Is a Career Pivot Next?

266woman-head-spinningProfessionals who have successfully made a career change have done their homework. Have you been feeling unsatisfied or mismatched in your career or is it this job that you don’t like? It may be that the culture isn’t a fit or the environment is not what you expected. You may feel overwhelmed or under compensated. For some clients, the commute made everything unpleasant and stressful and that became the deal breaker.

• Are there recurring patterns in your life and is this another attempt to fix something else?
• What’s unsatisfying about your current situation?
• Who’s doing work that you think you might want to do?

Unless the situation is toxic, we don’t recommend quitting a job in the hopes that something better will appear. As part of our intake we ask clients the following: If we were to have an appointment at a local restaurant three years from now, what would have taken place in your life for you to be fully satisfied and fulfilled both personally and professionally?

If money, time or credentials were not issues, what would you be doing? If the client already has an answer, we will break that down into how-to achieve your goal steps. Then it’s time to look at your networks, identify people who are doing what you would like to do, request an informational interview and spend time with them. This step takes work but for the most successful career changers, they learn from being curious and diligent in their efforts to become informed.

Not uncommon, especially for Millenials is the burnout after 18-24 months of not having a satisfying job, quitting and returning to school. School may have been a safe place, where achievement was rewarded. Adding debt without a plan is always a mistake.

Change is rarely simple. There are financial questions to address, perhaps relocation and even the judgment about leaving a role that you trained for years to reach. It takes courage, persistence and a plan, all of which are doable.

©MWeisner2017

Please Stop the Whining

no-whiningWe have all experienced the “Debbie Downer” character in our personal or professional worlds. Complaining has been elevated to a high art by these individuals and while entertaining at times, it’s more frequently draining and off-putting. Fault finding is valuable when you identify what’s not working and look for a solution. Occasional whining may be acceptable but if it rises to the level of chronically finding fault, it’s time to take stock. When crankiness has become an end to itself and a legitimate issue actually does arise, how likely will others respond to it?

Life is imperfect and for some people, complaining is a way to get or even deflect attention. Notice your own behaviors:
• Are they energy draining or energy building?
• Are you feeling powerless in a situation or a relationship?
• What is your typical response?

Chronic irritability distances you from others. If only they would change, then you might not have anything to object to. Focusing on what others need to do rather than on your own actions avoids the possibility of personal transformation and empowerment. Turn that critical eye inward.
• Identify what you would like to create
• What are you choosing to modify or eliminate?
• Channel the energy
• Ask for support from others
• Create a plan of action
• Engage

©MWeisner2017

The Future of Work

binocularsRecently, as I was departing from a Caribbean airport, I noticed a bank of pay phones on a wall near the gate. It actually took a minute to register what was right in front of me and to marvel at the instrument I had in my purse that made those phones relatively obsolete. The idea of picking up a telephone in a public area and placing the receiver near my mouth was revolting, and yet, that’s exactly what we did. Who was sanitizing the handset? Who even thought about the need to do so?

And then I began to consider what the consequences are when technology replaces something like the public pay phone. While it didn’t happen overnight, someone installed and maintained them, collected the coins and serviced the units. They were manufactured somewhere and aside from the very identifiable red phone booths in London; it’s unlikely that the need for production will increase.

According to Brian Whetten, PhD, “Recent research shows that 65 percent of current preschool students will work in a type of job that doesn’t even exist yet. Every 2 days, we now create as much information as was generated from the dawn of mankind through 2003. For someone working on a science degree, more than half the information they learn in their first year will be out of date by the time they graduate.

It’s truly an exciting time and your perspective probably depends in large part on things we don’t even yet know. Driverless cars will change the world dramatically and how could that impact your future? Will it potentially make your job obsolete or can you pivot into something else seamlessly? How prepared are you to keep an eye out for what’s coming towards you beforehand and look for new opportunities?

If you don’t choose to dedicate a significant part of your time checking future trends and their impact, I suggest a Department of Labor resource. O*NET OnLine has detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers, workforce development and HR professionals, students, researchers, and more.

For each job, O*NET provides the following information:
• Personal requirements: the skills and knowledge required to perform the work
• Personal characteristics: the abilities, interests and values needed to perform the work
• Experience requirements: the training and level of licensing and experience needed for the work
• Job requirements: the work activities and context, including the physical, social, and organizational factors involved in the work
• Labor market: the occupational outlook and the pay scale for the work

Being ahead of the curve can prepare you for what can be a new and ideally, an exciting career.

©MWeisner2017

Habits to Make and Break

First we make our habits, and then our habits make us. – John Drydenfuture and past

No one would critique your habit of going to the gym daily or preparing lunch the night before or limiting TV watching to specific programs. They might envy your discipline and wish they had the same stick-to-it drive. What they don’t realize is that you’ve gotten to this place through a series of steps and missteps, revising and working to find the combination that supports your goals. You are also flexible enough to know that not all habits work forever, and that tweaking and adjusting behaviors is an ongoing process.

What about BAD habits? Whether it’s mid-day snacking, skipping the gym or procrastinating, feeling helpless to change takes its toll on your self esteem. Yet, you feel helpless to change and so the loop continues and you become more discouraged and resigned to accept these behaviors as a given. The good news is that you are not alone, nor are you a victim of genetics. Research breaks down the psychology driving habits into Three distinct stages:
1. Cue
2. Routine
3. Reward
This habit loop is very challenging to break and has actually been hardwired into our psyches. Furthermore, we don’t break bad habits; rather, we replace them with more positive alternatives.

If you are committed to changing your behavior, there are 4 doable steps to begin:
• Identify the stages– what’s the cue/routine/reward series that lead to your habit? Feeling tired in the afternoon and passing the candy bowl or vending machine for a shot of sugar?
• Explore alternatives– what’s a healthier routine? A different route? Getting outside for a quick walk? Packing a nutritious snack?
• Commit to change and adjust as needed– test drive your new routine. Is it enough of a change or can you tolerate something more radical? Perhaps your mid-day stroll for a snack was really a way to change the scenery and move, while the sugar treat was just an added “bonus”
• Anticipate setbacks- make your new habit loop bulletproof. Plan ahead and whether it’s wearing sneakers or packing an apple, prepare for the inevitable slide. It’s OK- tomorrow is another day to begin anew.

When we walk away from labeling some habits as bad, we give ourselves permission to be human. After all, we created them for ourselves and we also have the power to add new ones that rather than break the old, replace them with a preferred alternative.

©MWeisner2017

5-Tips for Career Changers

binoculars1. Look at the issues that make you crave change and outline your goals
What are you satisfied with about your current situation? What are you dissatisfied with? Is it your boss or the culture of your organization? Or do you really want to change careers? Outline your goals- for example, more money, more time off or more flexibility. Write it all down.

2. Work to understand your inner critic
Observe thoughts that trap you with fear and prevent you from achieving your objectives. Write these down on a piece of paper, then crumple it up and throw it away to symbolize your freedom from thoughts that interfere with your goals and dreams.

3. Recognize recurring patterns in your life
What makes you happy? What are your recurring interests and social needs? What makes a work environment feel good or not so good to you? Write it down.

4. Network and investigate career interests that map to your goals and needs
Once you’ve identified your patterns and desires, start thinking about careers that make sense for you. Give yourself one to three months to explore your curiosity by finding people who do these jobs and talking about the pros and cons of their work. Explore anything and everything until you’re satisfied — or until your time runs out.

5. Make a plan that takes your financial situation into account
Change is never simple, but having a plan that outlines your steps and financial requirements makes it doable. Will your new career require additional education, a small business loan, time off from work or relocation? Make a plan with financial considerations and a realistic timeline that you can follow through on.

©MWeisner2017

Hope is NOT a Strategy for Change

imagesCAGH4OS8What are you hoping to achieve, change, fix, alter or revise in the next year? What makes this “wish” to change have any greater likelihood of follow through now than before?

What prompts change as delineated by the 4 stages that we all enter and exit at different speeds? In pre-contemplation the seed of a possible notion to perhaps shift something occurs. If there is enough interest, we then move to contemplation where the thought takes on added importance. This is followed by preparation for the big step and lastly moving on to the actual change.

Where are the battle lines drawn? Who will win…the old habit or the new behavior? Unless we traverse the process and internalize the stages, the truth is that it’s not happening. Too often it is much easier to skip along, falling back on old behaviors like “wishing, hoping and praying” for divine intervention and the magical solution to reveal itself.

What’s at stake? Improved health and/or appearance, stronger relationships, financial stability or an uncluttered desk may all be goals we set for ourselves. What’s the reward? More time, a new wardrobe, clearer boundaries and a cleaner work area are all tremendous benefits. Most importantly is the personal satisfaction of seeing ourselves as a number one priority; capable of change and deserving of attention, love and care.

What does your call to action look like?

• Select 1 action you will take in the next 24 hours
• Share your plan
• Select an accountability partner when you have completed your action
• Celebrate your success!

What did you learn about yourself from the experience?

©2016 Maureen Weisner

Strengthen Your Core

Strong-CourageousOver 40% of our behaviors are habits. Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Some practices are good, like tooth brushing for healthy oral hygiene and some are even fundamental to our ability to function. But there are those things we do that are far from mindful as we react to the initial cue to engage, knowing the end result will make us feel better in some way, if only for the short term. Habits, good or bad, make us who we are. The key is controlling them. If you know how to modify your habits, then even a small effort can create significant changes. Eating what’s convenient vs. what you know is healthier or watching TV because you are too tired to take a walk are the default behaviors that can be changed when you have a plan to short-circuit the familiar cause/effect patterns.

We all learned early on that the “Three Little Pigs” had some construction challenges and that the house built on the strongest foundation was most resilient. If you attempt to drive a golf ball far down the fairway with your feet together, you will get mixed outcomes ranging from losing your balance to not connecting with the ball at all. Taking a wider stance puts you in a far better position to maintain your stability which will likely result in better shots.

So how is this image transferable to behaviors that we have placed on auto-pilot like gym workouts? In my case, I feel better after my 60-minute program is over, but I know it is one that could use some updating by scheduling a session with a trainer to plan and review my current goals. I love doing sit-ups, hundreds of them, and not even break a sweat in the process. However, as soon as I moved from the bench to an exercise ball; not so easy, and in fact, not only was it harder, but my attention was now completely focused on each sit-up. I could not zone out and just go through the motions and when light weights were added, I quickly went from being stable to shaky as new muscles were engaged.

It takes practice to make a change and with the specific goal in mind of getting stronger by building my core, I am looking forward to hitting better golf shots and recording those favorite TV shows for post-gym workouts. An added benefit is that with a sturdier mid-section, my posture is improving and I feel more confident and energetic. Yes, a simple change in process can indeed yield broader results than expected.

How will you strengthen your core?

• Identify 1 activity that focuses on your core
• Plan it
• Do it!

© 2016 Maureen Weisner

Wherever You Go, There You Are!

career-changeThe Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu told the following story:

“There was a man so displeased by the sight of his own shadow and so displeased
with his own footsteps that he was determined to get rid of both. The method he hit
upon was to run away from them. So he got up and ran. But every time he put his
foot down there was another step, while his shadow kept up with him without the
slightest difficulty. He attributed his failure to the fact that he was not running fast
enough. So he ran faster and faster, without stopping until he finally dropped dead.
He failed to realize that if he merely stepped into the shade, his shadow would
vanish and if he sat down and stayed still, there would be no more footsteps.”

When we make the decision to stop and be still rather than running away, we have the opportunity to connect with ourselves. Uncomfortable as it may be, “Wherever you go, there you are,” and then what?

Avoidance, denial, and anxiety get in the way of moving forward unless your image of progress is a hamster on a wheel. It may feel like a lot of activity is being generated yet it’s far better to take that energy and get to the gym for a true workout.

So, rather than run away, or play the blame game…STOP!
• Slow down
• Assess your situation
• What changes do you need to make?
• What changes are you willing to make?
• Choose one action
• Commit to doing it
• Take a selfie and record your success!

©MWeisner2016

Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes…

rogowski-225x300“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear you will make one.”

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes…if we are human, we have all made them. We may have compassion for other people, yet too frequently we refuse to stop punishing ourselves for past missteps, indiscretions, poor planning, lack of judgment, etc. The list could go on forever. Too often we examine our own actions under a relentlessly unforgiving spotlight, long after the event has occurred. Yes, we have all experienced hurtful behavior and may have been the responsible person, yet for the most part it is possible to make amends or corrections.

What is it about holding onto those memories that make us squirm? Most people think of memory as a vault for storing information, however it is more like a tailor stitching together logical threads into a pattern that makes sense. Recent research looking at the accuracy of memories, suggests that the only true memories are those held by amnesiacs. Apparently each time we revisit a memory, we tweak it a bit. In this view, a positive memory separates what is useful from what could upset or distract us. Forgetting is therefore an important part of memory and thought which is critical to our emotional wellbeing. While revisiting bad memories may not be a formula for happiness, we may have a tendency to do this.

From this moment going forward, put a statute of limitations on your mistakes. Stop punishing yourself. Give yourself a deadline. According to Dr. Alan Zimmerman, you might even create a short script for yourself like, “After this date (specify), I will not put myself down or beat myself up for this mistake or that failure (specify). It’s done. It’s over. I refuse to spend any more energy ruminating about it.” Moreover, hold yourself accountable for doing it. The blame game is so de-energizing and once you release yourself from the fatiguing dance; your confidence will improve, oftentimes dramatically.

With respect to the question of forgiveness, a bolder step is posited by Stanford University consultant, Dr. Fred Luskin, author of the book, “Forgive for Good”. He says, “You can let go of a grudge you’ve held against someone even if you never see or speak to that person again. Forgiving takes place inside the person who has the change of heart, not the person who is forgiven.” He never suggests that the behavior was okay or that the offender gets a pass on their actions. Rather, it is about taking care of oneself and not being the person who takes poison and waits for the other person to die. In fact, in the act of forgiveness you are the person who has taken back their power.

The same truth applies to self-forgiveness. When you forgive yourself for past mistakes, you also free yourself from the attachment to them. It takes a conscious effort to change old patterns of behavior. However, when you can take even a small step towards shifting your thoughts from blame and hurt to self-healing and peace, you are achieving a new level of self-care. Greater self-knowledge begets greater self-confidence and an opportunity to give “self-punishment” a rest.

ACTION:
• Who do you need to forgive?
• Write the script?
• Speak it aloud as many times as you find necessary
• Stop and give yourself a BIG hug!

©2015 Maureen Weisner

Change or Else

Why Is Everyone Trying To Change Everyone Else?

• Change is hard!
• Change is easy!
• Change is different for everyone!

When asked, most people will readily agree that they are comfortable with change. When I’ve pressed audiences further, they’re frequently more emphatic about their ability to embrace change, and seek it out regularly. A quick reality check reveals otherwise. For example, although more than 35% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% keep them. Is that damning statistic related to not properly preparing for change or is it about change in general?

Almost no one truly likes change, except perhaps the baby with a dirty diaper. Change is almost always stressful and challenging. Even good change can be difficult. So it’s no wonder that the two most common responses to change are denial and resistance. Some people pretend it doesn’t exist, and some people fight it, but most people try both approaches. The trouble is–both denial and resistance are fairly useless responses.

Some changes, despite our best intentions, fall by the wayside for numerous reasons. Deciding to drink more water daily for one week as a first step in a healthier lifestyle plan is a change that is doable for most people. You are adding vs. reducing or eliminating something from your routine. It is specific, measurable and not likely to have negative consequences. On the other hand, wanting to be healthier, while admiral in theory, is too vague, lacks a time frame and relies on significant changes in lifestyle that have not been identified.

Each of us is capable of making changes and the details can also be the deal breakers. Some of us embrace change from the outset and are excited and disciplined about setting goals and seeing results. Others are slower to start and may need more support.

• Review times when you have been most successful.
• What was your approach?
• Did you share your plan with others to gain extra support?

©MWeisner2015