Detours

Sometimes life doesn’t work out exactly as we envision.  Sometimes there are bumps in the road in the road to success.  Sometimes mountains.  Sometimes quicksand.  Sometimes being a grown up isn’t as easy or as glamorous as we anticipated.

An unplanned pregnancy, a relationship ends, illnesses happen, jobs don’t work out.

So then what?  What do you do when you need to come up with a Plan B, or C, or D right now?

You have two options:

  1. Shut down / Get bitter

-Focus on the past, replay regrets – what should have been and what went wrong and make excuses for why things can’t get better.

  1. Keep going / Get stronger

-Focus on the future, keep moving, learn from the past and get better because of it.

The difference is your attitude, not the circumstances.  So when life gets messy and it’s not what you were planning for don’t just shut down.  Give yourself time to analyze the situation, reevaluate your goals and recalculate your directions- but keep moving.  Don’t get stuck.  Do the best you can with what you have to work with and remember you can’t control the rest of the world, but your response is up to you.

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Which adjectives best describe your typical day at work?

  Focused  or  Distracted

Productive  or  Busy

Organized  or  Overwhelmed

Engaged  or  Apathetic

Calm  or  Anxious

Which list best describes your typical day at work?

My first two years as a new nurse definitely involved all the adjectives on the second list and few from the first.  I worked 12 hour days on the med-surg floor taking care of about 6 patients with lots of issues, medications, doctors, and worried family members.  And I hated my life because of my job.  I remember thinking multiple times a day, “There has got to be a better way!  This can’t be it!”

Eventually I found another job- still in nursing but this time in the Baby Department and my overall job satisfaction improved greatly.  But even working with precious little babies can get a little hectic from time to time…especially when there’s 20 of them all over the nursery and they all decide they’re hungry at 7:10am, which is also when all the doctors show up needing help with this and that and the phone starts ringing that we need nurses for more deliveries and there’s visitors staring through the nursery glass watching us zoom around trying to organize the chaos… and then I just remind myself, “It’s ok- it could be worse- it could be med-surg!”  But even on the crazy days I am still grateful for that job, in that department, and with the awesome nurses I get to work with.  (Some days I might have to remind myself that I am grateful a few times before I start to believe it… my nursing friends understand this…  🙂

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Our work days can be noisy and our schedules can get hectic quickly.   Here’s a few ways to manage the chaos without having a nervous breakdown:

  1. Sleep – Your body and mind need time to rest. Often when we’re feeling stressed we try to cut into our sleep to get more done- this is rarely helpful long term.
  2. Pray or meditate- Giving yourself some quiet time to focus before a busy day can help us stay in the right mindset throughout the day- and our attitude has a profound impact on our day.
  3. Prioritize your To-Do list- focus your best attention on the most important tasks, delegate or decline the ones you don’t have time to do well now. Give yourself time to prepare for upcoming projects & use that time efficiently.
  4. Be healthy- Food is our fuel and our bodies and brains can only go so long on coffee, coke and cheeseburgers. Exercise is a great stress reliever and there’s so many different options to help make exercise fun.
  5. Relax and have fun- When you work in job situations with high levels of stress or responsibility you need time to unplug from that and just relax. Friends or hobbies can help with this.  My personal favorite way to relax after a chaotic day is a bubble bath. Vacations are also fantastic ways to take a long break from work and recharge.

Finally, depending on your personal life and job satisfaction, you may need to reevaluate your work situation and goals and see if there could be better options you could consider.  If you’re living for Friday’s and dreading Monday’s it might be time to explore new opportunities.

Do you LOVE your job?

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Valentine’s day is a time to celebrate the people you love.   But when was the last time you loved or celebrated your job?  Answer the following questions as honestly as you can about your current job:

The best thing about my job is _________________________.

When I wake up in the morning to go to work I feel ______________.

My favorite part of my workday is ___________________________.

If I could change one thing about my job it would be ______________.

If I am still working in my current position in 10 years I will feel ___________.

Your answers to those 5 questions should reveal a lot about your job satisfaction, engagement and motivation in your current position.   Maybe you’ve already found a job that is a perfect fit for you.   Or maybe you’re still looking for that perfect position.

Job satisfaction involves several factors including: duties, compensation, location, work environment, pace, boss & co-worker relations, work-life balance, etc.   We know that no job is ever going to be 100% perfect all the time- but what I want to help you find is what job would be the best fit for you?   Personality type and personal interests and motivators are the best place to start when considering what jobs would be good options for you.  Ask yourself these questions and include your answers in your search for your dream job.

What do I love to do? _______________________________

What am I really good at?  ______________________________

What is my optimal work environment? ______________________________

What gives me a sense of accomplishment? _______________________________

What am I created to do? _______________________________

Finding a job you love (and can make a living at) is not usually an easy project.  It takes time to learn about yourself and what options would be the best fit for you.  It takes time to prepare for the job you’re seeking.  And it takes time to work through the job search process.  But finding a job you love is worth the effort and time it takes.

And as Steve Jobs said, “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it.”

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Three Options when Facing Fear

Fear is a normal response to new or unfamiliar situations.  And it’s not always a bad thing.  Fear can help us be cautious of a potentially dangerous situation.  But fear can also shut us down.  This can sometimes come across as “the voice of reason” or “just being realistic” or “here’s a list of all the reasons this idea won’t work.”  And we can often talk ourselves out of an idea because there may be some element of risk or uncertainty involved.  Life is full of change.  And change can often be scary.  But if nothing ever changed how safe and boring would life be?

So how can we constructively handle fear:

  1. Assess the situation or decision for what it truly is.
  2. Identify the true risks and separate them from the unknowns or unfamiliar.
  3. Weigh the risks and the benefits of your options.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”  (Usually it’s not the end of the world.)

“What’s the best thing that could happen?”

  1. Pray and seek wise counsel – especially from people who have done what you’re considering.
  2. Make a decision and move forward.

Fear can sometimes be crippling and the easiest decision is often to do nothing-this is sometimes referred to as “analysis paralysis.”  Often it takes doing the thing we’re most afraid of to realize it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.  Sometimes we can break this down into small steps we can work on a little at a time- a process known as “gradual desensitization.”  Other times we may just have to jump out of the plane.  Next time you feel fear remember you have three options: shut down, move forward with baby steps, or face it head on and see what’s on the other side.  It might just be amazing.

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“Do one thing every day that scares you.”   ― Eleanor Roosevelt

What is one thing you’re afraid of?  What is one thing you could do today to constructively face that fear?  Or how have you faced a fear in the past and what was the outcome?

 

(P.S.  This is not a picture of me skydiving, because I don’t have a picture of me skydiving…because I’ve never been skydiving…because that kinda scares me a lot… but it also looks kinda awesome….so I need a buddy.  Any takers?)

New Growth

We had a bit of break in the gray winter weather yesterday so I scooped up the Yorkies and headed off for a long walk around the pond.  They were so excited to be out of the house and bounding around chasing ducks and celebrating the sunshine.
 
As I was walking through the layers of fallen leaves I looked up at the empty tree branches and wondered how much longer it would be before they started blooming again with new growth for Spring.  

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And I realized that sometimes in our lives we have to let go of old things to make room for new growth.  And sometimes we don’t want to let go of what’s familier to us, don’t want to move, or change jobs, or leave old friends because sometimes all we focus on is what we’re losing. 

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But the beauty of the seasons and of our life is that the new is coming.  New growth, new jobs, new friends, new seasons. 
 
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 What in your life is God calling you to let go of to make room for new growth?
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…”  Ecclesiastes 3:1
 
This blog post is deticated with love to my sweet Mother, who was my very first blog subscriber and one of my biggest fans- and who has been working on Spring Cleaning for a while now… Remember Mom, “Let it go, let it go!”

3 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Major

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  1. What do I love to do?

The first step in choosing your future career is some self-awareness and introspection. Consider what you are passionate about and what you are motivated to learn more about.  We usually excel at things we are most interested in and we enjoy learning how to do these activities even better.

So ask yourself some of these questions:

-What are some of my favorite memories / activities or classes and what did I most enjoy about these times?

-What is my optimal environment?

-What activities / environments do I NOT do well in and do I want to avoid?

-What skills am I really good at?

-What do I feel motivated to learn to do well?

-What gives me a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction or purpose?

If you have trouble thinking of activities or interests you are truly passionate about try volunteering for some new activities or learning about something you’ve never tried before.  Sometimes we have to explore the world a little to learn more about ourselves and discover what ignites our passion and purpose.

 

  1. What are my career options?

The next step after considering your personal interests, is to research career options would be the best fit for your unique personality.  Personality and career assessments can be helpful when considering what careers match well with your personality type.   If you have a long list of career possibilities spend some time researching each option to determine what might work best for you.  A great way to research career options is to interview someone who works in a field you’re interested in.

Consider these questions in your research:

-What is a typical day like in this career?

-What type of educational background is necessary in this career field?

-What opportunities are available in this career field?

-What skills are needed to do this job well?

-What about this career matches my optimal work environment and personality?

 

  1. What can I make money doing?

While salaries shouldn’t be the first thing you consider in selecting your career path, they are important when making career planning decisions.  Our ultimate goal should be to find a job we both love and can make a living in.  Sometimes we could end up with a few possible career options after our research and the salary and job market for a particular option can be a determining factor in our final choice.

Some questions to consider include:

-What’s the job market like in this field?

-Is this career field expected to grow or decline over the next 10 years?

-What a realistic starting and experienced salary?

-Could this salary range meet my financial needs and lifestyle goals?

 

Career planning is a process that takes time and preparation to do well.  Most students arrive at college with very little consideration for their future goals. Others come with some ideas and then end up changing majors 4-6 times during the process-which greatly increases both their time and money spent at college.  It is usually a good idea to choose a major and career before you choose a college as some colleges as you want to pick a college that offers the major you’re most interested in and has a well-developed program in the area of study you’ve selected.

Remember that choosing a major is not a permanent commitment to a single career for the rest of your life, as most people do change careers a few times during their life.  However putting some serious thought into how you start your career path can make your transition into adulthood a much smoother and more enjoyable process.  If you need extra help in your career planning journey, consider working with a Career Coach to walk you through the steps in successful college and career planning.

Adapt and Thrive

Life is full of change.  We are always in transitions.  We are rarely ever “arrived and settled.”  Jobs change, people move, children grow up, we age a little, time passes.

For some, change can be scary and unwanted.  But not all change is bad.  Some changes can actually be quite welcome: a new job we have looked forward to, marriage, the birth of a baby, moving somewhere new and exciting.  Change can be an adventure- if approached with the right mindset.

Change is evident in career planning also.  In the past, a student could graduate from college with a degree in a field he could get hired in and spend the next 30-40 years advancing up the career ladder to eventually retire with a gold watch and a pension plan from his company.  This traditional model is rarely seen in today’s world.  More and more we are seeing people following the “portfolio career” path-  having multiple types of work that can include full time or part time positions, self employment and contracting work- and sometimes a combination of these simultaneously.

Some pro’s to the portfolio career path include:

-flexibility

-freedom

-opportunity for exponential growth

-opportunity for creative expression

 

Some con’s of the portfolio career path include:

-less “stability” (though in today’s job market stability is not guaranteed even in the traditional model)

-benefits (insurance and retirement) not provided by employer  (again, not a guarantee in the traditional model anymore)

-ongoing job search

Adapting to this changing career environment requires a shift in mindset and expectations.   Flexibility, creativity, and resiliency are necessary traits to thrive in this new environment.  Helpful skills include: time management, the ability to multitask well, self-motivation and discipline, understanding finances, and the ability to make and maintain relationships.

As you transition through the changes life will undoubtedly bring keep an open mind and heart to the new possibilities that are opening to you and be willing to try new paths and learn as you go.  If the caterpillar refused to change we would never see a butterfly.

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When I want to run away

Happy New Year!

I usually really love New Year’s and the time to evaluate the past and plan for the future.  And I was especially excited about this New Years as I took a week off work to “get my life organized.”  But then the weather got yucky- cold, rainy and gray for 2 or 3 days right during my New Year’s motivational week – and I kinda crashed and burned.  I ended up wasting 2-3 of my days off moping around feeling sorry for myself and thinking about all my problems- and I seriously considered running away to an island somewhere to start my life over.   Thankfully the sun eventually came out and I was able to talk with my husband and mother to get some perspective on life and this depression I had wandered off into.

So I wanted to share seven thoughts with you in case you ever feel like running away is the best answer:

1.  Set realistic expectations and goals.  Dreams and goals are good- but they have to be achievable- otherwise we will find ourselves frequently disappointed with reality.

2. Focus on your blessings- not on what you don’t have but wish you did.  Comparing your life to others (especially your bad days to their great days) is an easy way to wind up dissatisfied.  What you think about has a tremendous impact on your perspective and actions.  Sometimes you have to preach truth to yourself- sometimes it’s a long sermon.

3. Attitudes can be contagious.  Don’t share your misery with others.  Don’t let others negative attitudes impact you – and when possible love them enough to offer a better perspective because when people are in that depressed miserable zone it’s sometimes hard to see the way out.

4.  Whining doesn’t help, neither does sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.  One of the fastest ways to fix depression is to help someone else with one of their problems.  Or just do something small that will bring you closer to one of your goals.  Go workout, play with a dog, call a friend- anything to get off the couch and out of that mindset.

5. There are no quick fixes- success requires hard work and consistency and progress can be slow and we are sometimes tempted to give up.  But running away would actually create more problems in the long run.

6. There will be some days that aren’t wonderful and happy and beautiful all of the time.  That doesn’t mean your entire life is ruined.  Sometimes it rains.  Sometimes there are storms.  Sometimes life is hard.  It won’t be that way forever- even when it feels like it might.  And even when it’s hard there’s still some good- though we often overlook that because we think too much about the pain.

7.  Things will happen in life that are beyond our control.  But I can choose my response.  I can choose to give up and run away or I can choose to see the good, and stay focused on my purpose in life.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.”   -Galatians 6:9

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Thanks for reading- this wasn’t quite the inspirational New Year’s blog post I was planning to write, but it’s what I learned and I hope it gives you another perspective on the not-so-inspirational days.  God bless your New Year!

New Website!!!

Welcome to my new website / blog!  I’m very excited to be streamlining my online information to this blog and I hope you’ll check back often for new articles!

I’m a Certified Career Coach and speaker and I specialize in working with teens and college students on Career Planning, College Preparation, Market Trends, Increasing Marketability, and most importantly- how to get a job you love and can make money doing!

Thanks for reading!

10 Tips on Motivating Teens

As a Career Coach I’ve had the opportunity to work with students from many different backgrounds – from detention centers to honor society students.  And I’ve met many adults who work with students as well.  And I’ve noticed that sometimes working with teens can be a little stressful for adults.  (And sometimes more than a little…)

I think a big reason for this stress and frustration stems from teens wanting to be more independent – but not always knowing how to make the best decisions for their future – and as adults who care about them we want to help them be successful and protect them from some of the possible dangers “out there.”  But sometimes that protection makes teens frustrated because they don’t feel like they have any freedom to make their own decisions.

helicopter-momA mother of teens recently asked me what I thought about “helicopter moms,” a term used to describe parents that hover protectively over their teens often to the point of suffocation (or so the teen feels).  There have even been reports of some mothers going to interviews with their college graduates!  (Not usually the impression you’re aiming for with a potential boss.)

After giving both sides some thought I’ve come to the conclusion that there has to be a balance of protection and freedom when working with teens.  Protect them from true dangers that can have lasting effects on their future – but give them the opportunity to start being a little more independent each year.  And let them experience the consequences of the decisions they make, both good and not-so-good- because that’s often how we learn best.

Our goal with teens is for them to be safely independent as soon as possible.  And that usually comes with a bit of a learning curve and some mistakes along the way.  But as adults who love our kids and want them to be successful, it’s our job to walk through this process with them, moving slowly from being the authority figure, to a coach, to a guide, to a friend.

I’ve recently created a video on “10 Tips for Motivating Teens,” and you can check out the PDF version here!  Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the balance of love & freedom with teens!