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Yes, Actually, You Are in Control

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self-controlIn the career world, we have to make choices and decisions every day — some big and some small. Finding the right job and company where we can thrive can be more challenging if we choose to create that reality. We can choose to live our career lives on automatic and go through the motions with little independent thought, and as a result, embody a mindset that everyone else is in more control over our career lives than we are. Or we can choose to wake up each morning with the intention to remain present, develop unique skills and nurture honest connections with others, and as a result, live with purpose and greater career direction. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life and career decisions were this straightforward?

Maybe “real life” and the “career world” are much more complex and granular than we may have initially envisioned? As we begin our first job search and then move on to managing stages of career development, there are various factors that evoke mixed emotions and distract us from our ability to remain purposefully engaged in life and work. For instance, rejection is a part of the job search process; how can we feel grounded when faced with rejection from employers who don’t call back or swiftly say we’re not a good fit? While establishing oneself in a career field, how can we maintain a healthy level of confidence while experiencing the growing pains of making many mistakes (and hopefully learning from them)? Finally, as we mature in a career, how can we remain comfortable when knowing that our words and actions are under a microscope — almost all the time? Strong emotions that result from these experiences cripple our ability to think clearly and rationally, which then leads to impulsive reactions and often regret.

It’s always good to be reminded of Charles Swindolls’s famous quote, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

The sooner one believes we are more alike than different, we realize that we all have barriers and challenges throughout our careers to overcome and rise above. The only thing we really have control over is the way we choose to react to them. Our thoughts and attitude change our experiences and shape our lives. Imagine a world where we can have a great day, every day, despite what does or doesn’t happen on that day. Contemplating this kind of world can shift our perspective enough so we can begin to see that we have control over our reality. Small steps can lead to great results. Begin with asking yourself, when I’m faced with difficult experiences, how can I choose to react in a more balanced way?

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Put space between the event (the thing you’re about to react to) and your response.
  • PAC before you act: Pause. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Clear your mind.
  • Learn and practice Emotional Intelligence (EI). Click here to learn more about EI.
  • Be curious and ask meaningful questions to refocus your lens, while embracing a sense of calmness.
  • Examine your response from a neutral mindset instead of getting wrapped up in the emotion of the situation.
I’m curious, what are some techniques and/or tips that work for you? Please share in the comments below.

Nikki-Barnett-sizedNikki Barnett
Assistant Director of Alumni Career Services

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