Still Preparing For Career Day 20 Years Later

ChecklistI vaguely remember things like Career Day where you are supposed to think like an adult and decide what you want to be when you grow up.  Like we had a clue.


But we were forgiven because we were teenagers.


Fast forward some 20 years give or take and so often we are still struggling with the same question – what do I want to do?


Sometimes we are lucky enough to fall into a path that helps us identify our value, other times we are pushed into it.  Then there are times that we just seem to be going along like a leaf in a stream not really engaged just going wherever the water takes us until we get derailed from a stick poking up from the bottom of the creek.


Now what?


We never really knew where we were doing or if we even really liked it.  So now we are looking for another position and we can’t tell you the first thing about what we want.


What’s up with that?  We have worked all our adult lives, shouldn’t we be able to answer the question “What do you want?”  In theory yes, in reality – good luck with that.


Now most people when they get flustered with not being able to answer that question feel like they have turned into the big pink elephant in the middle of the room.  Like they are alone, odd, the only one who struggles with that.


You are not.


I would hazard to guess if you put 100 random people in a boat and told them to pick a side – those who know what they want to do and those who aren’t sure the aren’t sure side would tilt that sucker over and we would all get wet.


It is the majority not knowing what you want.  It is ok, it is natural, human, there is nothing wrong with you and you have not started to grow a trunk.  So relax!


It is not always your fault that you don’t know – you have been influenced by outside factors.


Family friends and lovers or significant others telling you what you should do, what you shouldn’t, not understanding how you could think differently and taking cues from some skewed versions of life from society.


No wonder you are a wreck.  Relax!


In all the work I have done with clients in trying to figure out the maze that is their life I have discovered some common elements that hinder the progress of discovering what we want.


We have value for others but not ourselves.


If someone were to treat my best friend in a disrespectful manner I would blow a gasket.  It is totally unacceptable.  She is a loving, warm, intelligent and beautiful person and how dare anyone treat her as anything less.


Yet if I am treated in the same manner I don’t look at it the same.  I almost look at it in a dismissive manner.  We don’t always put the same value on ourselves as we do those we love.


We have expectations of others but not ourselves.


One of the best lines I ever heard is “you have greatness in you, do not disappoint.”  We do not see our own greatness, our own unique value that we bring to situations.  If we could recognize that then we would see that they truly are gifts.  When you have a gift you have a duty to share, an expectation to share that gift.


We forgive others but not ourselves.


Girls you will especially relate to this example – a guy treats you like crap and you break up.  You forgive him much more quickly yet you still kick yourself for either falling for it, putting up with it or “making some mistake” that caused it.


Um, no.  He was a jackass – unless he earns your forgiveness he doesn’t deserve it.  And you do not deserve the punishment.  You never did anything to forgive yet you are holding yourself hostage.  Knock it off.


We may have taken some bad twists and turns in our career and we look back as it was our fault.  There may be an element to that but before you so quickly forgive everyone else start with yourself first.  Acknowledge any part you played, think of it as a lesson and let it go.  Release yourself.


We let other’s expectations derail our dreams.


Sometimes you have a dream that when you say it out loud it sounds crazy.  Maybe you have said it out loud and people have actually told you that you are crazy.  Maybe your significant other or family has protested because it doesn’t fit with their ideas or centered around them.




First of all – be crazy.  Dream big, dare and think outside the box.  Thinking outside the box here means thinking of yourself first.  It is an odd concept but try it out.  Let’s be honest, kids grow up and move on, partners can leave either by choice or unforeseen events and even at the end of the day no matter how full your house is you lay down at night to just you.  What drives that person?


If you do have a crazy dream and others in your life to consider then it is a time to see how you can have it all.  You can you know.  There may be modifications that need to be made, but it is acceptable to want it all.


I was dating a guy and I mentioned that I was going to be moving in some years to possibly California.  He freaked.  He turned into a totally different person and we eventually broke up.  I really cared about this guy but I realized he didn’t care or he would have asked more about it.  If it would have developed into more than the timeline might have changed because he had kids or the location may have changed.  Who knows, but the point is I do have dreams – big ones – and the right person is going to accept that and together we work out the details so it fits not just my dreams but theirs.  I am not going to apologize for dreaming.  It is part of our essence.


We forgot how to be silent and multidimensional.


When is the last time you sat silently and just let random thoughts come into your head?  At first you might be barraged by all the day to day mundane stuff, but eventually your mind does quiet down.  Then you can start reconnecting with the most important person – you.


I am a mother, daughter, aunt, friend, coach and mentor.  I cannot bring my full value to any of these roles unless I am at peace with myself and know who I am.  I am also not a one dimensional person.  I am not just a mother, not just a daughter, not just an aunt, not just a writer etc.  I am a compilation of all these things.


I am also not one element.  I am spontaneous, a planner, organized, chaotic, emotional, stoic, assertive, shy, a social butterfly, socially awkward, sentimental, insensitive, driven and confused.  I have all sorts of elements that make me who I am.  I have learned to recognize each one of my elements and the value or challenges that they bring.


I have accepted myself.  Good, bad or indifferent this is who I am.  I make no apologies for who I am or that path that I have taken because it makes me who I am, drives me and helps me look forward.  The only way I was able to come to this place was by being silent.  Stop listening to everyone else and listen to that voice that you can only hear when you are silent within yourself.


We get tunnel vision.


When bad things happen we tend to look at them in one way and one way only: we screwed up.  It is our fault, bad things happen to us, we didn’t deserve it, etc.  We get so engrained with the negative and the pain or fear that we feel that we lose ability to view it from a different perspective.


I was released from a job and it was humiliating and devastating.  It wasn’t until a short time later that I was able to go back and see it as a blessing.  Had I not been released I might still be there, unhappy and unfulfilled, and never gotten to the place where I am now.


I had to thank the bad for allowing the good to come in.


We are more afraid of failing than succeeding.


In other words – we are afraid to try.  We don’t want to get hurt, look stupid or look foolish.


We are so stupid.


Have you ever been in a situation where there are a lot of people around that look like a flock of sheep and then one person steps out of the norm.  Does something that isn’t in line with rest of the group.  They look crazy – but they are having fun.  You can see joy in their face and happiness.  And everyone else may be saying, “what a fool” but inside they are truly saying, “I wish I were that brave.”


Be brave.


I’m not throwing stones here or saying it is easy.  Several years ago I reunited with the love of my life and we combined our families and were planning our dream wedding which we waited over 20 years to have; all was glorious.  Then months before the wedding he had an affair.


My world was crushed and I vowed to never open up again to never feel that kind of betrayal and pain.  How foolish I looked telling everyone he was the love of my life and how perfect my life was when it was just one big joke.


I licked my wounds, got silent and got brave.  I put myself out there again little by little.  I have met some wonderful people who have become valued friends.  I have also met some real assholes.  Life’s journey isn’t always peaches and sunshine.


Even with all the experience I still get burned.  It is going to happen.  You are never immune. I met a guy not too long ago who said all the right things and behaved in all the right ways.  Cut to the chase – I got played.  At first I fell back to the immediate patterns of not forgiving myself, not seeing my value and seeing it a tunnel vision sort of way.


But that lasted for a moment.  I’ve been through worse and yet I am still here, I have much to offer and instead of poor me it is more of well played and thank goodness I was spared any more crap.


You owe no one an apology for who you are, where you are or what you want.  Once you can say that in the mirror to yourself with confidence, conviction and full love and support of yourself then you will start to get some great ideas for career day.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Three Little Words

In looking for a job, moving up in your career or trying to engage new clients it is important to know what you can do, who you can help and who you cannot.  Someone asked me the other day to describe people that I cannot help.  Since I work with individuals in job transition or career progression as well as business owners wanting to connect with their audiences my clients are across the board.  Sometimes it is easier describing the ‘not’s rather than the ‘can’s

My answer was immediate and very easy for me: “Angry”

I cannot help people who are still angry about their current situation or what has lead them to the point there are now.  I am okay with frustration, but all out anger is a big red flag.  They are not ready to release it and move forward.  If they are not ready to move forward no matter how fantastic of a job I do they won’t be able to embrace it and utilize it.

Anger is an ugly thing, and it always seems to bring a friend to the party.  Sometimes it shows up with resentment, fear or guilt.  Sometimes it gets the body involves and brings health issues like headaches, stomach problems or muscle spasms.  Anger doesn’t like to be alone so it reaches out and invites other undesirables to join it.  It can feed endlessly if not kept in check.  It can become very, very ugly and reach out and start to alienate those around you.  Nasty thing, anger.

Many times we think that it is the onus of another party to get rid of our anger.  If they would just act a certain way or even apologize we think that it is going to eliminate all that anger.  It won’t.  The responsibility is on you, my friend.  It is your anger, you are accountable for keeping it in check, deciding to keep it around or getting rid of it.

I’ve heard it said that “I am sorry” are the three most difficult words to say.  I disagree.  Saying you are sorry is quick and easy.  Too often the words are just that – words.  There is no action to back them up.  Sometimes there are no actions that can back them up.  So hearing words from someone else is not going to make it better for you.

In my humble opinion the three hardest words to say – and mean – are “I forgive you”.  I think sometimes we refuse to say these words or to actually forgive because we think it is a get out of jail free card to the offender.  It doesn’t work that way.  You are not giving any power to anyone else by saying you forgive them.  You are giving power to yourself.

Forgiving, truly forgiving, is a form of self-acceptance.  Acknowledging that someone hurt you, allowing yourself to feel hurt or angry and then releasing yourself from the pain.

If you get fired or laid off unjustly it is easy to be angry at the company or boss.  It is like someone breaking up with you for no reason.  It hurts so we get angry.  But that anger doesn’t do a damn thing to your former boss or company – but it can reek havoc on you.  If the boss is not affected for having to let you go do you really think their sorry is helping them?  No, they say it for you – to help you.  But in reality it does not.  It still hurts, you are still unemployed.

It is not necessary to go to your boss and tell them you forgive them, it is something that you do inside, it is personal.  This is between you and your anger.

I’ve been let go in a position before and I was downright pissed.  I carried it around like some Rock of Gibraltar like it was my right to do so.  What I found is it made me miserable and started affecting those around me.  I finally had to look at myself in the mirror and decide I did not want to be miserable any more.  So I forgave the company.  Yep, forgave all the people that treated me like crap and conspired and did me wrong.  Told you I was pissed.

A funny thing happened, I literally felt better, I noticed that my chest wasn’t as tight and I could breathe much better.  Then a couple of weeks later I was interviewing for another position.  I doubt that would have happened unless I had made the decision to forgive.

No one knew I had that conversation in my own head that was about forgiveness, but my son made an observation the next day that I seemed much happier.  That was all it took for me to understand the power of forgiveness.

But our lessons don’t always stick.  I found it easy to forgive in the business setting but couldn’t seem to make the transition to applying it to my personal life.  I am a little hard headed and sometimes an idiot when it comes to learning my lessons.

Recently I realized that I was carrying around some pebbles – not the big old rock that I had from the corporate lay off, but enough from a personal situation that it bothered me.  So again, I had that conversation and forgave inside.  I even tried to offer an olive branch.

Here’s the thing: sometimes you can forgive but it isn’t always received.  Even though I tried to extend the olive branch my hand was ignored – left hanging out there in an awkward moment.  If this happens to you at that point you have two options.  The first is to go back to the anger – and that is normally an instinct.

Your mind says, “Hey, I was the bigger person here, I forgave you!  What is your problem that you don’t play nice?  You were the butthead in the first place and I’m being the bigger person!”

Ignore it.  Decide to forgive again.  Maybe in your anger you burned a bridge – that anger will do some nasty things that you don’t even realize.  If you truly forgave than you are letting it all go, the before and after.

If they choose not to accept your forgiveness then that is on them, not you.  You have released it remember?  You cannot control what other people do – all you can control is how you respond.  I can’t help they don’t want to be friends – I still care about them.  It is their choice and I respect them for that.

If you are ready to move on in your job search, career progression, business building or even personal relationships then start with forgiving.  It will open many doors you may not have realized had been shut.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.