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Posts Tagged ‘career’

In the tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas, I am beginning a movement toward happiness for all called the 12 Days of Happy. For the 12 days following Christmas, we will celebrate how beautiful and amazing life is by suggesting ways to make life richer and more beautiful.

Day One: Sleep Well and Wake Happy

WebMD reports that 20% of Americans sleep less than 6 hours on average, which falls way below the recommended 7-8 hours for adults. Work, financial woes, stress, a virtual 24/7 society of social media and gaming prevents us from scheduling an appropriate amount of sleep. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, poor diets, worse workout habits all contribute to a lack of sleep. While we sense the obvious ill-effects of this–exhaustion, moodiness– we need to consider the other consequences: “poor work performance, driving accidents, relationship problems, and mood problems like anger and depression. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity” (WebMD).

Just like healthy eating, healthy sleeping is important, too, but so often set aside because we prioritize other things (an unfinished list, family care, work, house duties, etc). Starting today, focus on less alcohol and caffeine, especially close to bedtime (starting in the late afternoon). In the hour or two prior to bedtime, focus on quiet and calming activities that don’t involve eating, exercising, or even watching television. Fitness Magazine suggests an 8-Minute Yoga Workout before bed to relax us, and to deepen our sleep. If these suggestions still do not help deepen your sleep, consider if it is a self-fulfilling prophecy (“I can never sleep so therefore I won’t be able to sleep tonight”) or if there is a greater issue that should be addressed by a professional.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is also applicable to how we wake up, too. The Greatness Zone suggests going to bed (and/or waking up) grateful. What three to five things are you appreciative of? What good things do you anticipate throughout the day to happen? One of those things should be something you love to do: dancing, singing, cooking, running, calling your best friend, whatever suits your fancy. Interacting with close friends and family, those who share your same values and who respect you are vital in the process of being happy. Finding yourself frustrated throughout the day, take a moment to meditate and quiet the internal conflicts and external pressures, essentially a quick “restart” button. Find a few moments for yourself and follow the advice of Dr. Weil and Thich Nhat Hanh for simple meditations.

Of course, the most important element is doing that which makes you happy as far as career. This is not a minor adjustment, but consider if you are in the position to do so, change to a career or job that reflects your passion. If this isn’t possible, following the above suggestions may help you come to peace with your job or daily expectations. Having peace in your daily life might then make going to sleep each night easier and better, and thus begins a healthy and happy cycle.

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The New Year is approaching rapidly, and with it we return to work to either love or hate our workspace. Having a healthy, positive, and comfortable workspace is key to helping work not feel like, well, work. Having an organized desk and colorful walls are an easy step to make, but why not take a more studied approach? Feng shui, a complicated and almost scientific study, began most likely about 4000 BC. Buildings in China from this time period on were aligned to earthly rotations and astrological formations, and in later times this alignment made its way indoors and into physical study as well. In the art of Kung Fu, for example, part of the practice incorporates the idea of bagua, the eight trigrams. In essence, the study can be broken down into the idea that all things impact other things, that interconnectedness reveals power…or weakness.

Though some call it hocus pocus, still many more study feng shui in not only modern China, but in contemporary Western cultures as well. At care2.com, the greenliving segment offers suggestions for “do’s and don’t’s” of office feng shui. First, where you sit is supremely important. Having your chair directly across from the door weakens your position, while the corner farthest from the opening will give a “command” position. For me, my desk is built into my wall connected to the door (so not directly across) but I do have a rocking chair and the ability to reposition myself in this area when teaching. Perhaps I will bring a stool and utilize its mobility for this command seating.

In this same vein of thought, one’s back should rest against the corner of the room, NEVER turning one’s back toward the door. This is to turn your back on business, which comes through your open door. For obvious reasons, then, one should also never “look straight out into a corridor or see the stairs, storage rooms, closets, elevators, escalators, or toilets” while seated at your desk. My desk, for example, faces an open window the looks toward a snowy mountain. Very inspiring!

While setting up one’s desk, one should place his or her computer in the north or west area if creativity is needed. However, to generate income, the computer should be placed in the southeast. A benefit of laptops is the maneuverability of work locale. A tabletop fountain in the East provides a calming and relaxed atmosphere. Feng shui dictates that this will activate business and career success, which no one can have too much of.

On to colors. Balancing yin and yang is important and can be done by balancing heavy and light, harsh and soft surfaces, textures, and furnitures. Even the most skeptical person can agree that variation provides uniqueness and keeps the mind active and interested. Blue might be the ideal color for my classroom, for example, because it is thought to “increase productivity and work efficiency” as per inventcreativity.com. At the same site, green calms the mind while the color yellow on a notepad can increase memory, but as a wall color, will increase tensions and fighting.

My weakest area is one of the last quick lessons from this website. Treating your files (whether paper or electronic) with respect and care is important as they represent business from the past, present, and future as well. Last is clutter, notably that of office equipment cords which can cause injury, but lest ye forget the obvious–knick nacks and stacks of unnecessary extras kept around to “use someday”. Someday will not come. If it isn’t vital to particular programs or outcomes, or if it hasn’t been used in a month, toss it, donate it, sell it, but by all accounts, don’t keep it. Let’s see if I can follow my own advice!
One should feel passionate about their work, or at the least not be filled with disdain while driving to the office. Though we do not necessarily have the ability to change those we work with or the line of work we are in, we can at least change our workspace.

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Who wants to go to work tomorrow? Sadly, today’s economy has turned the American passion for hard work into hardly caring about work. The Conference Board research group found that “[i]n 2008, 49 percent of those surveyed reported satisfaction with their jobs.” Sad facts, of course, but wait, there’s more: the same research group claims job satisfaction has dipped even lower recently, “according to a new survey that found only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work.”

What, then, is the answer? For many, it’s to start your own business. Though such a move has obvious risky results, there are plenty of reasons to follow through with your dream that may outweigh the risks. According to Inc.com, there are at least 10 of these reasons to get out and take a risk. First, owning your own business gives at least a feeling of controlling your own destiny. This said, keep in mind that markets and environmental factors could demolish an otherwise sound dream. But small business ownership allows type A personalities the freedom they need for true happiness.

As a small business owner, work/life balance becomes something you DO have more control over. In this same vein, you have more say over those people you work with as well, thus ending the frustrating battles of personalities or even mutinies.

And yes, there is a great amount of risk, but he who takes the risk, also reaps the rewards. This gives one the challenge so many seek! The challenge is what is exciting, especially if this relates to a field you are passionate about. And when there’s just you taking the risk, things get done faster than going through red tape or another’s hemhawing. Last, working alone also gives you more opportunity to bond with those you work with, including your clients.

Once successful, many small business owners feel a sense of pride, of accomplishment, and pass this positive feeling back into the community it serves.

Kiplinger.com offers advice on how to get your business started. Though their 6 steps are not new advice, nor are they greatly detailed, what it does offer is a concise, and not overwhelming page of advice. The best advice? Start with a solid business plan after gaining experience.

Of course, the above business plan should also involve a marketing plan that details who might be interested, where is the best location to start, and what time of year is best to get into the game.

All this said, I have pondered the idea of a small business for years. At one time it was a coffee house/ book store with live music. At another time it was photography. More recently, though, two ideas have become constant images in my head: an extreme sport tour company for women, and a licensed nutritionist.

I have not yet begun my official journey, but the idea of both simultaneously seems bountifully fun. I would love to give back to others who share the same passions I do. And to help people stay healthy and live longer lives? I know I would feel as though I am giving back to my community every day.

All this said, it takes a great deal of guts to start your own business. I think it would be easier if I didn’t love my currently job as much as I do! But some day, I’ll love my two business ventures even more.

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I think the person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money – has turned himself into a slave.
Joseph Campbell

Confucius taught that to love one’s job means to never work a day of one’s life. This adage has inspired many, but motivated few. How many people can honestly say they love their jobs passionately, enough so that they would continue doing what they are doing regardless of pay? Though all Westernized humans must name a price in order to survive, at what point does the average person move from “pleasure” into becoming a slave?
Good pay is pleasurable. It is pleasurable to transition from eating Top Ramon because you have to, to having the option to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. It is pleasurable to go from an untrustworthy car to a shiny new ride. It is pleasurable to finally financially breathe easy, versus the fear of overdrawing or something being repo’d. Yet this pleasure has a price. Money to pay the bills and live for material needs and gains rarely comes from the job well-loved. Often, the grumbles from those in such a predicament reflects feelings of boredom or uselessness or feeling dehumanized. Is the “stuff” or the house or the car worth the pains of said occupation?
It has been my goal, since a child, to find a career I was passionate about, one that positively impacted the environment or my community, one that paid enough to live decently and made me content. For the last ten years, that has been teaching.
Teaching wasn’t the career I dreamed of. I had hoped to be out fighting big corporations in order to save the environment, or something of that nature. I’d hoped of editing for publication firms in New York or London or Paris. There was even a glimmer, for a while, of writing for a living.
I was talked out of the last by my mother, citing that no one ever is successful as a writer. To this day I don’t know if she was making a generalization or was implying my writing skills weren’t up to par. So, when graduating college to find editing jobs scarce and in the armpit of LA, I opted to become a teacher. At first I balked at the notion, being talked into the licensure program by the same woman who talked me out of writing. I was too impatient, too selfish, too immature. Yet I persevered, for one odd reason or another, and fell into a job at one of the nicest high schools in Las Vegas.
After 8 years, I realized I needed a change.
It wasn’t that teaching was less than thrilling–despite almost quitting early into my career, when I stuck it out (thanks to the guidance of a very wise teacher friend) I came to see teaching for what it is. For 9 months (8 months if you count in vacations) I immediately impact the lives of 120-200 children. Though these are the “dreaded” teenagers, I firmly believe that spending enough time with a group of them, showing humility and patience, anyone will find them captivating, funny, and even intelligent (sometimes…). I learned more about myself as a human standing in front of these hormonal landmines than ever interacting with adults.
But it wasn’t until students started graduating…and coming back to visit that I finally saw my impact. Every year the numbers grow of students who visit me, thank me, invite me into their now adult lives, just for a moment. On Facebook now I’m connected with these graduates, and hear from them occasionally with tidbits about their lives: one is finally published, another feels confident in her poetry class in college, another just appreciated being able to express himself in class. You’ll never understand what impacting a community feels like until you get the thank yous!
So, teaching is, 90% of the time, the ultimate career for me. Most times, I wake up in the morning not dreading the day ahead but already bursting (okay, stumbling) into my plan for the day. I get excited to see student projects or to hear their accomplishments. I love seeing kids glow when they earn an A on an essay in my class. It goes without saying I’m not a pushover teacher. I’m tough, sometimes mean, occasionally imperfect, but always passionate. I make them work for their grades, and tell them they “earn” their grades, I don’t “give” them grades.
And so I do make them earn them.
After 8 years, though, that passion was becoming draining. I needed something else, something in my personal life to up the passion. It took a couple years but at the completion of my 10th teaching year is when it happened.
For me, that passion in personal life is snowboarding. So what better plan than to move to the city with the snow I covet (Park City) and work at the gorgeous high school I covet (Park City High School). Almost without a hitch I applied, interviewed, interviewed again, and…got it! The feeling of accomplishment that coupled this hiring was amazing–for the rest of last school year I was the best, most energetic, most kind teacher on the planet! I felt I could accomplish anything, teach anyone! PCHS selected me…ME!…over the 300 candidates who applied. This alone made me stand proud. And then the clamor from my students in Las Vegas, not wanting me to leave? I felt uplifted!
Then reality hit. I moved to Utah officially in August, and started coaching soccer the next day. Then started teaching, two subjects that I’d never taught before, and a third with heavy work load. And coaching debate. And going to all the specified trainings. And…imploding.
Here it is just barely November and I’m already shutting down. As I consider how I felt about teaching when I was hired, I wonder where that rush, that feeling of passionate accomplishment went. I think it might have all been crushed under the weight of a stack of papers I still need to grade.  Using the Internet, I’m hoping to find my dream job writing…and getting paid a great deal to tell the world what I think of it.
But that isn’t the path for me, at least not just yet. Though writing as a career is certainly my dream job, for now I’ll focus on the new job I’ve earned, the position I have to work for, just like how I make my student work for their grades. I know that sense of accomplishment doesn’t come cheap, but it certainly tastes better than being enslaved to a job I hate.

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