Category: Career Development Tips
It doesn’t matter who you are, your time is limited, and your life is finite. Knowing this, if you made a list today of things you would not want to leave undone, what items would be on the list? And what has blocked you from checking these items off? If you are like most people, you wait to act. You wait until something kicks you in the butt and reminds you that maybe you are not living life on your own terms. Maybe you’re living by someone else’s terms … someone you don’t even like.
Identify what’s important (versus what doesn’t really matter). Write your list. Build your legacy. Don’t leave what you’re meant to do here undone.
Do you ever look at social media and see so many people doing so many cool things that you wonder if you are falling behind? It’s not social media’s fault. Social media wasn’t designed to let us know whether or not we measure up. It’s our fault because feelings like that arise when we compare our insides to someone else’s outsides.
We have no idea how long it takes for a person to get to where they are. Let’s not act like it was dumb luck or unearned effort when someone succeeds. Although another person’s success can feel like a reminder of personal shortcomings, jealous feelings can be proactive when we recognize them and allow them to reveal qualities within ourselves we can improve upon. The real question is:
Are you willing to make the sacrifice?
We do we settle for the ordinary? Complacency is a choice. Letting people off the hook who let us down gives them permission to do it again. Not learning something new to qualify for a better position at work keeps us stuck in dead-end jobs. Avoiding exercise and good food keeps energy low and sets us up for health problems.
Look at the cost-benefit analysis of decisions made during this thing called “life” in the areas of career, health, finances and relationships. What are your decisions costing you today? Are you ready to risk the usual to reach the extraordinary?
Have you ever had a boss that you needed to fire?
A boss that is:
- hurting your company,
- damaging peoples’ careers, and
- miserable to work for.
I was making a list of the great leaders and mentors that I’ve had and that got me to think of the few really bad people that I’ve worked for.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t fire the bad ones.
In one case, I was in the military. In the military, you have no choice of who you work for. I know that movies make fragging (killing your boss) seem like an option in combat but I never considered that as an option. (Although, my Dad did during WWII. His wing commander was getting multiple pilots killed by bad calls. But he was lucky and didn’t have to choose between his commander and his fellow pilots. The Germans shot him down and the problem went away … although the bad boss survived).
In the second case, the boss was a miserable soul. His only thought was getting himself ahead – he wanted to be a VP (which he eventually accomplished). Luckily, he “traded” me away (think baseball trades) for someone else to advance his agenda. It was great getting out from under his “leadership.”
I guess what really makes these two bad bosses seem even worse are the great leaders that I’ve worked for and known.
Therefore, here is my advice…
If you don’t have a great boss at a great company, fire your boss.
How do you do that?
Find a great boss at a great company that wants you. Get yourself traded.
The other possibility is to make YOU the boss by starting your own company. This has it’s own rewards and problems. (For example, you may not feel comfortable living without the safety net of a big corporation.)
Or you could just wait. (This might be a miserable existence waiting for someone to either fire, transfer, or promote your boss,)
But I’d suggest NOT waiting.
Life is too short to live with a miserable boss.
And for those living under a bad boss, here’s a song for you …
Research indicates that the happiest people are the busiest. What’s the key to wanting to stay busy? Find justification for being busy; otherwise, we tend to remain idle. Learn more.
True story! “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” Other people do not really think about what you need. Whether it’s a boss, co-worker, spouse or friend, if you feel frustrated, overwhelmed or resentful of the relationship it is usually because you are not asking enough of the relationship. People are not mind readers, and they miss subtle cues.
How can you practice courage? Be specific about what your unmet expectations are, “Would you please do x by y?” If you are allowing others to encroach on your personal boundaries, you are complicit in it. Set boundaries — and be clear about what you can’t tolerate. “When you x, I feel y.” Don’t try to be all things to all people. “I’m sorry, I’m not available to help you with x today.”
No need to act in an aggressive or entitled way to get what you want. Courage is a manner of conveying that you know your worth, and while you may not always get what you asked for, you will command more respect than if you had not been bold enough to make your request.
Every day you have the opportunity to be a better you. This doesn’t mean huge changes all at once. Small changes over time guarantees steady personal growth. These changes include dropping excuses and living up to mistakes, letting go of anger, listening to others (really listening), practicing kindness and being open to change. Believe in yourself and know that whatever situation you are in, you have life-changing growth potential.
“We are going to find out who is to blame because that is the frustrating part about health and safety accidents such as this. When we go back, when we read the report, we find out each and every time that it was preventable. That’s why we need to learn from this,” Kevin Flynn, Ontario’s labour minister, told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
That’s a quote from CP 24, Toronto’s Breaking News. See the story and watch the video interview about the accident here:
Is there a lesson to be learned here?
Interestingly, the “contractor” performing the work in this accident was a branch of the Ontario government.
Motivate yourself to seek out people who will give you the right advice. It takes extra effort because they may not be the people who surround you. Two rules of thumb:
1. Carefully evaluate advice from someone who doesn’t have to live with the possible consequences.
2. Think seriously about the advice from someone who you wouldn’t trade places with on the matter.
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Do you have a habit of committing to things, but not finishing them? While getting started is the first step to something great, many of us get stuck on the second step … thinking but not doing. Seldom do we consider the challenges that were not visible when we first started toward a goal. However, a goal without commitment will never be reached unless you take action to overcome those challenges.
Where have you dropped your commitment? What one action can you take today to pick it up?
What do you think when you hear “so tell me about yourself!” in an interview? Do you start to panic? Do you wonder how much personal information to give? Do you wonder if the interviewer even took the time to prepare for the interview (after all, you sent him your resume that tells everything about your experience).
When an interviewer asks that question, he is often using it as an ice-breaker to find out if you will fit into the culture and perform well on-the-spot. Here is how to use this question to your advantage.
- Take the opportunity. While you may feel awkward talking about yourself, it’s really a golden opportunity. Think of it as an invitation to tell your potential employer what you want them to know about you and what makes you unique.
- Steer toward your personal strengths. Instead of waiting to see what the interviewer will do, you can steer the discussion toward your strengths and concerns. A good opening will prompt the interviewer to ask follow-up questions about areas where you shine.
- Determine your fit. Remember that you’re evaluating the company while they’re screening you. Do you sense a connection with the interviewer, especially if they’ll be your supervisor? Are they listening attentively or shuffling papers? Your initial rapport may suggest what your working relationship will be lik
- Tell stories. You’re more than a list of keywords. Share interesting anecdotes that will make the interviewer remember you in a positive light.
- Create interest. Your self-description is like a movie trailer or the first chapter of a novel. Instead of trying to cram in your whole life story, make the interviewer want to hear more.
Walk into your next job interview ready and eager to talk about yourself and why you’re an outstanding candidate for the position. Focusing on the intersection between your strengths and the interviewer’s needs will help you to find a job you’ll love.
Jerks are “de-energizers” at work. What is the best way to keep them from draining your energy? Here are some quick tips from Business Insider!
Personal growth can help you make your life more enjoyable and fulfilling. However, if your’e broke, overwight, don’t have any friends, and lack goals, where do you begin? The key to beginning a personal growth journey is setting your priorities. There’s a lot you can do in five years, but you can’t do a whole lot in five months.
Click here to open “7 Steps to Personal Growth.”
Ever notice how the beginning of anything new is full of excitement and enthusiasm, but it’s hard to keep excitement and enthusiasm going? Being successful means learning how to finish well … no matter what! It’s part strategy and part willpower. There are always a few obstacles to endure and overcome. Life can’t be all fun and games.
But don’t be a quitter! Here are 8 steps to being an achiever!
- Evaluate times that you quit in the past. When are you most likely to give up? What were your reasons for quitting in the past? Can you think of a strategy for getting through those times? Is there a way to avoid them altogether?
- Invest your time wisely. Getting caught up in too many meaningless projects won’t improve your ability to finish things. When possible, limit yourself to those things that really interest you. Life is too short for hobbies that make you want to shrug. If you’re passionate about something, you’re much more likely to get it done.
- Chart your progress. When you can visually see how much progress you’ve made, you’ll feel more motivated to continue. Make a chart, graph, or other visual representation of the work you’ve completed.
- Visualize the expected result. Constantly remind yourself how great you’ll feel when you’re done. Make note of all the benefits you’re receive.
- Be realistic. If you haven’t logged several thousand hours of piano practice before your 30th birthday, it’s unlikely you’ll ever reach the level of a world-class pianist. This is especially true if you’re 58 years old, have a family, and only have 30 minutes a day to practice. However, you can still play! You can still become a better pianist!
- Give yourself a reasonable amount of time. You might be making good progress, but if you believed that you should’ve mastered the Russian language by now, you’ll become discouraged. It’s not easy to estimate the amount of time it will take to complete something. Do you have a history of thinking that things will take less time than they actually do? Build a fudge-factor into your estimates. After you’ve make a little progress, revisit your expectations and adjust them accordingly. If you’re enjoying yourself, who cares how long it takes? Once you’re done, the fun is over!
- Get better at the small things first. If you’re washing the dishes, avoid leaving that greasy, disgusting pan until morning. Fold all the clothes rather than leaving some of them for later. Clean the entire room. Pay all of the bills. Run the full 3 miles you planned to run. Get in the habit of finishing all of the tasks in your life.
- Be immune to criticism. One of the reasons we stop before completing a project is to avoid criticism. Once it’s done and available for the world to judge, we can get apprehensive. Then we rationalize reasons not to complete it. The people that matter won’t be unkind. The unkind people don’t matter. There’s no way to stop the criticism, but you don’t have to allow it to bother you.
These small tips can be a great help in finishing future projects. If there’s one trait you’ll find in high-achievers, it’s the ability to get things done. Learn how to finish and change your life!
Here are five tips:
- Keep your body language open. Even though crossing your legs or arms does not mean that you are closed, (it could mean you are simply cold or just feel comfortable sitting or standing that way), people may still think you are “protecting” yourself. Staying open sends a message that you are confident and in charge.
- Take up more space. Whether you’re sitting or standing, position your body in such a way to take up a little more space. Spread your arms and legs slightly. Insecure people tend to do the opposite and attempt to appear small. Be confident enough to claim the space around you without apologizing for it.
- Mirror the other person. Mirroring is tricky, but it works! This means you copy how the other person is sitting or standing and match that person and his or her mannerisms. Don’t match them exactly or you will seem a little creepy, but, for example, if someone shifts from closed body language to open, subtly shift your body language as well.
- Don’t fidget. When you fidget, you give off a message that you are uncomfortable. Shaking your foot, bouncing your leg, and tapping your fingers are distracting. Instead, be conscious about displaying relaxed, infrequent movements.
- Keep your head lifted. Avoid looking at the ground. If you pause to collect your thoughts, look up instead. Establish good eye contact with others but don’t stare to the point of making them feel awkward. Try mentally drawing an inverted triangle around a person’s mouth and eyes, slowly scanning the points of the triangle instead of staring directly into the eyes.
If you aren’t practicing these habits they will feel unnatural at first. However, they won’t appear strange at all to others — they will notice a positive change in you but may not be able to put a finger on exactly what the change is. Try a new technique each week and practice each day. In just a few weeks, you’ll notice that people are treating you differently.
Constructive criticism is important to performance improvement, and the ability to provide constructive criticism effectively is a true leadership skill. This doesn’t mean we should be evaluating our co-workers all the time so we can give them our opinions on how they can do things better, but there are clues as to when feedback is needed and may be appreciated.
If you’ve always wondered whether the door is open or closed to provide feedback, see if it the situation falls into one of these scenarios:
Someone has asked you for your opinion.
There is an ongoing problem that will not be resolved without helpful feedback.
A co-worker’s error continues to repeat itself.
A co-workers habit is affecting your job performance negatively.
All of the above are signals that the time may be right but don’t approach your co-worker just yet! Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you provide criticism:
1. Is my intention to be helpful? Evaluate why you feel like you want to provide feedback. If it is intended to improve the performance of one of your employees, proceed to the next question. If it is intended for a peer, there are many things you want to say that are true, but not helpful. Unless you feel that your feedback will help them reach a goal more easily, improve the way they perform a task to their benefit, or help them understand how their performance is negatively affecting you, keep it to yourself.
2. Am I the best person to provide the feedback? Consider your history with the other person. They may be more receptive if someone else told them. Even so, some people do not like criticism of any kind. Be prepared for a negative response.
3. Can I be specific? It doesn’t help to say, “Wow, you dropped the ball here.” Specific feedback is constructive feedback. Are you prepared to discuss where you feel the performance can be improved, and how they can accomplish that? Otherwise, it’s just criticism. For example, telling someone they’re lazy is received as an insult. Telling them they are not getting you the data you need to prepare your reports on time addresses the behavior.
4. Am I being sensitive in my approach? It’s better to give constructive feedback in private. Be sensitive to minimizing embarrassment the other person may feel. Focus on describing the behavior instead of judging it as good or bad. Also know when to stop. Pay attention to their reaction. You can revisit the issue later if they look uncomfortable.
5. Are my emotions under control? If someone dropped the ball or made a mistake, you might have a good reason to feel upset, but your criticism will have a tone of accusation and that will make the other person defensive. Stay calm and give the feedback in a fair and balanced way. Watch your body language. Avoid inferences – there is something about the person’s behavior that you saw or heard that bothers you but your interpretation of it may be incorrect. Give the other person a chance to tell you what his or her behavior means.
If you can answer yes to the questions above then you are ready to approach someone with your constructive criticism. The best way to approach someone is stating your intent so it’s clear from the start. Some non-threatening lead-ins are:
I have some ideas about …
I’m concerned about …
Can I share an observation …
Do you have a minute to talk about …
Constructive feedback can be a gift to someone when delivered properly. Don’t be reluctant to help someone be the best that they can be. You may be giving them the advice that changes their lives!
Do you accept people who don’t think and act the way you do, or do you simply tolerate them? Occasionally we all fall trap to expecting others to behave in certain ways … our ways. Life, however, is a lot more enjoyable when we can accept others as they are.
Here are five ways to become less critical of others.
1. Watch your thoughts. Everything has a beginning and critical judgments begin with critical thoughts. Noticing them is your cue to change your thinking. Remind yourself to be more accepting.
2. Pause and take a breath. Do you ever wish you could take back something you said? When you pause, you interrupt your thought pattern and give yourself a chance to think before you say something you might regret.
3. Believe that most people do the best they can with what they know. That’s not to say that everyone is living up to his or her potential. Everyone has a unique past, tragedies, upbringing, health issues, and way of viewing the world. Faced with the same experiences, you can’t be certain you would do any better.
4. Respect the freedom of others. No one elected you to decide how others should live their lives. It’s arrogant and delusional to believe that your way is the right way for everyone. You have the option to live your life the way you choose. Provide the same freedom to others.
5. Release expectation. Having expectations is a form of trying to control others. Become more flexible. When you have expectations, they’re sure to be violated. There’s only one way you can feel at that point: upset. Let go of your expectations and accept the outcome without judgment.
Remember, if you’re hard on others, you’re probably also hard on yourself. Your self-esteem and happiness suffer. This is a great opportunity to be patient and understanding with yourself as well, and become a happier person!
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We’ve all been told at one time or another to go after our dreams in life, but what if we give it a shot and fail? Was it worth it?
Yes it is! It’s absolutely worth it to attempt a goal and fail. Let’s take a different perspective on failure.
The phoenix must burn to emerge.
– Janet Fitch
It’s important not to give up too quickly but avoid spending too much time on an idea that just isn’t working. Don’t attach yourself to a sinking anchor. Cut your losses and emerge.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
– Winston Churchill
Before you cut your losses and go, be certain the necessary time and resources were utilized. Is there any aspect of the idea or the execution that you can modify and move forward stronger? Always evaluate the reason for the failure before you give up.
The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
– Henry Ford
Ensure that you don’t put your failures on repeat. You know the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Failing loses all of its value if you fail to learn from it.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
– Thomas A. Edison
When it’s time to accept failure, at least take the most from it. List your lessons learned – all 10,000 of them if necessary. From these failures, write in your notebook your discoveries and new ideas. Mine your failures.
What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?
– John Green
Keep a healthy perspective. A failed attempt does not mean you are a failure as a person. Failure is an undesired result. That’s it. It’s no indication of your intelligence, worth, or future attempts. It’s simply an idea that didn’t work out. Detach from your results and move onward.
It here is the last piece of advice on failure: Do not give up until you win! Now take this new perspective and live out your purpose.
I firmly believe that the difference between a successful person and a non-successful person is the successful one did not quit when faced with an obstacle. Success is available to everyone but getting ahead of obstacles is a practice in self-motivation.
Here are 10 ideas for self-motivation:
- Choose the right attitude. It’s much easier to motivate yourself when you have the right attitude. Focus on the good things in your life that fill you with gratitude.
- Don’t stop until it’s finished. A trail of unfinished projects can dampen anyone’s enthusiasm to start another. Avoid quitting before a task is 100% completed.
- Expect obstacles. The only people that don’t make mistakes are those who never do anything. The more mistakes you make, the more you’ll learn.
- Stay in the present moment. If you’re adding unnecessary drama to a situation and worrying about the future (or beating yourself up over the past), it’s challenging to get anything accomplished right now. Focus on your breathing for a few minutes if your mind is running wild.
- Focus on the result. You’ll find it difficult to get started if you sit around and think about all the work that needs to be done. Take a tip from Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” Focus on the result and you’ll feel much more motivated.
- Beat the clock. Decide how long a task should take and see if you’re right. Set a timer and see if you can beat the clock. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of getting started. You may end up working way past the timer!
- Read inspirational quotes. This is one of my favorites because it works for a quick pick-me-up. Reading inspirational quotes by those who have achieved great success can be very motivating.
- Consider the cost. What is the price of failing to follow through? Make a list of the negatives. Some of us are more driven by pain then we are by reward.
- Get some exercise. If you’re felling stuck, go for a brisk walk or a short run. Taking a short break every 60 minutes is not a waste of time, it has been shown to increase productivity.
- Measure your progress. Big goals or projects can takes years to complete. Measuring your progress along the way is a great way to keep your spirits high. What’s your five-year plan? Slow and steady wins the race!
What do you want to do with the rest of your life? It’s time to get busy!
How are those goals coming along that you set in January of this year?
I like goals. Without them, I feel we lack passion, purpose, or drive; however, when goals are too vague, it’s much more difficult than if we’d properly prepared in the first place.
The planning phase is the most important stage when it comes to achieving your goals. Planning might come easy or hard for you, but one thing’s for sure, without planning you won’t get there.
While it’s important to set up your own system that works for you, there are some simple goal setting strategies you can use to make your planning easier.
Consider the following tips for finding clarity in your goals:
1. Decide what you really want. Seems intuitive but many people skip this step and instead pursue goals that sound good, not goals that line up with what he or she really wants to achieve in life. Whether your goal is lofty or little, decide exactly what it is that you want. If you want money, how much? If you want to lose weight, how many pounds? If you want success, how do you describe your vision of success? Don’t be afraid to take your time to figure out what you want. At some point you’ll need to eventually sift through your thoughts and take action, but make sure you’re acting on what’s most important to you and not someone else.
2. Be specific. Be very detailed as you develop every part of your goal. Instead of a goal like “I want to be promoted to the next level at work,” consider a goal like “I want to perform exceptionally well now so I can be promoted to the next level and I will do this by [add specific action steps here].” Just being “better” at work is too vague. There are too many options and avenues to take that your mind can’t focus on any one route to your goal.
3. Write it down. Write down your ideas and decisions. It doesn’t matter if you use pencil and paper, a computer, or even a cell phone. What’s important is the fact that you can keep track of a large amount of specific information instead of trying to remember everything. After all, goals only seem real when you see them clearly before you.
4. Break down your goal into increments. If you have a lofty goal, it’ll become manageable if you break it down into smaller pieces. Smaller pieces will make your goal seem less complex. Plus, it’ll be easier for you to achieve your goal if everything is set out for you as mini-goals, instead of just one huge feat.
5. Repeat the process. Once you’ve found a good system, it’s time to repeat the process. Clarify your other goals that you’d like to achieve. For example, if you’d like to “spend more time with the family,” which is too vague, make a list of specific family activities you’d like to do together, and then make more lists that detail how you can make those goals a reality.
Don’t Wait For “Someday”
Some of the reasons why people tend to keep their goals vague is that they’re actually afraid of achieving them. It’s true!
After all, it’s a whole lot easier to put off your goals and do nothing, than to take action to achieve it. But what good is a goal that merely resides on paper?
Once you’ve decided on a clear goal, it’s time to take swift action to make it a reality. Don’t wait for someday to achieve your goals. There’s no time like the present… so get moving and end this year on a high note!