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Monday, March 10, 2014
“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Establishing yourself in the workplace or beginning the hunt for a new job is probably one of the scariest things you can ever do. Most people express a great deal of fear when faced with new opportunities. But it’s time to get past your job search fears once and for all!
Finding a new opportunity can be one of the most powerful and rewarding experiences. We grow the most when we overcome things we fear, and can learn new things about ourselves that can add dimension and depth to our character as well as our understanding of the world.
Someone once told me change is the most terrifying when we actually desire or need it the most. This, in turn, can make us feel like we are standing on the edge of a precipice; uncertain as to whether we can make that leap of faith or not.
Understanding the building blocks of your career management strategy will help you become a smarter and wiser job seeker, and ultimately help you overcome the very fears that could be holding you back.
Monday, March 10, 2014
You may have heard people say to you, “It’s always easier to get a job when you are already employed.” But have you ever asked why this is?
There’s absolutely no evidence to prove that anyone going for a job, who is already in full-time employment, stands any better chance of being offered a position than someone who is currently out of work.
So, if we are to believe this is just the way the system works; then it could be worth looking at what the reasons might be.
Here are some possible explanations as to why those in work are deemed as more employable than those who aren’t.
1. It’s Easier To Avoid Tricky Interview Questions
Having to explain why you left your last job or why you were told to leave your last job is never easy, but it’s still something potential employers love to ask you about. If you are employed, then your options are much greater in terms of what you say in an interview. You could say, “I’m looking for a new challenge” or “My current job just doesn’t offer me the challenges I want.” So, you can take your pick of reasons for wanting to find a new employer if you’re already on the pay roll.
2. You Make More Contacts
You can’t underestimate the power of good networking, and there is more chance of you doing networking when you are working and not sitting at home. The people you work with could mention companies looking to hire people, or you may meet someone that has just left a firm – meaning a new vacancy has been created. If you’re unhappy at work and looking for a new job, keep your ear to the ground!
3. You Have More Time
Regardless of how much you hate your current job, the fact that you are working and still earning means you have the time to look elsewhere. You know the rent will be paid at the end of the month. So, use your time constructively.
4. You Have Greater Self-Confidence
Confidence is everything when looking for a job. If you are already in full-time employment, it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll exude more self-confidence than someone who isn’t. This might not be a conscious act, but the fact that the “pressure is off” might have something to do with it. However, don’t be cocky, because there is nothing more off putting to an employer than arrogance – no matter confident you may be.
Monday, March 10, 2014
You can’t escape stress that is a direct outcome of your busy work schedule.
Everest College’s Third Annual Survey reveals some startling truths –workplace stress is on the rise amongst Americans and a massive 83% are stressed out by at least one thing at work. It’s also been identified as the number one workplace risk issue.
A large percentage of employees see work stress as an acceptable fallout of their professional lives and ignore it. What they do not realize or choose to ignore is that it has a detrimental impact on their physical health, their personal lives and in many cases their psychological well-being as well. Taken together, this affects their productivity at the workplace and quality of life as a whole. So it’s important to manage stress and what’s more not just manage it, but have fun along the way.
Here are five tips to help you do that:
1. Do not bring your work home.
For an ideal work-life balance, keep you work and home lives separate, do not mix the two. Focus on your work at the office; when at home make sure you spend some quality time with your family. There are plenty of people who choose to carry their work home; this means after slogging away at the office, you will be doing the same at your home. This not only means you are carrying your work stress to your home, but also means you cannot stop thinking about work. Your mind needs a breather and spending time with your family, discussing something other than work, is a great way of getting rid of all the stress.
When at office think of work, but when at home get all that “work” out of your system. Make it a point to have a nice dinner conversation with your wife and kids, watch a serial together, or just listen to some soothing music before going to bed. Such activities allow you to have some fun and also help you think of things beyond work; perfect for bringing down your stress levels.
2. Talk to someone.
There is a school of thought that says discussing your work related issues with your family is counterproductive. It might lead to your family, especially your spouse worrying about all the work related stress that’s taking a toll on your life. While there might be some truth to this thinking, there is another way to look at it.
Unburdening your worries will essentially help you cope with them or find a solution for them. There are times when you just want to talk to somebody about all that’s happening in your work life, the issues you have to face and whether you are handling them right. Who better to discuss all this with than somebody who understands you inside and out, your wife, girlfriend or your very close friend? Doing this on and off will help you feel better at the end of it, on top of it you might find a solution for your problems.
3. Set aside ‘me’ time.
Do you follow a hobby? Do you love sports? Do you love movies? Do you read books? Indulge in your hobbies and your interests during the weekends. Yes, weekends are time for some family fun as well, but don’t forget to give some time to yourself as well. If nothing else going to the nearest park, sometime early in the morning and taking a long walk will help free your mind from all the troubles and just soak in the beauty of your surroundings. This is the time when you will feel everything is right with the world and will help you feel satisfied with what you are doing and your achievements.
4. Plan a vacation.
A change of scenery is best placed to help you get rid of all the stress that’s piling on through the year. So plan a fantastic annual vacation that helps you get away from it all. Get your whole family into the act of identifying an ideal destination and planning the vacation. Vacations are a perfect opportunity for you to unwind, relax and reenergize your body to meet the grueling work schedule you’ll face when you’re back from the holiday. Have fun, and make sure to make this fun count. A rider – do not carry your work to your vacation!
Monday, March 10, 2014
Experienced interviewers often want to know the essence of your skills — how you arrived at your accomplishments from previous jobs.
Skills-related job interview questions may include: How would you rate your writing skills in comparison to your verbal skills? How do you delegate responsibility?
Here are some ways to respond to these and other skills-related questions.
What is the toughest job problem you’ve ever faced?
•Recall a problem, the skills used in your action to deal with it, and the successful results; this is a skills-detailed version of PAR (problem, action, result).
•Explain how you could apply those same skills to the prospective job.
What do you like least about gathering information to deal with a problem (research)?
•Comment that wanting to do a first-rate job, you’re uncomfortable when you’re uncertain that you’ve compiled enough research to quit and make a decision that affects the wellbeing of others.
•Explain that you use multiple resources — Web, books, journals, and expert people — and you become frustrated when key resources aren’t adequate.
How good are you at making oral presentations?
•Discuss how you prepare. Name presentation skills. Mention specific instances where you’ve given a good show.
•Offer to give a one-minute oral presentation on a topic you’ve practiced.
How would you rate your writing skills in comparison to your verbal skills?
•Discuss how both skills — as well as listening — are important to being a good communicator, and that while one or the other may be your strong suit, you’re working to become strongly proficient at both speaking and writing. Explain how you’re doing so — class work, independent study, membership in Toastmasters International or a writing group; show brief writing samples.
•Concretely explain a real communication situation in your past; describe how you communicated the information and the result.
•* If you’re a weak communicator, give a compensatory response that substitutes another skill for writing or verbal skills; for example, in a technical call center, problem-solving outweighs the need for golden tonsils and laudable business writing.
How do you deal with unexpected events on the job?
•Discuss how you immediately reprioritize your assignments in emergencies.
•Mention specific instances where you were able to complete a project (or projects) on time despite unforeseen complications.
How do you organize your time?
•Affirm that you put first things first. Each day you identify A-level tasks and get those done before moving on to B-level tasks. You return voicemail messages once or twice daily and urgent messages immediately.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Try to gain something from the experience
I have been for many job interviews over the years; some successful, some not so. Something that everyone tells you when going for an interview (including myself) is to try and gain something from the experience – even if you are not offered the job.
One thing I have learned from all of my interview experience, and something I continue to do, is to try and turn the interview on its head and use it as your chance to find out more about the company.
Let’s face it; the job might not be so appealing after you have found out more about the firm who is hiring.
So, don’t wait until the end of an awkward interview and then have to be prompted to ask questions – fire away as soon as you can.
This not only gives you a better overview of the company; it also shows you are keen and interested in the role.
Here are a few interview questions you should remember to ask:
1. “Is this a new position? If not, why did the previous employee leave?”
Most people are so focused on getting the job they are going for that they don’t think to ask why the position is available in the first place. Has the previous employee moved on to better things? Have they been fired? Did they quit? The interviewer may not give you all the details, but from their answer you should be able to form your own opinion of the company and the position.
2. “What are the prospects for growth and advancement?”
Employers like to know that a candidate is around for the long haul and not just killing time before another more attractive role comes up. Asking about what the future holds, for both you and them, gives the impression that your plans are long term and you are dedicated and committed.
3. “Is there anything I can I tell you about myself?”
This is your chance to really put the interviewer/s on the back foot. Don’t wait for them to prompt you, get in there first and ask them if there is anything they would like to know. Not only does this show great confidence; it also eliminates any awkward pauses and gaps in the conversation.
4. “Would you like to see some references?”
References are sometimes seen as just an addition to a candidate’s CV and just tagged on at the end to fill-up that empty space. This is a big mistake. References are a great way of showing just what you are capable of and many employees put a lot of faith in them. Mention any glowing references you have as early as you can in your interview and bring some copies of written versions to display. This is also a good chance to mention courses you have completed and training seminars you may have attended.
5. “What are the qualities you are looking for in an employee?”
This is another great way to demonstrate your confidence, and a superb opportunity to steer the conversation towards your skills and achievements in the work place. Obviously, you’ll have to be quick off the mark with this one as many interviewers will start off by asking what your qualities are – so try and get in there first.
Monday, March 10, 2014
What are the best ways to get a job interview these days?
In this economy, I am often asked to how long clients should expect to be in transition. They are often surprised by my answer. It seems to me that because we keep hearing that the economy is slowly getting better, we are lulled into a false sense of security that the job search process isn’t as difficult as it has been for the past few years.
According to the Economic Policy Institute Article from November 2012, while the job seekers ratio has held steady at 3.4 job seekers to one job opening, any number over three means that that there are “no jobs available for two out of three workers.” I also found it very interesting that the same report states that job seekers far outnumber job openings across every sector. Couple this with persistently low hiring and we are finding that unemployment lengths remain unusually high.
Given this less than wonderful news, what can you do to ensure that you are taking all necessary steps to avoid becoming one of the long-term unemployed? Step one is the resume, however, that is merely a step. It’s not the whole job search.
Best Ways To Get An Interview
Knowing that you are likely one of many applicants, how do you get “noticed”? There are a few steps that you can follow to greatly increase your odds of landing that interview.
Breaking down my favorites, David Letterman style, here are my top 10 ways to get an interview:
10. Be Specific
Develop a list of specific target companies that you can identify to those with whom you are networking. For example, if you say, “I want to work in engineering,” that doesn’t really get my brain working. However, if you say, ” I want to work for XYZ company in an engineering capacity, namely leading a team of hardware engineers,” that helps me to a) understand what you are looking for and b) start thinking about who I may know at XYZ company.
9. Know Your Strengths
Knowing what you bring to the table and clearly articulating it sets you apart from the masses right away. Often, people are not clear on what they can do to specifically help a company. Hiring companies want to know what you can do for them… it helps to answer that question well.
8. Research Your Target Companies
Know those companies that appeal to you and appear to be a great fit. If you don’t know about the company or if you don’t really want to work there, it typically shows in a conversation. If you are excited about the potential of working for the company and you have clearly done your research that will make you extremely appealing and different from the rest.
7. Develop A Resume That Stands Out From The Rest
I have seen great resumes and terrible resumes.What makes a great resume? Clearly defining what problems you will solve for the company and adjusting the resume based on the job available are two important factors.
6. Develop Marketing Material
What can you leave with a new contact that sets you apart from the other people they have talked with? Professional business cards are a must but what about a biographic? This doesn’t replace a resume but is rather a marketing piece that visually tells the story of your job history.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Call The Hiring Manager
Be assertive. If you know who the hiring manager is, call him/her and briefly state that you have applied for the position. Take the opportunity to alert them to this and let them know that if they took ten minutes to meet with you, they would find you a viable candidate. The worst thing that can happen is that you get turned down.
4. Don’t Rely On Job Boards
Not that you cannot find a job utilizing a job board but statistics show that 90% of jobs are never posted (which is why #2 is what it is) and those that are posted are swamped with job seekers taking the traditional, ineffective route.
3. Create Your Brand Utilizing Social Media
Develop your brand as an industry expert using LinkedIn and, if you’re brave, Twitter. Post professional, relevant articles that are pertinent to the type of jobs in which you are interested.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways.
Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process.
Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don’t have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.
And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they’re complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it’s not just a stereotype of the “tortured artist”—artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person.
“It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self,” Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. “The things that stand out the most are the paradoxes of the creative self ... Imaginative people have messier minds.”
While there’s no “typical” creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. Here are 18 things they do differently.
Creative types know, despite what their third-grade teachers may have said, that daydreaming is anything but a waste of time.
According to Kaufman and psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan, who co-authored a paper titled “Ode To Positive Constructive Daydreaming,” mind-wandering can aid in the process of “creative incubation.” And of course, many of us know from experience that our best ideas come seemingly out of the blue when our minds are elsewhere.
Although daydreaming may seem mindless, a 2012 study suggested it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state—daydreaming can lead to sudden connections and insights because it’s related to our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. Neuroscientists have also found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity.
They observe everything.
The world is a creative person’s oyster—they see possibilities everywhere and are constantly taking in information that becomes fodder for creative expression. As Henry James is widely quoted, a writer is someone on whom “nothing is lost.”
The writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times, and said that she wrote down observations about people and events as, ultimately, a way to better understand the complexities and contradictions of her own mind:
“However dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable ‘I,’” Didion wrote in her essay On Keeping A Notebook. “We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its marker.”
They work the hours that work for them.
Many great artists have said that they do their best work either very early in the morning or late at night. Vladimir Nabokov started writing immediately after he woke up at 6 or 7 a.m., and Frank Lloyd Wright made a practice of waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. and working for several hours before heading back to bed. No matter when it is, individuals with high creative output will often figure out what time it is that their minds start firing up, and structure their days accordingly.
They take time for solitude.
“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone,” wrote the American existential psychologist Rollo May.
Artists and creatives are often stereotyped as being loners, and while this may not actually be the case, solitude can be the key to producing their best work. For Kaufman, this links back to daydreaming—we need to give ourselves the time alone to simply allow our minds to wander.
“You need to get in touch with that inner monologue to be able to express it,” he says. “It’s hard to find that inner creative voice if you’re ... not getting in touch with yourself and reflecting on yourself.”
They turn life’s obstacles around.
Many of the most iconic stories and songs of all time have been inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak—and the silver lining of these challenges is that they may have been the catalyst to create great art. An emerging field of psychology called post-traumatic growth is suggesting that many people are able to use their hardships and early-life trauma for substantial creative growth. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people to grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, spirituality, appreciation of life, personal strength, and—most importantly for creativity—seeing new possibilities in life.
“A lot of people are able to use that as the fuel they need to come up with a different perspective on reality,” says Kaufman. “What’s happened is that their view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered at some point in their life, causing them to go on the periphery and see things in a new, fresh light, and that’s very conducive to creativity.”
They seek out new experiences.
Creative people love to expose themselves to new experiences, sensations and states of mind—and this openness is a significant predictor of creative output.
“Openness to experience is consistently the strongest predictor of creative achievement,” says Kaufman. “This consists of lots of different facets, but they’re all related to each other: Intellectual curiosity, thrill seeking, openness to your emotions, openness to fantasy. The thing that brings them all together is a drive for cognitive and behavioral exploration of the world, your inner world and your outer world.”
They “fail up.”
Resilience is practically a prerequisite for creative success, says Kaufman. Doing creative work is often described as a process of failing repeatedly until you find something that sticks, and creatives—at least the successful ones—learn not to take failure so personally.
“Creatives fail and the really good ones fail often,” Forbes contributor Steven Kotler wrote in a piece on Einstein’s creative genius.
They ask the big questions.
Creative people are insatiably curious—they generally opt to live the examined life, and even as they get older, maintain a sense of curiosity about life. Whether through intense conversation or solitary mind-wandering, creatives look at the world around them and want to know why, and how, it is the way it is.
Observant by nature and curious about the lives of others, creative types often love to people-watch—and they may generate some of their best ideas from it.
“[Marcel] Proust spent almost his whole life people-watching, and he wrote down his observations, and it eventually came out in his books,” says Kaufman. “For a lot of writers, people-watching is very important ... They’re keen observers of human nature.”
They take risks.
Part of doing creative work is taking risks, and many creative types thrive off of taking risks in various aspects of their lives.
“There is a deep and meaningful connection between risk taking and creativity and it’s one that’s often overlooked,” contributor Steven Kotler wrote in Forbes. “Creativity is the act of making something from nothing. It requires making public those bets first placed by imagination. This is not a job for the timid. Time wasted, reputation tarnished, money not well spent—these are all by-products of creativity gone awry.”
They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.
Nietzsche believed that one’s life and the world should be viewed as a work of art. Creative types may be more likely to see the world this way, and to constantly seek opportunities for self-expression in everyday life.
“Creative expression is self-expression,” says Kaufman. “Creativity is nothing more than an individual expression of your needs, desires and uniqueness.”
They follow their true passions.
Creative people tend to be intrinsically motivated—meaning that they’re motivated to act from some internal desire, rather than a desire for external reward or recognition. Psychologists have shown that creative people are energized by challenging activities, a sign of intrinsic motivation, and the research suggests that simply thinking of intrinsic reasons to perform an activity may be enough to boost creativity.
“Eminent creators choose and become passionately involved in challenging, risky problems that provide a powerful sense of power from the ability to use their talents,” write M.A. Collins and T.M. Amabile in The Handbook of Creativity.
They get out of their own heads.
Kaufman argues that another purpose of daydreaming is to help us to get out of our own limited perspective and explore other ways of thinking, which can be an important asset to creative work.
“Daydreaming has evolved to allow us to let go of the present,” says Kaufman. “The same brain network associated with daydreaming is the brain network associated with theory of mind—I like calling it the ‘imagination brain network’—it allows you to imagine your future self, but it also allows you to imagine what someone else is thinking.”
Research has also suggested that inducing “psychological distance”—that is, taking another person’s perspective or thinking about a question as if it was unreal or unfamiliar—can boost creative thinking.
They lose track of the time.
Creative types may find that when they’re writing, dancing, painting or expressing themselves in another way, they get “in the zone,” or what’s known as a flow state, which can help them to create at their highest level. Flow is a mental state when an individual transcends conscious thought to reach a heightened state of effortless concentration and calmness. When someone is in this state, they’re practically immune to any internal or external pressures and distractions that could hinder their performance.
You get into the flow state when you’re performing an activity you enjoy that you’re good at, but that also challenges you—as any good creative project does.
“[Creative people] have found the thing they love, but they’ve also built up the skill in it to be able to get into the flow state,” says Kaufman. “The flow state requires a match between your skill set and the task or activity you’re engaging in.”
They surround themselves with beauty.
Creatives tend to have excellent taste, and as a result, they enjoy being surrounded by beauty.
A study recently published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts showed that musicians—including orchestra musicians, music teachers, and soloists—exhibit a high sensitivity and responsiveness to artistic beauty.
They connect the dots.
If there’s one thing that distinguishes highly creative people from others, it’s the ability to see possibilities where other don’t—or, in other words, vision. Many great artists and writers have said that creativity is simply the ability to connect the dots that others might never think to connect.
Friday, February 28, 2014
If anyone knows a thing or two about creativity, it’s David Lynch.
Arguably one of the most brilliant film directors of our time, Lynch is best known for genre-defying, surrealist art-house films like Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and Wild at Heart. His style is so original that it’s even inspired its own adjective: “Lynchian.”
Lynch is also an outspoken devotee of Transcendental Meditation, which he’s practiced daily for over 40 years and brings to underserved populations through his work with the David Lynch Foundation. And the award-winning director says that meditation is his greatest secret to creative success.
“Transcendental meditation is for [all] human beings, and it transforms life for the good, no matter who you are or what your situation is,” Lynch said in a Rolling Stone interview on Feb. 25. “It’s a mental technique that allows [you] to dive deep within to the deepest level of life, which underlies all matter and mind. At the border of intellect, you transcend and experience that unbounded level of life: all positive, pure consciousness with qualities of intelligence, creativity, happiness, love, energy, and peace.”
In 2006, Lynch penned a book illuminating his methods for achieving his greatest artistic visions. In Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity, Lynch likens ideas to fish: “If you want to catch a little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.”
For many of us who do creative work, lifestyles of stress, burnout, sleep deprivation and technology addiction can keep us from “going deeper.” We multitask on texts, emails, news and social media—without putting our full focus on anything we do—and that can keep us on the surface of our thoughts and ideas. This can take a major toll on our creative thinking, which is never at its fullest potential if we’re not accessing a deeper part of our consciousness. Lynch argues that meditation is the solution, the greatest tool we have for accessing our own brain power and diving into the subconsciousness where creativity resides.
Need a creative boost? Here are some of Lynch’s best secrets to finding your personal vision from Catching The Big Fish.
1. Meditate, meditate, meditate.
Lynch is a longtime devotee of Transcendental Meditation, a practice that involves the repetition of a mantra during 20-minute, twice daily meditations. He swears that TM helps him to access a deeper level of consciousness, where all of his best ideas have come from. “Down deep, the fish are powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful,” he writes.
But you don’t have to take Lynch’s word for it: The science has proven that mindfulness really can boost your brain power in a number of ways. A 2012 Dutch study found that certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking. Mindfulness practice has been linked with improved memory and focus, emotional well-being, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved mental clarity—all of which can lead to better creative thought.
Anyone can find time in their schedule to meditate, says Lynch—you don’t have to be sitting cross-legged in a special meditation room to enjoy the practice of mindfulness.
“You can meditate anywhere,” says Lynch. “You can meditate in an airport, at work, anywhere you happen to be.”
2. Slow down.
Few things crush creativity faster than excessive busyness—research in organizational psychology has found that environments with high levels of time pressure can stifle creativity, and many of us know personally that our best ideas don’t happen when we’re stressed out and rushing from one deadline to another.
The world will likely only continue operating at an increasingly fast pace, so we must take it upon ourselves to slow down. Accessing one’s deepest creativity, for Lynch, pretty much boils down to a simple piece of advice: “Keep your eye on the donut and not the hole.” As Lynch explains, “If you keep your eye on the doughnut and do your work, that’s all you can control. You can’t control any of what’s out there, outside yourself.”
In other words, slow down, find time for your creative work, and let go of trying to keep up with endless emails, social media updates, to-do lists and obligations. They’ll always be there—it’s your job to find a way to slow down for long enough to do the work that’s important to you.
It’s a simple equation: People who sleep better are more creative. Lynch explains that sleep is “really important” to his creative process. “You need to be able to rest the physiology to be able to work well and meditate well,” says Lynch.
Writer Steven King also believes that sleep is crucial to the creative process and can help to release what he calls the “repressed imagination.” King wrote in On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft:
In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives. And as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night — six hours, seven, maybe the recommended eight—so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction.
The evidence that sleep deprivation disrupts creativity isn’t just anecdotal: A number of scientific studies have found that sleep is essential for learning and creativity. Sleep helps the brain to consolidate memories so that we can later retrieve them more easily, and it also helps us reorganize and reconfigure memories so we can come up with new and original ideas.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Some questions to ask yourself
Expectations. We all have them. Our expectations motivate us and drive us to do things both good and bad. We might expect a great time at a party or expect to get bored at grandmas. We have expectations of all sorts at work. We have expectations of our peers, the boss, the company and even the customers.
Our expectations serve us like a yard stick where we kind of measure people both ahead of time and after an event. We think we know what to expect of others and ourselves, so we check to see if all of that expectation is missed or met.
What happens when our expectations are continuously missed? We turn grouchy, to start with. If our expectations are continually abused, it can become the catalyst of unrest and great unhappiness. Depending on your position in the company, you can bear down on the source of your missed expectations with unrelenting focus. We hate to be disappointed. The question is – Are your expectations realistic or are you a control freak? It’s good to be good, but it’s annoying to work with someone who wants to be perfect. Besides, it’s just not possible, so you could be unrealistic and also be a real pain in the backside.
Here are some questions to ask yourself, as well as thoughts to help gauge your expectations:
Are you clear about your expectations? Sometimes we have them, but we can’t exactly pinpoint what they are. If you can get clear first, you can examine them more closely.
Did you manufacture your expectations without validation? Especially with others, we sometimes cook up expectations and fail to communicate to get agreement.
Is someone being inconsistent? One day they do things a certain way and the next day, they do them differently. You’re now confused and don’t know WHAT to expect. Time to ask.
How do your standards compare to others? There is a fine line between wanting to be the best and being obsessive. Make sure you know where the bar is set for your peers to see if it is within a reasonable range of your own.
Do you need to communicate your expectations? We often go about doing our work without really communicating what we need, when we need it and what details go with it. If you haven’t shared those details, you need to have a discussion.
Are you getting feedback? You might need to calibrate what your expectations are with someone who can give you some objective feedback and understanding of your environment. Depending on your situation, you could do that with your boss; but if that isn’t an option, consider a respected mentor or peer. Don’t’ seek out your work BFF, as they won’t be objective or candid.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Define what you want to begin with
Thanks to Fisher-Price, as babies we learn a concept that we seem to forget by the time we’re adults: you can’t put a square peg in a round hole.
We do it especially with relationships and with jobs. If we don’t know what we’re looking for, we become obscured by what we’re attracted to. And then we don’t realize we’ve reverted to pounding the round orange peg into the hole on that plastic table right in front of us when it’s the square blue peg that fits.
Most people will continue to force it – and with a lot of hard work, sweat, and stress – it can be made to fit, but never very well and never for very long. Eventually that peg is going to explode out of the hole into which they’re trying to mash it.
And by the time they realize it’s not fitting, they’re so far in that instead of realizing what’s happened and getting out, they try harder to make it work or else they do nothing. In both cases, not only does the fit fail to improve, it becomes more tenuous with time.
Failing to define what they want is where it begins. And unless luck intervenes, it’s not long before the new job – or new relationship – isn’t as satisfying as it initially appeared. Additionally, when they realize that what they have isn’t what they want, they wait too long to leave. And in leaving one job for another, desperation does not breed objectivity.
Avoiding the “unhappy at work” syndrome can be solved in a few simple pro-active steps especially if you don’t get bogged down in the discomfort and fear of the minutae along the way.
1.Acknowledge you hate your job and want to be elsewhere – and realize it before you feel you have to leave at any cost
2.Get a solid idea of what you like, don’t like, what motivates you, at what you excel, under what circumstances you produce your best work, etc, by examining your previous jobs
3.Identify exactly what you want in your next job and under what circumstances you’re willing to bend your needs
4.Actively go find it, and exclude anything that doesn’t match it or come close
5.As you interview – and learn more information about each opportunity – pursue it if it fits and dump it if it doesn’t
You’re looking for the company that meets your profile, and is looking for an employee like you. Every person is unique, and every company and job is unique. Job hunting isn’t that different from dating. In a bad match, both parties will be unhappy and resistant to being changed by the other. But when the bad match is your new job, you’ve gotten married a whole lot sooner so there’s a bit more involved than just breaking up and going home.
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