Month: February 2010


Resilience is a factor I had not built into my career wellness checkup, but after attending a seminar yesterday, I’m convinced I need to add it. Dr. Marnie Shanbhag, a licensed psychologist in the Orlando area, spoke about resilience – the characteristics and the effects of having it (or not). If there is any skill we cannot do without in this day and age, it’s resilience. Our work changes in innumerable ways both big and small on what seems like a daily basis. We live in a sea of uncertainty. This does not mean we must cling to our lifeboat, desperate for the winds to die down. We can do more than survive – we can thrive. But we can’t do it without resilience.

The good news is, it can be developed like a muscle. To build resilience, Dr. Marnie says we can do a number of things. A few are:

1. Accept change as part of living
2. Avoid seeing crisis as insurmountable
3. Compartmentalize
4. Do something small to keep moving toward your goal
5. Begin to understand your thinking (observe when strong emotions are triggered, look for themes in why you are upset, identify the underlying belief or fear)
6. Challenge your thinking

I learned that lack of resilience is marked by an outsized emotional reaction to a situation, generally followed by ineffective action (or no action). Even in those moments we can build our resilience muscle by using calming techniques such as deep breathing or mental distraction techniques such as mathematics or naming games, and then challenging our thinking. Good exercises for challenging our thinking: “a more accurate way of seeing this is…” and “that’s not true because…”

As our careers change ever more rapidly and we must play a more active role in steering them, resilience will become a crucial skill. Practice building yours today.

Career Wellness

Most likely, you go to the doctor each year for a physical just to check all the vitals and make sure everything is on track. But do you do the same for your career?

Physical wellness is an important part of an overall healthy and happy life. And though people often list career below family and health in their priorities (and rightly so) it’s still a huge part of our lives. Not only in terms of time, but in terms of how we feel about ourselves. And, as we’ve seen all too often, our satisfaction with our work lives can impact our health and family wellness too.

So, it’s time for a checkup. A career wellness checkup. For the next 45 days, I will tweet a question each day. You can answer each question for yourself and reflect upon whether you need to make any adjustments. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see them there. Otherwise, you can see the live feed on the right hand side of my blog. If you have questions or reactions throughout the next 45 days, comment on the blogsite or tweet me! Here’s to your career wellness in 2010.

A New Year, A New You

We’re already a month into the new year. Where did the time go? I’ll bet you made a few resolutions. Have you broken them yet? Most of us make and break resolutions like clockwork. (I no longer make resolutions, I choose yearly themes, but that’s another blog.) When we break resolutions, we feel guilty, we fret, we beat ourselves up. Why? Because we make these great big resolutions, we decide this is the year that we become someone totally new, totally different, and need it be said — better. And it’s going to happen overnight! (Right?) December 31st – old you; January 1st – new you. We want to just flip a switch. But it doesn’t happen that way. And by February 1st, we have a resolution hangover.

This year, if you want to reinvent yourself, forget the big resolutions. And don’t give up just because you’ve already broken some. Instead: 1) clarify your vision of the new you, 2) determine what direction you must go to get there, and then 3) look at what small steps you can take in that direction. Baby steps. Baby steps are easy to take, easy to accomplish. But they can change your trajectory. In the beginning, you’re not in much of a different place. But over time, wow. Each month or each quarter, just take a look at that vision again, that direction again, and determine a few more baby steps you can take. If it’s a new career you’re angling for, you can start by learning more about the field, possibly online, or through a class, or by finding someone in the field and talking with them about their work. Find out what skills or knowledge you need to move into this type of work and plan your next baby steps around obtaining them. And so on. Just keep at it, all year, each year, and soon, you will look back and realize you’re in a really different place.
You will have reinvented yourself.

People in creative fields do it all the time, but as LLCoolJ said in a recent interview, “Reinvention is not just for celebrities…it is for all humanity.” The pity is that most of us give up too soon. So, plan your baby steps and pace yourself. You can get there from here!