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Archive for March 2012

Do You Have Unrealistic Career Expectations?

So, you’re not happy at work.

“But,” you wonder, “is anyone?”

Maybe you expect too much. Maybe you have some unrealistic idea of what career fulfillment looks like. Maybe this is as good as it gets.

Maybe.

After all, no job is perfect. But, there might be one that’s a little closer to perfect. Or a way to make your existing career MORE perfect.

Here’s one way of looking at it:

If you were to rate your career satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is perfectly satisfied and 1 is perfectly dissatisfied, where would you land?

Based on my experience, I suggest that an average of 8 is a reasonable expectation. Mind you, that’s an average. So, some days will hit a 10 while others will hover somewhere around a 6. But, overall, you’re a solid 8. That’s great for most people. If you’re lucky enough to hit a 9 or a 10 on average, you’re fortunate and a rare exception.

That’s not intended to discourage you. Think of this as a reality check. You always want to shoot for the moon. But recognize that landing amongst the stars is still pretty darn good.

Plus, the more you know about what fulfills you in your career and the more you practice creating that fulfillment through your daily work, the more often you’ll have those days where you hit a 10 on the satisfaction scale. So, as you progress through your career, (with a little effort) your average will move ever so slightly higher until one day you might even hit that “perfect” place where you’re one of the fortunate few.

If your average is somewhere around a 6, you have some work to do. There’s definitely opportunity to experience a greater level of career satisfaction. There might be some small changes you can make where you are. Perhaps a little self-analysis is also in order. Do you really know what your version of career satisfaction looks like? After all, if you don’t have a clear vision of what a 10 is, how can you expect to move closer toward it?

If your average is consistently lower than 6, it’s time to rethink your career path. You CAN find something that satisfies you more. It’s not unreasonable to believe that. You’re not expecting too much. You deserve better.

Career fulfillment is 100 percent subjective. What makes you happy won’t necessarily make your neighbor happy. Your level 10 satisfaction might look completely different from mine. But you have to respect your own needs.

There are plenty of people who actually wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work. Despite what you may have heard, the whole word does not dread their time at work. Sure, it’s not always a picnic—that kind of expectation would be unrealistic. But overall, it’s satisfying. Sometimes it’s downright awesome. It’s a solid 8.

Where do you land currently on the satisfaction scale? Have you been holding out for a 10 and not appreciating that you’re doing pretty well at an 8? Have you been harboring unrealistic expectations of what career fulfillment actually looks like? Or are you suddenly realizing that greater fulfillment really is possible? Are you finally saying, “I’m not willing to settle for a 5 or a 6. I want, and deserve, something better!”

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. And, if you’re ready to experience greater fulfillment but don’t know how, I’d love to help you find your way. Learn more about my career coaching services here.

Elevate Admins: Gaining Support for Administrative Professionals

As a former executive assistant, I have a huge respect and appreciation for the field of office administration. The role is absolutely essential to the success of any business, and yet, administrative professionals are often overlooked, under-appreciated and under-utilized.

Ironically, “support” professionals often lack the very thing they provide. Businesses simply don’t support their administrative professionals the way they deserve.

And I think it’s time we changed that. In fact, I’m making it my mission.

I want you, the administrative professional, to thrive in your career—and I know you want the same. I want you to get more respect, more appreciation, more training and more support. I want admins to contribute to their businesses in a deeper, more meaningful way.

In short, I want to ELEVATE the administrative profession.

And I’m doing it one company at a time.

I’ve developed an amazing on-site training and coaching program designed to help elevate performance, increase satisfaction and improve retention of high-quality administrative professionals. Unlike traditional training programs, ELEVATE Admins is 100% customized to meet the needs of your admin team and your business. It’s also a totally interactive experience, which supports deeper learning and creates a fun, engaging atmosphere for all who participate.

Here’s the deal: I want to bring this program to YOUR company and I need your help to do it.

Together, we can get you and your fellow administrative professionals, the support you need, want and deserve.

Okay, I can hear you already: “But Chrissy! My company would never pay for a coaching program for admins!”

Stop right there. This is the exact problem we’re trying to overcome. And it simply won’t happen if you don’t change that mindset.

Here’s the plan:

1. Explore the ELEVATE Admins website and get a feel for what it’s all about. If it looks interesting and you want to learn more, move on to step 2.

2. Schedule a no-obligation, no-sales-pitch phone call with me to discuss the specific challenges your team is facing and how the program can help. If it sounds like the right thing for your company, we’ll move on to step 3.

3. I’ll help you put together a business case for the request. I’ll talk to your HR Director, your executives and any one else involved in the decision. Let ME worry about the budget stuff. Just help me get a foot in the door.

I also created a fabulous special report that you can download here. This document discusses the overall philosophy behind the program and how administrative professionals (and the company!) will benefit this kind of support. Share it with your executives, your co-workers, your HR department and anyone else who might benefit from the information. Doing so will show everyone that YOU take your role seriously.

So, what do you say? Are you with me? Are you ready to help ELEVATE the administrative profession? You have more power than you think. With a little effort, we can and will get you the support you need, want and deserve.

Why It’s a Bad Idea to Air Your Grievances Publicly

Remember on Seinfeld, when George Costanza’s dad decided to rebel against the commercialism of the winter holidays and celebrate a holiday called Festivus instead? One tradition was to stand around the Festivus pole and air your grievances.

Well, the spirit of Festivus must be in the air because lately, it seems, quite a few people (including top level executives) are being very vocal about their employment grievances.

Take, for example, the Goldman Sachs executive, Greg Smith, whose scathing resignation letter hit the opinion pages of the New York Times.

And then there’s the former Google employee, now working for Microsoft, who took to the Microsoft blog to rant against Google’s deteriorating corporate culture.

Of course, let’s not forget about the most legendary display of employee dissatisfaction—the Jet Blue airline employee who cursed at his passengers over the loudspeaker, pulled the chute for the inflatable evacuation slide, grabbed a beer and made a dramatic emergency exit.

So, here’s the question: Are public displays of this nature helpful?

The answer is NO.

I’m sure some people will disagree, but I’m coming at this from the angle of a career coach. And this is what I know: Employees get disgruntled. It happens. Companies make poor choices, leaders don’t treat their staff with the respect they deserve, life isn’t perfect.

Who among us hasn’t dreamed of pulling a stunt equal to that of the Jet Blue flight attendant? Who hasn’t silently drafted a scathing resignation letter? These are fantasies every employee indulges in now and again.

But only a rare specimen acts on the impulse.

In some cases, such as with the Goldman Sachs executive and the Microsoft employee, it seems these folks honestly believe their vocal complaints will some how, some way make a difference. They seem so fed up that they can no longer sit idly by and watch the company they once loved dissolve in front of their eyes. It’s as if they believe that “taking the fight to the streets” will change the outcome.

Perhaps in these cases, the publicity will have an impact. How much is yet to be determined. But of course, these are very high-profile situations. In the average person’s life, a scathing resignation letter probably won’t hit the pages of the NY Times. The average person storming out of the office crying, “Who’s comin’ with me?” probably won’t make the evening news.

The sad truth is that these kinds of things (usually) have very little impact on the business. The person carrying out the wild, vengeful act is usually the only one harmed. Their reference is destroyed; their reputation tarnished.

But for the company, it’s barely a tiny blip on the radar.

If you choose to leave the company—whether in a dramatic, irresponsible fashion or in a more professional manner—your vote no longer counts. You can scream and shout about the injustice, but you’ve taken yourself out of the equation. What does it matter to the company? You’re a quitter. You’re no longer any of their concern. You’re disgruntled. These are the ramblings of a mad man, they cry! It’s just emotional nonsense! And thankfully, you’re a problem they no longer have to deal with.

If you really want to make a difference, why not be the calm, rational, reasonable voice of dissent from the inside? Why not be an advocate for change while you’re still in a position to do something about it?

If that doesn’t appeal to you—or if you’re convinced you’re powerless in this situation—then, yes, it’s time to leave. The problem is bigger than you. A public display isn’t going to change that. It might make you feel better…for a minute or so. It might make you the talk of your town (or office building) for about 15 seconds. But, chances are, the company will come out unscathed.

And let’s face it: Your public display wasn’t really about changing things. It was an attempt to “punish” the company in some way—for doing you wrong, for failing to be what you wanted it to be.

But in the end, you only hurt yourself.

I’m not trying to discount the importance of speaking your mind. But the way you do it impacts how clearly your words are heard.

The debate on my morning news show today was about whether the Goldman Sachs executive’s letter will change anything. One commentator said, “Why are we talking about this? What’s the headline? Wall Street is greedy? We already knew that.” Another said, “This sounds like a disgruntled employee.”

I don’t think this is the reaction Greg Smith was looking for.

Photo Credit: rakkhi (Flickr)

Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Here’s a lesson I’m still learning: Changing your mind isn’t the same as giving up.

You see, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about goals—how to set them properly, how to see them through, how to keep your perspective about achieving them.

As most of you know, I’m kind of a goal junkie.

But recently, I’ve had to make some…corrections. And it’s been hard. In many ways, it makes me feel weak. Like I’ve failed. But I realized this morning that I’ve been looking at it the wrong way. I’ve been acting like “changing my mind” is the same as “quitting.”

And it’s not.

You see, changing your mind is YOUR RIGHT. No one can take that from you.

The trick is not to be fickle. Give your decision the thought and attention it deserves. But give yourself the freedom you deserve.

Here are a few questions to consider before changing your mind:

1. What’s Changed?

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Circumstances change, priorities shift. The world as we know it never stands still. At times, your choices have to adjust accordingly.

Think of it this way: If you’re planning to quit your job and go back to school, and then your spouse is suddenly laid off, you almost have no choice but to at least consider changing your mind. (In most cases and for most people this would cause some major reconsideration.)

It doesn’t mean the goal of going back to school has to disappear completely. It just might need to be adjusted in some way. The timeline would shift, perhaps.

Or maybe YOU are the one that’s changed. Maybe what used to be right no longer resonates. Maybe you’ve grown in an unexpected direction.

Now, it’s also important to recognize when the thing that’s changed is good old-fashioned fear disguising itself. That happens a lot. Fear has a clever way of convincing us that we can’t do things. It tricks us into thinking we never really wanted to in the first place. So be careful and be honest. If fear is what’s holding you back, pause for a moment. Typically, decisions made out of fear tend to backfire. Don’t change your mind just yet. You might feel stronger tomorrow. (This has happened to me many, many times and I’m always grateful when I follow this advice and simply pause.)

2. What Is Your Heart Telling You?

The process of changing your mind doesn’t only happen in your head. As a human being, you are filled with infinite wisdom. It’s there inside you. All you have to do is listen.

I wrote about emotions and their impact on decision-making recently. You see, sometimes, your brain is able to connect the dots of the information it receives in a way that’s so subtle, it’s not even understood by the conscious brain. It’s simply translated into a “feeling” instead.

So stop and listen. What is your heart saying? What is your body saying? Respect what you hear.

3. What Have You Learned?

The act of starting something—whether a project, a goal, a job, a New Year’s resolution or anything else—is a learning process in itself. Shifting course and “ending” something is just as valuable a lesson.

What do you know now about yourself (and about the world around you) that you didn’t know before? What, if anything, will you do differently next time? How will this experience and this decision change you?

As I’ve said before, this kind of thing isn’t “giving” up, it’s growing up. So focus on the growth and don’t beat yourself up. Course correction is a part of life. Few things move in straight, unobstructed lines.

Photo Credit: busy.pochi (Flickr)

Free Coaching Call: March 2012

In case you missed it, I held my free coaching call for the month of March earlier today. You can listen to the recorded version using the audio player below.

If you’d like to participate in the next call happening Wednesday April 4, please register and submit a question by visiting this page. As usual, if you can’t attend the live session, go ahead and register and submit a question if you have one. I’ll send a link to the recorded version to all who register so you can listen at your convenience. Now THAT’S great service, isn’t it?? Enjoy!

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*Special Note: I announced during the call that I’m opening up a very limited number of one-on-one coaching spots in the month of March. Learn more about career coaching and grab your spot here >>

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