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Are you stuck in “Perfectionism” Trap

 

from perfection to passion

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough. – Julia Cameron

Perfectionism… “To be, or not to be?” That is, the ultimate question! There are certainly arguments for and against it. Those who support perfectionism may tell you that it is a measure of attention to detail and thoroughness when getting tasks done. It’s all about achieving those higher standards that give them the edge in a competitive environment.

This view implies that perfectionism is a form of excellence where you strive to perform at the highest possible level.

Is it really about striving for excellence?

You will discover, that perfectionism is certainly not all it is cracked up to be. In fact, it can be as debilitating as it can be helpful; and when it is mismanaged it can potentially sabotage all your good intentions. Why? Because [as I discovered] perfectionism is something that is built upon fear, inflexible rules, and unreasonable standards that have absolutely no basis in reality.

Before breaking down these details, let us look at what perfectionism actually means.

To be a perfectionist means being overly concerned with personal achievement. Everything needs to be done perfectly or otherwise you simply can not move forward. This often stems from the notion of all-or-nothing thinking, where things are either perfect or things are  just not good enough.

When we step into this all-or-nothing space our life stagnates and we are unable to move forward as we need to because we have created in our mind a set of unreasonable and often lofty expectations.

Perfectionists persistently pressure themselves to reach these unachievable objectives, often to their own personal detriment, without ever realizing that perfectionism is in constant flux. It is based purely on interpretation. The reality is that what is perfect for one person is far from perfect for another person.  Additionally, what is perfect today will often be far from perfect tomorrow. The more we learn about something, the more we  realize how much we actually don’t know.

Therefore the question becomes does perfectionism actually exist? I have come to realise that it does not. It is a misnomer that we fool ourselves into believing more often than we may care to acknowledge. 🙂

You might be thinking that perfectionism is all about  going out there and doing your best in every situation. This is a valid argument – Doing our very best and trying to live up to the highest of standards can certainly be of tremendous value, however, there is a healthy and an unhealthy way to go about this.

Those who do their very best and strive for excellence do so from a place of empowerment. These people have a high level of self-worthself-esteem, and self-confidence in their own ability to get things done at the highest of levels. This behaviour is healthy because these people come from a place of yearning for growth and development. It is this behaviour that helps them perform at the highest level.

The flip side of this coin however, is the unhealthy form of perfectionism. People who succumb to this do so from a place of fear that often translates into procrastination. They engage in the act of perfectionism as a means of avoiding something they fear, and as a result, they succumb to bouts of anxiety or/ and procrastination.

This often manifests in inflexible thinking, self-criticismperformance anxiety, and guilt. The underlying factor here is, these people have very low levels of self-esteem. They just don’t believe they are good enough and therefore operate from a sense of failure, which impairs their personal growth, productivity, and performance.

In an attempt to make up for all these shortcomings, they set the highest possible standards for themselves thinking that striving for perfection will help ease their fears. This strategy almost never works because the underlying problem still exists.

A lack of self-esteem means that you are constantly comparing Yourself and your performance to others. From the outside this can seem competitive, but this competitive spirit often comes from a place of weakness and vulnerability. There is a consistent need for reassurance  and as a result, they are quite vulnerable to  criticism and rejection.

They become so engrossed in the act of doing things perfectly that “making progress” and “forward thinking” take a back-seat to the idea that “things are just not good enough”. As a result they don’t take any meaningful action towards the attainment of their goals and objectives, and they remain stuck. Unable to move forward and unable to break free, they engross themselves even further into a world of unrealistic expectations and unreasonable standards that can never be met. All this is a direct result of their inability to handle fear.

The Evolution of Perfectionism

Now that we understand how perfectionism manifests in our lives, let us  take a look at how it evolves over a lifetime. There are numerous influential forces that can make a person prone to falling victim to bouts of perfectionism. For starters, there is our temperament we are born which becomes less of a factor as we age and undergo social conditioning.

Growing up you might have received unusually high levels of praise from your parents, guardians and/or peers. As a result, you now have very high expectations of yourself and rather inflexible beliefs in certain areas of your life, which can manifest in perfectionistic behaviour. On the flip-side, there might have been an absence of praise while you were growing up in which case you would gravitate towards perfectionistic types of behaviour in an attempt to make-up for your perceived shortcomings. This is a way of proving to other people that you are deserving of higher praise.

Being overly punished for making mistakes while growing up can also trigger perfectionistic behaviour. As a result of these mistakes, you feel  you are just not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. Today, you strive to avoid experiencing this pain by doing things perfectly to avoid punishment/pain that you still believe will result.

Being overly dependent upon receiving rewards from other people can also lead to perfectionistic behaviour. While growing up you might have consistently been rewarded for completing certain tasks and activities to a set of standards that your parents or others set for you. As a result, you have been conditioned to receive rewards when completing a task to the highest possible level. You now, indulge in perfectionism in order to keep receiving those rewards. Those rewards have probably changed quite significantly since you were a child, however, the expectation of getting something in return, even if it is just praise, is enough to keep your perfectionistic indulgence alive.

The Maintenance of Perfectionism

We can relate to these examples at some level however, what these examples do not explain is WHY, throughout our adult lives, we continue to indulge in perfectionism.

The underlying reasons why perfectionism might still be prevalent in your adult life, has to do with these three core factors: fearsunhelpful thoughts, and rules which work together to satisfy your hunger for perfectionism.

Fears

Your inability to deal with fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of making mistakes and even the fear of success can all lead you down the path towards perfectionism.

You indulge in perfectionism because fear breeds uncertainty and when things are uncertain this creates doubt. When there is doubt you procrastinate, instead of avoiding the task altogether, as most procrastinators tend to do, you try to trick yourself into believing that you are actually making progress. You do this by completely absorbing yourself into an easy part of the task that you feel comfortable with. You convince yourself that you cannot move onto the next part of the task unless this first part is done perfectly. This is, of course, a ploy you use to distract yourself from the fact that you just can not bear dealing with the fear that is waiting for you.

For example, let’s say that you have a presentation to do which you have been putting off for weeks. You convince yourself that you are not ready and spend all your time preparing for the presentation; making sure that everything is perfect. Of course, this is a ploy you use to avoid the FEAR you experience when you think about actually delivering this presentation. You are afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone and therefore indulge in perfectionism to help ease the tension and uneasiness you feel.

Unhelpful Thoughts

Your unhelpful thoughts that lead you astray. Your fears actually stem from these unhelpful thoughts you indulge in. These thoughts hinder how you view the events and circumstances of your life. As a result, you tend to make inaccurate assumptions about how things are and about how they could end up being, if you follow-through with a specific kind of action.

You might, assume that if you make a mistake while giving the presentation that people will judge you. This, of course, triggers the fear of failure or criticism. You now believe you need to do everything in your power to try and avoid this. This means that you will continue to plan and prepare your presentation in order to delay the inevitable moment for as long as possible.

These are only two examples of the types of unhealthy thought patterns that could be letting you down. There are of course others but you get the point.

Psychological Rules

Your inflexible rules. These rules are of course interlinked with your unhelpful thoughts and fears. In fact, there is very little separation as all these components work together to lead you down the path towards perfectionism.

When it comes down to the reluctance you feel about giving your presentation, your rules could be :

I can’t move forward unless I am able to find the right graphics for this presentation.

I must conduct thorough research for the topic in order to impress my boss.

I should spend more time on preparing myself in order to avoid making mistakes.

All of these rules that you have created for yourself keep you within a perfectionist cycle. It is a “cycle” because even if you find the right graphics for this presentation, there will be yet another excuse that will keep you stuck.

The Formation of Unreasonable Standards

The above three factors come together to form your personal standards and the expectations you bring to every situation. Your personal standards are guidelines you use to measure your success. These guiding principles of behaviour help direct what you focus on and how you end up focusing on things.

These affect the choices and decisions you make when it comes to indulging in perfectionistic behaviour. Take into consideration the personal standards you have set for yourself in an area of your life where you tend to indulge in perfectionism and ask yourself:

Are my personal standards in this situation 

 – realistic?

 – achievable?

 – flexible?

What problems tend to result from indulging in these high standards?

How does this affect

  • me?
  • the situation?
  • my life?

Answering these questions will hopefully begin to break down the walls that form the belief systems you have supporting this kind of behaviour.

Was this useful? Leave a comment and let me know how you have dealt with Perfectionism. Stay tuned for the next article which will cover How to Beat Perfectionism.

HOW TO STOP SELF-SABOTAGE YOUR OWN SUCCESS IN ITS TRACKS!

But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner. – John Donne

Are You Caught Up in a Repeating Cycle of Self-Sabotage?

Have you ever wanted something so badly… for so long… trying so damn hard… but time and again you ended up failing miserably?

Have you ever set goals and objectives that you just didn’t or couldn’t reach?

Have you ever wondered why you keep repeating the same patterns of behavior over and over again and keep getting precisely the same pitiful results?

All of us at one point or another go through these repeated cycles and phases. In fact, many of us go through our standard self-sabotage cycles like clockwork each day. As a result, we rarely live up to our full potential in any area of our lives.

What is more, is that we continuously regret the things we did not do then wonder why we keep getting stuck indulging in these limiting patterns of behaviour.

Given all this, you might be wondering whether there is an answer for getting unstuck? Is there an actual solution for avoiding these repetitive and limiting patterns of behavior?

And the answer to these questions is a resounding YES. There is a solution, but first, we must come to understand what self-sabotage is all about.

What Exactly is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want. It is the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifest in self-limiting patterns of behavior.

Self-sabotage prevents you from reaching your goals and plays the part of a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment.

What this essentially means is that your brain is protecting you from getting hurt by doing what it thinks is best — which is to keep you within the confines of your comfort zone.

The Real Reason Why You Indulge in Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage tends to linger in our lives because of a lack of self-esteemself-worthself-confidence, and self-belief.

Moreover, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we have great difficulty managing our daily emotional experiencesWe tend to react to events, circumstances, and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.

Self-sabotage is also used as an effective method for coping with stressful situations or high expectations.

For example we sabotage ourselves when we are unable to reach the high bars of expectation that have been set for us. We feel incapable of reaching these expectations and thereby indulge in self-sabotaging behaviour as a means of coping with the situation.

No matter what our reasoning for self-sabotage, it is quite clear that if we do not do something about it, we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.

The Manifestation of Self-Sabotage in Our Lives

Self-sabotage can come in many forms and often manifests in our lives in various ways.

Here is a list of typical methods we tend to use to sabotage our own success.

 

When it comes to our limiting thoughts, we must pay close attention to the excuses we tend to make that prevent us from moving forward. Here are some examples:

This won’t work…

I can’t do this…

I’m too busy right now…

I’m just not ready yet…

I’m just not good enough…

Here are 19 more excuses you’re making that might very well be keeping you stuck.

Each of the patterns listed above has its own set of consequences that manifest in a variety of ways in our lives. Some are very obvious, while others might be a little more difficult to identify.

The key for us here is to list down and pinpoint the thoughts, feelings, and actions that lead us down the path of self-sabotage.

Only then, through conscious self-awareness can we begin to put a stop to these patterns of behavior.

4-Steps for Eliminating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns

There is a simple yet very effective method we can use to eliminate self-sabotage patterns from our lives.

The process involves 4 steps. These 4 steps can help you take conscious control of the behaviours that are currently influencing your choices, decisions, and actions.

These steps include:

  1. Identifying Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior
  2. Recreating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns
  3. Identifying a Healthy Replacement Behavior
  4. Practicing the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed

Let’s have a look at how each of these work

Step 1: Identify the Self-Sabotage Behavior

Your first objective is to Identify the Self-Sabotaging Behavior that is preventing you from moving forward.

To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily choices, decisions, actions, and the resulting consequences. Use the list in the previous section to identify the various types of self-sabotaging behaviours you tend to indulge in.

Once your behaviours have been identified, it’s necessary to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing these behaviours to manifest in your life. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc. Ask yourself:

What specifically triggers this behavior?

How exactly does this behavior manifest in my life?

Next, we must ask ourselves whether it’s possible to avoid these triggers altogether.

Simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

However, there is another factor that we must take into consideration. This factor is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotaging pattern.

The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on converting them into positive empowering beliefs.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to question the validity of your belief. Take just two minutes and ask yourself:

What is it that I believe in this situation?

What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?

How did my belief about this, trigger my self-sabotage pattern?

How is this belief ridiculous and/or  impractical?

What would others say about this belief?

What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?

These questions are a good starting point. Use these to help you weaken the beliefs that govern your self-sabotaging behavior.

Step 2: Recreate Your Self-Sabotage Pattern

Having worked through the previous step, you should now be able to consciously recreate the self-sabotage patterns by outlining all the triggers and the associated behaviours that manifest as a result of these triggers.

It’s important that you are very clear about how this behaviour manifests in your life before moving onto the next step.

Ask yourself:

How exactly does this self-sabotaging behaviour tend to manifest in my life?

What typically triggers this behaviour and how?

What patterns am I seeing that could help me to better understand this behaviour at a deeper level?

Once you have a good understanding of the patterns surrounding this behavior, you can move on to the next step.

Step 3: Identify a Healthy Replacement Behaviour

To eliminate an old pattern of behaviour, we must first replace it with a new pattern that is more practical and helpful.

This is fundamental…why … because at times it is difficult to avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in unresourceful ways.

We must take time to develop a more resourceful and appropriate way of responding.

Ask yourself:

How could I respond in a more appropriate, resourceful, and practical way that would help me get what I want in this situation?

How and why is this a better way to respond in this situation?

What are some reasons for making this change?

What are the long-term benefits of changing how I respond in this situation?

What are the key advantages of this new behavior?

Remember that change will not happen if there is a lack of motivation behind that change.

If you cannot find reliable enough reasons to make a change, then you simply won’t have the necessary desire or drive to follow through with the change.

Step 4: Practice the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed

Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible until a new habit is established.

To do this, begin by going through your response (your healthy replacement behavior) to the situation in your imagination. See every detail in large pictures with lots of colour or music or anything else that is fun for you. Feel the positive energy churning through your body as you continue to enlarge the details of your new habit. Do this a few times daily and each time add more colour, more fun to your picture in your head and very soon you will overcome the old self-sabotaging pattern.

Now that your imagination has been activated, you are ready to put yourself in real-world situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behaviour. This time though, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new empowering habit is formed.

 

10 Practical Ideas for Eliminating Self-Sabotage

To eliminate our self-sabotage patterns, we must make a concerted effort to stay conscious and aware of our behaviours and actions at all times.

At the same time, it’s helpful to put into action a variety of strategies and tactics that can help to eradicate these behaviours once and for all.

Here are 10 suggestions for you to experiment with.

Consistently Learn from Mistakes

Take time at the end of the day to reflect on how you responded to events and circumstances.  Learn from these mistakes and experiences by writing down how you will respond differently tomorrow and in the future.

The more you reflect and learn, the better prepared you will be to face these scenarios in the future.

Think Bigger and Bolder

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own destructive patterns of behavior that we lose sight of what’s most important. When we have a narrow  focus, we fail to see the bigger picture.

Given this, it can, therefore, be helpful to take the time to think bigger and bolder. This can help you to expand your understanding and perspective of the situation.

Ask Better Questions

Questions are the keys to the locks that hold our problems in place.

Asking better and more effective questions, we naturally gain a different perspective on our situation. This can help us to become more consciously aware of the self-sabotage patterns that are ruling our lives.

Ask yourself:

What have I learned from this experience?

What would I do differently given another opportunity?

What could the potential benefits be?

How will changing my response allow me to get what I want faster?

The questions you ask will help expand your choices and options moving forward. Giving yourself more choices and options you will be in a better position to work through your self-sabotaging behaviours in optimal ways.

Treat the Process of Change as an Experiment

Just like we did not master the process of walking in one day, changing old habits will also not happen in one day. However, it does happen over time.

When you took your first steps, you must have stumbled more than once. However, you got back up and continued to struggle until you eventually mastered the mechanics of walking. It was one of your little life experiments that I imagine you succeeded at over time. 🙂

The process of change is precisely the same. Treat it as an experiment that will take some time and effort.

You will probably not be victorious after the first or even second attempt. However, over time you will get better at it  as long as you persist. Eventually you will win the war over your self-sabotage patterns.

 

Seek Advice from Other People

It’s important to always ask for help .Seek advice from people who have had practical experience dealing with what you are currently struggling with. Trust me, you are not the only one who is /or has gone through this. They know from personal experience the struggles you are likely to face along the way. They will, therefore, be more than happy to  give you practical advice and suggestions that have helped them; to try. You never know if one of those pearls of wisdom will allow you to move beyond your self-sabotage patterns.

 

Make Sure to Plan in Advance

We often struggle through life when we do not know what to expect, or have little to-no-idea how circumstances will unfold.

However, when we begin to lay down solid plans for how we will respond to situations, people, and circumstances, we begin taking control of our lives.

While laying out these plans; take a moment to consider possible challenges and obstacles that you might face along the way. Acknowledge that  obstacles may exist, then consider how you will respond if or when these occur. Even if you don’t deal with these effectively at the time, you will at the very least learn from your experience. This will allow you to adjust your approach the next time around.

 

Focus on Exploring Solutions

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own inadequacies and limitations that all we see are problems and setbacks. This particular way of looking at life only leads to further challenges.

Instead, take time to consider possible solutions to the problems you are dealing with. This begins by asking more effective questions that focus your brain on finding answers, insights, and ideas, not problems.

 

Adjust Your Expectations

Our expectations can sometimes lift us up to new heights, or they can demoralize us emotionally. This is why it is so important to always keep our expectations in-check. Managing expectations ensure that we are not aiming too high too quickly and allow us to avoid  disappointment.

 

Set your expectations high, however, give yourself permission to be flexible to make changes should  your circumstances, conditions, and resources change.

Remind yourself that you didn’t master the process of walking in one day. You instead mastered it over time. The same is true when it comes to mastering your own behaviour patterns.

 

Take Intelligent Risks

More often than not, those who take more risks have fewer regrets than those who play it safe and struggle with uncertainty. The same is true when it comes to transforming your behaviour.

You need to take risks, you need to take a chance on yourself, and you need to snap out of old unresourceful limiting patterns of behaviour that no longer serve you.

 

The best time to start making changes was yesterday. The second best time is Right Now.

The only person can make the change is YOU.

 

Take Time for Self-Reflection

The people who get ahead in life are the ones who actually take the time to consistently think through their daily choices, decisions, and actions.

Successful people learn from what worked or failed to work. They adjust their course of action by taking a different approach.

Only through self-reflection will you gain the necessary insight, perspective, and understanding to begin the process of change and transformation.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Self-sabotage is like a grenade that suddenly and unexpectedly explodes; pushing us away from our deepest wants and desires. However, there are no excuses, because we are the ones who consciously control the movement of the pin.

It is therefore, up to us to make the decision that we will no longer fall prey to our self-sabotaging patterns of behavior ever again.

 

The choice is yours. It’s in your hands. You now know what to do and how to do it. The real question is when will you get started? When will you finally commit to putting an end to the self-sabotaging behavior that is preventing you from living the life you truly desire to live? Are your goals  worth making the change? Are you worth making the change? 🙂

 

What have you done to change your limiting beliefs? Leave a comment – I would love to hear from you.

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5 important ways to get through job loss quickly

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Job search

I have Coached Over 200 Career Transitions — Here is A Routine That Helps People Bounce Back Faster

Losing your job takes a serious toll on your confidence and stirs up all kinds of unpleasant emotions.

Realistically though, it is likely that we’re going to face some kind of job loss or significant job change at one point or another in our careers.  Sometimes this change reaches far beyond the scope of our individual control and comes as a surprise to us. The best we can do is be prepared to manage this adversity and take some time to focus on ourselves. I’ve worked through over 200 career transitions over the years – including a couple of my own (most have been my clients’).  Self-care is critical to successfully getting through this time.  Here are five ways I practiced self-care after I was laid off — and I think you should try this routine, too

  1. I paused.

Losing your job can often be a big shock to your system.  Sometimes we know our organization is going through significant changes, but sometimes the change comes as a complete surprise.  Whatever the case, when the change impacts you personally, it can really hurt and take a toll on your confidence.

Depending on who we are and how we react to things, we might become emotional as we react to the news. The best advice I can give here is to take a breath.  If your employer is presenting you with a severance package, make sure you DO NOT sign anything in the heat of the moment. Take some time to  review the severance package offer after you get over the initial shock factor that will inevitably happen.

Reach out to a friend or colleague that you trust and get their input. Lean on your support system and let your feelings out in this safe environment. You don’t want to be embarrassed by emotional, irrational behavior in front of your former employer. Save the insanity for close family and friends (lucky them).

For me, the pause was critical because getting laid off was a very emotional experience. Taking time to breathe allowed me to have a rational and professional discussion with my employer about severance.

 

  1. I resolved the outstanding issues with my employer, A.S.A.P.

After the ‘pause’, it might still take you a few days to get your emotions back in check. Once you can get through thinking and discussing your new situation  without bursting into tears or fuming in anger, set your sites on closing the loop on outstanding items with your employer.

 

For your own mental health, you’ve got to get the details resolved as quickly as possible. Having the details of a severance looming over you for days, weeks or months is simply exhausting. You owe it to yourself to get closure so you can move on.

In most cases, your employer should appreciate that this is an emotional situation and provide an appropriate deadline (a week or so) for you to get back to them on their offer of severance. If they don’t give you some time to get your act together, count your blessings that you no longer work for them.

So, you have done your due diligence in terms of reviewing the details and terms of the severance offer, now you need to respond to them. I always suggest having this conversation via email so everything is documented. Avoid the phone if you can it can muddy the waters. You also don’t know what might set off potential emotional outbursts. Make sure you get all of the details from your employer such as how and when the severance will be paid, what happens to your benefits, what happens to any sort of other company programs and any additional amounts owing. Get all the information that you can to minimize any need for follow up contact. You likely won’t want to talk to them again.

 

  1. I didn’t try to find out why I was laid off.

I have heard people say time and time again that they need to understand why they have lost their job in order to move on. They want to know what they have done wrong, or how the employer decided that they should be the employee to exit.

The fact is, a lot of time, the reason that an employer provides a severance package for you is so that they don’t have to share this information with you. Quite frankly, it might even be none of your business, and part of some broader organizational plan.

For me, adopting an ‘I don’t need to know’ attitude was the key to self-care when I was laid off.  What value is there in knowing the organization’s point of view, anyways?  Would it really change the current situation? Probably not. If anything it would only serve to inflate your anger and frustration levels. So take time to  make peace with the reality that you are out the door and see it as an opportunity rather than a set back.

 

  1. I got into a routine.

I allowed myself some time to mourn the loss of my job. This is an important step many people seem to forget to do or chose not to do. Loosing a job is much like loosing a loved and the  lose needs to be mourned. For me, this was the end of the longest-term relationship I had ever had. Grieving was important, but I set myself a deadline to be sad. I cried and moped, but only for a week. At the end of the week, I started into a routine.

It was summer and I wanted to take advantage of the time away from work and focus on the positives of being away from work. I got up every single morning and planned an outing with my little guy. Every day we were up and dressed. You’d be surprised how therapeutic getting up and going outside can be.

Getting into a new routine is critical to your career transition success. Part of establishing this routine was knowing what I would say when people asked ‘How’s work?’ I actually practiced my response so I could answer confidently without stumbling or feeling insecure.

 

  1. I set an unemployment deadline.

While I only allowed myself a week to be sad about losing my job we all know the grieving process has no hard and fast deadline. The reality is that, sometimes, we have to work through the emotions of things , and that can take a while.  While I wasn’t sitting at home and moping, I was still going through all the feelings of job loss.  I wanted some time and space between that job and my next one.  Since I was laid off in the summer, I set myself a deadline of autumn (fall) to get on a structured job hunt. Setting parameters and clear goals for myself were really key parts of my self-care and managing my overall mental health.

Job loss is hard. Period. There is no magic formula to work through the grieving process and there are no standard timelines. When it comes to self-care and job loss, you’ve got to take a moment to reflect what will work for you.  Focus on those things that give you comfort, structure and a sense of purpose. It’s inside those things that you will find a transition process that is uniquely yours. On the other side of that transition is your future career success.

10 Easy Tips To Make A Promotion Smooth Sailing-Guaranteed

Just Promoted

There are many professionals out there who stay in their jobs (even if they don’t like them) just because they are afraid to start a new role with a new employer.

It is understandable that applying for and accepting a new role [which may also be in a new organisation] can be overwhelming. Adapting to a new position, developing new relationships, and assimilating into a new culture can is a big ask. While each professional, position, and organization is unique, there are behaviours that can support you making the transition into your new role a smooth process:

 

  • Acclimate to the organization’s corporate culture: 

    The most important thing you can do during your first week, month, and even quarter is to assimilate into the culture and environment of the organization. Accomplish this by observing the behaviours and communication patterns of those around you.

  • Stay positive: 

    Show excitement for your new role and you will exude confidence. Your positivity and enthusiasm will make a great impression and may even bring a new energy to the organization.

  • Listen and learn:

     Show your willingness to learn about the company beyond your job and responsibilities. Become as knowledgeable as possible about the new organization and /or new role. Keep an open  mind to suggestions from colleagues who have been with the organization for a number of years. These people can provide invaluable insight and knowledge. By combining that understanding with your skills and experiences, can add significant value to a new employer. Lastly, I suggest they keep an open door policy. It is  one of the best management styles there is.

  • Remember that you are new: It’s critical to understand why you were hired and the skills that made you attractive. Keep in mind that while you may have the capabilities and talent to perform admirably, it’s best to wait until you thoroughly understand the company’s procedures and operations before bringing up new and improved ways of doing things. On another note, although it’s great to volunteer for extra responsibilities, in most organizations, it’s best to stick to your job description during your first few months. You want to make sure not to step on anyone’s toes. However, if you are asked to do something outside of your realm of responsibilities, take it as an opportunity to show that you are a team player and happily perform the task.

  • Be open to constructive criticism: 

    Again, remember that you are new so accept the fact that the potential for you to make mistakes in the beginning months will be  quite high. Use them as opportunities to learn and to do better the next time. Be open to constructive criticism and you will do well and you will be able to improve. You also want others to feel comfortable in expressing their thoughts.

  • Build relationships: Connecting with your new team is imperative. Even if you don’t have an outgoing personality, do your best to get to know your colleagues, join them during lunches and team outings, and if you’re in an office, keep your door open.
  • Seek out a mentor: 

    The best way to familiarize yourself with a new role, company, and its culture is to develop a relationship with a professional who can be your mentor.

  • Create goals:

    Make sure there is clarity about your 3 and 6 month expectations and deliverables. While these were probably discussed during the interview process, confirm them during your first week on the job. In addition, develop your own goals for achieving success early on and fitting in with the company and your team. Make sure your objectives are appropriate and, if necessary, cover them with your direct report before spending time on them.

  • Keep your private life just that – private: While you will eventually make friends within your new company or your new role, it’s best to keep your personal life and opinions private until you get to know others better. Over sharing is a thing.

  • Jump-start the on-boarding process yourself:

    The on-boarding process can be a laborious task so ease into it by contacting your future employer prior to your first day to get any paperwork that could be completed in advance. Additionally, ask for any work or information that you can review or meetings that you can attend while finishing out your notice period with your previous employer. This can help ensure that you hit the ground running with your new employer. It also makes your transition into the company early on that much easier.

 

These recommendations are a great start for making your transition into a new role or   organization a smooth one. If however you are a senior executive, you could have more difficulty with career transitions. Senior executives who accept new offers are expected to go into an organization and start getting things done immediately, while at the same time, developing positive relationships with your team and colleagues. More on that later.

Do you have any other Tips for Making a Smooth Transition? Share them in the comments

The Problem with Promotions: 5 Tips for Moving into Management

promoted to Manager

Well done you have  been promoted! Congratulations! All that hard work and focus has finally paid off. You are in your first leadership role. It truly is something to be proud of.

A lot of people want to be promoted. They want the recognition that they have done a good job. However, a lot of challenges surface in a new leadership role. Leading people is very different from leading projects. Leading people taps into different aspects of your capabilities. The changes are also a little more subtle. Expectations from all levels in the company will also be different. What will be considered acceptable behaviour will also be very different. Relationships will be different. And no one gives you a handbook about what to expect.

Here are some of the changes that occur when you move into management and how to deal with them on an emotional, mental and physical level.

 

A Transition Model

A good way to think of transition is through the prism of William Bridges’ Transition Model.

It’s made up of three parts:

  1. Accept that the status quo has changed and say goodbye to what was.
  2. Expect discomfort and accept that when you start the change there will be many questions, but few answers. Understand that this is a temporary situation. It’s a period of time when you are going to be tested. Reflect, be flexible and move forward despite the uncertainty.
  3. Revere the past and welcome the new.

 

Mark the end of the chapter

It can be helpful to mark the end of the old chapter with some sort of ritual. Rituals help you understand that a shift has taken place. It could be simple like going down memory lane and remembering things you did well, having a final dinner with old colleagues or taking a trip. Find a ritual to signify the end. Then you can move on to the next level.

 

Changes With Your Relationship With Yourself

How you see yourself must change in order to be an effective new leader.

Emotionally: Explore your emotions. As you enter this new phase are you feeling confident? Ambitious? Hesitant? Curious?

Mentally: Examine the mindsets you have about yourself. Are you feeling equal to your peer group? Are you deserving of this promotion? Are you ready? If not, what do you need to do to get ready?

Physically: Are you fit enough for the role? Will you be traveling? If your new role involves travel, it can be difficult to exercise while on the road. Take an inventory of your physical health and how you can improve or maintain it.

 

Relationship with Your Team

People are often promoted because they have shown competence on a technical or skills level. However, when they get into leadership they may not have been primed for the way their former peers, as well as their news ones, may see them. If you are promoted from within the ranks, there may be growing pains from your former peer group. You may be the one who “changed” now that you are in management. It’s a common problem.

Remember, always, that you’re supposed to be in this role. Your former peers may not see it, but there have been few promotions where everyone in the company agreed with it.

If underlings are complaining, there is likely a need buried in there. Ask them, specifically, what they want. What can you do to make it work? If you don’t call it out, the team may inadvertently sabotage the decisions that are being made. Calling it out shows that you’re in control and that you want to hear what they have to say.

Mentally: Set a vision for how you want to work with your new team. Make deliberate choices about your relationship with them. Be clear with yourself what you do and don’t want.

Feel free to join them for drinks, but establish boundaries. Leave after two drinks, for example, or limit socializing to lunches, etc. Even though you are part of the team, you can’t be one of them. It can hurt when you have to give tough feedback, etc.

Emotionally: Continue to empathize. Make sure they know you hear them. You may not agree with every suggestion they make, but validate their opinions and thoughts.

Be aware that your direct reports will share more information with you than they ever did if they were a peer. Some of it will be personal. Anticipate this aspect of leadership.

Physically: Decide how physically close you want to be to your direct reports. Even if you’re in an open office, establish boundaries. Maybe private conversations have to be held outside of the open area.

 

Relationship with Your Work

You go into a specific field because you like doing the actual work. You like writing the code or recruiting candidates. In leadership, the relationship to your work changes. Your value-add shifts. The pace of work slows and it’s less about the day to day output. Use the pace to your advantage.

Mentally: Accept that you are in it for the long-haul. Embrace that your biggest contribution is to create a new set of leaders.

Emotionally: Learn more about the people on your team. Even if you came up with them and think you know them, there are likely aspects to them you don’t know. In order to manage people, you’ll have to know about their professional goals, etc.

Physically: Find a way to do what you used to do — in small doses. You can’t lead and do the day-to-day work and do both well. Your direct reports also don’t want you doing their job, since it will make them miss out on opportunities to grow.

 

Relationship with Your Peers

Mentally: Expectations have changed at every level. Your new peers expect you to perform at their level. It’s not just about the quality of your work, it is also your attitude towards work. Your former peers may not confide in you anymore now that you are in management, and that’s okay. Accept that you now represent the organization as a member of the management team.

Emotionally: You may have a feeling of aloneness. Expect less feedback the higher up you go in the organization. Your direct reports will give you feedback, but your peers and your boss may not. Trust in yourself that you’re doing all right, otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are.

On that note, don’t be afraid to take risks to grow your self-confidence. You won’t lose your position over one bad move.

Physically: Remember: you represent the organization at outside associations and clubs.

 

The Take Away

Promotions and change are part of your professional career, and should be welcomed. Above all, it’s important to accept that they are transitions, and setting expectations for transitions is the first step to managing them. When you expect that there will be periods of uncertainty and that relationships with people may change, it’ll be easier to move through the change while still being productive.

 

Have you experienced any of these in your promotion? How have you navigated it – share your experience .

7 Ways To Revamp Your Resume For A Leadership Position

Are You a Prime Candidate for a Mid-level or Senior leadership Role?

If so, you have to shake up the way you tailor your resume for that position.

The way recruiters and hiring managers look for leadership candidates is slightly different t the way they search for candidates in other roles.

Before you apply for that leadership position, make sure you leverage these seven strategies to tailor your resume for maximum impact.

Revamp Your Resume’s Keywords

You may know, the computer databases, or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), that stores and analyses incoming resumes from job boards, employers, and recruiter sites, count the number of times certain words are used in your resume. These keywords are industry-specific and unique to each role in each company. Your resume ranks higher if you include more of these words in the document.

  • Include a keyword section in your summary and stock it with 12 to 15 keywords pulled from the job description of the role you are pursuing.
  • More importantly, use these keywords in each relevant job listing you include in your document. These words can be easily woven into sentences in your position overview statements, as well as your achievements.
  • If you’re a new graduate, have recently attained a qualification, or don’t have all of the experience sought in the job posting you’re applying for, try listing relevant coursework in your resume’s education section. This will boost your keyword count.
  • Fairly universal keywords include terms such as strategic planning, operations leadership, business management, cross-functional, cross-cultural, global, talent management, organizational restructuring, and P&L accountability.

Re-Position Your Resume’s Summary

Each time you apply for a new role, you need to tweak your career summary to maximize the number of keywords. You also need to emphasize the right capabilities.

When you apply for a leadership role, it is imperative to showcase your skills and experience with strategy creation. In lower-level jobs, you have to demonstrate your tactical execution strengths; in director-level plus positions, designing and implementing strategic plans is absolutely critical.

  • Briefly describe the high points of your leadership experience in your summary. Relevant details you may want to include are things like key industries, sizes of companies you’ve worked for, the largest team size you’ve led, and the largest budget or P&L you’ve managed.
  • Include brief descriptors of your leadership and communication style. These are less hard-hitting issues that deserve more attention on executive resumes. If you don’t know your communication style, take this free quiz to find out what it is and how to use it to your advantage.
  • Be sure to include your strategy experience in addition to listing strategic planning as one of your key skills.
  • Consider including two or three brief (but meaningful) career achievements as part of your summary. Choose accomplishments which demonstrate your core leadership strengths and ability to deliver top and bottom-line impacts on sales, revenue, productivity, efficiency, and expense management.

Clarify The Context Of Each Position, Promotion, Or Achievement

One of a resume’s key tasks is to tell the story of your career. Yours must convey the importance and relevance of each position change you’ve made while simultaneously clarifying the key challenges you faced in the role.

  • Include a brief position overview or introduction to each role on your resume. If the position was a promotion or special assignment, make that clear.
  • Showcase the context of your hire or promotion. Were you the first sales person in a new territory, or the newest manager in a series of five within a short time frame? Were you hired or promoted with specific challenges in mind? Were you hired or promoted based on specific skills or experience you possessed?
  • If you were placed in the role to resolve specific challenges, it’s vital to note the circumstances of your entry into the position. For example, if you were hired to turn around declining sales, what was the sales level when you started? What sales level did you attain or position during your tenure?
  • Keep it brief. Your position introduction should take up only two to three lines of text. Make every word count!
  • Do the same thing with your achievements by including key details that reveal the larger context of your actions. If you averted a division closure by turning around sales, that’s vital to highlight. If your marketing efforts helped open new market sectors which paved the way for a mission-critical merger, say so.
  •  Don’t just focus on results—put your results in a larger context that makes your overall contributions more clear.

Front-Load Your Resume’s Achievements With A Strategic Focus

Most job seekers assume that recruiters read resumes the same way that they do. However, that’s not necessarily the case.

Many recruiters read a resume “in order” (a.k.a in pieces and parts) to see the big picture of the prospective candidate’s career. This often includes reading achievement statements differently than you and I do.

Before reading them in their entirety, some recruiters briefly review the first few words of each bulleted statement to test the waters, so to speak. They also do this to see if the accomplishments are more tactically or strategically focused. It’s imperative that you front-load your achievements with the strategic focus they’re looking for, assuming you have that experience.

  • In leadership positions, your strategy influence is often a bigger deal than your monetary impact. Begin your bulleted statements by clarifying your strategic impact, then note the specific impacts you achieved.
  • For example, here’s a typical “homemade” bullet written by a real job seeker: “Working on a green field project that would double the capacity of the plant.” Here’s a revamp which shifts the emphasis to strategy: “Road mapped Greenfield plant start-up from strategic planning to on-time, on-budget roll-out in 2 years. Outcome: Doubled throughput and increased revenue by $46 M.”

Align Your Education & Extra Sections With A Leadership Focus

It’s always important to include up-to-date listings of your educational credentials, including certifications, relevant affiliations, and professional development coursework. However, you shouldn’t overlook other details that can bolster the leadership focus of your resume.

  • Any evidence of your present or past leadership experience may be relevant. So, consider adding present or past volunteer leadership roles in professional or community organizations.
  • Make sure you include any for profit or not-for-profit board or committee roles you have fulfilled. And if space permits, include key initiatives you have contributed to during your tenure on these boards or committees.
  • Leadership courses completed at major grad schools deserve emphasis as well.
  • When you list industry-specific certifications, include them in acronym form as well as spelled out because either form is a keyword.
  • If you have won leadership awards or been selected for leadership development programs with any of your employers, make sure you note these.

Use The Job’s Title As Your Resume’s Title

This is a quick change but a critical one: make sure you insert the exact title of the position you’re pursuing into your resume as its title. This will add more keywords to your resume, but, more importantly, it will shape the perception of your resume’s readers to see you as qualified for the position you are targeting.

Now, this won’t work if you apply for a leadership role for which you have few, if any, qualifications. However, if you are well-qualified for the position you’re targeting and meet 75% or more of the role requirements, then this is a wise and appropriate thing to do.

Harness Your Career Brand In A Tagline

Whether you call it a tagline or a power statement, these single-line headlines are the perfect length to encapsulate a key leadership trait you possess along with your most influential and important career-long impacts.

These kinds of statements are big picture by nature, so they encompass the whole of your career rather than just your most recent role. Secondary or tertiary power statements can be used to spell out additional role-specific achievements.

  • For example, here’s the tagline used for an executive resume: “Fuelled $15B in revenue career-long while delivering 5x investor returns.” As you can see, short statements are more powerful when used as headlines; key details can be provided in the work history section of your resume.
  • Let’s say you’re a leader with a turnaround history—that would be important to note in a key location. Hence, a tagline such as this might be beneficial: “Reversed the performance of 4 mid-size companies from negative to up to +$144M in 11 months.”

All of the above are content shifts you need to make in your resume to properly position yourself as a leadership candidate. In addition, consider overhauling your resume’s “look and feel” to ensure you call attention to executive-level experience. Remember an organisation posting a job is looking to fill a capacity gap; so make sure you convince them that the capacity you have can fill their gap.