Local Lessons on Community Support

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“There are many definitions of community. The one I like best is simple: People with common interests in a particular area.”

Written by guest author, Teri Williams

When I was a young girl my dad used to wake me up early most Saturday mornings to head downtown to Eastern Market in Detroit where we would shop for the weeks fresh fruits and vegetables.  The vendors would greet us with bright smiles and warm welcomes. Some who knew us would even have a few items already packed.  Every few minutes one of my dad’s coworkers would stop us to say hello and chat.

On the way home we would have breakfast at one of the local restaurants.  At one particular diner the chef would start cooking our breakfast when he saw us walk in the door.  The server (called a waitress back then) would have coffee, juice and chocolate milk in her hand before we even sat down.  Most times friends, family, or local officials would sit with us for a few minutes, catching up on the events of the week.  It was a weekend ritual that I loved not just because I hung out with my dad, more because we shared community spirit and the love of humanity with so many others.  Sounds like a scene from Cheers – without the beers!

There are many definitions of community.  The one I like best is simple:  People with common interests in a particular area.

GirlavantingGirls night out Elegance By Design Ferndale
“…the foundation of my success starts within my own home town by showing my support to fellow local business owners.”

the foundation of my success starts within my own home town by showing my support to fellow local business owners. 

Much has changed since I was a young girl; however the fundamentals of community living have not.  Whether you reside in a city or have a business in a city means you have a common interest with all who are part of that city; you have stake in the community.  The ultimate goal is for the community to thrive, to grow, to shine. For those of us who both reside in and do business within our community, our stake becomes even higher.  We want both our business and our home to reflect success.

As someone whose business is both local and global, I realize that the foundation of my success starts within my own home town by showing my support to fellow local business owners.  Every time I need something I look around my hometown first.

Why support local?

Local business owners recycle many of their dollars back into the community through taxes, hiring local residents, and spending their own dollars on the home front. 

Local business support means you reduce ecological waste with less gas, as well as less air and water pollution.

Local business shopping strengthens the foundation of social relationships by linking neighbors and supporting local causes. 

difference between soulcial and socialNext time you are looking for something, whether it’s a gift for a friend, a plumber, or something just for you, take a minute to look at one of the businesses within your city.  It’s better for you, it’s better for them, it’s better for the community and it’s better for the environment.

Teri Griffin Williams has spent most of her life supporting the Ferndale community in some capacity. With over 20 years’ experience in both the corporate world and mindful, heart centered energy work, Teri Williams shares her personal knowledge gained as a successful entrepreneur.  She is a multimedia and business consultant, as well as a Shamanic Practitioner, Reiki Master and Certified Intuitive Practitioner who relates the ins and outs of what works for her in the hopes that you, too, will live a more Soul-cially Conscious life.  She is the host of Soulful Living at Empoweradio.com and a regular contributing author for SimpleStepsRealChangeMag.com. For more about her, including free resources and how to work with her, visit TeriGriffinWilliams.com

What Are You Afraid Of?

Written by Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

After years of working with job seekers, I see that for many people what holds us back isn’t our external circumstances – the job market, the economy, etc. – but our internal ones. Yes, there are factors we need to consider; child care, transportation, education, geographic location, and yes, the job market and economy are just a few.  But the internal landscape presents much more daunting obstacles:scared

Fear of change

Fear of getting stuck in a rut

Fear of leaving

Fear of staying

Fear of success

Fear of failure

Fear of what others think

Fear of starting over

Fear of rejection

Fear that you’ve “lost your touch”

Fear of looking stupid

Fear of making a bad decision

Fear of something new

Fear of things always being in upheaval

We start internal conversations and psych ourselves out of taking risks before we even have a chance to get started. “I wasn’t very good at school when I was a kid. What makes me think I’d be good at it now?” “That’s a big commitment. I probably shouldn’t even start.” “I’ll just go back to my old job.” “I have to do this because it’s what I went to school for.” “I don’t know what my options are.”

Why do we let our fears make our decisions for us? Writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (who certainly knows a thing or two about walking away from a situation) wrote in Walden:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Why are you in your current situation, whatever that might be? Is it where you want to be? I love quotes – so here are some famous people giving insights on how to get unstuck and stop letting your fears rule.

“Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” – Walter Anderson

Is your fear of change holding you back?

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” – Maimonides

Do you think you have to be perfect?

“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done.” – Cardinal Newman

Do other people think you have to be perfect?

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

You really can do this.

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The effort will be worth it, even if you don’t reach your goals in the way you expect.

“You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try, you don’t take the risk.” – Rosalynn Carter

There are so many quotes about risk and reward and adventure; I’d like to close with one of my favorites:

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” – John A. Shedd

Set sail!

 

 

Career Monsters

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

With Halloween right around the corner, we’re constantly seeing displays and decorations with bats and witches and spiders and other assorted creepies. You might even see some scary creatures around your workplace:

 

The Vampire
vampire
“I vill suck all the happiness from your job….”

This person sucks the life out of every conversation. Have a great idea? The Energy Vampire will let you know all the reasons it won’t work. Happy about a recent success? The E.V. will point out the parts that didn’t go perfectly.

The Zombie

The Zombie is just putting in the hours. Instantly recognizable by his/her coffee cup death-grip and delayed reaction times, as well as an unmistakable lack of interest in providing input, meeting deadlines, or mustering enthusiasm for anything except Friday afternoons. Sometimes mistaken for Career Monster #3:

The Ghost

Does this person still work here? They’re not at meetings, don’t return phone calls, can’t be found at their desk, and might as well not have an e-mail address. Nobody is really sure what the Ghost does all day.

The Werewolf

You’re never sure which personality will appear: the mild-mannered, seemingly normal human being, or the vicious rampaging animal. The Werewolf may not even blink at a major problem one day, then totally flips out over a minor detail the next. Co-workers live in fear of being on the wrong side of this person.

 The Ogre

You might find yourself wondering how this person ever got hired, because you’ve never seen a smile on their face or heard them utter a pleasant word. An accepted part of the office culture, The Ogre’s grumbles, glowers, and roars are their own known methods of communication.

 The Skeleton

The Skeleton is a bare-bones kind of person, doing the absolute minimum required to get by but putting on a good face whenever the boss is around. Their role is important enough that you can’t justify getting rid of them entirely, but it’s obvious to anyone who works with a Skeleton that there’s not a lot of skin in the game.

 The Mummy

The Mummy is completely wrapped up in his/her own work, personal situation, or drama of the day, there’s no room for anything else. Need help or information from the Mummy? Be prepared to hear about every iteration of the project from the dawn of time, and all the unappreciated work the Mummy has put into it already. Need something done right away? You’re sure to find out just how inconvenient this is, given all the other things the Mummy has going on right now – which you’re about to hear in exhaustive detail….

 The Ax Murderer

“He was very quiet. He kept to himself…..” Doesn’t every neighbor of every scary real-life human say the same thing? Look out for the Ax Murderer, who appears perfectly nice to everyone but has a scary double life, picking out victims from among co-workers and chopping their reputation, work, or relationships to pieces and hiding the evidence.

 

Career Monsters aren’t limited to Halloween season. Keep an eye out for these real-life scaries (and make sure you can’t be mistaken for any of them)!

 

 

The September Blues Might Be Just a Habit

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

The school year has started. The dust has settled. Everyone is getting used to the newroutine. And the September blues start to settle in…..

September blues

For years I felt sort of depressed and anxious when fall rolled around and I wasn’t starting school. It seemed like that was what I was supposed to be doing, and even though I’d moved on to a completely different part of my life, some part of me was holding on to the idea that I needed to buy some school supplies and start out on a new adventure.

Does fall make you feel like you should have a new beginning as well? Take a minute to think about this in terms of your job search and the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Are you headed in the direction you want? Or the direction you think you’re supposed to want? Or the direction that you’re used to wanting?

We get into habits of body and mind: our morning routines, the route for a daily commute, the same haircut, a rotating menu of your favorite dishes. Some of these habits help us function without the drag of constantly having to make decisions. Some of these habits create a sense of continuity and form the basis of cherished traditions (turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, anyone?). And some habits go from being well-trodden paths to deep ruts that are nearly impossible to steer out of.stuck-in-a-rut

When you think about your job search, are you excited about the possibilities ahead? Or does your job search feel like a drag? This might be a good time to stop and consider:  What do you want? And why do you want it? Periodically reconfirming the reasons why you’re headed in your current direction can be a powerful force to keep you motivated during your search.

Tools of the Trade

Now that you’re settled into the school year, you’ve started setting (and keeping!) job search goals, and you’re feeling like a rock star – how about some tools and technology to help keep you on track? Whether you’re a technology whiz or still like the old-school paper technique, it’s important to use some way to keep track of everything you’ve got going on right now, especially if you’re working while you consider a more long-term career change or have significant commitments on your calendar already.

Here’s a round-up of some of the tools I’ve personally found to be helpful:

Any.do – this free app (for iPhone and Android) is a to-do list/task manager. The interface is very simple and easy to use, with tasks divided into Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, and Someday. You can sort by folder, add reminders, make notes, and more. I sometimes use this to break a large task into smaller parts, then assign a due date for each part; it keeps me from being overwhelmed by big projects and focused on things I can realistically get done in a day.

Evernote – This app is always written up for being a fantastic organizing tool, with its ability to handle text, voice notes, links, multimedia, and so on. I use it as a parking lot for all the great ideas, things to look up, etc. that don’t actually belong on my daily task list (for instance, a running list of books I’d like to read, which I can easily check when I’m at the library).

HabitStreak – My virtual conscience. This app pops up a reminder window each morning and asks whether I’ve completed a particular habit; for instance, “Did you take the dog for a walk?” Answer Yes or No each day, and HabitStreak will keep track of how you’re doing at establishing a daily habit. Task:Life is a companion app that helps track items over time which you may not do every day (e.g., going to the gym four times per week).

Pocket – this nifty addition to your favorite Web browser lets you put websites, articles, and links “in your pocket” to look at later. This is fantastic for companies or job leads that you want to check out later, marking job search articles you want to refer to, and otherwise keeping track of the sometimes-overwhelming flood of information job seekers may be faced with.

Are you a paper-and pencil kind of person?  Stephanie O’Dea ‘s Totally Together planner is a calendar and to-do list all in one. While many of the tips in the book may be things you’re already doing, the weekly checklist of household-related tasks can be a great way to keep from getting overwhelmed by all the things you have to do in addition to your job search.

These are some of my favorite tools for keeping organized. I’d love to hear what you’re using – please share in the comments!

 

Just Say No – Or At Least “Maybe”

Written by Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

 
maybeI’ve talked before about the importance of job seekers staying organized and setting goals. A really important part of being able to stay on target is learning how to say no (or at least “maybe”) to all the people, projects, commitments, and other distractions that lead you to fill up your time, leaving less for the search.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to be involved in your community (or kid’s school, or church, or whatever group you’re a part of). And just as you may sometimes depend on your family for help, there are times when you need to be the helper.  But being the go-to person can be a slippery slope, especially if you’re feeling pressured to fill up your day because you’re not working for pay.

Here are some tips for setting boundaries with yourself and others:

Don’t let others guilt you into filling up your time. While you may not be working full-time for pay, that doesn’t mean that others have an unlimited right to your time and energy. It’s reasonable to think that you may be more available for things like driving someone to a daytime doctor appointment or volunteering the classroom, but you should decide in advance how much time you can reasonably commit. Plan and schedule each week’s job search activities so you have a clear idea of how much time you can spare for other activities. Don’t apologize or automatically re-arrange your planned job search activities to accommodate others’ requests.

Choose wisely. If you opt to spend time volunteering, pick an organization or activity that is either personally meaningful/significant or one will help you reach your career goal. If you’re volunteering for the sake of getting out the house and adding structure to your day, find something related to your field – you’ll be doing good and meeting potential contacts at the same time. On the other hand….

Don’t look for the payoff. Doing good for others can certainly be its own reward, and you need to go into any commitment or favor expecting that will be the case. It would be nice to think that every time you volunteered it would turn into a full-time job you love or net some great contacts in your field or lead to public praise and recognition – and sometimes it does – but you can’t assume that will be the case. Volunteering can be pretty thankless work, so be sure you’re willing to put in the time without additional expectations.

Beware of overcommitting. If you’re used to working full-time, the prospect of 168 unscheduled hours per week can seem downright terrifying. But saying yes to every request that comes along can very quickly take up a significant chunk of those hours, leaving little time and – perhaps more importantly – energy and inclination to work on the job search. Don’t respond automatically when someone asks you for assistance; it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for some time to think it over or check your calendar, particularly for a large or long-term obligation. Be sure you understand what is being asked of you.

As with so many other things, balance is important. Keep in mind that while love and enthusiasm may be boundless, time and energy are not. Choose the ways you’ll spend your non-job search time carefully, and you’ll find that those commitments are ones you’ll enjoy keeping even when you’re gotten your career back on track.

 

Starting the School Year on the Right Foot

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

Ah, the start of the school year…. The lazy, hazy days of summer are over, the kids are headed to the bus stop with their backpacks loaded with fresh new school supplies, and the crisp morning air might be a reminder to some of us that we’ve let the job search slidschool-supply-liste a bit during the past few months.

Taking a break from the job search can be a good thing. Focusing on something else helps to recharge our batteries and often allows us to bring a fresh perspective to bear. On the other hand, it can also lead to procrastination, stalling, and excuse-making. Remember that there is NEVER going to be a “good time to start” – at no point in your life are you going to wake up without a single responsibility or obligation, endless free time, unlimited funds, a clean house, and boundless energy. The start of the school year is as good a time as any to start fresh.

GET ORGANIZED

Have a study spot. Every student needs a place to do homework – you need a place to do your job search. While the real work of the job search doesn’t take place behind a computer screen, you’ll probably be doing some work online. Keep your job search materials in one place (either physically or electronically) so you can find them when you need them.

Write it down. You don’t have a class syllabus anymore, but a written job search plan can be a great way to keep yourself on task. A weekly planner is a good tool for writing down your weekly goals, scheduling job search tasks, and tracking your contacts. If you’re not fan of planners, find another system that works for you and stick with it – something small and portable is especially useful, and can help you use those random bits of time throughout the day to keep moving ahead.

Havplannere a routine. For instance, if you know you hate making phone calls, make a point of getting them done first thing Monday morning; that way, your least-favorite task is out of the way, and you have the rest of the week to do follow-up activities. Post your LinkedIn updates on a schedule and you’re less likely to forget. Use the first of the month or other easy-to-remember day to set your goals for the month, schedule meetings, and so on.

Anticipate what you’ll need and plan accordingly. It’s great to use a calendar to remember your mom’s birthday – but if you’re sending her a card, you’re going to need to remember a few days in advance so you have time to mail it. If a job search task has some advance work involved, make sure you write those items down instead of scrambling at the last minute.

SET CLEAR AND REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

If you’re the parent of a school-age child, odds are good that your student knows your expectations in terms of grades, conduct, attendance, and so on. Participating in activities/sports, allowances, TV and computer privileges might be dependent on meeting these standards. How do you apply that to your job search?

Set realistic goals. Is your job goal realistic, given the current market, your geographic location, your qualifications, and so on? If you’re not sure, do some research and find out – don’t spend your time aiming at an impossible target. Your short-term plan might need to include volunteer work, self-study, or formal training in order to get you ready for the job you want.

Grade yourself. We don’t get grades when we do well at life, so how can you rate your progress? Consider enlisting a friend or relative as an “accountability partner” if you find you have difficulty getting motivated or staying on task. Remember to reward yourself for outstanding effort or completing big tasks.

Make other people do their share. When you’re not working, it can be very easy to let other people dictate how you spend your time, or take on additional responsibilities because you “don’t have anything else going on.” You can’t focus on your job search in the little bits of time in between driving everyone to doctor’s appointments, volunteering for every committee in the school, or doing all the housework. Delegate appropriately.

DEVELOP A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH TIME

timeDon’t live in the past. Spending time obsessing over interviews that didn’t go well, jobs you didn’t get, and “the way things used to be” isn’t going to do you any good. Learn from your mistakes and keep your focus in the present.

Don’t live in the future. Did you notice the Christmas displays in the stores while you were shopping for school supplies? Did anyone think, “Oh, good, the holidays are coming! I should start planning RIGHT NOW for the end of December!” The same goes with your job search: don’t make yourself anxious by worrying about events in the distant future.  A little focused daydreaming might help you get through some rough spots, but even if you have a long-term job plan the majority of your time and effort needs to be spent in the here-and-now.

Stay on schedule. Keep yourself to a regular schedule, which includes waking up at a set time in the morning and using those morning hours –when you’re most likely to be energetic and focused – and get some work done. Start your day off by checking some tasks off your list and the sense of accomplishment can help keep you upbeat about your progress in the job search.

Stop procrastinating. If you waiting until the first week of school to buy supplies, you’ve probably noticed the aisles are looking a little picked-over and the Halloween decorations are starting to replace the Back To School displays. Research shows that applicants are more likely to get a response when they apply for a job within 48 hours of it being posted.  Act now or all the good stuff will be gone.

 

Even if you’re not headed back to school this September, the start of the school year can be a great time to re-energize your job search. With a little planning and organization, you can be well on your way to being an A+ job seeker.