“I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!”


helpYes, it was a bad television commercial for some kind of medical alert bracelet, but how many times have you found yourself getting caught up in one mistake and either a)letting it suck you dry and giving up entirely on whatever it was you were attempting or b)focusing so much on the mistake you just made that you make another because you’re so stuck mentally on a past error you can’t see what’s right in front of you?

I have lost weeks of my life and productivity and happiness and peace because I could not see past my own mistakes.  Whether I sacrificed my mood, my attention, or my own perception of myself,  I have made Mt. Everest out of problems that started out the size of mouse poop…that seriously ended up the size of two mountains and a mini-van because I didn’t deal with them in a healthy way.

(And don’t ask me how I know what the size of a mouse poop is. I just know.)

When you make a mistake, do you find yourself doing any of the following?

  1. Generalizing – “Well, I guess I’ll just add that to my long list of things I’ve screwed up” and then look back over your metal inventory of errors;
  2. Freezing – Getting so stuck in thinking through every dire and terrible thing that will surely come as a consequence of your mistake that you can do nothing else;
  3. Negative Self-Talk – I’m such an idiot, I’m a failure, and then of course calling your friends/associates not for help solving the problem but to talk negatively about yourself to them as a sort of self-punishment;
  4. Ruminating – where you literally can’t think straight or notice what is going on around you because your brain is so focused on what you had done wrong that you’re in a mental and emotional tailspin;
  5. Blaming – hoping like hell there is someone else you can pin the error on to take the heat off yourself in any way possible so you don’t have to own what you did;
  6. Hiding – Making great efforts to cover up your mistake  or praying simply that no one else notices and trying to convince yourself you hadn’t noticed either

Take it from someone who knows and has been there: if you’re looking for a way to waste your life, breath, and energy and potentially endanger your health, job, self-worth and friendships, then feel free to continue, but it’s not something I’d recommend.

Here’s the difficult thing: whatever it is – it’s done.  The only safe way to handle a mistake is to look it straight in the face, own it, take responsibility for it and whatever that entails.  You then try to find a solution for it, make reparations, and problem-solve as effectively and as completely as possible and move on, trying not to repeat the mistake.

Moving on, by the way, means *really* moving on.  Leave it in the sand.  Drop it.  Forgive yourself.  I once heard it said like this: your body doesn’t ask if you are worthy when it knows there has been damage done.  It just starts work on healing what’s there without judgement.   Do that for yourself.  Take the next best steps whatever those are, one at a time.

How many years of your life could we get back if we treated ourselves with the same objectivity when we messed up, and worked to fix our issues and mistakes without the judgment, shame, or mental mess that so often trips us up?  What if we treated others the same way?  Oh what a world we could create!

Get Back Up.  Brush Yourself Off.  Rub some dirt on it.  Life is a giant adventure and you’ve got better things ahead and no time to waste!   Get up and get at them today!

 

 

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Moving to a new blog…WorkThinkMoveForward!


In the spirit of trying new things I’ve created a new blog site for some of my more business and career-minded workplace writings! I hope you will check me out and follow me in my new location at http://www.WorkThinkForward.com! Cheers … Continue reading

Don’t Panic but Never Rest :)


Navigating the working world can be brutal. I have spent over 15 years of my professional life as a Recruiter helping people find jobs and companies find people, and one truth becomes more apparent every day. Whether you are in the C-Suite or just starting your career, it takes tremendous, continual effort and discipline to get anywhere worth going! Whether you are aware of it or not, your path and destinations both are moving, changeable things, heading off into an un-seeable future.

Does that sound dramatic? It can be! I interviewed a great person the other day who had spent 20 years in the same industry. He was smart, articulate – hadn’t had to interview for a job since graduating from college because his industry was niche, and one wherein you would go from company to company with those who knew you based on the reputation you had built. Almost overnight, with a change in legislation, his niche and his comfortable mid-level position disappeared.

Boom. Like that. Reality changed. Whole companies can vanish at the whim of economies. Industries break. People we trust to help our careers fail us, and occasionally we fail careers. Nothing is constant.

So we live in flux, and chances are we are feeling it every day whether or not we acknowledge it. We can make the decision to bury our heads in the sand and pretend to ourselves that nothing changes, we can have non-specific anxiety attacks about it and take no action. Or, we can decide to take a deep breath and learn to live in the uncomfortable…and fight change with change.

We have to constantly be reinventing – our skills, our minds, our outlook. You can’t depend on a job, or a company, or even a highly-marketable skill set to always get you where you want to be. Fantastic recruiters can help, hard work will get you far, but always keeping your mind moving and looking at what you need to learn next will serve you better. Here are some ideas on what that can look like:

  • Put 15 minutes on your calendar a week to spend on LinkedIN. See what other people are doing/writing in your industry, see whose jobs are changing, and just generally stick your head out and make yourself aware. Is your network up-to-date and can you expand it? Do you have a picture? Does your profile adequately reflect you? Are you following companies? Commit to yourself professionally.
  • Read…even it is listening to someone else read to you via Audible or podcast. Ignore your Netflix collection one night a week and open a book that is about self-improvement and growth that will get you thinking and focused in the business realm and on what you want to do with your life.
  • Ask for new challenges – and if you aren’t given any, create some. Sometimes, we rely on our companies a little too much when it comes to creating opportunities for growth. Figure out something you feel it would be good to learn and learn it, and don’t be afraid to fail miserably in doing so.
  • Meditate. This is something I’m trying. It’s not easy; but there is something about taking time to actually breathe and connect with yourself and with the world that can calm you, especially when change feels like it’s too much. When we stop running and start accepting, we cease to operate from mere reaction and fear. We can become.

Whatever it is, don’t stop. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep expanding who you are so that no opportunity that comes your way seems too far out of your reach! Don’t let the illusion of comfort trick you into complacency. The more you extend yourself and the more you can offer the world, the better you feel no matter what your professional world throws at you! So be confident, enjoy what you are doing, but “Never Rest” – Rainer Marie Rilke

If you liked this article, Please Share and Comment! Also feel free to Follow Me and check out some of my other articles on LinkedIn!

  • Julie (Semrow) Sullivan is a Corporate Recruiter with 15+ years recruiting across multiple industries, but mostly in technology because she has strong geeky leanings and a weird sense of humor. She loves to write, loves helping others in their careers where she can, and sharing what she’s learned (usually the hard way). She’s trying out this speaking in third person thing for kicks. Feel free to write to her at jesullivan3@gmail.com.

The path of life is sometimes soggy… Walk it anyway.


My brain can be my worst enemy, and has a tendency to go to the dark side (in a less than comic Star Wars sense) and fills itself negative thoughts faster than I can deal with them.  I feel emotions strongly, and I am a bit of an empath to boot which means I tend to suck in the emotions of others on top of my own.  While I will refrain from labels, it is a struggle to be fighting your own head all of the time while trying to be a career girl, a wife, a mother and a friend.  I’ve done everything I can think of through the years to try to deal with it, medically and otherwise, but recently one of my best coping mechanisms has become walking.

While part of my motivation is health – losing weight is a giant struggle.  I can eat well, but it take me as long to lose 5 pounds as others can lose 20.  My body does not give up its comfy coat readily, and I hypothesize (because the doctors look at me and shrug) this may be because my brain, in dark places, spends a lot of time in panic/anxiety mode.   Maybe nature is trying to protect me from the dangers my brain tells it to expect – or hibernate until it all goes away – I don’t know.  But what I have decided is that if I am going to be built like a short, boxy bear, I am going to be a healthy one with strong muscles and an ability to walk for miles without rest…and one who is at more peace with herself and her place in life.

This morning I was restless.  I was trying to work and I was getting things done but my brain wasn’t cooperating.  I decided to check out a nature trail close by for a quick walk…only to find the entrance flooded.

While I stood looking at it – I decided to hell with it and went right through.  And yes, my feet are soggy.  And I walked over 2 miles through grasses and wildflowers listening to the squish squish on the gravel.  I felt insanely proud that I didn’t let it stop me.

Life is hard.  Life is messy, and sometimes soggy.  But we are tough, and we own towels, and nothing should ever stop us from doing something that will ultimately make us better and bring us peace.  God gave us legs and put us in a world with puddles and rain for a reason, and that link with nature should we embrace it, is a powerful antidote to all the stuff that doesn’t really matter – even if it makes your Nikes smell like swamp it is really the smell of victory.

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Split a Million Ways


Those articles that shout “you too can have it all” must be outright lies…or just belong to someone else’s reality.

It has been well over a month since I have written anything more elaborate than a Facebook status: partially because I haven’t had time and partially because I get ashamed when I see myself falling behind and would rather fall off the map than admit I see an inability to get everything done as a weakness instead of just a practical reality.

In the past few weeks, I have had a loved one unexpectedly hospitalized (way scary), giant projects at work, the birth of a new niece and travel shoved in with general survival. Add in several anxiety attacks, occasional bouts of exercise, toddler tantrum remediation and obligatory social occasions and you have…

Life.

It’s the way it goes. You roll with it or fight it; the former has benefits of conservation of energy, the latter allows room for the illusion that we have much control.

I went away for a hiring event (one I worked my arse off to plan and execute) for one of my company’s locations. It was many long hours on my feet, and my blister’s blisters had babies over a 4 day period.

My sainted hubby had the kids alone while I was gone. Both kids and the dog got sick at the same time. After 4 days of business travel I flew home, got off the plane, arrived at my house (after an hour stuck in rush hour traffic) and took over for the weekend.

Today I went back to work wondering
If I really did anything this weekend beyond herding crying children, wiping gooey, snotty faces and hiding in the bathroom (which doesn’t work by the way).

And yet? I have a job to go to and a reason to work hard. I have the children and family I always wanted. We’re not rich, but we have a roof and clothes and help should we need it. I have reasons to laugh daily.  Everyone made it through their various illnesses, and I am still here to write about it all.

And while I wish I were writing more, perhaps I should just be grateful I can write at all, and  be pleased when I can eek out more than a fragment in a bathroom stall (ew!) or during bouts of insomnia.

Or maybe at least I can be willing to accept that I am human, I can only do so much, and be thankful for those things that I do manage to get done…and accept that for me, if I am spending time cuddling my babies (and yes, they are not technically babies, dangit, but they are my babies) and providing for their welfare as best I can, I’m doing okay…and maybe work on trying to better fit some of the other bits in there too and not be so hard on myself.

Dinner time on a diet


I may have mentioned previously that I am not a skinny gal. It’s a battle I continue to fight: at times my efforts are pretty hardcore.

Like now, for instance.

A working mom’s best friends are sometimes drive-thru windows and at least partially pre-packaged meals at least once or twice a week.

Not an option. I have a very limited diet and need to prepare my own meals. It sucks.

What becomes harder? Walking into the house and preparing a meal that will feed me and making additional options for everyone else…far tastier options.

It’s not just the cooking. It’s the dang dishes and the clean-up. It is a giant pain in the hooey.

What I need is a personal chef and housekeeper. For that matter, a personal trainer would not run amiss.

But if I had those things, I also probably wouldn’t need to work the hours I do, etc., etc.

Ah well. Night 3 of home-cooking included cooked cabbage. Not the tastiest item, especially without lots of butter and salt. My family’s option included pasta, which I can’t have.

I’m not bitter, not really. I ignored my daughter’s comments about my soggy lettuce. I tried not to smell the delicious carbs. I ignored my husband’s pitying look. I am eating what I should and hopefully it will lead to better things.

That said? The lovely cabbage smell? The kind of smell that sneaks up on you in hallways of random apartment buildings?

Yeah, they won’t be running away from that anytime soon.

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Commuting Bliss


Today, for a training class, I found myself back on a commuter train, going into the city with the other thousands of public transportation takers into the city.

And you know what? I found I’d missed it a little.

Usually my commute via car is about 45 minutes. Typically this time is used for making appointments, coordinating the pickup of children, the occasional touch base with sisters or friends and avoiding traffic bottlenecks.

Today?

I got to close my eyes!! And they have apparently instituted quiet cars during rush hour! I could have wept with joy.

And on the way home? I did the same thing!

I am not saying I want to return to my city commute: it’s too far from my kids should I need to get home in a pinch. But for one day?

Dreamy. Literally.

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Multiple social identity (dis)order


I like to believe I am pretty honest and straightforward. I do not like the fake, and I am not a fan of the airbrushed. Half of my job depends on my ability to see through the facades people project to find and in some respects, judge, the character and potential beneath.

And I am damn good at it.

But here’s the thing: I am coming to believe in the necessity of multiple personalities and identities. Where blood types and hair color used to be enough to identify bodies, we now have to use DNA to really make sure. And these days, the same level of research seems critical to figuring out who the heck you’re dealing with on a daily basis.

No longer are these judgements based on resumes and simple conversation. You now have to cross-reference LinkedIn profiles versus Twitter feeds versus Facebook. And in some cases you’ll find all 3 vastly different, and that is not by accident.

Even on a micro-level, we compartmentalize our identities more and more, and with social media that trend expands. I am attempting to write not one, but two blogs: one that speaks to me, myself and my experiences and the other to those as they relate to my kids. Why? Because even though I am the same person and tied to my world in both ways, there are some people who dig reading about kids and my stories there and others who just don’t.

I would add a third blog to cover my career gal side if I had time. My work life is catalogued on LinkedIn, my personal on Facebook, and other parts of me scattered among blogs and hash tags. Fragments of who I am show up all over the internet.

I don’t think I am less of a person, less deep, or less kind (usually). I am still me. But adaptation to the social landscape comes at a price: using
so many different outlets for connection and business and self-expression shapes our identities as well. The very tools we use to craft our outward identities change us and the way we think in the process.

I am Google-optimized. That can feel scary, and occasionally leaves me feeling fragmented. But I try to believe I am becoming more of a person, not less, and that we grow to fit not shrink the identities we develop – at least I pray that is the case.

To keep myself sane, I make a conscious effort to step away from the machines, the laptops the iPhone and television and unplug. I play with my kids, pet the dog, and drink a glass of wine on the porch.

Call a friend you usually text message and see them in person. Remind yourself (and them)  how much more you are than your status update or latest tweet. That’s what I do anyway. And if maybe you are feeling a little fragmented and overwhelmed by all the social media in your life, you can try it too.

Unemployed is not a dirty word: the importance of empathy


Résumé

Résumé (Photo credit: Michael Paul Escanuelas)

Stuck under a sleeping baby last night with no access to the remote control, I was forced unwittingly to watch a documentary on unemployment. I don’t know what channel it was on or its title , but it was horribly depressing. Watching people try to smile as they discussed how long they had been out of a job, how they were trying to manage their money, and how they were trying to get through made my heart race and my gut clench like I’d been punched. Continue reading