your respect. Now my feelings are that if and when you get to the point you are applying for social assistance, you should do your best to view this process as a sign of wisdom. That may sound odd. My belief is that you have finally reached a point where accepting some financial support is smarter than not doing so and ending up homeless, in a shelter or on the streets. There you may out of necessity find yourself having to do things you’ve never contemplated just to survive – so let’s not go there.

You know, in addition to applying for and receiving money (which comes from the community tax base), one of the biggest benefits is the help that’s available to move forward with respect to training and skill development. In fact, those that are on Ontario Works for perhaps the first time often are amazed at the range of help that is available that they didn’t previously know about.

Where I work, there’s workshops on acquiring life skills (nutrition, setting goals, dealing with anger), computer basics, resume and interview preparation, how to deal with stress and frustration, building self-esteem and confidence, finding career direction, workplace health and safety training and more.

Of course there are essentially two kinds of people on assistance; those that want to take advantage of the free supports and those who don’t. Whether it’s the chip some carry on their shoulder or the belief they don’t need the help, many don’t take advantage of the help to regain their financial independence. Those that do have the attitude that while unemployed, why not take advantage of all the support they can get – especially as it’s free – in order to compete successfully and get an edge over other job seekers.

Lest you think everyone should be forced to participate in such workshops, I can tell you by experience that forcing someone with a negative attitude to take a course or workshop with the threat of suspending their benefits only makes it harder on the Facilitator of those workshops and the participants who really do want to be there. Those with the poor attitudes could potentially drive off those who could benefit the most from retraining and learning, so that’s not an answer.

Respect is the one thing you can hang onto when you’re on assistance. Respect for the help offered to you, respect for those who have to resort to social assistance that you may have in the past thought were lazy or gouging the system, and of course, try your best not to lose respect for yourself.

It is in trying situations that some people become bitter, resentful and give in to being what they most fear. Others in the same situation choose to respect their decision to get help, to work hard to regain their financial independence and appreciate those who give the help they do.

Self-respect; hang on to it no matter what your circumstances, and ease up on judging those in great need.

“How Do I Raise The Issue Of Compensation?”

I’m not sure why so many people struggle with this issue but it seems to be the one question that many people stress over during an interview when they are asked if they have any questions. Some don’t believe they should ask about pay and benefits whatsoever, while others who have decided they do in fact want to ask aren’t sure about how to do it, out of the fear of being viewed as only concerned about money.

I look at the issue of compensation, (money and benefits) as a necessary piece of information required in order to determine if the position being discussed is going to provide you with what you believe to be a fair return on your investment in the company and the job they may offer you. You more than anyone, know the income you require in order to make ends meet, and hopefully, you want to do more than just survive, you want to thrive.

Consider that most employers are looking for people who use good judgement and make good decisions. If you preface your question by stating that the issue of compensation is one factor – not THE factor – in your decision-making process with respect to pursuing the position being discussed, then you are not only telling the interviewer you have good decision-making skills, you are demonstrating those skills right before them. Maybe this angle hadn’t occurred to you before?

You do need to have an accurate idea of the salary and benefits in order to actually make an informed decision on whether or not you can afford to take the job if offered, but also to compare or contrast this position with others you might be mulling over. Imagine what would happen if you accepted a job not knowing the salary, then two days into the job turned down another position that paid more money. The only way you found it paid more money was at the end of the third week of work when you received your very first pay. Wouldn’t you be kicking yourself perhaps having turned down a similar job which paid more money? This situation has happened to some of the people I assist who despite my advice, were too timid to ask in an interview; afraid they’d disrespect the interviewer by raising the issue.

The real issue therefore is not to wonder whether or not to raise the issue, but HOW to raise the issue respectfully, and in such a way that compensation doesn’t come across as your sole deciding factor.

The wrong way is to ask but a single question of the interview when you get a chance that goes, “How much does this job pay, and are there benefits?” Ask this single question and you are sending a clear message that you are only motivated about what you’ll get from the job, not what you’ll invest in the job. From the employers view, (and considering they are the ones who control the offer of a job this is the view that counts), it’s not about what you’ll get but rather, what you’ll contribute.

The solution for my money (pun intended), is to sandwich the issue of compensation between a minimum of two questions which pertain more to the job and the organization. In real terms, it could look like this:

Q1. I’d be very interested in hearing about the style of leadership the person to whom I would be reporting prefers in order to determine my personal fit.

Q2. I mentioned previously that I like to gather all the necessary information I can in order to make important decisions. Compensation for this position is one piece of information I’m very interested in hearing about, therefore could you share the salary range for this position and based on my background and what I’ll bring to the company, your offer.

Q3. Would it possible to have a short tour of the organization? I’d like to visualize myself here, feel the atmosphere and perhaps meet a few people.

The above three questions break down as 1 about your compensation and 2 about the company and the job. (The supervisor and the work environment). The question you may most want answered is the middle one; hence the sandwich.

Be forewarned that the person to whom you direct the question about compensation will undoubtedly zero in on your body language and facial expression when the salary is shared. They’ll be interested to by your reaction if you feel the number is low, fair or exceeds your expectations so stay in control.

You should have a good idea if you are inexperienced and will be happy with any salary or if you are a seasoned professional and your background justifies negotiating a higher number. You certainly don’t want to talk your way right out of their consideration by demanding an outrageous figure, but you should know your worth.

Remember too that if you don’t like the figure put on the table, you have options:

  1. Walk away
  2. Accept the compensation
  3. Negotiate a higher figure
  4. Accept the compensation as a starting salary and negotiate increments or raises based on performance (A combination of 2 and 3)

You must understand that if the company has a fixed salary range for a position, they are likely not going to start you at a wage which exceeds the income of others currently working in the same position.

How much are you worth?

What Do You Want?

I’m sorry if like me just this second, the refrain, “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want”, is playing in your head. Sorrier still if it wasn’t but it is now. Ah such is life. Thank you Spice Girls I suppose.

But seriously, what do you want? What is it in life right now – today, that you really want? What if there were no limits on what you could ask for and no one would ridicule you for your choice or tell you to get serious. Here’s a sequence of questions to ask yourself:

What do I want?
How bad do I want it?
Am I prepared to make it a priority?
What do I have to do to make it happen?
What barriers to what I want are in front of me?
What steps do I need to take to eliminate those barriers?

So what is it you want? A car? Boat? Home? A life-long partner? Kids? A career? A trip somewhere? Usually what we want is dependent upon what we currently have in life. So if for example you have a good job, you usually don’t want a job because you already have one. If you want a better job, it’s because you currently don’t have one that brings you fulfillment and happiness or the income you want.

The same is true of the material possessions we have. If you want a car, it’s a safe bet it’s because you don’t have one at present and know that it would give you independence, or your current vehicle needs replacing. We want what we don’t have much of the time.

Now of course it is possible to want more of what we already have. We could really enjoy our vacations as well as value our home and job but want more of the times we get back to nature. We could want more time with our children. However, wanting more of something still breaks down to, we don’t currently have it, and so again, we usually want something that we don’t currently have.

Now thinking about what it is you want, is part of the reason you don’t currently have it a lack of money? Money is needed for the purchase of the car, the home, the extended vacation, certainly makes raising a large family easier etc. Is money therefore not necessarily a bad thing to want in and of itself? You might feel that wanted money is bad in some way, but maybe it’s no so much wanting money, but wanting what money can buy and be exchanged for.

So if we see money as a goal, the question becomes how to get more of it and then exchange it for the thing we really want. If we want that one thing bad enough, we will save for it, avoid spending money on other things that make acquiring our one goal further out of reach, and we become focused. One thing we can do to help in this focus is to identify the potential barriers to our goal.

Barriers are the things which we anticipate will delay us or stop us from achieving our goal. If we want to work but don’t have a good resume and don’t know how to go about applying for a job on-line, we can either get a resume and learn how to apply on-line, (thus removing the barrier), or we can throw up our hands, give up and stop. The interesting thing about barriers that we have to realize and accept that barriers are not universal except in extremely limited circumstances. You may not know how to apply on-line, but many other people who once didn’t know learned how. You can too.

So you’ve got this goal. Identify what is preventing you from reaching your goal. Now sit down either alone or with someone who you respect and trust and open up to them. Together, brainstorm all the possible options for overcoming your barriers one at a time. Each time you move forward, your self-esteem is going to get a boost, and as you mark your progress, you’ll be building momentum. Momentum gives you the drive to tackle the more significant barriers.

And now the question of it being a priority. Ever heard someone say, “I need a job.”? I bet you may then see that same person immediately engage in something that doesn’t fit with that statement, such as siting down and playing a video game, writing a daily journal about their feelings, or watching television. What they want and what they are doing are not in sync, and there is a disconnect.

The things we want in life rarely come easily or immediately. You might say, “I want some ice cream” and go to the fridge and get one just to prove me wrong, but I’d reply you just proved my point. You wanted something, made a decision to get it, then put your idea into action and now have it. This process is identical to the more meaningful things in life we want.

One of the saddest things is not so much not attaining our goals, but lacking meaningful goals in the first place that we want bad enough that prompt us to sustained action.

What do YOU want? Make it happen!

“A Job Is Just A Way To Make Money”, He Says

I received the above comment from a fellow group member in one of my LinkedIn discussion groups yesterday when I was contrasting and comparing the process of obtaining a job to that of getting a relationship going.

One of the wonderful things that differentiates us from one another is that we have the capacity to think for ourselves and hold opinions different from one another. And while in some parts of the world having an opinion that varies from the larger society could be dangerous – even get you killed, I am thankful that where most of us live we are entitled to hold our own opinions.

Having acknowledged this, I must say that for me personally, and perhaps for you too, a job is so much more than just a way to make money. If a career is an occupation that one builds over a long period and in a particular line of work or field of study, than a job is by nature a shorter-term work assignment and not necessarily in a field that we received an education in.

A job for one thing is a mechanism for obtaining experience. When we are just starting out perhaps in high school and/or College or University, taking a job often reveals to us what we enjoy or dislike. As we accumulate experience in jobs, we start to form stronger opinions which if we pay attention to them, can help us decide which occupations and careers we might find most satisfying.

A 19-year-old girl I know is currently doing prep work in a restaurant chain, and while it provides money, it has also given her practical experience in a kitchen she didn’t have prior to that. A life-skill has been learned she can use in her personal life even when employed eventually in a field outside of Hospitality. Does she like the job she has? Absolutely not, and so moving forward, knowing what she doesn’t like will help in achieving a better fit in her future.

A job also provides stimulation for the brain, a sense of purpose and improves self-esteem. It’s not about the money for some, but a reason to get up, get dressed, get out and be connected to other people in some meaningful, purposeful way. One of the happiest clients I know is a Dishwasher. He took a ‘job’ washing dishes in a restaurant and found that the job was a good fit for him. It keeps him hustling the entire time he is working, has worked wonders on his self-esteem, improved his physical health too by the way. Instead of sitting around smoking, he’s hustling in a kitchen and quit smoking altogether eventually as there is no time to smoke!

Oh and consider this: If a job is only a way to make money, than surely anyone and everyone on social assistance who are in dire need of money would be motivated to take any job just to get the money; they don’t. The people receiving assistance I work with still have some pride with respect to what job they will take or have the skills to perform.

There is a perception among some that a career is always preferable to a job. Not so in my opinion. A job, or rather a series of jobs strung together is exactly what some people find stimulating. “I want to try all the jobs I can, it’s fun!”, a guy I worked with a few months ago said. He had done work in manufacturing, retail, carpentry, landscaping, renovations, construction, motorcycle repair, skate sharpening, tree pruning too as I recall. For him, all these jobs brought him into contact with people he’d otherwise not encounter in the same way. Money never entered our discussion.

And I think it true that for some folks in their mid 40’s to mid 50’s, there comes a time when the brain wants to continue to work at a certain job (usually physical in nature) but the body disagrees. Taking a job in some other line of work is a great way to keep the little grey brain cells stimulated, fight off Alzheimer’s, and regain self-confidence and restore ones’ pride.

And sure some seniors who are retired re-enter the workforce to supplement their incomes, but it is also the case that some people keep working past their retirement age out of the desire to keep busy, motivated, feeling connected and useful. Not so much about the money, although money itself isn’t so bad!

But yes, one is entitled to honestly feel that a job is solely a way to make money if they wish to see things this way. How do you view a job? Is a job somehow lower on the status scale than a career in your opinion? Are jobs of value whatsoever or are they in fact just ways to make money for you too?

I believe that there are a vast number of people – good, solid, interesting people who go about their daily lives performing what we commonly refer to as, ‘jobs’. These people I highly respect, and the work they do makes my life better, and I suspect yours too. Where would we be in this world if none of those ‘jobs’ were done because money alone wasn’t enough of a motivating factor for anyone to complete the work?

And that, as I am entitled, is just my opinion.

Brown Bagging It

There’s a great deal of benefit in bringing your lunch to work and eating with your co-workers. So many in fact, it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s get past the obvious one – financial. Taking your lunch to work is actually cheaper by a long shot, because you can heat up those leftovers you made a night or two ago, and the money you save is yours to allocate to other things.

More importantly, this is networking time. Time to sit and use your social interaction skills, chat with people from other departments or physical areas in your building, and lay the foundations for future business/work interaction. It’s much easier in the future to approach someone about advancement advice or request a favour in something as simple as requisitioning office supplies if you have a relationship.

If you listen more than you speak, you’ll also pick up on others’ outside interests and hobbies. This information may give you common areas to talk about, or if completely different, give you the chance to say, “Wow, I know absolutely nothing about that. What do you find so challenging, interesting or exciting about that?” If you work on the social skills here, it may lead to new introductions to others, and soon, you’re popular, known and fit in well.

You can also impress others with your cooking skills if you excel in this area, or pick up new recipies. People are flattered if you ask them for homemade recipies.

Take a few moments over lunchtime to get out of the cubicle everyday, and out of the office at least once or twice a week. Suggest going for a walk around the building or block, as a little natural light is good for the soul and your physical health. Maybe eating lunch on a bench or nearby park picnic table is possible. In a different setting, you may find that people you find hard to get along with are actually polite and nicer. Maybe they’ll feel the same way about you too.

And those cliques you wish you could break into or break up, brown bagging it can do both or either. Bring in something you’ve made for someone to try in the clique. Drop by during the lunchtime clique meeting and ask how they liked it. They’ll be a short discussion about it, and if you conveniently have more at your desk or in the fridge, you can whip these out and let others try them too. That way, you are in and can hang around for ten minutes or so, take your leave and then the next time, it’s easier to show up a second time and fit in better.

Network. Brown bag it. It pays off in so many ways.

Get the Budget Under Control

I once found myself out of work, and on the way home from my job – ex job – I immediately headed for what was then, the Unemployment Office to apply for Unemployment Insurance. Today, it’s referred to as Employment Insurance, but it’s the same thing.

The reason for applying for Employment Insurance so quickly is simply financial. In Ontario, when you do apply for and receive your Employment Insurance, if you are eligible, you’re going to receive assistance backdated to the date you APPLIED not the day you lost your job. Even if there are supplementary forms you don’t have on the day you apply, like your Record of Employment, you can provide those later. The key is to get to the office immediately.

I’ve known people that even weeks later, still haven’t got around to applying for Employment Insurance benefits, because they figure they will be working soon, and only later do they wish they had applied as early as possible. It’s your money, why not claim the benefits? This rainy day insurance fund needs to be accessed as soon as the rain starts to fall – not only when you’re up to your waist!

This then, may help in the short term stabilize your income funding. Next move is to contact all your creditors, the people you owe money to, and advise them of your temporary status as unemployed. Get the bank where you have your car loan and mortgage on board. Phone your credit card company and ask for a lower rate of interest. Consolidate your debts and change your habits quickly if you are the kind of person who ate out everyday for lunch.

Taking this time to possible get your diet under control if needed could also help at the grocery check out too. Buy the essentials – what you need, not what you want. Don’t ignore family birthdays and anniversaries but, if more people know your status, they’ll appreciate even more your handmade gifts, or your time to visit instead of something you bought.

Declutter the house, the garage, the basement etc., and look for things you can quickly list on the net to realize some income IF you really don’t need them anymore. I’m not suggesting you sell everything you own, but you probably have things you haven’t used in ages and could get some money for. Maybe now is the time.

Conserve any funds that you can – and I mean any. You can’t know at the beginning how long you’ll be out of work. Turn off lights in rooms nobody is actually in. You know those red lights on all your stereo equipment that mean the unit is on standby? That little red light is costing you about $60 a year. That would include the microwave, VCR (who still has these anyhow?) clock radio’s etc.

Look through flyers that come to the door for money saving coupons to use at the grocery store and shop AFTER you’ve had a meal, not before because you’ll buy less instead of on impulse.

It all adds up. Do a little now to protect yourself and those around you from the financial blow that most families dread. It’s time well spent!