Archives for challenges

The Low Down on Willpower: Why It’s Often Not Enough and How to Compensate

BEAT THE DIETER S DILEMMA WHAT TO DO WHEN WILLPOWER FAILS TEXT WORD CLOUD CONCEPT by aihumnoi on Shutterstock

Here’s what we know about it: It’s limited, but with the right motivation and the right conditions, it can be THE thing that helps you create the change you want in your life.

But what if… you didn’t get enough sleep one day? What if something stressful happens in your life? (That’s inevitable.) What if your blood sugar is low one day?

The right conditions for willpower can be very tricky to control all the time.

Gretchen Rubin, aficionado of good habits and author of several great books on forming habits, has pointed out that forming one good habit tends to eventually create a ripple effect of other good habits. One of the reasons is because willpower is like a muscle, and if you exercise it regularly, it gets stronger over time. Another reason is because our brains release dopamine when things feel good. When change feels good, we crave more of it.

However, using willpower can consume so much mental energy that we become less effective at work, in our workouts, or at solving problems. Have you ever noticed when starting a new diet that you feel more exhausted or less competent? As I already stated, you can gradually build up a larger and larger reserve of willpower, but you have to overcome those conditions on a very regular basis.

Another great point by Gretchen Rubin is that forming a new habit is so consuming because you have to constantly consciously make the decision to NOT engage in the bad habit and TO engage in the good habit until the new habit becomes automatic and you no longer have to even think about it.

My biggest frustrations as a coach were when my clients simply would not do what I was advising them to do. In my early years, this took a toll on my relationship with them, as I would grow very frustrated. By digging deep into the everyday individual challenges of engaging in a new activity with integrity from my own perspective and getting some coaching in emotional intelligence, I developed a greater sense of empathy and compassion. As much as my clients appreciated my patience, compassion, and validation of their feelings, it kept them comfortable in their challenges instead of moving them past them.

In my quest to be the most effective force for personal transformation I can be, I was left with a couple of nagging questions:

  • If our conscious efforts can so easily be sabotaged and have such a cost, what can we do to get our subconscious to be on board quicker so that new habits become automatic?
  • If being tough and no-nonsense doesn’t inspire change in my clients, and being too compassionate doesn’t inspire my clients to change, and I know that they want change, what is the right balance to use and the right tools to use that will help them love themselves through the change and create a safe space for them to transform?

As a leader, have you ever asked yourself these questions? The drive of a leader is to oversee the development and transformation of others into leaders. I have to imagine that all leaders have discovered the same strengths and shortcomings of tough love and compassion. Finding the balance takes trial and error and experience. Even with the wisdom of experience, we have to be able to apply that wisdom when conditions, like lack of sleep, low blood sugar, stress, are present.

For the answers, I turned to science: neuroscience and psychology. What they have discovered in the past 10 years negates much of what we knew prior and a lot of what I learned in college, but some fundamentals remain. Planting roots for good habits is still very much based on the cognitive learning methods of positive and negative conditioning, but we are finding that negative conditioning has some detrimental side effects that contribute to mental health declines, even though it appears to be more effective in the short-term. This is why positive psychology branched out as a practice in 1998. Public perception of this practice has held it back, as people believe that positive psychology is merely about “thinking positive,” which many struggles to do with much regularity. Much the same way, the media/Hollywood and a few mal-intended practitioners of NLP (like hypnosis, but using regular conversation to induce trance) have given hypnosis a very bad reputation.

Take the highly-nominated Academy Award film Get Out. Ugh. It’s a shame that people will not seek out a solution with such potential to change their lives for the better because they believe this portrayal of hypnosis as some malevolent form of mind control. I have already had people claim that hypnosis is “too invasive.” If you watched this film, I couldn’t blame you for getting that impression, but you must realize that this was a movie created by the imagination of Jordan Peele. You might also get the impression from watching this film that white people are wackos, or that Peel thinks so. You might not know that Peele is half white himself.

The truth is that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, it’s a way to get you into rapport with your subconscious mind, and if I were to give you suggestion under trance that was out of alignment with your values and morals, you would come out of trance. The other truth is that I am not using hypnosis to impose my will on you. I was trained to make sure that the ecology and well-being of the client come first, and your words are the most effective words I can use, so before a session, I am capturing how you feel, words you use and what you want most for your life post-session.

I had to clear up my kids’ perception of hypnosis, as they have seen cartoons where characters bark like a dog. I did see a hypnosis show in which fellow college classmates did some crazy things, but those were the same people who would be seen doing crazy things without the influence of hypnosis, and perhaps under the influence of something else that would lower inhibitions. I noticed that the hypnotist sent some people back to their seats. These were the people who would not have wanted to do something crazy.

Psychology was my career of choice as a high school Junior. But someone had said to me that people become psychologists because they’re crazy themselves. This turned me off to that career path. I don’t regret my communications concentration – it had a lot of cross-over and I certainly use it heavily as a coach. However, I know enough now to feel certain about the contribution that I can make with hypnosis, and I’m not going to let the perceptions of a practice discourage me from promoting it and using it.

You may decide that it’s still too mysterious, or that you want to build up your own willpower muscle. I believe that it’s an admirable endeavor, especially if you can afford the time it takes to do that.

If, however, you can’t afford to take a lot of time, or the pace at which you need change has to keep up with the pace of business, technology, life, etc. consider hypnosis as a safe, natural alternative to a fallible, limited reserve of willpower.

 

Schedule your individual session here: https://calendly.com/epiccareering

For corporate change initiatives, including leadership transformations, e-mail Karen@epiccareering.com to schedule a consultation.

Ben Harper – The Will to Live

The Will to Live (1997)

Five Major challenges that Face Today’s Job Seeker

Scaling Walls and Overcoming Boundaries by Israel Defense Forces of Flickr

Scaling Walls and Overcoming Boundaries by Israel Defense Forces of Flickr

 

We certainly live in different times than when I first graduated college, and I’ve listened earnestly to generations before me to learn about what managing careers were like for them. They certainly make it sound simpler, but not necessarily more satisfying.

From my perspective, people enjoy a lot more freedom and options in opportunity, but navigating this cultural landscape has proven too challenging for most.

Below are five major challenges that I see continually standing to prevent many professionals from realizing their career potential.

 

1. The accelerating evolution of technology

While some fundamentals have never changed, such as treating others with dignity and respect, the tools and technology that help you position yourself as a competitive candidate in today’s talent marketplace continue to evolve. Additionally, the tools and technology that facilitate how work is completed continues to evolve. At what pace this happens can be highly determined by your particular circumstances. Some of my clients from Fortune 1000 companies will tell you that procurement, implementation, and adoption are too slow. The internal due diligence systems that ensure investments are made based on business cases can make it so that by the time technology gets approved and used, a new technology is close behind. Others can tell you that a company’s effort to be using the latest and greatest to gain the optimal competitive edge has gaps. These gaps are between the talent that understands fully how to best utilize the technologies and developing standard operating procedures that let them know for certain new technologies are working in their favor. When you want to consider changing roles, you face the challenge of deciding if you need to acquire new technical skills to be marketable to the most amount of opportunities possible, or if you can find a company that has the perfect blend of technologies that enable you to fit its environment.

How do you possibly manage your career or even develop a plan, without knowing what technologies businesses are going to find critical in the next five years?

Then, when it is your turn to prepare yourself for being in transition, how are you supposed to tell which tools and technologies are going to take you the furthest the fastest in a flooded marketplace of career apps and differing opinions?

 

2. Shape shifting models of progress

We can all look around and notice that there are a lot of broken systems. Hiring, healthcare, and Social Security are chief among these broken systems. Any significant changes intended to improve these systems (or even to replace the systems), stand to cause tremors in the careers of all professionals in those industries. Just imagine if we were to adopt a healthcare system that was more focused on financing preventative care. What if fewer people needed pharmaceuticals? What if it was a significant amount of people? Will there be enough customers to justify the cost of research and development? How will all the professionals in this industry transform themselves to fit the new model? Both presidential candidates have been focused on bringing manufacturing back as a major US industry. Whether they succeed or not, are the professionals who are impacted by the shift overseas going to find relief, or are they going to be impacted by the move to 3D printing?

 

3. Pessimism, cynicism, and self-limiting beliefs

I see this as the most dangerous challenge, simply because so many people have a blind spot to just how pervasive and detrimental these mindsets are once they become firmly embedded. Furthermore, if you don’t have a clue that there is something that can help you, why would you even think to seek it out, and even once you are aware that something can help you, if you are pessimistic (even if you decide to make the investment), your lack of faith will diminish its efficacy. I previously wrote an article about a belief that has been considered an epidemic– The “I am not enough” belief.  The experience generation tends to perceive the younger generation as having a sense of entitlement and even having it too easy- it is the “everyone gets a trophy” generation, where rewards are given instead of earned. How did that even happen?

It happened as a response to parents who had grown up feeling beaten down emotionally or physically, and swearing that their kids would have a better life. It is not as though there are two camps on this topic – there are actually infinite camps on this topic, and they do not necessarily have clearly defined borders. If you look at it from one perspective, you can see value in being able to confront and overcome tough challenges, developing grit and a thick skin, and being able to navigate the real world successfully. On the other hand, if you are groomed to know your worth, feel confident, and sense that things are easy to achieve, you are more likely to be a big dreamer and make big things happen in this world. Most people weave in and out of varying degrees of these two dichotomous worldviews.

Which one is right? I am not here to say and who is not right. I won’t find out if I’m right until my kids are fully grown adults with lives of their own.

I can certainly empathize with the constant challenge of trying to decide in every single circumstance how to help my children find a balance between a real world that is rife with adversity or where success is everyone’s for the taking.

At a minimum, they need to believe that they are good enough, or they will fall short of every single goal they set for themselves.

 

4. Being heard or seen in a world of communication bombardment

There is certainly a lot of noise to compete with if you want to get noticed. Big data has enabled marketing to know more about its customers, their daily activities, and when and how to best capture their attention. The science and art behind this craft is constantly being studied by Epic Careering, and the career services industry is starting to ride the big data wave to learn more about the behavior and preferences of hiring managers and recruiting professionals. That being said, people will continue to have their own opinions, preferences, and worldviews while at the same time their companies will be at varying degrees of hiring effectiveness, with most being at the low-end. Which begs the question, are we just capturing data on what is being done ineffectively? As far as I have seen, none of these new hiring systems and technologies has cracked the code on hiring effectiveness.

From a career management and transitioning standpoint, we do know which activities and behaviors tend to lead to job search success, and a targeted proactive networking-based campaign is statistically more successful than a reactive, internet-based job search.

However, when you are proactive, you have to gain a depth of understanding of your audience in order to ensure that you capture their attention, that your résumé is read, that it resonates, and that you choose the next company that will offer the best opportunity. A successful strategy will vary from person-to-person, which is why one-on-one career coaching (with Epic Careering) is really the best investment for an optimal and accelerated job search, if you can see it. (The next best thing is to learn how to build your own successful campaign with the Dream Job Breakthrough System.)

 

5. Distraction

It would not be fair to just point out that our target audiences face distraction without admitting how distracted we can easily become. There are day-to-day distractions that are much harder to escape, those things we have to do, such as pay bills, do laundry, mow the lawn, etc. We can certainly fill our day with these activities, but would we be really be accomplishing anything? I can relate to feeling so exhausted just by taking care of these things that I justify downtime, which I can admit is me wasting time with other distractions, like television and social media. Sometimes I even convince myself that this is an important activity for me, because I need to keep up with everything going on in the world. I, by all means, do not suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), but some legitimately do without realizing that what they are really missing out on are adventures of their own. I know in my case I am prone to more of a curiosity that leads me down a path of unproductive input collecting. I have taught myself how to overcome these challenges by setting a timer, keeping a list of the things I am on social media to accomplish, and designating time after I have crossed off truly important AND strategic tasks to more personal exploration.

What do you notice distracts you from investing time in activities that move you closer to the life you want? What do you tell yourself that justifies engaging in these distractions?

I had a performance evaluation sometime during the planning of my wedding and a concern was that I had been spending too much work time taking care of personal details for my wedding. Of course my inclination was to assume I had been working diligently for an acceptable amount of time while taking a reasonably small amount of time to take care of the things that always need attention when you are planning a wedding. The only way to know for sure was to track my time. I was given a spreadsheet and instructed to track all of my activities for a week. I would have assumed that I was spending maybe three hours a week on personal business, and that it was mostly during my lunch hour. I was surprised to discover that while I was being paid to perform my job, I had actually spent double that on personal business during hours I was supposed to be working. I was very surprised and embarrassed, but I now knew that more self-discipline was necessary and more boundaries had to be enforced with my time.

 

  • We actually have solutions for all five of these major challenges.
  • We can help you master the tools and technology of modern career management and transition.
  • We can help you determine which technical skills you should plan on acquiring to position yourself for the best growth and fulfillment.
  • We can help you reinvent yourself if your industry is facing the potential for disruptive changes.
  • We can help you recognize and overcome models of reality and beliefs that limit your potential and interfere with your ability to achieve your goals.
  • We help you strategize breaking through the chatter to catch your next employer in the flow of their day with a message that creates an urgency to consider your value and hire you.

 

Does one challenge stand out as something you are experiencing? Does it threaten to stand between you and your next great opportunity?

We have a toolkit designed to help you stay focused on the activities and resources that open the most doors to quality opportunities. We can even text you a to-do list every morning so that you never wake up wondering what you have to do to get closer to a great job.

 

Comment with the corresponding number of the challenge that stands out to you as the biggest culprit of job momentum interference.

 

Are You Too Picky in Your Job Search?

Job search by Aaron Gaines of Flickr

Job search by Aaron Gaines of Flickr

Is there such a thing as being too picky in your job search? Is it possible to have standards, expectations, or criteria so high that it becomes difficult to land?

When I was a recruiter, I had a consultant with a unique set of challenges, and very valuable niche clinical trial skills. She lived within five miles of a major pharmaceutical company for which she completed an 18-month contract, and then she was not allowed to return or extend her contract due to the company’s strict policy. The policy was designed to eliminate the risk of having any consultants misconstrue their employment relationship with the company and any claim to employee benefits. We wanted to place her again, because she was a very presentable candidate and her skill set was high in demand. However, her job criteria was to work for another pharmaceutical company within a five-mile radius of her house. This did not exist. In spite of her criteria, any time a position opened up in another company, we called her to try and convince her that she would not find what she was seeking.

She was also collecting unemployment compensation from my firm. As you can see, this became an issue that did not just impact the consultant’s ability to land something new, but it became costly to us. It was a lose-lose-lose situation. Our clients lost a good prospect. She lost her ability to make a great rate and to gain additional experience that could help further develop her skills; and we lost money on unemployment compensation and the margin we would make for placing her.

This brings up a good point about the other stakeholders in your career. Who else has an investment in whether you land and what you earn? Are you borrowing or living off of someone else while you search for something better? They will want to tell you to take anything, to be fair to them. However, taking anything could put you back on “their couch” within six months.  Many people perceive their challenges as being too great, and as a result, settle for less. Adjusting your criteria and your strategy will help you overcome a difficult job search.

It may take a little longer to find the right position that will return you to a good standard of living long-term, and then again, it may not take as much time as trying to market yourself for anything available. Those stakeholders want to make sure you are making an effort. If you need to educate them on why you are being more selective, you can show them this article, but make sure you are seeking something achievable. (If you have doubts, contact us for a consultation.)

It is possible to have standards and expectations that are so high that it may take longer to land at your next employer. The challenges may not be as specific as the consultant we tried to place, but a few common challenges do exist.

 

Challenge: Age

Age is one major example with its own unique set of challenges. Hiring managers may assume senior professionals are out-of-date when it comes to technology, or that they may command a higher salary than a younger worker. It is true that especially during the poor economy, some companies replaced experienced workforces with fresher, cheaper talent, but they also suffered from their staff not getting the benefit of experienced professionals’ wisdom, trial and error, and their ability to navigate VIP relationships. The value of experience can be sold!

Another perceived risk of hiring an older worker is more related to health and vitality. How many more years do they have in them? Are they half out the door into retirement? Do they have the stamina to keep up with younger staff? Are they “with it” enough to relate to the millennial workforce? These challenges and perceptions can be overcome by being the picture of health and energy. Take care of yourself- exercise and eat well. Promote activities outside of work on your LinkedIn profile that prove you are dynamic and have the stamina to maintain a full plate and thrive. Most importantly, keep up with technological trends by reading tech blogs, following tech authorities, and experimenting with new technologies and social media platforms.

 

Challenge: Lack of qualifications

You may not have all the qualifications needed for a position. Many great companies would RATHER hire someone who has the aptitude to learn the skills rather than someone who has the skills mastered. This is especially true if they already have a master of skills on their staff, and if that master is looking to move upward, and they want to create growth and development opportunities. One way to overcome being underqualified is to build rapport and establish a relationship with hiring managers, or employees at your companies of choice. It is not just about the relationship here, but more about the unique value you can bring to the table. Yes, a hiring manager wants to hire someone they like and feel comfortable with, but hiring is a business decision, and the hire is going to make the manager look good; so an applicant better bring something unique to the table.

An interesting statistic I learned at the PA Conference for Women is that women will apply if they have 7-out-of-10 qualifications, while men will apply if they have 3-out-of-10 qualifications. If it were true that the most qualified candidate obtains the job, women would be landing at these jobs, but only if they threw their hat into the ring. Does this make you rethink your applications?

 

Challenge: Being overqualified

Hiring managers may assume if your education and experience are more than what the position requires, you will command a higher salary as well. Or they may fear you will quickly become disengaged and will leave as soon as the next job opportunity arrives. However, some people legitimately want to take a step back. I have had many clients that for heath reasons no longer want the stress and responsibility of their executive jobs. They want to assemble widgets. They want to do something monotonous and cathartic. Yes, they can bring a certain something with them from their executive experience that could be very valuable in developing the team as a whole- this is where you have to be careful, though. If you want to assemble widgets now, sell your ability to make widgets, not your previous executive experience.

You cannot refute the personal experiences other people have had. Hiring managers and recruiters have already experienced more senior workers underestimating the challenge of NOT being the manager, not having input into how things are done, and not being able to mesh with a younger staff. You cannot easily overcome this perception by promoting your executive experience as a value-add, and you cannot just convince someone that it will not be a problem and that you will be satisfied with a lower position. Recruiters and hiring managers have heard these reassurances before and have lived to regret them. Before jumping into a major career shift, take a few moments to consider what you really want from that shift and your overall goals.

Too many others have sought lower opportunity because they had challenges looking for work at their level that they could not overcome because of their limited knowledge of job search strategy. Being more flexible is advice many people get, and it seems logical – if you cannot land something suitable, settle for something less. Seeking work at a lower level can be a good opportunity, but only if a company is willing to offer growth opportunities. It is similar to taking a position for which you are underqualified. That said, beware of not so great companies that only want to take advantage of desperate workers willing to accept lesser pay.

Do not underestimate the cost of working for a not so great company. You will have found employment, but consider the detrimental costs to your health, quality of life, and your self-esteem. These companies are often bullies who create a toxic work culture and make you feel and believe over time that you are somehow lucky to have work, fostering a fear of leaving. This is essentially mental abuse. No one has to ever settle for this!  Searching when overqualified often takes LONGER as you get invited for interviews, think you have better experience than other candidates, only to find out that you did not get the job. This cycle can affect your faith in yourself and in your chances of finding work, but there is nothing wrong with you- just your strategy and system. We can help!

 

Our take

Having high standards (within reason) may make it slightly more difficult to land, but it is possible. Know what you want, map a plan out to achieve it, and pursue your goals. If it is not viable as the next step, fill in the steps in between. What steps do you need to take to achieve what you want? More training? Acquiring new skills? Discovering how you can apply your existing skills, if you are not completely qualified? There are ways to overcome these challenges* and we have already helped our clients through many of them.

*There are challenges we are not adept at handling (see the FAQs on this page), but we do have resources and partners who do specialize in helping you overcome unique challenges.

Overcoming challenges sometimes requires shifting tracks or retraining. Grit, or your perseverance and passion for long-term goals, is a key ingredient in your job search, but you could also run the risk of spinning your wheels and burning out with the wrong strategy and job search system. We have devised the perfect system that will help you do this in 90 days or less, guaranteed, if you find that you are wasting valuable time (and potential income) figuring this out for yourself. We are here to be your partner.

 

Is your search filled with unique challenges that make it more difficult to land? Are you being too picky in your job search? It may be tempting to lower your standards and settle for less.  However, a shift in your criteria or a change in your mindset will help you overcome these challenges. If it is possible for someone else to land their desired job, you can certainly do the same. If you are having a difficult time creating a road map, we can help! Do not settle for less because your criteria and standards are higher than most. If you are hesitant with a difficult job search, here is some advice to consider from comedian Jim Carrey: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance with what you do what.”

 

 

How I saved myself from me

I beat myself up pretty bad sometimes. Last week was a doozy.  It seemed like anything that could go wrong did go wrong. Usually I know what to do to take myself out of a tailspin; I’ll plug my phone into the radio, and play some motivational, informational YouTube video try to find my center and gain a better perspective, perhaps Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Jim Rohn or Deepak Chopra, etc.  This was a futile effort, similar to when I try to meditate for just 15 minutes while I hope my kids play safely and quietly in another room, but I’ll hear them fight or get hurt or break something, and it’s as if I should never have tried to meditate in the first place. It’s as though I’m even more angry that I can’t just have 15 minutes to restore my energy and focus. Every attempt to find my center last week was interrupted by a variety of saboteurs: kids misbehaving, things breaking, technology not working, weather changes, unnecessary messes, plans being broken, sickness, infestations – you get the picture. I was looking forward to making progress on four major initiatives. There were client projects that I was excited to start or complete. I had administrative projects, like my taxes, that I was anxious to get done. On top of that, the dishes in the sink were piling up, the messes my kids were making were beginning to accumulate, and the cat box was in desperate need of changing. I was defeated and disappointed in myself. I felt swallowed by chaos. Been there?

 

Having shared with you before and knowing well that resilience is the number one quality of successful people, I garnered my grit. In spite of how I felt, I was somehow able to keep going.  Once I was over what I hoped to be the worst of it, I decided that I would make a list of everything that I was actually able to do that week in spite of the relentless kamikaze challenges.  After I made this list I felt powerful. Without my permission, Katy Perry’s Roar was playing loud in my head like an anthem. I was in awe of myself.

obstacles and achievementsobstacles and achievements p2

obstacles and achievements p3obstacles and achievements p4The next day, it was almost like I was challenging something to go wrong. I had my game face on, the one I learned to give pitchers when I finally gained confidence at the plate as a senior. I was like, “Go ahead and try me.” Coincidentally, it was one of the best days that I’ve had in a while. Things went pretty smoothly, until my throat became sore. I knew I was getting strep, because my girls just had it. I almost asked myself, “When will this ever end?” Then I laughed at myself – out loud.  The answer is: it won’t end. The good news is, I’m getting better at dealing with what comes while keeping my focus forward. I had no idea I was improving like this until I made that list.

 

We all beat ourselves up from time to time. That list of things we want to do does not seem to get shorter, and maybe it shouldn’t. The list of what we have to do will never be completely done as long as were alive. That’s just what’s so. I realize with magnified clarity that I am a warrior training to be able to handle bigger problems so that I can do bigger things in this world. That is how I choose to see it, and as long as I do, I have the power.  So, bring it!