Friday, October 24, 2008

The Sun Does Come Out

People always tell these lines to you when you’re not feeling quite up to speed; “the sun will come out tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day, you never know what will happen”. I should know, because I’m one of those people who usually say them. Well I have to tell you it’s true. For some reason the sun came out for me yesterday. It’s not like I got a job offer or even an interview. I just woke up and felt positive. Now I did get a really good night’s sleep. Talked to my mom previous night and she advised me to read something calm and somewhat boring before I went to sleep. Well she sure was right. Way to go Mom!

That being said, it is true that getting enough sleep is very helpful. In so many ways sleep can help you; to lose weight, to win a deal, or just to get up and get going. I know it’s not always easy to get to sleep, believe me. There are things you can do. Besides taking Tylenol PM, you can not eat right before you sleep, read or watch something boring or comforting. Whatever you do, just do something. It is really worth it.

With this new burst of positive energy, yesterday I actually reached out to some people for networking opportunities. Everyone will tell you, you have got to network. Now mind you, I have been doing some of this already, but not thinking of it as “networking”. For some reason the word “networking” just makes me cringe. But I do know it is really important to keep in contact with as many people as possible. This will not only lead to possible job opportunities, but also keeps you in touch with what’s going on in your industry and can lead to something you are really interested in and that you hadn’t thought about before. My advice to everyone is just email or get on the phone with colleagues, vendors, and clients and just touch base. Plus a friend said to me the other day that people would like to be in a position to help you. It gives most people pleasure to provide support and encouragement. I mean if they like or admire you. I wouldn’t reach out to those people you didn’t get along with. I know, enough said.

I’ll leave you with these tips I found in the NAFE newsletter (feed the positive wolf)

5 Tips for Staying UP in a Down Economy
Dana Lightman, Ph.D., is a national keynote speaker and trainer, expert on positivity, author and creator of POWER Optimism – strategies to create the outcome you want, regardless of the circumstance.
Dana says: You tune in to the economic news, and it’s practically impossible not to have some gut-clenching response. The fact is, there’s not much you can do to change the current economic circumstances. But there’s a lot you can do to maintain your own professional equilibrium in the face of increased business stressors. And once you are on an even keel, you can use these same tips to bolster your staff.

#1 Don’t feed the negative. A Cherokee chief, teaching his grandson about life, explains that we all battle two wolves. One is negative, filled with anger, self-pity and self-doubt. The other is positive, filled with joy, hope, and trust. His grandson listens carefully and then asks, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief simply replies, “The one you feed.” Stop feeding your negative wolf with complaints, worries, negative talk, and excessive media. Even if you can’t feel positive, don’t let your negative wolf put you on a downward spiral.#2 Take a step back. You are taking a photograph. When you have the lens on zoom, it’s easy to focus solely on your subject. Conversely, if you step back far enough, your subject becomes one small part of a larger landscape. It’s the same principle with maintaining an upward spiral. You may need to zoom in on a particular problem or stressor in order to develop a solution. But don’t keep your focus there. Remember to take a step back to see a bigger picture. Put your problem in the context of positive aspects and it ceases to dominate your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You are now free to experience a sense of relief and perhaps serenity.#3 Keep breathing. No one knows how this economic crisis will evolve and resolve, but most experts agree that there is no quick fix. Staying fearful and anxious only serves to increase your distress, which may even escalate into more severe physical and mental symptoms. Instead, you can choose to relax and stay calm. Practice yoga, meditation or other relaxation techniques. Take deep, cleansing breaths and center yourself. This is a great way to increase your resiliency.#4 Focus on today. The past is the past, the future is the future, but the present is a gift. Life can only be lived in the present moment. So take time to create a positive intention for your day. You may even want to break your day into different segments and visualize successful outcomes for each. Plan activities and take actions that will put you on an upward spiral. In this way, you are feeding your positive wolf!#5 Reframe difficulties into gains. You are likely to face some business difficulties as a result of the current economic uncertainties. While this can be troublesome, within every difficulty lies the potential for gain. Think about past problems or disappointments and the gains that emerged over time in handling those situations. Now, imagine the possible benefits that you may derive from your current difficulties. For example, in searching for solutions, you may discover some hidden talents among your staff or less expensive yet effective marketing tools. By focusing on these potential gains, you are creating the momentum you need to keep you inspired and energized.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Knowledge and Passion!

Knowledge and Passion are what you need to land the job of your dreams. We all kind of “get” what it is you need to do to obtain the knowledge and skills part, but what about the passion? How does one find the passion? It’s especially hard if you once had it and it has disappeared, so that you can remember what it felt, smelled and tasted like, but don’t remember how to get the “umph” back in your life.

A bunch of us were talking today about how important it was towards landing a job if one allowed that passion for the position to come through. I remember as a manager we used to talk a lot about “high skill vs. high will” and I always would prefer the low skill/high will person rather than the opposite. There’s the passion, which leads you to gathering the skills, but the other way around doesn’t quite have the same effect. I really don’t think this only affects those of us who aren’t currently employed. In fact, I believe, this is one of the main reasons; I’m not working right now. Of course, that could be just another justification for my situation, but it is a thought.

I do believe, I am not the only one going through this thought process right now. You don’t have to be my age. I remember I started my second career at 33. It was such an exciting time. I had spent over ten years in non-profit and felt I could do anything. I was in school getting my MBA and, at the same time, interviewing to become an intelligence officer. I seem to remember spending a lot of time, when I was alone, singing the sound track to the “Sound of Music.” My dream was to live and work outside the US. Guess what? It took me a few years, but I did live my dream and it was exhilarating! Now what?

The first step in “now what” is to start the juices flowing again. Knowing that no matter what your age is, it is OK to dream. This may mean, depending on your circumstances, taking a job you’re not real crazy about, but if it leads you closer to your dream, or adds pieces needed to get there, then it will bring back the passion toward taking on that position. It may also mean for some of us, to take the risk of being disappointed again. For some of us it’s going to Sanibel Island for six weeks, for others it’s staying home to see our kids grow up, or maybe contributing towards a bigger good, like ending famine or finding a cure for a disease. What ever it is, it’s a destination. Without it, it’s like riding the train and getting off at a station and saying “Why am I here?” You can do that for a while, but after a few times you start to wonder if you’ve been there before and why do you keep getting up and going here. Hmm, sound familiar anyone?

I think I’ve said enough for today. With the risk of sound corny or like something out of an old TV show, know this; it isn’t just the dream that counts, but the journey towards that dream that is so wonderful.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why I go to the gym.

Yesterday I mentioned that I went to the gym and that I would get back to that later. Well now is later. I go to the gym four or five times a week for several reasons. Probably the least of my reasons is to get exercise, even though I do actually get a lot of exercise. There are three reasons for going to the gym:

1. It gets me out of the house! One of the very first things I did when I was no longer working, was to get a gym membership. It was actually the second thing I did on the day I had to "leave the building", my former employer's building that is, the first being getting a blackberry. The gym I joined costs $10 a month! It's filled with warmth and people of all shapes a sizes, and it's a place for me to go, where I see people and do things that make me feel good. Which brings me to reason #2.

2. The endorphins! Oh my oh my, when they kick in you feel like you can do anything and worries do tend to drop back. Plus I've found that I have to constantly increase my exercise levels to get the endorphins flowing which leads me to my main and third reason.

3. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Some days just going there is an accomplishment. Hey listen everybody, we all need to feel like we're accomplishing something. This certainly does not only apply to those of us who aren't working. One thing that I've always believed is that we need to find ways to feel we are accomplishing something and to reward ourselves.

Others that I've spoke with find other things that basically give them something to focus on, to get a sense of accomplishment. Some play with their kids or grand kids, which I can really understand. The other day I was walking by the fountain in my neighborhood and this little boy was splashing his hand in it and just laughing up a storm. Made me laugh too. Just put a whole different perspective on the day. Others volunteer or participate on boards. Me, in addition to the gym, I cook. I've learned to make all these really delicious meals from scratch, all the while playing my ipod in speaker and singing at the top of my lungs, just chopping and stirring away. By the way, I've also lost 20lbs and controlled my blood pressure without meds for the first time in six years.

Getting back to focusing. Years ago I managed a telemarketing department that was outsourced. My whole group was displaced. (Don't you just love the terminology, displacement, made redundant, yeesh) I remember sitting through many one-on-ones with my team leaders and getting them to focus on the now. If you only think about the future it tends to be really scary. I know I have my daily "to do "list. While my computer is booting up , cup of coffee at elbow, I make out this list of things I will focus on TODAY! Because, you know what, tomorrow will come no matter what we do, and if we don't focus on today we will have even less influence on the outcome. Those are my words of wisdom for today.

Cheers folks and in the words of Macy Gray, "Get up, get up and do something. Don't let your life pass you by."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yes folks I finally did it!

I've been thinking about starting a blog for those of us, and you know who you are, who are currently seeking, or not seeking, employment for a long time now. Usually I thought in terms of posting humorous stories about strange interviews I've been on, but today is different. I got the idea for all those "networking" sessions, where we start out by identifying ourselves (in a minute or less, thank you Steve) "hello my name is Les. I am a Financial Services Professional, with experience in operations, product development and business development. I've been looking for work for nine months and I wish to remain in this field." To which most members of the group responded "Hi Les."

Yesterday I was rejected for a position that I really really wanted. WORDS OF WISDOM: Don't let yourself get too attached to any lead or potential position! Don't! The reasons are many, but primarily because when you get rejected, it really nails you. It throws you completely off stride.
And so this brings me to my reason(s) for starting the blog today.

On my way to the gym (we'll get to that at another point under ways to keep spirits up) I started thinking about all those people who are out of work and dealing with the myriad of feelings that goes with it, and don't have support groups, teachers, and mentors like I have with the Right Management Group. What happens to them? How do they find advise or simply a place to go where people are in the same situation or provide advise? That's why I decided to start the blog today. I hope eventually it gets out to some of those people and they can use it and/or me to bounce ideas off of, or to simply get a good laugh at some of the goofy situations I get myself into.

Now everyone, please be patient. I know I'll get better at this, but you've gotta give me a little time. I'll figure out how you can get questions and comments to me, but first I have to finish setting this puppy up and post it before I chicken out.