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Motivational

  • Business Guy on Bed
    For some, a gap year can increase focus and provide perspective that propels them to success.

    “What do you mean, you are taking a gap year?”, said every parent presented with this situation. Once a high school student graduates, they should go straight to college, right? I mean, that is the long-established expectation, isn’t it? But in a 21st century society as complex as ours, is this something we should rethink on some level? Take it from someone who floundered around a bit flowing high school, a little pause can have a financial and directional benefit. Of course, it depends on the lid and the situation, but here are a few thoughts on where there could be some value to a gap year.

    Young People Are Still Discovering Who They Are

    Not every high school graduate has a well developed sense of self when they walk across that stage. Anyone over 30 can tell you that the person they were at 18 was different than the person they were at 21 or 22. One starts a path in college that is different to reverse. Once a student is inside of those courses in their major, there is usually too much time and/or effort invested to turn back.

    A survey by BestColleges revealed that 61% of college graduates would change their majors if they could go back. Also, emerging science about our brain development suggests that most of us don’t really reach full maturity until the age 25. If used properly, a gap year can provide a young person the opportunity to truly explore their “true north” and pursue an education that best aligns with their value set. At the very least, it pushes back the timeline for “mind changing” by a year so that it does not happen a year or two into failing chemistry courses when they would be better suited studying microeconomic theory (perhaps I am projecting here).

    Gap Year to Improve and Refine Work Ethic

    Not every student leaves high school with good study habits and the discipline to balance work with play. And if everything came easy in high school, they could be headed for a rude awakening when asked to cover and take notes on 6 chapters and produce a 5-page written report. Every week. In just 1 class.

    A gap year can be a good time to master study and comprehension techniques, time management, and test taking skills. College freshmen with poor study habits tend to experience difficulties because of a lack of oversight, as there is no longer a teacher or parent holding them to task. In this case, the result tends to be course failures and the loss of 1 or 2 semesters. And guess what? That tuition isn’t refundable, parents. Good use of that gap year can be made by learning when one tends to comprehend material better, scheduling study periods to coincide with those times, and holding oneself to that schedule. Your student can learn to set specific goals to aid in staying focused and monitoring progress. 

    Gap Year Can Provide Real-world Perspective to Classroom Concepts

    If there is one thing that can derail the comprehension of a concept for a college student, it is not knowing that concept’s real-world application. Some exposure to real life can provide an excellent pretext to the concepts that will be learned in the classroom. An article by The IDEA Fund notes: “Relevance is a major component of many motivational models and particularly important if learners’ experiences can be used as a basis for new learning.” It goes on to say: “If prior experience can be connected to new material in a meaningful way, that material can be more clearly understood and more easily learned.” Consequently, your youngster now becomes the de facto expert on real-life situations in the classroom as well.

    Gap Year to Let Them Burn Off the Party Energy – But OFF Your Dime

    Most of you know by the time they cross that high school stage whether you have a party animal on your hands or not. Do you REALLY want to pay for your kid to attend “ragers” and binge drink 4 times per week while posting all “Fs” in their freshman courses? Consider letting them exhaust that energy and get it out of their system. Perhaps they can hold down a job to pay for their own party habits, but that freshman year’s tuition has a better chance of bearing fruit if they are not repeatedly upside down over a keg. According to ValuePenguin.com, the average cost of a public college education in the US is $9,970 for in-state tuition and $25,620 for out-of-state tuition. Save that scratch if you are sure they’re headed for a rocky opening to that collegiate career.

    Conclusion

    Of course, knowing one’s own child is key to whether the gap year works out . You have to be confident you will be able to get them to return, as well as know they will use the time wisely. Some schools even have gap year deferred admission policies that allow students to keep their spots once admitted. A young person can really broaden their horizons by learning a new language, volunteering time overseas, or even earning college credit while studying abroad. Another potential negative to consider is the long-term cost of late work force entry. Graduating one year later means losing the equivalent of that first year’s meaning potential. But if a struggling opening year was in the cards anyway, considering the gap year isn’t a bad idea.

  • Changing Careers
    New starts are never easy. But good preparation can make it easier

    The best part about changing careers is getting that fresh start. Something to give you a new reason to wake up in the morning. But you only get that great feeling if you choose wisely. When considering making what could be a life-altering decision such as changing the way you make your bread and butter, you do not want to do this lightly.

    Of course, some professionals have the decision thrust upon them, as their industries are either contracting or disappearing altogether due to technological transformation. But some of us are looking to change careers because we need a fresh perspective, more money, or other reasons that meet material, situational, or personal growth needs. Before making any hasty decisions on a career change, be sure to consider these three things.

    Before Changing Careers, Research The Industry Outlook

    Making a drastic move into a new profession just because it sounds good isn’t smart. What if that profession or sector is shrinking? What if compensation is stagnating? Hey, what if it just is not as wholly rewarding as you initially thought? Do yourself a favor and do your homework before changing careers.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics often provides good information on everything from 10-year industry growth to prevailing salary averages. Also, companies such as Deloitte provide good sector status information. Another great way to assess viability before changing careers is by connecting with industry professionals on LinkedIn. Once connected, strike up a conversation and get their input on where they feel the industry or profession is headed.

    How Do You Support Yourself During The Career Change Transition

    Okay, your research has revealed that your new career target is viable. It is now time to plan the execution. Is your new career direction one that you can pursue while holding down your current position? Or will the transformation require a time commitment that will not allow you to remain employed where you are currently? If you need to quit your job to pursue this career change, will you rely on any savings or nest egg, or do you have a secondary source of income that will help “grease the skids”, so to speak?

    Before doing anything rash, be sure to give this some thought. Of course, some of you out there are just straight up risk-takers. If you do not have a lot of commitments to others and your psyche is one that can deal with it, then go for it. But know who you are before you do such a thing, as the transition can be a very stressful time.

    Identify Mentors to Guide You Through the Career Change Maze

    There is this theory that one should learn from one’s own mistakes. Well, I don’t buy it. Not when one can easily learn from someone else’s faux pas. When it comes to that new career path you are seeking, someone has already blazed the trail. They know where the pitfalls are, so why should you have to experience them as well? Identify a couple of industry professionals that can serve as mentors and guideposts to provide you with the shortest possible path to your goal.

    What if you are considering taking a certification course that everyone in the industry knows is worthless? Perhaps there is a specific concentration of the new profession that provides more opportunity for growth than others. Someone who has already “walked the walk” is likely to shorten your conversion time and make it less painful.

    Conclusion

    Many say different strokes for different folks. But it is also true that sometimes the same folks need different strokes. Going against the inertia of your current career likely won’t be easy. But if you take some time to figure out who you are in that process and build a plan accordingly, it can work. It has been done before. The average person will change careers up to 7 times during their working life. You may as well make the transition as smooth as possible. So once you have made the decision, do your research, retool your resume, and get cracking!

  • good-resumeHaving a good battle for your resume plan is important. Yes, a good resume definitely requires some thought as to its overall strategy. What are the requirements of the position? Who is the audience? How many competitors are you likely looking at? What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how do you best highlight them (or blur them) in a good resume? These are all valuable considerations in determining the approach you need to take to build a resume that will bring consistent success. But as is the case with any project, there is only so much planning that you can do before it gets down to whether or not you take action.

    Once you have given the strategy some thought, push it to the side for a second. Why? Because as you progress through the project, some aspects of that writing strategy may need to be amended based upon factors such as spacing, or simply how the content is blending. What you want to do is just start. That’s right, JUST START! Instead of beginning with the summary and core competencies (slightly more abstract in nature from a development standpoint), go with the more concrete information – your professional experience. After all, when it comes to your experience, there really isn’t much that is abstract about it. What you did and achieved is, well, what you did and achieved. Now, you will want to give consideration to the most important aspects to your future reader. But this is usually the bulk of the grunt work and going through this process will help when it is time to tackle the profile section, where you will “frame the argument” for calling you in.

    The truth is that you can easily end up in a vicious cycle of doubt and changing strategies – constantly reassessing the approach because there is no anchor in place to keep you with one train of thought. But when you commit to at least laying out the basics of a good resume, you begin to get into a flow that helps pull you right through the rest of the project.

  • sanity at workWhen No One Else On The Job is Invested in Being Great

    Not every place of employment is populated with high-energy, motivated champions eager to step up and lift the organization to greatness. This is no mystery, nor should it be. If by definition most people are “middle of the road”, then if follows that the organizations employing them will be mediocre as well. The problem comes when you have been hired under the pretense of playing a major role in helping to raise the company’s performance, but you seem to be the only one who is pursuing that mission. This is compounded even more when management and ownership are counted in this number. The result for you is daily frustration, as minimal gains are achieved due to consistently having to swim against the current. Here are a few tips for keeping your sanity at work in the face of such wide-spread complacency.

    STEP 1: Ramp Up Your Network Chatter

    Let’s face it, the worst-case scenario is that you may have to leave. Eventually. Networking and personal contacts have always (and will always be) the #1 way jobs are landed. If you are doing as you should, you would be doing this year-round BEFORE you need them. If not, start now, because you may need them soon if things begin to go south with later steps.

    STEP 2: Get Your Resume Together

    Why? See Step 1. If the time comes to fly the coop, you don’t want the added hassle of trying to get a resume written during what could be a trying period. This, as well as the step involving reaching out to your network, is emergency preparation.

    STEP 3: Decide Your Course of Action

    When the organizational environment has been poisoned to wholly accept underperformance, you have some decisions to make. You can:

    • Begin plotting your exit strategy in hopes of landing someplace where they care more about the job and direction of the organization.
    • Decide to take your case to management and see if there is hope for a turnaround. Perhaps there is a housecleaning coming soon. Of course, if you don’t like what you hear, see Bullet 1.
    • Say nothing, but change your perception of your job so as to reduce your ownership of the results in your own mind.

    Now, bullet 3 is the tricky one. What you are essentially doing here is lowering your expectations and psychological investment in the results of your efforts to keep your sanity at work. On the surface, this seems a bit irresponsible. But if you are stuck in this position due to circumstances and don’t see the environment improving, you have to keep your sanity in some way. Perhaps the job pays great comma have excellent benefits, is close to home comma or has favorable hours to allow you family time. These reasons maybe why you don’t pursue another option in mediately. So in the meantime, you will want to keep your stress levels low.

    If you have done all you can to help the team meet its mission, set some boundaries and do not let the lack of accountability from others encroach upon you and your peace. If you have been stressing out trying to “pick up the ball” everyone else has been dropping, stop. Answering late-night calls or emails as a result of the rest of the team’s proper functioning? Don’t. Have you executed your duties to the best of your ability but others around you not putting forth the effort? Document, document, document. Be sure that when things hit the fan and projects fall through, you can show where you performed to task and then some. If that major presentation falls through because everyone else on the team did not get the job done, you should not be expected to physically OR psychologically carry the entire load when management and ownership won’t.

    But for long-term career satisfaction, you should still plot your departure if the environment seems set in stone and you are looking to stay engaged in achieving personal career heights. Maintaining one’s sanity at work is key to keeping the rest of your life on track.

  • question-markWords have far more power than most of us give them credit for possessing. If this were not true, motivational speakers would not pulls five and six-figure speaking engagements to light the fire under high-powered Corporate executives. But outside of the effect statements can have on you, some of the statements that fall out of our mouths provide a window into the type of person that we are. The bottom line is that there are just some things that successful people do not say because their thought processes won’t allow it. Here are a few of them.

    Why is this happening to me?

    I don’t care who you are, or where you come from. If you are alive long enough in this world, bad things will happen. Period. The natural order of things is in fact disorder. Murphy’s Law is as true today as it ever was. So, why is this happening to you? Because it is. It is a bit self-centered and narcissistic to believe that the universe is out to get you and only you with 7.1 billion people on this planet. I mean, who the heck are you? Winners do not sit around pondering why things having to go. Their only concern is what the hell do I do about it now? The mindset of successful people is to solve the problem not to dwell on it.

    That can’t possibly work

    The inventor of just about everything we use probably had to deal with one or more people in their lives that said this to them. Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, gave us one of the most powerful quotes of our time:

    “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve regardless of how many times you may have failed in the past.”

    When you are working with the mindset of successful people, you look past the roadblocks and pitfalls to keep your eyes on the goal. Mankind has shown the ability to solve most every problem through the application of sustained thinking. If we can figure out how to take computers from taking up entire rooms to more powerful ones held in your hand, then you can figure out how to land a job. Speaking of jobs …

    That’s not MY job!

    When part of a team, winners realized that the important thing is that the team reaches the goal. It is rare that in any project or enterprise that every single task, duty and contingency is accounted for within the pre-conceived job descriptions. Therefore, for the team to reach its goal, somebody at some point in time will need to roll up their sleeves and do something that is not officially their job. It is THAT person whom we usually find advancing professionally. These type of people see that the important thing if the achievements of the team, and not whining because of one or two extra tasks that they may have to perform.

    I just don’t have the time!

    When a person claims that they do not have the time for important self-improvement activities outside of their standard daily responsibilities, more often than not, it is a matter of perspective. If you work a dead end job and even planning to start your own business, the difference in whether or not you are able to do it depends upon what you are willing to sacrifice. Successful people will sacrifice their social life, television, and even sleep in order to move closer to realizing their goal. There are 24 hours in a day, and most people work no more than 8 to 10 of them. That leaves between 14 and 16 hours to work on your business plan, pursue a new certification, or find a job you like better than the one you currently have. The winner will find one or two hours somewhere in there to get closer to that goal. Winners live the quote “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

    Granted, there can be exceptions depending upon the situation. But by and large, successful people will more often than not find that extra hour, dig for that extra solution, accept responsibility and refuse to dwell on the negative.

    So, which one are you?

  • looking-for-employment

    “Don’t wait for your ship to come in. Swim out to it!” – Steve Southerland

    Your resume writer has prepared for you a strong document that should optimize your chances for an interview. So you begin looking for employment by scouring the online job boards and company websites, where you begin applying for positions. But is that enough? You may be competing with hundreds of other applicants. Some of which also used highly talented certified resume writers to assist them. When seriously looking for employment, what you need is your resume and cover letter in the hands of the decision makers. But in this digital age, there seems to be layers of firewalls between the applicant and these keepers of employment. So, how do you make it happen?

    Of course, if you have been managing your career properly, you have some infrastructure that can go a long way in helping carry out your attack plan (well-crafted LinkedIn profile, manicured social media, blog or website to establish your subject matter expertise, etc).

    When looking for employment, you can use your social media tools to tunnel your way to those who either have the power to bring you in, or at least may be able to wield some measure of influence. After researching who the decision makers may be for the position you seek, look them up on social media. Assess their openness to communication, and if you deem it feasible, introduce yourself and inform them of your application for the position available in their department. Since your LinkedIn page is optimized and blog updated regularly, they can immediately get a good feel for your qualifications. But don’t cyber-stalk or harass. The idea here is simply to get their attention for a few more moments than the competition. One never knows the conversation that can lick off.

    Of course, there are much riskier and crazier approaches job seekers have taken when looking for employment. Everything from singing telegrams to wacky formatted resumes have been used in attempts to get noticed. But remember, negative attention is not what you are seeking. So don’t do something so outlandish that your application becomes a punchline. You just want an edge, a subtle nudge that ever so slightly diverts the hiring manager’s attention your way.

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