Currently Browsing: Career Encouragement

Have Fun + 2 More Tips to Dissolve the Cluster of Job Search Negativity


By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

While most careerists face bouts of anger or bitterness at different times, they ultimately realize that neutralizing those feelings is necessary in order to move ahead, be productive, find calm – even laugh and experience joy.

For some, bitterness emanates from a bad experience with a current or past boss. Maybe he or she didn’t respect your talent or time and didn’t value you enough to promote you, pay you what you deserve or offer kudos for a job well done.

For others, the bitterness arises from resentment that you aren’t climbing the career ladder as quickly as your colleagues, friends or family members. Or, you may feel you are giving up your life – even your health – for an overly demanding company and for no real return.

Moreover, you may be waylaid by bitterness stemming from personal issues such as divorce or financial struggles that in turn disrupt you day-to-day ability to function well at work, and everywhere else.

If you find yourself stuck in such a negativity vortex, immediate action may be needed. Steps you can take today will help you reinvent yourself to become a more positive, optimistic and hopeful person, almost immediately. With positivity, comes action and with action, traction, leading to problem solving that will eventually shrink (or even dissolve) the cluster of negativity. It can even open up the door to a brighter view of life.

Here are three tips:

1. Read a motivational book. Television celebrity Steve Harvey’s book, Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success, asserts that every person has a gift, and you should discover yours in order to fulfill your purpose. Harvey’s book is an easy, idea-rich, actionable read that can promptly get you on the path back to hope if you are stumbling along a dark, endless highway. Nourish Your Career, written by my friend, Shahrzad Arasteh, as well as dozens of other books also can be found online and at your local library to help you reenergize.

Follow this link for Tips 2 + 3 (hint, they involve ‘having fun!’ and ‘taking a risk!’) via my latest Glassdoor post: 3 Ways to Avoid Bitterness During Your Job Search.


Are You Navigating Unfamiliar Career Waters?

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Initial Storms of Change

This year’s Texas drought has been an interesting contrast to last year’s Missouri floods. Following our move from rain-drenched Kansas City to stormy and windy Lake Texoma in May 2011, our initial concern was that we’d moved to a too-gusty location. (Yes, you can have ‘too much’ wind for sailing – at least for the type of cruising that we enjoy.)

This reminds me of individuals who, after months of company researching, interviewing and negotiating, accept a new position only to worry whether, upon entering the choppy waters of their new career port, they made the ideal decision.

As May relented to June, the winds and storms subsided, the temperatures heated up and sailboats began dotting the Lake Texoma waterscape. After finalizing some major boat work ‘on the hard’ and some refinishing in the slip, and our sea legs a tad wobbly, we geared up for our first sail, revisiting proper procedures for releasing the bow lines, hoisting and adjusting the canvass, tacking, jibing, going wing on wing, and simply, ‘getting underway.’

Navigating Unfamiliar Career Waters

Similarly, after landing a new job, careerists often find that though hired for their hard-earned record of expertise, the unfamiliar waters of their new company may require tuning of their career rigging and procedural groundwork before casting off full-sail into their new role.

A seaworthy girl, Sea’s the Day was built in the 1960s during an era when boat hulls made from fiberglass were overbuilt because manufacturers were still determining how strong fiberglass really was; as such, I’ve always felt secure sailing our ‘girl,’ whether on a lake or with the idea of sailing her one day on the Big Blue.

Entering into our fourth sailing season, Capt. Rob and I had solidified our sailing confidence, and along with our salty girl, we were ready to tackle a new, 90,000-acre lake, 10 times the size of our former lake.

We took our time choosing our slip; there’s nothing worse than agreeing to a slip only to find that it’s difficult to maneuver in and out of, the view isn’t terrific or you have noisy neighbors. Our first, smooth trip out of the marina proved we indeed had made the right choice. We were sailing again, after months of transition and some emotional agony waiting for the right time in our new port to heave to.

Eager to Transition to a More Demanding Career Role

Akin to careerists whose self confidence has strengthened after navigating the multi-year climb of a career specialty and who are now eager to transition to a larger, more demanding role, our move was both disconcerting and exciting, both trying and exhilarating. We were underway for our initial exploratory sail.

Though we were having fun from the moment we released the bow lines, we also were grateful that another sailor who was more experienced with the lake, followed us out to sea, guiding us through the varying and changing water depths.

You see, Lake Texoma is known for its islands and sandbars and for sudden depth changes, so carefree sailing, especially in the area near the marina and before entering the bigger, much deeper part of the lake, was not feasible, unless we were keen on grounding our boat.

Critical Adjustments Along the Way

This was the start of a journey-in-progress, and the course we plot continues to unfold with a few critical adjustments and a lot of story-collecting along the way. As the summer advanced, so did the temperatures, and back-to-back-to-back 105+ degree days became the norm, so we adjusted our sailing schedule to focus on very early morning, sunrise sails.

A drought ensued.  The once refreshing, swimmable and sailable waters seemed to turn on us, as they became overheated and stagnant. By Labor Day, the Corps of Engineers invoked a no-swimming ordinance as dangerous (life threatening) blue-green algae infected the lake. Our sailing fun was stopped in its tracks. Sailing as we do (without a roller furling or bimini), we were not protected from big splashes of water, and decided we weren’t interested in drowning our enthusiasm for our new Texas lifestyle by inviting illness.

Water levels had plummeted by more than seven feet, deepening challenges in navigating through the already circuitous path around sandbars and islands that now were boasting longer-than-normal beaches.

Even With Best-Laid Plans, Unexpected Hurdles Can Sidetrack You

Similarly, career changers will find that, even with best-laid and exhaustively implemented plans, the new work environment may be wrought with storms, droughts and unexpected hurdles that will sidetrack your goals or create fears of grounding your career.

Change Is a Constant

Yet, if you have advanced far enough in your career and in your life, you realize that change is a constant, and the issues that may be dampening your abilities to sail further into the career sea will likely evaporate in time; you can still be hopeful and optimistic that droughts are not permanent, that storms pass and that the sunshiny, amenable conditions that fertilize your career landscape will reveal themselves again.

It’s the patience and fortitude we must all exercise in riding out these career storms that is a testament to our spirit and resolve. It’s the actionable steps we take to create alternate satisfaction pathways and revamped courses and contingency plans in the midst of those storms that help us to grow and evolve.

It also is enriching to discover the gifts that reveal themselves in times of turmoil and discomfort. It can be surprising the life joy we eek out despite our disappointments.

For Rob and me, we are advancing our businesses and our careers in unexpected and creative ways; we have met and cavorted with new friends at their beautiful and whimsical lake homes; we have played games; we have laughed, and we have cried; we have entertained family and friends at our home; even when refraining from hoisting our sails, we have spent overnights on the water on our boat; and we have dreamed … and continue to dream, about tomorrow, while aspiring to cherish each “today.”

Sails Are Made for Adjusting!

Enjoying such pleasures will not be foiled by unpredictable weather. Sails, after all, are made for adjusting! And this we know: We will fly that canvass again, and will sail the ‘high seas,’ wherever that may take us!

Who’s Encouraging You?

Dave and Bill (our Encouragers) - with Rob in the middle

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Encouragers – they thread themselves through the needle of our lives, stitching together our tatters when we find we are fraying.

In your business, your career or your life, do you have your encourager team in place, those whom you tap into regularly or as-needed, people who will resuscitate you when you drift into unconsciousness, who will perk you up when you are down, who will compel you into traction when you are inert?

These are the folks who inspire your hope, and equip you with reasons to believe in yourself, in your ideas, in your goals, dreams and possibilities!

Connecting With Your Encouragers

In a recent social endeavor, after settling into our seats at a local Dave and Buster’s restaurant, Rob and I found ourselves eagerly awaiting the arrival of two sailing buddies. It was December, and it was cold – our sailing days seemed long ago in the past, yet the arrival of these two men, who had been key fixtures in our sailing lives at least once a week for six glorious summer months, offered opportunities for reminiscing, jovial story-telling and warm conversing.

To date, our winter had begun to feel long, our plan to move our home and careers south had intensified, and we were feeling burdened as the details and action plans to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ weighed on our day to day.

After Dave and Bill arrived, the usual hugs and ‘how are yous’ ensued, before we quickly transitioned into an energizing show and tell, as our friends’ recent blue-water sailing adventure was recounted, in words and in photographs. The energy vibes thickened, the cold brews were refreshed and the conversation was unceasing. My friend and former neighbor, in town from San Angelo, Texas, joined into the fanfare, and the reconnecting deepened.

Soaking Up Others’ Confidence and Enthusiasm

The spotlight then shifted, shining now onto Rob and me as questions were batted about regarding our forthcoming southern transition, our business and sailing goals and the inevitable where and when would we land in our new city. At first our eyes brightened and our voices rose excitedly, but then we subdued a bit, hemming and hawing and interjecting confliction. The build-up of and pressures of the last couple of months had chilled our enthusiasm a bit as fear and what felt like reality biting at our heels hampered our attitudes.

And here’s where the story sharply turned. Our friends, naturally, intuitively, energetically started coaching  … and encouraging us. Where our positivity faltered, their insights and energies persevered, almost suddenly and completely propelling us from uncertainty to clarity and resolve. Pinpointing the pros and cons of our two target destinations (Florida and oceanside versus Texas and lakeside), and knowing us as intimately as they did, they helped to steer and clarify our life-changing transition decision.

Firming Up Next Steps … What a Dollop of Encouragement Can Do!

Our next move solidified – Texas, in a little cabin hideaway, just walking distance from a 90,000-acre lake where we will reap lifestyle benefits and work-life-harmony results beyond compare. All we needed was a little encouraging.

Qualities of Career and Life Encouragers

As I reflected upon what have been the most poignant and recurring traits of the career and life encouragers I have known, the following attributes arose and resonated.

1. These are folks who know you in both a personal and professional sense – who have gained enough insight about what makes you tick, including your hopes and dreams, to provide meaningful feedback. They offer closeness to you, but enough distance from your situation to deliver perspective.

2. They are naturally intuitive and sensitive – they have the listening and reflecting skill that truly is a gift.

3. They are naturally optimistic and positive in their communications. They are those glass-half-full folks who prefer to find the silver lining.

4. Though inherently positive, these individuals also are smart, pragmatic and capable of sorting through the situational facts and help you see the value in one decision over another.

5. They want you to be happy, and their advisement has no ties to their own self interest. They sincerely want you to be fulfilled and contented. Your gut will tell you if this is the case.

6. Often, they are senior to you, if not in age, but in years of experience in a particular area in which you are struggling. This niche-specific wisdom helps allay your fears and fill you with new confidence.

7. They are imbued with a sense of humor and love to laugh!

I hope you can find value in my (and Rob’s) recently encouraging event and decision-making result. In addition to this particular story and the terrific friends featured hereto, I can personally attest to a tight-knit group of business colleagues who are my day-to-day encouragers, mood and confidence lifters when I need revived. I wish for you the same career and life encouragement opportunities that will help shepherd you in a positive journey toward your goals and dreams!

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