Fighting #FOMO with the write hack

We live in anxious times…especially in matters related to economic security.

We are all subject to pressures of competition, achievement, production and acquisition– fears, worries, anxieties about work and money are just part of navigating our economic rat race.

Most of us worry about finding a job, keeping a job, advancing with a job; we worry about paying our bills, making enough money to buy a home, or raising a family, or saving for retirement. We fear missing out on life’s many pleasures and promises.

Our anxieties are further fuelled by news reports highlighting precarious work with no benefits; corporate bankruptcies; failed government policies; the increasing reliance on robots, automation and artificial intelligence in our workplaces, and the replacement of jobs by such technologies. The future is uncertain.

Anxiety is a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive unease and apprehension. It often manifests first in a general restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, sometimes panic attacks or compulsive behaviour. If it carries on long enough, it can develop into serious illness, such as depression.

I know the telltale signs for myself, such as pacing, ruminating, procrastinating, a vague and general restlessness that interrupts, even prevents, restfulness. When feeling anxious, I know that I make poor decisions, so I’ve learned to tackle my anxiety head on.

    The write hack

We all need a work around when it comes to dealing with our anxieties. One of the first things I do when such symptoms appear is to take out a paper and pen and do a very effective writing exercise (known in some circles as morning pages) that quickly calms my worries.

If you are feeling anxious about your work and money, try this: get up in the morning and write for 3 pages non-stop about your career decisions up to this point in your life. How did you make those decisions? What were you thinking at the time? What were you expecting in terms of an outcome?

Don’t judge or censor yourself, just write whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind. Don’t stop writing until you’ve completed 3 pages. If you get stuck with writer’s block then keep writing the same thing over and over until another thought comes. You must complete 3 pages.

Do this for 5 days as early in the morning as possible. [Of course, the sooner you start this exercise when feeling anxious, the better; it’s not a substitute for clinical treatment if you’re depressed!]

By the time the fifth day rolls around, I can almost guarantee your anxiety will dissipate to the point where you can look for patterns in your pages that reveal the roots of your anxieties. Some of those roots may be internal and grounded in biology, beliefs or behaviours. Some of them may be external and rooted in your experiences with work and money. You might want to share your pages with a close friend or a professional to help you find the patterns and move forward.

    How to Move Forward in your Career

It is my experience that this kind of mental/emotional house cleaning is necessary before you can move forward in life with good decisions and powerful actions. There is something magical about such simple writing exercises.

That is why JobJoy is collaborating with Phrase Strategy to help leaders move forward with their careers. Maria Ford, Phraseologist, refers to writing exercises as pre-marketing, and necessary for the growth and development of leaders. Read her most recent post to learn more about how such “magic” might help you.

Real Job Security is knowing your Motivational Pattern

From our childhood to our current career, we tend to gravitate towards activities and projects that require our natural strengths. Why? Simple—we get pleasure from using our talents in situations that motivate us.

The problem is we do some things so naturally and effortlessly, we think, “Doesn’t everybody do it this way?” No, they don’t. You have a knack for achieving certain results using certain talents because that’s what energizes you—and you make it look easy. Other people might be able to do the same thing due to training or experience but it’s grunt work for them.

    What energizes you?

For example, some individuals get energized by having an impact on the physical world. If there is a piece of equipment, or machinery, or a vehicle, or a household appliance that breaks down or is performing poorly, they repair it, or restore it to its original state. You can tell it energizes them because you can hear them humming, or whistling or singing, or just bouncing around happily as they do what comes naturally and easily to them.

If this talent is caught early in life and channeled into a particular vocation then recognized and rewarded by an employer, they might even end up with a long and happy career as an aircraft mechanic with an airline, or a pipe-fitter in a refinery, or a mechanic in the military, or a maintenance worker for public transit, or one of hundreds of jobs available from hundreds of different employers.

Even if they lose one job, they can quickly adapt or retrain for something similar in another sector because equipment, machinery, and vehicles will always wear out, or break down, or need replacing and require individuals who have a knack for impacting such physical objects with their natural talents and learned skills.

The same is true if you like to have an impact on people, or like to control how, when and where a project or plan will proceed. Or, if you are energized by pursuing and reaching a goal or a target. Or, if you get juiced by engaging in a process of discovering, developing or expressing.

    Motivation matches right work

Each general human inclination can be narrowed down to reveal your particular motivational pattern, and that pattern can be matched to dozens of specific jobs in specific work settings.

This is true job security. When you take the time to understand your motivational pattern then you don’t have to worry if you lose a job because you will already know what other sectors of the economy will recognize and reward you for what comes easily to you.

Don’t let our volatile economy catch you by surprise. Get a JobJoy career assessment done today so that you can do some long-term planning for real job security.

You already have in your hands the right tools to repair and grow your career. Put them to work in your favour.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts with motivation

Do you get this feeling?…It’s a beautiful day and I know I should go for a walk in order to stay fit…but I don’t really want to.

I don’t know about you but staying fit is just not enough motivation to get me out for a walk. However, I am looking forward to playing basketball tomorrow—I do it because it’s fun and not because I want to stay fit.

Do you get the same feeling when it comes to your job? It’s another weekday and you know you should get out of bed to make some money and pay your bills…but you don’t really want to. Paying your bills is just not enough motivation to get you going.

You’re not alone. Up to 70% of us report feeling dis-engaged from our jobs, work, or employers. And one of the reasons that we feel that way is because our jobs do not motivate us intrinsically, that is inside us as opposed to working only for extrinsic rewards (like money).

Intrinsic Motivation

Research clearly shows that you’re more likely to enjoy job satisfaction if you focus on the work itself, and less likely to enjoy it if you’re focused on money. This finding holds true even at low salary levels. This means that employees who are intrinsically motivated are three times more engaged than employees who are extrinsically motivated (such as by money).

Intrinsic motivation is not only a better indicator of job satisfaction but also job performance. The more people focus on their salaries, the less they focus on satisfying their intellectual curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun, and those are the very things that make people perform best.

However, it is difficult to cultivate higher job satisfaction and better job performance if we don’t know our motivational pattern. I have written elsewhere about the key success factors that make up our motivational pattern. I call them rocket launchers. When are natural talents, inclinations and skills align with the tasks we’re given at work, then are job satisfaction and performance work together to produce amazing results!

Motivational Pattern

Each of us can learn what launches us into a state of flow that integrates with certain tasks at work. When we are clear about the positive intrinsic aspects of such work, the research shows that we enjoy our work more than if we are just focused on the extrinsic rewards of performing such tasks. What is it we most enjoy doing and do best when it comes to our work? My JobJoy Report is an evidence-based approach to giving individuals the answer to this question with clarity and confidence. If we can’t answer this question, we default to focusing on extrinsic rewards.

While studies show consistently that most people are, in fact, more intrinsically motivated, they still tend to choose a raise over more meaningful work. They might want more interesting work but feel they can’t get it from their current job, or career, or employer, so they go for the money. As negative work experiences pile up, individuals tune out, settle for a paycheck and report feeling dis-engaged from their work.

Now, a sceptic might say that such reseach simply reflects an innate mindset — some people happen to be more focused on extrinsic rewards, while others are more focused on the task itself. That’s certainly possible because it’s hard to test for such a distinction. Similarly, a cynic might say that people who focus too much on money are preventing themselves from enjoying their jobs. That’s possible too…we don’t know for sure.

What we do know is that there is little evidence to show that money motivates us, and a great deal of evidence to suggest that it actually demotivates us. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should work for free. We all need to pay our bills and provide for our families — but once these basic needs are covered the psychological benefits of money are questionable.

Working only for wages

The meaning of money is largely subjective. For example, there are marked individual differences in people’s tendency to think or worry about money, and different people value money for different reasons (e.g., as a means to power, freedom, security, or love). Our relationship to money is highly idiosyncratic.

Some research shows that employees’ personalities are much better predictors of engagement than their salaries. The more emotionally stable, extraverted, agreeable or conscientious people are, the more they tend to like their jobs (irrespective of their salaries). But, an even more important determinant of an employee’s engagement at work is the personality of their boss. In fact, the biggest organizational cause of disengagement is incompetent leadership.

How we relate to others, especially our superiors, is a part of our motivational pattern. When we know what motivates us intrinsically, when we can communicate to our bosses and others how we work best, then we have a better chance of achieving job satisfaction.

If you are feeling dis-engaged from work…if you want work that taps in to your motivational pattern…if you want to make a social impact…if you want your personal goals/values to align with your work…if you want a sense of personal accomplishment…then let’s discuss how you can get engaged with your job quickly and easily.

How our lazy brains block career goals & what to do about it

We are creatures of habit because our brains make us that way!

Neuroscience shows that we are motivated to achieve and maintain a comfort zone because our brains equate that state of equilibrium with survival.

It’s only natural to resist change because the brain is hard-wired to respond to any stimuli or situation that disturbs our equilibrium. That’s why every news broadcast starts off with a “bad news” story—to get our attention! Our brains become alert to this news of danger, crisis, or threat at a personal level.

Earthquake in Nepal! Should I take shelter? Tornado in Texas! Should I batten down the hatches? Murderous rampage in Colorado! Should I lock my doors? Unless you or a loved one is in close proximity to these events (very unlikely) then these stories do not really effect you in any practical way.

But we can’t help listening, our brains automatically tune it. Broadcasters know it, and they use it. Why do they want us to be alert for the news broadcast? Not because the news items really matter to us but because they want us to be alert for the advertising messages that pay for the news broadcasts! The news is not a public service but a commercial one. It is a very effective way to collect ears or eyes and sell them to advertisers.

For some of us, this is Communications 101. But, even knowing this, we still listen. So, think about how many tens of thousands of hours of conditioning we have been subject to through such messaging! Our brains, broadcasters, advertising messages—these are all powerful forces to contend with and should not be underestimated.

Is it any wonder then that the prospect of losing a job, or having to look for a job, or making a career change strikes fear into the heart of anyone? Talk about crisis! Alarm bells go off when that state of affairs is disturbed—our jobs and careers go to the very heart of personal safety and stability.

The psychology of motivation

Our brains are naturally lazy and default to operations that require less energy. You’ve probably noticed this when driving a car: learning to drive takes a lot of concentration and energy but once learned we drive without really thinking about it.

While neuroscience research proves that we are meant to get in a groove and stay there, life does not cooperate. We now live in a ‘risk’ society characterized by high unemployment and a steady increase in contingent labour in volatile workplaces. Whether we like it not, more of us will have to change our jobs, our careers, our lives more often. Choosing or being forced to make a career change activates a fear response because the brain knows it’s going to have to expend a lot of energy to survive.

So, what’s the best way to deal with all this? Neuroscience and the psychology of motivation tell us to undo what we’ve learned and build a new habit. But, left on our own, we individually default back to our habits. Did you know, for example, that only 1 of 9 coronary bypass patients adopts healthier day-to-day habits after their surgery?

Changing our lives is not easy but it’s always easier when we do it with others. I focus on helping my clients build new career habits because our brains are also hard-wired to build new skills (aren’t we amazing!).

The Zeigarnik Effect

There is a concept in psychology called the Zeigarnik effect which is the ability of humans to finish a task once they’ve started—our brains resolve the tension between the present and a desired future of completion. That’s why somebody can learn to walk again after a stroke with months of rehab in small steps…literally!

Same thing with job search or career change, we can build new habits, new skills, that move us closer to a goal. It’s not rocket science, anyone can do it! The key is motivation, i.e. the desire to walk again.

That is the purpose of a JobJoy Report: to give you the desire to make a career change, to see with clarity the specific jobs and work settings that will recognize, reward and motivate you for what comes naturally and effortlessly.

Turning that desire into reality means working three major components to motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity. Once a new career is identified, we move into that space with deliberate, intentional, systematic and effective actions.
But start small, take an action, evaluate the result to see if it moves you closer to your goal or not. If it doesn’t move you closer, then look to see what is to be learned from that action, if anything, and adjust. If it does move you closer to your goal then what is the next action to take?

Unlearning old habits, learning new skills, this is the rhythm of successful change.

We persist through inevitable challenges and setbacks that are just part of life. Anyone who has ever had a goal (like wanting to lose ten pounds or run a marathon) probably immediately realizes that simply having the desire to accomplish something is not enough. Achieving such a goal requires the ability to persist through obstacles and endurance, to keep going in spite of difficulties. But there are certain times during the process where you turn up the heat, bear down on your goal, do your utmost to accomplish your goal.

Of course, finding another job or career is more complicated than that and depends on a lot of other things but the point is this: anyone can do it if they want to. The key is in your motivation.