Less Pain for You

One of the books I’ve been reading this week is Atomic Habits by James Clear. I can recommend it. There are many great ideas and stories there.

The purpose of this post is to share one idea that made me laugh out loud.

The Truth About Talent is the title for chapter 18. In it, James outlines a series of questions to help you hone in on the area you should focus on, based on your personality and genetics, to have the best chance of success. He mentions that you can find your niche by noticing that thing that you do that causes you less pain then it causes others!

The mark of whether you are made for a task is not whether you love it but whether you can handle the pain of the task easier than other people.

~James Clear, Atomic Habits

I found that hilarious but real. It’s another way of finding your strengths. Usually, the idea is to list what people often ask you to do. Or you list things others often appreciate that you do. It’s a way of recognizing something that is so obvious to other people but which you find so easy as to render it invisible to you.

The work that hurts you less than it hurts others is the work you are made to do.

~James Clear, Atomic Habits

Based on our natural inclination to compare ourselves to others, it becomes straightforward to remember and to recognize such tasks. I found James Clear’s questions in this section helped me realize several qualities I hadn’t entirely clarified for myself. Although his wording made me giggle, the question can help with identifying essential distinctions to consider in career choice.

Try it and see if the idea helps you become more aware of your own unique combination of personal qualities that should be a part of your professional brand and daily focus in your work.

Life Improved: Career

Want to feel good about your career? Many people desire a satisfying career, and with good reason. A career that fits well is a luxury that enhances life overall. In addition to monetary resources gained through work, a good-fitting career fuels self-development and self-confidence. It is a main avenue for continued learning and development. Through the work you do every day, you demonstrate where you are willing to focus. Finding work to focus on that meshes superbly with your inner nature and what you want to experience maximizes your personal power, creativity, and freedom.

Sometimes people are surprised to realize what an inside game career development is. Magic happens once you plan ahead to feel good about your career and begin to include your work seamlessly into the fabric of your life experience. Building a satisfying career begins with knowing it is possible and believing you can tap into that kind of abundance.

People who have found their perfect work are passionate and proud of the work they do. They exude a special type of joy and zest for life. I wish that for you. Dive into your career development one optimistic step at a time. Follow what appeals to you now as an indication of your intuition at work.

A career is more than one job, a progression of jobs, or even a certain task or title. It’s your life’s work and may include many areas of focus, some paid, and some not (such as schooling, volunteer work, or being a stay-at-home parent). Finding a larger perspective like that can make the significance of the immediate day-to-day more palatable, especially if you are currently in a job you hate. The job doesn’t feel so bad when you take the bird’s eye view. What you are doing now is just one step on the path.

If you can find a big perspective and lean positive with your outlook for the future, you suddenly find yourself with more patience and room to maneuver. It starts to feel like it is possible to make small changes that get you closer and closer to discovering the sweet spot where work feels like play. That’s what happens when you find the flow. You realize you are working on something or for something that feels significant to you personally that uses your best skills and provides the right amount of challenge for development. Add to that the feeling that your work fuels you with purpose and your career begins to feel very sweet indeed. Below are a few ideas for you to consider as a basis for creating a career that you love.

Be selfish. Embrace and pursue your own path.

Sometimes people feel pressure to choose a career based on what someone important to them expects. Often it is easy to turn away from our interests because of what those around us would think. But remember, you are the one putting in time and attention to whatever you choose for your career. You are the one noticing every day how you feel about your work. So be selfish in your career development planning. Intend for your work to enhance your life. Those you care about will be glad that you are happy in the end.

Building a career is an ever-evolving process, not a one-time choice. Each day you learn and gather new skills, meet new people, and gain important insights and info about yourself and what interests you. Through self-analysis and experience, you become more knowledgeable about yourself, what it is you do best, and how to present that to others. You learn more about what is a good fit for you and you become better able to match up with opportunities.

Follow your interests without concern about what other people think. It doesn’t matter if others notice what you are doing or what you are interested in, but when you fully engage with your work without the need for their attention, everyone will notice. You can feel confident knowing that people recognize you for what you do best as soon as you own it and keep working on it.

Begin by focusing on how you want to feel about your work. How does it feel when your work is easy and enjoyable for you? What feeling are you mainly wanting from your work at this time? Feel it now. Feel what it is like to do what you want. Make it a daily practice to visualize and feel that money comes to you without struggle and that your work is a joy.

A fulfilling career is built upon natural strengths that enable you to work with ease and to gain expertise faster. Strengths are activities that you enjoy doing, that you do well, and that you don’t mind doing repeatedly, as defined by Marcus Buckingham*, one of the first strengths researchers. Once you find your top 2-3 strengths, I suggest you build your career around them ruthlessly. Work with a career counselor or coach to help make them the hub of your life’s work. Use them to communicate what distinguishes you from others in your cover letters and resumes and in important conversations with hiring managers, bosses, colleagues, and mentors.

Build on your career keyword and your strengths.

Your career keyword can provide clarity in understanding what you want recognition for and likely what will be easily recognized in you by others. Once you have it, you can integrate it with your strengths to use as a guiding light in your career decision making.

Identifying a career keyword is an exercise in big-picture thinking. It is kind of like choosing a theme song, but in this case, it is one word that describes what your career is about at its core. What is your career keyword? Get quiet for a few seconds then ask yourself, “what is my career about?” See if your intuition supplies an answer. If not, choose one for now and change anytime you find a word that fits even better. Your career keyword will resonate with you. You might feel proud, excited, or confident when you hit on a good word for you. Here are some example keywords.

administrating • art • beauty • bravery • building • challenge • communicating • compassion • competing • cooperating • creating• dancing • defense • diplomacy • efficiency • empathizing • enforcement • exploring • fashion • foreign travel • harmony • hedonism • healing • honesty • images • imagination • independence •
innovation • leading • movement • music • negotiating • nurturing • perfecting • performing • persistence • philanthropy • philosophy • physical stamina • power • problem-solving • protecting • relating • religion • research • sales • science • self-expression • service • social reform • spirituality • storytelling • teaching • team building • technology • transforming • writing

Plan ahead to enjoy and focus your mind as you go.

Have you decided that work is a “grind?” Do you leave your workplace already dreading returning tomorrow? If so, it is no wonder work is difficult. When you notice and talk about what you don’t like, it is so easy to continue focusing in that way. If you want different results, then you need to establish a new thought pattern about your career. You simply must find a positive perspective about your work to ensure that your career enhances your life.

Even if you already think your job is good and you enjoy your work, you can give it more juice. Try this strategy. Go to work looking for something to like during your day. Maybe it’s a certain feeling in the air or special people you involved. Maybe it’s that you have a lot of time to think while you do a repetitive task. Maybe it’s that moment when you help a customer and they genuinely appreciate it. Maybe it’s noticing how someone else seems happy or is a pleasure to be around. Maybe it’s the precision with which things are getting done. There is always something positive to notice, find it. Then talk about it, and notice it again tomorrow.

Plan in advance to enjoy your work in the immediate future (as in today), short-term (as in this year), and long-term (ten years from now). What does it feel like to know satisfaction about a job well done, a position you are proud of, and a well-developed career? Feel it all now. Let your body feel the visualization as if it were the real thing. Use your imagination to your advantage to raise your vibe by intentionally feeling like you already have all that you want in your career. Do it daily and notice the differences. The positive differences you notice are your “wins.” Focus on them and make a big deal of it. Things are changing for the better!

How to Have a Great Career

Take Ownership

  • Your career is yours and yours alone. You have the power to create it and live it as an expression of your unique talents and energy.
  • Forget what other people think of your choices. Even though people often mean well, you will be the one putting in the hours so be selfish enough to do something you enjoy and have fun with it!
  • Being yourself in your work gives power, creativity, and freedom. You are off track if you feel insecure or like a pretender at work.

Look Inside Yourself, You Know the Answers

  • Take note when you find yourself fully engaged in a work activity. If it feels as if you are in the zone, or plugged in and energized, or connected to something larger than yourself: Pay special attention.
  • Then describe it further…what are you liking about what you are doing? Is it this? Is it that? Keep asking yourself and you’ll know when you hit the answer that feels right.
  • Start general then get more specific in your description of what you like about what you are doing. For example, is it the communication or connection? Is it the performing or beautifying? Is it the helping or healing? Is it the organizing or administrating? Then add more detail by asking why.

Respect the Career Development Process

  • The beauty of a great career is in the way it unfolds.
  • Enjoy the present moment. Each small step adds up until you are absolutely ready for more.
  • Appreciate then forget when you felt lost or frustrated in your career. Through those times, you learned more about what you DO want.

Understand the Power of People

  • People can be powerful and brilliant in sharing their connections with others. Cherish and maintain your connections to tap into the power.
  • People can be dark, egotistical, and negative, but this is nothing compared to an individual in harmony with self. Recognize the negative as the weaker power and stay beyond it.
  • See and applaud the strengths of others as you do for yourself. Be a builder-upper who is generous with knowledge, info, and positive energy.

Be an Opportunity Bulldog

  • Take your individual strengths and mesh them with your public identity, and no one can take your place.
  • Research and understand the opportunities that exist because of the challenges in your field of expertise.
  • Present a passion for being or finding the solution and be unafraid of asking for the opportunity.

When Unhappy at Work

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.

Informational Interviewing: A Career Research Technique

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 to 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 taking a look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the O*Net to learn more about specific career fields. Then, if a specific career field is still being considered, it is time to go out into the field to learn more. In fact, 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. Give your name and how you know about them. Tell them that you are interested in learning more about their career field and that you were 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 about their recommendations for people who are considering entering the profession.

Following are some questions typically asked in an informational interview. Remember you most likely will not be able to ask them all since you want to keep the interview 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?
  • What would you do differently if you were starting over in this field?
  • 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 in the field?
  • What further education do you participate in?
  • 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/or 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?

Tips to Nourish Your Career – Interview 2

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 too.

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.

Before the Job Hunt

Often people get it backward. They arrive at a time in their lives 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 an idea of where your skills and interests best fit into 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:

  1. Begin with self-awareness
  2. Study occupations
  3. Then industry trends
  4. Then company culture and job openings.

There are strong advantages to working a job hunt from this angle. 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 will be more convincing and so more likely to win the offer.

A good 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 interesting. 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.

The Career Quotes Movie

Featured Quotes

“Superior men and women trust themselves at a deep level. They are very sensitive to what feels right.” –Brian Tracy

“We move toward a kind of defining presence because, through our passions we are utterly present.” –Greg Levoy

There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there’s only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen.” –Wayne Dyer

“Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation of all abundance.” –Eckhart Tolle

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” –Julia Child

“Just as the master musician may cause the most beautiful strains of music to flow forth from the strings of a violin, so may you arouse the genius which lies asleep in your brain.” –Napoleon Hill

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement nothing can be done without hope or confidence.” –Helen Keller

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful.” –Herman Cain

“A career is born in public, talent in privacy.” –Marilyn Monroe

“Life is a process. Enjoy it.” –Stevie Puckett

“Burnout doesn’t happen when you are working long hours on invigorating activities.” –Marcus Buckingham

“As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you the first time around.” –Oprah Winfrey

“Follow your bliss.” –Joseph Campbell

“And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” –Marianne Williamson

On Interviewing, Part 5

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 an answer, 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 a good job at the interview. It’s all gonna 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 that will please you.

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.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

On Interviewing, Part 4

Of course, when you go into an interview for a position, you will have done your research. 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, they 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 too. 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 is 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 are going to 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 is your invitation to tell them about your personal 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.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

On Interviewing, Part 3

It is likely you may 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 even to employers these days 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.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5

On Interviewing, Part 2

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?

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

On Interviewing, Part 1

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 is 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. In fact, one of the most important actions you can take to prepare for an upcoming interview is to research the company. It is 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 well thought out power stories and a couple lessons learned stories. Power stories are your stories about times that you solved problems or had a positive impact in your work. Keep your power stories in a notebook in Evernote and save them forever. These stories are very important to think about in advance of the interview for responses to behavioral interviewing questions which are used very often 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 good format for the stories you give as a reply to the question is to describe the problem, describe the action you took, then describe 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 in order to practice most effectively or do a selfie video to critique yourself. At a minimum, record your answers into 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 important tool for you to learn use as well, especially come negotiation time.

To learn even more about strategies for job interviewing, I recommend the books by Carole Martin, The Interview Coach. A great one to start with is Boost Your Interview IQ*.

On Interviewing: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Studying Future Trends

I ran across this article predicting jobs that don’t exist yet and wanted to share it. 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 is to host discussions with colleagues, to have periodic informational interviews with experts in your field, and to read the professional literature related to your occupation. All the while asking questions in order to encourage your brain to make connections and notice developing trends.

Ask 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 happen in my occupation?