Archives for my life

Have You Been Broken by Losing a “Once-in-a-Lifetime” Opportunity?

Seven Years of Bad Luck by Blondinrikard Froberg of Flickr

This may sound obvious, but the way you perceive your world will greatly impact how you respond to challenges as well as the outcomes.

Not only have I seen many people become broken when an opportunity that I thought could be once-in-a-lifetime fell through, but it happened to me as well.

I was a few months into my job search in 2002 and still had a fair amount of optimism and confidence in the value that I could offer, yet at the same time it was a critical point for validation. I knew at that early stage I wanted to be a career coach, but that I did not have adequate experience to be a good adviser. I had the opportunity to interview with and be enchanted by a high-end career coach who was looking for a protégé and was hiring a job developer. This seemed like a perfect next step, leveraging my sourcing and research experience, and giving me a chance to see what it really takes to generate job leads.

He spoke with such passion and his office was impressive. I was even impressed by the monogrammed folder he gave me with information on his firm. I felt deep down inside that this person was going to be influential in my life and my career. I even had a touch of the “Irish weepies,” which is what I call it when I allow myself to be overwhelmed by joy or poignant emotion. That is why I have shied away from singing at weddings and funerals. I felt a little bit embarrassed by how I allowed myself to show my emotions, and he seemed to be empathetic and still very interested in vetting me as his protégé. I saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The next steps were to hand in a detailed job description, as this was a new position he was creating. This assignment was super exciting to me and really made me visualize all that I wanted to do and all that I wanted to learn to be a valuable contributor to his firm while at the same time preparing myself for my ultimate career. I immersed myself in imagining what the day-to-day would look like, as well as short-term projects and long-term projects, and setting my own success goals for 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days.

As any good quality effort would require, I had other people review it and offer feedback. I wanted to make sure that it was a top notch submission. It occurred to me that he could just be using me as an applicant to write a job description for him, and that did not even matter because I was so sure that I would impress him and he would excitedly offer me the position.

This was not what happened.

I literally sat by the computer after sending it thinking that my phone would ring any second or an email would come back instantly. A few hours passed and I rationalized that he was probably busy with clients because he is a successful career coach, and I should give it the obligatory two days before following up, like dating, which was the world I knew much more about at the time than job searching. I followed up after two days with an email confirming that he received it and scheduled to call in two more days if I had not heard from him. I left a message reasserting how much I enjoyed the assignment and really being able to visualize myself in this job and was excited to hear his feedback. After the weekend I received a one line email.

It went something like, “Thank you for your efforts, it was not exactly what I was hoping for. More feedback to come.”

But there was no more feedback to come, and there were no more communications from him even after following up three or four more times. With each call I had to muster up more courage and confidence where there was none, and pretend that I was just patiently waiting, when in fact I was a nervous wreck, and I was angry and hurt. The longer I waited without a response from him, the surer I was that he was not at all empathetic and most likely did use me to write a job description for a job that someone else was going to fill.

It broke me. I felt broken. I felt used, undervalued, unworthy, and hopeless. Do you think I was able to ace any interviews I went into as this person? Nope.

Seven or eight months later I did wind up landing in a job that was a step back and not at all on the career coach track. I got back on track eventually, as you know.

With a more experienced perspective, I look back at that time and realize everything that I did wrong, and I make it my mission to save people from being broken from similar circumstances.

Here are a few things that I know now that I wish I had known then:

 

  1. Once-in-a-lifetime is an enigma

There are many roads to success. Relying on one resource, or one person, or one company as your primary means to achieve success is disempowering and misguided. You do not have to align yourself with unscrupulous people, you do not have to sacrifice your values, and you do not have to let yourself be taken advantage of or neglect your health in order to achieve success. It may not come instantly, you will face challenges, you will need to take inspired action, but with passion, persistence and resourcefulness, it will happen if it is right, and if it is not there is something better.

 

  1. There is no lack of resources, only resourcefulness

When I gave up my idea of how my career path was supposed to look, I found many other paths that I could take to get there. I had to recover my sense of hope before I could see alternative solutions, and that was not easy, honestly. However, once I reclaimed my resolve to make my career work for me, I found that so many more friends were willing to help me, and I could be that person in an interview who could inspire confidence, and ultimately get the offer.

 

  1. Don’t get stuck in the shoo-in trap

After more years in the employment industry as a recruiter, seeing how much can happen in the hiring process that can impact a successful offer and acceptance, I would have warned myself not to be too dependent on this one position being the key to my happiness. That feeling I was so certain of, that this was it, I would have encouraged myself to keep the enthusiasm, but also keep up all efforts to generate opportunities. Perhaps if I had been talking to one of his competitors that career coach would have found me to be more of a competitive advantage in his business, and I most likely would have seen that he was just one of many people that could have taken me on as their protégé. Perhaps if there was another career coach they could have been an even stronger mentor for me. I would not have relied on his positive response to validate my worth.

There were certainly some practical job search tactics and strategies that I failed to implement during that job search, which I know now. That said, there is also the mindset and emotional component of job searching that is far too overlooked by jobseekers, the stakeholders in their lives, as well as a lot of career coaches.

 

I may not always be able to prevent you from being broken in your job search. If I can, I will. However, if you have been broken, let us mend you. Mindset mastery is a primary component of our six-week, three-month group, and one-on-one coaching programs. Do not underestimate how pivotal this can be to your job search success, and your career success going forward.

Join us for our upcoming six-week epic careering fast track program and a live group coaching program which is starting soon. Space is limited! Or, fill out a Needs Assessment Form and take advantage of a free 30-minute sampling of our one-on-one coaching.

Unveil your brilliance!

 

How Can Anybody Get Anything Done These Days?

Social Media by Magicatwork of Flickr

 

It has been an interesting past few months on social media. I can personally say it has been much more of a distraction now than it has ever been.

My usual tricks for limiting the amount of time that I spend engaging in non-work related activities on social media have had much less of an impact, and in a lot of cases it’s like I’ve forgotten all about them.

(I will share them in a bit.)

I do not post or comment a lot on political subjects, but I do feel a need to stay informed. This leads to observing very heated discourse between people on both sides of various topics.

I do not seek to persuade anyone, but I do seek to understand both sides. Unfortunately, in most cases I don’t find understanding. Instead, I noticed that I’ve just wasted an extra 15 minutes, sometimes even longer, reading commentary that upsets me. Then I spend another 15 minutes trying to find content that will help me get back into a healthier, more positive, more productive mindset.

Generally, I have noticed that I feel a little more powerless and that has led to a lot more anxiety. I have noticed that people I like to spend time with, I avoid now, knowing that they are very vocal on the opposite side of my beliefs. This makes me sad and I do not feel as connected to these people who used to bring such joy to my life.

I have a given an exception for invitations to meet new network contacts, and favor shorter get-to-know-you phone calls to avoid topics that usually tend to emerge when you sit down with someone for longer than a half hour.

My practice of being happy has required a lot more diligence to overcome these obstacles. I tend to want to immerse myself in more positive content just to normalize myself into a state where I can get done what is on my agenda to fulfill my mission.

Then I wonder about all of these people who are engaging in heated discourse. Some of them seem to go back-and-forth all day defending their original statement and refuting others. I’m seeing referencing data, which may not have just been at their fingertips. It is clear that they have taken the time to search and find this data simply to prove to a stranger that they are right and the other is wrong.

The upsetting thing for me is not that people disagree. I believe that is part of the beauty of our country. The upsetting thing is the name-calling and the dismissing other people’s opinion as being a product of ignorance, lack of morals, or low intelligence.

As a human being prone to bias just like anyone else, as per my previous post, I may make the same initial assumptions, but I know logically that even if there is a different belief system driving people to reside on an opposite side than me, my beliefs are not better than theirs, nor are they worse. It is just very difficult using the medium of social media and a venue like emotionally-charged sound bites, to really get down to the understanding that would enable me to draw a more accurate conclusion.

This desire to understand, however, is not only unsatisfying but unproductive. Especially while my first quarter initiatives have been riddled with technical setbacks and difficulties, it has been even easier for me to justify the distraction of so called informing myself and seeking understanding. I’m at a crossroads and I have to make a change.

No, this isn’t my usual “insight, expertise and practical tips” post. This is something I am still in the middle of figuring out, and I know that I’m not alone. I am hoping we can help each other figure it out. Here are some things that I have done in the past that have been successful in helping me curb succumbing to the siren of social media:

 

Lists on post-its

I cannot always opt to just to avoid social media; it is part of my job. Not only do I market myself on social media, but I also help others leverage it to increase opportunity. That means staying in tune with changes, staying up on navigation and future updates, and listening and observing to help others effectively use social media. Lists may not seem like that ingenious of an idea, but the key is keeping them visible. I write a sticker for whatever I am there on social media to accomplish and stick it to my screen. It serves as a constant reminder that I am there for a purpose.

 

A timer

It is a best practice to decide the night before what I really need to accomplish the next day and break my day up into segments. If you are someone who experiences high-level anxiety when things don’t go as planned, this may actually increase your stress. The purpose is not to be rigid, but to be intentional. If something happens to take longer than anticipated, I know that I have to adjust the rest of the day and the activities, perhaps making some sacrifices to make sure that the most important things get done.

In The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, I learned that we will tend to take as long as we give ourselves to complete a project. This is why some people wait until the last minute to finish a project– they feel it will ultimately take them less time than if they started early. Of course, waiting until the last minute can cause problems when unexpected events and challenges occur. Tim Ferris does not recommend waiting until the last minute, but he does recommend giving yourself and others an early fake deadline. In applying his advice, not only will I manage a larger project like this, but also milestones, mini-projects and tasks.

When it comes to things like writing and social media, I know my tendencies are to get sucked in and take too much time. These are the things that I time. I might give myself an hour to write a blog, but when it comes to social media I will keep the time very short, I favor multiple short visits versus blocking a significant amount of time to get everything done. For instance, I will avoid social media until I have gotten the most impactful things out of the way. I will have already have meditated, and I certainly will have already broken my day down. Then I will schedule three 10 minute time slots intended for short postings that I will write outside of social media first. The next day I will allocate an hour to posting a client’s LinkedIn profile content. Then I plan when I will engage in social media for personal pleasure and interaction. I usually do this during a meal, unless I am eating with someone. I may slip in again while my kids brush their teeth at night. This is ideally where it would stop.

 

Turn off notifications

Social media designers know what they’re doing, and their intention is to make you come back over and over again. They want you addicted. Turning off notifications can be tough when potential clients and customers reach you through these venues and their needs are immediate, for instance if you’re a plumber and you deal with a lot of plumbing emergencies. Realistically, you would want to have someone else handling any incoming inquiries, because most of your time would ideally be spent helping customers. When you have a different quandary – make sure whoever is assisting you with incoming leads isn’t wasting their time on social media.

If these strategies alone do not help you minimize the amount of time that you spend not getting closer to your goals, there are some apps that can help you block websites for periods of time. SelfControl, StayFocsd, and Cold Turkey may help. If your job requires you to be on social media, these tools maybe too inhibitive for you.

If you have noticed a decrease in your quality of life and relationships, and you believe there might be a correlation between this and your social media usage, I encourage you to try these tricks.

However, if these tricks do not work and you sense that your social media habits will continue to have a cost to your life, consider that you might be suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out). While this legitimate syndrome recognized by psychologists is not just limited to social media and users thereof, you may be able to look at your social media usage as either a symptom or a cause, and reach out for help.

 

As I am committed to relieving myself from the potential costs that social media has been imposing on my own life, I would love to hear others strategies and tactics.