Tag: career dependency

#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?”

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

#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.

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

#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!