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"Bring Your 'A' Game" is a common expression in athletics which means to arrive with your top attitude and ability because with today's competition we're going to need it. In life, every day is game day. You simply can achieve your goals with B- effort. I am amazed at how many positive and important words for the job search begin with the letter "A." Here is my top ten list of the ones I think are the most appropriate to help you transition.
1. Attitude - This is the very first step in the process because attitude is everything. If you don't change your attitude you simply can't achieve success. In my book, attitude determines altitude. Think about it: Where you go in life is up to you. It's important that you tell yourself positive affirmations each day. Without them, your thoughts tend to run wild down the road of negativity. Approach your job search with enthusiasm and energy. Let go of any anger you may have and accept that your new job is to find a job. Put into it exactly what you hope to get out of it.
2. Assessment - It's imperative to take stock of your situation. Who are you? What are your aptitudes? Where are you now? Where are you going? Who will help you? How will you get there? What are you hoping to attain? I know you want a job, but a job doing what? This is your time to inventory where you are educationally, spiritually, financially as well as what you are doing for fun, the quality of your relationships, your health and fitness. Why? Because they are all interrelated. Deficiencies in one or more areas can have a negative impact on the others.
3. Ambition - This is your time to really go for it! Be achievement-oriented not only in the short-term, but in the long-term. You will really need to step it up. Think about how it is going to feel when you accept your new job offer.
4. Attempt - The thought of finding a job can often be overwhelming. The most important thing is that you try. Try to do at least two things for your job search each day. Ask yourself: What micro-goals could I accomplish today? Just take the first step. Sometimes you have to send out way more resumes than you expected. If you are debating whether or not you should send one, then send it. When you don't attempt, you are really telling yourself "No!"
5. Action-Oriented - You have to be an active participant in your own rescue. Each week write down the five to ten activity items that you will implement. If your search is taking much longer than anticipated, what daily or weekly tasks can you accelerate? Is this the time to get more aggressive with your search?
6. Administer - What is your plan and approach toward your job search? Staying organized in your search is critical. Do you have a system for accurately recording the number of resumes you send out each week and to what organizations? Are you attentive to all the details of the search? Are you following through?
7. Announce - This is no time to isolate yourself on the Internet. Make yourself available for as many networking one-on-one meetings as possible each and every week. If someone is within three feet of you, please tell them about what you are seeking. You will need to deputize your job search agents and going public is one way to do it.
8. Advisors - Doing your job search alone is a very bad approach. It's important to assemble a dream team of upwards of ten advisors that you will ask for assistance. Who will be the positive influences during this time that you will align with? Arrange for regular meetings with them and keep them apprised of your progress. You receive when you ask. But when you ask, be specific about what you are asking for. Don't just say, "I am looking for a job." Instead, articulate what your three target jobs are and ask if they know anyone you could speak to that might be helpful. This dream team can give you validation and approval especially when you hit road blocks and obstacles along the way. When your search is over you can show your gratitude and acknowledge their assistance.
9. Adapt - Evaluate your progress each week? What's working? What's not working? What do I need to start doing? What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to do more of? What do I need to do less of? What do I need to do differently? Do I need to realign my job targets based on the reality of the market?
10. Avoid - Stay away from the following: analysis paralysis, anxiety and apathy. These do not serve you. Focus on your strengths and how this will be a new beginning for you. If you control your thoughts, you can control your destiny.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC, Published - Friday, October 12, 2012
The initial energy that you put into your job search will end. The longer the process drags on the more difficult it will be to stay motivated. You may not even recognize that you are losing momentum until you're in real trouble. Most of the action items below are minor adjustments like #5, "Get a hair cut," but all together they can have a cumulative impact. Doing an effective job search requires energy. A lot of energy! Eating junk food, lacking exercise, being sleep deprived, watching too much TV, isolating yourself and looking like crap as in #5, "Get a hair cut," ARE NOT energy producing activities. Avoid spiraling downward with these tips.
1. Go to bed a half hour early and get up a half hour early. This allows you to carve out additional personal time.
2. Start each day by saying your favorite positive affirmation to yourself (ie., TODAY will be a Totally Awesome Day).
3. Define your daily exercise time. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it (ie., morning, afternoon or evening).
4. Get 30 minutes of exercise five times a week (ie., walking, running, biking, swimming, climbing, lifting, yoga, zumba, etc.).
5. Get a hair cut. Take a hot shower which will relax you. Wear comfortable clothes that make you feel great.
6. Write a short entry in a journal every day. This will help put your thoughts onto paper and help declutter your mind.
7. Read scriptures such as the Bible, Torah, Koran or something else that feeds your soul. Pray or meditate to clear your mind.
8. Attend a house of worship or join a community of like-minded believers. Helps avoid isolationism.
9. Believe in yourself, believe in something and have someone believe in you.
10. Eat a balanced diet loaded with fruits and vegetables; make wise nutritional choices. Reduce the level of sugar in your diet.
11. Eat an excellent breakfast that will sustain you during the day. Eat some fruit mid-day or other mood-improving food.
12. Call two people that have served as trusted mentors. Helps avoid isolationism.
13. Listen to the right people. Helps avoid isolationism.
14. Reach out to three to five friends and ask for their advice and guidance. Helps avoid isolationism.
15. Spend some fun time with friends at least twice a month. Helps avoid isolationism.
16. Check out from the public library a motivational book, CD or DVD.
17. Go through some photographs that remind you of positive memories which will also put your situation in perspective.
18. Drink a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Have a beverage with friends more consistently. Helps avoid isolationism.
19. Listen to your favorite positive music.
20. Think of just one thing that will move you forward. Just one! Then do it!
21. Read old letters of recommendation or obtain new one for your LinkedIn Profile.
22. Take a nature walk of any duration. Even 30 minutes will help clear your mind. Share it with a friend. Helps avoid isolationism.
23. Rally your family members for support; call more regularly and increase the time you spend with them. Helps avoid isolationism.
24. Find an "Accountability Buddy" and call them on "Motivational Mondays" and "Follow-Up Fridays" to help you stay on track.
25. Do some stretching exercises mid-day.
26. Have someone give you a massage. Give/Get at least three hugs per day. Helps avoid isolationism.
27. Volunteer five to 10 hours a week to make a difference, develop a support team and build connections. Helps avoid isolationism.
28. Write your Triple "P" - Your Personal, Professional and Play Vision Statements. Get clarity on what you really really want!
29. Set strict limits on technology including the time you spend on the Internet and watching TV. Helps avoid isolationism.
30. Get out of the house every day and go to the library, coffee shop, walk, etc. Helps avoid isolationism.
31. Laugh at least 10% more than you do now. It releases endorphins.
32. Plan the next vacation you will take once this transition is over. This way you will have something to work toward.
33. Get at least eight hours of sleep. Stick to a standard wake up time and bedtime. This will help improve your daily performance.
34. Have set dinner times with family/friends each night. Take a break from your search and recharge. Helps avoid isolationism.
35. Change your attitude. Don't beat yourself up. No one is telling you that you are a loser, so don't tell yourself that you are one!
36. Visualize the ideal job and total success. Visualize abundance NOT scarcity. Visualize what you can do, NOT what you can't do.
37. Establish a written detailed monthly budget - stick to it each month.
38. Make an appointment with a financial planner to come up with a short-term and long-term financial strategy.
39. Take one minute out every hour to breathe and exhale deeply ten times.
40. Take one minute to stretch every hour.
41. Set a goal of doing one fun activity every weekend.
42. Conduct as many networking "Coffee Talks" as possible. I suggest five to ten every week. Helps avoid isolationism.
43. Set three daily Micro Goals that are so small that it is impossible to fail.
44. Set three Major Goals (BHAGs - Big Harry Audacious Goals) so high that when you achieve them, they will blow your mind.
45. Remain disciplined to putting in at least 40 hours per week on your job search. Then quit and enjoy the weekend!
46. Create structure in your daily job search activities. Join professional associations, job search clubs, attend career fairs, etc.
47. Take any temp job or part-time job to earn cash, to network, to get you out of the house and improve yourself esteem.
48. See a therapist if you start to go downhill. Get on a treatment plan that will work for you. Helps avoid isolationism.
49. See a professional career counselor for solid advice, guidance, direction and an action plan. Helps avoid isolationism.
50. Say ten things each day that you are grateful for. Wish for three things that will happen to you.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published September 28, 2012
The #1 barrier to achieving career success is you. You are standing in the way of your own success with negative distortions. I am often my clients' best cheerleader, while they act as their own worst enemy beating themselves up with criticism, self-doubt and worry. I listen patiently and hear them offer up their dominant thoughts from the dark side. Thoughts come and go so frequently that we rarely think about how they impact our day. It is impossible to think negatively and have healthy career development. What we think has a direct impact on how we feel, what we say and how we act. Erase these eight thought patterns that can derail you from your future.
1. Absolute Thinking - This is the tendency to perceive your job situation as either all bad or all good with no shades of gray. This is an "always" or "never" mentality. It may take the form of: "I'll never be able to get a job." or "I've always been this way."
2. Blaming - An unconstructive way to handle things is to blame someone, something or yourself. This may include such phrases as: "It's my entire fault" or "It is all their fault." or even "If xyz didn't happened, then I would not be in this situation."
3. Over-generalizing - Taking a negative experience as the predictor that universally your life is a failure.
4. Negative Thinking - This is a habit focusing on a self-defeating inner dialog of gloom and doom. Catch yourself from saying: "That will never work!", "I'm just too tired to do a job search.", "I can't seem to get my act together.", "I'm nervous about the interview.", "I can't find a job." or "I'll never be able to get ahead."
5. Discrediting - This is the belief that positive accomplishments, strengths, achievements, attributes are somehow less important. Prevent yourself from devaluing by avoiding phrases like: "That's a nice idea, BUT...." Or "Yes, BUT." My advice is to rid yourself of that big fat BUT.
6. Forecasting - Predicting that the worst is going to happen. Let me reprogram you: You're future is NOT dismal and hopeless!
7. Over-exaggerating - This is where you blow your situation way out of proportion. This is a skewed thought pattern that the sky is falling.
8. Self-Sabotaging - Creating barriers, road blocks and hurdles in your mind that manifest themselves in negative words and then self-defeating behaviors. These include: "My resume is not good enough." or "It would be too much work to go after what I really want."
Who is telling you all of this nonsense? You are! YOU are the problem!!! Don't believe the lies you keep telling yourself. These are bad thoughts that do not serve you. All your career problems are in your head, and fortunately, that's where all the solutions are.
Career issues and challenges are often rooted in deeper emotional problems. If they are not addressed, they tend to manifest themselves in unconvincing resumes and cover letters, job hopping, procrastination, perfectionism, career confusion, analysis paralysis, or a lack of confidence during interviews and salary negotiation. Fortunately, emotional issues can be repaired and you can move forward with your future. Don't let yourself be riddled with anxiety. I encourage you to seek professional help if necessary.
Let's stop and regain some perspective. The first step is to become aware that you actually have limiting beliefs. Next, pay attention to your body and how you are feeling. For example, a rapid heart beat might indicate accelerating anxiety or an upset stomach could indicate fear. My advice is to practice identifying the feelings that hold you back. When you begin to experience fear and anxiety, stop yourself and ask what you were thinking immediately prior to those feelings. In all probability, you were having one of the eight destructive thought patterns from above. Once you are conscious of them, you can begin to replace them with positive messages.
When I hear an excessive amount of negativity, I will interrupt and say "What career advice would you give to your kids or best friend?" The response is almost universally positive and inspiring. I ask them to listen carefully to what they just said, take that advice themselves, and then model the way for others. If you wouldn't call your kids or your friends a loser, then don't say it to yourself. Teach yourself to live your life forward instead of obsessing about what's in the rear view mirror.
Don't concentrate on your weaknesses, but in fact, focus what IS actually working well for you. Make a list and write it down. Find the solutions to your career development in your strengths. My advice is to train yourself to erase the tapes of negativity that prevent you from advancing. Reprogram your mind that there is hope, because there really is hope. Don't isolate yourself from others; instead, develop a support network of cheerleaders and allies.
Be careful that destructive thoughts don't get lodge in your mind and then spread like cancer. Work on controlling these runaway thoughts that clutter your head. You can deliberately plant positive affirmations in your mind such as: "I know I'm going to get a new job.", "I can do it." and "I deserve to succeed." Without question, the most important foundation for your success is your attitude.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published Friday, September 21, 2012
I have read and collected dozens of career books in my over 20 years as a practitioner. Recently, I was thinking that if I had the task of building a career library of only 50 books, which ones would I pick? I decided to stock it with some classics, some new resources as well as some of my favorite motivational books. I wanted ones that cover self-assessment, career exploration, job search strategies, networking, Internet job searching, resumes, cover letters, interviewing, internships and finding your mission in life. To maintain healthy career development, I recommend that you set a goal of reading at least one book on career development each year. Although you will find lots of books on the market, here is my list I of the ones you must have:
1. 50 Best Jobs For Your Personality by J. Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin, PhD
2. All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulgrum
3. CampusCareerCenter's The Job Hunting Guide by Ronald L. and Caryl Krannich, PhDs
4. College Majors Handbook by Neeta P Fogg, Paul E. Harrington, EdD and Thomas F. Harrington PhD
5. Coming Alive From Nine To Five In A 24/7 World by Betty Neville Michelozzi
6. Cover Letters For Dummies: A Reference For The Rest Of Us by Joyce Lain Kennedy
7. Discover What You're Best At by Linda Gale
8. Do What You Are by Paul D. Tiegger & Barbara Barron-Tiegger
9. Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood by Marsha Sinetar
10. Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...And It's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, PhD
11. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
12. Field Work Savvy by Joan Milnes
13. Free To Succeed: Designing The Life You Want In The New Free Agent Economy by Barbara B. Reinhold
14. Guerilla Tactics In The New Job Market by Tom Jackson
15. Guide To Internet Job Searching by Margaret Dikel and Frances Roehm
16. I Could Do Almost Anything If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher
17. I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This by Julie Jansen
18. Internet Your Way To A New Job: How To Really Find A Job Online by Alison Doyle
19. JobShift: How To Prosper In A Workplace Without Jobs by William Bridges
20. Knock 'Em Dead: The Ultimate Job Seeker's Handbook by Martin Yate
21. Life's Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown Jr.
22. Loving Your Job, Finding Your Passion: Work And The Spiritual Life by Joseph G. Allegretti
23. Major Options by Nicholas Basta
24. More Best Answers To The 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions by Matthew J. and Nanette F. DeLuca
25. Network Your Way To Your Next Job...Fast by Clyde C. Lowstuter and David P. Robertson
26. Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton
27. Passage: Predictable Crises Of Adult Life by Gail Sheehy
28. Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges Of Life In Your Twenties by Alexandra Robins and Abbey Wilner
29. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
30. Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art Of Being Interviewed by H. Anthony Medley
31. Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive by Harvey Mackay
32. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
33. The Answer by John Assaraf and Murray Smith
34. The Complete Job Search Handbook: Everything You Need To Know To Get The Job You Want by Howard Figler, PhD
35. The Enneagram Made Easy: Discover The 9 Types Of People by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele
36. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets Of America's Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
37. The Power by Rhonda Byrne
38. The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
39. The Search For Meaning In The Workplace by Thomas H. Naylor, William H. Willimon and Rolf Osterberg
40. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
41. The Three Boxes Of Life And How To Get Out Of Them: An Introduction To Life/Work Planning by Richard Nelson Bolles
42. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
43. Transitions: Making Sense Of Life's Changes by William Bridges
44. Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement by Tony Robbins
45. What Do People Do All Day by Richard Scarry
46. What Color Is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual For Job-Hunters And Career Changers by Richard Nelson Bolles
47. What Should I Do With My Life?: The True Story Of People Who Answered The Ultimate Question by Po Bronson
48. Wishcraft: How To Get What You Really Want by Barbara Sher with Annie Gottlieb
49. Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day And How They Feel About What They Do by Studs Turkel
50. Untitled by Dr. Thomas J. Denham - to be released in 2012, stay tuned...
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published Friday, September 7, 2012
As I did in a previous article, I want to continue to outline some career management strategies that can keep you in solid career shape.
11. Obtain New Skills/Education/Certifications - Never stop learning. Take advantage of all the training resources at your disposal whether in-house, off-site, online or in the classroom to widen your horizons, outlook and expand your insight. Since America is experiencing credential inflation, a bachelor's degree is the equivalent of what a high school degree was worth 25 years ago. Now, a master's degree is often preferred. In 25 more years, I predict the double master's degree will be valued. Learn skills that are respected at other companies. Build toward promotion - show that you can do the work one job level above your own.
12. Stay Current on Trends - Read the newspaper, business journals or literature in your field to stay abreast of the latest technologies, trends and skills. Anticipate new and advanced core competencies that will help you to stay competitive and will position yourself for further promotions, advancement or job offers.
13. Become a Subject Matter Expert (SME) - In today's "Knowledge Economy," we get paid based on what we know. Position yourself to take advantage of the "Intellectual Capital" that you have to offer. Take on challenging projects to build, extend and apply your knowledge. You will not instantly master new skills and knowledge - so be patient! Remember you are a beginner and erase any feelings of incompetence in new assignments. By incrementally meeting new tasks, you will become more adept and it will test your abilities to integrate new skills. Establish yourself as a source of valuable information and contacts across the company.
14. Create a "Career Portfolio" - Inside this binder or folder include the achievements you are the most proud of including an updated bio, a revised resume and a list of current references. I urge you to update these critical documents annually so you can properly assess what have accomplished during the year.
15. Participate in Professional Associations - Expose yourself to others at the local, regional or national level in your field through presentations, panels, papers, blogs, social media and trade shows. This will only increase your network of connections.
16. Start a Side Business - I'm convinced that the only job security left is the security you create for yourself. If you are let go, having a part-time business, may be your ticket to your future. It will be a lot of work, but you will be building something for you. Start with a passionate idea, and then begin to develop a business plan. This is an excellent way to protect you from downsizing.
17. Join Committees, Publish Articles, Perform Community Service - These are examples of going above and beyond the call of duty. A fertile source of learning can be from teams and work groups or committees. Become a company spokesperson outside the office with radio, television or by using social media. It is harder for an employer to let go of someone that the community knows is a positive representative of the company.
18. Add Value - Be known as a positive contributor. Are you doing everything you can to bring value to your employer? Does your position impact the bottom line? Think outside the box - don't be rigid. Are you noticeable and are the results of your work visible to the decision-makers in your organization? In addition, praise, validate and recognize the contributions of others.
19. Avoid Job Hopping - When times are tough at work, think twice about jumping ship. Decisions based on emotion can run you into trouble down the road. It is best to use logical reasoning and common sense. Carefully analyze the consequences in the short-term, but especially in the long-term from such a decision. Will this move position you for more opportunities or less? Will you get a strong reference if you leave? How long do you anticipate being in the next job? My advice: As soon as you get a job, start looking for your next job. Think two moves ahead. It is always better to look for a job when you already have one.
20. Stretch Yourself - Growing professionally most often occurs in the process of achieving daily or weekly work tasks. Take obstacles, mistakes and hardships as professional development lessons. Your strengths are the building blocks of your career, and they provide the greatest job satisfaction. Focus on them, practice them, build on them and plan your career around them.
21. Stop for an Annual Evaluation - At the end of the year, stop to evaluate. Write your "Annual Self-Report" of your top 10 achievements. Which areas do you want to acquire or improve upon next year? Seek feedback from client and co-workers about the effectiveness of your work. The dreaded Performance Evaluation can be a rich source of information about your perceived performance. Data from appraisals can be useful for improving your future job performance or motivate you to plan an exit strategy.
22. Reinvent Yourself Continuously - The fourth career stage, Career Management, brings you back to the first stage, Self-Assessment. Take care of your career development just as you would your finances, relationships, health, personal and spiritual development. Prepare for change and embrace it because it is the only constant. A career is not chosen for life for most people. A periodic inventory of your skills, values, interests, personality traits, knowledge and goals will help you stay on top of your game.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published Friday, August 31, 2012
Just like success, happiness can mean many things to many people. Often we think of it as a mental state filled with positive feelings. In order to live an authentic life, the time you spend must be in alignment with your values, interests, personality traits and skills. Dale Carnegie was right when he said, "Success is getting what you want, but happiness is wanting what you get." Your success is not measured by what's parked in the driveway. In order to be happy, you have to define what makes you happy and define it specifically. For a wealth of ideas, I highly recommend you read Barbara Ann Kipfer's book 14,000 things to be happy about. I have carefully thought about the route to happiness and have come up with my own top 50 ways to live contented.
1. Be Fully Present: Be self-disciplined and don't get distracted, especially with technology. You'll enjoy life more.
2. Climb Mountains: Be adventurous! Be outdoors every weekend. Go for a nature walk 2 times every month, even in winter.
3. Cope with Stress: Develop "Stress Busters." Create something. Do yoga. Do a 5k. Do something, but don't drink too much.
4. Cut Back: Eliminate all non-priorities and commitments and learn to say "no." Stop overdoing.
5. Dare to Dream: Go Big. If don't have a dream, you don't have much. Dare to be different. Do your own thing. Daydream.
6. Declutter and Downsize: Less is more. Get rid of stuff you are not using. The best things in life are not things. Live modestly.
7. Drive/Ride: Go for one. Ride a wave, a bike, a snowboard; ride it out. Be the driver of your life, but don't drive anyone crazy.
8. Eat Healthy: Drink lots of water, eat healthy foods and strive toward your ideal weight. Occasionally, go wild. Eat ice cream!
9. Encourage: Lift someone up by your words or deeds. Inspire someone to become a better person. It costs no money!!!
10. Exercise: Between 3 to 5 times each week for at least 30 minutes/day. Keep an appointment with yourself and make it happen.
11. Express Gratitude: Express gratitude for 3 things at the end of every single day. Tell someone today that you appreciate them.
12. Faith: Meditate, pray or have a moment of silence twice a day. Do two things that fortify your soul. Defend your beliefs.
13. Focus: Pay attention to what you want not what you lack. Obsess about the end goal. Focus on abundance, not weaknesses
14. Forgive: Let go of people that have wronged you and that you have wronged. Extend an olive branch. Forgive yourself.
15. Have Fun: Do 1 fun thing every weekend. Play games. Discover joy in new hobbies. Avoid becoming boring at all cost.
16. Have Pets: A pet will enrich your life, even if it is a goldfish. Be nice to animals. Volunteer at an animal shelter.
17. Get Goals: Get clarity on your purpose and develop an action plan to achieve your "Life Goals List." Get your priorities straight.
18. Give: Give until it hurts. Be kind. Be generous with your time and talents. Expect nothing back. Give thanks for what you have.
19. Invest Financially: Collaborate with a financial planner you trust and invest in your future. The government won't bail you out.
20. Invest in Family: Contribute something to people that love you. Call your mom. Eat together. Play together. Struggle together.
21. Invest in Friendships: Call at least 2 friends and 2 family members every weekend. Strengthen your "Inner Circle."
22. Journal: Write down your thoughts and feelings. If life is worth living, it's worth recording. Write your tombstone and share it.
23. Laugh: Laugh with others, but most importantly laugh at yourself. This also costs no money.
24. Learn: Be devoted to life-long learning. Take a class. Get a degree. Learn to like others and yourself.
25. Leave a Legacy: Create something other than a family that will outlive you (i.e. art work, piece of writing, photography, etc.).
26. Listen: A person's most basic desire is to feel heard. Talk less and listen more. Listen to music. Listen to your own voice.
27. Live Enthusiastically: Be enormously positive and interrupt any negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts.
28. Live Ethically: Remain ethical when you are tempted not to be. Model the way for others.
29. Love: Give your heart to your family, friends and life's work. Pursue your passion! Hold hands, hug, kiss and make lots of love.
30. Network: Enrich your life by expanding your personal and professional network. Remember: networking beats NOTworking.
31. Reach Out: Invite someone over for dinner that you have not seen in a while. Set a date once a month to be with friends.
32. Read: Keep your mind challenged. Devour books, magazines and newspapers. Read with your kids. Teach someone else to read.
33. Reduce Debt: Do something incrementally each month that will help you toward leading a debt-free life.
34. Reflect: Slow down and reflect on your past, present situation and plan for your future. Be proud of what you have achieved.
35. Relax: Create more quiet time and learn to relax. Worry will not bring you one more day of happiness.
36. Restrict Technology: Set clear boundaries with the Internet, TV and video games. Turn them off and disconnect; you'll survive.
37. Save: Put something away for emergencies. Shop at garage sales. Save your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.
38. Sing: I really suck at singing; I do it anyway.
39. Sleep: Fall asleep in the car, on the couch and in a tent. Go to bed a half hour earlier. Don't live your life sleep deprived.
40. Smell: The roses, perfume, coffee, freshly cut grass, Earl Grey tea or anything else that is sensual. Smell victory.
41. Smile: It's your first impression. Express your warmth. Put a smile on someone else's face. It's contagious.
42. Stay Active: Continue to do the things that make you happy. If you drop them, it's a quick trip to the grave.
43. Take: Create memories by taking pictures. Take time out. Take it one day at a time. Take life by the horns. Take it easy.
44. Travel: Get out of town. Go on 1 big trip annually. Determine your top 10 places to visit before you die; develop a game plan.
45. Understand: Carefully inventory your VIPS (Values, Interests, Personality Traits and Skill) then build your life around them.
46. Vacate: Get away from the office and technology. Leave and go on vacation. You'll be more productive if you take a break.
47. Volunteer: Donate your limited time to 1 charity that you feel passionate about. By making a difference, you'll find meaning.
48. Vote: Activate your civic duty. Never forget that people gave their very lives so you could have the right to vote.
49. Walk: Center your day with a purposeful walk or just meandering. It will clear your mind and you'll feel better. Walk barefoot.
50. Watch: Turn on It's a Wonderful Life at Christmas. Watch movies at home with popcorn. Don't watch your life go by. ☺
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published Friday, August 10, 2012
I tell my clients there are three sequential stages of the career development process: 1) Self-Assessment, 2) Career Exploration and 3) Action Plan. Each stage has a question to be answered. They are, respectively: 1) Who am I?, 2) Where am I going?, and finally 3) How do I get there? But, there is a 4th stage, Career Management. Here the question is, "How do I maintain peak performance?"
Unfortunately, most people are managing their career development very poorly. It's very easy to settle into the "Career Comfort Zone" and merely do the status quo. This is dangerous in today's competitive marketplace. Protect yourself with these strategies.
1. Stop for Self-Assessment - In January and July, stop, reflect and take an inventory of where you are and where you want to be professionally. Are you on track to do the thing you want to do in your life in and outside of work? Also, take a financial snap shot.
2. Continue to Explore Your Options - Too often we have an addiction to a false sense of security. If you think your job is secure, you are mistaken - just ask a teacher. Ask yourself, "What is my back-up plan or exit strategy if something goes wrong at work?" Ask yourself, "What is my next move?" How can my current job prepare me for my next step? Write down three to five options.
3. Dare to Dream - Regularly and religiously take stock of your dream. If you not sure about your ideal career, then seek out the help of a professional to get clarity. Without a dream, you have routine. You'll want to be working toward something. If you don't have anything to look forward to, it's difficult to get through the day. Do you know what you are striving for?
4. Pursue Your Passion - If you make a major transition, put your whole heart into it. If you are not passionate about it you simply can't pull it off. If you are not doing your passion you are doing someone else's job.
5. Set Goals - Always continue to set: 1) Short-Term, 2) Intermediate-Term and 3) Long-Term Goals. Allow for the unexpected opportunities that come your way. Don't foreclose your options that might further your personal and professional growth. Be flexible about accepting lateral moves. Pick the path that has the most branches so you can maximize future options. Ask yourself this important question: "What is my 5 year plan, and what are my career lifetime plans?" Also consider what could derail your plans. What possible hurdles will you need to overcome? Know your goals and the organization's so you can help to achieve them. Find an "accountability buddy" that will help you reach your professional goals. Never be without a goal!!!
6. Create Positive Workplace Relationships - It's important to initiate and establish positive connections with those around you. These include your boss, co-workers and others in and outside the organization. Build a network of constructive and successful people in your place of work and communicate with them frequently. Learn from your peers, co-workers, supervisors and other mentors. Seek out others that will serve as allies in your drive to master new skills and competencies. Associate with positive people. If your workplace is not fun regularly, then consider making a move.
7. Manage Your Boss - Build a relationship with your boss on genuine mutual respect, interests, abilities and goals. Know your supervisors needs and motivations. Understand what is expected of you in the job. Never present a problem without suggesting a constructive solution. Have regular meeting with your boss to communicate your progress on projects and other responsibilities. If your boss is mostly reasonable with only occasional conflicts, then behavior can be modified. However, if your boss is constantly hostile, it is unlikely your supervisor will make any permanent changes. Ask yourself, "Is this someone that is committed to my success?" If your are working for a jerk, then take the high road, engage less and eventually get a divorce from this person!
8. Establish Your Reputation - Build a reputation for reliability by completing assignments by exceeding expectations. Be seen as a reliable and respected internally and externally. Stay visible. Dress professionally not for where you are, but for where you want to be. Demonstrate you can do the work one job level above your own. Guard and maintain your integrity. Never forget that your reputation is all you have!
9. Nurture Your Network - Never ever under any circumstances stop networking! This can run you into major problems later if you are let go. It's a natural system for providing feedback, asking questions, testing assumptions and exploring options. Form strategic relationships and work on forging better ties with your contacts by giving to them first. Find "Super Connectors" - individuals that have amassed a network of connections across various career fields that would be willing to make introductions for you. Make sure your business card is getting out there on a regular basis. Set up a LinkedIn account to manage your ever growing list of contacts.
10. Be Mentored and Be a Mentor - Form a "Dream Team" that will serve as an objective board of directors for your career development. These people should be individuals that you know, like and trust. They should be respected, confident, experienced and successful. Consult with this positive set of advisors and mentors at least once a year. Take advantage of any mentoring programs that exist and be sure to expose yourself to senior management. Show an interest in the professional development of someone that needs it. Help propel others forward, just as others have done for you. You'll feel great when you give back.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published Friday, July 13, 2012
Most jobs are not set up to satisfy us for a lifetime. A job has a life cycle characterized by various stages. This movement from Idealize to Devalue is different for everyone. Some employees even skip stages. Moving through each of these periods can take just a few weeks or many years. If you can recognize where you are at each stage you can improve your experience or prepare for a successful exit.
Stage 1: Idealize
Once you have accepted a position, you are likely to feel the highest positive regard for the job. You are motivated and excited about this new position and the potential it has. This period is characterized by high motivation and excitement. You perceive your supervisor as someone you can work for and is an individual that will be committed to your success. Your co-workers seem like nice people that will help you transition smoothly into the new job. The job duties seem potentially challenging and rewarding. You are ready to begin this new chapter of your career.
Stage 2: Honeymoon
You start your new job and enter into the orientation or probationary phase. Since there is so much to know, this is the steepest part of the learning curve. Most employers expect it will take you some time to settle in before you can fully contribute. It can be a period where you have permission to make mistakes and be forgiven. However, it can also be a time where mistakes can add up to your termination. At this stage, you are learning new rules, the culture, your supervisor's leadership style, processes, procedures, rules, products and people. You may feel either overwhelmed or underwhelmed. You many even have some doubts about your ability to do this new job. You may not know exactly what you are doing or if you are doing it well. You're wondering who you can trust as well as who will be your allies and mentors. You don't want to appear foolish or a know-it-all, so balance a willingness to learn with your competence. Here you begin to understand the subtleties of office politics and etiquette. Be tactful. Find ways to fit in and gain acceptance. Start to lay the foundation for collaboration with team members. Search for focus and direction. Begin to develop a daily work routine. Time with your supervisor and key co-workers can help solidify your place and role. All parties are adjusting at this point, so give yourself some time to get use to your new job.
Stage 3: Ideal/Real Reconciliation
After some time, you may think this was not the best choice. Reality sets in and a gap forms between the ideal and the real. After you settle in, the reality becomes clearer. The job and work environment turn out to be different than what you envisioned. You are still learning, however, the job duties may be more routine, boring, and less exciting that what you initially expected. Your co-workers and supervisor are not exactly what you thought they would be like. You may feel disappointed or frustrated. This is a transitional phase. This is a good time to stop, re-evaluate expectations, reflect on your progress, chart any new and more realistic goals and reaffirm the positive things seen so far.
Stage 4: Peak Performance
This phase is characterized by your highest degree of mastery of the job and highest productivity. Your energy is focused on accomplishing tasks and goals. Your self-confidence and competence are excellent. You have raised your visibility. You are fully integrated into the work group and organization; you are able to better negotiate changes effectively. You have taken on increased responsibilities and roles. You have established yourself by generating positive results. This period may be characterized by financial rewards or public acknowledgement of your performance.
Stage 5: Plateau
You've hit an area of little variation. Your professional development in this job has leveled off or declined. You notice an increase in routine and decrease in challenge and creativity. You are not learning very much and your enthusiasm has waned. In other words, you're coasting. You come in and do your job and then leave. You have lost a sense of urgency or caring. You are maintaining your work performance, but there is not a lot beyond that. What you may need to do is to reinvent your job or reposition yourself. You can continue to keep yourself marketable by join professional associations, training others, taking on new projects, upgrading old knowledge, learning new skills, networking, attending seminars or classes. This may be the time to stop and re-evaluate your short-term and long-term goals.
Stage 6: Devalue
At this stage you are feeling mostly negative about your job. Your commitment to the job and employer wanes. You tend to focus on the weaknesses of the job, your boss and your co-workers. Your productivity and attitude decline. You are either overworked or underworked. You may receive a poor performance evaluation. Requests for new responsibilities, training, supervision, promotion and salary increases are either stalled or rejected. You are left out of key meetings. There are more office politics and conflict than you can tolerate. Minor issues quickly trigger negative emotions. You are in real danger of "Rage Quit." Frequently, you think about moving on and sometimes feel, "Is this all there is?" You are disappointed to the point that you mentally "Check Out." Without question, it's time to get professional help to objectively assess the situation and come up with a strategic action plan.
© 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published Friday, June 22, 2012
I have been climbing mountains across this country for more than 30 years. There are plenty of analogies between climbing to the top of mountains and climbing to the top of your career. Here are some lessons from the top.
1. Pick Your Peak Carefully. Be sure where you want to go is in alignment with your skills, values and interests. Do an exhaustive exploring all of your options. Maybe try an easy climb first, and build your confidence before packing for Mt. Everest. Make sure the mountain you choose matches who you are. It should the one that is the most meaningful to you.
2. Save Up. Climbing and career development are two expensive sports. It is important to have an emergency and/or educational fund, so when it's time to make the right and deliberate moves, you are fully prepared.
3. Pack Up. Do your homework ahead of time. Bring a "Survival Kit" in case of emergency and pack great gear. We say, "There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Call for help if necessary. Make sure you "Cross Train" very hard to build up your skill sets. Don't expect anyone to carry your backpack!
4. Hire a Guide. Find someone that is smarter and more experienced that you to help you get to the top. It's too dangerous do these things alone. Be mentored. Be sure you talk over your strategy and communicate. Plan out the routes you will take.
5. Wake Up. The hardest part of climbing is getting out of your sleeping bag. It's difficult to get out of your warm comfort zone. The biggest challenge in career development is waking up and realizing you have to be more proactive. Inertia is a career killer. A post-it note on my dresser read, "What will you do to train for The Grand Teton TODAY?" Ask yourself, "What incremental steps could I do TODAY to move my career plans forward. We call it "Chunking." Sometimes reaching the summit is so overwhelming that it creates "Analysis Paralysis." You'll need to be mentally fit for this journey. I recommend that you set a micro-goal so small that it is impossible to fail. Just take the first step then put one foot in front of the other.
6. Rope Up. Make sure you are tied in to other people - a network of ropes will help you break your fall. Do you need to do more networking to protect yourself? Isn't time to get more LinkedIn with your teammates? Tie your knots carefully.
7. Start Hiking Early. If you wait to late, you'll be coming down in the dark. Get a jump on your goals now. Don't delay!
8. Attitude Determines Altitude. How high you climb is up to you. There will be times when you are tempted to quit. Erase the tapes of negativity. You'll need to persist in overcoming the rough terrain. If you don't think you can do it, you're right.
9. Look Up. Only focus on the on the summit; it will deaden any pain. Let the focus of your energy be on achieving your goals. Only look where you want to go - up. If you look down, you're going to slip back. Stay on the trail or you're going to get poison ivy or worse, you'll fall off the cliff. The journey to the top of your career is going to get steep with plenty of barriers in your way. Never give up. Get help from your guide. Only visualize the summit - only visualize total success.
10. Look Out. Enjoy both the journey and the destination. The sacrifices you are making to get there will be well worth it. They call it the summit for a reason - it's the high point. Ask yourself, "What would I like the high points of my career to be?" Be sure to hydrate and eat lunch and as you share the view with your "Dream Team." Look down at how far you have come and how much you overcame to achieve it. Celebrate your success. If you're lucky to climb, you're lucky enough.
11. Go Big or Go Home. Next, start thinking about the other peaks that are on your "Bucket List." Where do you want to go? What 5 to 10 things do you want to accomplish professionally? Jack Canfield once said, "Set a goal so high that if you achieve it, it will blow your mind." You will never get out of shape if you are always preparing for your next peak. Dream Big!
12. If You Fall Down, Climb Out. In May 2009, I fell 30 ft. down a 75 ft. crevasse on Mt. Rainier. I had two choices after I was rescued: 1) quit climbing or 2) make a come back. Remember: failure is not falling down, failure is staying down. This January, I made my climbing come back on a successful summit attempt of Mt. Washington during whiteout conditions. You can't have a come back until you have had a set back. When the storms of life surround you, a compass and a guide can point you in the right direction. After reaching the summit of The Grand Teton at 13,770 ft., I checked that "BHAG" (Big Harry Audacious Goal) off my "Life List." So, what are your personal and professional BHAGs that need to be checked off?
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published, Friday, June 1, 2012
I always ask my clients
their age. I don't mean to make them feel
bad about how old they are. But someone
that's 55 is at a different stage in their career and life than someone that's 25
or 45. As a career counselor, I know
that a 25 year old client presents dissimilar issues than someone who may be close
to retiring and asking themselves the question, "What's next?" One of the pioneers in the field of career
development, Dr. Donald Super argued that people pass through five career
stages during their life span. I write
about this because these sequential generalizations often provide a useful timeframe
to understand the career transitions you'll face in adulthood.
each stage mastery of certain tasks allows people to function successfully
within that stage while preparing them to move on to the next task. Each stage is loosely affiliated with a
chronological period and is characterized by work attitudes, behaviors, types
of relationships, and the aspects of work that are valued.
Growth - The early years (4 to 13 years old) is a time
when the individual first becomes aware of the future. People start to find ways to develop
competencies and to achieve in order to increase control over their life.
Exploration - From the early teens to mid-twenties, people
begin to crystallize, specify and implement an occupational choice. Different roles are tried and various
occupational options are explored though school, leisure, part-time work and
volunteering. "Trial jobs" may be tested
before more firmly finding a more stable and appropriate fit.
Establishment - In the mid-twenties through mid-forties,
typically a suitable field is selected and efforts are made to secure a
long-term place in the chosen career. Young
adulthood tends to be a time for stabilizing, consolidating, building momentum
and moving up. Obtaining certifications,
credentials, and advanced degrees may be the norm.
Maintenance - This stage usually happens in the
mid-forties to mid-sixties and is characterized by constancy: 1) Holding
on (stagnating or plateauing), or 2) Keeping up (updating or
enriching). Continuity, stress, safety
and stability tend to be the standard.
Sometimes people feel risk adverse with various career options which may
lead to frustration or even depression. In middle adulthood
we may ask ourselves, "What have I done with my life? or Is this all there
is? or even What do I truly want?" For
men, state of health or career accomplishment may predominate. Women sometimes perceive this period as an
opportunity to pursue new personal or professional goals now that their nurturing
role has peaked.
Disengagement - The mid-sixties is typically marked by
decelerating from formal employment to finding new roles with a view to
retirement. Baby Boomers are teaching us
that this stage should be more appropriately named "Re-inventment." They are completely redesigning the notion of
"retirement" preferring to work in some form while pursuing new or renewed outside
interests. In later adulthood, there may
be a need to assist or mentor younger members of society or seek
However, it has
limitation due to the rapidly changing nature of work and each person's own
everyone transitions through these five stages at fixed ages or in the same
manner. I have learned in my private
practice it is more common nowadays to move back and forth more frequently from
the Exploration to Re-inventment stages.
example, before entering the Maintenance stage, many people are asking the
mid-life question, "Do I want to do this job for the next twenty years?" Eventually, they decide to either: 1) Hang
on and enter the Maintenance stage, or 2) Let go and change their
job, company, or career and then recycle back to an earlier stage in order to
move in a new direction. For others,
their career is without boundaries based on skills and abilities that function
independent of a set timeline.
evolves throughout your life as a result of experience. You successively refine your uniqueness over
time and make adaptation in your career choices. As we go through life stages our priorities
change. Career ideas that you had at 25
might not be relevant when you are 45 or 55.
So, what career stage
do you actually find yourself in chronological terms? What specific stage do you think you need to be in? Perhaps this is the time to step back and
reflect on where you are. Maybe you need
to return to the Exploration stage and re-evaluate your skills, values,
interests, personality traits and core priorities. At your stage, perhaps you what to find out
what else is out there and you want to begin a process of career
discovery. What are the financial and
time considerations of the choices you are making at your stage? What types of planning and preparation needs
to be done at each stage both personally and professionally? Can you list three to five specific issues
that you need to address right now? What
are some issues you'll face as you pass through future stages?
These are all
important questions that you will need to get clarity on in order to have
successful and satisfying career development.
Just knowing that as we age, we will be progressing through career
stages, can be insightful, freeing and can have a profound effect on our
professional development. Remember:
It's never too late to reinvent yourself!
Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers
In Transition LLC - Published Friday, February 17, 2012