We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same. Carlos Casteneda, author and philosopher.
As the rain continues to fall and the days to be chilly, I sometimes begin to feel the weight of it all. The dampness, the dreariness, the mud, and the chore of rubbing down my wet smelly dogs so they are presentable enough to be in the house. As I allowed myself to get more down about it all, feeling “put upon” by the weather, I realized I was choosing to be miserable. I began to think about last summer and the frightening thoughts, the reality for some, of actually running out of water, our lifeblood. I took hold of my thoughts and began to dwell more on the positives of the rain: flowers popping up everywhere, our grass is more beautiful than it has been in years, my husband and I have begun to take care of some indoor projects we have been putting off, even the puppy rub down has become a sort of game that makes us laugh. I have discovered the feeling of accomplishment is the same, rain or shine, the connectedness to family and friends is still great, and, actually, my ability to concentrate on detailed projects is greater as I am not distracted by the thoughts of being outdoors in the sun and the breeze. The words of Mr. Casteneda seem to be true; I could be miserable or I could be upbeat and strong, in this case it was a matter of how I chose to think about the weather.
Now, of course, the weather is not an earth-shattering issue, but there are scant few of us who can say they are not affected by it in some manner. I offer it as a common ground place to begin a discussion on how we can take charge of the thoughts and energy we expend and for what results.
In this time of economic uncertainty, when many people we know are out of work, downsized or otherwise, and more high school and college graduates are ready to take their places in the workforce, it becomes challenging to choose to think and to expend our energy to make ourselves strong. The job search that once was a matter of checking the want ads and speaking with a few confidants, has now become more of a position itself, albeit a non-profit one, for many seekers. The tendency to dwell on how difficult the search can be and how unfair it is becomes enticing. As more rejection is required to attain the prize, it becomes easier to allow our thoughts to wander in the mode of negativity and hopelessness: “I am not good enough.” “I am too old.” “I am over or under qualified.”
As a personal and corporate coach, I work with many individuals that are changing careers; whether by choice or by circumstance. What I have discovered is that there is a great difference between the successful career changers and the not so successful, and it has little to do with the time it takes to make the change. These days, the game is very different. The pool of excellent candidates is much greater, and the corresponding pool of jobs is dwindling. The difference I have discovered is how the successful people think about themselves and the process. They employ a positive, enthusiastic and hard work approach. They are willing to accept change and to look at themselves and the world from different perspectives. They are open to support. They create, maintain and share insights and networks. They stay productive and active at home and in the world of work, often on a volunteer basis. Many of these successful folks read voraciously of the many books that are available on career change, salary negotiation, resume writing and interview techniques. They work hard at the job of career change or job search. When the right position is eventually discovered, their house is in order, they have learned a great deal about themselves and the process, and they are ready to put their best foot forward for the new position. Often, friends and colleagues have no idea of how much effort went into the process, they only see the successful result. In the words of Michelangelo: “If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.”
Coaches Challenge: Our choice is in how we choose to think. Begin with some simple tasks that you may have allowed yourself to get down about, like the weather. You begin to build your positive thinking muscle. Then gradually tackle the greater issues as your strength increases.