Make Mental Strength A Priority

Make Mental Strength A Priority

We all have great days and difficult days. Some people celebrate the great days with sheer and absolute enthusiasm, while others stay more subdued. Then there are the hard days. Some people come through the hard ones with their attitude intact, ready to move on to the next thing while others spend an inordinate amount of time trying to re-center. Some of that is a consequence of natural disposition, but a lot of it is a matter of mental strength.

 

In the article The Best Brain Possible by Debbie Hampton, they say, “To be mentally strong is to become aware of your thoughts and emotions and work with them to consciously choose your actions, which is what mindfulness is all about. It’s about responding rather than reacting. It’s not about saying, ‘I can’t help the way I feel’ or ‘This is just the way I am.’”

 

Create new mental habits

While some people may be born more mentally resilient than others, mental strength, like any other strength can be built on and expanded. By consistently choosing to bounce back and not dwell on the negatives you can create new mental habits. That doesn’t mean every once in a while, it means paying attention to every thought that runs through your head. Then deciding whether or not it is a thought or reaction you would consciously choose if your intention was to be a more centered, in charge type person.

 

Here are ten things you can do to build mental strength:

 

Reflect on your progress

People who are mentally weak, dwell on the negatives and don’t give themselves credit for what they’ve already accomplished. Mentally strong people do the opposite. They keep the positives front and center and choose to consider the negatives as learning experiences.

 

Think productively

Instead of thinking about all the reasons why something isn’t working or you are not getting ahead as fast as you might want to, think about concrete things you can do on a regular basis to keep things moving forward.

 

Pay attention to the underlying thoughts

As we said earlier, everyone has a baseline of satisfaction where they naturally land. However just because you are not generally an overly optimistic person by nature that doesn’t mean you have to be satisfied with being dissatisfied. Watch your emotions, notice when you are leaning toward pessimism and make a conscious decision to see and acknowledge the positives in your situation.

 

Learn to enjoy quiet time

Many people will do anything they can to avoid being alone and quiet. In order to become mentally strong, you need to learn to make friends with yourself in quiet times. It is during those times that you can really reflect on what brings you peace and joy.

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Working With Being Shy

Working With Being Shy

Would you describe yourself as shy? Does that make you a little worried about doing well in your new job? Fear not, shy friend, we’ve got some tips to help you navigate your new situation with much more ease.

 

Relax

Stop worrying about being shy. The shyness is less of a problem than worrying about it.

Quiet is who you are, that’s perfectly okay! Accept your inner quite and don’t think you have to be like your louder co-workers.

 

Do what you do best

Even if you are a little shy around groups of people, there’s a good chance you’re really good at one-on-one interactions. And the good news is, most interactions are going to boil down to one-on-one interactions.

 

Unless you’re a university professor or a professional speaker, it’s all one-on-one stuff.

So just concentrate on each person as an individual. Even if you have to talk to a hundred people every day, chances are you’re mostly doing it one at a time. Concentrate on that.

 

Write thank you notes

Many people who feel socially awkward have trouble speaking out loud, but are amazing written communicators. So after interviews, or helpful interactions, get into the habit of writing nice thank you notes

 

Thank you notes can brighten up the day of the recipient, and can also convey how much you appreciate the recipient’s time, even if you can’t quite express it verbally in the moment.

 

Meditate

As a shy person it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the action surrounding you. Meditation is a wonderful way to clear away some of that stress and relax. You don’t need to make a big deal about it. Just find a few minutes to sit at your desk quietly and breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.

 

Practice networking

Networking can be particularly difficult if you’re shy, so that’s why it’s something you can practice doing to alleviate the fear. Even if you feel totally ridiculous, stand in front of the mirror and practice using professional lingo and confidently handing out your business card. That way when a beneficial networking opportunity presents itself, you’ll have the confidence to extend your hand and say hello.

The Job Seeker’s Indispensable To-Do List

The Job Seeker’s Indispensable To-Do List

School’s out and it’s time to get yourself out of the books and into the job market. Whether you’re applying for your first job or you are preparing to make a career change there is a certain to-to list every job seeker must complete to prepare a.

 

Keep your resume up-to-date

When the right job shows up the last thing you want to do is waste time updating your resume or seeker forbid – start one from scratch! If there is anything outdated or irrelevant on there, remove it. If you’ve recently completed any courses or have some motivating statistic about yourself to brag about, add it. You will most likely tailor your resume in some way for each job you apply for, but make sure you’ve got the best possible version as a starting point.

 

Everything we just said about the resume also applies to your cover letter. Except that it must be even more tailored for each specific job. Take the time now before the scramble to review your information so you can figure out exactly how best to highlight your accomplishments and possible contributions to a potential employer.

 

Review your social media presence

Even if you think you’ve done a pretty good job on your LinkedIn profile it’s a good idea to see what other people in a similar field are doing. How does yours compare? Do you have endorsements from colleagues or professors? Do you post relevant information there? Is it inviting and informative?

 

Next on your to-do list, have a look at the rest of your social media presence. If you have a stellar LinkedIn profile but your Facebook page is a mess of party pictures and descriptions of drunken escapades you are probably not sending out the message you want for potential employers. You need to ensure that everything anyone sees or reads about your online adds to the image you want to create.

 

Prepare for upcoming interviews

Once you have a real interview you will spend a lot of time learning everything you can about the company by checking out their online presence. But even if you don’t have an interview coming up, you can still prepare for the inevitable questions, like Tell me about yourself, or What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

 

Network

Some people love networking. Others would rather swim with sharks (partly because that’s how networking feels to them). Even if you are not the schmoosing type, it’s possible to go to a networking event with the intent to speak to just one person. Get through that and next time you could try for two. If you absolutely can’t bring yourself to do that, try a conference. You will most likely learn something pertinent to your search and who knows someone might strike up a conversation with you!

 

Big finish

If you meet someone at a networking event or a conference, follow up with a quick, nice to meet you message. If you’ve had an interview, follow that up with a thank you letter. Always. Someone took the time to meet with you, that time and effort needs to be acknowledged. Remember the person who came in to the interview after you sent a thank you letter. All things being equal, who do you think is going to make the stronger impression?

It’s Your Life. Go Ahead And Create It

It's Your Life. Go Ahead And Create It

An inauspicious start

You are the second child born to an unmarried laundrywoman in 1883. Your father is a street peddler who makes his living selling his wares from town to town. He has to be bribed by your mother’s family to marry her. When you are twelve years old your mother dies of tuberculosis. Your father hires your two brothers out as farm laborers. You and your two sisters are sent to a home for abandoned and orphaned girls. While there you learn to sew.

A story revised

Eventually you go on to establish one of the most iconic fashion houses of the twentieth century. When you describe your early childhood, your story is filled with glamour and drama. At your mother’s death (when you were much younger than twelve), your father sailed off to America to make his fortune and you were sent to live with your aunts. You embellish and create a history fit for the fashion icon you have become. By then your given name, Gabrielle has changed to Coco and according to a review in Harper’s Bazaar, “The woman who hasn’t at least one Chanel is hopelessly out of fashion.”

 

Coco Chanel may have fabricated the history of her life but her achievements were entirely real. The only fashion designer to make TIME magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century Chanel hasn’t been out of fashion for over a hundred years.

 

Your book of life

Each of us starts our life on the first page of an essentially blank book. We don’t have much control over the early chapters, but there comes a point where authorship of our story is handed over to us. We are not encouraging anyone to re-write the early chapters the way Chanel did, but we are endorsing bold, creative story lines full of adventure and daring.

Making Speech Making Easier

Making Speech Making Easier

As you move through your career chances are you’ll sometimes have to give speeches, sometimes to a single person, sometimes before a whole group. Public speaking can be extremely nerve wracking for a lot of people. One of the ways to lessen the nervousness is to have a strong speech prepared in advance. The more planned and prepared the speech, the more confidence you’ll have when delivering it.

 

A few simple steps will help you corral a bunch of thoughts milling around in your head into a thought out, well ordered speech.

 

Single sentence description

Decide what the main message of your speech is going to be. You may want to talk about several things, but even so, there needs to be a theme for your overall message. Now create a single sentence description of what you want to achieve through the speech.

 

Title it

Now that you have a theme, use it to title your speech.

 

Talking points

Before you start writing, take some time for a little free form thinking. List 10 – 20 talking points you think you’d like to touch on. Ideas, quotes, statistics, anecdotes, examples you could use to illustrate your points.

 

Figure out the most important points

Take that list and pull out the five points you believe will have the greatest impact in your speech then organize them into the order in which you’d like to address them.

 

Expand each point

One at a time, explain each of your talking points. State the point, back it up with statistics, personal experiences, anecdotes, examples, and finish off by re-stating the point briefly.

 

That’s the core of your speech. From there you can add personal touches, humor or nuggets of motivation to round it out.

Have Trouble Saying No At Work?

 Have Trouble Saying No At Work?

 

How to Say No at Work

When your boss asks you to do something, it usually comes with the expectation that you’ll say yes. Being a good employee is about being a go-getter and showing initiative. However, sometimes saying no is just as important. This is rarely an easy thing to do, as it can cause conflict with your boss.

Knowing what you should say no to, and how to say no can go a long way towards making you feel more confident at work. It will also keep you from feeling overwhelmed from taking on too many extra tasks.

Why to Say No

You’ve probably heard the term “work-life balance” before. Finding that balance is incredibly important to your health. Stress can lead to many different health issues. And one of the things that stresses people out the most is work. Keeping a healthy balance between your work and personal life benefits both.

Saying yes every time someone asks for something can leave you with too much on your plate. Before you know it, you’ll fall behind. Once you fall behind with projects or assignments, it’s too late to say no.

Take a Moment to Consider

In an article for The Globe and Mail, career coach Eileen Chadnick says:
“Sometimes we say ‘yes’ because we are put on the spot and we react negatively to the prospect of saying ‘no.’ To avoid agreeing to something on the spot, try to buy a little time to gather your focus and to respond more appropriately.”

When we want to show that we are eager employees, we can be quick to give a yes every time we’re asked to take on a new task. Before jumping up and agreeing to more work, take a moment to consider the request. Consider the time it’ll take you to complete the task and what other work would you have to move around. If you feel that your other work might suffer by taking on this new task, it might be the right move to politely decline.

Offer Another Solution

When your supervisor asks you something that you feel you need to say no to, don’t simply refuse and walk away. One of the best ways to prove you aren’t just trying to get out of work is to offer another solution to the problem. Maybe this particular issue can wait until a later date, or maybe you know of some other way you can help out the supervisor hasn’t thought of. Offering an alternative shows that you are invested in solving the issue and will also keep you from taking on too much work.

Make Sure People Know What You’re Working On

Finally, if you feel that taking on a new task may over fill your plate, make sure that the person asking you knows what else you have going on. This can be as simple and saying something like “I have this other project for Person B, should I prioritize this over that?”

Making sure everyone is on the same page is up to you. If you have more than one boss, there’s no guarantee that they know what tasks the other has given you. You may find getting everyone on the same page when it comes to your workload actually helps people distribute the workload more evenly.  Creating better productivity.

Saying no at work can be a challenge, and a little nerve wracking. But it’s essential to keep you from getting overwhelmed and performing at your best. Have confidence that when you say no it’s for the right reasons.

 

Recovering From Setbacks

Recovering From Setbacks

 

Setbacks and trauma affect people in different ways. Some people experience a failure or an unalterable situation and come back more driven than ever. Others will bounce back to just about the same spot they started, while others fall apart altogether.

 

Developing resilience

Are those responses set in stone? Is how we react to difficulties in life the product of nature or can we change our reactions? The fact is, you probably do have an innate degree of resilience. The level to which you bounce back without any intervention. But the good news is, it’s not the level you MUST come back to. You can think of resilience as a muscle, one that can be developed  through exercise and training to become stronger. To the point that a new level of resilience can become your new normal.

 

In the article Developing Resilience from MindTools they discuss the key points in the development of a resilient attitude:

 

“Resilience is the ability to bounce back when things don’t go as planned. According to psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are three main elements that resilient people possess. These are challenge, commitment, and control.

You can develop resilience in several ways. First, take care to exercise regularly and get enough sleep, so that you can control stress more easily. The stronger you feel physically and emotionally, the easier it is for you to overcome challenges.

Focus on thinking positively, and try to learn from the mistakes you make. Build strong relationships with colleagues and friends, so that you have a support network to fall back on. Also, set specific and achievable personal goals that match your values, and work on building your self-confidence.”

 

Increasing your base level resiliency

 

  1. Watch your thoughts. Are you talking yourself into accepting defeat or are you challenging yourself to rise above it? Pay attention and make a point of changing negative self talk to positive.
  2. Realize there’s probably something you can learn from mistakes or setbacks. Find the silver lining, no matter how dull and use what you learned going forward.
  3. Remember to always step back and look at the bigger picture. You may not like where you are today, but rarely is anything as difficult or insurmountable as it seems during our darkest hours. Instead of focusing on where you are, focus on where you want to be.
  4. Identify role models or mentors in your life. Imagine what they would do in your situation and emulate that attitude..
  5. Do things you are afraid to do. Every time you cross the fear barrier you become stronger and better prepared to cross it again.
  6. Set goals. Having a destination in mind gives you a reason to get up after a fall. It keeps you on task and reminds you of why you’re doing what you do.