Life Goals

Is This The End? By Dr. Dawn Graham

share_cta_01 (1).png

Fewer of us are staying at our jobs for decades like our parents. People are less likely to tolerate toxic work cultures, no advancement, poor leadership, and want more out of life than just work. Are you ready for a change? Pick up Dr. Dawn Graham's book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers - and Seize Success. Here is some advice or perhaps the kick in the behind that you may have been needing to make changes in your own career. 

While it’s not unusual to have bad days at work (and some that even lead to dreams of quitting and retiring to a sunny island), deciding to actually resign is a big deal. How can you tell if you’re just going through a tough phase in your job or if it’s time to explore new opportunities? Consider these:

1.    Identify the root of the problem: Is the boss hindering your professional growth or maybe the culture isn’t a great match? Is your work environment toxic or maybe your daily commute or travel schedule is slowly killing you? Some things can be changed. Other problems will follow you. Either way, when you can pinpoint the major hurdle, you’ll be more equipped to overcome it.

2.    Craft an experiment: If the company is interested in retaining you and the root of your problem is boredom, they may be open to you taking on special projects or transitioning to a different department to learn a new function. Think about your longer-term career goals and identify skill gaps you’d like to close. Even if you plan to leave the company down the road, you can use your remaining time wisely by building up your resume and relationships.

3.    Know where you’re going:  You’ll always be more successful when you run TOWARD an exciting opportunity versus running AWAY from a bad situation. Once you identify the problem (see #1), next map out what your ideal situation looks like so that you can aim for that target. Even the least skilled interviewers can recognize the difference between motivation and desperation, so clarify your goal and communicate why you’re excited about it.

4.    Evaluate the landscape: If it’s been a while since you’ve changed roles, the market and skill sets may have shifted. Take time to understand your current value in the industry you’re targeting and be able to relay how the problems you solve contribute positively to a company’s bottom line. Reconnect with your network and get feedback on your candidacy. Also, get up to speed on the latest hiring trends. You don’t want to be blindsided by a request for a one-way video interview or miss a job opening because you’re not on social media.

5.    Look before you leap:  Unemployment bias is real, therefore, it’s easier to land a new role while still employed since you’ll seem more attractive as a candidate. Sometimes a workplace is so toxic that it’s not possible to stay a moment longer, but if that’s not the case, continue to deliver your best work while engaging in a stealth job search after hours.

6.    Get creative: If you’re not able to change jobs now or the job search is taking longer than anticipated, keep your energy and motivation high by finding career fulfillment in other ways. Join a nonprofit board, take on a mentee, or enroll in continuing education courses. A positive attitude will be your best friend in an interview, so avoid feeling “stuck” by taking action. Bonus: These actions are great for networking, which may ultimately lead to your next opportunity!

7.    Don’t look back. Trust your gut to tell you when it’s time to move on. Most jobs have difficult periods, but if you constantly feel stressed, are getting physically ill (e.g., headaches, etc.), or if your relationships are suffering, it’s time to go.

Happy hunting!

Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation's leading career coaches. She is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio's popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.

Her latest book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers - and Seize Success is written specifically for people thinking about changing career paths. Packed with psychological insights, practical exercises, and inspiring success stories, Switchers helps these individuals leap over obstacles and into a whole new field.


Refire! Don't Retire: Make The Rest Of Your Life The Best Of Your Life

"Refire - an attitude of embracing the years ahead with enthusiasm rather than apathy" - Morton Shaevitz"

How many times have you heard about or even known people who retire and die within a short time? It's more common than you think. Humans are wired to face challenges and grow. As with plants, without the right "nutrients", humans slowly weaken and die. We need a sense of purpose. We want to be important to someone else. We want to leave our imprint on the world. We need to grow every day. We need to feed the mind, body, and soul. How are you doing with your growth? I was given the privledge of reading Blanchard and Shaevitz's new book Refire! Don't Retire and loved it. Start thinking about it now because there will come a day when you may need to Refire!

I have an incredible aunt with a zest for life who is in her late 70's. She retired as a neonatal specialist nurse years ago but continues to do research, teach seminars, and publish papers. She doesn't stop there. She learned Reflexology. She traveled to Thailand and banged drums with natives on a retreat. She travels with a thirst for learning. Aunt Mary is who I thought of when I first heard the title of Blanchard and Shaevitz's new book. Refire! Don't Retire: Make The Rest Of Your Life The Best Of Your Life. Aunt Mary is a poster child for this great read. Age doesn't mean that we can, or should, show down. Life is full and we all need to think about what we can do to make our lives satisfying and meaningful.

Refire! Don't Retire is written in the comfortable storytelling fashion that only Ken Blanchard can tell. The book is an easy and relaxing read about a middle aged  couple, Larry and Janice Sparks, who are in a funk in their lives. They meet Dr. Jeffrey who carries them on an adventure throughout the book meeting different people and learning each step of the way how they can approach life with "more gusto". The book really got me thinking about how I can approach life  differently and make changes that bring inner peace and a satisfaction with life.

The early pages of the book offer a great picture of what Blanchard and Shaevitz want us to remember. We should "Approach life with gusto. It's to see each day as an opportunity for adventure and learning. It's to infuse passion and zest into every area of your life - emotional, intellectually, physical, and spiritual. Heart, head, body and soul." They continue to illustrate how achievements and money aren't truly what make people happy. It helps for awhile, but eventually people crave more. Cravings include happiness, significance, generosity, service, and loving relationships. You can't argue with that!

There are four life  areas that Dr. Jeffrey leads the Sparks through within the pages of our book:

  1. Refire Emotionally.  Love and strong relationships are important. We need to reconnect with others and let people know that we care. Ask them how you can help them and focus on making the world a better place. Do something different. Jump out of your comfort zone and out of your rut. Be more spontaneous and be ready to get up and go to try new things. Don't be a "stick in the mud" as my Mom used to say and just do it! I lovingly refer to my husband as "Last Minute Mike". He's always wants to do things at the last minute with friends or to just go somewhere with no planning or advanced notice. I'm more of a planner and always putting a halt to "Last Minute Mike" adventures. Reading this area in the book made me do some self discovery. I need to be more "last minute" and spontaneous. I need to Refire Emotionally"!
  2. Refire Intellectually. Intellectual growth is a key to the fountain of youth. You need to partner intellectual grow with emotional growth. It keeps your mind sharp, gives you purpose, presents challenges, and prevents you from becoming a zombie. Learn something new every day. Afraid of technology? Face it and take a class or have your kids show you the ropes. Always wanted to learn to speak French? Start now and get those brain muscles firing away. 
  3. Refire Physically. You are as old as you feel and if you don't physically take care of yourself, you will age really fast!. Take care of your body. Set goals to be active. Hide the cookies and eat healthier. You will find that your mind is sharper, your emotions are healthy, and your attitude will be jumping off the scale. 
  4. Refire Spiritually. Blanchard and Shaevitz wind our journey down by showing a glimpse of strain between the spiritual beliefs of Larry and Janice. Larry has life long strong spiritual beliefs while Janice only knows that there are "higher powers" in the world bigger than her. Eventually after some soul searching they  agree that there are higher powers and that they need to respect the individual beliefs of others without prejudice. They learn how critical refiring spiritually is to the overall satisfaction in their lives.
Our lessons are further reinforced at the end of each chapter. Each chapter includes a Code of Conduct for living out each of the life areas. We are also given Pause, Reflect, Take Action suggestions. Some sample suggestions include; Be aware, Be Forgiving, Be Playful, Be Friendly, Be Open to Learn. These are wonderful reflecting points to ponder after each chapter and really bring new meaning to the story that we were included in.

I really admire my Aunt Mary and how she continues to learn and Refire in several aspects of her life. You can't just stand idle in life. YOU need to take control of your growth. Think of the 4 points above as your fertilizer to keep you nourished and growing. Incorporate them into your life now so that you stand strong with gusto as you grow down the path of life.