Tag: career dependency

#59 “How Can I Care Less About Work?”

October 22nd, 2021 by

“Why am I so invested in my job, how can I care less about work?” If this sounds painfully familiar, trust me when I state that this is a common dilemma!

Eliminate the Question

Asking, “How can I care less about work?” is a misguided question that is irrelevant to the real problem (see Post #35). 

“How can I care less about work” presupposes you should care in the first place. It implies you have an internal attachment to your external work – and this is dangerous. This question assumes that ‘caring less’ is the solution to your burnout, stress, or work frustrations.

Allow me to offer an alternative perspective. If you can open your mind and welcome new points of view, I would like to pose a different angle.

Before we get to that, the common work approach below may apply to you if you are trying to care less.

The Common Approach

Work does not exist for you to:

  • Care what others think of you or your output
  • Overwork to the point of missing out on real life
  • Worry about employment status
  • Ruminate over harsh words someone said
  • Be available at the employer’s beck and call
  • Fix everyone’s fires except your own putting your job at risk
  • Put your life on hold to aggressively travel against your will
  • Please everybody

The purpose of work is not to be emotionally tied to outcomes of your performance or to others’ opinions. This common behavior can surely lead you towards a meltdown if things go sour at work. Asking, “how can I care less about work” is a cry out for help.

“But I’m supposed to care about my work and performance … if I’m not emotional then it means I don’t care!”

Okay. I hear what you’re saying. I ask you to keep an open mind and read the next section. This is probably new territory for many of you, so notice if you embrace or reject these suggestions.

A More Practical Approach

Work does exist for you to

  • Use reasonable judgment to fulfill an employment contract
  • Perform transactions
  • Attempt your best day in and day out
  • Recognize strengths and weaknesses
  • Fail, try, fail again, and try again
  • Understand your limits and set boundaries
  • Learn how to be resourceful
  • Expand your brainpower by developing yourself
  • Overcome interpersonal challenges by working with difficult people
  • Serve an organization utilizing supplied resources
  • Help others help themselves
  • Improve things that cross your path – projects, conversations, and people

Notice how this list is more flexible and forgiving. This list does not require you to have an emotional attachment to any particular outcome. It absolves you from having to cling to the job; there is no dependency on what others might think.

Therefore, don’t ask yourself, “how can I care less about work.”

Instead, ask yourself, “Did I try my best today considering the way I felt along with the information available?” At the end of the day, there is nothing more that any one person, including you, can ask of yourself.

When you know you’ve done your best per the given circumstances, all else falls into place.

If you enjoy this content, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!

#56 Entitlement at Work: When They Owe You

September 10th, 2021 by

If you feel you’ve ‘earned’ your keep, if you believe they ‘owe’ you, then this blog post is a must read. Learn about the effects of entitlement at work and how you may be selling yourself short.

On a Macro Level

There is no doubt you are a hard worker. You go above and beyond if you can. Colleagues enjoy your camaraderie, the boss trusts you, and you know how to be resourceful. In some respects, you are every employer’s dream.

In return for being a wonderful employee, you may feel a bit of entitlement at work. After all, they should owe you for your strenuous efforts and for cleaning up all those messes you didn’t ask for, right?

Your version of entitlement may look like:

  • I deserve XYZ for all I’ve done
  • I performed better than so-and-so and they should recognize that
  • This company would be hurting if it weren’t for my efforts
  • They could at least say “Thank you”
  • I expect to be compensated for this

On a macro level, entitlement at work means you believe you have the right to something. You believe they ‘owe’ you. 

On a Micro Level

Let’s dissect this a bit more. A person produces results ABC and consequently believes they are owed XYZ in return. This assumption presupposes there was some kind of per-arranged agreement or contract. 

For example, you pay Amazon $10 as you place an order for a book. You are then entitled to that new book. In this case, they owe you the new book. 

As an employee, you signed a contract to fulfill tasks associated with a job title. Thus, the employer owes you a compensation package as stated in the contract – no more, no less.

When you anticipate or expect entitlements at work, above and beyond your compensation package, you engage in career attachment. On a micro level, career attachment is when you rely on external outcomes (entitlements) to fulfill an internal, emotional need (See Post #35). 

If you are attached to specific outcomes at your external job, then you set yourself up to be internally disappointed. The reason is because outcomes are beyond your control.

When You’re Missing the Point

What I’m about to state could pose a new way of thinking for you. It may frazzle your brain, so bear with me and try to be open-minded.

One purpose in life is to overcome obstacles so we can transform into a higher version of ourselves. A way to do this is through our job. It is virtually impossible to beat challenges and improve emotional maturity if you depend on certain outcomes (such as a promotion, a bonus, a thank you, etc).

It is possible to rid yourself of the desire for entitlements at work, i.e. to detach yourself from your job. Here is a brain exercise to get you started. These questions will help you shift focus away from the externals and toward internal recognition. Warning: answers require deep levels of thinking!

  • Can internal acknowledgement of your own work ethic and your own work efforts serve as your reward? 
  • Is it remotely possible to remove the desire for external recognition knowing you learned some things and grew your intellect?
  • What if your spirit knew how hard you worked and that in and of itself is good enough?
  • What if you laid your head down at night with the visceral satisfaction of knowing you did the best job you could?

The conclusion, my friends, is that when you chase and obtain external rewards, they are often not ‘good enough’ and you will continue the cycle of chasing. The point of work isn’t to fulfill your emotional needs. The point of work is to face and defeat all the pains, challenges, and undesirable events to upgrade yourself.

Podcast Episode: Entitled Engineers

I experienced the phenomenon of expecting rewards during my days as a young engineer. I share my own pain and suffering due to entitlements at work in this podcast episode. Don’t make the same mistakes I made:

6:59 Why I felt like a “complete failure” after obtaining my master’s degree in engineering
13:00 Why I walked away from the life I worked so hard to create
18:03 When family and friends don’t ‘get’ your problems
25:45 The profound life question that haunted me as an unemployed professional
28:43 The dangerous disconnect between entitlements and reality
34:23 My best quote and one question for engineers who want to be happy

What are you attached to in the workplace, is there something they owe you … tell me about it!

If you enjoy this content, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn and ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!

#55 Career Security – Is Your Future Insured?

August 26th, 2021 by

What if it were possible to secure your professional future? To know that your career, with all its twists and turns, can withstand hardships and economic downfalls? This article will help you understand what it takes to insure your career security and avoid drifting along.

Don’t Do This

  • First, do not rely on external situations or other people for career security. For example, don’t count on that future job offer which may seem so obvious in the moment. Don’t count on that buddy to get your foot in the door. The reason is because outside circumstances and external people are very good at disappointing us. If possible, avoid any emotional dependence on things external to you (emotional needs, by the way, are best fulfilled by YOU).
  • Second, do not search for ‘stable’ or ‘secure’ jobs, companies or industries thinking you’ll be in ‘good’ shape. Nothing is guaranteed and nothing is stable (unless you appointed Supreme Court Justice or a tenured professor – those are quite stable). Again, if you are emotionally dependent on what you think is a stable or secure external, be prepared for disappointment at any time.
  • Third, do not blend your job identity with your self-identity (see Post #35). This is a dangerous and toxic combination. You are not your job. Your job is not you. Think of your job as a tool you use in life. It is a fluid, flexible, unpredictable resource that will help you attain your next endeavor. You are a living being with beliefs and energy; a career is simply a learning experience.

The Secret Ingredient

Plain and simple, your self-worth is the catalyst for your results, experiences and career security. That’s what it comes down to: self-worth. The degree to which you are confident, happy and fulfilled is proportional to your level of self-worth. Allow me to explain with a simple example.

Person A and Person B both work as designers with Company X. One day, they are unexpectedly laid off. Both must gather their personal belongings and be escorted out the building in front of everyone. 

Person A is devastated. Person A has never thought about their skills, talents, offerings, or branding. In addition, Person A always knew deep down it was a possibility they could be laid off. However, it was a scenario too painful to consider. It was too uncomfortable to be proactive and anticipate undesirable future events.

Therefore, Person A must scramble in a desperate attempt to find a new job ASAP while dreading the interview process … not a fun thing to do from a feeling of panic and low self-confidence!

Upgrade Yourself

Person B, however, has taken a much more proactive approach to their career journey. They regularly work on their wellbeing, admit personal strengths/weaknesses and recently completed an online professional development course, “Overcoming Career Constraints – What College Doesn’t Teach You.”

Person B understand that it’s not necessary to freak out or act in desperation. Person B knows they possess skills and talents other companies need and they are not afraid to speak highly of themselves. They have increased self-confidence and calmly understand the layoff was nothing personal … and they look forward to coherently finding the next open door!

Moreover, Person B has insured their future due to their willingness for self-exploration. They can confidently apply for jobs, interview, fail if necessary and continue the process with a drama-free mindset. They will not be discouraged by rejections, failures or mistakes. Person B also knows, thanks to my online course “Overcoming Career Constraints,” that employment is not required in order to fulfill career purpose.

In conclusion, the same situation produced a completely different experience for each individual due to their mindset around self-worth.

Do you want to know more about insuring your future? ALL are welcome to attend Class 1 for FREE on Sept. 15: Why You Are Held Back. Register now on my Events Page!

If you enjoy this content, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!

#54 Are You Lacking Self-Confidence?

August 13th, 2021 by

People talk at work. The boss is unreasonable. Your customer complained about you. What do you do?  If you are lacking self-confidence, it can haunt your professional life in myriad ways. Here are three pivotal reasons you should work on building it.

Blending Self and Job Identity

This is an insidious combination of two separate items that people tend to not recognize.

To blend the self with the job identity implies your job is part of your being. It means your existence is reliant upon your duties, job title or employer. When this occurs, life is grand if the job is going well. However, it also means that when the job goes south for whatever reasons, so does your life.

There are two problems when we blend work with our self-identities. First, you are relying on externals, almost completely out of your control, to feel confident. When we rely on external situations to make us feel good or confident, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

The second problem is that you tend to forget that careers are only one slice of life’s massive pie. People who depend on careers for their wellbeing are likely to forget there are significant, more important things to life.

Think of your job (and your career) as a tool. It is simply a tool that changes over time, morphs into something you may or may have anticipated, and acts as a springboard to your next job.

Jobs and employers are not the end all be all, as much as they may seem. If you suspect you are blending self and job identities, answer the question, “In what ways am I lacking self-confidence?”

Job identity is not self-identity!

Failure and Leadership

You are a leader. It does not matter if you started your first job today or if you’ve been at it for years. Despite your role on the organizational chart, you are a leader and I will tell you why.

First, others depend on you. Your colleagues and your management depend on your results and productivity. You are filling an important void the company needs to thrive so it can serve its customers. Therefore, your employer is heavily dependent upon your good judgment, which leads to reason No. 2.

Second, you are not just a leader in the workplace. You are the CEO over your own life. And do you know what CEOs do? They:

  • take charge
  • make decisions even when it is terrifying
  • are future focused and do not dwell on the past
  • view mistakes as information, not failure
  • try, fail, get up, try, and fail again until they figure things out
  • do not need a checklist, instructions, or directions; they eagerly learn as they go

Defeating obstacles and challenges helps you remove barriers that block you from knowing how exceptional you are. If everything were easy, you would remain stagnant.

Learn to lead yourself before you attempt to lead others!

People-Pleasing

Do you work extra hard or extra-long to keep others off your back? Do you say “okay” when you really mean “no?” People-pleasing can take many shapes and forms in the workplace; this is a sure sign you’re lacking self-confidence.

It is tempting to overwork or create perfectionistic tendencies when the pressure is on. After all, what will others think if you don’t do a great job? But here is the people-pleasing dilemma: you either satisfy others, or you satisfy yourself. Which is more important?

A people-pleaser would rather make others happy over making themselves happy. The root of people-pleasing is fear: “I might be the next to go; I need this job; I have to do everything they tell me to do; it’s too hard to find another job right now, etc.”

It’s not difficult to imagine how a people-pleasing mindset can enable toxicity. Confident people know how to choose themselves and their wellbeing over others (yes, including the boss). The person with high self-confidence realizes their employer needs them more than they need the employer. Confident employees know how to set boundaries and gracefully say “no.” Perhaps most importantly, the highly self-confident person is not beholden to their employer!

People-pleasers choose to not please the single, most important person alive: themselves!

Are you lacking self-confidence and ready to do something about it? Visit my Events Page to register FREE for Class 1 of my upcoming fall course starting Sept. 15, which teaches confidence and life skills for a healthy, sustainable career!

If you enjoy this content, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!

#53 Overcoming Career Constraints

July 30th, 2021 by

What would you give to resolve those lingering work constraints that stifle your productivity … or your growth? Anything from management to politics can contribute to career constraints. Here are three common issues I hear about in various flavors.

Career Stagnation

You look around to see people your age with similar experience who are higher up in the food chain. Perhaps you’ve tried moving up (or around) only to find yourself stuck for too long. You can’t seem to gain momentum. And in fact, you may not even know what momentum looks like for you. This type of career constraint is all about stagnation.

Your intellect can also suffer from stagnation. If you’re bored, unchallenged, or getting dumber over time, it’s not just you! This is an all-too common phenomena in the professional workplace. It is quite possible you’ve lost more knowledge than you care to admit. 

Nobody is exempt from career stagnation. It can follow you from job to job, industry to industry, or even into the classroom where the whole idea is to gain knowledge.

A critical reason professionals are feeling stuck is due to … 

Career Dependence

Do you wish you could just say NO at times? Or confront the customer who complains behind your back? Or tell your boss why they are wrong? 

Low self-confidence is the single, most common issue that brings people anxiety and discontentment in the workplace. And low self-confidence may lead to an unhealthy and self0limiting dependence on your employer. I have come to this conclusion based on two observations: my own experiences as a former engineer, and my own experiences as a coach.

Self-confidence is not to be confused with arrogance. Arrogance requires comparison to others; self-confidence does not. Arrogant thoughts may include, “I am better, I am smarter, I make more money than….” Whereas self-confidence is belief in yourself despite what others do or say.

I share my favorite definition of self confidence with you: the willingness to feel any emotion.

The person with low self-confidence is much more likely to be employer-dependent, overworked, and overwhelmed. It is as if the employer exudes power or control over your life. And it doesn’t have to be that way!

Career Purpose & Fulfillment

“This is not what I went to school for … they give me work that isn’t fulfilling … I need a better job.” 

Do these career constraints sound familiar? It might be tempting to believe that since you worked so hard in school and checked all the boxes, a nice reward awaits you. What we most likely didn’t learn in the classroom (I know I didn’t!) is that after checking all the boxes, things don’t always turn out as planned.

The problem is that we look to solve for purpose and fulfillment in the workplace. As odd as it may sound, employers are not required or obligated to fulfill the emotional needs of its employees. If you know of a company that does so, please let me know!

The reason this is a problem is because people look for solutions where they don’t exist (like looking for apples in the dairy section). After many futile attempts, people may become depressed, despondent, resentful or worse.

If you suffer from some or all of these issues, I am offering a fall course to help you defeat them: Overcoming Career Constraints – What College Doesn’t Teach You

Visit my Events Page to register FREE for Class 1 starting Sept. 15!

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and to ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!

#36 Searching for Your Dream Job?

December 4th, 2020 by

Of course you are searching for your dream job! That’s what we do in our culture. You grew up in a world that rewards you with a dream job in exchange for that rigorous college degree. Almost as if you are entitled.

Off to the Races

To your dismay, that dream job has been elusive during your 5-, 10-, or 20-year career. Where the heck is it, you wonder, and how do I find it? You’ve realized that job hopping only lasts so long. Unfortunately, you’ve also realized that you cannot assess a job until you live it.

You are meticulous about picking apart job descriptions. And you are an expert at eliminating jobs that don’t sound perfect. You ask great questions in your interviews. Informational interviews are standard practice. Of course, you always insist on meeting your new prospective boss before accepting a new job. 

You’re doing all the right things. Yet, here you are, begrudgingly searching for your dream job. The perfect one that offers reasonable challenges, superb benefits, and a stellar team with true leadership. Whatever your definition, you’re not finding it. And it is a maddening race you cannot win.

Professional Scavenger Hunt

The myriad counselors, advisors, teachers, and professors have tried their best to guide you. It is not their fault that, after all this time, you are still searching for your dream job. Nor is it your fault. You can only act based on the information at hand.

The missing piece is that you attract what you are, not what you want. If you want great, be great.

If you are unsettled, if you are wishy-washy, if you are uncertain, that is the kind of job (and career) you will attract. Accepting a job with hope, wishful thinking, or high expectations is a surefire way to set yourself up for disappointment. For example, if you resentfully go to work, your work and your output will be resentful. If you force yourself to go to work, your work and your output will be forced.

However, the flip side is also true. If you are proud, confident, or happy before you accept your new job, then the job will follow accordingly. The point is that dream jobs are not something to be found, as if they are part of a professional scavenger hunt. Dream jobs don’t hang around awaiting the perfect person to whisk them away akin to a fairy tale ending.

Dream jobs are created. They are created by people who are great within themselves. Great cannot be found out there in the external world; it is something you foster within your being. The secret to a dream job is to nurture this great relationship with yourself first. Alas, paving the way for you to create your dream job.

Dream jobs are created by you, they are not out there to be found.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#35 Career Attachment: Do You Conflate Self and Job Identity?

November 20th, 2020 by

I spoke at a conference yesterday and struck a nerve. Attendees reached out to me with personal stories about career attachment, and how it caused havoc in their lives. They thanked me for the helpful information, and I gladly summarize here.

Career Attachment

We work super duper hard to earn one of the toughest degrees around. As engineering students and as young professionals, we create visions of a fantasy career living life happily ever after. It includes wonderful images of promotions, accolades, benefits, and money. We start our first professional job ready to hit the ground running.

Naturally, you’d like to see your career thrive. You want to nourish it and feed it and watch it grow. This desire promotes a dangerous kind of bond if you are not cognizant – an emotional attachment to your career. It is as if your career is a child, which requires emotional bonding to thrive.

However, your career is not a child. You have possibly fostered an emotional bond to your career, and this career attachment grows with time (see Post #09). The problem? Your emotional health in this scenario is dependent on your job outcomes. In other words, your emotional quality of life is dependent on an external circumstance – your career.

This career attachment you have created can grow into a monster, because as the job rides a professional roller coaster, so does your personal life. It can lead to self-defeating activities such as overworking, lack of boundaries, burnout, or worse.

Self-Description is not Job Description

First, recognize that the things you DO in life are different from WHO you are. Your TITLE at work is separate from your IDENTITY as a human. Humans are uniquely authentic and inherently worthy. This means, despite your past, your successes, and failures, you are still a 100% worthy, spiritual human being.

Your career, on the other hand, is a tool to be used for the sake of evolving your life. It is fluid and unpredictable, you never know how it will morph from one day to the next. One thing your career is NOT: an indication of your worthiness in this world.

Secondly, breaking the career attachment habit requires high self-worth and self-confidence. This includes respecting and valuing who you are, despite your flaws and failures. It requires knowing yourself inside and out. The magic happens in life when you can learn to love yourself unconditionally!

Last, I offer my favorite definition of self-confidence: the willingness to feel any emotion. When high self-confidence allows you to embrace uncomfortable feelings, such as setting boundaries or saying No at work, your emotional health will vastly improve.

The main takeaway is that career attachment leads to an unhealthy, destructive dependency on your job outcome. Instead of relying on external outcomes to feel good, look to the inside and rely on your mentality.

Internal self-validation sets the stage for the way you experience life.

Are you attached to your career? Let me know what that creates for your life!

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#29 Is Happiness the Purpose of Your Job?

August 28th, 2020 by

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Slocum, Founder of Engineers Rising. Stephanie is an engineer-turned career coach, similar to my path of engineer-turned life coach. We chatted about some of the most pressing issues young engineers face in their careers. I am going to summarize some of the germane points here because so many of you will benefit from this knowledge.

When Management Expects too Much

Many of us believe in the concept of job security and career fulfillment. It’s not our fault; this is the way society grooms us. The first problem with this belief is that there is no such thing as job security. The second problem is that careers don’t fulfill people. Fulfillment comes from within.

The ideas of job security and career fulfillment can be negative motivators. You may feel obligated to work overtime all too often. Or, you may feel the necessity to check your email during evening hours instead of spending time on you. These are the kinds of activities that lead to burnout.

If management knows you are a people-pleaser, you allow them free will to overwork you. If you are afraid to set boundaries or to say no, you might suffer from people-pleasing. The reason you are eager to please is due to insecurities within yourself. I promise, if you can clean up your insecurities, you can confidently learn how to say “No.”

Hard Work Equals Higher Worth

It is no doubt engineers and many technical professionals are very proud. And this is fine, there is nothing wrong with being proud of your occupation. What gets people into trouble, however, is when they cannot separate self-identity from job identity.

Too many professionals equate hard work with worthiness. “If I work harder, I’ll be more worthy” is a common belief. The problem with this belief is that people apply it in an attempt to control the future. If only you work harder, you’ll have a better reputation, make more money and hopefully never fall victim to a RIF.

Hard work does not make you or anyone more worthy (see Post #09). As humans, we are all 100% worthy no matter what. Employment is simply a temporary part of your human experience; it does not define your being as a person.

Job Description does not equal self-description!

The Purpose of Your Job

Your job’s job is not to make you happy. It is not to fulfill your needs. This is a foreign idea to many of you as we have been brought up in a society that teaches us otherwise. Happiness and fulfillment come from within, and it is your own responsibility to create those outcomes for yourself.

If this is so, what is the purpose of your job? The purpose is for you to show up daily, do the best work you can with the knowledge you have, fail along the way, learn from mistakes, and grow yourself. The purpose of your job is to amaze yourself with extraordinary accomplishments. Just as importantly, the purpose of your job is to present challenges and obstacles that evolve you into a higher version as you conquer them one by one.

Did you perform your best today, on your own behalf, given all circumstances? Will you lay your head down tonight knowing you gave it your all? If so, then congratulations, you have realized the purpose of your job.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#28 Are You Scrambling to Find New Employment?

August 14th, 2020 by

The COVID employment cuts continue to trickle down to your family members, your friends, and yourself. When colleagues next to you have been let go, you feel a bit of conflicted relief – thank goodness it wasn’t you. But … what if it is you … will you react by scrambling to find new employment?

COVID is Beside the Point

As I recently discussed in my video “COVID-19: Physically Okay, Mentally Infected,” COVID is one of many obstacles we will encounter during our life experience. It is unique, of course, in the sense that global pandemics are not a routine issue in our society. It is true your job may have disappeared due to COVID. Also true is that your job could have disappeared at any time for any number of reasons.

Hence, I invite you to explore the idea that your employment was already somewhat at risk prior to COVID. In fact, most jobs are always at risk, COVID or not. There is no such thing as secure, guaranteed employment (not for the common professional earning their own way). But, most people don’t like to envision their employment vanishing into thin air. It is an uncomfortable thought and thus, most people bet their jobs are secure enough.

Some people lose that bet. Now that you are scrambling to find new employment, you wish you would have taken proactive steps.

Do Yourself a Favor

First, stop scrambling. Of course, you may feel shocked, angry or confused. The worst thing you can do is search for jobs and tailor multiple resumes from a feeling of scarcity or desperation. That desperate energy will work its way into your desperate attempts to apply or to interview. You might as well advertise in your resume, “I’m desperate.”

Secondly, your negative or self-defeating feelings ought to be processed through. You would never construct the frame of a house without first securing the foundation. Likewise, allow the negative energy to sit with you as long as it takes. If you create mental permission to let your negative feelings exist, eventually they will leave. That is when you can mindfully regroup and coherently concentrate on your successful job search.

If you find that you are scrambling to find new employment, you’re getting ahead of yourself. Allow the negative energy to come and go; allow yourself permission feel whatever you need to feel. Then, you will be mighty capable of pouring impactful, positive energy into your job search.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#25 How Long will you Suffer from Career Despair?

July 3rd, 2020 by

You left your previous position knowing the grass was greener. And you also held the same belief 2 or 3 jobs ago prior to moving on. Here you are again, different job, new environment, and you still suffer from career despair. Why can’t you seem to find content?

It All Adds Up

You can easily point to the things that are wrong around you. Some colleagues are unresponsive, others may be too responsive. Customers are unrealistic, management expects miracles and you’re trying to please everyone. Why can’t people give you a break and realize you are doing your best under prevailing circumstances?

Adding salt to the wound is your lackluster salary, which doesn’t justify your pain and suffering. You are quite the asset to your employer, and in fact, to a fault. Previous attempts to switch roles have gone futile because the organization won’t ‘let’ you leave. Hence, you feel punished for doing your job well. And just because you do it well does not mean it is the right one for you. If some of these scenarios are too familiar, it’s no wonder you suffer from career despair.

How long will you proceed with status quo until your sanity dwindles (See Post #10)? Changing jobs or employers was not a long-term solution because the grass didn’t sustain its color. Earning another degree or certification didn’t solve the problem of dissatisfaction. Leaving the company only to return a few years later quickly lost its shine. All the meanwhile, energy drains from your being as you seek elusive career contentment.

Tunnel Vision

May I suggest the problem is not external in nature. Rather, you have been carrying the same mentality with you to each job. And each job leaves you more vigilant than the previous, because you’re desperate to avoid the same scenarios. This vigilant desperation enables you to absorb flaws and all things that are wrong. It’s a vicious cycle that begins with your thoughts and beliefs.

Unless you change your beliefs and attitudes about how things should be, you will continue to suffer from career despair. Your tunnel vision will continue to haunt – this tunnel vision is your root cause. It is easy and tempting to point the finger at externals. However, if you continue to wait for the externals to adapt to your preferences, you will be waiting forever.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#24 Did your Employer Break a Promise to You?

June 19th, 2020 by

“It’s better to receive a smaller raise now so you can get a bigger raise later!” Have you heard, “Working 60+ hours a week without overtime is an opportunity for you to shine.” I could go on as you nod your head yes, but you get it. This common rhetoric is no laughing matter. How are you supposed to be a motivated, impactful employee when your employer breaks a promise to you?

A Grain of Salt

Imagine a time when your friend, spouse or loved one make a promise they didn’t keep. Were you devastated or disappointed? In hindsight, you might be able to see the signs clearly and you can’t believe you were so naïve. On the other hand, some people keep their promises. And you know you can count on them.

What about when your employer breaks a promise to you? First, for anyone to break a promise, a promise must be established up front. This is tricky and the nuances can be inconspicuous. Secondly, if your employer clearly makes a promise to you, it is your choice to believe or disbelieve. Sadly, employees tend towards believing the promise and simply hoping for the best. Lesson learned is that sometimes promises should be skeptically received with a grain of salt. Or several grains of salt.

Who Needs Promises

Where does that leave you, what are your options when your employer breaks a promise to you (see Post #21)? Rewind back to the point when your manager made this so-called promise. It was your self-obligation to decide if this promise was believable. Do you know how to find out if a promise is believable? You request the conditions in writing, to be signed by management. When the signed agreement is in your possession, congratulations, you have yourself a promise! If they don’t agree to their promise in writing … well, you can form your own conclusion.

Your management, by the way, is within their rights to tell you what they think you want to hear. They can promise the moon. The point is that people tell you things all the time. Your self-obligation is to use the best judgment and decide whether to believe. It’s a crappy road when your employer breaks a promise to you. The wrong question is, ”How could they do that to me?” The critical questions are, “Why did I want to believe their promise in the first place? How is it I put myself in that position?”

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#22 Have Trouble Saying No?

May 22nd, 2020 by

Do you find yourself saying yes when you secretly want to say no? Such as when your boss asks for your expertise on a thick draft knowing your plate is full. Or, an overseas customer would like your participation on a 4am conference call, at their convenience. You have trouble saying no and subsequently oblige because this is part of the job. Right?

The Dilemma

As a diligent, dependable employee, you have trouble saying no, whether in response to unreasonable requests or small favors. First, you welcome challenges that allow you to contribute solid results. Second, you feel pressured. After all, what were to happen if you said no? The only way to find out what would happen is to start saying no, but you don’t want to take the chance. Instead, you overcommit yourself to the point of exhaustion.

People-pleasers, those that have trouble saying no, reluctantly say yes at their own expense to gain favor with someone else. You are painfully aware that you don’t want to provide a service. Then you regretfully spend energy to perform this service, stealing your time away from things that matter. To add to your frustrations, you end up resenting the person for whom you provided this service. At the end of the day, you bitterly ask yourself why you have trouble saying no.

Internal Versus External Approval

Your justifications for saying yes will vary from, “they might fire me” to, “I can’t say no.” Whatever your reasons, they are rooted from the same issue: fear. You fear for your reputation, your job and your confidence (See Post #04). Fear can a powerful influential force, and others may use your fear to their own advantage.

Your fears are born from an inability to gain internal approval – you struggle to please yourself. You see, when an unwilling yes translates to gaining others’ approval, you are filling a void. This void includes a lack of self-respect and a lack of internal satisfaction with yourself. You fill this void by pleasing others, i.e., you strive for external approval. When colleagues, friends or bosses are happy with your capitulation, the urge to gain internal satisfaction ceases. Your deep-rooted fear grows over time as you consistently seek external approval.

You must be willing to be disliked by others so you can like yourself. Boss included.

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#20 “Where is my Raise?”

April 24th, 2020 by

You are an exceptional employee, going above and beyond the call of duty. You’ve worked weekends, quelled dangerous fires and customers appreciate your genuine efforts. In your recent yearly review, management praised your work and thanked you for your dedication. For whatever reason, your yearly raise vanished into thin air. It doesn’t make sense, you want answers, and you want to know, “Where is my raise?”

What you Should Know

I don’t mean to be a pessimistic heartbreaker. But, I am going to share something I wish someone would have told me back when. I wish a mentor would have been brutally honest and told me, “Your employer is under no obligation to provide raises.” I would have awkwardly questioned this statement over a disappointing lunch. Nobody ever shared this little but impactful secret.

Had I known I was not entitled to a yearly raise, I wouldn’t have felt like I had just been blasted with a water hose the first time I was denied. It happened more than once; the second time admittedly wasn’t as bad. Nonetheless, I turned back the clock and tried to understand what I did wrong. Why was I being punished for what I thought was particularly good work. I wanted to ask, “Where is my raise?”

Stop Doing This

Today I know better, and I’d like to share a few things to spare you the same suffering. First, it is true. Employers are under no obligation to provide yearly raises (unless, of course, it is specified in a written contract). It is comforting to believe your employer will provide yearly raises out of the goodness of their lucrative hearts. However, you are not entitled. Dependency on a raise to make you feel better is like dependency on your child to earn straight A’s.

Next, stop blaming yourself. There is no positive outcome when you resuscitate previous work scenarios to use against yourself. Forget about this tempting habit to fall into the self-blame trap. Last, it does not matter if you are the best employee or the worst. When your employer decides you’re not getting a raise, stop asking yourself “why”, “where is my raise”, or “what the hell?”

Shifting Focus

What you can do instead is shift your focal point inward (See Post #13). An outwardly focused perspective may include dwelling on a raise you know you deserved but did not receive. How would productivity change and how would your self-confidence change if you only focused inwardly?

For example, perform your absolute best daily so you can savor your own work ethic. Go the extra mile (within reason) knowing at the end of the day you tried your best. Serve your customers on a silver platter, not in hopes of a raise, but because you know you are capable.

Only you can entirely understand the depths of your own capabilities. The job, the employer and the raise are simply external byproducts. Nothing is more rewarding than the justified self-elation stirring about after blowing your own mind.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#19 COVID Effects: Do you Secretly Wish to be Laid Off?

April 10th, 2020 by

Restaurants are only permitted to serve takeout, students must adjust to online learning and employees find themselves working from home. If they’re working at all. Many service and professional workers have been pushed out of their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You feel sympathy for the newly unemployed as they scramble to figure things out. However, in the midst of their unwelcome unemployment, you secretly wish to be laid off.

Old Problem Solved

In your mind, a forced layoff means you get to sever ties without submitting your 2 weeks’ notice. That solves many problems for you! First, it provides an easy explanation during future job interviews. “They laid me off due to COVID downsizing” seems to take responsibility away from you as the employee.

Second, your spouse has no control over your being laid off. If only your employer let you go, you wouldn’t have to convincingly persuade your spouse that your time is up. The third issue a layoff will resolve is your reticent desire to get the heck out of that place. You can create long list of reasons why it’s time to leave; or, perhaps you’re holding on to one significant reason. Your bottom line: secretly wishing to be laid off paves the easy way to other, more satisfying employment.

New Problem

My challenge to you: how will you handle similar circumstances in your new place of employment? Imagine this: pretend you eventually find a better job with a better salary and a better commute (see Post #08). You’re as happy as can be for several months – this is what you’ve always sought in a career… until it’s not.

How would you handle your new circumstance if, let’s say, one day you learn the company is sold? How would you handle a new boss, a reassignment to a new program, or a round of salary cuts? When a career checks all the boxes and life is well, you’re not challenged to evolve, grow or to practice self-awareness. It’s an insidious deceit for all of us when life operates as a well-oiled machine.

Adaptability

Even a well-oiled machine wears down and requires maintenance. Just when you believe that new job is perfect and meets all your requirements, one day you’ll find that it doesn’t. Will you then think about searching for the next one?

When you next job isn’t what you thought, are you going to secretly wish to be laid off again? A layoff (or a new job) may temporarily provide relief from current career woes. The best long-term solution, however, is to work on your mental adaptability skills. You will be a happier, more productive and resilient person if you adapt your brain to job circumstances rather than forcing job circumstances to adapt to your brain.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#17 Do You Think for Yourself?

March 13th, 2020 by

Do you embrace information without question, OR do you tend to think independently? I will talk about the differences and you can determine how these apply to your life.

Living a Programmed Life

Imagine the last time you openly challenged a theory, a boss or a customer. Our society, at times, does not advocate that you challenge status quo. You tend to conform to the norm when you don’t ask questions or perform your own investigations. When this happens, you are believing information as is or perhaps you don’t have time to verify. You probably like to be efficient, and right or wrong, it’s efficient to believe what you are told. It’s not efficient to question information that many embrace without the blink of an eye.

For example, have you ever questioned processes, policies or feedback at work? How about your faith or religious beliefs? Or marriage and the idea of rearing kids? And what about your financial dealings, such as 401ks, IRAs and other investments?

The point here is that you have full control over your personal actions and beliefs. How often do you make decisions based on your own interpretation of knowledge? You run the risk of living by default when consistently conforming to ideas, customs and norms without question.

Think for Yourself

In contrast, an independent thinker tends to make deliberate, conscious decisions. And an independent thinker acknowledge their reasons for making such choices. If you think on your own behalf, you tend to question ideas, practices and status quo. This is not an easy practice because others generally don’t like to be challenged.

And I am not suggesting you question everything and everyone in your life (see Post #12). Rather, I challenge you to thoughtfully ponder ideas, principles and the lifestyle you live by. Have these been chosen for you or by you?

In conclusion, we fall between the two extremes of accepting all information at face value vs questioning status quo. Where do you stand?

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#9 Do Jobs Determine Human Value?

December 13th, 2019 by

True or false: your human worth is synonymous with your profession? The more worthy the career, the more worthy the person. Correct? When jobs determine human value, workplace status spills over into your personal world. If you’re seeking a precise recipe for disaster, that is it!

The Danger Zone

It is perfectly healthy to be proud of your occupation. What’s not so healthy is when you associate your humanness with your career and job title. In fact, it can be self-destructive. If you equate human worth to the value of your occupation, then you have an emotional attachment, or an emotional dependency, on your job. This is a surefire way to set your life up for disappointment.

An emotional attachment means your personal feelings fluctuate with the ebbs and flows of your career. In other words, you rely on your career to meet your emotional needs (see Post #13). When the career is good, life is good. When the career isn’t so hot, your personal life suffers and it can be a treacherous, downward spiral. Sound familiar?

Human Worth

The biggest takeaway I will offer: your profession is simply a portion of your human experience. There’s what you DO, and there’s who you ARE. You do things like eat, work, play, and create experiences. Who you are is a human being that is 100% worthy, because all humans possess inherent, boundless value. Not one human is better or more worthy than another.

Thus, your career and job titles are in no way proportional to your human worthiness. It is true your chosen career is a reflection of your personal characteristics; however, it does not define you as a person. Your career is simply an experience on earth. This is critical information because the moment your job disappears, you’re left with you. If you believe jobs determine human value, then in theory, every person without a job would be a worthless human.

Learn how to be emotionally dependent on YOU, not your job. Titles come and go; professions are merely choices we make. The intrinsic value of a human does not compare to any amount of occupational experience.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!