Four Things For New Graduates To Consider Before Accepting Their First Job

In his classic book Oh, the Places You’ll Go, the great Dr. Seuss said “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” This epitomizes the excitement new graduates experience as they pick up their diplomas and eagerly set off on their new career paths. But this sentiment can quickly turn to discouragement with the realization that launching the perfect career is not as easy as you may have thought; and perhaps your college degree doesn’t smoothly transition into the job track that’s best for you. Many new graduates have accomplished something great educationally, but feel stuck when it’s time to find their own career path. Here are some important ideas for getting your mind in the right place and gaining a clearer direction when thinking about your future:

Work backwards-When people ask me for career advice, one of the first things I typically ask is “where do you see yourself in five years, ten years, and perhaps even ultimately?” When looking for a first job, this is something a lot of people forget about, since it feels so far away and less urgent than getting a job now. Once you’ve come up with a picture of what your whole career might look like down the road, you can consider if potential job opportunities will contribute in a positive way to that greater goal. For example, if a current job opportunity is not as lucrative as you’d like, but it’s a stepping stone to a more long term goal, it might be a better choice for you than one that merely pays a little more money right now.

Utilize your role models– Ask yourself who is/are the person(s) I admire the most in my field or my favorite mentor(s), real or imagined—in the area I would most like to make my best contribution(s)? What do or would these mentors inspire me to do? If your mentor is available in the flesh, you can obviously ask directly for a perspective about his/her own career course and yours; but, even if this is merely someone you know only by reputation (for example a business owner, an iconic professional in your field or a successful musician whom you don’t have access to) you can use your image and knowledge of this accomplished virtual mentor to help you map out your long term goals. Then work backwards. What could you do to put your career on par with theirs over the period of time you’ve set?

Tap into your passions-When you chose your college major, you may or may not have considered what you’re truly passionate about. So consider this. If you could spend your career doing anything in the world without regard to the money, what would you be doing? Make a list of at least five things that answer this question. Then focus on job possibilities that allow you to be conducting your career according to those passions you’ve identified.

Know what motivates you-Lastly; acknowledge what typically motivates you to do your very best. Sources of motivation vary from person to person and different jobs offer unique motivators. Choosing a first job that offers incentives that speak to you and your particular personality style is important. For example, some are motivated satisfactorily by financial compensation, while others need to be creative or in a position of power or leadership to feel motivated and do their best. Some need to be surrounded by likeminded coworkers, while others need to be in an environment where the tasks are self-initiated. What have you liked or disliked about past jobs or internships (even small summer jobs) and why? What has motivated you to achieve non-work related accomplishments in your life, like doing well in school or at athletics, for example? Take the time to evaluate what really moves you to do your best, before you accept a first job.

When you’ve zoomed in on where you are going, the path to success can be illuminated. Then use every resource at your disposal. So, in the words of Dr. Seuss, “ be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Three Mistakes “Helicopter Parents” Make That Prevent Their Children from Growing Up

The term “helicopter parent” is a relatively new one in our culture, but the practice is quite prevalent. When a child leaves home (for college, for instance, or even overnight camp) the helicopter parent does exactly what the term implies —hovers. Helicopter parents usually have the best intentions– to protect their children from life’s hardships and prepare them for adulthood— but as with many other aspects of parenting, the results don’t always match the intentions. If this sounds familiar and you find yourself “hovering”, here are a few common mistakes to be aware of and what you might want to consider instead:

Mistake 1:Being in constant communication-Children get their own cell phones at younger ages every year. While cell phones are great for safety purposes, they make it possible for parents to be in continual contact with their child. Psychologist Dr. Steven Sussman has even referred to the cell phone as “the world’s longest umbilical cord.” When your young adult child goes off to college, it’s easier than ever for you to stay in touch—all the time. But is this a good thing? And it may certainly take on a life of its on when your child calls you to discuss what to eat at the next meal or even uses you as a surrogate alarm clock, with a daily wake-up call. Instead, limit routine communication to a specific time of day. Maybe you and your son or daughter can schedule a time to speak on the phone each evening or a few specified evenings each week. This way, he or she can have the opportunity to try to solve problems on his or her own instead of immediately reaching out to you for the answers.

Mistake 2-Maintaining full financial control – It’s quite common for parents to continue to pay for things into adulthood that they began paying for when their child was much younger. For example, many young adults are still on their family cell phone plans and car insurance, and usually let their parents foot the bill for meals out and family vacations. However, while remaining a safety net, you also may want to allow them to have some “skin in the game”, in order to learn financial responsibility. This means setting firm limits and establishing a clear policy concerning credit cards and other financial matters. As an invaluable preparation for adulthood, gradually hand over small financial obligations, in order to transition him or her to become a financially responsible adult.

Mistake 3-Parenting in a way that’s not age appropriate – Intuitively, it makes sense that adolescents need different parenting than infants or toddlers and young adults require different parenting than adolescents, but this change doesn’t always happen automatically. For example, it’s no longer necessary to punish and reward your children in the same way you did when they were younger. The best parenting is about giving guidance that’s age appropriate and that speaks to your child’s unique needs and stage of development. As your child becomes an adult your role as a parent will shift. For example, you can now become much less of a micromanager and disciplinarian, and more of a role model. Your child will now receive consequences from his or her own environment when poor choices are made, rather than you. This is a good thing. So relish your new role!

The bottom line is that as a parent your greatest responsibility to your young adult children is to help them develop the skills to make it on their own. By avoiding these mistakes, you’ve taken a giant step in the right direction toward enjoying the stage of life where you can savor your child functioning successfully as an independent adult!

How to Make a Shift in the Shortest Time Possible

When there’s something important in your life you’d like to change, like being less anxious, having better communication in your marriage or coping with a stressful work situation, the process of figuring out where to begin can feel daunting. Sometimes difficult challenges feel like they can’t change; or the thought of achieving long-lasting change seems so overwhelming that you may not even try. Remember, it’s our attitudes and beliefs that power our behaviors and emotions. So whether you are making a major life change, merely working to accept a difficult part of your status quo or anything in between, the task is to hardwire the new attitudes and beliefs that will work for you.

Try this simple exercise for taking charge of your beliefs and attitudes, thereby preventing them from becoming stifling hang-ups:

Think about a situation you want to change. Next, see if you can recognize and write down the belief(s) or attitude(s) that go with it. For example, if you’re unhappy with your job, but feel stuck there, you may believe, “With this economy, I have no choice but to stay here and suffer,” or “I can’t stand going to work anymore.” Making a shift, means changing something within yourself. This means changing an attitude or belief and then the behavior that’s driving your self-defeating negative emotion. For this exercise (and usually in life), changing another person or circumstances outside of yourself is not an option. So instead, focus on your belief that —in this case—you are stuck.

Now ask yourself some questions:
Are any of the beliefs I have identified and written down completely true?

Does the attitude or belief serve any purpose that would make me want to keep that attitude or belief?

Am I open to adopting a new attitude(s) or belief(s) regarding this problem?
Assuming you answered “No” to the first two questions and “Yes” to the third, take a minute to write down how the attitudes and beliefs that underlie your problem might be affecting you. Note how things in your life would be different with a different attitude that you’ve actually chosen. For example, is it possible that you do have talents or skills that could be valuable to another employer? Some people are hired in every economy, and after all, you are only looking for one job. Also, until you do find something new, can a different attitude make this job more bearable?

Next, choose some healthy alternatives or affirmations to the problematic ones you have just identified. For example, you could choose the affirmation “I am really motivated to find a job where I can use my talents and be appreciated; and until I do, I’ll look for ways to make this job as fulfilling as possible”. Think of as many alternative attitudes and beliefs as you can that apply to your situation.

Now ask yourself these questions:

Are my new affirmations completely true for me?

Do my new affirmation(s) above remove or neutralize my problem (at least for now)?

Keep tweaking them until you can answer yes to both questions.

If you answered yes, think about how your issue or even your life could be different, once you’ve hardwired these new affirmations. And to hardwire them, of course, is simply to live by your new affirmations—unnatural as they may seem, at first— until they are a natural part of you. This generally takes about 30 days. Refer to them as often as necessary until they do become hardwired, and remember to take the necessary action steps (for example, begin your job search!). With this exercise, you can make a shift very quickly!