It’s Called a Life, Not a Life Sentence! How to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck

By Michaela Alexis, LinkedIn 

If I never let go of my first dream job, I’d still be a can of beans.

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof (no, I wasn’t being cheeky, my hand just moved as this was shot)! This was my very first day of my first marketing job, and I had to walk around a local market like this on Mardi Gras, handing out flyers.

Oh, and at one point, THIS was my dream job, too, when I worked as a bartender at a country bar!

I’ve worked in all sorts of jobs, from a grocery store clerk, professional bubble blower, Disney cast member, and a can of beans, to a legal studies teaching assistant and Marketing Director. Heck, I’ve even spent a few days cleaning carpets and urinals. I have had a spectrum of experiences, ranging from neat-o to nightmare-ish.

We all have to start somewhere. And for some, those experiences shape you, refine you, help you to become a kinder, more compassionate human being. You can talk about them (like I am right now) with humour, fondness, and a little bit of “What was I thinking???”

But what happens when you can’t let go? When you’ve settled into a career that should have been abandoned long ago, but you’re holding on for dear life in fear that you won’t find anything better, that you’re not worthy of your career dreams, or, worst of all, that you deserve unhappiness.

I have never been happier career-wise in my entire life. But not only did it take scrubbing toilets and dressing up as a can of beans to get to this place, it also took willingness to let go, move on, and trust in my abilities when the dream changed.

The most important thing I’ve learned over time is this:

There is nothing more excruciatingly painful than feeling trapped in a life that you’ve drifted into.

So, if it feels impossible to move forward, let’s tackle what’s going on behind those feelings, shall we? Here are the top 5 reasons why you are feeling stuck!

1) You don’t recognize that a career is a relationship, not a task separate from your being.

A career is a relationship. Most of us aren’t fortunate to find “the one” on the first try. It takes time and patience to figure out what your needs are as an employee. I know that I thought I’d love working in an open concept style office, but when I was actually put into that situation, I quickly realized how much I valued my privacy and peace.

The other issue I see popping up with my Linkedin connections is the belief that the culture will change. If the company doesn’t value its employees, if gossip and bullying is the norm, or if the job feels like you’re serving hard time, it’s not going to magically change tomorrow. Focus on the things that you can control, and start examining your wants and needs.

2) You are too busy to focus on what you actually need to

We, as a society, need to stop the glorification of “busy”. Being busy makes you feel important and valued while you’re in the zone, but ends up depleting you of the energy you need to build the life you want. It becomes a vicious, addictive cycle. I remember feeling like I just needed to do more to feel more. But, the only thing I ended up feeling was burnt out.

I would say that most people feel stuck because of this. Think about what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Think about how hard to is to think clearly and make decisions. The same happens when you are constantly spending your energy in the wrong places. You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you want to take those important first steps, you need to put your mind and body at the very top of your to-do list.

I’ve never seen a tombstone that said “I wish I had written one more work email”. Time is a gift, so focus on what actually matters.

3) Your identity has become intertwined with your career

This is an easy trap for people that are perfectionists or just super passionate about their work, whatever it may be. I’m definitely guilty of this myself. I went to Carleton University for six years for a degree that should have taken four years. I was so wrapped up in the cocoon of being a student that I didn’t want to think about being anything else.

The reason that my Linkedin title doesn’t say “Marketing Manager at Grade A” is because I am acutely aware of how easy it is to mistake who you are for what you do. You are so much more than your job title, and moving on to a different career isn’t going to make you more or less YOU.

4) You feel like hating your job is better than being a “job hopper”

The stigma surrounding “job hopping” is straight up silly. Yes, of course, there are extreme examples of people that just can’t seem to get it together, but for the most part, “job hopping” is just “career experimenting”.

I come from a long line of “career experimenters” and I’m damn proud of it. My mom was a nun that traveled the world, helping in orphanages, before becoming an elementary school teacher and internationally competing as a Masters track and field athlete. My father was a radio DJ and used car salesman before immigrating to Canada and becoming a beloved family doctor. I’ve been blessed to grow up with two parents that truly found their purposes and loved their careers, but were beautifully messy in their journeys towards living their passions.

So if the job is making you miserable, stop obsessing over how it may look to recruiters and/or hiring managers. That can’t be your sole deciding factor. When I was laid off, I was only working at my last job for about 4 months. While, yes, it made me self-conscious, I knew that a resume could never fully capture my capabilities anyhow, and focused on proving that I deserved an awesome career. You are just as deserving!

5) We live in a fear-based culture where joblessness is a like a death sentence

I realized how deep feelings of scarcity were ingrained in me when I turned down four job offers before accepting the role with Grade A. Each time, I felt physically nauseous. I felt irresponsible, irrational, and ungrateful.

I had the student loans office calling me, and I barely had enough cash coming in from Employment Insurance to cover my groceries, gas and parking to get to interviews. For the first time ever, I couldn’t pay my rent on time and had to call my parents to loan me the money. As desperately as I wanted to throw up my hands and throw out my dream job wish list, I knew that my fear was directing me to where I needed to keep going. It was actually my compass.

It’s so easy to doubt your own capacity for awesomeness, to listen when well-meaning friends and family encourage you to stick it out because the job market is brutal. But why cheat yourself?

Stop waiting for the tide to change. You are the tide. You have absolutely everything that you need to create the life you deserve. At some point, you’ll need to decide whether to allow yourself to drift aimlessly and hope for the best, or strap on a life jacket and swim like hell towards the shoreline.

Read the original piece here.

How to Job Search Like a Presidential Candidate

jobsearch2016Election season is over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Whether you loved or loathed the presidential candidates it’s fair to say they both gave their best efforts over the last 20 months. And while just one candidate gets to walk away victorious, a lot can be learned from the process.

Let’s take the candidates’ campaigns, for example. Both fought long and hard for what they believed in, never losing faith along the way. This is the kind of mindset needed for a successful job search as well.

Winning over America’s vote may be slightly more challenging than say, winning over a hiring manager but many of the same principles apply. Let’s review them shall we?

Do Your Homework

Whether you’re thinking about applying for a job or you’re about to enter the interview chair, you have to be “in the know.” No one wants to elect an uniformed president just as no one wants to hire a clueless job candidate. It’s important that you’re familiar with the company and up to speed on the trends and best practices that will help you succeed in the job.

Be Prepared…But Not Scripted

This is especially important during the interview. It’s never a good idea to shoot off the cuff without fully knowing the point you’re trying to make. As Donald Trump learned during the debates, you’re likely to get a better response if you have a well-thought-out plan. But, it’s also smart not to sound scripted. Hillary Clinton was heavily criticized on her robotic stature throughout the debates which kept her from connecting with her audience. While practicing your interview points will help calm your nerves, never sound canned.

Highlight Your Strengths

When campaigning for presidency, candidates must always explain why they’re the best person for the job. The same goes for you. Whether it’s on your resume or during an interview, you should always lead with your strengths. But pointing out your skills and accomplishments isn’t enough. You’re competing for a job after all. If you can find an angle that highlights how your uniqueness makes you the best candidate for the role, you’re likely to win the job.

Use the Law of Large Numbers

It’s common knowledge that candidates hot on the campaign trail have to make as much contact with voters as humanly possible. The more hands they shake, the better their chances are at winning. Use the law of large numbers when applying to jobs. Yes it’s redundant. Yes it’s exhausting. And yes, it’s not for the faint of heart.

Be Resilient

If either one of the candidates gave up whenever they hit a bump in the road the election would have been forfeited a long time ago. Any good job worth having is worth working for. Realize that you may put a ton of time and effort in to applying for a job only to never hear a peep. You may also get as far as the fourth and final interview and then lose the job to someone else. If you begin your job search knowing there will be some rejection you can prepare yourself for the long and arduous road. By staying steadfast and positive , you will catch your break. It just takes time.

Be Social

Social Media has never been as prominent in a presidential race as it was this year. Trump was a clear winner when it came to having a social media presence but Clinton wasn’t too far behind. There are many advantages to using social media in your job search.

For example, TechCrunch recently reported that employers will soon begin promoting their jobs on Facebook. You can easily market yourself as employable by updating your profile with your past and present work experience. Just be aware of the shortfalls of the platforms and keep your posts clean.

Be Relevant

Living in the New Media age allows for us to receive and release information in real time. Just as social media has become an integral part of a presidential campaign, you should adopt all modern forms of the job search. While it’s likely you’re already using your phone to look for jobs, take it up a few notches.

There are plenty of mobile job search apps that let you apply to jobs directly from your phone. Increase your chances of standing out and speed up the application process by having a mobile optimized resume. Also take the time to set up a professional profile on LinkedIn. Many employers are now requesting this in the application process.

Build a Strong Network

Networking is one of the most discussed topics when it comes to finding a new job and for good reason. A strong network or support group can open the door for new opportunities, provide references and give guidance and advice. In Trump’s acceptance speech he humbly gave credit to his family and GOP allies that helped him get the win. By nurturing your network, you will find yourself with a group of individuals who help you succeed.

Be Honest

There’s no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness was an issue for her while campaigning. Trump too had his fair share of falsehoods. If you’re even considering lying on your resume to get a job just don’t do it. The stakes are high enough when you’re vying for a new position. Don’t risk burning bridges by forging your qualifications.

Be Yourself

If there’s anything to take away from this election process and the new President-Elect it’s that you don’t have to have the most experience. You don’t have to be the most articulate. But if you put in the work, surround yourself with smart and supportive people and above all, be uniquely you, you can accomplish anything.