Half full — or Half Empty?

The pervasive bad news spinning through the media right now is really astounding: the continuing drops in the stock market, declining retail profits, the dying automotive industry, increasing foreclosures, layoffs, hiring freezes, unemployment (or underemployment). It has really snowballed over the last few months. The reiteration I continually hear is that we are facing times worse than any faced by generations born after the Great Depression.

The gloomy outlook all might be true, but my argument is: Does it really help to dwell on everything that is wrong, when arguably, there still are things positive or things that we can be thankful for? Am I the only one who is thankful to see gas prices drop to lower prices than seen in five years? But there is more to see, and I am becoming more convinced that the way to get beyond whatever these times continue to bring us is to dwell on what is still good, while also continually seeking ways that each of us can contribute to make things better.

I recently came upon a few sites that help convey this message and have been useful to me in maintaining a sense of optimism that I genuinely believe helps one thrive. And so I now gladly share them with you:

Now might be a challenging time for many, but I believe that we must not despair when facing difficulties. Instead persevere and keep an open mind to possibility. Easier said than done, but survival itself is much easier for those who can manage to keep their cups half full no matter what they are going through.

Your Inspiring Book

It was just the other week when I wrote about getting life back into a sense of balance. Since then, I have made progress in my own life, moving in the direction of my choice, but I acknowledge that I still need to take greater charge and face hurdles that I have still avoided.

Today, I read a most-inspiring posting on this topic from Gail over at Inspire Me Today. If you ever start to feel like you are an actor in your life instead of the author, here is an excellent framing that will help remind you to take charge and move toward what you really want, making the most of everyday.

Here’s a small excerpt of Gail’s posting, Get Out of the Book:

Just because the world is hurled at me- I don’t have to catch it! I have the choice in that moment to jump in and play, or not. Once I remembered that I am the author, everything became easier. Nothing was as serious as it seemed just moments before. I have the power to make the choice to play the game or not- and today, I’m just not playing. I shut the book and put it down. There are more fun things to do, so instead, I’m rewriting the script to fit the day I choose to experience.

Take time to reflect on how you are approaching each day, and dwell on how you wish to write it. Even if things are thrown at you, you are the author of your attitude and the way you therefore create and perceive the story of your life.

Miracles abound

I recently picked up the latest Reader’s Digest, and in it was an Einstein quote I had never seen before:

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

This is a fantastic framing of the half-full bucket or optimistic vision coming from one of the greatest minds in history. These are indeed tough times for many, and when life becomes difficult, it can be commensurately difficult to see a silver lining.

There will always be challenges and misfortunes in life, but are your eyes open only to the negative or banal–or are you able to see how amazing and wonderful and miraculous the universe is? How you live your life is your choice, so accordingly decide which life for you is most fulfilling and set your mind on that vision.


Here’s a great quote from John Wooden, the best coach ever:

“Success is the peace of mind, which is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

Success is more growth than it is actual attainment or achievement. Do you have this kind of peace of mind? Are you striving for your absolute best?

Elusive Life Balance

The present transitions in my life have inspired me to reveal what my internal motivational coach is prodding in a self-talk of sorts. Honestly, I am struggling. I feel like my life is out of balance, and I am not focused on moving beyond where I do not want to be and moving forward in the direction that I chose to go. And this is more related to my life at home than it is with my job, but career consists of all of the facets of one’s life and is not limited to paid occupations.

For one, I have found myself too busy to be the loyal blogger that I set out to be, and yet I know I have the kind of ideas that potentially can inspire others daily. Why have I not found the time to dedicate myself to this enjoyment? Whenever my life becomes more of what I feel I have to do and less of what I want to do, I try to reassess what I am doing and regain the balance that I have somehow relinquished.

What gives you energy? What drives you? How much of your waking hours are you doing such things? Ideally, whether your quest is for any combination of fulfillment, enjoyment, actualization, meaning, productivity, or leaving behind a legacy, the goal is to have this vitality in the largest proportion possible. This vitality for you might be only one thing, or a fine mix of many things. For some, it is recreational fun, for others it is excelling in a gift or talent, or perhaps it is the satisfaction of making a difference.

The trick of life balance is to take a moment to analyze how you are spending each day. Are you doing what you want to do with your life? If not, are you taking risks and making sacrifices that will help you grow and develop in a way that will ultimately get you there? If your life is anything otherwise, it is time for you to challenge yourself. Take a risk. Be courageous. Persevere through adversity. Dream and take charge.

Think life as similar to the journey of the tightrope walker. Even if the path of life were as linear and tight as a tightrope, one must constantly adjust their balance bar to successfully get anywhere. Add in the chaos and curves that reality throws in, and realize that the “balance” in life is the result of vigilant efforts to constantly adjust without ever hesitating too long when the feeling of falling seems to overwhelm. Instead, maintain your composure when you otherwise feel you might lose your step. Move forward, onward, above, and beyond. With the right balance, you can go far and do amazing things.

3 Tips for The Resilient Job Hunter

In a tough economy, the job search is even tougher. Valiant efforts such as multiple resume submissions, job fair attendance, and contacting everyone in your network sometimes result in little or no reward. I have coached people who seem to be doing everything right, and yet for whatever reason, they still do not get their desired result. And it can even be more difficult when you are rewarded with an interview or two only to not hear back, since at that point, it is almost impossible not to get your hopes up high. In order to survive, a job searcher must not allow these things to get them down and stay active in their efforts. Though a heavy setback might bring you down, it is critical to bounce right back and be as resilient as possible. Though there are many ways to do this, and it is often a matter of knowing and taking rein of your own psyche, here are some basic tips to help keep you on your feet rather than feel defeated:

1) Keep your bucket half full. Pollyanna might be a silly caricatured rendering of this, but there is something to be said about continually reframing and adjusting your attitude and perspective so that you can see any given situation in a favorable light. Instead of focusing on the lack of response from employers, I try to emphasize the accomplishment of my efforts themselves. I could dwell on the fact that the last ten applications and resume submission I had resulted in no response, OR I could dwell on how efficient I was at customizing my resume for each position and getting it out there in an equally efficient manner. You have control of your efforts—so emphasize you attention at how successful you are in the effort itself—not on the results. And no matter how significant your misfortune is, do all that you can to keep your sense of joy in sight. One way to do this is to create your own rewards for your efforts. Set aggressive goals for how you will seek a job, but also identify and plan to balance this with doing something good for yourself. I typically go out for ice cream or some simple pleasure like that after going through an interview. A natural reward for networking efforts is you get to have lunches and dinners with many of your friends.

2) Speaking of friends, it is vitally important to have a support group or some sort of advocate to support you through the job search challenge. Career counseling or coaching can be great for this, as working with a counselor will give you instant feedback on your approach and provide you with the encouragement that only having an advocate can give. A word of caution though: avoid the naysayers. Your friends might have the best intentions in helping you, but if you are only getting negative feedback and not enough constructive support, you can be further brought down via your associations rather than having them as a main resiliency support.

3) Fill your mind with inspiring stories of underdogs in the past who have overcome great obstacles. Everyone loves stories of those who beat the odds, and realistically, in most job searches the odds are against you too. What better time then to dwell on those who made the impossible possible, filling your mind with their examples of how every setback–no matter how great–did not stop them on their quest. You too have that kind of power—so dwell on that hope and belief that you will beat the odds no matter how many setbacks it takes for you to get there. Steve Jobs in his commencement speech to Stanford stated this idea in another inspiring way—you must connect the dots behind you; it is impossible to connect the dots ahead. Believe that all you go through has value and meaning, and no setback will stop you.

Keep in Touch

I apologize for not having a posting up over the last few weeks. It has been a crazy month for me with a new job, and helping many others find jobs as well. The break did inspire me to write on a very important topic: keeping in touch. You can find this latest post on The Talent Buzz Blog. The title is Keep in Touch. I submitted there for a contest, so be sure to visit and tell me what you think!

I hope to do a better job keeping in touch–and hopefully part of that will be more regular postings again.

Readers feel free to send me questions, because my greatest motivation is helping others, and so if I am given a question I am likely to immediately respond!

Send questions to me here.

Rage Against the Machine

The PSFK blog recently posted a startling story about a phenomenon called “IT Rage.” Their source story from Pocket Lint reports that nearly three quarters of respondents had hurled an electronic gadget in a fit of rage. Though my wife might tell you that I have had issues with anger management, I can never remember harming anything–including my computer or other gadgets. It is amusing though that my fellow blogger The Undercover Lawyer has been posting You Tube content of people going crazy on their office equipment at work for his podcast on hostile workplaces.

The truth of the matter is that all of us find ourselves in stressful situations where our angry impulses can make us behave in unflattering ways. But aside from anger management, there is much to be said about how some good career advice or career development knowledge can help prevent such embarrassing blowups. The most abusive people in the workplace are also commonly the most miserable. If they were happy about their work, they would not have such anger to pass on to their subordinates or fellow workers (or computers).

If you perceive that you are constantly stressed out at work, you might ask yourself if there is an environment that would allow you to thrive. Why spend the majority of your life being miserable? Especially when that misery might be putting your fellow workers and office equipment at risk. If you do not know what it is that would make you happy–go find yourself a good career professional and begin a path toward greater joy and fulfillment.

Something to Believe In

Forgive me for potentially alluding to a cheesy ballad from glam rock days, but it did seem like a catchy title for today. After reading this, you could say that I might have gone with a more noteworthy song from the same era, but now to the point: We all have the potential to live lives with passion and purpose so strong that we would rather die than relinquish what we live for.

The inspiration comes from Joan of Arc:

“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.”

In an age of cynicism and people compromising themselves, this quote carries a timeless charisma. How are you spending each day? Are you doing the work that allows you to express your unique talents? Are you staying true to yourself and your convictions? Think of the passion and sense of purpose found in all heroic figures and realize that you too can make your life that meaningful. Strive for this and overcome the fears that hold you back. We all have the potential to live exciting and meaningful lives, so do all you can to live up to it.

Practicing What I Preach

I have been holding out on making an announcement, as I know it is only prudent not to count chickens before they are hatched. But next week, I will be leaving a most gratifying job, and moving on to a new challenge.

Though the title of this blog reflects my current job title as Career Counselor, as well as my master’s degree specialization, my new title will be Vocational Evaluator. I will still be offering what I feel I do best, which is to provide career counseling services, but I will also be using a lot more assessments as a main tool for evaluating people who need assistance reincorporating themselves back into the workforce. This was a difficult transition, as the job I am leaving has been spectacular. So why would I leave a job that I absolutely love?

Truthfully, I have never provided counseling service to people who love their jobs. People typically come to career counselors for assistance finding jobs or getting out of jobs that they do not like. Still, whenever I meet with people, it is not uncommon for me to tell them that their job search should never end. One of the biggest career development follies is that once people find something, they then allow themselves to get comfortable and wait until conditions are less than favorable before they make their next move. Though you may be one of the few that lands into something that exists and continues to be fulfilling throughout your career lifetime, most people should stay focused on their professional development and be ready to leave their positions at any given moment. Savvy professionals must vigilantly stay ahead of the curve by always looking for the next step–and always being ready for that matter. As John Wooden said (to my recollection): When opportunity strikes, it is already too late.

When was the last time you updated your resume? Do you maintain your network contacts and/or are building up new ones? Do you know what the present job market looks like? If the work in your industry dried up or got over saturated, would you know what you might transition to–and would you be prepared? These questions might frighten you, but I assure you they are much more frightening when the ground you are standing on gets pulled from under your feet.

I am actually glad I was prepared and decided to make my move. This move ended up being fortuitous indeed. One week after I gave my notice, my organization had its annual meeting. Our nonprofit fundraising had been impacted by the economy, and they are going to have to make major budget cuts, including possible layoffs. Though I think my position would have been secured if I stayed, it is nice knowing that I will not have to deal with that insecurity, and I will also escape the overall impact this will have on the organizational workload and morale.

I did not see that coming, but my proactivity prevented me from being blindsided, and now I will move to a position in an organization that is growing, and will geometrically increase my knowledge of career assessments, among other things.

If you love your job, do show that you are eager to stay. But, for your own sake always be ready to go. Are you ready?