Mary Foley | Increasing Career Confidence in Busy YOU!

[Gotta Quick Question] How can I explore if a new career is a good fit?

No longer happy with your current career and are dreaming of a new one, but aren’t sure if you should make the switch?

That’s how Carolyn felt when she asked me:

I’m contemplating a totally new career. What avenues

should I explore to make sure it’s a good fit?

In my latest Gotta Quick Question video, I share 3 practical ways for you to explore if another career you think might be a good fit actually is. Take a look!

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Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Cut It

suddenly stressedBy Mary Foley


Ever hear someone say “Think positive” after you’ve just unloaded your frustration, hurt and confusion to a friend or colleague? So irritating, isn’t it? Their advice isn’t much help when you’re distraught and upset and the only positive thinking is about when you can take your next vacation.


When you are consumed with negative thoughts and emotions about something happening in your career, positive thinking doesn’t cut it. You’re not a light switch. The probability of immediately swapping out your negative emotions for positive ones isn’t high.


What’s far more within reach – and far more effective - is called positive framing.


Positive framing means that you squarely see the situation for what it is, warts and all, and counter your negative feelings by taking constructive action. So you aren’t denying that you feel bad. You simply aren’t going to let those feelings get too cozy and, instead, muster the courage to do something about your situation.


In fact, in the Harvard Business Review article “The Power of Small Wins,” Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer shared that from their research the single biggest predictor of a “good day” at work is whether or not you made progress – AKA steps forward – toward your goal.


So, do you want to turn a bad day into a good one? Do you want to start turning a no-longer-so- good-for-me career into an I’m-excited-to-get-up-and-get-going one?


If so, then follow the advice of your high school cheerleaders who shout “Action, action, we want action. A-C-T (clap, clap, clap) I-O-N!”   Trying to do something – anything! – is better than doing nothing at all.


For example, one gal I recently mentored named Janet (not her real name), is smart, career-minded and an outstanding performer. However, a few months after becoming a mom and returning to work she was feeling overwhelmed with her new schedule and really having doubts that she could be a good mom and have an aspiring career. In particular, she needed to be even more productive during her work day hours to manage her new life.


But, how could she realistically manage her time when her role required her to be available for students, which often meant lots of restarting emails, tasks and other work again and again? And when colleagues would walk right into her office, even with her door closed?


We came up three ideas that she agreed to try:


1.    First thing in morning take about an hour to organize your day and have quiet time to do a few of your most pressing tasks.


2.    Talk with your colleagues and share with them how you are focused on being even more productive during your work hours because of being a new mom. Let them know that one way you’re doing that is to close your door for 20 – 30 minutes and to please wait until it’s open again to ask you any questions. In addition, post a funny or cute sign when you close your door like “Do Not Enter. Nuclear Testing. Done in 30 minutes or less.”


3.    During your open office hours for students, instead of immediately stopping what you are working on, acknowledge their question and ask them to wait in the seating area for 3 minutes while you finish.


Within two weeks, Janet was already having more “good days”! We then came up with her next set of practical actions. Within a short period of time she was starting to feel confident that she could successfully manage a career and a life.


Feeling bummed about your current career isn’t a crime and it isn’t terminal. But “thinking positive” isn’t going to get you out of your rut. Taking one practical step and then another and then another is the key.

Scream, Exhale and Smile Your Way to a More Satisfying Career

Screaming Straight Smiling smiliesBy Mary Foley

There’s a trend happening with many of my mentoring clients that goes something like this:

I’m soooo dissatisfied with my current career! I desperately want to make a change but I feel overwhelmed, scared and unsure how to start! Ugh.”

Ever thought that way about your career? Feeling that way now? It’s not a fun place to be.

You no longer enjoy what you do every day. In fact, you dread it. Your schedule is packed with activities that drain you. You feel scattered and pulled in multiple directions.

You feel stuck in a rut and you beat yourself up for not doing more about it.

Stop, just stop! Do this right now instead: scream, exhale and smile your way to a more satisfying career. Perhaps not the advice you expected, but it works.

SCREAM! Not at work, not at clients and not at your spouse or kids. But in the car, in the shower, or on a run. Let out your frustration. Feel the pain and be oddly gratefully for it because without it you would continue to put up with an unfulfilling, meaningless career. Screaming is validating. In one big loud sound you’re saying, “This career stinks and my life is worth more than this!”


Not long ago, I had a conversation with Sheila (not her real name) who likely had just finished screaming. She wanted to talk with me about her deep career discontent and what to do about it. The first several minutes she vented without taking a breath. When she suddenly realized what was happening she apologized. There wasn’t any need. She needed a safe place to say exactly how she was feeling.


EXHALE. Take a deep breath and push out all the air in your lungs. Feel the ahhhhh. Now your emotions aren’t preventing your brain from helping you. Now is the time to take a moment to shift from what you don’t want to what you do.


Ask yourself “What’s my ideal position?” or “Who is my ideal client?”


Let any and everything flow into your mind. Write it down. Add to it, remove parts, tweak it.


And, if you have a doubting, critical voice like Sheila had rolling around inside your head who asks “How are you going to do that?” or “You don’t have enough time or money to make that happen!” tell it to just SHUT UP. In fact, I suggested to Sheila to talk back to that voice and say, “Well, of course I don’t know how I’m going to do this yet! I’m not at that point yet, but when I am, I will figure it out.”


SMILE! When you fill your mind with thoughts of a better career, you can’t help but get happier. Your current career won’t hold you back or define you. To keep that curved grin, start to take the next practical steps to move from where you are to where you want to be. Action is energizing and contagious!


For example, Sheila’s response to her ideal career included three related fields, but she needed to get more specific and narrow her focus. I suggested two practical steps she could immediately take. The first was to be a bit of an online busy body searching for articles and websites that gave information about what each field entailed. The second was to do 3 -5 informational interviews with people who already had a career in each field. If she didn’t know of anyone in those fields she could ask friend and family if they did, as well tap into her LinkedIn connections.

Can you scream, exhale, and smile your way to a new, more satsifying career in 2014?  Oh yeah, you got this!