Get Going On What Needs Doing


Some people in both their personal and professional lives have the tendencies to put off doing things until the last-minute. Whether cramming for a test the night before and pulling an all-nighter or writing up your part in a team assignment at work, they don’t do what needs doing until, well frankly…they NEED doing.

For some people of course, this isn’t an accident but rather the way they work out of choice. Not only is it their preferred method, they don’t stress about looming deadlines and the quality of their work is consistently good. Those of us that might point fingers in their direction and caution them about the dangers of rolling the dice once too often are continually surprised at how well things tend to turn out for them.

However, there is another group of people who leave things until the situation is near to critical and these people don’t meet the same levels of success in the end. The delay in getting going on what they must do is fraught with heightened anxiety and stress. They put off what needs doing which they know isn’t healthy and stew about what they must do. They feel bad they haven’t started, know they are repeating a pattern of behaviour that is harmful to their success but continue to do so nonetheless. Why?

Well that is the question isn’t it? Why? Why would intelligent people with the necessary skills to do the tasks assigned to them choose to put off for as long as possible doing things that they eventually must until the last moments? Why would they knowingly choose to avoid the work knowing as well that they will feel guilt at not having started earlier and repeat this behaviour again and again? Why indeed.

Now from time-to-time I suppose many if not all of us put off doing the odd thing that we know in the end we must. Sometimes it’s laziness or what we have to do isn’t as high a priority at the moment because we still have time to get to it so we do other things. Putting things off here and there isn’t a normal pattern of behaviour however, it’s an anomaly for most and therefore atypical.

You would think that the decision to routinely delay getting started on whatever needs doing would really only be the concern of the people procrastinating themselves. Ah but such behaviours does impact on others around them and yes both in their personal and professional lives. This is the reason – the only reason – that such behaviour is of concern to others. So much of what we do these days involves other people; work is shared and we are counter-dependent on each other to meet common end goals.

When collaborating with others, effective teams that work best together will often divvy up tasks which will use the very best talents of the team members. It’s not enough however to just divide up what needs to be done to assure success. What the truly effective teams also do is make sure all the members know the deadlines for the work to be accomplished and then work backward to the present moment setting up dates and times for updating each other in order to assure work is being done, complications are shared and resolved and help if needed is provided.

When the responsibility for a project is shared, all those involved have to have a certain level of trust in each other that their contributions will ultimately result in a unified presentation which they hope is the formula for success.

This then is the problem when someone puts off doing their part until the time almost expires. Doing so raises doubt in one’s teammates and detracts from their ability to concentrate fully on just doing their piece. They may worry about the productivity of what the procrastinator will or won’t deliver, and wonder if it will be the best they could give or something shoddy done with haste and errors.

I feel for the person who doesn’t want to end up in this kind of situation but despite their best of intentions, always seems to be putting out fires at the last-minute as their motes operandi. For even though they live dangerously working from one deadline to another, the mental anguish, anxiety and stress they feel isn’t welcomed; eventually impacting on their health both physical and mental.

For these people, I suggest a few things. First of all, it is important to decide if you really want to change your standard operating behaviour. If the answer is really a, ‘no’, keep doing what you’re doing. If however, you’d really like to change, understand like any desired change, it will be uncomfortable at first and take work.

You know the absolute deadlines for projects and you’re used to working to those final deadlines so set yourself a series of check-in dates with others and give them permission to ask to see the progress of your work. These check-ins must be more than superficial. Build in some reward for yourself if you’re on track rather than a penalty if you’re not. You’re far more likely to celebrate progress with a treat not penalize yourself for a lack of progress.

See if you’re stress levels decline, anxiety is checked and confidence in you from others improves.

Reframe The Job Interview


Looking for a job, writing resumes, going to interviews, worrying about whether they will call you or ignore you; this isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. In fact, most of those I know see the process as a roller coaster of ups and downs, built up expectations and dashed hopes. In short, a stressful experience to be ended as soon as possible by getting a job.

When I ask job seekers to share with me what they find most annoying or unpleasant about looking for work they almost always tell me it’s the job interviews. They typically say they hate them, (and hate is a pretty strong word). Why does this word get used over and over to describe the experience? Typically it’s because of those feelings of nervousness, feeling judged, evaluated, setting themselves up to be accepted or rejected.

Imagine how the experience of the job interview, and more importantly the anticipation of the job interview became something to look forward to however; something you perceived as an enjoyable experience. If job interviews were fun wouldn’t you look forward to them even if, yes they still caused you some nervousness?

An analogy might help us out here….hmmm….what would work for us…? Ah ha! Think of going on a date with someone you’ve heard good things about. Better than a blind date set up by one of your friends, suppose you’ve got a date Friday night with someone you’re looking forward to meeting face-to-face. You’re looking forward to sitting down with them because what you’ve learned so far about them has your interest peaked. You hope that meeting them in-person they’ll live up to what you’ve found out so far. Are you nervous? Sure you are, but it’s a good nervous and the anticipation is a good thing.

Why can’t a job interview be along the same lines? You do your homework and find out about the company you are interviewing with. You hope when you sit down face-to-face that they’ll live up to your expectations. Are you nervous? Sure you are, but again it’s a good nervous. You just might make a long-term working relationship out of this first meeting. You’re hoping to hit it off with them and them with you. Just like a first date, you spruce yourself up and look your best and come ready for conversation.

Now perhaps you can’t see any parallel beyond what I’ve described. In your view, it’s not like a date because in a first date each person comes with their questions, each feeling out the other and the conversation goes back and forth. Perhaps it doesn’t work for you personally because you view the job interview not so much as a first date but more like an interrogation from some spy movie where you sit on a cold steel chair under some intense light being grilled by some thug extracting all your information in the most unpleasant of circumstances. The worst part is that by submitting your résumé, you actually walked into this interrogation voluntarily!

Job interviews are like so many other things in life; how we perceive them in our minds goes a long way to how we will actually experience them. Imagine it to be an interrogation and that’s what it will be. Imagine it to be a fun enjoyable experience and it will be as well. Now I know it takes more than just picturing it as a positive experience to make it so, but when you shift your thinking to seeing interviews as good experiences to look forward to, you’ll also find putting in the work to make the experience a positive one is something you’ll undertake with enthusiasm.

That date this Friday evening? Likely you’ll get your outfit ready ahead of time, you’ll wonder what you’ll talk about and prepare yourself with a few questions for them. You also think about what you’ll share on this first date, probably putting your best qualities on display and concealing some of your faults until you get to know them better. You’ll think about what you’ll do, wonder how you’ll get out of it if things don’t go well, or if they do, you hope they’ll like you as much as you like them. When it’s over, you’ll hope they’ll reach out and ask to see you again or be receptive to your own follow-up.

Sounds like an interview to me! In fact, what if the term, ‘job interview’ was replaced with, ‘opportunity conversation’? What if you told yourself you have an upcoming conversation about an opportunity? It’s just a small thing perhaps but it’s one step of reframing this experience from the negative event you dislike into one that you could view as positive; something to look forward to even.

Conversations are one way we find out information and confirm what we’ve learned previously. For both you and the interviewer(s), this interview is an opportunity to sit down face-to-face and get to know one another. They’ve got your résumé and you’ve got their website and whatever your research has revealed ahead of time. Now they and you have a chance to ask questions, listen and rate each other, ultimately deciding if you have a future together and if so, under what conditions.

Tell yourself ahead of time this date is going to be a disaster and it likely will be. Envision it positively and it has a chance to work out and be enjoyable; for both of you.

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?

Get Out Of The House


If you are out of work, you might be one of those folks who by nature retreats to where you live as your sanctuary; the place you feel safe and secure in. Be wary my friend, your decision could come to backfire on you and one day you wake up to realize you’ve imprisoned yourself through voluntary exile.

That sanctuary of yours; the one place you could relax in and just be comfortable with yourself after a lacklustre day at work has changed. Now that you spend all your day inside, your relaxation there is replaced with too much time to think, the chairs that once brought you peace now seem unusually uncomfortable. Pacing the floorboards is little better for you move around the house yet feel nonetheless like you’re stuck.

My advice to you? Get out of the house; you’re in serious danger! Sounds dramatic I understand but it’s true and for a few reasons. First and foremost you want the one place you live and return to each day to be a place where you can unwind, feel comfortable and at rest. If you seldom leave your residence, you can hardly return to it and feel that aura of safety and familiarity surround you.

While it’s understandable you might wish to limit your exposure to friends where you’ll have to address the issue of your unemployment and provide job search updates, shutting out these people can have unintended consequences. When you fail to communicate with others, you’re going to start imagining what these conversations and interactions are going to go down like. How you picture them is going to be affected by the mood you are in; and the mood you are in is…well…not so great. So how you think things will go is often worse than the reality.

Now when we are stressed – and unemployment ranks right up there as a big stressor – our minds don’t often shut down or move from one topic to another unless you’re suffering from multiple worries. Then it’s great at shifting from one bad thing to another! But alone in our house without the distractions that come from what we see, smell, hear, touch and feel, we can become consumed with those thoughts. Then what follows is often prolonged sadness, low self-esteem, self-criticism and questioning followed by anxiety and full-blown depression.

When you walk out the door and interact with your world, you take in fresh air for a start and just by moving, you get some much-needed exercise. Your brain will start receiving new information; everything from the colour of the sky and the sound of moving traffic to that small rabbit that just darted across the path ahead you’re walking on.

As you move around and your brain starts receiving all this sensory data around you, you may find that it is these little things that for a moment here and there replace your constant thoughts regarding your job loss. Building on one or two of these, you may find your attitude improves slightly; your perspective improves as well. When your thoughts return to your present situation it may occur to you that just for a few minutes you had other thoughts and how nice that was.

Getting out to see a movie for example often has the same impact. You escape for an hour or two into another world, forget your problems and find you are enjoying doing something akin to your normal routine. And from those around you, you realize you are doing something normal that others are doing too. In short, you are fitting in; and fitting in is what you haven’t been feeling with the lack of employment.

Here’s another benefit of leaving your house: you may find that when you again turn your thoughts to looking for work, you might actually have some possible solution to a problem seemingly pop up out of nowhere. Either this or the problem has actually diminished in size (perspective). “Why didn’t I think of that before?” you might ask yourself. “Of course! I could try this or that.” Try as you might you’ll never be able to figure out what it was that prompted that solution to come to you, but had you remained inside brooding about things, it wouldn’t have come.

When you get out of the house you might also notice a rise in your energy level and a lighter mood to go with it. This is not a panacea for all your troubles make no mistake, but getting out is healthy both for body and for mind. If all a person’s problems in life were solved by getting out the door and going for a walk the world would be filled with people who walked and some would never stop. It’s not a cure-all and not meant to be an over-simplification of the real issues you’re dealing with or attempting to resolve.

By the way if you do get out, here’s an interesting thing to check on. Are you walking with your head up or not? Seriously. When you are walking in what you believe to be an upright position, lean your head back slightly, and spread your shoulders. If I’m correct, you may have changed what you perceive as your normal stance to a slightly hunched forward and downward gazing one. Stand up straighter, look ahead and breathe deeply filling your entire chest cavity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juggling Too Much? Overwhelmed?


How are you handling all the things that are going on in your life? Imagine yourself as a Juggler and each of the things you’re dealing with at the moment are represented by one of the items you’ve got in the air. Oh and each item you’re juggling is the same size as the source of the stress it represents.

For some that image is inconceivable. There is no way anyone could possibly have that many items in the air without some or all of them falling beyond what you could juggle. There’s a word for that and it’s, ‘overwhelmed’.

Now you know what you’re carrying around with you more than anyone. If you’ve ever actually watched a Juggler, it’s important to think now about how he or she gets to the point in their act where all those items are in the air at once. And come to think of it, it’s equally or more important to keep watching until the end where you can see how they finish the act.

Most of the time, The Juggler always has to start with one item, perhaps a ball, being tossed in the air. One item only; now doesn’t that make you envious! As the ball is in the air and second and then a third are added to the mix. At this point, a really good Juggler can still smile at the crowd of people assembled, even take their eyes off the objects ever so briefly and maybe do a little talking too. In other words, they can multi-task and the balls are still being successfully juggled; things are well under control.

For many people, this is what real life is like. There’s a few things that have us concerned at any one time and we’re successfully juggling them. To others, we are smiling and talking and we look in control of things.  In fact, as we juggle these few things, we might grow in confidence and think we can handle some additional items.

The best Jugglers didn’t become the Jugglers they are without dropping a few things though did they? Actually truth be told the very best Jugglers have dropped more balls over time than others with less skills to handle heavy loads. Those who are really good practice and practice; they are at it daily and for hours and in that time they drop countless items in an effort to both get better and to stay well-practiced with those more complicated loads.

The real problem with using a Juggler as an analogy for whatever you’ve personally got in the air yourself is that the Juggler’s act only lasts for a limited time and then she or he gets to stop juggling. They face the crowd assembled with their hands spread out from their sides, smile and bow as the crowds applaud their skill at handling all the things they’ve just witnessed.

You and I though; does it ever feel like you can’t put some things down; like you’re juggling 24 hours a day. You go to sleep to escape your worries and find that you can’t turn off your brain; then when you do wake from your restless on and off sleep, you’re assaulted with all those thoughts of what you’ve got in the air? And where’s the crowd of people who would be so impressed with the phenomenal number of items you’ve got going anyway? There should at least be a crowd!

Complicating things and increasing the degree of difficulty is that what you’ve got in the air aren’t all nice little balls of the same size. Ever watched a Juggler who starts with small balls then near the climax has a knife or two, a flaming torch and a bowling ball up there too? I’ve witnessed that. Impressive for sure; and better them than me!

Okay so here’s what’s really impressive; you! You may not think so but you’ve got so many things going on in your life and unlike that Juggler, you didn’t consciously decide to go out of your way to learn to juggle for a living. You certainly didn’t train for it, wish these things upon yourself and you’d love to drop a few things never to pick them up again.

Every so often when you watch some Juggler though, a second Juggler comes on stage. This second person or Assistant Juggler starts accepting some of the items the original Juggler starts tossing their way. The new Juggler takes what’s thrown his or her way, shifts it to their other hand and then passes it back to the first, and so the overall number of things in the air remain the same but the load is lightened.

Hmmm… could be something in this illustration that you could benefit from. What if you had someone who could listen to some of your issues, accept them and perhaps shift them around, reframe them for you and then give them back to you with ideas that might make those things a little easier to handle? Could be they not only get easier to handle when you receive them back but eventually you might be able to stop juggling a few of those things entirely. That would make the other things you’ve got in the air manageable.

Sharing is a good and healthy my friends. Consider adding an expert; a professional Counsellor or even a best friend or two to lighten your load.

 

Regaining Control Over Stressors


Visualize the two of us sitting down face to face. In my role as an Employment Counsellor, let’s begin with the premise that the reason we are meeting has to do with working together to tackle your unemployment. Could be of course that you are employed part or full-time and wanting to make a change too; I do have discussions like that.

So here we are, just the two of us. In order to get the most of our time together, one of the most important things we can do to accelerate the process is trust in each other. I want to hear what you’ve been doing or not doing up to this point, how you’ve been job searching and where you are succeeding and failing. I want to look at your communication and branding tools; letters, resumes, emails etc. Whatever you tell me, I’ll go on the basis that you’re telling me the truth.

So how much are you going to share with me about what’s going on beyond your job search? You know, the personal LIFE stuff? Is that even relevant? If you think the two aren’t related you’ve got your head in the sand. Imagine how lovely it would be if you only had your job search to work on. Aha! See! Your brain just formed the words, “If only!”

Am I some kind of mind reader? Not really; you are a unique person for sure but on the other hand you are a person with hopes, dreams, struggles and issues like everyone else. It’s just a matter of sharing what those issues are and then how little or much they impact on your stated goal of finding employment.

And that’s the awkward part for some people right there. You’re sitting down with someone to get some help finding a job and that’s what you were prepared to talk about exclusively. However, here you are being asked about what else is going on in your life the moment. So you say things like, “Why do you want to know?”, “I like to keep my private life private”, or “Can we just focus on getting me a job?”

Well…here’s the thing…if you tell me you’re committing 100% to your job search, we need a shared understanding of what 100% actually looks like. Is it 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 5 days a week? Or is it 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. except for your court appointment on Thursday morning that could go all day or be adjourned, picking kids up daily at 2:50 p.m. etc. etc. etc. All necessary mind you and needing to get done somehow, but with each ‘other’ thing going on, your time for job searching is impacted.

Taken individually, you might feel like you should be able to handle things. However when looked at collectively, you might have more than you can reasonably be expected to handle. Then things get compounded further if you start to doubt why you can’t seem to get anywhere; can’t make progress in dealing with some of these barriers. After all, if the things you are overwhelmed with are things other people actually deal with and get past, it’s logical you might start to think, “What’s wrong with me?”

We’re all individuals though remember. Though we might be sitting down together at this point in time, how we got here and the life experiences we’ve had are unique to us. No one has experienced every single interaction with others in this world to the same degree as us. How we react to those incidents and interactions is our own unique experience. Thus it is that we might handle stressful situations better than others but they better than us in some other equally but different situation.

For many, the key to managing things is a series of steps. For starters know what you’re dealing with; write down on paper what’s going on and then summarize what’s going on with a label. So after you write about the stress of having to pick up children after school in some detail you might just attach the label, “after school care”.

So you’ve got a list; long or short. Now look at things and separate the things that will take a lot of energy and time to resolve and the things that might be quicker to get off your mind. By focusing on the later, you can build some momentum and feel better about making some progress. What you can’t figure out how to resolve on your own are the ones to get outside opinions and help with. Even people with problems of their own sometimes can see with greater clarity things you could or should consider doing.

Successfully obtaining a job and the income that comes with it may in some circumstances fix other issues such as using the income to find stable housing. Stable housing could lead to stronger personal relationships, raised self-esteem and the peace with having a sanctuary to call your own at the end of the day.

And here’s what could come as a surprise to you as I’m an Employment Counsellor by trade. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to get a job is put the job search on hold and give your attention to the other things going on in your life. When you’re in a better head space, resume the job search. There’s so much more to life than just finding work; work is a big piece but just a piece.

 

 

The Words Unspoken


I’m willing to bet this has happened to you; 5 or 10 minutes after you’ve finished a conversation with someone you recall something you had planned on saying. Or perhaps you think of something insightful and knock yourself for having missed that opportunity to say it. You stop yourself in your tracks and say, “Why didn’t I think of this at the time?”

This differs from the other times when we know exactly what it is that we want to say but for whatever reason we intentionally leave unspoken. It’s also quite different from the times when we blurt out something unintended or ill-advised and we say to ourselves, “Why on earth did I say that?”

In the situations above, whether it’s words we said and wished we could take back or words we’ve left unspoken, how we feel is similar in some respects. We might feel disappointed with ourselves, and depending on the situation and what was at stake, we can be downright mad at ourselves and say things like, “Ugh! I’m so stupid! I blew it!” And what did we blow exactly? Usually it’s an opportunity of some kind and something we’d really wanted and figure has passed us by; something we had only one shot at.

Job interviews are like this for example. You apply for a job and land the interview. The more you want the job the more you tend to see this as THE job; the big one. It would be perfect in so many ways like salary, location, advancement etc. but the best part is doing what you’d be great at and therefore love the work. With all those things aligning up this job was made for you! Now with all that accumulated stuff making this the ideal fit, you’re feeling the pressure rise to be perfect.

So what happens? You go in brimming with confidence and high expectations. The first little stumble – maybe a question that caught you off guard or a momentary blank – whatever it is becomes magnified in your eyes. Suddenly you feel things slipping away; the job of your dreams moving just out of reach and so you try harder to get to together. With that increased focus you hope to get a firm grip on things and you wish you could hit the pause button and freeze time long enough to recompose yourself; maybe even hit a rewind button and answer differently something you’ve said previously.

But time marches on doesn’t it? And so, you’re shaking hands walking away, the interview completed and you’re dazed wondering, “Where did my thoughts go? I had everything I wanted to say all ready?” If you’re really fortunate of course things didn’t go nearly as badly as you imagine they did and surprise, surprise you get a call offering you a second interview or even the job itself!

However, just as often, it didn’t turn out like you’d hoped because what you didn’t get out and express was key to marketing your strengths and strong suitability for the job. Sure it’s a moment of learning – if you learn from it. If you don’t learn from it, well, it’s really just a mistake.

So how do you go about ensuring that you don’t leave words unspoken? Excellent question! How fortuitous that you should ask now BEFORE the opportunity before you slips away.

Imagine first a personal conversation you are going to have with someone about an important issue. Whether it’s talking about sex with your son or daughter, speaking with your partner about selling your home, moving mom or dad into a long-term care facility etc. Now you wouldn’t just decide to ‘wing it’ and have a spontaneous chat over a meal. That ‘chat’ is going to be nipped in the bud because they aren’t ready for what you’re springing on them, and you won’t have prepared yourself to address the important things you want to bring up.

The best scenario is to plan in advance what your arguments are and to anticipate the counter arguments so you’re prepared. Of course you have to listen attentively to respond to things you didn’t anticipate as well. Your strength going in to these discussions is the homework you did ahead of time so you’ve got your facts ready; brochures for mom or dad about the home, a budget showing the numbers if you sell your house.

So leading up to the big conversation – aka the job interview – do your homework. Write down what qualifies you; both academic and experiential. Name the qualities you possess that make you an ideal fit with the values and goals of the new employer. Ensure you have tangible examples that prove you’ve done what you claim you have done. Please do yourself a favour and be as specific as you can when relating your past experiences; don’t generalize your past good works.

Jot down a word or two that will trigger your memory if you need to do so – so that even if you blank out for a second or so in the pressure of the moment, you can look down, see that word or phrase and remember what it is that you just have to say in order to make the strongest possible case for what it is you want.

Too many people unfortunately let opportunities to say what’s most important to them slip by and we don’t always get 2nd chances.