Why I’m Taking a Walk Every Day

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Photo by Liu Jiao on Unsplash

Author’s Note: This is an older post. However, I felt a re-share was in order. As spring arrives, walking may be a useful option for many of us. Please update me concerning your strategies — and how you are coping in comments.

Does your mind feel crowded? Unsettled? Unsorted? This can become an issue. While we commit countless hours each day to absorbing ideas, facts and figures — I would guess that your devotion to “down time” — can only be described as paltry.

I’ve neglected that part of life where you find the time to reflect and process. Because of this, I’m certainly less productive. Things seem to “hang” in my mind far too long, spinning, fermenting.

Being busy is a great thing — overload is another.

I’ve recently read a fascinating post (More on the book Daily Rituals here.) about how some of the most incredible individuals of the last 400 years, spent their time. While their areas of expertise were varied (and remarkable), there was one obvious link among many of them: From Milton to Tchaikovsky, many set aside time for a daily walk. A few ventured alone. One with family.

Shame on me — I know better. Walks rock.

Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Digestion. I’m not referring to gastronomy — I’m referring to all of the information you’ve taken on-board today. It’s difficult to see patterns and develop linkages when your brain isn’t allowed the time to process effectively.
  • Fresh air. I love my office, but a change of scenery does help me to feel rested and refreshed. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a beach or a handy mountain range to view, as some of my colleagues. But the breeze is just as refreshing here in the mid-west — the birds just as vocal.
  • Lowered anxiety. With our busy work lives comes our unshakable friend, anxiety. Physical exercise has great way of managing this nagging work life by-product.
  • Digital reprieve. Not sure how much time you must spend in front of a computer — but I do a lot of my work on-line. At times, I simply forget there is more to life than Power Point.

I’m going to commit 20 minutes each day to get out and walk. Whether it’s a stroll around your office building, a nearby park or a quick trek to grab lunch and back, I challenge you to do the same.

Take a tip from Mozart and keep paper and pencil handy. Write me here and let me know what happens.

Want the book? Just click on the visual.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. The Office Blend, has been recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career” in both 2012 and 2013.

Considering Success

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Do you consider yourself to be successful?

Yes — I’m aware that’s a loaded question. In this case, I’m speaking of workplace success. But I’m certain that by the end of this post, other elements of our lives will come into play. Work life success is a complicated construct. It has to be…simply because we’re people…and people are complicated. But, this query seems to come up quite a bit during the course of our career lives. As I coach clients (both individuals and teams), I’ve realized this question often looms central.

Unfortunately career growth is not always reflected in the numbers. When career growth doesn’t jibe with outside measures of success (such as money, power and title) — we have doubts and question our path. We tend to place great emphasis on metrics in business. What you’ve sold. What you’ve earned. How many employees you might supervise. On some level the numbers work on other levels, not nearly as well. Numbers don’t tell the entire story. They never have. Never will.

Sometimes the numbers lull us into a false sense of security. In other cases, they really don’t reflect or keep up with the progress we should really claim. I see this too. (I’ve left one or two “cushy” jobs with great salaries to pursue goals.) Think of all the organizations that have misread the cues. They may have thought they were at the top of their game — and for a time, the numbers stated that they were. However, the success was fleeting in some part, because their metrics were essentially flawed.

When we are in transition career-wise, the numbers almost never reflect the depth and breadth of what’s happening. (We may have changed paths in exchange for a lower title, for example. We may have opted to re-train. Our goals or focus may have evolved.) But, we still wait for that outside confirmation that we are doing the right thing. I’ve done this. I’m sure you have.

The important point here it to find the guideposts that work for you. These may not be anything like the metrics we are accustomed to — but will offer the information you require.

Here are a few alternative measures of success to consider:

  • You are developing a voice. We’ve all held roles where our expertise or opinions were lost or ignored. No amount of money can make up for this problem. A voice matters. Always. When you can operate at a level that let’s you know you’ve earned your turn to contribute in a meaningful way, that is priceless.
  • Mastering something new. You don’t need to leave your current work life to master something new. It’s a commitment, I know — but worth the trouble, as the rewards are certainly there.
  • You’ve found a challenge. There are “seasons” of our work lives where a new challenge is the last thing that we need. But, when there isn’t enough challenge, this too, can be suffocating. With challenge comes hard work — but also a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.
  • The chance to create something. We’ve all held jobs where our role was to sustain something — a practice, a policy, a program. But, to have the opportunity to create something new (a post, a new product, a business), is an experience that cannot be measured with traditional metrics.

There are so many other elements success that I’m sure I’ve overlooked. Please share your story here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. The Office Blend, has been recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career” in both 2012 and 2013.

Introverts: A Brief Guide to Help Find a Job You’ll Love

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The prospect of job hunting can be particularly challenging for an introvert. If you find yourself on the introverted side of the I-E continuum, you’ve likely felt that key segments of the search process were stacked against you. Between the “on the spot” nature of interview questions and required networking — the process can seem a complete mismatch with regard to your strengths. Unfortunately, the proverbial “one size fits all ” workplace bias, can also extend to the selection process. So, what are the best techniques to bend the odds in favor of finding the right job-person match?

While many people confuse being introverted with shyness, introversion is in fact about how an individual handles stimulation and processes information. Fortunately, as the importance of embracing individual differences increases in the workplace, the so-called mysteries of introversion will become more universally understood. This aside, turning ourselves completely “inside out” while job hunting is simply not necessary. Introversion is not the problem or a weakness — the challenge is to effectively relay vital information concerning our strengths, as they mesh and align with potential roles. This effectively increases the potential of finding that “best fit” opportunity.

Mechanisms that help to communicate the “whole story” become critical. In many cases, introverts possess a unique set of qualities that are not fully expressed within the traditional job search process. (Many of these qualities can only be appreciated with time.) This can lead to inaccurate or incomplete impressions concerning capabilities. Ultimately, this a communication gap that we cannot afford.

A few thoughts to consider:

  • Let your network work for you. Not earth-shattering news — but, strategic none the less. (More on branding for introverts from HBR here.) You may not personally wish to broadcast your accomplishments at every turn — and you likely have limits on your desire to network. So, start small, and concentrate on connecting with one or two individuals at events which provide networking opportunities. Also remember that others may be more than happy to do some of this for you. Let your trusted, established connections know exactly what you are looking for — as they can also serve as a powerful marketing team. Those willing to recommend you for a role, team or project, can contribute to the positive buzz. This may lead you to the right role.
  • Yep, you’ll still need an “Elevator Pitch” (or two). It’s difficult to communicate important messages about our work when answering questions in a pinch or presenting — so craft the messages you wish to convey at your own thoughtful pace, on your own time. As discussed by Susan Cain, find methods that allow you to start with smaller steps. Fill 2-3 note cards with vital information concerning what you bring to the table and your target role. Then choose the salient points. (You can also utilize a recording device to video yourself delivering the messages.) It can take a few “takes” to perfect the messages — but, you’ll likely find an opportunity to use them.
  • Build a 3-D social media presence. Utilize social media channels to represent your work — as this process allows you to build your presence with the forethought you crave. Start a blog in a niche area to gain visibility. “Flesh” out skeleton profiles with examples of your work and the real-life problems that you’ve solved. Many sites allow room to highlight past projects — so be creative in this regard. LinkedIn for example, allows you to upload images, video, documents and other information about you and your work directly to your profile.
  • Express your Personal Value Proposition (PVP). Educating others about you and your unique qualifications is what the job search process should be about — and a personal value proposition is critical. (Read the HBR post here.) Companies such as the 1-Page Company, allow you to develop your own proposal as a vehicle to let organizations know exactly what you bring to the table. The platform has the capability to help you communicate your skill set and your creative solutions to specific problems.
  • Live your dream. Passion for your work can carry you a very long way. If you have a dream role or “vision” project, attempt to make this a reality. Interestingly, you don’t necessarily have to wait for a single employer to give you the go ahead — you can make it happen your way. If you are open to freelance work, O-Desk and Elance offer a great platform to link you with the work that you enjoy and aligns with your strengths. Sites such as Kickstarter, offer an opportunity to gain funding for your dream project.
  • Practice the “power pose”. Gaining a mental edge before an interview is also important — as sometimes our own bodies betray us. Recent research has shown that our physical stance shortly before an interview, can affect what we project (and how we are subsequently evaluated) during that interview. Spending as little as 2 minutes in a “power pose” can lower the amount of the stress hormone cortisol flowing through our bodies. I’d say it’s worth a try.
  • Know your limits. The job hunt can include many situations that are quite stimulating. While activities such as networking, professional meetings and conferences are important to find a job you love — know when you’ve had enough. Many introverts can feel drained after participating in these types of situations, so leave ample time to recharge.

What techniques have you utilized to help find a role you love?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. The Office Blend, has been recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career” in both 2012 and 2013.

 

Quit Already

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I’ve met a lot of great people during my journey as a coach. The lion’s share of these individuals possessed great ability and solid credentials. Above all — I feel they possessed a sincere passion for their work.  But, there was only one glaring problem. Most of them held a really bad job. These roles may not have been bad for another individual. However, the match was undoubtedly the wrong one for them.

This is usually the point where we would cross paths — a moment in their career when they were intensely unhappy at work.

Sometimes this presented as an entire department or team. Either the group was grossly under-performing, secretly plotting their exit, or half of them had already walked out the door.  The jobs these individuals held had often led to feelings of anger, bewilderment, disappointment, stress — and in some cases, despair.

No matter how far they had traveled in life, what institution they had attended, industry or personality — the stories are strikingly similar.

Work just wasn’t what it should be, or could be.

It is highly unfortunate. As a coach— this is the normal state of affairs. I rarely interview happy potential clients. I want that to stop. Now.

Of course, the state of today’s organizations plays a role in this dynamic. Certain elements of work life have evolved over time — and the social contract that once allowed us to count on longer-term employment, has been replaced by a quite a different scenario. The economy has made for some unusual job-person mismatches.

However, we are right in the thick of it all. We contribute to the malaise, because we succumb and feel immobilized.

Back in the 90’s there was a long-running television sitcom called Murphy Brown. The name sake of the show, Ms. Brown (played brilliantly by Candace Bergen) was a high-flying, highly opinionated, hot-tempered news reporter — whose over-riding style was to “kick butt and take names”. She was beautiful, witty and well-spoken. However, Ms. Brown also had a penchant for burning through assistants (during the course of the series she had 93 of them). She was, by most standards, a really lousy boss. For most of us, this situation would have been impossible to navigate. She was completely impossible to work for, and this element was a running (and highly entertaining) sub-plot of the show.

However, the really peculiar thing about all of this, was that even though her reputation preceded her — another assistant always appeared outside of her office on Monday morning. (On some level that bothered me. In the real world, I’d like to think that we would have known better.)

Inevitably, we don’t always see the signs of a poor fit. When we do see things for what they are — we’re just not sure how to act. Then work life can develop into what someone aptly described to me, as a “soul sucking” experience.

Each time I connect with a new client, I marvel at how great people have such negative experiences in the workplace. I’ve not only come to the conclusion that there are a lot mismatches out there. I have also come to realize that we play a role in this dynamic. We don’t craft the rules, but we insist on playing by the rules. I fear this can be quite dangerous.

In many cases, even though we are suffering, we feel the need to seek permission to move on. That’s the role I often seem to play. I offer permission to be happy at work. But, we can offer that to ourselves.

As they say, “You’ve had the power all along”.

It can be difficult to explain how these work life scenarios have evolved. We know that recruitment and selection aren’t perfect processes — this is a given. In many cases, we have a clue that things are not right. We may have been hopeful that we could master the situation, or that things would miraculously resolve. But in many cases, this doesn’t happen. As a result, we remain stuck and unhappy.

Many of us do not think it is even possible to claim a better work life. I’d like to think we can change that dynamic.

So let’s at least try.

Have you ever been stuck? What caused you to finally act?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is the Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors, Toronto.  She is also an Influencer at Linkedin.

Learning to Say “No”

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We’ve all made our share of solid career moves. But, as far as time management goes — many if us freely admit our struggles. Last year I published The Ugly Truth About Time Management, partially based on my own flawed relationship with time. (Interestingly, it has been a very well read here at The Office Blend). We all grapple with decisions concerning time. Ultimately, time — and our relationship with it — is critical.

I thought we could probe the topic a little further. Possibly scratch a bit further beneath the surface. (Examine the underbelly of time management and see what is lurking there). Which leads me to an important time management issue: Learning to say “no”.

I find this difficult at times, as most of us do — even though I’ve had years of practice. Many of us feel a deep sense of anxiety with the prospect of saying “no”, for various reasons. But, saying “no” is quite vital to our long-term success. If we don’t treat our own time as a precious resource, we can find ourselves without adequate “bandwidth” when we need it most. This sets the stage for a myriad of work life problems.

We’d all like to think that “all in” when it comes to helping others — and developing healthy workplace relationships should be a priority. However you’ll find the need to draw the line in some situations. Setting boundaries is simply required, setting the stage for healthy “Give and take”.

The truth is, learning to say “no” does become easier with practice. (You can rehearse a set of diplomatic responses, so they become second nature.) The trick is recognizing the situations that clearly deserve that response. So, let’s start the “No” motor going, and discuss the biases we bring to the table and the types of individuals we might come across.

You’ll likely recognize some of these:

The Preconceptions:

  • The “Angel” Trap. I get it, you want to be nice. Nice people are…well nice. People who say no, not so nice. The flaw here? It’s just not true. Savvy business people say no quite a bit, and many of them are great people. Why? They want to stay in business. You are the only one who suffers, if you don’t make it clear that your time is valuable. You have to get over this.
  • Every “yes” is equal. Nope. Not even close. You have to really consider what the “yes” implies. Is your “yes” a quick “here you go” or more likened to a life-long commitment. Think on this.
  • The “I’m missing out” Trap. It can be in our best interest to say “yes” to opportunities — however, you’ll need to weight the time investment against the potential outcomes. If you never say no, you’ll likely become over-committed in a hurry. That is a serious problem.
  • The “Bad things will happen if” trap. Many of us live in fear that if we say “no” our careers will suffer. The wrong person might be angered,and this may lead to dire consequences. But, in some cases we can say “no”, we just have not explored the option. Obviously, consider who is doing the asking, but don’t say “yes”, instinctively. If you do comply to a request from a superior, that you really cannot deliver — a whole new set of problems can arise.

The “Time Offenders”:

  • The Greedy. You know this individual. They only contact you when they want a favor, and the relationship is not even close to being considered reciprocal. Enough said. This one should be easy. Run the other way.
  • The Narcissists. Wow, they are “so, so busy” — so could you complete this entirely worthless task for them? Ok, offer a little rope. Offer your help as long as you feel comfortable, then see if the favor can be returned in some small way. If they don’t ever give back, you’ll feel justified to saying “no” the next time around.
  • The Pilferers. They’ll steal you blind time-wise, if you let them. They’d like to “pick your brain” and hear your best thoughts on a topic or challenge. The problem is this: as soon as they accomplish this they are gone. It’s shocking. Be mindful. These individuals are both smooth and savvy.
  • The Thankless. The group comprises the absolute worst of the worst. They will ask for your valuable time (which you freely give), and never, ever says “thanks”. It hurts doesn’t it? Remember this the next time around.

When all is said and done, if you would like to help someone and are offered a sincere “Thank you” — don’t say “You’re welcome” in response. Take the advice offered here and respond with the following,

“I know you would do the same for me.”

Anything to add to the conversation? Share your thoughts.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She also writes at LinkedIn.

Getting Out of Our Own Way: Employing a Life Strategy

raj-eiamworakul-1031067-unsplashAt times, we’ve all lost our way  — and finding our way back to the right path is imperative. This process can prove both confusing and painful. Often, we believe that the root problem lies externally; the wrong boss, team or organization. But, are we overlooking the obvious? In fact, looking inward might just be the best place to begin. Truth be told, we put enough obstacles in our own career paths to last more than a lifetime. When it comes down to it — we are usually right there in the mix, adding to the fog.

What if you could find that vital guidance, that mantra of direction, to actually get out of your own way once and for all? Well, developing a life strategy may be the needed prescription. It’s not fluff — it’s just plain smart.

We assume we’ll traverse through our careers (and our lives for that matter) without taking a single moment of pause to formulate a plan. (An organization wouldn’t think of moving forward without first considering a clear-cut path.) Strategy, can allow us to focus on our goals. Because at the inflection points that challenge us, we often forget to stop, breathe and look in all directions.

A great read to find that needed path is Allison Rimm’s, The Joy Of Strategy. (Her concept of the “Joy Meter” is a stunner, and that alone is worth the read. Apply the meter to your work life — and you will never view work or career, in quite the same way.)

A few things The Joy of Strategy would also like us to consider:

  • Listening more. Not to everyone else — to yourself. Stop shopping for the advice that would allow you to support what you already know you need from your work life. Trust that inner voice. What have you left behind? As Rimm describes so aptly, “Don’t die with your song still inside of you.”
  • Taking another look at purpose. We can easily confuse being busy with purpose — and defining a “clear intention” can help to filter out the “noise” surrounding our most important career decisions. When I began blogging two years ago, a colleague was less than enthused with my career pivot. This caused me real stress. But, when all was said and done — the path fulfilled my purpose to help others gain fulfillment in the workplace.
  • Visualize, visualize, visualize. Where do you really want to be? What would you be doing? What do you really want to accomplish? One solid strategy for change, is to thoroughly consider the “future state”. Go there — dream a little — it will help you master your future.
  • Defining what you really need. Be brutally honest. If you could move forward to build your best career life, what materials would you collect to ensure your success? A trusted mentor? More opportunities to lead a team? Sharper communication skills? Take the time to define these.
  • Time and Emotion.  We spend our time — but what do those moments really offer us? As Rimm explains, “We should all derive some measure of joy from our work.” I couldn’t agree more. That indeed, is a winning strategy.

How have you built your own life strategy? Tell us a little about that here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She also writes at LinkedIn.

A Little Laughter Doesn’t Hurt: The Most Read Posts of 2013

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The close of another year always brings a moment of reflection. So many things come to mind — the challenge of workplace engagement, the need for truly inspiring managers, how loving our work drives us forward. This year there was a good deal of attention focused upon accepting ourselves for who we really are, and learning to transact those strengths into fulfillment at work. I feel hopeful that we have reached an inflection point — where individual differences will be embraced and valued. When we have the opportunity to share the best of ourselves at work, great things can happen. Engagement can soar and we feel a much needed sense of connection.

Transparency continued to be a guiding theme. Whether we were considering how we manage our time or developing our own personal brand, honesty seems to be the policy of choice. As such, we should feel free to not only embrace who we really are —  but our mistakes, as well.  On a final note, humor is still, and should always remain a priority —  as #5  illustrates. It seems that the option for a good laugh, is still a very handy workplace tool.

Below are the 5 posts that received the most activity (views + shares) at The Office Blend during 2013.  I’ve also included a second “Top 5” list — my favorite posts from around the web.

I’d like to thank all of you for supporting The Office Blend, with your time (and shares) in 2013. Happy New Year to you and yours!

Top 5 posts:

  1. How Not to Manage an Introvert
  2. Brand Yourself as a High Potential
  3. The Ugly Truth About Time Management
  4. Why We Should Still Practice the “70-20-10” Rule
  5. 5 of the Funniest Workplace Commercials of All Time

Some remarkable posts from around the web:

  1. Three Tips for Overcoming Your Blind Spots, John Dame and Jeffrey Gedmin, HBR.
  2. What Losing My Job Taught Me About Leading, Douglas Conant, HBR
  3. Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss, Adam Bryant, The New York Times
  4. How to Sell Ideas Like Gladwell, Jonah Berger, LinkedIn.
  5. Always, Always, Always Show Up, Whitney Johnson, HBR.

What are you striving for at work in 2014? Share your hopes and goals.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and coach.  Read more of her posts at LinkedIn.

More Options for Today’s Working Women: Leaning “Homeward” vs Leaning “In”

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Many women would opt for time away from the traditional “9 to 5” work life to remain home with children — and a growing body of research supports this.  I reached this inflection point a short time after finishing my degree. Happily entrenched in a growing HR consulting firm (with a fair amount of career momentum on my side), it became obvious that my best laid plans for melding home and work life weren’t going to materialize. At the time, my decision to “lean out” may have appeared ill-advised — but as time would pass, it became clear that it was truly for the best.

Our young son didn’t sleep nights. He couldn’t tolerate formula. He seemed particularly distressed when we left him with a sitter for even a few hours. When I compared stories with other working mothers, things just weren’t adding up to a “lean in” scenario. The guilt and compounding stress were overpowering. I was torn between two disparate worlds that just weren’t meshing. My instincts told me to stay at home if at all possible. Luckily, after weighing both emotional and financial concerns, the option to complete some project work at home came into play. I happily chose this option — too exhausted in the moment to even begin to evaluate the long-term ramifications of that decision.

Knowing what I know today about work life integration, I would have sought a more permanent part-time solution (with an option to return when home life became more predictable). A recent article in The Atlantic, Moms Who Cut Back at Work Are Happier, explores the often difficult quest for women to find balance with their ever-evolving roles. The piece discusses research which reveals that many married moms would indeed, rather work part-time at specific points or “seasons” in their career — “leaning homeward” instead of “leaning in”. Furthermore, many who have the opportunity to embark on such a career “sacrifice” are happier overall. A recent CBS/New York Times survey echoes this sentiment, where it was found that nearly one-half of working women with children under the age of 18, would prefer an option to work part-time.

The fact remains, that it is challenging for many women to carry on their careers after children, as if nothing has changed. Dialing down the pressure should be a viable option — but keeping meaningful work in plain sight should also be part of that equation. With women making a significant investment in both their education and career, this has become a growing necessity — as we should have the opportunity to continue to contribute in a manner that remains fulfilling.

We are indeed making progress in this area. However, widespread acceptance of part-time options will likely not materialize until we acknowledge the need for a pervasive change in mindset. If you have had the opportunity to read, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, by Anne-Marie Slaughter — you’d know exactly where I am going with this. We have to step up and vocalize what we really need to remain both happy and productive. With a healthy dose of transparency, these changes may come sooner than later. We  should discuss the realities of melding work and career life, openly and often — because the essence of being truly happy at work, might lie just as much in being honest about what we cannot do — as much as what we can.

Suffice it to say, that my instinct to remain at home was on target. I needed to be there for a variety of reasons. Years later, it is apparent that I’ve had a fair amount of explaining to do in reference to the gap in my career. However of late, I no longer feel the need to either hide the reason — or the fact that I did so without hesitation.

I would like to think that in the future — working women won’t have to make these decisions bleary-eyed and exhausted.

Have you shared a similar experience? Were you able to adjust and work part-time? Share your story.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  Read more of her posts at LinkedIn.

Considering a Change in Direction? How to Deal with Non-Believers

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Career growth can be both an exhausting and exhilarating experience.

You have already dealt with the internal struggle — realizing that a change was necessary. Then, there is both the commitment and possible sacrifice necessary to ensure that real change occurs. (You may be juggling coursework or tackling a stretch assignment in addition to your assigned tasks).

We expect that the process will be challenging.

However, it can be disconcerting that the most surprising aspect of ordeal, are those around us who just cannot seem to get on-board. Already well outside your comfort zone — it can be difficult to squelch all of the “nay-saying” from those around you. Those that just cannot seem to let you evolve.

How do you handle individuals who are less than supportive? The off-handed remarks and the reminders of the obstacles that may come. Remember that you can’t change others or how they see your path. However, you can filter their remarks.
Consider these points:

  • Some people will not see what you see. Goals are very personal. Explaining why you seem to be flinging yourself toward shaky ground, can seem frightening to some. Remember that you are the only that truly understands why you need to embark on this journey.
  • Jealousy does exist. Career bravery on your part — can sometimes elicit a note of career envy from others. Watching others make progress can be hard to digest for some.
  • Ubiquitous disengagement. There are many people who are unhappy with their own role, yet do not recognize where they are. Do not allow their malaise to affect your resolve.
  • Some people are mean. Shocking, but true. There are individuals who just do will not play nice. They will revel in pointing out the obvious (that change is hard) and will never offer credit, when it is due.

What to do next:

  • Consider the feedback. Try to take the stance that all feedback is useful. Listen to all that is said, but process the information carefully.
  • Tell them what you need. Just as Don Draper expressed in Mad Men, if the conversation is headed in the wrong direction — “change the conversation”. When skepticism and doubt are all that is presented, remind them that the journey is challenging and solicit their support.
  • Plan your re-brand “roll out”. Any career shift certainly requires a re-branding “roll out”. Plan to inform others about your new direction and how it might affect your work. Try developing an “elevator pitch” that nicely explains where you are headed.
  • Let it go. In some cases, you need to simply ignore the negativity and move on. There are those who hold a “fixed mindset” and do not believe that people can evolve successfully. Prove them wrong, then lend support to others who also aspire to evolve.

Have you ever met resistance when you were venturing onto a new career path? What strategies worked for you?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. Read more of her posts at LinkedIn.

When It’s Time to Go. A Look at the Psychological Contract

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We’ve all grappled with the decision to leave an organization. By any measure, this is a difficult impasse to consider — often involving an agonizing “push” and “pull” of emotions. One day we might feel momentarily energized to “stick with it” for the long haul, only to have core issues re-surface in an amplified form.

Should we continue to hope for things to improve or cut our losses and begin the process of moving on? Previously we’ve discussed avoiding career regret and why we shouldn’t give up too quickly. However, there are some situations where we need to realize that enough — is well — enough.

One factor which is often a silent contributor to this decision, is the status of the psychological contract that exists between ourselves and our employer. Often the inevitability of leaving — has been cast long before the final decision to pull up roots has been made — as the very core of the employer-employee relationship has already been significantly damaged. The damage occurs when we have been let down in some way, or perceive that a promise has not been fulfilled. As such, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain committed, as we begin to lose focus and quietly disengage. In this regard, our physical departure only represents a ceremonial farewell. Truth be told, any investment in the employment relationship has already been halted.

The psychological contract that exists between employer and employee, plays a vital role throughout our work lives. Described in this research, the contract is “an individual’s belief regarding the terms and conditions of a reciprocal exchange agreement between that focal person and another party”. The health of this contract can affect the development of key workplace attitudes and behaviors (job satisfaction, trust, intention to turnover, etc.) While both parties contribute to the”give” and “take” of the dynamic — the contract is re-calibrated over the course of an employee’s tenure. Ultimately, when either party perceives a problem with balance, a breakdown can occur.

Let me offer an illustration. Recently I had a conversation with a highly competent marketing executive. Unfortunately, many obstacles had emerged in his current role, among these, the lack of a well-suited path for career growth and development. Over a period of time, he began to experience doubt that his employer had his best interests at heart. On the face of things he professed that he would remain committed — rock steady that he would continue to do his best to fulfill his role and make things work. But, in reality I observed that his psychological resources were waning as he was subtly disengaging. On a basic level, I believe he perceived that the psychological contract with his employer had been breached. (He did depart a short time later.)

Overall, the on-going viability of this contract is critical to our work lives. When problems arise, the strength and tenor of contract can become stressed. Ultimately, it is often difficult to acknowledge that the contract has been irreparably broken and admit that it may be time to explore new horizons.

What might be holding us back:

  • Attribution of failure. We may delay a departure because on some level we feel personally responsible for the current state. In our minds, the failure of the relationship equals a personal failure — which is often not the case. So, we remain to seek resolution.
  • Others seem happy. In some situations, the organization is just not the right environment for the specific employee, with a specific career need. Keep in mind that although opportunities might exist within your current organization, these opportunities may not be right for you.
  • Separation anxiety. Often we develop strong bonds with our colleagues, making a departure even that much more traumatic. We stay for them — when we should really be leaving for ourselves.
  • The “one more try” vice. If you have already done your best to bring core issues to the forefront without satisfactory resolution, it is difficult to find the energy to continue. You’ve likely done your part. Offer yourself permission to move on.

Often we have disengaged long before our physical departure from an organization or role. Have you ever experienced this? Tell us your story.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. She is the co-founder of Goba — a consulting practice that helps people & organizations build stronger work life foundation through core stability. Her thoughts on work & organizations have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, BBC Work Life, Quartz and The Huffington Post