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“What Should I Do With My Life?”

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 30, 2012

It’s a common question we ask ourselves. But do we have the answer?

In the bestselling book by Po Bronson, What Should I Do With My Life?, the author takes us on an interesting journey to answer the title’s question. He does this by imbedding himself in the lives of several people across the U.S. who, in one form or another, answered the elusive question posed. Some planned for a shift, while others stumbled into a new way of being and seem happier than the planners. No matter how they got there, the point is, they eventually got there.

Unemployed? Employed but miserable? This book might awaken possibilities that have gone dormant.

Change in Hard Times

Mr. Bronson points out that he learned in hard times, “people usually changed the course of their life.” However, in good times, “they frequently only talked about change.” Considering those out of work not only in the U.S., but around the world, there are literally tens of millions of people trying to figure out what to do next. So, don’t feel alone.

Why is it that we postpone making changes? Psychologists point out humans hate change, yet change is a major part of life. Forced into making changes, people often discover themselves in better situations. But the operative word here is forced. Through lay-offs, recessions, post-recessions and possible double-dip recessions (some say we’re headed for one now), people bounce back through the changes they make.

Give Yourself Permission

“I found that the biggest obstacle to answering the question this book poses is that people don’t give themselves permission to take it seriously”, states Mr. Bronson. Why? The bottom line, the big “F” word…fear. And fear can be so intimidating that people would rather stay stuck in that place, miserable, than initiate any change.

When we stand face to face with our fears, it’s only then we can see how unreasonable they really are–but it takes courage. For example, let’s say you have an opportunity to relocate for a great job in a nice location. You’ve done all your homework (see my posts here on relocation), spent enough time exploring the possibilities, but it feels “safer” to stay put. In the back of your mind, you know passing up this opportunity will be a bone of contention from now on–the “what if” scenario. But you refuse to give yourself permission to take a leap of faith beyond your fears. As one of the book’s first interviewees states, “Fear is like a wound within our emotions.” He suggests that we first acknowledge it exists and then find out what kind of fear it is: “Is it fear of poverty, of loneliness, of rejection?”

Do you have fears you haven’t yet faced? Right now, take a moment to ask yourself what your greatest fears are and if they are unreasonable.

Purpose Revealed or Discovered

The book touches on the idea of revealed or discovered destiny. A percentage may think the easy answer would be a revealed path for the future by a Higher Power, others prefer the idea of discovering on their own a new route in life. I know people who have done both. No matter your perspective, what’s important is something somewhat tangible has been laid at your feet.

The $65,000 question today is: “What will you do with it?” Pretend it doesn’t exist, pronounce it too difficult to execute, or hold your breath and jump off the high dive into a new life? I’ve taken a my share of high dives, most often for a long while I was paddling as fast as I could to keep my head above water. But then, I got out of the deep end and pulled myself up. You can’t buy a feeling like that!

Day Job Philosophy

There are many people living the “Day Job Philosophy”. They find a field and stick with it come Hell or high water–often both–clenched jawed, they endure an existence they hate day after day. I’m sure if you asked them, they’d say they were “fine” and can’t understand why anyone would want to examine their life, or follow a dream. But, as Mr. Bronson puts it, “The goal is to bring what you do in alignment with who you are, so you don’t end up being someone you don’t want to be.” Well said, don’t you think?

One particular interviewee in the book was constantly trying to prove his worth by pleasing others, measuring his worth through their expectations. He wasn’t pursuing his purpose. That’s no way to live. We have to recognize people-pleasing behavior before it chokes the life out of our true purpose. You can’t be someone else, you have to be you. And if that means walking away from a six-figure income with major perks, so be it, money isn’t everything. But satisfaction from having pursued a genuine purpose is everything.

I once knew a very gifted musician who could play several instruments well. Instead of pursuing his hearts desire, he went the chosen path laid out by his controlling parents. To them, money was god and demanded he pursue an advanced degree in business. He’s successful financially, but as miserable as they come in every other respect because he wasn’t true to himself. Secretly, he holds a great deal of resentment towards his parents.

Call it Whatever

Whether you call it your purpose, path in life, new direction, God-given role, career direction or what makes your heart sing isn’t important. It’s what you initiate that is. Taking the first step by putting one foot in front of the other until you get there, wherever there is, happens to be the formula.

Here’s the good news: being smart, rich, thin, young or blond doesn’t make the journey any easier! And with that I’ll leave you with two words from Mr. Bronson’s chapter at the end of the book–patience and resilience–the life jackets you’ll need when you jump off the high dive.

 

If you found this blog interesting or helpful, re-tweets and sharing are appreciated!

©2011

Posted in Choices, Decisions, Education/Work/Retirement, Follow Your Dreams | Tagged: , , | No Comments »

Ooops!

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 28, 2012

Keep Your Sense of Humor!

Here are a few mistakes from Max Messmer’s “Resumania”. Enjoy them, just don’t make them!

Please, use spell-check and a dictionary…

Current Job Duties: “Give new employees tours to help get them acclimatazated.” -I think this person might have meant acclimated…at least I hope they did!

Objective: “Seeking a full-time powermanent position.” -Being employed full-time is indeed powerful these days, but permanent was the word this job seeker was searching for.

Experience: “I define my experience in a nutshell as being earnesteen.” -And “earnesteen” means?

Then there are those who make notes on their drafts to remind themselves of something and forget to remove the note:

Accomplishments: “Add more text here.” -Yes, that would have been nice on the final draft!

…And there are those who give inappropriate information:

Cover Letter: “I am not someone who is a whiner-whimperer.” -Ok, very good, thank you for that tid-bit, it wasn’t necessary.

 

*Comments in italics mine

Posted in Keep Your Sense of Humor | Tagged: , , | No Comments »

What’s Acceptable for an Interview?

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 25, 2012

Letters of recommendation, resumes and interview questions…

Uncertain about what you should carry to an interview? Below are the most important:

 

1.) Resumes-Bring at least 5 extra copies of your resume. This is in case you are put before a panel of interviewers and they haven’t been provided a copy. It also shows you’re prepared for anything. Keep them in a folder in your briefcase.

2.) Letters of Recommendation-Carry those letters that are relevant to the job for which you are interviewing. Present them if requested, never include with an application or cover letter and resume unless asked. It’s a good idea to call the people who wrote the letters ahead of time to let them know you have an interview. This gives them a heads-up someone might be calling.

3.) Questions-Always have a list of questions for the interviewer(s). After you’ve researched the company, you’re bound to wonder about specifics of the job, company culture, and person who you’ll be working for after hire. Ask who you’ll report directly to, reference certain elements of the job that are unclear–get clarification, use questions to show you’ve done your homework too. Never ask about salary or vacation time in your first interview! Put questions neatly on a piece of paper, don’t have them on your Smart Phone! In fact–turn off the phone and any other devices before you leave your car to go into the interview.

4.) Paper-Bring along a pad of paper and pens in your briefcase to take notes while the interviewer(s) answer your questions. Abbreviated notes are best, this way you aren’t spending a great deal of time writing.

5.) Thank You Note-Whether you’re male or female, young or old, you must send a thank you note immediately after the interview. This should be handwritten on a tasteful Thank You card and mailed off or hand carried. Some people ask about sending e-mails. Personally, I feel an e-mail is not always the best idea unless the interviewer has no problem with it.

 

©2011

 

Posted in Interviews, Quick Tips | Tagged: , | No Comments »

An Interest and Knowledge

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 23, 2012

He gives sobering advice too…

Max Messmer’s “Resumania” features comical and sometimes unbelievable excerpts from resumes and cover letters. But, he also gives excellent advice to job seekers, as evidenced by the paragraphs below:

“Hiring managers are drawn to job candidates who demonstrate strong interest in the position and knowledge of the company. That’s why researching a prospective employer and then writing a targeted resume and cover letter is so beneficial.”

He goes on to state, “You don’t want to send the message that you’re merely searching for an escape from your current job. Hiring managers want assurances that you’re enthusiastically running to their company–not desperately running away from a bad situation.” Even if you’ve been out of work for a long period of time, you certainly don’t want to appear “desperate”.

Good luck in your job search!

 

 

Posted in Quick Tips | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Job Seekers Say the Darnedest Things…

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 21, 2012


Keep Your Sense of Humor!

 

There are certain things which should be left off resumes and cover letters. The following are good examples, from Max Messmers “Resumania” of what not to include:

Objective: “Looking for any employer that doesn’t stink like mine.” We can see that you’ve done a great job of impressing your soon-to-be former employer with your way with words. Don’t call us…please.

Objective: “I need a better-paying job so I can get my own place away from my annoying father.” A great reason to find another job.

Cover letter: “My wife has a business and I have been working for her, although I really would like to have time outside this environment. We are spending way too much time together!” I’d love to see her letter of recommendation!

Cover letter: “I will do anything to get out of my job. I am tired of being the sacrificial lamb.” This person isn’t sheepish about telling it like it is.

Cover letter: “The ONLY thing tying me to my current position is the vast amount of vacation time we receive. It’s pretty incomparable. If your company can’t match it, I’ll negotiate compensation.” Ok, getting off on the wrong foot from the get-go here. Not a great way to begin salary negotiations…before you ever have an interview.

Take it from these job seekers, it does matter what you put on your resume and cover letter.

Italics mine


 

Posted in Keep Your Sense of Humor | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Get Noticed!

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 18, 2012

An interesting experiment was conducted in Washington, D.C. with surprising results…

A writer at The Washington Post, wanted to test peoples perception. He asked a world renowned violinist to perform–incognito–in a D.C. busy train station one morning as thousands of commuters rushed by.

Only a few actually stopped to listen, but no one recognized him or his exceptional talent and his $3.5 million Stradivarius. At the end of his 45 minute free concert, he made only $32. The talented violinist was Joshua Bell, who had played to a sold-out concert just two days before at $100 per seat!

How is it possible so many could pass up, or not recognize, such a gifted person? It happens every day to millions of job seekers. Either their resumes don’t adequately convey their talents, or in an interview, they fail to sell themselves and what they can do.

Are you being passed up by employers who don’t see your potential? Take some time today to have someone review your resume, cover letters, interview clothes and how you present yourself in interviews. Visit your local career center on campus if you’re a student or grad, or One Stop if a seasoned job seeker.

Don’t let another person pass you by–get the job!

©2011

Posted in College Grads, Employers, Interviews, Job Search, Planning Ahead, Resumes and Cover Letters | Tagged: , , | No Comments »

Tweets Twrip You Up

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 16, 2012

Twitter is a great way to network…and get yourself in trouble.

There has been enough written about monitoring what you do on Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. But, little is written about what happens on Twitter.

After seeing many college students and grads twitter profiles and tweets, I’ve come to the conclusion people think by not posting their real name, they’re protected. But, that’s not a fact. Why? Most of them post their picture on their profile, mention their college, friends, majors, professors and their tweets get passed around through re-tweets, favorites and replies.

Add to that, there’s people egging on college students to post their “pass out pictures” and write about wild parties. I followed one of these people for a short time to see what was being posted and it was pretty bad. There were also pictures of students who were drunk and had no idea they were being photographed–or they’d appear on Twitter. Use common sense, don’t participate in these tweets, for obvious reasons, or post pictures of others in compromising positions. There are legal and other implications for this, so don’t participate.

Disparaging remarks against people and employers can have negative consequences, as can sexist remarks about women. Cursing is a big issue on Twitter too, it can easily turn off an employer, or someone wanting to help you find employment or mentor you. Many professionals block followers committing offenses. Who can blame them? They don’t want to be associated with activity peers may think they condone, simply by association, or turn off their followers.

Just as you would on LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace, monitor your followers or friends. Guilt by association is common and can cost you a job. Don’t feel guilty blocking or deleting any person who is out of control, cannot be trusted, or displays inappropriate photos. Protect yourself.

©2011

Posted in Quick Tips, Stay Employed, Your Personal Brand | Tagged: , , | No Comments »

Your 5 Year Plan

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 14, 2012

It took cancer to redirect her life plans…

Writer Erin Zammett Ruddy faced an uncertain future, at the tender age of 23, when she was diagnosed with cancer. She states in her piece, “Do You Need A Five-Year Plan?”, Self magazine, “For all my planning, suddenly I didn’t know if I’d be alive in five years.” The good news is, Ms. Ruddy survived her ordeal, and through it all she reevaluated her life plans, “I realized that some of the things I thought were most important to me…didn’t quite make the cut anymore.”

Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your plans?

Goals Make Us Happy

The happiest people have clear-cut goals, one 15 year study found of 3,500 people by Melbourne University. In the study, people had both short-term and long-term goals, in diverse areas, including friendships, volunteer work and their love life.

“If you don’t devise a plan, you may end up living by default–letting things happen to you, instead of making them happen”, states author of “Creating Your Best Life”, Caroline Adams Miller. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. and author of “The How of Happiness” says, “To become happier in a lasting way, you need to keep working toward meaningful goals.” Ms. Ruddy points out in her article, “Notice she (Ms. Lyubomirsky) says work toward them rather than achieve them. In other words, we don’t have to set a list of goals and expect to achieve every one of them. Rather, it’s about “the job of striving”, and Ms. Ruddy goes on to say that, “Dreaming up new challenges keeps giving us hits of happiness.” Well said!

We tend to become set in our ways, comfy in our little daily routines, and yet we feel more alive when an interesting challenge walks into our lives. These challenges help us to look beyond the norm–career, more money–to meaningful, almost tangible positive changes we can make towards a better existence. Sounds good, but where do you start?

Write Your Way to Happiness

A University of Missouri in Columbia study suggests by simply writing down a few dreams, you can feel significantly happier and healthier in a few months.”Writing down an intention puts a nugget in your subconscious, which sets you on a path to achieving it,” reports Kennon Sheldon, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the university.

Some studies suggest that once we make solid goals, we then begin to seek out ways to achieve them. The best goals will usually extract us from our cozy comfort zones, according to the Leadership IQ, a think tank in Washington, D.C. And when we achieve those goals–or at least strive to–it feels great when we eventually succeed.

Here are helpful tips from “Do You Need A Five-Year Plan?”:

  1. Remembering past accomplishments can help you feel more competent and confident, traits that can predict if you’ll lead a contented life.
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes, then list everything you want to accomplish in your lifetime–don’t hold back–list even the craziest things! Focus on: if there is unfinished business to complete, classes or skills you want to acquire, or ways you want to give back to others.
  3. Reflect on your list and ask yourself if you’re exactly where you are today, 5 years from now, which of the goals on your list would you have regretted not pursuing? The answer will help you edit your long list to the most meaningful goals.
  4. Try to figure out why certain goals are important to you. Make sure it’s something you want, not what others want for you.

Now, Make it Work!

Approach goals in a positive way, not establishing avoidant goals such as, “I should stop eating cake so I won’t get fat”. Those types of goals will leave you with a sense of dread, not hopeful anticipation. Instead, rephrase that goal: “I am going to start eating healthier”.

And remember, there are times when some goals just aren’t attainable, or need to be revised in some way–that’s ok. Don’t set completely unattainable goals either–those can wreck havoc on your personal health. For example, if you’re deathly afraid of heights, you won’t be putting on your list you want to climb Mt. Everest!

Go out and strive towards your goals!

 

If you found this blog interesting or helpful, re-tweets and sharing are appreciated!

 

©2011

Posted in College Grads, Decisions, Follow Your Dreams, Goals, Planning Ahead | Tagged: , , | No Comments »

Be a TaskRabbit!

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 11, 2012

There’s a new way to make money, it’s called “TaskRabbit”.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, or an out of work teacher, you can put your skills to work making money! TaskRabbit gets you connected with people needing help doing all kinds of tasks.

How it works:

1.) People post a task they want completed.

2.) “TaskRabbits” (those who want to do tasks) make a bid for the work.

3.) The lowest bid gets assigned to the task.

4.) Payment is done online.

The site states all TaskRabbits have had a background check, and they are rated by people they’ve worked for, giving participants a better idea who will be coming to their homes. Presently, TaskRabbits operates in the following places, with more to come in the future: Boston, S.F. Bay Area, N.Y., Chicago and Los Angeles.

Here’s a chance to be your own boss, work when you want, do what you love, and make extra cash doing it!

©2011

Posted in Be Your Own Boss, College Grads, Holiday Job Hunting, Quick Tips, Stay Employed, Workers 50 and Over | Tagged: , , | No Comments »

Negotiate that Salary or Raise!

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on July 9, 2012

Women (especially) discount themselves in the workplace when it comes to raises and salary negotiations while interviewing.

What’s the best way to handle asking for more money in a shaky economy?

1.) Be confident when you make your case for a raise. Don’t be hesitant or apologize for wanting more money. Walk in with your head up and a smile on your face. Practice your argument to convince the boss your skills are worth an increase. Do research on the current pay for that position, so you won’t short-change yourself.

2.) When you become indispensable by going above and beyond your job description, it’s difficult for them to say no. Keep a list of the projects you’ve volunteered for, great suggestions you’ve offered in meetings, and accomplishments which make you stand out. These can be presented when you ask for your raise. For example: “I enjoyed taking on the XYZ project that allowed me to interact with clients and build great relationships for the company.”

3.) Don’t ask “can I have a raise?” Instead, you want to present options and remind your boss of accomplishments if going in for a raise. If you offer two options, it will have more weight. For example: I’d like to go full-time, now that things have picked up. If you won’t provide health care insurance, I want a salary of $3,500. If you provide insurance, I want $3,000.”

If you’re young and healthy, you can easily get an individual health insurance policy with a high deductible, if they won’t pay for health care. Older workers on the other hand, will want to push for the health care being paid by the employer since an individual policy, on average, will cost a lot.

Women continue to make approximately 79 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job in the U.S., so it’s safe to assume you’re earning less than your male coworkers, or counterparts applying for a position. This, of course, isn’t a point to bring up in an interview, or when negotiating a raise. But it is something to keep in mind if you have any guilt or fear negotiating the right amount of money. Own this–you deserve it!

 

©2011

 

Posted in Quick Tips, Wages | Tagged: , , | No Comments »