1. Perfectionists: Get Yourself an Emotional Contingency Plan

    Any creative person knows that pursuing meaningful work also means climbing aboard an emotional rollercoaster. One moment, you’re on top of the world, stepping out onto a stage, or hitting “publish” on a post. Then a disappointing email or a critical comment about your work sends you plunging into despair.

    As a perfectionist with an honor-student complex trying to navigate the real world, I know these feelings very well. Those of us who pride ourselves on being goal-oriented can get so emotionally wrapped up in success that the results of our efforts start to dictate our happiness. We begin to over-identify with achievement.

    It’s easy to stay motivated when things are going well in your career. But when you’ve invested your whole self in writing, the arts, or even starting your own business, falling short of expectations can be a major blow.

    Unfortunately, we can’t always control the outcomes of our efforts. But we can better prepare ourselves for the possibility of failure. We can build resilience so that we keep striving even in the face of setbacks—the key is making your own emotional contingency plan.

    WOOP it up

    The WOOP method, created by psychology professors Gabriele Oettingen and Dr. Peter Gollwitzer of New York University, has been scientifically proven to improve everything from academic achievement to drug addiction. The strategy uses mental contrasting to help develop a concrete plan to achieve your goal, as well as how to recover if you don’t.

  2. Dealing with Family Who Don’t Support Your Career Choices: 4 Tips

    With the holidays around the corner, dinner table conversations about work are bound to come up.

    It’s common to feel anxiety at the thought of explaining what you do for a living to a skeptical audience, especially when your job title can’t be summed up simply or straightforwardly.

    Don’t panic yet.

    It may seem difficult to get Aunt Sue to understand what the heck a Digital Strategist is or to convince Dad that you’re able to support yourself just fine thank you, but it’s not impossible.

    Use these strategies to navigate tricky, sometimes triggering career conversations this holiday season.

    1. Start With Questions

    It’s drilled into us that the best way to get others to understand what we do is by wrapping it up in a quick, 30-second elevator speech. While your carefully crafted pitch impresses prospective employers, it may only confuse and alienate your loved ones.

    Instead, gauge where your loved ones stand with understanding your career rather than immediately launching into explanation mode. Start with a broad, simple question such as “How familiar are you with [insert your profession]?” or “What do you know about [finance, sports marketing, etc]?”

    By taking the lead, you have more control to steer the conversation in a positive direction. Think of it like a mini-market research challenge. It gives you the chance to unearth misconceptions they may have about what you do so you can correct them in conversation.


  3. Science Says THIS Is The Best Time of Day to Make Decisions

    Producing high-quality work day after day is no small feat.

    When you use your brain on perpetual overdrive, you’re bound to hit productivity slumps where it feels like you’re fresh out of new ideas.

    While there’s no shortage of tricks and tips to hack your way to more innovative thinking, timing is everything, says sleep doctor Dr. Micheal Breus, author of The Power of When. He believes working in sync with our body’s natural clock is the key to unlocking success to produce our best, most creative work.

    The science of “good timing” — called chronobiology — reveals peak performance is hardwired into our DNA. “An inner clock embedded inside your brain has been ticking away, keeping perfect time, since you were a baby,” writes Breus, “This precisely engineered timekeeper is called your circadian pacemaker, or biological clock.”

    So, the next time you’re feeling mentally sluggish, try tapping into chronobiology to perform at your best in these areas:

    The Best Time to Learn Something New

    Learning is most effective when the brain is in acquisition mode, generally between 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m. and then again from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

    Night owls beware: think twice before pulling an all-nighter. The lowest learning valley occurs between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

    The Best Time To Make a Decision

    The phrase “sleep on it” has persisted for a reason: we make worst decisions late at night and first thing in the morning.

  4. 3 Red Flags You Need Better Boundaries at Work (And How To Set Them)

    Do you know anybody who’s running on the vicious hamster wheel of career dissatisfaction? Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your partner or a family member.

    A few years ago I was that person. And so was my friend Scott Barlow.

    Stress used to wake up Scott up at night. He’d worry about all the things he had said “yes” to despite his better judgement. He was overcommitted, burned out, and scared.

    Why? Because every time in his life where he said yes to too many things, he gave up his boundaries. When he gave up his boundaries, his happiness temporarily went out the door, too. Worse of all, he was wasting time and energy on work he truly didn’t enjoy.

    I had a very similar experience in my own career. Recently, I got to share my story on Scott’s podcast, Happen To Your Career.

    Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

    “If you are someone who is a successful person, we are brought up in these systems and taught if you do the right things, do well in school, pick the right major, follow all these steps then you will be happy….

    The world doesn’t work like that. It’s like this big insight that hits you. I felt like I had done everything right and ticked all the boxes. Went to school, got my undergrad degree, top of my class, and got my masters, ready to conquer the world. I took a job with a salary that was less than I could live and commute on.

  5. Change Negative Thoughts That Limit Your Success

    Why do some of the most intelligent people sabotage their own success? It all goes back to unconscious every day thoughts, also called cognitive distortions, first identified by psychologist Aaron Beck and Dr. David Burns.

    It’s typical to fall into these irrational thoughts every now and then. Mindset missteps are common among even the brightest, most well-meaning people. We can all relate to that feeling of sometimes getting in our own way.  It’s simply part of being human, an evolutionary response designed to keep you safe and protected.

    Nevertheless, irrational thoughts can get in your way of success and taking necessary, healthy risks. For example, your inner critic may tell you you’re not good enough and that you’ll most definitely fail. Cognitive distortions also complicate our relationships. You project that your boss is upset when you make a mistake or worry about how your friends and family perceive you.

    The good news is that you can develop the necessary self-awareness to spot and change irrational thoughts. With a little discipline, you can retrain your thinking. You can gradually modify your self-talk to be more balanced, resilient, and supportive to help you reach your goals and tackle the toughest situations. Recognizing unhelpful thoughts as illogical and impermanent is an important first step to letting go of the stress they bring:

    Here’s a look at the most common cognitive distortions defined by Burns, along with examples of ways it may pop up in your life and work. 

  6. 5 Signs You’re Making The Wrong Career Move

    Most of the choices we make every day are simple and straight-forward: what to wear to work, what to eat for lunch, whether to go to sleep at a reasonable hour or stay up watching Netflix. They don’t cause much stress or inner conflict.

    Career transition points, on the other hand, can leave you feeling significantly more stuck—especially when you’re facing a big, life-changing decisions.

    Should you take that promotion? Move to a different city? Transition to a new industry? Launch a business or take your side hustle full-time?

    Decision-making is tough, particularly when there may not be one “right” answer. Despite your best efforts, it’s not always clear what to do next. How do you know whether you’re heading in the right direction, or about to make a bad career move you’ll regret?

    Here are five tell-tale signs you’re about to make a career misstep–and how to get back on track to finding work you love.

    1. You have a sense of foreboding.

    Just about everyone has experienced a feeling that something is “off” or a sense of dread they can’t shake. Does that sensation creep up when you think about the new opportunity?

    Maybe you didn’t feel much of a connection with the new team you’d potentially be working with when you met them. Or perhaps you’re starting to worry about relocation costs and not as willing to take a pay cut as you first thought.

    Although most of us come equipped with a sense of intuition when something doesn’t feel right, we also have plenty of ways to rationalize these feelings away and ultimately discount them. 

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