Stepping Out of the World of Academics into The Job Market

Stepping Out of the World of Academics into The Job Market

You work hard, you’re ambitious, you’ve always done well at everything you set your mind to. You got into the school of your choice and you excelled. Of course, you had summer jobs and a part time job while you were going to school but all that is behind you now. It’s time to step into your first real job!


Excelling in a professional environment is different from excelling in an academic one. Here are some tips to help smooth the transition.


Turn on a cooperative mindset

It takes a lot of self-discipline and organization to do well at school.  You are probably used to setting your own course and deciding for yourself what needs to be done and when. To be successful you had to turn yourself into an independent thinker and achiever.


When your supervisor or the person who’s only been at the job a little longer than you tells you how to do things it might be a little off putting. Especially if you don’t see the point, or if you believe there’s a better way of doing things. There is a time and place for offering suggestions, but it’s not at the beginning of a new job. At the beginning your job is to learn the processes. To excel at the tasks you are given.


People like to work with people they like

You might think the most important thing about your job is doing a good job. And yes of course you need to do a good job. The best you can. But what you may not realize is, how important the relationships you build at work are. People like working with people they like. People will want you on their team if they like you. They will go out of their way to teach you and offer you advice. If you make mistakes at work they are more easily forgiven if people like you.


Let your true self shine

As you go along doing your best work and being a likeable human being, you might be accidentally slip into a corporate self that is kind of a neighbor or cousin to your real self. In order to be happy in life it’s important to not lose track of the special characteristics that make you, you. If you’re a natural joke teller then tell jokes. If you are a Lord of the Rings expert, share your knowledge, if your wardrobe has a certain flair – then flair. Bring your unique perspectives and attitudes to the things you do. You will find your people, and who knows what you will accomplish together.

How Stress Affects the Brain

How Stress Affects the Brain

Stress is good in small doses. It’s important too. In short bursts a stress response saved our ancestors from the threat of predators. For example, the stress response elicited by the sight of a lion walking toward you in the jungle was a good thing. The increased heart rate, the hyped up muscle response, got you out of the person killer’s vicinity pretty quickly.


In times of stress all your energy gets diverted to your brain and muscles, and to help prepare the body for action, the stress hormone cortisol is released. Ideally a stress response should be a message for you to change something. For instance if you smell smoke in the building you’ll want to run out of there. Smoke! Stress response – run!


But what if you find yourself living with a prolonged stress response? If circumstances have left you stressed out on a daily basis, creating the latent smell of smoke in every room of your house that you can’t seem to get rid of? Someone looking for a job, or between jobs could find themselves living with a degree of prolonged stress. Being stressed out is not the optimum attitude to have while on the job hunt.


Physical responses to stress

The body is not meant to maintain a constant state of alert. If such a state persists, the immune system starts to decline. Signals to the brain get muddled, learning and memory suffer, but that’s not even the worst of it. Long term stress and increased cortisol levels can kill off brain cells and make your brain smaller! Judgment, the ability to make decisions also shrink and the risk for depression increases.

Using exercise and meditation to mitigate stress

Although it may not be possible to completely eliminate stressful situations from your life, mindful meditation and exercise can be very helpful in counterbalancing the stress.


Mindful meditation means keeping your awareness in the present moment, not letting it wander to either past or future circumstances – presumably the cause of your stress. If you can focus only on what you are doing at the given moment the stress will have nothing to cling to (hopefully).


Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean getting yourself to the gym. It can mean getting out for a walk or a bike ride, a yoga class, a swim. Something to move your body and get you out of your head.


Exercise and meditation don’t just help you cope with the stress, they can actually help reverse the effects.


Of course, the best way to deal with stress, and save your brain from shrinking in the first place, is to identify the factors that set you off and deal with them before you feel like you’re living in a house full of smoke! If your stress is job hunt related, make yourself a plan for everyday and follow it. Ensure you’re more concerned with doing than with worrying. Stay in the moment while you’re on task, then take time to get up and move in between!


There are just about as many ways to de-stress as there are to stress. Here are over a hundred more from Health Grinder

Use Yourself as Your Benchmark for Success

Use Yourself as Your Benchmark for Success

Sometimes I look at the people I admire and think about how much I’d like to be like them or if possible – better than them? What would that be like?  To have even more success than the people I aspire to emulate. Other times I think about people who I’d really actually like to better. The ones whose success I resent because I’m pretty sure I’m more competent than they are.


Wasted energy

Aspiring to be like the people who inspire us is a good starting point as we set out on our quest for success. Setting ourselves into competition against those whose talents we believe we surpass can certainly fuel us forward. The problems start to show up when those other people we are working to emulate or beat take up too much of our mental space.


The time you spend thinking about other people and dwelling on what they did/are doing/will do is time you could have spent thinking about what you should be doing. Why waste energy thinking about someone else when you could be using that valuable commodity (your mental energy) thinking about yourself?


Make your future self the person you aspire to become

Imagine yourself already having achieved everything you aspire to. Future you has all the qualities you envision for current you. Current you is the person you want to better, the one you want to beat on your way to reaching future you.


By casting yourself as the hero of your story AND the person you are competing against, the person you end up focusing all your energies on is YOU. You are constantly thinking about ways to better yourself to reach tomorrow you. About ways to get to your destination faster than yesterday you.


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to better yourself every day, on the way to becoming your best self.

Make The Most of Your Vacation Time With The Least Amount of Money

Make The Most of Your Vacation Time With The Least Amount of Money

All of us have dream vacations we’d one day like to take. Mine include Rome with all those stunning fountains, Egypt and her mystical pyramids, the utterly unique Galapagos islands. I cannot currently afford any of those vacations. In the meantime, does that mean I need to settle for staycations with my limited means,? No way! With a little planning and alternative thinking it’s possible to take fun, interesting vacations on a restricted budget.


Sometimes the when is as important as the where

Set your alarms everyone, because according to Skyscanner the best time to book a flight is 5 am! Further to that, the best time to book flights for domestic trips is 2 – 3 weeks in advance. The best time to book international journeys is 5 – 6 months in advance. The least expensive month to book those flights is January (with an average round trip flight of about $500). February comes next then leapfrog all the way over to August. While you’re planning, plan to book your domestic flight on a Tuesday and your international flight on a Wednesday to enjoy the most savings.


Accommodation alternatives

Last year I went to Costa Rica with my daughter – which is why I’m on a limited vacation allowance now! Following a few convincing words from my daughter, one of the things we did to save money was stay in a hostel. Old enough to have a twenty-four-year-old daughter, I’d never stayed in a hostel before, thinking they were for backpackers and twenty-four year olds. To be sure there were many of those, but to my surprise there were also all kinds of people my own age. Some traveling with their own kids, some on their own. Although we stayed in a room with 5 other people there were options for semi-private and private rooms. The hostel was spacious and clean and very friendly. It cost us about $25 a night and was an experience I would definitely repeat.


If hostels are absolutely not your thing you can still score significant savings through sites like Airbnb and HomeAway.


There’s also Glamping – which you can think of as luxury camping or glamorous camping across locations around the globe. Or Canopy and Stars a collection of unique, creative places to stay in the great and grand outdoors.



You could take a taxi when you travel and pump your money into someone else’s pocket or you could get friendly with the bus and subway schedules in the area. Or if distances aren’t too daunting you could put your legs to work either as locomotion on their own or as peddle manipulators.


If you do need to rent a car follow these tips from tripsavvy and:

Book early

Comparison shop

Reserve the smallest car possible

Compare daily and weekly rates

Use non-airport facilities

Ask for a discount



By carrying your own water bottle and filing it up as you go, not only are you helping save the world from more plastic refuse you’re also saving significant amounts of money. Speaking of water, choose nature’s thirst quencher as your beverage of choice and put the savings toward other aspects of your vacation. Extra night in the hostel anyone?


Enjoy the freebees

No matter where you travel there are all kinds of things you can do for free. In the article about free things to do on vacation from Wise Bread they mention that many museums around the world offer free admission, and for the ones that don’t they often have a day when admission is free. Plan in advance and explore world treasures without paying a cent.


Walking tours are also a great way to see any city and often those are offered for free.


One other thing, don’t forget about Google. Type free things to do in X and go to town!


Become your own tour guide

Get yourself a tour book before you go and familiarize yourself with your destination then become your own tour guide. For instance, when I finally do get to Rome I could book a 60 euro tour to see the coliseum or I could prepare in advance and get in with 12 euros and create my own experience.


Smile! Your Life is About to Improve

Smile! Your Life is About to Improve

You know the old adage, fake it till you make it? How you’re supposed to live like the person you want to one day become. Carry yourself as you would were you already the successful, established person you aspire to be. Wear the clothes you will wear. Speak with the authority engendered by your many successes. Set the stage for this person you are cultivating to enter – and eventually they will take their place under the spot light.


The life changing smile

That whole faking it till you’re making it thing can start with something so easy babies regularly do it. Smile!


Whether you are smiling because you are genuinely happy or because you just plastered one on your face, you are flooding your body with feel good chemicals – dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. You automatically feel good and more relaxed.


Two way mirror

A smile is like a two-way mirror. In general, you smile because you’re feeling good. At the same time when you smile you actually make yourself feel good. And while you’re going around feeling good you’re also more energetic, which helps you become more productive.


A round for the house

Not only are those smiles you’re going around wearing helping you feel good, they’re also bringing smiles and feel good feelings to everyone around you. Smiles are contagious. Smiling faces all around, people are more inclined to like each other.


Not only that, according to the article 9 Superpowers of Your Smile  from Psychology Today, smiling can make you seem courteous, likeable and competent. So if there are projects upcoming or opportunities in the offing, the person who is conceived of as likable and competent will most likely be chosen over their less captivating counterparts.


So smile and watch your world smile around you!

Create Inspired Time

Create Inspired Time

Back in the 1930s Somerset Maugham was one of the most popular writers of his generation. Along with all that popularity came big paychecks to the tune of the highest paid author of the time. At least 39 movies have been made based on his works, including Of Human Bondage and The Razor’s Edge. The latest, The Painted Veil premiered in 2006. How is it that some people are so disproportionately and productive and successful compared to the average person?


Of course, raw talent is involved. Maugham’s first novel Liza of Lambeth sold out so fast in 1897 that he gave up the medical degree he was just about finished to pursue writing full time. No question Somerset Maugham was outstanding at his craft. But talent alone cannot produce more actual work than many of your contemporaries combined.


Unwavering, persistent application

What sets Somerset Maugham and other prolific individuals apart from the pack is unwavering, persistent application to the goal. Regardless of how they feel on a given day. Rain or shine, success or failure the day before, creativity block or creativity flow they get to it. Thomas Edison of I haven’t failed, I just found a thousand ways that won’t work fame, famously said “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.”


Open dedicated time and space to your ambitions

Sometimes inspiration comes out from whatever mysterious cave it lives in. It reaches out a hand and turns on the glorious tap. Other times it gets weighed down by hangers on like procrastination, laziness, fear and myriad other things that keep us from pushing forward. Inspiration cannot be counted on to show up and on its own. It is up to us to march into the darkness and fetch inspired time out for ourselves. We do that by setting up a dedicated time every day to work on your task. Whatever it is.


Inspired time

The time you dedicate to your goal whether it be everything involved in preparing yourself for a job search, or writing the next greatest novel or becoming a business coach becomes inspired time when you come for it every day. When you treat the time as precious and inspired no matter how you feel and work within it you will inevitably produce something. It may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but it is something and that something will pave the way for something better. That something better will inspire you to keep going and soon dedicated time becomes inspired time.

Take The Time To Make The Most of Your Next Interview

Take The Time To Make The Most of Your Next Interview

You’ve already got your next interview scheduled. You might think you’ve got what it takes to go there and wing it. If so you’ll most likely be knocked off your perch by others who took the time to prepare.


Write down the most relevant things you want to convey at the interview

There are things you want to ensure the person doing the interview knows about you. If you just think about them, there’s a spectacular chance they’ll fly out of your head when you come face to face with the interviewer. If you write them out before hand and read them a few times before the interview, they’ll dance out of your mouth at the appropriate time like choreographed works of art.


Take timing into consideration

There’s a thing called decision fatigue that comes over people as the day wears on. Essentially everyone has a finite amount of decision making capacity throughout the day. As the day wears on decisions become harder to make and the quality of decision making deteriorates. When booking your interview do your best to get yourself scheduled earlier in the day when the interviewer is still at their decision making peak.


Invest in business cards

You might think the only people who carry business cards around are the ones who already have jobs, but that’s not necessarily the case. Rather than thinking of it as a business card, think of it as a calling card. Something to set you apart from the other candidates. A tangible reminder of who you are and what you’re all about. Include your name and all your contact information and a line or two about what you do. It’s a great way to make an impression and ensure the potential employer remembers who you are!


Create a field of positivity around yourself

Do all your homework in advance. Research the questions you think they’ll ask and your answers in the days before. Don’t do any more preparing the day of the interview. Go in knowing you are qualified and experienced and ready to take on new challenges. Ensure you arrive well before the interview, cool, calm and collected. Radiate positivity. Leave them wanting more!

De-stressing About Decision Making

De-stressing About Decision Making

How do you feel about decision making? Does the question What restaurant would you like to go to for tonight fill you with excitement? Or does it turn on your immobilizing fear about making a decision response? The one that leads to a hundred internal questions. What if they don’t like my choice? Does anyone like the things I like? Am I even qualified to choose food for another person? Have I ever been to a restaurant I like? Internal questions that are way out of proportion to the external question you were asked.


Not all decisions are created equal

Some of us are all or nothing types. Everything is either pitch black or blinding white. Any decision feels overwhelming because the outcome will be either really RIGHT or devastatingly WRONG. That may be a slight exaggeration, but then again, I fall into the all or nothing category.


What anyone who has trouble with decisions needs to remember is, not all decisions carry the same weight. What do you want for dinner? and Should we buy an SUV or a Mini? Are completely different categories of question.  So the first step to taming the decision making monster is figuring out whether or not the decision has any real consequence in the big picture.


Weighty decisions vs light ones

If the decision actually will have long lasting consequences then go ahead and create your pros and cons list. Do your research, ask the opinions of others, have in-depth discussions, whatever you need to do to feel confident about your choice.


If however, it’s just an everyday choice then give yourself a break and recognize that either way everything will be okay. Take a breath and pick the first thing that feels good to you. That will be good enough!


What you really want is probably lurking under all the questions and indecisions that are getting in the way of choosing. Your wants are as valid as the wants of anyone else.


Practice makes perfect

Practice decision making doesn’t actually make for perfect decision making – that’s more of the all or nothing thinking. But the more decisions you make, the easier they get to make. You begin to see that the world doesn’t stop on every decision and that for the everyday choices your preferences are valid and good.

The Cultivation of a Champion

The Cultivation of a Champion

Joe Frazier was the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1970 – 1973. Was he a champion before that? Yes absolutely!


Aspiring to the ring even as a kid, Joe filled an old burlap sack with rags, leaves corncobs and moss and hung it from a tree. Then, he says, “For the next 6, 7 years, damn near every day I’d hit that heavybag for an hour at a time. I’d wrap my hands with a necktie of my Daddy’s, or a stocking of my Momma’s or sister’s, and get to it.”


A champion is created through actions and thoughts

Every hour he spent hitting that heavybag, Joe Frazier was a champion. He was a champion every single day that he got up at the crack of dawn to start working out. Every moment he dedicated to practicing in the ring. All the times he visualized his craft. The times he saw himself winning. Every positive word he said to himself was a championship word. All the encouraging thoughts that beat through the negative ones were championship thoughts.


Champion in the making

Each of us is a champion in the making. When we choose to get out of bed and embrace the day rather than giving in to the whispers from our pillows to stay just a little longer. All the times we get back up after falling more times than we care to remember. Every day that we strive to be a little better than the day before is a champion making day.


Some of us will be publicly recognized for all our work and our achievements. Acknowledged champions. What about the rest of us? If no one hangs a medal from our necks does that mean our efforts were less commendable? That we are not champions? Absolutely not! As wonderful as it is to have our efforts recognized publicly the most important recognition comes from within. When you’ve completed a project to the best of your ability, or achieved a milestone you’ve been working toward or overcome a difficult situation, recognize yourself for the champion that you are!


The Transformative Process of Striving

The Transformative Process of Striving

What is it you want to achieve in life? Do you want to be the owner of your own company? Are you looking to save $100K? Is writing your passion? Do you hope to see yourself in a leadership position? As a manager? Each of us is striving for something.


The pressure of end result thinking

Obviously, it’s important to have goals, to be working toward something. However, making that goal the focal point of your life, keeping it in mind 24/7 may actually be detrimental to your efforts.


The unrelenting thought of your goal creates a lot of pressure in your life as you focus all your hopes and dreams on an outcome. An outcome with no guarantee. It makes every failure feel worse. Every delay feels longer and more significant than it need be. Others in the same field become competitors rather than allies.


The outcome is out of your hands

Absolutely strive. Do your unmitigated best, but don’t become too attached to an outcome exactly as you picture it within the time frame you decided in advance. You have no control over the outcome of any goal or venture.


You cannot control the other people who wrote and published a book in the time you spent looking for (and not finding) an agent. Nor do you have any control over other people who reached your financial goals while you were still trying to pay off debt.


The only thing you have any control over is you. Your attitude is within your control. How you react to circumstances, positive and negative is in your ballpark. Even if someone is striving for the same things as you, their journey is theirs. Your journey is the only one you should be focusing on.



No one starts at the top

As you watch other people succeed while you still working so hard to get your goals off the ground, remember they too went through a learning curve. No one simply pops into existence at the finish line. Each person works, strives, fails in their own way and their own time.


The way to avoid the pressure cooker is to avoid focusing solely on the goal or other people who have or haven’t reached a similar benchmark. Maintain balance by putting in the required effort everyday – without worrying about the outcome. Get better, stronger, more able for the sake of getting better stronger more able.


The only person you should be competing against is yesterday you. You cannot control the outcome, but you can control the process and transform through it.