Is the water in your glass half-full or half-empty?  It’s as full as you believe it to be.  Your perceptions impact the way you interact with the world around you and determine if you are an optimist or a pessimist.

Did you know you can cultivate optimism?  Even though it is a personality trait, it is a skill that can be learned.  The first step is wanting to be optimistic.  If you are not motivated to adjust any thoughts or behaviors, nothing will change.

 

Why Learning Optimism is Important

Numerous experiments and studies show that optimists do better in school and work.  Overall, they generally age well and evidence suggests that they can even live longer.  Additionally, pessimists often get caught up in the idea of perfection, worry and get stuck.

As you are cultivating optimism, keep your feet on the ground.  Being overly optimistic can be just as unhealthy as being pessimistic.  It can cause you to make decisions based on a false sense of reality.  The end goal is to become or remain optimistic while striving to maintain a balanced reality.

 

Ways to Cultivate Optimism Now

Focus on the present moment

It’s easy to zero in on the past or worry about the future.  Instead, develop mindfulness in all your activities.

Look inside

Too often, people think happiness needs to come from an external source.  Finding a better job, a new house, affording a nicer car, etc.  Instead, the state of happiness really comes from being, not having.

Develop gratitude

Take note of all the good going on in your life right now.  When you focus on this positive mindset, optimism will come naturally.

Be kind to others

You can think of optimism as having a boomerang effect.  When you donate to a cause or do a kind gesture for a neighbor, you also benefit by what’s called a “helper’s high”.

Change your words

Reworking your thoughts puts things in a new perspective.  When you notice a pessimistic thought, take a moment and stop.  Think about how you can somehow make that scenario a positive one.  Another example is paying close attention to your words.  For example, instead of saying, “failure”, change it to “learning experience”.

Create short, powerful statements that can be used to remind yourself to be positive and persevere.  What sparks optimistic thoughts for you?  Keep a reminder of that handy.

 

Using these simple ideas to cultivate optimism will take practice.  Before you know it, though, you will be an optimist.

No matter how much you love your job, you have probably experienced a version of the infamous Sunday Scaries.  The feeling that Sunday doesn’t really belong to you and you start your countdown to Monday.

According to a LinkedIn survey, 80 percent of working professionals have reported experiencing the Sunday Scaries. Of those who reported feeling the onset of the Scaries, 1 in 3 admitted they have them every week.  If you fit into one of these categories, here are some alternatives to sitting around and thinking about Monday lurking around the corner.

EXERCISE OVER THE WEEKEND

Do something that gets your heart rate going, makes you feel good, and leaves you feeling refreshed and accomplished.  Exercise is known to produce feel-good hormones. Exercise has been proven to create new hippocampal neurons involved with memory, emotion regulation, and learning.

GO TO A MUSEUM

Feed your brain and soul. Sundays are a great day for an early trip to the museum. According to Attention Restoration Theory, your brain needs to shift mental gears in order to refocus its attention. A great way to do that is to physically remove yourself from your everyday routine.

If that’s not available, consider browsing some of the world’s most amazing museums online. Museums like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art showcase much of their collection online.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

Learn something new—or at least start to learn.  If you are wallowing in Sunday Scaries, you probably have some time to devote to a new craft. Maybe learn how to sew or start learning an entirely new language.  Learning a new skill or a new language is a great way to give yourself purpose.

WAKE UP EARLY

Try getting up as early as you would on a Monday. Go out for a morning stroll, get a coffee, walk your dog, or go for a run.  Sleeping in until 12 p.m. on a Sunday is almost guaranteed to start you off on the wrong foot.  By waking earlier than others, you can take advantage of the quieter part of Sunday and still have a whole day to yourself.

TAKE A HIATUS FROM ALL SCREENS

Consider taking a break from all glowing screens this weekend.  Instead, try something on paper.  Try crossword puzzles or pick up a new book.

THINK ABOUT YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

It’s always good to take note of what you have accomplished.  What did you accomplish?  Even if it’s something small like making it into work on time every day, note it. If you think of your accomplishments and you’re still unimpressed, consider how you can improve in the coming week.

DO MID-WEEK THINGS

Skip a night of television in bed and go out. Catch a new movie with a friend or get dinner with your significant other. Don’t put so much pressure on the weekend being the only leisure time you have. Get it going on a Tuesday.

CATCH UP WITH SOMEONE

Use the weekend to catch up with an old friend. Take an afternoon to laugh about college, to share stories from your life as it stands, and maybe even to get some advice from an old friend.

 

These are other ways the Sunday Scaries can be defeated besides just looking for a new job.  It’s time to start to reclaim your weekend and to arrive Monday morning refreshed and ready to go.

An informational interview is not a job interview.  It is a way to get a clear visual of an industry, company, or position to determine if it’s right for you.  When you request an informational interview with someone, it means you are willing to hear their story without pressing your own.

Once you get someone to agree to meet you for an information interview, the next task is developing the right questions to ask.  Make sure to personalize the questions and do research on the person and their work in advance.  Here are some of our favorites.

Tell me a bit about your career path and what led you to the role you are in today?  An informational interview is about them, so this is the best place to start.

What were some of your earlier roles in the field?  Great follow up questions include what did you learn that helps you today? Or, what mistakes did you make along the way? These give you great insight into how linear, or not, someone’s career path was.

What does a work day look like for you?  This will help you determine if you would enjoy the everyday experience of this type of role.

What are some big projects you’re working on now or that you’ve finished up in the last few months?  Projects keep a job interesting, so you want to know what he or she has been working on.

What are you most excited about right now?  What this person enjoys about her work could be completely unexpected and it’s a great way to get the person to open up more.

Is there something that surprised you about the role when you first started?  You may have someone who is willing to be candid about the downsides of their job.  If not, this question is an easy shift to allow them to share something they were unprepared for.

What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a job like yours?  Take careful note of these, especially the ones you don’t technically have to fill gaps in your skill set before applying for similar jobs.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face day-to-day?  As you listen, do these challenges excite you or do they sound horrible?

What about the biggest rewards?  This can range from the salary to an emotional reward.  Listen carefully to see if the answer resonates with you.

Do you have any recommendations for other people I should talk to or other resources I should explore?  Maybe they’ll introduce you to another contact, but it’s also great to just hear what sites you should be reading or newsletters you should subscribe to.

Are there any questions I’m not asking that I should be? Sometimes you’ve missed a big element of the work simply because you didn’t ask in quite the right way.

Would it be alright for us to stay in touch?  Whether that’s through LinkedIn or through an occasional email, it’s always nice to turn an informational interview into an ongoing networking connection or a potential mentor.

Make sure to wind down the information interview in a timely fashion.  Keep an eye on the time.  Generally speaking, they should be no longer than 20-25 minutes.  If you find you are going to run long, find a logical place to cut yourself off.  Thank them when you are through and following up with a thank you note is also a nice touch.  If you asked to stay in touch, be sure to follow through.  Set a calendar notification on your phone for one month or a couple months out from your meeting to make sure you remember.

When done correctly, informational interviews can help you make good decisions as well as expand your network.

Whether you want to try something new or developed a passion in a different area than your current career, you may be wondering to yourself, “How do others make this leap?” It’s easy to get frustrated after you receive several letters from companies informing you that another candidate was selected because they had more experience.

STOP APPLYING ONLINE
Putting in your general application is great if you already hold the same title or similar title to what you are applying for or want new challenges within a similar role. Online applications don’t work for transition into a new role or industry because you don’t get a chance to explain yourself.

BREAKING IN WITHOUT EXPERIENCE

Decide what you want to be known for. Find people who are considered thought leaders, influencers, or someone with the same position you are looking for. Discover what they do to really stand out and use that to assess and build your own person brand.

Use Social Media. Take a close look at what you are putting out in social media. Clean things up and then go back to deciding what you want to be known for. Start curating posts and content around your passion topics. Make what others say validate your true interests in securing a specific role with a company.

Network with future colleagues. Look around to find people who could be your potential future coworkers. Where do they hang out? Take a look at professional associations and upcoming events. When you do attend these, make meaningful connections.

Create an online portfolio. This not only allows you to stand out from the crowd, but it also gives a way to be found. Give tangible examples of your work and provide information on what you are passionate about.

Certification and online courses. Take your passion a step further, this shows you’re serious. You don’t necessarily need a new degree to make a transition unless it requires a specific level or type of education. Many employers are willing to train the right person, but they need to know you have the basic foundation and the willingness to learn. Learning the language of the new role helps you articulate how your background transfers to it.

Offer to help. While networking, find out how you can help others with your desired position. You can use your help and effort to gain knowledge about the area you want to tap into. The secret is to give more in order to receive more. Or maybe you can volunteer at a non-profit while you are learning your new skills. They will likely welcome the extra help!

Making a career transition is a process. It will not happen overnight, but as you build the foundation with these suggestions, you will be equipped to connect with the right people to lead you to the right opportunity.

In the past, a career was static, and it was a stable part of your identity.  But times have changed and if is more like this:

“Hi, I’m Molly and I have an undergrad in political science, worked at a tech start up for a couple years, quit to pursue art full-time, and then went into consulting to pay the bills.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s no wonder why you feel confused and you could be experiencing a career identity crisis. Even if you undergo only one or two major career shifts in your lifetime, those shifts can hit you hard. 

Our work doesn’t just feel like something we do; it feels like something we are. This can be healthy or unhealthy depending on your relationship to your career, but the point is that a change in your career signals a change in you. And when that change is uncomfortable, you feel uncomfortable.

When you want to leave an old career for a new career, the question is not just, “How will I do something new?” You also wrestle with, “How will I be someone new?”

Career transitions are the new normal and to be expected.  Careers today are fluid, so it is important to learn how to go with the flow.  Here are some tips to help: 

Schedule a Social Life

While it may be tempting to isolate yourself when you feel like you don’t have it together, it’s important that you have somewhere to be and people to interact with, especially if you’re in a situation where you suddenly have lots of downtime.

Give Yourself Permission to be “In-Between”

You won’t be here forever, so for awhile it’s ok to be uncertain.  For now, you get to not know everything. And don’t worry – you will sort things out and recover. 

Write About Who You Are

This can be list form, stories, notes about your past, or what you’re doing now.  Reconnect to who you are.  You ARE more than your career. Remember who you are—just you, without work defining you. 

Do Things That Make You Feel Like Somebody

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself when you are in the middle of a career crisis.  To counteract that, you need to do things that make you feel capable.  Maybe it is creating art, helping a friend, rearranging your house, or spending time with your nephew. 

Directly Address Career Issues

Oftentimes when something is off in our careers, we feel that we have no control over it.  So, instead of addressing our careers head on, we tinker with other areas of our life.  We start a creative project, invest more in our social lives, or endeavor to do more self-care.  While these can improve the quality of life, they don’t solve the core problem. Take direct action to resolve the conflict in your career, and you’ll feel powerful and more like you. 

You have an existing resume and think it looks and reads okay. So, why waste time on an entire rewrite when you could tweak it here and there? Most likely your resume needs a lot more than tweaking as tweaking rarely yields the result you really need.

Consider applicant tracking systems (ATS). Tweaking your resume does not include making it compatible with these widely used ATS platforms. You need a rewrite to ensure your resume meets the formatting and content parameters necessary to pass the screen and make it to a human reader.

Another key consideration is format. Is it boring and lackluster or does it catch someone’s eye and encourage them to read? A simple tweak will not cover revamping the format either. For example, putting your name and contact information in the header section is a big no-no because the ATS cannot read it. Even if the rest of this resume was great, the candidate would never get a call back because his name and contact information were not visible.

Finally, consider the content. You may be emotionally tied to your career or simply in the dark about what is important to include on your resume. As a result, you most likely listed every single responsibility, making the document read more like a grocery list than a compelling career document.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you simply updating your resume will automatically meet your needs and those of a prospective employer. Because the stakes are high — and because it can be hard to take a birds-eye view of your experience, and to be able to identify what skills and competencies to highlight — consider enlisting a professional who can help guide you.

Career coaching is an investment — of your time, money and energy. Is it worth it? How are you able to determine the return on your investment? While the exact figure varies from person to person, if you put in the work, career coaching will return benefits that far exceed the costs.

Given that you’ll spend between many hours of your adult life at work, according to Jessica Pryce-Jones, loving what you do isn’t a luxury. Pryce-Jones, researcher and author of Happiness at Work, asserts that work satisfaction depends on five critical factors:
• Contribution—the effort you make;
• Conviction—the motivation you have;
• Culture—how well you feel you fit at work;
• Commitment—the extent to which you are engaged; and
• Confidence—belief that you have in yourself and your job.

These factors require alignment between you (your natural abilities, interests, skills and values) and your career.

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF BEING IN THE WRONG CAREER
Working in a career that doesn’t align with your abilities or values impacts your psychological and physical health. You might not be able to focus, or maybe you’re irritable. This stress can morph into overwhelm, especially if you feel like you’re running on a treadmill, stuck in place. And if you’ve risen in the ranks, you may be well compensated, which might make you feel even more trapped.

A multitude of factors come into making prudent career choices; giving each of them the proper weight in the big picture requires objectivity and prudence. Attempting to figure it out on your own can be tricky, but fearful of making the wrong choice, you remain stuck. Over time, expending that much mental energy while staying in the same place takes a toll. However, if you’re frustrated, stressed or unhappy at work, career coaching is often the most direct and cost-effective route to resolving the underlying issue.

HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR PERSONAL CAREER COACHING ROI
Many people consider “finding a new job” their ultimate goal. In most cases, career coaching ultimately does lead to a change, which could mean a new job, a new company or a new career. The reason: the true ROI of career coaching lies in its power to facilitate an internal change, which is far more powerful. It’s impossible to make any change without doing something differently and career coaching is that catalyst for change.

The good news is that it’s never too late to decide what professional path to pursue. Once you identify the right career, the question no longer haunts you. Knowing gives you a solid foundation. It’s both a relief and, at the same time, empowering to achieve that clarity.

Financial reward — The trajectory of your career exponentially increases when you’re in a career that aligns with your talents and aptitudes. Loving what you do, you’ll expend less energy and achieve greater results.

Increased confidence — Career coaching empowers you to believe that you can do it, whatever your “it” may be. You’re no longer paralyzed or constricted by your insecurities. You develop the self-efficacy necessary to take calculated risks, and to grow.

Accountability — Your “say-do” ratio takes a dive when you repeatedly fail to do what you say you’re going to do. So many people promise themselves that they’re going to make a change, but years later, they’re still in that same job. By taking action, you’re increasing your accountability and trust in yourself.

A shift in perspective — Your thoughts, moods and behaviors all profoundly impact your results, for better or worse. Unfortunately, your blind spots can blur your awareness. A career coach can help you take a step back, examining the stories you tell yourself and, if necessary, reframing them.

Personal brand — Career clarity is foundational to building a strong personal brand. Career coaching can help you articulate your goals and identify your strengths. Your value in business escalates when you cultivate your personal brand in a way that establishes credibility as a subject matter expert or thought leader in your field.

Relevance — If you’re shifting careers, it can be hard to recognize how the current skills can be applied in other roles. An objective career coach can help you find the language to translate these skills and talents.

Strategy — Creating a bridge from where you are to where you want to be involves many critical steps. A career coach can help you create a plan, tailored to your unique situation.

In determining your own ROI of a career coaching engagement, start at the end. How do you want to feel? What plans do you want to have in place? What are those end results worth to you? If you feel like you are stuck in the wrong career, it’s likely due to the powerful force of inertia. Because venturing into the unknown can raise many fears, it might feel easier to simply stay put. But ignoring the stress and dissatisfaction that stems from being in the wrong career will keep you on the same path to nowhere.

When your child is in pain, you feel it. Watching from the sidelines as your child is struggling with their career can be frustrating. On top of that, it can be painful to watch your child wrestle with self-confidence or self-imposed pressure. You already know that parenting is a balancing act. Providing support while encouraging independence is always tricky. But what is the right amount of support when your child is struggling in this area?

Validate Without Focusing on Your Child’s Emotions
It can be hard to know where to draw the line between offering positive encouragement and setting realistic expectations. If you get swallowed up by negative feelings, you are allowing blame on external factors like the “incompetent college guidance counselor”, “unfair interviewer” or the “terrible job market”. This only feeds negative energy and limits moving forward. Your child will gain more when you encourage them to build their own accountability.

Create and Maintain Boundaries
Empathizing with your child helps you understand the situation from their vantage point. It is important to not get swallowed up in their emotions, however, and find ways to maintain your objectivity. They are looking to you to be strong anchor. Try to not let their emotions activate your own.

Process Your Emotions Without Judgment
It might be hard not to be envious of a neighbor whose daughter is climbing up the career ladder and just bought her first house while your child is living at home with a minimum wage part time job. You are human and will have thoughts and emotions of your own. First, find support for yourself, whether a friend, family member or professional with whom you can share your thoughts. Make sure you are maintaining your health and wellbeing. Lastly, ask yourself why your child’s actions are stirring up emotions in you to see if you can reframe the situation.

Offer Support
While there is no magic formula, you can support your child in a variety of ways by picking up on their cues. Forcing a conversation when they are not in the mood to talk will not be productive. However, as a parent, chances are you are resourceful. If your child can’t seem to figure out what direction they want to pursue, offer them to take an abilities assessment or see if your professional contacts would be willing to engage in an informational interview with your child

If your child is receptive to your ideas, help them devise systems that work for them. For example, if your child is a linear thinker, perhaps offering assistance in creating an excel spreadsheet to track her contacts or job opportunities would benefit. Or help your child set one goal a day if they are motivated by progress. If you notice that your conversations with your child have plateaued, it might be time to reach out to a third party for support such as a career coach who can offer objective expertise. Together, you and your child can explore options to decide which makes the most sense to pursue.

There are 5 key skills I work on with clients in leadership development. Although they are straightforward concepts, it takes a lot of practice to make these skills natural.

Ask For Help
You often offer help to others but may rarely will ask for it. You are probably worked that it makes you look weak or too vulnerable. You may even have the belief that you are put here to help others, but no one can really help you. You are too self-sufficient.

Actually, the opposite is true. Asking for help shows strength, confidence and courage. When you reach out to others, you express a willingness to learn and create an opportunity to develop another by letting him/her do something for you and attempt to problem solve with you.

Helping others is something I hope you continue to do, but great leaders seek opportunities to develop others, and one way to do that is to let others help and advise you in the process. When you shine the light of recognition on someone else, it does not dim your light.

Ask Questions
Somewhere along your career journey, you became convinced that you are supposed to know everything and work hard to be the smartest person in the room. You think this will make you look strong. Or, perhaps you are convinced that you will look stupid because it will confirm that you don’t know something.

Unfortunately, this type of thinking will let opportunities pass you by.

By not asking questions and getting the needed guidance and advice from others, you isolate yourself from the team and limit opportunities to network and build professional bonds. When you ask questions, you invite others in and send the message that you value what they think and show that their contributions are important. As a result, you will usually get much more meaningful feedback and respect along the way.

Speak Up
Are you convinced no one really wants to hear what you have to say? Or you fear that you don’t have anything of value to add?

Unfortunately, the more often you remain silent and don’t contribute to the conversation, the more people will come to believe that you don’t add any value or don’t want to add any. Or worse, they come to believe that you are not interested to engage on the issue at all. This makes you come off as distant, uninterested and not a team player. People begin to overlook you more and more for career opportunities or project work.

By speaking up and providing your thoughts, suggestions and recommendations, you show you are engaged in the process and provides valuable insight to your thought process.

Learn How to Deal with Conflict
You may be convinced that your needs should be the ones that take a back seat to others and overly accommodate the needs of others to avoid conflict. When you choose avoidance or accommodating too often, you cause others to take less and less interest in meeting your needs. By always placing so little value on your own needs, you teach everyone else to do the same, and those around you respect you less and less.
Luckily, there are five different conflict styles (collaborating, compromising, competing, accommodating, and avoiding) and each style is suitable for application during different circumstances. Learning each one and appropriate application will give you the needed tools to move projects ahead and work with people in a more constructive way.

Take a Risk
Change can be scary. Change generally means that you will have to learn new and different methods, approaches, processes and behaviors. After you master something, you are not as flexible to change because secretly you are not so confident that you can master the “new” something. This line of thinking robs you of the confidence to adjust or learn what you need to be successful.

When you fear failure so much, it causes you to resist change and appear inflexible. Instead of asking yourself, “What if I can’t do it? What if I fail?”, ask yourself, “What can be gained if I do this? What if this was a success?”

Take time to focus on each skill and build on them. As these skills become stronger, your colleagues and supervisors will start noticing and you will start being considered for special projects, career opportunities and even promotions.

When you’re getting into business, everything looks shiny and new.  A start-up offers a lot of exciting opportunities and gives you a focal point in your work-related life, but there are a lot of details to get right, too.  These details tend to be overlooked because of the excitement of being a new entrepreneur.  To make sure that your business is as successful as possible, here are 5 things to know first in order to make it worthwhile.

  1. Figure out your market and focus on their needs: You need to know who is going to buy your product or service in order to make sure that you are successful and that you’re filling a need.  Try to focus on the idea of understanding your audience and remember what their needs are.  Don’t get distracted and lose their interest as a result.
  2. Keep your passion alive: There are going to be hard days coming your way; that’s just a fact. On those days, try to remember what led you to start your business in the first place.  Remember to hold onto that passion and focus on it to keep your positive outlook even on the roughest days. This is why you need to love what you do.
  3. Make sure you have a business account or credit card: One of the biggest overlooked details is that most small companies try to fund their own business.  While some personal investment is typically necessary, you need to make sure that you put together the right success package which will mean business accounts or, at the very least, a credit card.  Separate business from personal, or you risk losing everything if your business takes a bad turn.  This risk will also raise your stress levels.
  4. Don’t try to be a lone wolf: Another big mistake to avoid is trying to do everything yourself.  Do you have someone that can run your numbers?  Answer emails and market?  If you have the funds, make sure that you outsource whatever you can through employees or through independent contractors.  It’ll take a lot of the stress off you and leave you free to focus on your business as a whole.
  5. Invest in the right tools to help you: Whether it’s accounting software, AI, a virtual assistant or just simple furniture, you’ll have to shell out some money on your equipment or tools to help you get off the ground.  Make sure that you focus on the quality and longevity of these items.  This goes back to tip #3.  You will need to have the right support at your side in people as well as tools to give you the best chance at success.

Your new start-up business is going to be exciting, but it will also be functional by putting these tips to use in a proper fashion. Give yourself the best outcome possible by knowing what to do and not to do when starting your own business.