If You Want Success In 2020…


When new year’s eve rolls around this year – and right now it’s so far off it’s likely not even remotely on your mind – you’ll be looking back at 2020 with either general regret or satisfaction. The difference between the two perspectives will come down to the decisions you made in this year; those decisions good and beneficial or poor and harmful to yourself.

So what’s going to guide you in your decision-making so that you make more good decisions than bad? Too many people base their decisions on what seems right at the time. What they want in the moment that would seem best. String together all these little decisions that felt right at the time and you end up having made all your decisions with very little thought to any long-term goal. As a result, the benefits to yourself are short-lived. For example, when you crave something that will satisfy your sweet tooth, you can eat a chocolate bar and enjoy it. However, when pull to eat it is gone, you may be left feeling guilty and disappointed in yourself because you were trying to avoid eating treats. What you decided on in the moment to feel good proved to be a poor decision and counter productive.

So how can you make better decisions this year; decisions which in the end you’ll feel really good about having made in 2020? The answer is to first establish what you’d like to achieve for yourself and second ensure that reaching that goal will bring you a measure of happiness and satisfaction. When you reach your goal, you will feel successful; that you’ve brought about this success by making good decisions which continuously moved you forward to the point you stand now – having reached that goal.

Now be careful and give yourself the best chance at success. If you say your goal is to have a job or lose weight, it likely won’t happen that you achieve your sense of fulfillment. Why? Well, those two goals – as positive as they sound – are too vague. What kind of job is going to make you feel you’ve achieved success? How many pounds would you like to lose to feel you’ve achieved success? A quantitative number is required to put some specific objective in your goal. When you say your goal is to lose 25 pounds or to have a full-time job and name the one you’re after, you increase you’re chances of success having something specific to work towards.

Now write it down and store it somewhere where you will notice it frequently as a constant reminder of your long-term objective. That’s great, but alone this isn’t enough. If this is all you do, you’ll feel guilt and poor self-esteem every time you see it as all it will be is a reminder of how you’re failing to move forward. This is why in January and February you might notice people stick up goals to lose weight on the fridge and pantries, but those signs / pictures come down in March because they’ve come to resent seeing these every time they reached for something they wanted to eat.

With a specific goal in mind though, you’re on the right path. Your next move is to make another good decision, and by good, I mean to make a decision that is in line with your long-term goal. It’s time to break down your long term goal into manageable things you can do – call them smaller goals if you will, or steps. For example, if losing 25 pounds is your year goal, maybe you decide to avoid buying treats when you’re out shopping. After all, if they aren’t in the house when you feel tempted, you can’t eat what you don’t have. So make a shopping list and stick to it, avoiding the candy or snack aisle intentionally to avoid temptation. Do it once and you feel good – a small victory. Do it a second and third time, you feel you’re making progress – and you are as you set a new pattern of behaviour.

And your goal to find full-time work? Get in a new routine. Dedicate a block of time – say a couple of hours a day – and do it in a dedicated space where you’ll be productive. Job searching from your lazy boy or the couch if you’d rather watch television is not setting yourself up for success. Maybe you head to the local library or an employment centre for two hours a day, three days a week. Maybe you just sit at the kitchen table. And perhaps you decide to actually do what you’ve only pondered for the last two years, actually reach out and speak to a professional; one in the job search business.

Plans are good at helping you stay on track so you move continuously towards your goal. Plans however require one other thing – actions. The best plans don’t mean a thing if they aren’t executed and put into action. And actions alone aren’t good if there’s no plan – that’s just a lot of energy and confusion.

So if you want to be successful and look back at 2020 with satisfaction, set yourself a realistic, attainable goal and make it specific. Develop a plan of action and set smaller goals which will all move you forward. You’ll feel good as you make small decisions and a series of small but good decisions sets you up for success.

Feel Just Like You Did Last Year?


In every household around the world, the calendars flipped on January 1st, marking not only a new year, but a new decade. The internet is full of people posting about the new hope that this brings, the fresh starts, the opportunities that await and it would seem all we have to do is jump on board the bus and we’re on our way with an overly enthusiastic and energetic group of positive people. How can we not have a grand time?

Yet, something is wrong. Today seems just like yesterday and yesterday felt pretty much like previous days before that. While the calendar turned over, your life seems pretty much unchanged otherwise. So you’re starting to wonder, “With everyone I read about touting the arrival of 2020 as a reason to celebrate, why do I feel left out? If anything, these overly happy and positive people have me feeling more depressed than I was before.”

Let’s be clear about one thing shall we? The turning over a calendar alone hasn’t brought about magical change for ANYONE. Having said that, it’s what flipping the calendar represents that has people excited and optimistic. Take reading a story in a book. The chapter you’re reading seems rather long and is really moving a little slower than you’d like. It’s You flip the pages just to see how long it will be until you reach a new chapter and you see there’s another 12 pages. You could skip the 12 pages of a book but you can’t do so with life. The arrival of 2020 is like the first few words on that next chapter; the one you hope will speed up the action, draw you fully in to the plot and get you wanting to read more; really caring about the protagonist and wondering how they’ll fare in the end. So this is what 2020 is and why so many are excited.

But here’s the catch; you and I – them too for that matter – we all have to work to put ourselves into the positions we need to be in for us to take advantage of the opportunities 2020 is going to bring. If we don’t invest ourselves in the work it will take, the phone won’t ring nor will we get that single email that we dream of that leads to an employment offer. 2020 can be the year that we look back on and believe was the moment our lives were forever changed for the better, but we have to do things that bring about such change.

Ah change. It’s what you want isn’t it. That’s not a typo because it’s not a question but rather a statement. You want change. But change doesn’t happen when you sit and do nothing and the chance of change happening for the better is only marginally better when you keep doing whatever it is you’ve done in the past. Real, significant change occurs most often to people who do things differently and with applied energy.

Whether you’re job hunting, looking for a promotion – hey maybe even looking for Mr. or Miss Right, two things are needed; 1) a change in how you’re going about things and 2) a lot of work on your part. The thing about the work first; it is work to find work or to land a promotion or to be discovered by the person who is hoping to meet you this year. Work though in this sense is something you should relish; after all you’re going after something you really want, so your motivation should be heightened. As for a change in how you’re going about things, it stands to reason that if you keep doing things as you’ve always done them, it’s likely the results you get will be similarly the same.

Okay, so it’s January 6th today, we’re about a week into the new year and you’re feeling down because you’re standing alone with your 2020 party hat on, the streamers are on the ground and the noisemaker in your hand just seems so phony.

Avoid looking for company so you can be miserable and disillusioned together. Misery might like company, but this isn’t the company you want. If you really want to feel alive and celebrate success, what is it going to take to get you personally motivated? Again, might be talking a job, losing weight, repairing a family issue, buying a car, improving your mental health, being more assertive etc.

My suggestion is to consult an expert in the area you want to obtain success. What they’ll want from you is a commitment to your end goal and this means you’ll have to put in the work necessary on your end if you want their help to be truly beneficial. Otherwise, you’re just giving away your time and money.

If you are genuinely and honestly wanting to improve some aspect of your life, there are all kinds of people who want to work with you and support you. Be prepared however to do things that will require stamina; both physical and mental. If you want it bad enough however, I’ll guarantee – that’s right I’ll guarantee – that you’ll achieve your goal. Why? Because when you want it bad enough, you discover that putting in the work takes less effort as you build on your own momentum. Getting started and building that momentum is the hardest part.

If you feel nothings changed, maybe it hasn’t – yet. But it can and it will if you really want it.

 

For A Successful Job Search


What’s the first thing to do when you want to find work?

a) Look at jobs posted on a job search board

b) Update your resume

c) Tell your friends and connections you’re looking

The correct answer to the above? It’s not a, b or c. No, while all of them are good things to do when you’re looking for work, none of them should be the first thing you do if you want to be successful.

Yes, I’ll admit that dusting off a resume and updating your phone number, making a dozen copies and dropping them off in person to some employers just might get you a job. I’ll further admit that as long as it gets you the job you’re after, you’re not likely take advice from me or anyone else – until how you go about finding work doesn’t work – and neither do you. Then, and only then, might you be open to other ideas and suggestions.

No, the first step to successfully finding your next job or launching your career is to do a full self-assessment. Know yourself, and be able to articulate or clearly share all the many things that collectively make you who you are. It’s only when you really know who you are and what makes you tick that you have the best chance to find work that will really bring you job satisfaction and happiness.

So, do you know the following:

  1. Your work values
  2.  The style of supervision you work best under
  3.  Your learning style
  4.  The things which motivate you
  5.  Why you want / need to work
  6.  Your financial needs (how much you need to earn)
  7.  Your financial value in the marketplace
  8.  Your problem solving style
  9.  Your liabilities, weaknesses and challenges
  10.  Your strengths and competitive advantages
  11.  Your leadership style
  12.  Your work ethic
  13.  How long you plan to work in your next role
  14.  Your openness to shift work, overtime, part-time, full-time, permanent,    contract or seasonal work
  15.  The extent to which you’ll travel to get to your next job
  16.  Your own philosophy with respect to work
  17.  Your comfort and ease with, and integration to teamwork
  18.  The state of your listening skills
  19.  The validity of any certificates and licences you’ve held
  20.  Which skills you wish to use moving forward in your next job
  21.  Your own personal idea of happiness and success
  22.  Your preference for working with things, data, people or information
  23.  Your personality traits and how they fit with various environments
  24.  Your receptiveness and willingness to learn
  25.  Your personal employment barriers

So, come on, let’s be honest. When have you ever started your job search by first looking at all – not just some – of the things above BEFORE looking at a job board?

I tell you this – if you want to be successful; and I mean long-term successful, start your job search differently than you ever have before and look at the above. While you might point out that you’ve never done this in the past and have managed to find jobs before (than you very much), how happy have you been in those jobs and haven’t you felt there had to be something better?

Successful people are generally the ones who, in the course of their work, find great personal job satisfaction and happiness. They are grateful for the opportunity to do what they do, and they look forward to going in because they find fulfillment and purpose throughout their days. When they leave work, they know they’ve done their best, made a difference, contributed their skills and experience and made their time worthwhile to their employer. These people don’t find such jobs by chance and luck.

Knowing what you like and don’t like, your strengths and areas for improvement is only a start. In all likelihood, you may not be able to answer all 25 questions I’ve posed here without some guided support, help that you’ll later appreciate. When you know yourself fully, you not only end up in the right kind of work, you end up tracking down the right employer for you; the one that has the specific environment where you’ll thrive.

Don’t think that this process is reserved only for the rich and those going for high paying jobs. That would be a huge assumption and mistake on your part. Sometimes the ones who get the most out of doing these full self-assessments are your everyday Labourer, blue-collar or middle class worker.

Look, I don’t like all-encompassing statements because honestly they seldom actually apply to everybody, but perhaps it’s safe to say we all want a career or job that will bring us a measure of happiness and decent pay for the work we do. Happiness; have you really sat down and defined what happiness looks like for you personally though? So many factors go in to being happy at work; it’s not just the job itself.

I know many people – a large number of people, who now in their fifties, say they’ve never had a job that they can honestly say they were truly passionate about. Some paid well, others brought them some happy moments, but many were ones they’d rather have avoided looking back. The idea of doing a personal inventory or assessment is something they never considered but now wish they’d done a long time ago. The thing about a self-assessment is that you and me; we should all do one every few years because we change.

Job search step one? Self assessment.

Projecting Expectations On Others


I caught myself yesterday in the act of projecting my own expectations of someone on to them instead of solely celebrating their achievement. It wasn’t a major gaffe, and it didn’t create any friction but that was only because I recognized what I was doing and changed my response. Maybe you’ve done something similar to this too.

You see, I am co-facilitating a brand-new initiative where I work; a one-week only, quick dive into the basics of job searching. My co-worker and I created this and have given it the name, Job Search Fundamentals. We invited 12 people in receipt of social assistance to partake; some are post-secondary students off for the summer and returning to school in September, and others are just looking for full or part-time employment. This program also bridges between two other programs we run, a three-week workshop looking at what employers want these days and a two-week intensive job search program with higher expectations that not everyone is necessarily up to.

One participant came highly referred by a colleague of mine. She’d taken an Office Administration program for 18 weeks prior to this week, as she had recognized that to compete successfully for employment, she’d need to upgrade her skills. Yes, she’s a smart one. Anyhow, she came highly referred and after having met her on the first day, I could immediately see why. She did all the small things that mark someone as ready, professional and committed to their ultimate success.

She constantly takes notes, writing down key information shared. Where others nod their heads and show they are listening keenly, she’s doing that and documenting what’s being shared with her because honestly, no one is going to remember all the gems shared with them as new ones come at them all day long. She smiles, laughs, engages with her fellow classmates, asks questions, has excellent eye contact with us as facilitators and most importantly, when it’s time to work independently, she has demonstrated a consistent ability to take what’s shared with her and then implement those new ideas into her own work. She’s in my so-called top 5 I suppose of people who have made a lasting, positive impression on me; she’s that good.

Yesterday her commitment to finding employment paid off. She received a call and stepped out of class and when she came back in, she was in a state of absolute jubilation. “I just got a job! I’m so excited!”, she said. Everyone was happy for her. Turns out this job she got was with a private education centre, where she’ll be working three days a week starting in September 2019. Between now and then, there will be some training in late May and early June before they recess for the summer. This was a job she was really hoping for among those she has been applying to.

Now me? As much as I’m happy for her, I couldn’t help but think, it’s only part-time and it doesn’t start until September. She can do better. While it pays more than minimum wage, the salary isn’t going to get her and her two children off of assistance; not without an increase down the road or additional hours at any rate. In seconds, I asked her then if her plan was to exit the program after only the three days, or was she going to complete the remaining two day and look for a second position to create more hours overall or find perhaps a better job that starts sooner, with full-time hours and higher income. She decided to remain and finish out the week with us to everyone’s delight.

So, there I was, wanting more for her; seeing more potential in her, knowing she could win herself a position with more hours, higher pay, benefits, etc. I even started to share this with her – removed from the group where we discussed the details of the job. And then, I caught myself. I was in the act of projecting my expectations for her on to her; trying to get her to see things as I saw them. It was like I was saying, “I’m not as excited as you are… you can do better.”

Luckily, I stopped and changed my mindset. While I know some of her life’s journey to date, maybe this is exactly what she needs and all she can handle at the moment. It may be perfect for her, allow her the summer with her two children, and have this job to look forward to in the fall when they return to school. Maybe as she gets into the role, she will indeed want more, gain confidence in her abilities and with this job on her future resume, compete better for a job that does indeed have her realize her financial independence for good. In other words, in her time, not my time. It’s her life, not her life as scripted by Kelly Mitchell; well-meaning and meaning-to-be-helpful me. So yes, I’m excited for her and thrilled to see the way she shared that excitement for the others around her to join in because jubilation is contagious.

I share my experience as a reminder to us all. We may want more for those we see great potential in. It serves us well to celebrate progress in others, be aware of our own expectations and avoid imposing or projecting them on others.  

Success? Here’s What It Is


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel Like You’re Failing? Consider This


Failing and the fear of failing (two very different things) can keep you from eventually getting where you want to be, or having what you most want.

Now let’s be honest with each other here; failing at some things is much more significant and personal than with others. Failing to tie our shoes tight enough could mean for most of us that we simply look down and seeing they are yet again untied, we bend down and tie them again. Not a major issue, we just had to do it twice.

However, I acknowledge that failing at other things can be devastating and have severe consequences. In the very worst of scenarios, life or lives could be lost if a driver fails to stay on their side of the highway, we fail to wear a life jacket and our canoe overturns in open water or our parachute fails to open. These are just a few examples I say of the worst that could happen.

For job seekers, the issue of failing typically is described as putting in the time to apply and interview for a job and ultimately not being successful. The feeling is you’ve failed in the attempt to get hired. However, the feeling that you experience in such a situation is not shared in the same way by every person rejected as you might initially suspect.

No, some people will be devastated while others don’t seem negatively affected at all; and all the feelings in between the two extremes will be experienced by others. While the rejection itself is delivered the same to each applicant, the message received is experienced very differently. Why is this?

The answer in part is the importance each person assigns to the job opportunity in the first place. So the person who already has a job and is applying just to test the waters and see if they can advance might be only slightly affected. On the other hand, the unemployed person who’s pinned all their hopes on getting that job to stave off having their car or home repossessed by the Bank and their spouse give up on them could feel ruined.

Similarly, the stage at which you’re at in your job search has an impact. How many times have you applied and not been successfully offered the job? Are you just starting out and this is rejection number one or is this your 43rd in a row? Yikes!

Now there’s another reason that plays into how you feel and that’s what you’ve experienced beyond the job application process. Some people have the good fortune of having supportive people behind and around them. They see themselves as successful parents, worthy as an individual and their spouses, friends and family love them and encourage them in so many other ways, this failure is only one small blemish in one area of their life.

Most unfortunate however, is the person who has been told repeatedly that they will never amount to much, that their life is a series of failures in every regard. Victims of abusive relationships are often rebuked, put down, made to feel small and are often told they are nothing without the abuser. When they try and fail in their attempt to get a job, in their mind they really believe this is yet one more example of the truth they’ve been told; it is they who is a failure, not the job application.

I must tell you though that we all fail. Failing is a sign first that we’ve tried something; and trying is a good thing. Presumably it was trying to better ourselves, to get something we desired for whatever reason. Recognizing that we’ve tried is significant, so good for you.

Now, although unpleasant perhaps, it’s important to pause and think about why we were not ultimately successful. Yes this means thinking about an experience that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, but there’s a good reason for this; learning.

If we can learn some things about why we failed, we can then attempt to drop those same things in the future. So perhaps we need a stronger resume or add a cover letter. Maybe we need coaching or professional advice in terms of our interview skills. Why? Well, we might be saying something in an interview that seems okay to us but in fact is sending a different message entirely when heard by an interviewer.

I really don’t expect that you’ll smile and feel great when you’ve failed at getting a job in the future. No, you’re perfectly right to feel whatever you feel, be it sad, disappointment, short-term anger etc. Your feelings are valid because – well – they are YOUR feelings. Don’t apologize for how you feel.

After you’ve gone through what happened, look for some feedback and be genuine in your request, not defensive or argumentative as you listen to someone give you this feedback. You are after all attempting to learn so you increase your future chance of success.

Some of the most successful people you’ll meet have failed in the past and continue to fail as they learn new things. Remember you only need to succeed once – to get that job offer you want – and all those failures will diminish in comparison.

You my friend; yes you reading this, you are not defined by your failures.

A Simple Act Of Gratitude


Yesterday I was in the middle of facilitating a résumé workshop when I heard the Receptionist over the intercom say, “Kelly Mitchell if you’re in the building would you contact Reception.” Fortunately for me, I was in view of a co-worker who, seeing me look at him and throw up my hands in a helpless gesture, picked up his phone and told them I was not available. I continued on.

It was only a few moments later that I saw standing off to my left the smiling face of a man I’d worked with a couple of month’s back. He’d been one of 12 people who’d accepted an invitation to work with me on an intensive basis over 10 days in the hopes of landing interviews that would lead to employment. He’d been successful too; getting and accepting an invitation to work despite a couple of employment barriers that had previously turned off employers from giving him the chance.

So there he was, a respectable 10 feet outside the area I was in, grinning like a little child, intent on seeing me. There I was too, obviously in the middle of a presentation and fully aware that he wasn’t going without a brief word. Hmm…

Well, I acknowledged him by first apologizing to the group and waved hello, telling him I was just in the middle of a presentation. To me he said, “I know, I just stopped by to thank you again for your help.” “Things are going well then?” I asked. At this point he said that things were going great and that the resume and job search tips had paid off. It was at this point that I realized there was a real win-win-win situation here to take advantage of.

Yes, you guessed it. I waved him in for a moment and now in full view of the people in the workshop, I asked him to repeat what he’d just said. Well it was a real endorsement of my skills and the information I was sharing with the participants that I couldn’t have planned any better had I tried. With his grin and kind words, he told us assembled that not only was the job going well, he had since accepting that first job, a total of 6 companies contact him for job interviews, and he was very close to getting an extremely good job; one that he’d been hoping for as a long-term goal I’d previously known of. “The résumé works! I change it for the jobs I’m going for and it’s really made a difference.” Then with a handshake and some last good wishes, he was gone.

If you believe I’m sharing this with you for the purpose of saying how great I am, you’re missing the point; completely and utterly. His generous act of gratitude and thanks says more of him than it does for me. That same information you see that I shared with him, I’d shared with others, and continue to share. I am so happy for him but also so proud of him, for not only his success but in how he’s going about things now. Dropping in for the sole purpose of expressing his gratitude, feeling that he wanted to say thanks in person and knowing the impact it would have on me.

Of course, I brought him in largely to show to the group that the ideas I was sharing really do work. I mean, here before them was a bona-fide success story that they could replicate for themselves if they applied the same ideas and concepts in their own situations. Oh and believe me, the room lit up, the energy shot up in the room and everyone was smiling. When I said after he left that I hoped they didn’t mind the interruption, that it was so good to see him so happy, they simultaneously and to a person indicated it was more than okay.

In attendance I also had a co-worker who was sitting in to improve her own confidence helping people with their resumes. A long-time Employment Consultant, she wanted to both see and hear my presentation and from there use the same resources I made to help others. So you can imagine how wonderful it was for me to have this unexpected visit and expression of both gratitude and success in front of her.

So I felt great, the participants and my co-worker had proof before them the ideas work, and the gentleman himself left feeling good in having accomplished what he wanted to do; see me and extend a heartfelt thank you.

No matter how hard we work, how many successes we have, how many people we see, we all need those moments when others acknowledge what we do and express their appreciation. His act of kindness and the impact on me will last some time.

I urge you to do likewise when the opportunities present themselves. Genuine gratitude is always welcomed and could come exactly when needed most for some people. We all like to think we make a difference in this field of social work, that we’re having a real positive impact on the lives of others. Sincere acts of gratitude like I’ve described here reinforce that belief and give us encouragement to do more, give more and strive for more. He couldn’t have given me a more precious gift than his thanks.

Have You Failed By Taking A Short-Term Anything Job?


Suppose you’re one of those people – and there’s a lot of them out there these days – who have some education beyond High School. You’ve planned all along on pursuing a job that makes use of that education. However, with a widening gap of unemployment on your résumé matching your growing frustration at not working, you’ve found yourself finding the idea of just taking a job – any job – more and more appealing; something you thought you never would. There’s this nagging notion that you’ve failed though that keeps you from actually applying for work outside your field of education. So have you?

The short answer is no, you haven’t. Exhale and breathe a sigh of relief. Do that a few times and read on.

There’s a lot of common sense involved in doing exactly what you’ve contemplated and like I pointed out in the beginning, you’re one of many who are well-educated and unemployed. It is not only understandable that you’d be looking at broadening your job search at some point – perhaps where you are at the moment – it’s also a very good idea.

So how come? I mean, Employment Coaches and Counsellors often say you should stick to your career plan and never give up on what you really want. Doing anything else is just settling isn’t it? What happened to finding your passion and not letting any setbacks get in your way of going after what’s going to make you truly happy? Flipping burgers, selling clothes, walking school kids across busy intersections: these aren’t the kind of jobs you thought you’d give more than a passing glance at. Could you ever imagine you’d actually be seriously thinking of going after one of these jobs at this point having finished College or University?

Hang on and settle down. We’re not talking forever here. No one is suggesting that you start your first day down at the fast food outlet and pump your first shouting, “Yes! I’ve arrived!”

The jobs we’re discussing here have been in the past called survival jobs. More and more they are also called transition jobs; work that bridges the gap of time and space between the present and a job in the future. These are typically short-term positions outside your field of training and education.

When you find yourself browsing these ads more and more and seriously thinking about actually applying, may I suggest you change your line of perception. Instead of thinking that you’ve failed; that your post-secondary education was a waste of both time and money, consider the positives of these transition jobs.

First and foremost, the income from a job – any entry-level job – will stem some financial bleeding. Admittedly while likely minimum wage, money is money and some is better than none. Perhaps more important than money however is the inclusion factor. Right now you’re outside the workforce; remember feeling that everyone has a job but you? That so many people you see from your window seem to have somewhere to go, something to do, while you sit and grow despondent, frustrated and perhaps depressed? Uh huh. Yep, getting up, showered, dressed and out the door with a purpose is always good. That routine you’ve been missing is more important than you might have thought.

Now if you’ve looked at that School Crossing Guard advertised on some Municipality’s website and scoffed at it, think again. First of all those hours; before school, at noon and late afternoon leave you two chunks of time – mid-morning and mid-afternoon – to continue your targeted job search. Of even more significance perhaps is that once you land a Crossing Guard job, even though you’re working outside, you’ve at the same time become an internal employee. Had you considered that? Yes, you’re now able to see and apply for the internal jobs with that Municipality; jobs that up until now you had no access to. Full-time jobs that pay much better and perhaps come with benefits too.

That Crossing Guard job might be one you have to take for 3 or 6 months before you’re eligible to apply for anther internal job. Okay so be it. Do the job at present and do it with a positive attitude. You’ve got this job so you might as well enjoy it and keep telling yourself you’re in transition from this to your next job – the one you really want.

Remember you don’t have to add a short-term job on your résumé, but consider doing so because it does bridge a gap. In your cover letter or at an interview you can certainly state with confidence that you took the short-term job where you are working to pay the bills but you’re highly motivated to seek work in your field as this is where your passion and strong interest are.

A failure? Far from it. You’re wise enough not to let pride get in the way and perhaps it even demonstrates your belief that no job, and certainly not the people doing them, should be looked down on. Perhaps it’s helped you learn humility and an appreciation for the hard work involved which you’d previously overlooked. Perhaps too you’re actually better for the experience and will be all the more grateful for the opportunity to work in the field of your choice doing what you love.

Suddenly, you might be more attractive to your employer of choice.

 

What If You Can’t Find Your Passion?


“Follow your dreams, do what makes you come alive; find your passion.” Sound familiar? Maybe somebody said as much in your valedictorian address in high school or college/university. Or perhaps it was your mentor; Aunt May or your granddad. All well intended of course; with your best interests at heart.

You might be familiar with a saying that goes, “Love your job and you’ll never work a day in your life”. The idea being that when you do something or some things that you love doing, you’re not actually working. This is one quote I’ve never really liked for it then implies that work has to be something you don’t love. If you’re working; and especially if you’re working hard at something, you can’t love it. Well, I just don’t see things that way.

Some of the hardest working people I know love what they do. In fact, it is precisely because they love their work so much that they invest themselves and work hard to improve; all because the end products and services they give will better the experience of the consumer. Their work brings them happiness and immense satisfaction and they love it so much they aren’t interested in changing to do something else.

But what of the person – possibly you – who hasn’t found what their passion is? What if you’re talented at something or even several things but the word passionate is just wrong. You might have days where you feel good about your work of course, and your boss is happy with your performance. However, to say you’re truly passionate about your work would be a lie. So you wonder every so often about these people who have apparently found passion in the work they do, and you say to yourself, “I wonder what that’s like; to use such a strong emotional word like ‘passion’ to describe how they go about their work.”

Now you can go to school and take courses to improve your skills on a subject, to expand your knowledge on a topic, to learn a specific trade and if you go far enough you can even get a doctorate and be a professor of something. That is something to be proud of and a significant accomplishment. To become a professor or doctor of something would seemingly make you an expert or at the very least well-versed and informed on a particular topic. Yet, for all that schools share and teach, impart and instruct, teaching passion isn’t in any curriculum.

Can you teach passion is what I’m saying? No, I don’t think you can. You can be passionate about what it is you do but fail miserably in attempting to pass that passion on to others. Oh I’m not saying those around you won’t be inspired by you; for I believe they often are. However, just because you’re passionate about your work doesn’t mean that those coming into contact with you and seeing how you go about what you do will automatically be similarly invested in that passion.

When in fact someone says, “Find your passion!” where do you begin? It can seem like you need to take a few years off and travel to exotic destinations, live in a rain forest, serve the needy in a third world country or scale Mount Everest. On a local and far more accessible scale, maybe that’s why zip-lining, parachuting and taking ax throwing classes are rising in popularity; people are looking to stimulate their emotional passion for something by doing something extreme.

So what of the average person (even saying average seems like a letdown to some of you I know) who has a regular job. The person who pays down their mortgage regularly, buys a car every 5 years and goes in to work 5 days a week, lives a pretty ‘normal’ life in other words? Can one be happy if they do well at their job but the word, ‘passion’ isn’t something they’ve ever used to describe how they feel about their job? Yes of course.

With all the people out their telling you to find your passion, I’d recommend you remember that the only person you need answer to for whether that’s important to you personally is…well…you. If it’s not important that you love your work, you don’t have to. If you don’t love your work it need not mean you hate it. Hate is a strong word. You could be competent but indifferent. So you could like selling but whether it’s clothes, shoes, games, cars or fishing tackle, it doesn’t matter. Equally of interest you might also be good at and enjoy fixing appliances or refinishing furniture.

Yes there are a lot of people in this world doing work they love and many doing work without passion. Of course finding something you love and turning it into your source of full-time work and your source of income might seem like the goal, but there are many who would like to keep their passion and their full-time work separate. After all, the fear of losing your passion for something because it’s become work is a genuine concern.

So if you’ve not found your passion, don’t fret. Yes, and this from someone who loves what he does. It might take you a short time or years to discover passion if ever. You can still be successful, happy and good at many things!

How To Get Ahead In The Organization


Not all of us are bound for glory at the top of the organization. Quite frankly, not all of us value being at the top at all. For those however who do want to rise from the rank of the entry-level, there are a few things you can do that will increase your opportunities of moving up. Identify your goal. Rather than letting fate determine where you end up, look at the organizational chart where you work.

Name the job. Identify what for you is be the ideal position to be in that would make use of your skills and satisfy your desire to be in a position that you’re happiest. You’ll do this throughout your career by the way, so if you identify a position that’s really three or four moves away, look closest at the move one up from where you are now in that sequence of upward movement.

Check your skill set. It could be that you’ve already got all the requisite skills required of the job you identified in the step above. If you do, wonderful; you’re positioned to apply with confidence if and when that position becomes available. If however you can identify skills and qualifications you lack at the moment, you’ll be happy to know that although you’re lacking, you have made an important discovery. Now is the time to start looking into how you can acquire what you need. Is it a course, a certificate or degree program? Is it leadership on the job in some kind of project?

Establish a timeframe. This step requires you to realistically step back and look at where you are and where you intend to be and accurately measure the time between the present and arriving where you plan to be. This is a crucial step not to be overlooked. While you can’t predict perhaps when someone will vacate the position they now occupy that you covet, you can make some educated guesses. How long for example has the person been in the job? What’s their age? Talk to them and find out their plans by taking an interest in their career path. Is your company contracting or expanding?

Share your vision. If you’ve got the kind of employer that values succession planning and whom takes a real sincere interest in employee development, share your goals with your supervisor. The boss is in a position to get on board with your plans and can approve training opportunities that will give you the necessary skills that you determined earlier you lack. It could also be that the boss knows more than you do about other employee’s plans and while they are unlikely to share that information for reasons of confidentiality, they can give you good advice on what to do now so you’re ready when the time comes.

Network. This step is often the one that people grumble about. Not sure really why that is, but if you don’t warm to the word, ‘network’ than how about converse, talk, engage, mingle etc. Don’t let the word stop you from doing what is essentially just getting to know and be known by the people who may be in the best position to help you in your career moves.

Be authentic. Can you spot a phony? Sure you can. Don’t be the woman or man who is the office bootlicker. If you flatter others in a disingenuous way, you’ll be pegged a mile off. You don’t have to tell people of influence that they look amazing every day or that you soooo admire them and every decision they make. Do this and you set yourself up to be used and abused. You’ll be known as such an obvious step climber that you’ll be given the worst jobs to do that nobody wants just because in your mind it will look good so you’ll do them without complaint or objection.

Put in the time. Not always, but typically speaking, those that contribute more of their own time beyond what they have to, advance. When you put in extra time you’re sending out the message that by your actions you’re committed. If you are putting in this time and being authentic about it, (see the point above), you’ll probably be doing so at some point because you care and you want results. While more time alone doesn’t mean you do better work or achieve better results, it does send the message that the company is important to you, and you’re not above investing yourself in its success

Get feedback. You need to know fairly early and often how you are perceived by others. Seek out some honest opinions about how your personality and character fit with what the organization is looking for. You may have all the skills and qualifications for a job, but if you get denied it again and again, it’s likely that you’re not seen as a good fit for other reasons. When you ask for feedback make sure you listen more than you speak, and take the feedback openly. If you get defensive and argue about that feedback, people will dry up and fail to give you what you really need most; honest feedback.

Like I said, not all of us want to move up in the companies we work for. Positioning yourself now to take advantage of future opportunities is wise advice though.