Stay Safe But Stop Obsessing: How to Prevent Coronavirus From Taking Over Your Life

For a small percentage of people, coronavirus is life-threatening. But even if you’re not infected, the COVID-19 pandemic can have a serious psychological impact on the ability to stay calm, focused, and innovative at work.

The reason? All these breaking news updates, stock market alerts, and panicked public health announcements have exploited three basic characteristics of the human mind, leaving us scattered, distracted, and, well, miserable.

The first is “mind wandering,” our tendency to get lost in thoughts about the past or future. Watching a CNN update on the coronavirus is like mind wandering on steroids. It’s full of all sorts of future doomsday scenarios designed to hijack our attention away from what’s actually happening right here, right now, in the present moment.

The second is what neuroscientists call the “negativity bias” of the brain. This is our evolved tendency to fixate on potential threats to our survival. It’s the force, deep in the recesses of your brain, that creates all those horrifying simulations of a future where everything that could go wrong does go wrong.

The third is what behavioral economists call “uncertainty aversion.” We’re drawn to things we know and understand. And that’s why, when faced with the radical uncertainty of a spreading virus and declining markets, we feel such extreme discomfort.

THE PERFECT STORM OF DISTRACTION

Combine these three characteristics of the human brain with news about the markets tumbling and the coronavirus spreading, and you might just have the perfect formula for destroying productivity and innovation.

Mind wandering leaves us mentally time traveling into an imaginary future throughout the day. The negativity bias of the brain ensures that we’re not ruminating on some inspiring or optimistic future state. We’re time traveling into a mental dystopia, a world where we’re all quarantined in our homes, lathering ourselves with hand sanitizer. And uncertainty aversion leaves us addicted to what might just be the root cause of all this suffering: the steady diet of breaking news that triggers our fear and scatters our attention.

THE CASE AGAINST BEING WELL-INFORMED

There are all sorts of ways to stay focused and productive in the midst of this kind of public hysteria. You could meditate. You could question all these stressful thoughts about the future. You could even move to a remote island in South America. And yet the simplest tool for staying focused in this chaotic time is to stay willfully uninformed.

I realize that sounds like a strange aspiration. “Isn’t it good to be well informed?” you might be thinking. “Don’t successful and productive people stay on top of public events?”

The short answer is “no.” Unless you’re a day trader on Wall Street or a pandemic specialist at the CDC, you don’t need to know about each new case of the coronavirus or each new ominous sign for the health of the global economy.

Staying on top of all this news might give you the illusion of satisfying your uncertainty aversion–the illusion that you’re somehow in control of the chaotic flow of global events. But it’s just that. It’s an illusion. The truth is that your following these events closely does nothing to make you safer or change the trajectory of the coronavirus.

Attending to this deluge of information does, however, have a couple of tangible effects. It does take precious time out of your already busy day. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that this continuous flow of information devours your headspace and attention. It exploits the three forces mentioned above, pushing aside important thoughts about your priorities and strategic objectives, occupying precious mindshare that could otherwise be used to come up with your next big creative idea.

THE TACTICS OF STAYING UNINFORMED

So the strange goal in this strange time is to become willfully uninformed. But you don’t want to take this too far. You don’t want to become totally ignorant of all things happening outside the small sphere of your work and life. What you want is a middle-way solution that gives you more control over the information you consume.

Here are a few tips:

  • Turn off all breaking news notifications and alerts.
  • Treat your brain like an 8-year-old child. You wouldn’t give an 8-year-old unfettered access to a smartphone. Nor should you afford yourself this kind of daily temptation. Instead, set clear limits such as, “I’ll allow myself to check the news once each day at 5 p.m.” or, if you want to get more radical, “I’ll allow myself to check the news once each week on Friday at lunch.”
  • Never watch your news on TV. There’s no need to traumatize yourself through witnessing the gory images of sick patients being wheeled into a hospital or frantic traders screaming on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Better just to read about it instead.

We live in a chaotic time. And for those of us interested in maximizing focus and productivity, this means employing radical measures to ensure that we stay focused on what matters most, our highest priority work, right here, right now.

Original article from Fast Company here: https://www.fastcompany.com/90475248/this-is-how-to-protect-your-mind-from-panic-about-coronavirus

Three Ways to Get ‘Unstuck’ in Your Career

With the state of the world, everything can feel heavy right now — like a bad dream we can’t wake up from.

  • There’s no doubt that our lives and careers will look different from this point forward.
  • But this time is also the perfect opportunity to make life changes that you’ve been holding back on or were unsure about how/where to start.

If you’re unhappy in your career, now is the time to make a change.

Feeling ‘stuck’ in your career? Here are key indicators that it’s time for you to make a change:

  • You lack motivation even with the tasks you mastered a long time ago.
  • You believe a career should be more fulfilling.
  • You feel depressed toward the end of the weekend – and Sunday nights are the worst.
  • Your career frustrations bleed into your personal life, negatively affecting relationships and your quality of life, as a whole.

Here are 3 tips to get ‘unstuck’ and start on the path to a more fulfilling career and healthy personal life:

  1. There are GREAT jobs out there right now. Many companies are hiring. Here is a resource from LinkedIn that is updated daily. Be sure to check out their full list for all job levels including career paths – not only hourly or temp jobs.
  2. Positivity. Change won’t happen overnight – when you start taking steps in a forward direction, you can be confident you’re on the right track. In the meantime, you need to maintain your current career. To help you get through the transition period, make a list of items you like about your job (or don’t hate) and focus on those.
  3. Invest in YOU – work with Marilyn Fettner. Career and Life Coaching gives you support in uncertain times, helping you to recalibrate and providing practical strategies to stay focused on your priorities.
    • Marilyn is a Certified Career Counselor and also certified in many career tests, including the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB).
    • The HAB objectively measures your abilities, so you know what you’re naturally good at. You also get a list of careers that match your results. Report versions include: Student, Adult, Leadership, and Lawyer.
    • The HAB and career and life coaching tools, such as the Myers-Briggs and Strong Interest Inventory, give you clarity for career direction and grounding for your life, in these uncertain times. 

I look forward to working with you on a customized Life and/or Career Coaching plan to help you define your priorities and set clear goals with a plan to achieve them.

TO SCHEDULE A 15-MINUTE INTRODUCTORY CALL OR YOUR FULL 45- OR 60-MINUTE VIRTUAL CONSULTATION, CONTACT MARILYN@FETTNERCAREERCONSULTING.COM OR 847-322-8292.

What Will Work-Life Balance Look Like After the Pandemic?

As if being a working parent didn’t already include enough moving pieces to manage, even toddlers are now having standing teleconferences. For the two of us, our daughters’ virtual morning preschool meeting is one more item to be juggled as we attempt to work full-time from home without childcare. Our own conference calls are scheduled for naptime and occasionally interrupted by a request for potty. We attempt to wedge the rest of the workday into the early mornings and post-bedtime.

The Covid-19 crisis has shoved work and home lives under the same roof for many families like ours, and the struggle to manage it all is now visible to peers and bosses. As people postulate how the country may be forever changed by the pandemic, we can hope that one major shift will be a move away from the harmful assumption that a 24/7 work culture is working well for anyone.

For decades, scholars have described how organizations were built upon the implicit model of an “ideal worker”: one who is wholly devoted to their job and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, every year of their career. This was always an unrealistic archetype, one that presumed a full-time caretaker in the background. Yet today, over two-thirds of American families are headed by single parents or two working parents. With schools and daycares closed, work cannot continue as normal simply because working remotely is technologically possible.

Employees are disproportionally well-compensated for being ideal workers. “Time greedy” professions like finance, consulting, and law — where 80- or 100-hour weeks may be typical — compensate their workers per hour more than professions with a regular 40-hour week. Flexible-work arrangements come with severe penalties; many who leave the workforce for a period or shift to part-time never recover their professional standing or compensation. When individuals push back — asking for less travel or requesting part-time or flexible hours — their performance reviews suffer and they are less likely to be promoted, studies find. Simply asking for workplace flexibility engenders professional stigma.

The “ideal worker” expectation is particularly punitive for working mothers, who also typically put in more hours of caregiving work at home than their spouses. Furthermore, men are more likely to “fake it” and pass as ideal workers, while women make clear that they cannot meet these expectations, including by negotiating flexible-work arrangements. Many organizations are not amenable to adjustments, leading to the perception that women are opting out of the workforce — although research suggests women are actually “pushed out.”

In our world of laptops, cellphones, and teleconferences, the intellectual and analytical tasks of “knowledge workers” can continue at home. But low-wage workers increasingly are subject to similar expectations of responsiveness, even as they have less job security and even less flexibility than higher paid workers. In the midst of this pandemic, store clerks, delivery drivers, and warehouse workers are now forced to be “ideal workers” too, risking exposure to the virus in public with little support for the families they leave to go to work.

There have been many calls for restructuring how work is done, including making more room for our families and questioning the real value of the eight-hour (or more) workday. Now is a time for companies to step back and reexamine which traditional ways of working exist because of convention, not necessity.

Executives and managers have the opportunity to choose quality work over quantity of work. They can value the creative ideas that emerge after a midday hike or meditation session, rather than putting in face time at the office. They can stop rewarding the faster response over the better response, or the longer workday over a more productive workday. They can rethink highly competitive career tracks where you make it or wash out — such as giving tenure-track scholars and partner-track lawyers the choice of a longer clock before their evaluation.

During this pandemic, employers are seeing that workers can’t function well without accommodation for their family responsibilities. Will that lesson last after the crisis is over? American families want greater choices in determining how their work and their families fit together. Post-pandemic, can we create a system that fits real workers, not just idealized ones? If so, we have the opportunity to emerge from this crisis with both healthier employees and better performing organizations.

For original article from Harvard Business Review, please click here: https://hbr.org/2020/04/what-will-work-life-balance-look-like-after-the-pandemic

Is Your College Student Home Unexpectedly?

Parenting right now is hard, really hard.

  • Do you have a college student who is home now, due to the stay-at-home situation, and seems to have little direction or motivation, since their world has been turned upside down? 
  • Don’t lose hope!

Sometimes it’s easier said than done to stay positive when we don’t know what the future holds.

  • You, yourself, may be feeling anything but positive. So how can you help your son or daughter use this time effectively – for his/her future? 
  • This is a great time for your student to figure out their next steps for their college major and career – for when they go back to college, or for their first job out of college.

Here are four tips to keep you and your college student optimistic while at home:

  • Jobs DO exist right now. There are many companies that are hiring – right now. Here is a resource from LinkedIn that is updated daily. Check out their full list for all job levels!
  • Career vs Major. If your student is heading back to school in the Fall, they’ll want to make sure they choose a career – not just a major. They’ll want to assess jobs that are in demand – and identify majors that will prepare them for their select jobs and career paths.
  • Have fun! This will pass and soon enough your college student may be living in a different state. You won’t get this time back! While it can be stressful, try to have fun together; play board games, watch movies together, ride bikes, cook, and garden.
  • Engage in Coaching with Marilyn. Coaching provides support in uncertain times, help to recalibrate, and strategies to stay focused on your priorities.
    • The HAB objectively measures your natural abilities and provides a list of careers that match your results. Report versions include: Student, Adult, Leadership, and Lawyer.
    • This, and other career tools, provide clarity for your career decision-making in these uncertain times. 

While this time can feel overwhelming, it’s temporary. Commit to using this time now to help your student plan for their future.

I look forward to working with your college student on a customized coaching plan to help them discover what it is they really want to and can do, based on their strengths and the current economic environment.  

TO SCHEDULE A COMPLIMENTARY 10-MINUTE INTRODUCTORY CALL OR YOUR FULL 45-MINUTE VIRTUAL CONSULTATION, CONTACT MARILYN AT: MARILYN@FETTNERCAREERCONSULTING.COM OR 847-322-8292.

A Psychologist’s Guide to Online Dating

Edward Royzman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, asks me to list four qualities on a piece of paper: physical attractiveness, income, kindness, and fidelity. Then he gives me 200 virtual “date points” that I’m to distribute among the four traits. The more I allocate to each attribute, the more highly I supposedly value that quality in a mate.

This experiment, which Royzman sometimes runs with his college classes, is meant to inject scarcity into hypothetical dating decisions in order to force people to prioritize.

I think for a second, and then I write equal amounts (70) next to both hotness and kindness, then 40 next to income and 20 next to fidelity.

“Oh wow,” he says.

“What?”

“Your response is somewhat atypical for a female. Usually women allocate more to fidelity and less to physical attractiveness. Maybe you think fidelity is something people can cultivate over time?”

(Sure, but I mean, who would want an ugly, broke jerk sticking faithfully by their side?)

Royzman said that among his students (not in a clinical condition), men tend to spend much more on physical attractiveness, and women spend more on social attractiveness traits like kindness and intelligence.

This trait game, along with Royzman’s review of the literature on attraction, hints at some of the endless quirks of the online dating marketplace. You might like someone online, but they put 100 on income, and unfortunately you’re about a 10.

Men and women make mating decisions very differently, he speculates. Men tend to act like single-issue voters: If a prospect is not attractive enough, he or she usually doesn’t qualify for a first date, period.

For women, however, “It’s a more complex choice,” he said. “What tends to matter for females is that the overall package is good,” meaning that women might accept a less-attractive mate if he was outstanding in some other way. “Online, this might result in males restricting their potential mates.”

Match.com is two decades old, but new, fast-growing apps such as Tinder have shifted the online-matching emphasis back to looks. Tinder dispenses with the idea that it takes a mutual love of pho or Fleet Foxes to create a spark; instead, users of the phone app swipe through the photos of potential mates and message the ones they like. As one columnist who used the service put it, “There’s a short bio, age, and mutual friends listed, but who’s really paying attention to that stuff when your Tinder flame is wearing next to nothing on the beach?”

Then there’s Hinge, which uses a similar interface, but is backed by recommendations from the user’s “social graph,” such as their school or career field. Grindr serves up a mosaic of gay bachelors’ head and body shots. There are also a raft of appearance-based spin-off sites, such as Facemate, a service that aims to match people who look physically similar and thus, the company’s founder claims, are more likely to have chemistry.

This more superficial breed of dating sites is capitalizing on a clear trend. Only 36 percent of adults say marriage is one of the most important things in life, according to a 2010 Pew study, and only 28 percent say there is one true love for every person (men are more likely to say so than women). Rather than attempting to hitch people for life based on a complex array of intrinsic qualities, why not just offer daters a gaggle of visually appealing admirers?

Recent research has examined what makes people desire each other digitally, as well as whether our first impressions of online photos ultimately matter. Here, then, is how to date online like a social scientist.

Does the photo matter?

Tinder offers a one-sentence tagline and a selection of five photos, including the all-important first photo, or “calling card,” as the writer Amanda Lewis put it. She points out a few other tips in her “Tinder glossary:” “Most players reflexively swipe left [reject] at the sight of a toddler or baby,” but posing with your adorable Lab can be an “effective misdirection.” And then there’s the iron law that “95 percent of players who choose a calling card that does not include a clear shot of their face are unattractive.”

It’s not the first time in history that a face plays such an important role in one’s fate. Physiognomy, or the bogus theory that we can predict a person’s character from their features, was once a widespread doctrine. Charles Darwin first began to develop his theory of natural selection while journeying on the HMS Beagle as a “gentleman companion” to its captain, Robert Fitzroy, but only after nearly being turned down from the job because Fitzroy thought “no man with such a nose could have the energy” required for an arduous voyage.

There has been some evidence that strangers can accurately predict qualities like extraversion, emotional stability, and self-esteem based on photos. Hockey players with wider faces, considered a sign of aggression, spend more time in the penalty box.

It takes longer, more meaningful interactions, however, to pinpoint other traits, like if the prospective mate is open, agreeable, or neurotic. It seems people might only be able to determine the extremes of a personality from a photo, rather than its nuances. (One study found that the owner of an “honest” face is not any more likely to be trustworthy, for example.)

It’s true that attractive people generally are treated more nicely by others, and they might have better-adjusted personalities as a result. But Royzman said looks can deceive. In relationships, personality eventually overtakes attractiveness—or at the very least, we tend to find people more attractive when we think they have good personalities. So perhaps you should make that Tinder tagline all about how you volunteer at an animal shelter every weekend.

Swiping through endless Tinder photos in search of the most alluring possible one might not be fruitful, either. Most people end up with someone who’s about as good-looking as they are.

“People might prefer attractive people, but they often end up pairing off with people who are similar in attractiveness,” Leslie Zebrowitz, a psychology professor at Brandeis University and an expert on face perception, said. “You might shoot for the moon, but you take what you can get.”

Should I date someone who looks like me?

Twenty years ago, Christina Bloom was in a committed relationship when she met someone who “knocked me off my heels.” The two embarked on a fiery romance, during which she noticed that friends and strangers were always telling them they looked alike.

She launched FaceMate in 2011, drawing on her opinion that people in happy relationships tend to resemble each other. The site matches the photos of its users based on their faces’ bone structure using face-scanning techniques and a computer algorithm. The service is free, for now, and currently has 100,000 users.

“It all starts with the face,” she said. “People say, ‘From the first time I met him, I knew.’ There’s a sense of recognition. That’s what they’re seeing, is their own image. That’s what we call chemistry.”

Psychologists tend to disagree with that theory. In another experimental mock speed-dating event, subjects who thought they were similar to one another were more likely to be attracted to each other, but that wasn’t the case for those who were actually similar to one another.

“People are not romantically attracted to people who look like them,” Zebrowitz said. “That has to do with the disadvantages of mating with your brother, for example.”

Indeed, Lisa DeBruine, a psychologist at the University of Glasgow in the U.K., has found that people find self-resembling, opposite-sex faces to be trustworthy, but not sexy, and they can even be repulsive for a short-term relationship.

But George Michael and Maeby might be relieved to know that while excessive genetic overlap between two people results in poor reproductive prospects, a small amount can be acceptable. That might be why 20 young Norwegian couples rated their partner’s photograph as more attractive when it was digitally “morphed” to look ever so slightly more like themselves. The magic number was a 22 percent resemblance—any more similar was deemed gross.

And, by the way, you really should call the whole thing off if one of you says potato and the other “po-tah-to” (because after all, who says it like that?). Couples with similar speech styles were more likely to stay together than those who speak differently.

DeBruine points out that though we’re programmed to avoid dating our relatives, we also have a certain, subconscious affinity for our own parents.

“The scientific evidence reflects complexity and suggests that there may be a ‘happy medium,’” DeBruine told me. “But, ultimately, other factors are much more important in successful relationships.”

Will my online dating attempts lead to a relationship?

We may have more options for potential mates than ever before, but unfortunately people have trouble determining what they really want in their lovers. One 2008 study by Eli Finkel and Paul Eastwick at Northwestern University found, for example, that though men and women tend to say they prioritize different things in their mates (men are more likely to emphasize looks and women money), there’s no difference in the types of mates the two sexes actually choose in a real-life setting—which the authors gauged using a speed-dating exercise.

What’s more, there was little association between the traits participants said they wanted in a partner on paper and what they actually liked about the mates at the speed dating event. In other words, you may flaunt your Rolex in your Tinder photo, but that might not stop your date from heading home with a scruffy artist once you’re at the bar.

This is in part because the way people pair with one another on dating sites is different from the way they will then later evaluate the relationship, according to Finkel and Eastwick. People browse online profiles in what’s known as “joint evaluation mode,” comparing multiple suitors against one another on the basis of attractiveness, income, and other factors. But they make relationship decisions in what’s called “separate evaluation mode,” judging just that person and thinking, “Is this person right for me?” Even if you pick out the prospect with the most striking jawline, and you may overlook the one who will willingly spend hours watching Cake Boss with you, sans judgement.

“The joint evaluation model … is likely to cause users to focus on certain qualities they think are important in a potential partner, perhaps to the neglect of qualities that actually are important,” Finkel wrote in a paper published last year in the journal Psychological Science.

“Certain qualities are easy to focus on in a joint evaluation mode (e.g., height, income, physical appearance),” Finkel later told me in an email. “But the truth is that those qualities aren’t the important ones that predict relationship well-being. What we really want is information about rapport, compatibility of sense of humor, sexual compatibility” and the like.

And computers simply aren’t able to convey information about people the way people can about themselves, Finkel says.

“There is something that people must assess face-to-face before a romantic relationship can begin—the myriad factors such as sense of humor, rapport, interaction style, holistic impressions, and nonconscious mimicry that determine how comfortably two people interact. You can assess compatibility better in 10 minutes of face-to-face time than in 100 hours of profile browsing.”

Finkel and Eastwick wrote that while online dating services greatly expand the dating pool for their users, they don’t necessarily foster better relationships: The sites “do not always improve romantic outcomes; indeed, they sometimes undermine such outcomes.”

At the same time, though, apps like Tinder remain remarkably popular. A little over a year after its launch, two million Tinder “matches” happen each day.

I asked Finkel which online dating site he’d use, if he had to use one. He said it depended on what he was looking for.

“If I were an Evangelical Christian looking for marriage, I might start with eHarmony. If I were looking for an extramarital affair, I might start with AshleyMadison. If I were in my 20s and looking for fun, casual dating, I might start with Tinder,” he said. “The whole point is that you can’t tell much from a profile, anyway, so using some complex algorithm to assess whether the partner is as kind as Mother Teresa or as smart as Einstein is a fool’s errand. Find somebody who seems cute or sexy, and then get face-to-face to assess whether there’s actual compatibility there.”

I also asked him if he’d use online dating at all, as opposed to some other matchmaking mechanism, knowing what he knows about it academically.

“Hell yes,” he said. “It’s probably a bit worse than meeting people organically through one’s existing social network, but, outside of that option, it’s probably as good an approach as any. But it’s important to realize what online dating can and can’t do. It can expand the pool of potential partners, making available a whole slew of people who otherwise would have been unavailable. That’s a huge, huge benefit. But, at least thus far, it can’t figure out who’s compatible with you. That’s your job.”

Original article here

Wild Times – Keep Your Head Up!

We are all in this together. Remember, this will not be our ‘normal’ forever.

Most of us find ourselves and our families hunkering down at home, during these uncertain times. It’s an adjustment to say the least. We are feeling a lot of things: uneasy, stressed, unbalanced and confused.

  • It’s easy to get overwhelmed and become paralyzed in our decision-making.
  • How can we pivot – and use this time as an opportunity to grow, reprioritize, rebalance, and even try something new?

Here are 10 tips to help you stay balanced, decrease stress, and even grow:

  • Limit your daily news intake. Ration the amount of time you spend listening to the news and consider deleting your social media apps – just for a little while.
  • Structure your day. If you’re working from home – and especially if you have children who’re home from school, creating a structure for your day is essential.  A ‘flexible’ structure may be more feasible and can help enhance your productivity and your sanity!
  • Meditate. Even just 5-10 minutes each morning can quiet your mind, improve clarity for enhanced decision-making, and give you a centered start to your day.
  • Get outside! Reconnect with nature, breathe in some fresh air, and get moving with a walk, bike, or run. Getting moving, especially outside, can restore your balance and reduce your stress.
  • Honor the negativity. It exists and at the moment is everywhere. Acknowledge it, without connecting to it.  Take a moment to honor it — what is it trying to teach you?  Then, let it go.  (Every new experience is an opportunity to learn.)
  • Laugh. Turn on a comedy show, read a book, listen to a podcast… and shift your energy. You will immediately feel better, perhaps, even ‘lighter.’
  • Connect. Make a point of connecting to someone each day. Whether it’s a long-lost cousin, or a sibling or schoolmate you haven’t spoken to in way too long, studies have shown that positive connections boost our overall well-being. And they would probably love to hear from you!
  • Enhance your brain. No, really! Learn a new language or start a hobby. Find something interesting to channel your energy and engage your intelligence and creativity.
  • Plan. Use this time to think about next steps in your career and/or your life. If you don’t know your next steps, write down your questions and your ideas. Taking this action is an important start and can give you more control over your life. This is especially important during this temporarily uncertain time.
  • Engage in Virtual Coaching. Connecting with a coach will provide you with much-needed support during this uncertain time. A coach can help you clarify and restructure your life and/or your career and relationships. Coaching can give your strategies to better manage your life, re-gain your balance, and stay focused.

I look forward to working with you on a customized coaching plan, to help you make important positive changes in your new ‘work from home’ life or for your future planning.

TO SCHEDULE A COMPLIMENTARY 10-MINUTE INTRODUCTORY CALL, OR YOUR FULL 45-MINUTE VIRTUAL CONSULTATION OR FUTURE IN-PERSON MEETING, PLEASE CONTACT MARILYN AT: MARILYN@FETTNERCAREERCONSULTING.COM OR 847-322-8292. I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU!

The Right Career Fit: The Path to Closing the Skills Gap

This article is part one of two in a series introducing a new feature of the Highlands Career Exploration report, coming March 2020.

There is a skills gap in the American workforce. Jobs are available and recruiters are looking for talent, but increasingly they are not finding it within the ranks of new graduates from U.S. institutions. Alarmingly, over 90% of CEOs see the skills gap, a result of our nation’s neglect of effective career development, as a serious problem.

“While our nation has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in improving education, we have devoted relatively few resources to providing quality career development: the process that helps individuals establish career and life goals and then develop the skills needed to pursue personalized career pathways…” Coalition for Career Development, Career Readiness for All (Spring 2019).

This growing crisis can no longer be ignored. Too many young people have a degree but no sense of direction and no notion about the type of work for which they are best suited. Even those who stick it out and complete a higher education degree are floundering. They need direction and a concrete career path in order to bridge the gap between education and career readiness.

Finding the right career fit through self-exploration and then mapping out the best pathway to that career has not been emphasized enough in U.S. education, and now it’s time to address the gap.

In response to the crisis, the Coalition for Career Development held a summit in September of 2018 involving some 200 leaders from education, business, government, and philanthropy. Their resulting white paper, Career Readiness for All, proposes a way to address the crisis. Their solution is focused on making career readiness the first priority of American education. The white paper elaborates a process that would help individuals establish career and life goals and to then develop the skills needed to pursue personalized career pathways. 

The Coalition articulates Five Pillars as part of its proposed solutions framework, one of which is “Providing Professional Career Advising.” They argue that professional career advising is necessary in order to ensure that schools and post-secondary institutions make career development a central priority.

The importance of career advising is also being recognized by the government. Recent legislation proposed through the Counseling for Career Choice Act would provide grants to states to implement statewide career counseling to better prepare students for educational and career opportunities. “Empowering students with the tools to succeed starts with making well informed decisions,” said Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA)

Highlands Certified Consultants are Equipped to Address the Skills Gap

The Highlands Company stands poised and ready to help support this challenge. The proprietary Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) provides a rock solid starting place for students to begin the career exploration process by discovering their natural abilities (the things they naturally do well). The HAB provides an objective and scientific report that details actionable guidance. 

Highlands Certified Consultants (HCCs) have extensive training on interpreting the results of the HAB and showing clients how to work to their strengths. The feedback consultation given by an HCC trained to counsel students to understand the work roles in which they would excel is the differentiator and one of the reasons the HAB has lasting effects. (To read more about the importance of feedback following an assessment, as well as a look at the content included with the HAB, click here.) The results of the HAB are not simply meant to be read and filed away; rather, they serve as a blueprint and reference guide that is relevant throughout a person’s life. 

Coming in March 2020, the Highlands Career Exploration report will provide even greater career alignment and direction in matching clients with best-fit careers. In addition to career recommendations based on a person’s unique pattern of abilities, Highlands will release a new career matching tool developed in partnership with a team of scientists from HumRRO, the organization that refines the Occupational Network known as the O*NET. Stay tuned for more details regarding this exciting development. 

There doesn’t have to be a gap for our students between receiving an education and being ready for a skilled career. With access to knowledgeable career counselors and cutting edge tools that match a person’s natural abilities with specific careers, students can enter the workforce with confidence and purpose. 

Job Burnout is a Real Thing!

  • Do you dread going into work in the morning?
  • Do you sit in your car in your workplace parking lot, waiting until the last moment before heading into work?
  • Maybe you can’t wait to be back in your car, on your way home, or heading to do something you feel passionate about?

If you said ‘yes’ to any of these, you may have job burnout. If so, you are not alone; Americans are working longer and harder than ever before, so it’s no wonder burnout is so common.

What is burnout?

  • Job burnout is a ‘real’ thing – it’s classified as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
  • Previously defined as a “state of vital exhaustion,” the World Health Organization reclassified it in May, 2019, in the 11th revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11).

Wondering if you may have job burnout? Here are 4 signs:

  1. You’re not excited about or engaged in work anymore

2.     You’ve stopped putting in the effort (you ‘don’t care’)

3.     Your performance is suffering

4.     You’re totally exhausted from work

What can you do about your job burnout? 

Until recently, the solution was to just ‘suck it up’.  However, with a more accurate understanding of what job burnout is, the actions below can make a difference between feeling excited about going to work or dreading it.

  • Career coaching: Meet with a career coach who can guide you in coping strategies to deal with your current situation. She can also help you discover your strengths, along with work options that won’t cause you job burnout.
  • Manage workplace stress: There are many techniques you can learn to manage your workplace stress. One technique is to write your stress triggers in a journal, along with your negative thoughts and feelings. This can help you express your true emotions in a non-judgmental way, which can also help you reduce stress and clear your mind.

Now that it’s 2020, isn’t it time to make the changes you need to be happier in your career?

Marilyn will guide you to discover your strengths and help you identify a job that suits the ‘real’ you.

TO SCHEDULE A COMPLIMENTARY 10-MINUTE INTRODUCTORY CALL OR YOUR FULL 45-MINUTE CONSULTATION IN-PERSON OR VIRTUALLY, PLEASE EMAIL MARILYN AT: MARILYN@FETTNERCAREERCONSULTING.COM

Three Simple Steps To Beating Procrastination

There is no doubt that procrastination is a shallow grave in which life-changing opportunities are buried. Procrastination is the lack of taking action. We often prefer to do something else rather than the tasks that lead to a productive outcome. In simple terms, procrastination is a pause in the process that leads to success.

It’s the act of ignoring critical tasks without a concrete or genuine reason. There is always a negative consequence for every task you procrastinate on. One of the major backlashes of procrastination is poor productivity.

Procrastination is a form of stress release. If we are stressed about money, parenthood, health or anything else, we walk around carrying all of these burdens. Procrastination is a mental break from worrying. Usually, this is when we start browsing our social media, checking emails, watching funny videos or anything else that gives us momentary relief.

How Do I Overcome Procrastination?

There are so many ways to overcome procrastination. The following are some tips that can help you on your journey:

Recognize That You Are Procrastinating

The first approach toward eliminating procrastination is to be aware and recognize that you indulge in procrastination. Do you prioritize tasks in the order of preference rather than importance? Maybe you spend more time being busy, but not productive. If you frequently postpone jobs or tasks without a genuine reason, you are procrastinating.

You must recognize this fact before attempting to eliminate procrastination. The most viable way to overcome procrastination in life is to acknowledge it and make a steady effort in overcoming it. This can be attained by prioritizing your daily goals with success-producing activities.

Identify Why You Procrastinate

You must understand and study why you procrastinate. Once you are able to identify the reason why you procrastinate, resolving it becomes quite easy. Here are a few reasons why most people procrastinate:

• Fear: “What if I fail?”

• Frustration: “I have no idea what to do.”

• Perfectionism: “What if I make a mistake?”

• Lack of motivation: “I don’t have the energy to tackle this project.”

Make Use Of Anti-Procrastination Methods

After you have recognized the fact that you procrastinate and identified the reasons why, you can adopt these anti-procrastination methods:

• Forgive yourself from previous procrastination, and promise never to go back.

• Prioritize tasks, and set a schedule to get them done. Each day, set a timer and have “power hours.” Power hours are uninterrupted hours in the day when you work solely on your goal with no distractions.

• Incorporate the “10 Before 10” method. Get the 10 most important things done before 10:00 am.

• Stop overthinking, and just start before you’re ready.

Overcoming procrastination isn’t an overnight thing. You must practice daily and start recognizing your triggers and language that cause you to pause. Overcoming procrastination requires utilizing the new tools that you have equipped yourself with. Follow these tips, and you will find yourself checking things off your to-do list and feeling more successful at the end of each day.

The original article is here and was written by Pasha Carter.

Create Your New Start for 2020: Clarify Your Personal Vision

2020 is here! As you dive into the new year, take time to reflect on 2019 and set your intentions for 2020.

  • No, not necessarily as a resolution, who keeps those anyway?!  But rather, dedicate time to clarify and focus on your intentions for 2020.
  • One of the best ways to do this is with your personal vision statement.

A personal vision statement will help you if:

  1. You’re unsatisfied with your current life/work balance but can’t pinpoint why
  2. You’re overwhelmed with where to begin when you think about the future
  3. You’ve ‘checked all the boxes’ (i.e.; marriage, kids, degree, job) and still feel something is missing
  4. You feel that your life lacks meaning, purpose or direction

Your personal vision conveys how you commit to living your life

  • It will guide you to get in touch with what is meaningful to you – what you truly care about.
  • It influences all areas of your life, including family, work, physical well-being, leisure, social and intimate relationships, community connections, and spirituality
  • Your clear personal vision integrates your abilities, interests, personality, values, goals, skills, experience, family of origin, and stage of adult development

When you take the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB), participate in the Personal Vision program, and design clear personal vision statement, you can:

  • Have a guide for your important life decisions
  • Become meaning-driven and inner-directed (rather than being influenced by superfluous external factors)
  • Think about your life in the long-term
  • Maintain balance in your life
  • Apply clarity from all areas of your life to your career decision-making

This year, give yourself the gift of time – time to explore what it is you want out of your life. Then work with Marilyn to set actionable goals to achieve your ideal lifestyle. Marilyn will work collaboratively with you, at your own pace.

TO SCHEDULE A COMPLIMENTARY 10-MINUTE INTRODUCTORY CALL OR YOUR FULL 45-MINUTE CONSULTATION IN-PERSON OR VIRTUALLY, PLEASE CONTACT MARILYN AT: MARILYN@FETTNERCAREERCONSULTING.COM OR (847) 322-8292