Archive for the 'goals' Category

Self-Coaching Through the Search

An extended job search can be exasperating, frustrating and crushing. There is too much rejection, too little honest feedback, and the tide of desperation that rises as time goes on. It doesn’t mean that this is a hopeless effort, though. The job market is getting stronger and people are finding jobs. The bigger issue is that people quit too soon and don’t work hard or smart enough, and that’s where some self-coaching can come in.

There are statistics that indicate that unemployed people spend less than one hour a day on their searches. This is a huge issue, because a successful search requires, if nothing else, action. Even some action and time spent on less effective activities is better than nothing, and 41 minutes daily is nothing (let’s be honest!).

Instead of allowing yourself to sink into the quicksand of despondency, try these coaching strategies on yourself. They will make a difference.

ENVISION THE FUTURE

What will your new job look like? Where will it be? What will your office or workspace look like? What will you be doing? With whom will you be working? What will your schedule look like? Write down some words and phrases that clarify this.

An important first step in coaching is understanding the gap between today’s reality and tomorrow’s desired situation. Envision and articulate that future.

IDENTIFY POSSIBLE ACTIONS

First, write down the things you are doing now. These might be searching the Web for jobs, networking on LinkedIn, or other activities. Next, brainstorm and write down the entire universe of possible activities that could get you closer to your next job. Don’t qualify or criticize at this point. Just write them down as you think of and discover them.

ADD AN ACTION OR TWO AND COMMIT

You already are doing something (right?), so the next step is to either do more of what you are already doing, or to add something new. If you are not putting in enough time (less than six hours a day is a good waterline), you could do both. Look at your brainstorm list and pick some new things to do.

Once you have two or three new actions, make a goal for how often you will do them and when. Use SMART goals to help.

SPECIFIC – MEASURABLE – ACTIONABLE – REALISTIC – TIME-BOUND

Stretch yourself to do more than you have been, but don’t try to conquer the world in a single week. Why? If your goals are unrealistic, you will fail and get discouraged. You want to be in a position to celebrate success, not lament additional failure.

Here is an example that meets the requirements: “In the next two weeks, I will cold-call 10 employers on my target list to discover any needs and to ask for contact information for hiring-managers.”

This goal of one a day, assuming a five-day work week, meets all of the SMART steps. You are going to do something and you have a deadline.

DO IT & DEBRIEF

This is where the real coaching starts. Record your activities. Review them, including the number of specific activities, when you did them, and the outcomes. Compare your results to your plan. Did you fulfill your commitment to yourself? Celebrate!

Did you fail? Did you procrastinate? Ask yourself, “Why?” Were your goals too aggressive (unrealistic)? Did you get lazy? Did you get nervous and hesitate? Did you get wrapped up in low-value busyness rather than high-value (and maybe less comfortable) genuine search work?

Adjust. If you fail, adjust your goals to reflect what you truly, realistically know you can achieve.

Repeat the process.

GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT

Sometimes, we need someone to help us. If you are struggling to get yourself going, reach out to networking groups and services that can help you focus and give you the help and motivation your need. If you have the resources, consider hiring a coach. They are there to help you find the power within yourself to succeed (I can help you with that!).

RING THE BELL!

I know someone who rings a bell when he makes a sale. You are selling yourself. Ring the bell and celebrate your achievement when that offer comes. If you stay focused and put in a solid effort every day, it will.

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Bill Florin is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional and Coach.

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Deadlines are Powerful

checkmarkDeadlines work. They drive us to prioritize and complete tasks, getting them behind us, moving us forward, and preparing us for whatever is next. Have you heard this one? “A goal without a deadline is a wish.” It’s true!

Here’s a simple example from my experience over the last few weeks. I had committed to writing a letter for use in a mailing by a non-profit. There was no firm deadline, just “late August, early September, whenever…” It would have been better is the deadline was “5:00 PM on Friday, August 30.”

So what happened? The letter writing project kept slipping until I sat at a meeting on a recent Tuesday night. I was asked, “When will the letter be done?” I said, “You will have it by 9:00 AM Thursday morning.”

I delivered it Wednesday evening. Why? I set a deadline (publicly) and met it. By the way, the work took all of about 45 minutes. I should have done it in early August so I wouldn’t have had to think about it further.

Here is something that you can try this week, or today. By 10 AM. Let me know if it works.

For everything on your to-do list, set a deadline. If you can’t get it done this week, think about how you can break down a big task into smaller chunks, with some of it achievable in the short term. Then, stick to the deadline.

If you are like me, you will get to the end of the day with many check marks on your list, along with a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. This can work in your job search, too. Here are some things to do with deadlines attached:

  • Make phone calls to three people who can help you in your career search. Do it by 3 PM.
  • Contact one person before noon who can help you with a letter of recommendation.
  • Apply to two targeted positions by 1 PM.
  • Find one person in your LinkedIn contacts for whom you can write a recommendation. Do it by 10 AM.

Write it down, set your deadline, and check it off when done. By 5 you will have a list of accomplishments rather than a list of wishes.

For more on goal setting and personal accountability, see “Maybe it is You“.

Bill Florin helps clients with the career searches by preparing them with great resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles as president of Resu-mazing Services Company.

Motivation is Internal

Whatever you choose to do in your life requires an internal spark, the interest and drive to take action to accomplish something. In the literature on coaching and human performance, this is a common theme. In the short-term, we can all be encouraged or scared into some course of action. Over the course of a life, though, it comes down to identifying and pursuing our goals, those things that we are hardwired to explore and accomplish.

I once worked for an individual who said (repeatedly), “There are only two things that motivate people: fear and money.” Wrong. Those were the two tools that he chose to use to manage (I would not is the word “lead” for what he did), but he couldn’t be more wrong.

While working with hundreds of people over the last four years in the career development business, and with thousands through a career, I am convinced that motivation lies much deeper than the Skinner-like approach of cash and intimidation, pellet or shock. The most effective and inspiring people have always been those who have a vision for themselves, some drive – call it pride, a need to achieve – that gave them a sparkle in their eyes and almost limitless energy to make something happen.

Each of us has something that inspires us. Running a faster mile, caring better for a patient, creating a new web site; there is something. What motivates you? What step can you take now – right now – to move closer to your goal? Find it and do it.

Busyness and a Better Tomorrow

“Busyness that moves you towards a goal and a better place is a good busy.”

All right, this is not the most profound thing ever spoken, but it worked for a client yesterday. I started working with a new person and she is in a tough place. She left her employer of eight years in the spring for what she thought was a step up. It turned out the she signed on with a maniac for a boss, someone not opposed to micro-management and public humiliation. The boss seems to enjoy it.

What is an employee to do?

In this case, my client has endured so much abuse after so much previous success that she seemed paralyzed and felt trapped. Unable to think and afraid to say the wrong thing, she has become physically ill from the environment. Finally, she did something about it and called me.

As we walked through the steps of how I could help her, I learned more and made some suggestions for her to move her search forward. After the conversation she commented, “I’m going to be busy this afternoon.” That’s when I came out with the line at the top, and she liked it. Here’s why.

When we are faced with a difficult situation, one that seems limiting and hopeless, even a small step can make a big difference. One or two activities that lead away from today’s pain and towards a better tomorrow get the mind realizing that all is not lost. The abusive boss is not a permanent fixture. The employee is one day closer to firing that monster.

If you feel like my client, like your situation is terrible and you don’t know what to do, think and act. What do you have to do to improve your situation? What small step can you take today and tomorrow and the next day? If your goal is to find a new job, break it down into smaller pieces, including things that you can do now. Here are a few examples:

“Tonight I am going to take one hour to write down my accomplishments from the last year and the things that make me marketable.”

“This weekend I am going to update my résumé with my accomplishments.”

“Today I am going to reconnect with two colleagues from my last job to strengthen my network.”

Every action will make you feel better and more able to tolerate today’s situation while you lay the foundation for tomorrow’s change. Activity leads to options, options to hope, and hope to change. Plan your escape and get busy on those goals!

Do What You Can

“10 Things You Can Do Today to Master the Universe.” “Do These Three Things to Live to 100.” Those are headlines that social media and content marketers would recommend. I get it. Suggesting that you should do what you can isn’t as sexy. Maybe it’s even dull, but let me explain.

I had a conversation with a person who was very down about her circumstances and her chances to improve her situation. Listening to her, you would believe that everything was wrong in her life. She had no skills that anyone would want. Her options were bad and none.

What I was seeing – an articulate, professional person – and what I was hearing did not match, leading me to ask, “So what things have you done well in your life? What have you done that people have praised and thanked you for?” Surprise! This same person who moments later had nothing positive to say was telling me about how she was so good at her last job that clients asked for her specifically and her boss publicly commented that she was “her best person.” She was the firefighter, sent in to fix problems created by other far less competent coworkers.

Where did the disconnect come from? How did she come to see herself as having so little to offer when others felt otherwise and had told her so? Here are two possibilities.

Sometimes our immediate circumstances and recent defeats cause us to think that we have changed for the worse. Maybe I’ve lost it, or maybe the world has changed around me and I have not kept up. There could be some truth to that, especially if you are talking about a technical skill in a fast moving industry, but there are some talents that we all have that don’t just disappear. Things like critical thinking, communication and relationship building skills are examples.

It could also be that some people just give up too easily or need some encouragement. If you need that encouragement, connect with the people in your life who can give it. If you see someone doing something well or know that someone needs a boost, offer those positive words. You can’t know how important they will be to someone who so desperately needs them.

We all hit rough spots, but we also have plenty to offer. We may never be a CEO of a top company or an inductee into a Hall of Fame, but we are all good at something. Figure out what that thing is and work at it. Forget about the things that you can’t and will never do. You are more likely to find success and satisfaction in doing what you can than wasting time and emotional energy dwelling on what you can’t.

Try this: 1)Set an achievable, realistic goal. 2)Do it. 3)Celebrate. 4)Repeat.

Before you know it, your negativity will be in the past and your self-esteem will be giving you the fuel to win.

Some thoughts on encouragement: 100% Sustainable

Bill Florin, CPRW is President of Resu-mazing Services Company

Accountability Time: Maybe it is You

“I am working as hard as I can, and my goals stay just out of reach.”

“The economy is so tough. There just aren’t any jobs.”

“Everybody wants perfection, and they just won’t give me a chance.”

Have you ever found yourself saying these things, or something similar? I hear them a lot.

There can be truth in each of these statements. There is more competition for jobs than ever before. Employers are very picky and careful in their hiring processes. Sometimes working hard just isn’t enough. But is that all there is to it? As someone who is very self-critical, let me suggest that the problem could be you. Before you get mad at me, I am not suggesting that you or anyone else has some intrinsic defect that can’t be addressed. I am suggesting that there are things that you can examine and act upon that could make a difference in the trajectory of your life. Here are a few.

Your Work Quality. Whether you are employed or between jobs, the quality of your work is more important than ever. A single spelling mistake on a résumé or LinkedIn profile could mean the difference between an interview or rejection. The quality (and quantity) of your work on the job must be great. If you can’t or won’t do it well, there is someone else who will.

Your Relationships. As you network in professional settings and engage in relationships with those around you – in your home, with your friends, in your faith community and other organizations – are you giving more than you get? Are you willing to and actually giving everything you can to these relationships, creating bonds that will last, or something less? If you could be giving more, do it. Self-centeredness will lead to a very lonely place.

Your Goals. When you get up in the morning and head out the door, are you doing it for the right reasons? Is your work something that energizes and engages you, something that allows you to use your skills in a meaningful way? Do you look forward to seeing your co-workers and telling your friends and family about your accomplishments? If yes, it sounds like you are in a great place. If no, if your reason for going is just for the paycheck, it may be time to make a change.

Your Environment. What fills the world around you? Do you spend time on activities that build you up, or waste it in pass times that break you down? Some time spent in self-development, through reading, education, faith activities and other pursuits will pay dividends that won’t come from another hour of reality TV.

How Badly Do You Want It? In the end, nobody can want you to succeed more than you. Your family, friends and mentors certainly want you to do well, but you must want it more. You are responsible for yourself and your performance.

So, how badly do you want it? What does success look like in your life? What will you do in the next few minutes, hours and days to move towards that vision? You are accountable to yourself, like it or not. Think about these ideas, and give yourself that uncomfortable but crucial conversation that is a necessary part of change. Do it today!

Pancakes and Purpose

Yesterday was the Rotary Club of Monroe’s (CT) pancake breakfast. The event was hosted by the United Methodist Church of Monroe, which allowed for the use of its kitchen, dining area and equipment, with all of the effort going to support Project Warmth, a resource of Monroe Social Services that assists people with home heating oil costs. Here in New England, a heating oil delivery can easily exceed $600. To the outsider, this event may not sound like anything all that exciting as it was similar to every other pancake/chicken/spaghetti fundraiser held all over the country every weekend of the year. To those involved, though, it had significant meaning. Here’s why.

This event was nothing more than idea 30 days earlier when Jesse Treviño, the Rotary Club’s president asked, “What do you all think about having a pancake breakfast fundraiser?” The idea was kicked around the room for 20 minutes and by the time the closing bell rang (yes, Rotarians ring a bell to stop and start the meetings), we decided that we would have the breakfast on November 19 to benefit Project Warmth.

There was a lot of work to get done in a very short time. The punch list included securing a venue, making signs and posters, purchasing supplies, doing publicity work and getting up very early on the 19th to flip the first pancakes to be served at 7:30AM. Everyone – Rotarians, church members, vendors and talented restaurant owners John and Sandy Kantzas – came through as planned. About 120 people were served and Project Warmth will be able to better serve its clients. There were also intangible and meaningful benefits that speak to the value of working together.

Dave Wolfe, a long-time Rotarian and charter member of the Monroe club, mentioned how well working together on a hands-on project brings everyone together and strengthens the bonds of club members. It was a lot of hard work, but it was great fun. Others made similar observations.

Rev. Kregg Gabor, the pastor of UMC of Monroe, said that it was wonderful to see different organizations with different missions coming together for a common cause, an outward looking approach to community and service to those in need. Even the church’s middle school students saw it as an opportunity to serve by planning and running a Thanksgiving-themed coloring room so the kids could have something to do while mom and dad had the second cup of coffee and one more delicious pancake.

I thought it was spectacular to see so many talented people collaborating to make a terrific event happen in such a short time. The Rotary Club of Monroe is made up of only 15 people, but every one of them is driven, professional and purposeful. The day was a great reminder of how all of us can do so much when we have a purpose, and so much more when we work together.