I’m happy to announce the release of my new audiobook, Bliss Or Bust: Uplifting Thoughts. I wrote the book because I was inspired to share my personal philosophy in an easy to read yet inspirational way. These ideas helped me realize my own creative power and understand the importance of my emotions. I hope it helps some others realize the importance of feeling good too. In the book, I seek to answer the question of why to bother with disciplining your mental focus. I also wanted to encourage everyone in the development of their intuition and the benefits of doing so.
There’s a difficult time between where you are now and where you want to be that requires extra focus when you are unhappy at work or when you plan to change jobs or careers. If you are unhappy at work you have a few options.
- Quit right now with no notice, telling them to take the job and shove it as you walk out the door. Feel a few moments of joy and freedom until you take yourself to your next opportunity and, most likely, recreate the same unhappiness you had before.
- Stay with a bad attitude. Tell the story every day of how you hate your job, the people you work with, and how you are underpaid, under-appreciated, and have no options. The more you practice this outlook the easier it becomes.
- Stay and tell a different story. Talk about what you appreciate about your job or career. Practice looking at the bright side and you will see more bright side. Heck, your co-workers and boss might even start treating you differently.
- Stay and tell a different story while defining what you want in your next career move. Be on the lookout for the next opportunity all the while appreciating your current position and building more skills and contacts.
One thing that helps is to focus more on what you want next rather than what you don’t like about where you are currently because that makes the current day-to-day very difficult and keeps a negative vibe going. So during times of change, it’s important to focus on the excitement for what is coming but with an ability to be appreciative of where you are now and how far you’ve come. Instead of leaving your current position in anger or hastily, think in terms of going to the next step in your career out of excitement and interest and let that guide your actions.
Choosing a career direction is a complex process involving many steps, including exploring your interests, skills, values, and personality type, plus lots of time to learn and strategize a career development plan. After the beginning steps of self-assessment, you choose a few of the career fields that seem to have the most promise and do more intense research.
Researching career fields begins with looking at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the O*Net to learn more about specific career fields. If a particular career field is still being considered, it is time to go out into the field to learn more. One of the most important aspects of choosing a career path is to get out in the real world and study real people, people who are doing the kind of job that you might want to do someday. One way to do this is through informational interviewing.
Typically, the informational interview process looks like this:
- find people in the career of interest to talk to
- schedule a time to meet with them for 30 minutes or so
- ask questions about their career, and then
- send a thank you note.
There are several ways to find people for an informational interview. The best method is to use your network of contacts to find people in the line of work that you want to learn more about. Begin asking family members, friends, and other people who they know working in the career. For example, you might approach your aunt and ask her, “Who do you know who works as a civil engineer?” Once a member of your network knows someone to refer you to, ask for that person’s name and phone number. You will be surprised how many people your contacts know and how easy it is to find people to talk to about all kinds of careers.
Next, call the new contact. Please give your name and how you know about them. Tell them that you are interested in learning more about their career field and hoping they could help. Ask if you can schedule a time to speak with them for 30 minutes because you would like to ask them how they got into the field and their recommendations for people considering entering the profession.
Following are some questions typically asked in an informational interview. Remember, you most likely will not ask them all since you want to keep the talk to only 30 minutes. Be sure to take a pen and paper for quick notes and recommendations and to assist you with writing a thank you note the following day. Be sure to note the correct spelling of their name and their address by asking them the information and writing it down in your notes or checking their business card.
SAMPLE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
- How did you develop your career path?
- How did you get into this job?
- What are your duties as a ____?
- How long have you been in this position?
- What do you like best about this career?
- What do you like least about this career?
- How would your strategy change if you were starting over in this field knowing what you know?
- What are the educational requirements of this field?
- What is the typical salary range for this career field?
- Can you recommend some professional associations for this career field?
- What do you read to stay up-to-date?
- What further education do you like and recommend?
- What are the advancement opportunities in this field?
- What do you see as the future of this career field?
- What is your career goal for the future?
- What is happening in this industry?
- What kinds of companies make up this industry?
- Where has growth taken place in this field recently?
- Who are your customers or clients?
- How do you promote your products and services?
- Who are some of your competitors?
- What has helped to make companies successful in this industry?
- What recommendations do you have for a person interested in this field?
- Do you know others I should speak to about this career field?
In this interview, Stevie talks about the benefits of using your intuition in your career development. She talks about ways to trust and develop your intuition too. Ideas discussed include the importance of positive thinking and controlling your focus as a mindset strategy. A comparison of analytical mind and intuitive mind as states of mind to begin noticing is an exercise mentioned.
Shahrzad Aresteh is a career counselor and founder of NourishYourCareer.com, where she has created a unique, warm, and inviting career development website. She is a great interviewer who shares many interviews with other career development professionals there too. Check out her book, Nourish Your Career*!
Our first interview is about top tips for career development.
Often people get it backward. They arrive at a time when they need a new job, then the first thing they do is look for job openings. It may seem logical, but it is not the most beneficial way to go about it. Many of those jobs are not a good match for one reason or another. If they are not a match, then they are just distractions.
Instead, flip the process around and begin with yourself. Engage in some pre-job hunt career research. Career research is a process of getting in-depth knowledge of yourself and how your skills and interests best fit the career landscape. The purpose of career research is to develop a career strategy and job hunt plan. So the process looks like this instead:
- Begin with self-awareness
- Study occupations
- Then industry trends
- Then company culture and job openings.
There are substantial advantages to working a job hunt from this angle. The first is that you will get a better understanding of your personal brand along the way. You will be able to strategically network with others, knowing what you want them to remember about you. You also gain a deep understanding of what makes your heart sing and will be able to zoom in on opportunities that are more likely to work optimally for you. Lastly, you will come from a position of passion in job interviews and be more convincing and more likely to win the offer.
An excellent place to start is with this career aptitude test based on the Holland Codes. It’s good, it’s quick, and it’s free. The results are useful and insightful. The same website also has some excellent career research resources. I love the way the information on each job title is presented. It’s easy to read, short and sweet, and particularly relevant. Of course, O*Net is a very good resource for career research as well.
Once captured, an idea is available to you for future reference and further reflection and to combine with other appealing ideas.
You capture an idea by bookmarking it, putting it in your social media streams, journaling it, sending yourself an email or voicemail, or using your digital recorder. No matter which way you decide to capture ideas, establish your system and use it religiously. Then be sure to review and revise them regularly.
My favorite way to capture ideas is Evernote.com. With it, you can mingle audio recording, web page links, photos, and your written words together in an organized and searchable way that is fully digital. I keep a pen and notebook handy for quick notes when I’m not at my computer, then transfer my handwritten notes to Evernote later. I also have the Evernote App on my phone so that I can get to my notes anytime. I love the new Moleskine notebook made for Evernote. It is called the Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook.
You will not believe the increased effectiveness of your self-development endeavors due to getting clear on how to capture your ideas.
I received a complimentary copy of Advance Your Image: Putting your best foot forward never goes out of style. 2nd Edition by Lori Bumgarner for review and wanted to share it with you because it is a good find and a timely topic. I received no other compensation for this review.
Lori is on a mission to help people by building poise and self-confidence. She strives to bring the beauty within each person out in the best possible light. As a career advisor to college students turned image consultant to musicians, Lori has an excellent take on the big picture for how personal image plays into career development planning.
In this book, she points out the nuances of why and how to strategically manage your image for the desired result of connecting with the audience, be it a potential employer or your network of supporters. Lori has advice for what you can do to improve your image. She sees image improvement as a fast-track to healthy self-confidence, which then leads to making better first impressions and being received better by others…a win-win!
Lori also weaves together your in-person appearance with your job search marketing materials and online presence in a practical and easy to understand way. She outlines a helpful rule that I had never heard before called the Rule of 12 within her powerful strategies for making an excellent first impression.
Learn more about Lori on her website, paNASHstyle.com.
Listen in as Stevie is interviewed by Shahrzad Arasteh, a holistic career counselor out of Baltimore, Maryland. Shahrzad brought many career development experts together in a unique project to create the book Nourish Your Career*. Check out her website at NourishYourCareer.com to hear top tips from other featured contributors to the book as well.
Shahrzad asks me to give my top tips for job search and career development.
We venture into topics like:
- personal career development as an inherently selfish process
- the benefits of keeping a career portfolio and tips on how to do it
- how to better endure the job search process which often runs longer than expected.
If you enjoyed this interview (Shahrzad is a great interviewer!), listen to our second interview about using intuition in your career.
One step that people miss when they do interview preparation is to do a preparatory visualization. Think about and feel how you’ll have confidence at interview time. Feel how you know that the answers are going to come to you. When you need a response, it will be there. You can be relaxed and know that the interview is going to flow well. You’ll be well prepared. You’ll have everything you need right on time.
When the interview is coming up, stop what you’re doing each time you think of it and let yourself feel that you’re going to do an excellent job at the interview. It’s all going to work out. Let your confidence grow, and keep your thinking positive.
This is Law of Attraction action here. The idea is that you understand that things are unfolding as they should. You can calm and release any anxiety about any judgment that is going to happen in this process.
Yes, they’re going to compare you to other people. That is part of the interview process. It’s to be expected. It’s going to go well. You’re going to have a good experience. You’ll be able to be yourself. If it’s a good fit, you’ll get an offer and will consider it.
Continue to focus on how it’s going to go well, how you’re happy to have the interview, and how it’s going well. Reflect on that any chance you get. Make it a part of your interview preparation.
Of course, you will have done your research when you go into an interview for a position. You looked into what’s going on with the company. You checked out their website. You prepared for potential questions. You have questions of your own. You reviewed your power stories.
Now realize that the people who are hiring have a problem. And they need to find someone who can solve that problem. So be sure you are aware of why they are hiring right now. Make that a part of your research. Begin to think in terms of how you can be a solution to that problem. That’s what they want to hear, and that’s what will make you stand out. They’re looking for a solution, and you can be that solution. Position yourself to show that you’re aware of what they intend to accomplish by hiring someone.
Check-in with them. When you go into your interview, say, “I imagine that blah blah blah is a problem, and I think that I could contribute by blah.” Doing so will help you demonstrate how you want to be a solution to their problem. They’ll like that.
Much of what goes on in an interview is the interviewer seeking to understand your personal brand. It’s often an awkward situation because each question is basically, “What makes you the best choice for us?” And, that is such a mind trick of a question. You can get into this idea of, “Oh my gosh, is it okay to say that I’m special…that I’m the best one?” You know what, it’s okay. You have a personal brand, and they want to know about that to determine if you will fit into the company culture. Be okay with saying, “This is who I am. This is what I do especially well. This is how I contribute.” Take pride in that.
Prepare yourself by losing that awkwardness about how they’re going to ask you what makes you unique. What makes you better than the other applicants? Understand that it is your invitation to tell them about your brand what you embody. Go ahead and be yourself and stand for something. Know in advance who you are and what you are looking for, and say it with calmness and pride. Question them too. It’s the only way to find out if the match is a good fit for you both.
You may likely be fired at some point in the course of your career. This, of course, can come as a total shock, but it is imperative to come to terms with such an experience so that you can recover quickly and be able to represent yourself well in upcoming job interviews.
Spend some time processing what happened and practice verbalizing the lessons learned in a non-emotional way. Keep a positive attitude that you are preparing to go on to bigger and better things. The reality is that to many employers these days, even being fired isn’t necessarily a mark against you, depending on how you recover.
Many successful people have been fired at some point in their career before becoming a superstar.
Most people don’t land a great job or create a wonderful career by being open to anything, not at all. Instead, it’s done by checking in with themselves about what they really want and going for it a hundred percent. This focus makes them more attractive candidates, too. Think about it as if you were the one hiring. You have two people to choose from. One candidate has done a job for several years and is keeping her options open. The other candidate is committed to being the very best at the job she knows she wants. Who would you be more likely to make an offer to?
We typically don’t practice interviewing very often, yet each interview we do have is pretty important. Here are three quick tips for interview preparation.
Tip 1 – It’s best to think of an interview as a two-way discussion. Yes, often a stressful discussion but remember not only are they checking you out, but you are also checking them out. One of the most critical actions you can take to prepare for an upcoming interview is to research the company. It’s easier than ever to get on the internet, enter a search word and come up with relevant information. Most companies have a web page of their own where you can read up on company history and recent press releases. Be thinking about questions you can ask during the interview as well. Make relevant observations about what is going on with the company, and ask your interviewer to comment. You may also want to consider asking some questions like the following.
- Is this a newly created position?
- What do you think is the most important thing for a new hire to understand about this position? This company? Or this department?
- Why did the previous person leave this position?
- What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the new hire?
Tip 2 – Another good way to prepare for the interview is to put together 3-5 power stories and a couple of lessons learned stories. Power stories are your stories about times you solved problems or positively impacted your work. Keep your power stories in a notebook in Evernote and save them forever. These stories are essential to think about before the interview for potential responses to behavioral interviewing questions often used by skilled interviewers. Behavioral interview questions are ones that ask you to describe times in the past when you solved this or that type of problem.
A suitable format for the stories you give as a reply to the question is to describe the problem, describe the action you took, then tell the result. This is called the PAR technique for Problem, Action, Result. Once you write these stories out, list in the margin the characteristics these stories demonstrate. Then you have ready answers for some questions like “Tell me about a time when _____?” or “What is your biggest strength and why?” Don’t forget to rehearse your answers out loud. It is best to have someone ask you the questions to practice most effectively or do a selfie video to critique yourself. At a minimum, record your answers in your voice recorder or leave a message on your phone so you can hear yourself and adjust as needed.
Tip 3 – One often overlooked key to good interviewing to have clear starts and stops to your questions and answers. This helps to set a good rhythm for the discussion. It also demonstrates your ability to be concise and listen to others. Don’t be afraid of a few seconds of silence after you finish your answer. A good interviewer will use silence as a tool to get you to rattle on about stuff you did not intend to reveal. Also, silence is an essential tool for you to learn to use as well, especially come negotiation time.
To learn even more about job interviewing strategies, I recommend the books by Carole Martin, The Interview Coach. A great one to start with is Boost Your Interview IQ.
Looking at changes coming down the pipeline in your industry is a great way to navigate your career development and learning plan. Take time once a year or so to think forward in your career and look for neat niches you can steer toward as one strategy for knowing what learning experiences will best add to your repertoire.
Other ways to stay ahead of the curve are to read the professional literature, host special events, and have periodic informational interviews with experts in your field.
Most importantly, keep asking yourself questions to encourage your brain to make connections and notice developing trends. Use questions such as:
- What is the biggest problem in my career field right now?
- What industry is my industry starting to merge with?
- How will changes in the industry influence what happens in my occupation?
I want today to be different.
I want a new start.
I want a more peaceful life.
I need a change.
I want to love to wake up in the morning.
I want to be appreciated.
I want more flexibility in my work.
I want financial freedom.
I want more time.
To pamper myself.
I want to work with passion.
I want to join like-minded people for synergy.
I’m on my way.
See you there!
Stress is a normal part of life. Still, like anything else, too much can be harmful to not only our mental faculties but also our physical health. We must not only reduce stress in our lives but bolster our wellness to weather the inevitable stresses.
The basics of bolstering wellness are to:
- Eat food that helps you feel good.
- Move and stretch your body daily.
- Adhere to a good sleep routine.
You must figure out how what works for your unique needs best in these areas of nutrition, exercise, and rest. When you do, that foundation will keep your body more robust and healthy.
Learning to let your mind free of stresses and worries is also an important stress buster. Meditation and quiet contemplation are two methods of reducing stress. If you’re not into meditation, spend a half-hour or so each night reading a good book in a comfortable chair or take up an enjoyable hobby. Anything that distracts you from the concerns of the day and allows you a chance to decompress can be a worthwhile activity.
Go for a walk in the park or get a pet. Get a dog and take the dog for a walk in the park. A walk outdoors in the fresh air can do wonders for reducing stress, as can a companion animal. It likely wouldn’t hurt to combine the two if you’re so inclined.
Play games. Card games. Board games. Video games. Whatever floats your boat. You could also try puzzles. Putting a jigsaw puzzle together may be an excellent way to decompress also. It’s hard to worry about work when you’re trying to find a matching piece! Or, do a crossword puzzle, word find, or sudoku.
If you’re artistic, you could paint, draw, or even just doodle. You could try needlecrafts, sand art, sculpture, wood carving, sewing, or whatever suits your interests.
Take time to listen to music or watch television. Take an evening and go out for dinner and a movie. See a play. Go to a sporting event.
The important thing is to take some time out for yourself. Find something that works for you, and remember to take time to do it. Relaxing and recharging is essential!
Practice Being Organized
Some stress is caused by situations beyond our control, making it all the more important to do what we can to reduce stress in the circumstances we can control.
One thing within our control is our level of organization. While it may seem to have little to do with stress levels on the face of it, a lack of organization will prove otherwise in a stressful situation.
If you’re under pressure to find an item in a stressful situation, imagine how much more stressed you become when you cannot locate it.
As you shuffle through papers, folders, and drawers, your frantic searching may cause further disorganization, setting the stage for a later repeat of the situation. If, instead, you can quickly locate what you need when you need it, your stress levels will be lower than they might otherwise be.
Naturally, the first step is to do a thorough cleaning, eliminate clutter, and organize everything needed.
- Make sure you organize everything in a manner that makes sense for you, using a system you will remember and stick with.
- Once you get organized, stay organized.
- Each day, set aside a few minutes to get your work area back in order.
Ideally and when practical, follow a pattern where you handle each item only once. For example, when you get a new document or piece of mail, read it and then act on it, file it, or recycle it. Eliminate the “I’ll do it later” items as much as possible. Too often, later never comes because of other more pressing needs. Additionally, you won’t suffer the stress of seeing a growing stack of “I’ll do it later” items sitting on your desk. You can better focus on the job at hand rather than being frustrated by the amount of work left to do.
Being better organized will not eliminate stress, but it can help keep it at reduced levels. Plus, it makes for a better and easier home and workplace, so there is no downside. Get organized and reap the benefits of increasing your productivity and reducing your stress level.
Remember to Breathe
Feeling a little stressed is a normal part of the working day, but when stress gets to be too much, it can affect your judgment causing you to make rash decisions. It can also affect you physically, causing tension in your muscles, increased heart rate, or aches and pains.
The key is to keep stress at a manageable level. One way to do this is with a simple breathing exercise.
- Sit still in a relaxed position with your back straight.
- Clear your mind as much as possible.
- Breathe in slowly, for a deep breath.
- Hold, but only as long as it is comfortable.
- Breathe out slowly.
- Breathe in.
- Breathe out.
Repeat often. Take a few seconds here and there. Use a simple breathing exercise regularly to help lower your stress level.
When you want to make changes to your body, such as losing or gaining weight, adding muscle, or developing your fashion style, it’s good to remember that it all begins with what you think of yourself. For satisfying progress and results, cut yourself a break and learn to discipline your thoughts to focus more on not only what you appreciate about your body but also what you appreciate in your life.
Positive transformations can take place within your body. There are solutions around for you. If you can tap into a new positive expectation, you will be brought to ideas that you had not noticed before, or you may try something again with a whole new attitude that makes all the difference. Or, on an even bigger scale, you may find a new understanding as to why being slowed down with difficulty with your body provides you with an experience that helps you develop a needed skill or have a special experience in your life.
When you know what improvement you want in your body, you have a few choices. You can feel angry, depressed, or generally awful about yourself…or you can treat yourself as a child of the universe who is learning, and you can cut yourself a break.
All that happened before is part of the process that brings you to now, and that’s all, just a step along the way. If you notice that you often look back and kick your own butt about stuff, try letting it go instead. You can be sure you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. So be kind to yourself. You are open to change and improvement now, and that is fine and good.
Move forward with inspiration knowing that you have always made the best move you were capable of at the time, and you will continue to do the same. Now is the time to nurture yourself by controlling your focus. What matters is what happens next, and your results going forward are directly related to feeling good now.
Imagine how you will feel when you have what you want and choose to feel that way now. Get jazzed about all the experiences you want to have and what you want to create and go with that feeling as long as you can for a few minutes every single day. Daydream that the changes you want are already here. Do it with an attitude of fun. It’s fun to play with ideas of what you can choose and what the improvements will mean for your life.
Appreciate vitality when you see it. Use the beauty you see around you as a reason to feel good. Know that more vitality is coming to you when you can feel good, even if only for a little bit at first. Each time you practice, you will become better and better at feeling good and appreciating your body.
The importance of being okay with slow results can’t be over-emphasized. If you allow yourself to reinforce feelings of frustration or anger at slow results, you defeat your own purpose. Change can come, and it may be at a snail’s pace, but if you focus on the slow pace, you get more of a slow-down.
Instead, please focus on the momentum. Ideas you can use are coming faster and faster. It is getting easier and easier to maintain the good habits you intended. There is momentum, and you are heading in a direction that feels good as you remember to enjoy life from where you are right now.
Inspirational video inspired by the poem “Power” by Barbara Zarrella which follows.
Just saying the word emits force. The emphasis on the first syllable, the way your mouth has to round out to form the word, the way the air pushes the word out into sound.
Power is everywhere. Consider the commercial airliner. Remember the thrust that pushes you into your seat on take-off. Think of how many people are riding with you. This huge craft can be lifted into the air by a single person! That’s power.
Coveted since the beginning of time. Two generals standing in a battlefield posturing. One points to one of his men and requests that he fight and defend though it may mean certain death. That soldier runs brave and mighty to fulfill that task. The other general retreats. That’s power.
Nature at her best. See the dark clouds, smell the cool dampness in the breeze. Take mental inventory of loved ones. Are they home? Safe? Check around the estate. Pick up, put away, tie down, close up. The soft dance of raindrops begin followed by battering hail, then the sound of a train. All of a sudden it is quiet and sunny as if nothing happened. The splinters and broken glass prove the devastation. That’s power.
The miracle of new life. The anticipation of a new human being forming in the womb. Old life is changing forever. So many goals, so many plans, so many decisions, so many surprises. How could such a tiny creature hold our entire soul in its grasp? Nothing can match the power of a child standing with open arms looking at you. A tiny voice says “up.” That’s power.
Years ago, I had e-mail correspondence with someone I barely know who asked if I ever watched The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch (the show is no longer in production, but there is a book). I responded that I had not and took note because usually when I get a tip like that, I can learn something. I followed through by watching some episodes, and I enjoyed the show pretty well.
And here is the part I needed to see. I noticed an interesting phenomenon.
On the show, one of the main things Donny Deutsch does is to get insight from each person featured about exactly where and how they got their big idea. Of course, that makes total sense because it is in the show’s name, after all, and Donny is trying to educate and coach people in his audience to find their own big idea and go for it. So it seems that guests really would expect that question.
Nevertheless, each time he asks it, the person pauses for a moment and looks as if they are processing the question and aren’t sure what to say. As if they are saying to themselves, “Hey, that is a good question, where did that idea come from?”
Seeing that scenario play out time and again led me to this interpretation: The question is difficult because when people have a great idea, they are fully engaged in whatever they’re studying at the time inspiration strikes. All they remember is that they were busy following their noses, uncovering clues, letting one thing lead to another, and it all seemed obvious at the time…until they get this question anyway. That is when it becomes apparent they were just in their creative flow, and it’s hard to explain.
Creativity is something that we all have if we can open to it. The first step for someone sitting around wanting ideas but having none is to remove all barriers to getting into the flow of creativity. Creativity can’t occur while sitting in judgment of every thought that pops into your head. A person has to open their mind and be comfortable with the creative process. Some people are very good at tapping into their creativity consistently; others might need to remember to let go and play a little.
Begin by exploring things that catch your eye. Follow your nose a bit and see what happens. Once you have gathered some info, give yourself a rest and see what your wonderfully creative mind cooks up. When you feel a little kick of enthusiasm, you may be on to something.