A New Hope (And No It’s Not Star Wars)

Hope; it’s what looking forward to flipping over the calendar at the end of December every year is all about really isn’t it? I mean, it’s a new slate, a fresh start, new beginnings with raised expectations that you won’t screw this one up; that things will be better than they were the previous year.

Throughout the year we all have those moments when things start fresh. We may start reading a new book, start work on a new painting, a renovation, maybe a new job; why I can recall in public school just being excited when I wrote for the first time in a new workbook and vowed that my printing and writing would be neater and with fewer mistakes to rub out with an eraser.

However a new year is when everybody we know gets a do-over all at the same time. I think to be honest this what we really celebrate; the chance we all have to put things right and get our act together and we’re supported by all of those we come into contact with because just like us, that’s what others are trying to do too.

Now for things to be better, we have to acknowledge first what didn’t, or isn’t going so well at the present time. For many of us that’s ridiculously easy to do of course because so many of us are continually facing problems and challenges. If you’re going to look at 2017 as the year you get hired by a good company doing a job you enjoy and making a decent wage doing it, no doubt you are pretty much well aware of the fact you are currently unemployed or unhappy in your current job. This is an easy one; not to fix of course but to understand.

On the other hand, there are some things in our lives that we want to set straight, deal with or put behind us; and if it was as easy as flipping the calendar to January 2017 we’d all be doing it. I’m talking about the things we want the new year to bring us that require us to first acknowledge and articulate what we currently have but want to change which we don’t want to think about or talk about. If we keep saying to ourselves and others, “I don’t want to think or talk about ______”, it’s not likely that a new year will bring the results we want – certainly not in any lasting measure.

So let’s say it’s a goal to be a better person. As good as that is, it’s rather vague isn’t it? I mean, better in what way(s)? Before we can decide how to be better it would be appropriate and necessary to examine closely and honestly the kind of person we are right now and have been throughout the year; knowing how we are at present and how we’d like to be can lead us to identify the distance between the two. How we go about enacting the change we want to bring about the desired end results is the next step but too many people make it the first step.

I suppose it’s also essential to ask yourself, “What’s my motivation for wanting a change in 2017?” Are you looking for more money, security, travel, a lasting relationship, perhaps ending a relationship? Goals for the new year can include endings as well as beginnings and not just in personal relationships. You could decide to finish 2017 no longer employed in your present job; break your addiction to social media and your cell phone, or your relationship with a creditor by getting out of debt.

A new year is like everybody received a brand spanking shiny new lottery card. There’s hope with every one issued and produced; a few will be major winners, some reveal happiness and give us reason to smile and for others there will be disappointment and a dream unfulfilled. However, unlike a lottery card, the result isn’t predetermined. When you scratch the lottery card, there are a fixed number of winners and losers. In life, I think we could all find 2017 brings us improvement, fulfillment and happiness – it’s within our control whether we have a good one or not.

I’ve a suggestion to put before you and that is in addition to the big one; the really significant thing you are hoping 2017 brings your way. Set yourself up for success with some relatively small or minor hopes too. If you hope to lose 50 pounds; a fairly big hope for many, maybe start with an obtainable yet small goal like replacing your white bread with some 100% whole grain bread, or forgoing the bread entirely for the first two weeks when you’re out shopping. Not a big deal; chances of success are pretty good and you can certainly mark whether you hit the goal or not.

If it’s a better you, maybe something tangible like, “being better means being friendlier and friendliness starts with a smile” becomes your motto and you set out to smile consciously at everyone you meet for the first few seconds. Unnatural as it might be now, you’re hoping to build new patterns of behaviour that you can carry on with over the long-term.

So what’s important enough to you that you’d like to work on to bring yourself the gift of hope realized in 2017? Share it if you will here with us.

This Is That Chance You Wanted

So you are out of work and are frustrated with your lack of progress. How frustrated? Well you stopped really looking on a full-time basis last year and told anyone who would listen that no one was hiring in December anyhow; you’d start fresh in January. Well it’s now January, and we’re actually already four days in.

Yes the second best time to look for work is right now. The best time to look for work was when you stopped going at – whenever that was; but that time is past so no point beating yourself up over that now. The key is right now; here today, at this moment. I don’t think it can be put any plainer that this; “Get going!”

The first thing you need to do is evaluate where you are in the job search in order to change the outcome of your 2016 job search vs. what you’ve done in the past. After all, if you go about your job search in the same way you went about it last year, your odds are likely to be about the same of ultimately being successful – and you weren’t were you? Hmmm…

In other words, if you’re using the same resume and it didn’t work last year, it likely won’t work this year. If you haven’t practiced and improved your interviewing skills, you are likely going to be eliminated from future competitions at that point just like last year. If you are still going about job searching by mass distributing your resume – well, that didn’t work last year so it’s not likely to work this year. Quite frankly, if you haven’t determined what it is you really want to do work-wise in 2016, you’re likely just as confused or desperate to do, ‘anything’ as you were in 2015; and ‘anything’ has yet to be found on a job board.

The best thing about undertaking any activity in the early days of a new year; in this case 2016 is the fresh start. This mental view of starting all over with a fresh new start erases all the failures and frustrations of the past year. If you plan on making significant progress over last year’s dismal failure, you usually need to make significant changes in your approach. After all, it’s not very likely that pounding away doing the same thing will result in positive changes. No, you need a different approach to the situation at hand.

First of all, evaluate if you’ve targeted a specific job; two at the very most, or are you looking for any old job. If you are looking for any old job, stop please. Do some self-assessments under the watchful support of a professional who can help you figure out what you really want. After you figure this out, by all means start a focused job search.

If you know what you want to do, find out how competitive you really are with your current skills and experience. No point going forward and applying for jobs you are underqualified for is there? This is just going to result in a lot of rejection. You need to talk to people in that industry or field and find out how you stack up. Listen to them and take their advice. If you need upgrading, go get it. If you have the skills and experience, let’s move ahead!

Now if you know what you want and you’re qualified and can compete on a level playing field, the next thing to do is see how you are marketing yourself. Here you need some objective feedback on your cover letter and resume. Do these two documents brand and market your abilities in such a way that you appeal to employers? Do you solve a problem for them, or are your resume and cover letter solely about you and what you want?

Marketing and branding yourself to appeal to employers on paper is one thing; doing it in person another. So, how are your interpersonal skills? How’s the self-confidence, the clothing, smile, handshake, listening and speaking skills? Yes of course you should be hired based on your skills and experience; but if you think that you won’t be judged or assessed based on your personal presentation skills, you’re sadly mistaken. If you need some dental work, get it done. If you’ve neglected your personal grooming and need a bit of a personal makeover, get it done. You’ll feel better, you’ll look better, and you’ll act differently too.

It would be a wise thing to look into some self-improvement classes and if there is a cost involved, think of it like an investment in yourself; you have to spend money to make money. In other words, it’s 2016 and you’ve got to look it. The clothes you wear might need some freshening up – maybe you got just what you needed for Christmas? If not, find a sale or two and take someone with some fashion sense with you; not your similarly unemployed best friend or mom. We’re talking change here.

Look if you’re going to erase the mistakes and plunders of 2015, don’t start the year by wiping the slate clean and then set out to make the identical plunders. This is your big chance to put some changes in place so that you get the results we both want for you in 2016. What changes are you making?