Meditation isn’t just for people who want to find enlightenment anymore. If you want to get ahead in your career in terms of performing at your best or getting that promotion then meditation can make it easier for you to achieve those goals.
Athletes have known it for years, the great basketball coach Phil Jackson used meditation with the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers as they won 11 Championship titles. Their goal was not to find enlightenment or have some sort of mystical experience, it was to get their whole life – on and off the courts to a peaceful and relaxed state so that they could compete at a higher level.
Slowly, corporations have caught on to this cost effective resource to increase employee engagement, happiness and, of course, productivity. Companies like Google, Apple, Nike, Proctor and Gamble and Goldman Sachs all have departments devoted to this practice or they bring in leading Mindfulness Teachers (like my friend, Nina Purewall of Pure Minds) to teach their employees the power of meditation. Steve Jobs swore by it stating that it brought him more clarity and increased his ability to be creative and innovative. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it?
Obviously there are a slew of health benefits of meditation but what tends to be overlooked on the individual level is the benefits it can have to our careers.
Well, easier said than done huh? Well enter Dan Harris and his book “Meditation for Fidgety Sceptics”. I’ve spoken about Dan before and his first book 10% Happier and the impact it had on me finding my career happiness. Since then I have had an “on and off” relationship with meditation, until recently where I have now entered 4 months of meditation every single day.
In his new book, Dan explores all the “reasons” why people don’t mediate and comes up with some actionable advice, and even some guided meditations to help individuals create this new habit.
Joining Dan is his friend and meditation teacher from Toronto (!), Jeff Warren as they travel across the States interviewing everyone from Josh Groban to Police Officers and everyone in between as they get to the heart of why people don’t meditate.
What makes it very easy to read is that it is a how to book/memoir/road trip romp filled with Dan Harris’ self-deprecating humour, his “childish” illustrations, Jeff’s incredible guided meditations with cheat sheets and the laughs that come from describing the good, the bad and the ugly of a cross country road trip in a bus.
You don’t need to have read his first book to understand this one, Dan does a good overview of what led him to meditation (an on-air panic attack to an audience of roughly 5 million people) and the positive impacts it has had on not only his life but his career too (not counting the Best Selling Book and 10% Happier App and Podcast!).
The book tackles all the objections, myths and misconceptions that get in the way of people starting or maintaining a meditation practice in their own sections.
Some of the objections I have faced myself in the past were covered wonderfully throughout the book such as I don’t have enough time, my mind just isn’t designed to settle or my “running” is my meditation. Now I know that even a minute of meditation can reap the rewards and that meditation isn’t designed to slow down your thoughts it is designed to have you recognize your thoughts – so I wasn’t doing it wrong after all!
On February 25th I mediated before bed. Then the next day and the next. My goal was to meditate 5-15 minutes every day. I amended that to 1-15 minutes because there are just those nights where 1 minute is all I can fathom as I want to get to sleep! So for the past 150 days or 4 months, I have meditated every day. And I don’t plan on stopping.
I am seeing all of the benefits listed above – I’m responding not reacting, I am handling stress better, I am seeing my business with a new level of clarity increasing my ability to come up with new ideas and most importantly to my career, I feel like I have become a better coach.
If you want another tool in your Career toolbox then Meditation is a free and relatively easy one to add in. If something is stopping you (like time, or feeling weird or losing your edge) then I highly recommend picking this book up.
My free resources are some other tools that you can add that are also free and relatively easy!
We have all been in a job we hate, where Sunday dread starts nice and early. Monday it is almost impossible to wake up and our stress levels increase as we struggle towards our desk.
You feel stuck, your happiness nosedives. You spend way too much time googling looking for an answer:
I don’t like my job but I can’t quit
I don’t like my job what should I do
How to be happy in a job you don’t like
I don’t like my job but I need the money
How to stop being annoyed at work
What would you say if I told you about 5 easy ways to be happier in your job while you search for your dream job?
Me 10 years ago…
10 years ago, I was working at an IT recruitment agency. I was there for almost 4 years and honestly I knew from my first week that it wasn’t the right fit for me. It wasn’t the agency by any means, the training I got there gave a strong foundation from which I have built my career on, it was just the nature of the job. What helped me get through was great friends and a great team. But as happens in that world turnover is high and in the fall of 2008 my closest work friend moved to England and my sales partner got a new job.
It devastated me.
But I didn’t think I could leave. It was just around the time of the stock market bottoming out and I was afraid to leave and become the last person in and first person out in another company.
So I felt that I had to stay. And I was miserable. And instead of my usual find the silver lining type of personality I wallowed in my misery. I ate my emotions, I wasted time and had the worst performance of my career. In March 2009 I was laid off (ironic huh?) and honestly it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have this clear memory of going for a walk after my last day of work with my husband and for the first time in a long time being gleeful and truly excited about my future.
Now, 10 years wiser I realize that I was very lucky to be laid off because the mindset I was in would have kept me chained to that job. I don’t think anyone would have hired me as I was in such a negative space.
And it didn’t have to be that way. I look back and wish that I could speak to that Sara and help her love the job she hated so much. Not as a way to keep her there but as a way to help her move forward.
Are you Happy?
I know now that I wasn't alone – at least 50% of employees are unhappy with their job with 20% matching my disengagement that I experienced. That is 2 million Canadians and 30 million Americans.
That is staggering.
The scary thing too is that in North America so much of our self-worth is tied to our career. So as your happiness declines so does your feeling of worth. Selling yourself is already hard enough as it is, never mind when you don’t actually believe you have anything to offer.
That’s the thing. By wallowing in your misery, letting it get you down and isolating yourself from the world you are in fact holding yourself back from moving forward to a job you do love.
Is the goal to stay in this job I HATE?
I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to force you to stay in a job you hate. As a career coach providing career advice, I would not be doing my job right if I was!
In fact my goal is for you to leave your job as soon as possible. But I know that running away from something doesn’t always lead to decisions that are right for you and your future. Running away muddles your motivations. So while you may be leaving the job you hate, it is very common you are going into a job you won't last at, meaning you'll be back looking for a job within a year.
It is better to get to a place within your current job where you don’t feel so rushed to leave. You can be careful and picky about your next career move ensuring that it is one that will bring you that career happiness.
I also know from experience that a lot of people can get so negative or jaded or so down on themselves that they just never get another offer or even interview. If you are playing the blame game, that comes across to potential employers. If you think you aren’t worthwhile, that comes across too. And those are attitudes that a Hiring Manager NEVER wants to hire!
So how do you do this?
1. Take Back Control
Stop looking to others to make you happy in your job. They may be struggling just like you.
Grab a piece of paper, time for a list. What do you hate most about your job. Come up with your top 3. Let’s break it down from there – what can YOU do about it.
Say the administrative aspect of the job is frustrating and annoying and there just never seems to be time to get it done, but you are always so stressed about it because it is hanging over your head!
Why yes, I’m speaking from personal experience!
You could schedule a meeting with yourself, blocking off the time and NOT rescheduling it, honouring it instead. So when the stressful voice starts talking you can tell yourself – well I have a time already scheduled so I know it will get done. When it comes time to do it, put in your headphones and put on some good music. Or pour yourself a good cup of coffee or tea. Make it an enjoyable chunk of time.
For your top 3, are there any ways in which you can control the outcome or the feelings surrounding them. You not only control your destiny, but you control your happiness.
2. Change it up
This is a “job hack”, can you make your job resemble a job you want? Write another list of 10 things you want in your ideal career (this can come from your Interests, Motivations and Skills).
Is there anything on that list that can be incorporated into your current job, especially if they may help with one of the 3 things you hate?
For me, one of the things I hated most about my agency recruitment job was the nature of the industry. It tends to be very dog eat dog. I like a team oriented and collaborative environment. And shockingly I was able to create one. I sought out Client Managers (those working with clients) to partner up on searches creating a team for those transactions. That led to the partners creating small teams around that model. My best year (happiness and performance wise) was when I was paired up with my sales partner and a team of recruiters. It also helped that I was always very open and communicative about my desire to work as a part of a team which the partners were supportive of.
That is key though. Communication. Once you identify a few things that you can do in your job now to make it work for you, you probably need to talk to your manager! Ask them for more responsibility or exposure to a certain area of the business. You need to advocate for yourself.
3. Get Friendly
Part of my issue during those “darkest days” was that I was isolating myself. I would hide in my cubicle, I worked 7:30-4 which meant I was in the office for 1-1.5 hours by myself and then I would go out for lunch by myself. I would avoid talking to the friends that I did have left. Or when we did talk it descend into a bitchfest.
Not constructive. Not healthy.
Reach out to your colleagues on a personal and professional level. Ask them about themselves. Ask about their goals. Think on it, what could you do to help them succeed? Act on it, it will make you feel better, worthwhile and needed.
It is okay to vent, you need to get those negative emotions out. It is okay to let them vent, you need to be supportive to build a good relationship.
BUT, don’t let it slip into complaining for the sake of complaining. If you put all of your energy into hating your job, how will you have the energy to try and love it! If you see that happening, redirect the conversation. The point of these relationships is to provide you support on this journey to love this job you hate!
4. Be Thankful
Time for another list. A list about what you love, or at least like, about your job, your team/boss, and your company. If you are in a bad place, it could be just a list of 3 things. Then every day make a point to add to the list.
Ruminate on it. Every time the going gets tough take that list out to remind yourself. Read the list slowly, send out a “Thank You” as you read each item.
Gratitude is transformative. It leads to more positive emotions, less stress and the big one – more happiness with our jobs. Let it start transforming you.
If all else fails, get up, dress up and show up. And never give up. You will have hard days where this all seems impossible but slowly those days will either become easier to handle or not happen has often.
Am I annoying you right now? The last thing you want to hear when you are knee deep in dissatisfaction is to "smile" but I'm going to say it anyways. Why? Research shows that the act of smiling can "trick" your brain into thinking you are happy. So why not?
If you put a smile on your face and fake loving your job, eventually it will just slowly start to happen – at least enough to make the last bit of time there an enjoyable experience.
Are you also concerned about what to tell potential employers about why you want to leave? This week in my newsletter I’ll be giving some tips and tricks on how to craft your exit story. Sign up today to get it!
You probably first heard about Informational Interviews as a student as it is touted as a great way to get jobs. Then you forgot about them, or thought that they don’t apply to you anymore.
They are great for students, in fact my first job out of university came from an informational interview. But I never turned my back on them and since then, I have still gotten jobs for myself (even for friends), gotten leads and valuable information by never being afraid to ask to talk with someone. Honestly, for me, it has one of the most powerful tools in my career, and not just for networking.
The informational interview has been magical for me in the way that it has changed my life.
So to help you see how powerful they can be, I wanted to share with you my story so that maybe you will feel a little more confident and sure of yourself when embarking on your own informational interviews.
Last May, shortly after my grandfather passed away, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. A common occurrence back then as I was stressed and not loving my job that was only made worse by my grief. That night a thought suddenly struck me. I wanted to be a Career Coach but I wanted to keep working from home. I had thought that I couldn't have both but I had never even looked into see if this was even possible! So why don’t I just take a look.
The next morning I googled virtual career coach and a bunch of articles and job postings for RiseSmart popped up. They are an organization that assists individuals after being laid off. Their career coaches are almost 100% virtual. Needless to say I was intrigued and excited!
Using LinkedIn, I found one of their Transition Coaches in Toronto and immediately sent a connection request stating my interest in learning more. She accepted and she told me all about the role. The roles are part time and allows individuals to continue exploring other job opportunities including as she does, freelance Career Coaching (I thought to myself, “what they exist?”). Plus she referred me to her team lead for me to speak with.
Last June, the team lead and I spoke. She is based in New York and manages the small but growing coaching team in Canada. We spoke for about 30-60 minutes and it ended with her giving me some advice (maybe explore getting my Certified Professional Resume Writer) and some timelines (they had nothing now, hopefully in 2018 and for us to chat again in the fall).
Honestly, I was a little disappointed at first as I wanted a job there RIGHT THIS SECOND! Then I remembered my chat with the Toronto Coach, maybe I could freelance career coach too. I began to reach out to other people in the industry who didn’t work for an organization but for themselves to arrange informational interviews and coffee chats. I found out so much great information – business tips, clients tips, etc. All that information gave me the confidence to make the leap and open up my own business. All summer I worked on designing my own website, developing content for it and making connections with the Burlington Public Library and the HRPA – Halton chapter leading to my official launch in September 2018.
At that point I had a 3-5 year plan (but if I was really honest with myself, an ideal 1 year plan) to move completely away from recruiting and be able to help people as a Career Coach full-time.
Fast forward to this past May. A job opened up at RiseSmart in Toronto. Immediately an interview was set up with the Talent Acquisition Specialist, the second interview with the team lead was bypassed as she and I already talked(!) and then a final interview with Canada’s General Manager. A few days later I got the call with the offer. Two weeks from the job opening to the offer. I got the offer on April 24th just a few weeks shy of the date I sent out that initial LinkedIn connection request. Allowing me to, way ahead of my scheduled plan, to say goodbye to recruitment and devote 100% of my time to Career Coaching.
I have been with RiseSmart for 6 weeks now and it has been amazing. I went through their intensive training program (accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF)) and have been working 10-15 hours a week which leaves me plenty of time to continue to build my own career coaching business and maintain a semblance of work/life balance!
All because I wasn’t afraid to reach out. My life changed that night and every day I wake up so grateful for this opportunity. I feel so fulfilled being able to help people navigate career transition, reinvention and the job search.
I want to help you too. Let’s set up a time to have a FREE Discover Your Career strategy call – we’ll talk about where you are now, where you want to go and some ways to get you there. If it makes sense, we’ll talk about how we can work together in a professional coaching relationship. If not, I provide some free resources, tips and an action plan to get you started on your own.
What do you want to do? Reach out to others doing just that and talk to them. You never know, those calls may change your life.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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