As our personal and work lives become more unpredictable, it is important to develop skills for creating fitness, good health, and a positive mindset to be build resilience for expected and unexpected changes. Research shows that mindfulness and meditation: being in the present; clearing the mind; deep cleansing breaths; and quietness; improve creativity, health, and well-being for increased resilience through career changes and job loss. Mindfulness and meditation are two key skills needed for developing a healthy lifestyle.
Mindfulness can be experienced outdoors by observing nature in the moment. Sometimes empty spaces can be as enlightening as spaces filled with rushing rivers and ocean waves. Mindfulness is about experiencing the moment and being in it. I can easily find my mind wandering to the past being concerned that I have not done enough; or stressing over what will happen in the future. Stopping, meditating, clearing my mind, and experiencing the empty spaces can open myself to creative possibilities that I hadn’t before imagined.
“Mindfulness has been shown to enhance self-insight, morality, intuition and fear modulation, all functions associated with the brain's middle prefrontal lobe area. Evidence also suggests that mindfulness meditation has numerous health benefits, “ APA monitor
I enjoy walking and listening to a book or podcast and learning or being enlightened, but constantly filling my mind without practicing quietness, meditation, and presence can actually leave me feeling empty.
“…most of the literature has focused on mindfulness that is developed through mindfulness meditation — those self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calmness, clarity and concentration (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006).” APA Monitor
The practice of meditation, deep breathing, clearing the mind, and relaxation will improve your health, creativity, thinking, and attentiveness. Whether you are a career professional or looking for employment, the health and relaxation that results from the practice of meditation will improve your confidence and performance.
You may just need to be reminded of how beneficial meditation is, or you may be new to the practice. If you would like some guided meditations to get started, try one of the meditations below.
5-minute breathing meditation for beginners. http://marc.ucla.edu/mpeg/01_Breathing_Meditation.mp3
Free guided meditations. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22. Accessed 8/1/2014.
Miller, Nancy J. 10 Ways to Model a Healthy Lifestyle for More Effective Career Services. Recorded webinar. www.ceuonestop.com.
Miller, Nancy J. Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success. Elk Grove, CA: Teal Publishing, 2012. (pg. 87, Your Life, Your Style Chapter 8).
CDA Insights. Mindfulness: Achieve an awareness that extends to all aspects of work and life. http://www.careerdevelopmentalliance.com/cdainsights/mindfulness/#sthash.yVU5HYTf.dpuf. Accessed 8/12/14.
Davis, Daphne M., Ph.D, Hayes, Jeffrey A. Ph.D. APA Monitor. What are the benefits of mindfulness: A wealth of new research has explored this age-old practice. July/August 2012, Vol 43, No. 7. Print version: page 64. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx. Accessed 8/10/14.
The word interview seems to take on a formal intimidating air, but you can think of it as a meeting with a purpose. The purpose is to learn about the person and their type of job and work environment. There are many places you can have an informational interview including a place of business, coffee shop, phone, Skype, or email. During the interview, learn what you can about the career field, the work culture, the person you are interviewing, and their expertise.
When you meet
When you meet with someone, be prepared, and on time. If you are meeting with someone with expertise in their career field, be sure to do your research and know something about their experience and their work. If it is a company you are interested in learn about their vision and work culture. If you don’t see the information on the website ask your contact during the interview about the company they work for. Be sure to thank them for their time when you meet them and ask how long they have for the meeting, typically 20-30 minutes unless you are meeting for lunch or coffee, which could be a little longer.
Meeting at the workplace
The advantage of meeting at the workplace is to see the working environment. This is especially important for careers in medical, criminal justice, education, and similar fields that have a unique work environment. You won’t know how you feel about a classroom full of kids, an ambulance arrival, or working around victims and crimes until you have been in that environment. You might meet at a workplace and observe or take a tour and then go someplace outdoors, to lunch, or a coffee shop afterwards.
If you meet at a coffee shop or for lunch you often have a little more time in a more casual atmosphere. This would be especially helpful for a second meeting. If at all possible, treat your contact to a coffee or lunch if you go out. Enjoy a more casual conversation, but stay professional.
If you want to talk with someone who is busy or not in your local area, a meeting by Skype or phone can be helpful. A phone conversation can also be good practice since many first interviews are by phone.
You can research, prepare, and email questions to your contact if needed. Email will give you the opportunity to broaden your contacts to different locations and types of work. Be sure to remember to use email etiquette: take time to think about your email and interview questions, respect your contact, and self-edit your email to make sure it is professional with no spelling or grammar errors.
Choose a few questions that are appropriate to the person and career field. Have plenty of questions ready, with the most important first, ask a question and then be ready to listen. Often people who really like their work and have an appreciation for their career field like to talk about it. If you’ve done your research and have their interest you might get answers to questions you hadn’t thought of asking.
Connect on shared experiences and interests. If possible, get the names of others in the career field you might connect with. Professionals often like to discuss others they respect who share similar theories, interests, or values.
Questions to get you started
Keep in mind the interview is not to ask about a job, but to learn about a career you are interest in, connect with professionals, and find resources. Why bother if you are not there to ask for a job? The best way to find a job, know what you want, and learn how to connect with others in your field of interest is to learn from someone with experience. Another benefit is to practice your interview skills and be observant of the other person’s reactions and responses before you get to a formal interview. Get out there and enjoy learning about careers you might be interested in.
More on Informational Interviewing
Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success by Nancy Miller, Teal Publishing
The Informational Interview: It’s Just About Having Coffee by Jennifer Vancil, Career Convergence
How To Master the "Informational Interview" by Amanda Augustine, Career Thought Leaders
Questions to Ask at the Informational Interview, Quintessential Careers
There are many things that disrupt a person’s career either temporarily or permanently. With today’s amazing medical technology there are many people surviving brain emergencies, trauma, and illness. At sometime in your career you will probably know or work with someone who is a survivor of brain trauma.
I recently visited an aneurysm support group and heard heart felt stories of career frustration as well as successes. Stories included:
After viewing the PBS Documentary, “Brain Emergency” hosted by Kaity Tong and California neurologist Dr. Rick Atkinson, the group felt support as they shared their experiences.
I heard the story of a young woman who experienced a ruptured aneurysm, overcame challenges in her recovery, and successfully returned full time to a job with complex responsibilities. During her recovery she felt the frustration of overstimulation in the workplace and impatience with herself, but through her heroic persistence she was able to work at a high level of competence and advocate for others who had experienced a brain emergency.
Difficulties people often experience while recovering from a brain emergency are short-term memory loss, slower assimilation of information and response time, headache, and too much information coming at them at once.
What you can do
As an employer or colleague, you can be patient if someone asks you to repeat what you said, speak more slowly, or use different words in your explanation. After a brain emergency, a person may be fully able to work and function but they might process information differently. Whether it is a brain emergency or other brain trauma, a person may look and sound the same, yet process information differently.
Educate yourself about brain emergencies and brain trauma to assist clients, friends and family members recover and regain full employment whenever possible. The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation has information and resources on their website.
There are some who receive support and rehabilitation counseling, yet find they are not candidates for full time employment, but with the support of the medical community, support groups, family, and counselors, many successfully contribute to the workplace and community.
Understanding the process of recovery from a brain emergency will help you effectively support and work with a person transitioning back to work. Whether you are a career professional, a fellow employee, or an employer, you can make a difference.
The current career market is full of surprises, options, and opportunities, but it may not be easy to find the work you want to do at the compensation you desire, at the time and place you want to work--at least not at first. There are numerous changes and transitions throughout our careers.
We move back and forth between education, work, family needs, and leisure doubling and tripling roles during different stages of our career development. Transitions flow back and forth like a hopscotch game. You might go to school, work, have a family while continuing to work, then retrain, start a new career and start the cycle again. Sound familiar?
"Fire Up Your Profile" pg.124
The best time to find meaningful experience, learn new skills and find work you like to do is while you are in college or a career training program. Internships, volunteer work, and relevant temporary work.
Job Change Transitions
You have experience and now you are changing careers because you are choosing a different direction or your employer is changing directions without you.
You have amazing and often diverse experience from your service in the military. Now is the time to translate that military experience into civilian language.
Experienced Worker Transitions
You have years of experience. You may have gained expertise in a specific area or you may have diverse experience. Now is the time to assess your economic standing and decide what you want to do next. Are you ready to adjust your schedule and work differently, are you looking for a full time job, or do you have the ability to choose the work you want to do? It is time to use your "Entrepreneurial Spirit" to make career decisions.
I just read a wonderful book by an accomplished career expert, Katharine (Kathy) Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, as well as an author and instructor. The name of the book grabbed my attention immediately. We all have accomplishments, but we often minimize them not knowing how to stand out without sounding like bragging.
Whether you are a job seeker, entrepreneur or employee, the ability to describe your accomplishments concisely and passionately will move you forward in your career. The book, You Are More Accomplished Than You Think: How To Brainstorm Your Achievements For Career And Life Success, gives you tools, examples, information, and worksheets to help you define and describe your accomplishments. You may know your accomplishments without understanding how to describe and build on those accomplishments. This book will show you how.
Too often the resume, cover letter, or profile is a list of job duties without showing your value, results, or sharing a memorable story. When you finish this book you will be proud to share your many accomplishments in a meaningful way without sounding like you are bragging.
The author shares techniques such as:
· Integrating feedback from others.
· Mining documents for accomplishments.
· Entrepreneurial accomplishments.
· Life accomplishments.
· Using keywords to describe your accomplishments.
One of the most important things you can do in describing accomplishments is to know your audience and tailor your accomplishments to the person or business you are speaking with.
The prompts, brainstorm activities, tools, websites, and assessments will help develop and frame accomplishments that are difficult to quantify. Some accomplishments can be given a numerical value while others will be told in scenarios, examples, or stories. As Katharine Hansen explains,
“When we describe accomplishments, we are essentially telling stories. The challenge, your role, and the impact you had.”
You Are More Accomplished Than You Think: How To Brainstorm Your Achievements For Career And Life Success, by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D. will give you clear concise information and the tools you need to frame your accomplishments. As the author states, “You are more accomplished than you think.” Find the Kindle edition of this invaluable book on Amazon.
Be in the habit of taking your children outdoors to observe nature; in fact when adults show children how to observe their environments they teach them to protect their own boundaries, as well as the boundaries of people and things around them. They learn what should and shouldn’t be in their surroundings.
My 2-year old grandson notices everything around him when he goes for a walk—the green truck, the yellow flowers, his shadow, a bird, what’s behind and in front of him. I am much more aware of our surroundings because I know he will ask about something he sees. He learns that roses are beautiful but he needs to be careful touching them because of the prickly thorns. He knows that some things he can touch, but when he goes to the Cosumnes River Preserve he leaves everything as he found it.
Teaching children to observe nature with its beauty, mystery, and dangers is a great way to teach them how to feel safe in the world while protecting their boundaries and the boundaries of others.
Activities such as “Red Ribbon Week” to teach children to say no to drugs raises their awareness of the problem, but we also need to teach them how to live healthy and happy while understanding what to look for in their environment.
Getting regular exercise outdoors while observing nature, recognizing what should be in their surroundings, and talking to an adult about what they see will train them to talk to that adult when something seems wrong or out of the ordinary--like someone they don’t know approaching them. They know not to touch mushrooms and berries without asking what they are, they know not to approach a dog they don’t know without asking if it is ok, they will learn to not talk to people they don’t know without asking.
As you bond with your children and grandchildren through walking in nature, they will trust you and talk to you about their hurts and stings whether physical or emotional. Connect with your children through nature and teach them the “danger” yell but to not use it for play. Explain that drugs can be used for medicine when a doctor prescribes it, but it is harmful when a friend or relative gives it to them without their parent’s permission. Keep as few medications as possible in your cabinet and use sunshine and healthy food to feel good about yourself and others.
Enjoy observing nature while teaching health and safety to your children.
LifeWork Creativity Coach
Personal Travel Guide for Your Career Adventures: Life/Career Transitions, Business, Creativity, and Writing Coach
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