So, What Do You REALLY Want to Do?

Bored woman at desk - joshua-rawson-harris-444993-unsplash

Have you ever asked a child what he or she wants to be when they grow up?  Usually they have a long, extensive list of all the professional possibilities just waiting for them when they grow up.

But ask an adult what he or she really wants to do professionally?  Well, that’s usually a completely different situation.

Have We Settled for “Boring” in Our Jobs? 

In the 25+ years that I’ve worked with clients to help them direct their careers, one of the most challenging issues has been getting them to tell me what they really want to do:

  • Some tell me what they’re currently doing – but don’t say it with any type of emotional connection or enthusiasm for the work.
  • Some tell me about the desired outcomes of doing “something else” – but never talk about what they’re willing to give in return for those outcomes.
  • And some look at me blankly, but honestly say that they just don’t know.

It seems like we’ve forgotten how to dream about a desirable future because of our self-limiting beliefs on what is “possible.”

Yes, I said SELF-LIMITING beliefs.  We confuse what is “possible” (which is anything) with what is “probable” (which restricts imagination based on what we believe).

While it is true that our dreams of being a musical prodigy or sports superstar may be improbable, our underlying  passion for music or sports remains very real – but often hidden by layers of “real-life” pragmatism.

But being “pragmatic” is often an excuse for denying our dreams.  For denying our passions.  For denying our potential.  And even denying our personal blend of knowledge, skills, abilities, and talents that makes us unique.

Instead of basking in our uniqueness at work, we instead wallow in jobs that neither inspire us nor appeal to our higher level passion and goals.  In other words, we settle for jobs that are boring.

And we spend too much time at work to be bored!

Assuming that we average around 40 hours per week in paid employment and have 2 weeks of unpaid vacation time per year, we’ve committed ourselves to working 2,000 hours per year.  Let’s also assume that we ideally sleep 8 hours per night; this means that we are awake 5,840 hours each year.

These basic calculations lead to the following conclusions:

On average, we will spend @35% of our waking hours at work —  over a 40-year career, that’s 80,000 hours spent on work that doesn’t excite us! 

These are conservative calculations.  In reality, many of us spend many more hours working at our jobs.  This doesn’t include overtime (paid or unpaid, of exempt salaried under FLSA).  Nor does it include all those paid vacations that we “never got around to taking.”  Nor does it consider that many Baby Boomers’ careers are longer than 40 years (because they want to or need to).

Do you really want to spend this much of your live…being BORED?!

The Dangers of Boredom at Work

Boredom occurs when an activity feels unsatisfying or when some mandatory task does not ignite your interest.  It’s not necessarily the result of a bored mindset.  Even highly energized workers can become bored when they are not given opportunities to focus that energy on something that is meaningful to them.

Some recent research suggests that boredom can lead to physical ailments:

  • Weight gain (eating because we’re bored – and generally food that is not necessarily healthy for us)
  • Poor emotional health and depression
  • Persistent back pain or a higher level of pain in general (in other words, unhappy emotions increase feelings of physical pain)

Other research has found that a lack of neurological excitement coupled with a subjective psychological state of dissatisfaction is the basis for feelings of boredom.  In other words, we are uninspired and dissatisfied with our work.

Boredom makes us feel “stuck” – we’re weary and restless with no direction.  It also prevents us from engaging in our innate curiosity by placing boundaries on what we believe is possible.  It tells us that “nothing will change…so why bother trying something new?”

Boredom makes us believe that “success” is impossible.

By affecting the individual worker,
boredom can also jeopardize the company’s very survival! 

Moving Out of a Boring Job

It is not helpful to believe that every task in a job should be full of excitement.  A certain level of mundane tasks can be found in any job.  But we don’t have to let the tedium take over our work experience.

If your job has become boring and tedious, you have arrived at an important crossroad:  are you going to accept that you have no choice to change a job that is boring OR do are you going to muster the courage to take action toward finding something new, different, and better aligned with your life goals?

My hope is that you take the time to assess your career to date in order to determine if it’s time to make changes in your life.

The first step to moving out of a boring job is to identify what you want.  Don’t limit yourself to probabilities at this stage!  Instead think back to what gives you enjoyment.  Identify those activities in which you are so thoroughly engaged that “time seems to fly by.”

Once you’ve identified these activities, it’s time to search for common themes.  Even though you might enjoy what initially seem to be very diverse activities, there is always some underlying action or outcome.  By identifying this thread, you have the foundation for creating a career that contains this important element.

For example, I was originally a conservatory voice major.  This required me to be comfortable on a stage, able to communicate and engage the audience, and be prepared to do what was necessary in order to be ready to do perform my best onstage – regardless of the amount of time involved.  I also liked the creativity blended with a thorough understanding of different musical genres.  While much of the background work was autonomous, there was also camaraderie with other musicians as we prepared for a performance.

But above all, I wanted to make people feel something as a result of my performance.

While I no longer have ambitions of being a professional singer, I still have a deep desire to make my clients, students, and keynote attendees feel something by being challenged with new ideas that can improve their lives.

While the “stage” of my career is quite different, the elements that gave me joy as a singer are still present in my role as a leading advocate for the eradication of workplace burnout.

What’s your “common thread” in what gives YOU joy?

To thank you for reading my blog and to help you on your journey to finding a satisfying career that you love, please check out my newly updated eCourse, A User’s Guide to Managing Your Career:  You’ll learn how to identify what you really want in and expect from your career, plus develop 3 levels of goals to propel you toward a career that you will love.  (NOTE:  Although this is an intensive 7 module course, it is available on-demand so that you can work on it at your own pace – plus you have LIFETIME access!)

SPECIAL GIFT:  If you use discount code ANW2W10P, you can save 10% off this course.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Understanding Your Past to Create a New Future

Signpost of Time

The new year is often the time when we assess our lives – and the role of our careers within our overall well-being.

  • Is it time to find a new job?
  • Is it time to change careers?
  • Or is it time to step up our game in our current position?

This is NOT an easy decision.

Far too often, workers begin by starting with they are NOW – and forget, overlook, or ignore what has happened BEFORE.  In other words, the focus is to take immediate action before deciding on a goal or developing a proactive plan to get there.

Without a clear goal and an action, it is highly likely that you will be reliving this decision next year.

The First Step to Create a New Future

Whether you have decided to find a new job, change careers, or step up your game at work, it is imperative to create a solid foundation.  That foundation is based on understanding and respecting your career history.

There are 3 areas that you need to identify and understand:

  • What You Did: Your duties, responsibilities, accomplishments, and honors
  • Why You Did It: Your reasons for accepting or leaving a job
  • How You Did It: Your unique competencies and outcomes

To help you get started in this inquiry, I’ve created this video (taken from eCourse, The 7 Pillars of a Successful Job Campaign):

I hope that this helps you find the RIGHT job this year so that you can create success on your own terms – good luck!

P.S.:  If you liked these ideas, click here to find out more about all the 7 pillars required to create an effective job search and manage your career.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

 

 

5 Tips to a New Job in the New Year

find a job with magnifying glass

Is finding a new job one of your new year’s resolutions?  If you want to find a new job, just search the online want ads.  But if you want to find the right job, you’ll need to drastically change your job search strategy.

The modern job search is a constantly changing flood of “high tech” plus “high touch” recruitment, requiring job seekers to expand the number of tools and networking platforms used to find new opportunities.

  • It’s not enough to be on LinkedIn, you need to use LinkedIn as part of your outreach and job search.
  • You’ll need to check out your Facebook page and other social media accounts to make sure that you are presenting an image that you want a potential employer to see. (Recruiters and hiring managers routinely look up job candidates on social media – even before the first screening interview.)

But you shouldn’t relegate your job search exclusively to social media or online job boards – that’s just the “high touch” part of the job campaign.  It is also important to incorporate a “high touch” approach in your job search.

Video conferencing is a great way to network or reach out to past contacts (even if they’re in a different time zone or country) to reconnect; Zoom offers a powerful free service and is easier to schedule than finding a convenient meeting place, date, and time for coffee.  Besides, no matter how an employer finds out about you, eventually you’ll still be in a face-to-face meeting before you are hired – either onsite or online.

Resumes have also changed over the years – and the advice on creating an effective resume in the 21st century job market elicits a wide range of do’s and don’ts.

  • Should you use color on your resume?
  • What about the best font – is sans serif “better” than serif?
  • How about layout? Is the hanging 1st line format so popular in the past going to be readable by the employer’s ATS (applicant tracking system)?
  • And what about using columns? Block lines?  Images or graphics?

The answer to all these question is:  IT DEPENDS.  On the ATS used by the employer, when a recruiter (a live person!) looks at resumes in the candidate sourcing process, and even on the preferences of the hiring manager.

I recently wrote a blog post on generally what not to do in formatting your resume, I’ve discovered that a lot of the do’s and don’ts depend on the employer’s ATS – not to mention the ability of the recruiter to effectively input the desired qualifications into the system!  For example, if you’re searching for a faculty position, using the term “university teaching” might be translated as NO experience in the field if the qualifications specified “higher education teaching!”

No wonder so many job candidates hate dealing with online job applications.

Learning how to “play” the ATS game is even more complicated since competing systems scan and interpret resumes differently.  Honestly, haven’t you been frustrated (even angry?!) when you’ve applied online for a job that seems to be custom-made made for you – only to receive no response or a “thanks, but no thanks” generic email?   A recent article in Forbes acknowledged this frustration in its alarming title, Why Your Resume Will Be Overlooked Even Though You’re Completely Qualified.

So, what should you do?  How do you set yourself up for a successful job search that differentiates you from the noise of other job candidates?

The Fundamental (Yet Overlooked) Job Search Basics

QUICK QUIZ:
If you’re thinking about finding a new job,
what is the first thing that you do?

If you’re like most people, you take out your old resume and then add in the stuff that you’ve done since then – if you can remember all of it.  Step two is perusing the job boards and going through the frustrating process of applying online.  Step three is to wait…and wait…and wait for a response.

Not much fun…and neither efficient nor effective.

After 30 years working with job candidates from new graduates to senior executives, I’ve discovered that polishing up your resume and launching your job search should only be attempted after completing the following five steps:

  1. Understand your past. This is not just a laundry list of what you’ve done, but also a deep dive into how you did it, why you did it, and if it is something that you would want to do again.  This enables you to have a more comprehensive understanding of what you need in a job in order to be successful, satisfied, and avoid job burnout.
  2. Identify your competencies. Once you have an understanding of your past, search for trends in the skills that you used to get those results.  Perhaps you’re a great negotiator, a motivational leader, an astute analyst, or even a tireless problem-solver.  These are your competencies – or the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that you do really, really well.  Together, they create your U.S.P. (unique selling proposition) that differentiates you from other job candidates.
  3. Know what you want. What are your “must have’s” and “can’t stands?”  How do you need to be managed in order to create excellent results?  In what type of work environment or culture do you feel the most comfortable and nurtured in developing your talents?  Especially if you’ve burned out in your current job, the last thing that you want to do is accept a position in a similar culture…but with a new employer!
  4. Decide if you want a new job – or a new career. While some of the fundamentals are the same, searching for a new career has additional challenges that are not present when you want to do the same work, but for a different employer.  Be sure to consider and incorporate your transferable skills throughout your search so that your career change is recognized as a well-considered next step on your career path.
  5. Customize your search to find the right job (not just any job). You are unique, there is no one exactly like you.  No one with your unique combination of KSA’s and competencies.  No one with the exact same professional and personal experiences.  Embrace your uniqueness!  You will be much better able to position yourself as the ideal candidate for a job that has the right combination of duties, responsibilities, opportunities for recognition, and culture for YOU.  Don’t be generic in your resume, cover letter, or interview – you can’t be all things to all potential employers, so don’t try!

By focusing FIRST on these five tips, you will be better able to craft a powerful resume, scour job boards for compatible jobs, confidently network with colleagues, and master the job interview.  Your goal for the new year should not be to find just a new job, but to find the right job.  Happy hunting!

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Letting go of the life we planned…to have the life waiting for us

Let go of life planned to have life waiting for us - Joseph Campbell

Planning.  It’s considered to be the most important tool in order to create success.  It’s also a way to ward off “surprises” that could derail us from achieving our goals.  Without planning for the future, where would we be?

Perhaps we’d be a lot more mindful, present,…and happier.

I must admit that I am a planner by nature.  Planning is a good thing and is necessary, but it can also become a compulsion that robs us of responding quickly and authentically to the inevitable (but unexpected) opportunities and challenges that are a part of life.

And what happens if our best formulated plans…fail?  Do we respond quickly and without fear — or do we wallow in trying to figure out what went wrong, thus preventing us from moving forward?

Life is full of unanticipated serendipity — but we tend to forget this as we rigidly plan and will our futures to unfold the way that we want them to.

But maybe what we’re envisioning is not what we’re supposed to be doing.  Maybe our goals are not aligned with our purpose in life.

It is tough to let go of the past — with all its assumptions, paradigms, and expectations. But why do we cling so steadfastly to past goals and overlook the new opportunities that are beseeching us to move forward to something that may be even better?

  • Perhaps it’s because we don’t want to admit that we failed — but “failure” is nothing more than an opportunity to learn.  We learn not only what didn’t work, but what also did work and gave us joy.
  • Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of what others will think — but nobody else is living our lives for us.  When all is said and done, our lives are the results of the decisions that we have made (both “good” and “bad”).
  • Perhaps it’s because the devil we know is less scary than the devil we don’t know — but life is a journey that requires movement in and out of different situations and relationships.
  • And perhaps it’s because we fear that we are “too old” — regardless of our chronological age.  Steadfastly continuing to put blood, sweat, and tears into something that no longer “fits” just because we think that we are “too old” to try something new just leads to resentment, depression, and burnout.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, people will change careers (not just jobs) over 7 times in their lifetimes.  Some of these changes are intentional and self-directed, while others are the results of change in the work environment or industry.  But those who succeed and enjoy their professional work are able to recognize that what they planned may no longer be feasible — or even desirable.

Letting go of expectations is an important tool in avoiding burnout.  Yes, we’ll continue to work hard and strive for excellence.  But we need to be courageous enough to admit when something is no longer working…and be willing to move on.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

5 Ways to Grow Your Network

We’ve all been told to “network” in order to grow our careers — but how do you FIND people to include in your network?  In this 9-minute video, I share 5 easy ways for you to consistently grow your network — including the benefits that you will receive from doing so!

Remember!  Your “network” is NOT just a group of people whom you’ve met.  A network is a community of people who share:

  • What they know
  • Who they know
  • How they can help

Your network community is a great place to give and receive the support to help each other succeed.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

One thing is sure…we have to do something

Behavioral Interview - Part 3

One of the biggest regrets is feeling that we “woulda, coulda, shoulda”:

  • I woulda taken that promotion…if only I hadn’t been afraid.
  • I coulda succeeded at my dream job…if only I had managed my time better.
  • I shoulda changed careers…if only I had known what I wanted.

The regret (and guilt) associated with thoughts of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” also  reflect paralysis by analysis:

By not knowing what to do, we do nothing.  

Perhaps our inaction is the result of a fear of failure.

Perhaps it is the trepidation surrounding an unforeseeable future.

Perhaps it is a fear of success.

But NOT taking action is itself an ACTION — and it is also a way to develop and sustain the attitude of a victim.

NONE of us have all the answers.  NONE of us can foretell the future.  NONE of us will succeed 100% of the time.

But ALL of us have the power to choose our reactions and subsequent actions to that which is occurring in our lives.  In other words, we must decide what to do based on the best information that we have NOW.

There is no harm in modifying our paths — studies have shown that airplanes are off course to their destination a whopping 99% of the time.  So, how do they land where they’re supposed to?  They are unafraid to modify or alter their course so that they will arrive at their target.

The same is true in life:  we can always modify, adapt, or totally change our path.

So what fears are holding you back from creating success on your own terms?

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

 

Taking Control of Your Career: The Fundamental Skill of Career Management

Progress not perfection

I can’t believe that we’re already in the middle of the year!  Looking back over the past six months, it’s time to take stock of where we’ve been — and where we’re going.

While such career self-reflection seems to be a natural part of the December holiday season, it should be a part of our on-going routine.  With half the year gone, it’s a time to take stock of where we’ve been…compared to where we planned to be…and decide NOW where we’re going.

But here’s the problem:  for over-achievers, the quest for perfection often derails our probability for success.  In other words, we can begin right now to quit striving for perfection and instead commit to progress.

Successful career management is NOT a one-time, one-size-fits-all undertaking.  It is more than just resume writing and interviewing.  Managing your career is instead an adaptive journey that YOU have created that will lead you to a constantly evolving destination.

Think about your own career:  what you wanted as a new graduate is often quite different from what you desire as a seasoned professional – so your career map needs to reflect both the tangible and intangible elements of your professional goals.

How to Evaluate Progress in Your Career 

Tip #1: Recognize that “perfection” is an illusion – but “progress” can be planned for.  No two people have the same definition of any word; nowhere is this more apparent than in the definition of a “perfect” career.

The denotative (i.e., “dictionary”) definition of “progress” is simply “forward or onward movement toward a destination.” Notice that there is no time constraint included in the definition. As long as you are moving forward toward your goal, you ARE making progress.

Tip #2: “Progress” is NOT a comparative.  Don’t beat yourself up if your progress to date doesn’t match that of your brother, sister, college roommate, or coworker. Everyone’s path will be different — and that’s a very good thing.

The most effective measurement of your professional progress over time is based on what YOU are capable of.  Your strengths and areas of improvement are unique to you – so the progress that you make will also be uniquely yours.

Tip #3: Determine the “what” BEFORE planning for the “how” of your progress. Said another way, the “how” of your progress (the action plan or steps) can only be designed AFTER the “what” has been identified (your destination or outcome).  This is NOT just trying to find a job when you’ve been downsized or burned out; this IS learning the tools of successful career management.

Set aside time to decide what makes you happy, fulfilled, and satisfied. Find a quiet place and set a timer for 30 minutes. Then write down or record your answers to these questions – don’t be shy about your wants and needs…now is the time to be BOLD!

  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • How do you want to be managed?
  • What kind of environment supports your progress?
  • What do you want your legacy to be? (Hint: You’re going to leave a legacy based on the actions that you have taken – in other words, you cannot NOT leave a legacy!)

Tip #4: Objectively describe where you are RIGHT NOW in your career. This can be a difficult process, but be brutally honest with yourself – no one else needs to read what you’ve written. Focus on how you feel before deciding what you need to do next:

  • Unsure of your next career step? Conduct a professional work experience audit in order to develop a step-by-step plan for the next 12 months.
  • In a career that no longer inspires you? Resolve to make the time to clearly identify your “must haves” and “can’t stands” in your job and overall career. Be sure to focus not only on what you want in a career, but also what you are willing to sacrifice in order to finally land your dream job.
  • Intrigued with the idea of being your own boss? Commit to letting go of your fears in order to take the first tenuous steps to writing a business plan and launching your own business – don’t be afraid to ask for help from other entrepreneurs!

Tip #5: Focus on BOTH the tangible and intangible aspects of work.  Being a professional “success” does not necessarily focus exclusively on the tangible results (such as upward mobility, increasing income, or notoriety). These are just the outward trappings of the traditional notion of “success.”

People who are happy with their careers and motivated by their work also focus on the intangible aspects of their jobs. Because these intangibles are key differentiators between one person’s idea of “success” and another’s, don’t compare what you want to the goals or results of other people.

Tip #6: Don’t let the naysayers prevent you from finding your own bliss.  NO ONE can tell you what to do with your life or why you should do it. While career coaches can offer insights and ideas on various career paths, the ultimate decision is yours. Only you know what makes you happy…what drives you crazy…what inspires you…and what demoralizes you.

Want to learn more about saying “no” to dream stealers? Click here for my FREE mini-eCourse, Letting Go of Dream Stealers.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com