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Entries from December 2008

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions that Stick

Happy Holidays to everyone out there. I hope the peace of the season is able to find its way into your and your loved ones’ heart, mind, spirit and body. Best wishes for 2009! I hear it’s going to be a good one, so spread the word.


If you’re taking a break from your revelry or hard work to read this right now (or if it’s just a way of procrastinating), let me try to offer a little inspiration to help you make your New Year’s resolutions last throughout 2009.


First, I’ll start by sharing an experience from graduate school. I was taking an advanced counseling class and a student was crying after recounting the pain he felt during Christmas because his mother was deceased and it was their first Christmas without her. You could feel the heavy longing in his heart as he described his immense love for her. We all hung on his every word and began to tear up with him when one student reached over to hand him a box of Kleenex. Then out of nowhere the professor intercepted the student with the Kleenex and commanded her return to her seat. It was startling and took me by surprise. All eyes were now on the professor as he explained that handing a Kleenex to a crying client interrupted the release of their pain and really indicated a counselor’s discomfort with heavier emotions.


What does that have to do with making New Year’s resolutions? The answer has a twist in it.


When you think of New Year’s resolutions, what comes to mind? Losing weight? Quitting smoking? Increasing exercise? Being on time to appointments and with deadlines? Increasing your bottom line?


Have you noticed what many of the typical resolutions have in common? They are remedial in nature and tend to focus on weaknesses. They are like dictates from our inner slave-driver that is disgusted by us and is demanding improvement. So we respond by setting the prescribed resolutions as our goal and then try to adhere to them a bit begrudgingly. It is no wonder that more than 2/3 of Americans polled have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions by spring.


So, how can you make New Year’s resolutions that stick?


This is where the twist comes in.


Typically, this time of year brings up a host of emotions for people. Many experience grief—grief over a lost loved one; grief over an unfulfilled dream; grief over money; grief over lost career or market opportunities; even grief over the lack of sunlight. Grief has a stealth way of getting you if it isn’t completely processed—which is more frequent than not. We put it aside. Friends hand us Kleenex and tell us to cheer up and that it will get better. So we repress. Then, I believe, we beat ourselves up a bit and demand a few ridiculous resolutions (maybe they’re not ridiculous, but we feel a little rebellious by our inner slave-driver).


Would you like an alternative suggestion that will result in New Year’s resolutions that stick?


One, don’t be afraid to take a little time-out to grieve this season. It’s normal and healthy. Take some time to walk by yourself and allow the feelings to flow. Maybe write about it in a journal. Talk and process it a bit. Look at old pictures, former goals, re-read old diaries…whatever it is that helps the feelings come up and flow out. Taking a little time for this can provide you rejuvenation. It also makes you a little more alive.


Second, after you’ve given yourself time to grieve and you’ve nurtured yourself. Attempt to make resolutions that focus on the positive. Try assessing your strengths and resolve to enhance what you’re already good at and love. Whatever you commit to, do it from a place of self-care and not inner slave-driver. Then use this year as a test to see if the resolutions stick.


Good luck and best of care throughout 2009!


(this is a post from my new blog series on the Club E NETWORK, the online gathering place for entrepreneurs. It's a great resource and free to join, so check them out if you're an entrepreneur or considering starting your own business and want to learn from others.)




Getting a Job after Being Laid Off...Stage One: Overcoming Grief

Storm_clouds_over_swifts_creek  Losing a job can be one of the most painful losses a person can experience—especially when it is unexpected. Losing a job creates an indescribable grief for many. The knee-jerk reaction is to jump back up as quickly as possible and start looking for a new job. However the uncertainty and fear that is produced from the job loss, if not illuminated, can creep up (even in a new job) and potentially cause a downward spiral in the person’s career and overall life. Understanding this and working through the grief is key to getting effectively and satisfactorily re-employed.

Handling the job loss

First, if you haven’t been let go, but fear that it’s imminent—try talking to your employer about cost-effective alternatives that would allow you to continue your contributions to the organization. This could be a part-time position, contract work, or even limited part-time volunteer work in exchange for office and/or computer use. Often times the organization doesn’t want to lose a valuable employee that they’ve trained, so they are often open to creative solutions like this. In addition, maintaining a connection with them can decrease your grief a bit while enhancing your job search opportunities.


If you have been dismissed and cut-off from the organization, know that it is completely normal to experience deep grief, shame, loss of identity and meaning, fear, and other negative feelings even if part of you is glad to be away from the company drama. These feelings tend increase and to be in direct proportion to the length of time you were at the organization and the higher your position.


During this stage, you may also find that you are reaching out to other former employees and discussing problems and people in the organization at length. This is part of the grieving process. However, this situation becomes a problem when it slips into obsession (can’t stop thinking or talking about the job) or when it never appears (the job loss is immediately replaced by another job…maybe even across the country…but then the grief gets displaced onto family members (via a divorce) or shows up in affairs, addictions, and other escapes).


In order to completely process the grief, try working with a counselor. Join a support group. Write about your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Understand how your job was connected to your identity. For instance, do you consider your identity as an individual person with unique thoughts and feelings or do you think of yourself more by your career (Engineer nerd, nurturing teacher, artist, over-achieving doctor, high-powered CEO, etc.)? If your identity seems to be steeped in your career, try cultivating the other hidden aspects of your identity. Get in touch with your inner child. Discover what makes you laugh, cry, curious, scared. Heal the wound of the job and identity loss through nurturing yourself with loving self-care and positive self-talk. Cultivate inner peace by realizing that you are not your job and find acceptance for yourself where you are this very moment. Doing this can heal your grief while gaining a self-identity is less fearful, more courageous, compassionate, and wise—and just the kind of person everyone wants to be around and hire.

This is the first post of a three-part series. The next post will address tips for packaging and marketing your résumé.




Managing Your Net Rep

Do you know your Net Rep? It’s that little impression that comes up when someone searches your name in Google or Yahoo. Advertisers call it brand image and work hard to give a good impression or feeling of a product they want to sell. Your Net Rep (Internet Reputation) gives a similar impression and feeling about you. But it can be positive or negative, depending on how you’ve managed it and IF you’ve managed it.


First, how does a Net Rep get built in the first place? With the widespread usage of the World Wide Web, people across the globe have used the Internet to join social networking sites (like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo Pulse and more). They have posted their résumés on various job search sites. They have joined special interest networking group sites (such as photography groups, hiking groups, and other network groups centered around various hobbies). People also ask questions and post responses to other inquiries on topic-related sites (think medical support groups, diet groups, book reviews, movie reviews, etc. where some, but not all are anonymous postings). Every time a posting or profile is made, Google and other search engines’ spiders take note. The more your name is posted on various sites, the higher your search engine results are going to be. That means everything you post on the Internet paints a picture about you and all of the pieces of that picture will be seen by one simple search on a search engine.


Marketers know the power of Net Rep building and purposely try to place a product or client’s name all over the World Wide Web in strategically advantageous places. You can do the same, but first you need to figure out what your existing Net Rep reveals. To do this, reexamine the content on your social networking sites from the prespective of a boss, employee, or client. Consider what your information reveals about you and how it may impact your professional reputation and credibility. 


An example of how social networking content can backfire on someone is by using sites for dating searches. A senior executive was borderline harassing employees and potential employees through public sites. The behavior was observed by investors and became an issue for the company, along with almost costing the executive’s job.


One more cautionary note is that privacy locks on your sites do not always work. Member profiles still show up on “friends” and group lists along with any comments that have been made on other people’s sites. Basically, a trail of Internet bread crumbs leads anyone back to a site that is even marked private, so be cautious about the friends you accept and the posts you make.


The upside is that you can use the Internet bread crumbs in your favor by posting positive material that reinforces the image you want to convey. People like to see the humanity behind a person’s name, so posting favorite quotes, movies, and philosophical views can be positive if that’s the image you want to convey—especially when it’s congruent with your inner self. Sharing a personal story through your site profiles and revealing what you care about can go a long way. Even microblogging updates about what you are doing right now can enhance your Net Rep as long as they are true and not too abundant (e.g. Preparing for marathon to help abused children; Finishing grant proposal for mental health study on career mobility; Attending professional economic conference; Going on hike and smelling the flowers.).


Managing a Net Rep can be a lot like tending a garden. Plant good and healthy seeds and maintain upkeep. Revisit sites you’ve joined and keep the content positive. If people have posted negative things about you, make positive public comments or delete the profile if you’re getting harassed. You can also combat a negative posting through increased positive postings by colleagues and friends. Ask for public referrals, recommendations, and testimonials. Be professional and courteous with all of your postings—even in listserves. People across the world are watching, so communicate on the Internet with caution and wisdom.