CareerSherpas: Climbing the Mountain

When you’re on the way, it helps to share the load

How To Never Give Up

Along with the rest of the denizens of the internet and blogosphere I love a great infographic. Especially when it’s as wonderfully pithy as this one from Funders and Founders.

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Sure it’s geared toward entrepreneurs, but it applies equally to any long-term goal you chase after. So get back up and go to the net again today! And tomorrow. And every day presenting challenges to be faced! I’ll still be cheering for you every step of the way!

What are You Going to DO this Year? (Avoiding My Traditional January Goal Setting Post)

Welcome back to the new year! If you haven’t noticed, any life commentator, advice giver, business writer, most parents of older children and adults, and Oprah have all had their shots at encouraging you in making and pursuing some kind of self-improvement goal for the year. Actually to be fair I’m not sure anyone can avoid pressure to do something new in the new year since I think I saw an article on goals for pets in 2013 a little while ago (and I wish I knew where I did now.)

Typically around this time of year I join in the frenzy of goal encouragement, but not this year! This year is full of all the promise that every man, woman, child, pet, TV personality and diet program can contrive, and I’ll leave it up to each of you to find your own way this time around. Instead, I’m here to encourage you to see whose goals you can help achieve.

How dare I go against the magnificence of the great life guides? Simple. Goal setting and observing for yourself shouldn’t be a once a year event, forgotten by February and hiding, guilt inducing, in a corner until we give up and decide the thing can’t be done. Goals are on-going, pervasive things that everyone should have and work on constantly. It takes follow-through and the right scale to the next step to get there and there is an equal number of helpful articles and voices with tips for succeeding with your goals as there are about what your goals should be.

Back to my point though.

You’ve already got the idea of setting and working on goals, but the best way to reinforce all of that is to help someone else through the process. Ask people what their goals for the year are. You are very likely to find out interesting things about the people you ask as well as what is most important to them right now. Each goal describes a part of what a person wants to be. Some of the interesting responses I’ve heard so far this year are preparing for their first (or next) marathon challenge, planning for trips to explore new places, and taking up new hobbies. All of the answers have been interesting and only a few people have not had a ready answer to share.

The important thing here is that you’re engaging with someone else’s goals. Just in asking we’re doing two very important things. Firstly, we are building our relationships and showing that we care about the other person’s life. Secondly, we are encouraging and supporting the person’s goals by showing interest and letting ourselves be open to the other person’s accountability in choosing their goals. You can extend this support by just saying you’ll be interested in their progress. It’s amazing how much of a lift it gives to show a genuine interest in someone’s journey.

Depending on the goal and your relationship with the person, you can offer to help directly. Offer a concrete idea if you can and make sure that whatever it is, it’s something you can (and will) do for them. This reinforces your interest in them as a person and their goals, and gives you a tangible way of engaging with them beyond day-to-day pleasantries.

Why should you help someone else with their goals? Giving of yourself builds relationships and strengthens your network. It builds your credibility and allows you to show integrity in a simple and genuine way. Above all, it builds self-esteem of the person you’re helping and yourself.

Finally, goals are always more fun when you have someone to share them with whether it’s yours or theirs. Helping is just another way of joining in the fun!

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is still working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and looking forward to a year of possibilities.

The One Thing You Can’t Get More of: Time

It goes without saying that I’ve been conspicuously absent from the blog this year. There are a lot of reasons for that, but top amongst them is the fact that I’ve had a terrible work-life balance. I admit it fully, and have been working to get things back than even keel for months. It has taken a lot of careful soul searching and prioritization, finding the things that are most important and giving them the driver’s seat.

Sadly that has meant putting my work to expand Careersherpas on hold while family and the (very consuming) day job project got my attention. It also means that my work on the book and other side projects had to wait. Things on my goal list have had to languish and wait expectantly for days when more energy and brain space was available to revisit them.

The advantage in all this was that I’ve received a valuable object lesson in managing priorities, and acknowledging what really matters to me. It is a gift I was grateful for this holiday season.

So much of our lives are taken up with the little things that we all need to be woken up sometimes. No matter how much this applies to you, today is a new day!

Stop, now!

You’ve taken the time to read this post. Set yourself a timer to spend five to ten minutes asking yourself what you missed doing in the last year, the last month, the last week, or even the last day. Whatever comes to mind was important to you.

Now, make time for it. Block time on your calendar. Schedule those vacation days. Commit to an open slot for being in your child’s classroom. Whatever it is you missed, take five minutes and put aside time for it.

Tell someone that you’re doing it, then don’t change the plan.

You’ve made a decision that this is important to you. You’ve set a time where you won’t miss it. Now you just have to do it!

If you’re ever tempted to back out remind yourself how it felt to miss out.

That regret stops today.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

Young Workers Want to Learn, Like Everyone Else

A very interesting point was made that young workers are jumping ship quickly because they aren’t learning enough.

Immediately I had to ask: Shouldn’t all of us want to be learning?

If we are in jobs and work environments where we aren’t learning, all of us run the risk of getting stale. There aren’t many things more detrimental to a career than stagnating. Even if we have no interest in changing jobs, expanding our ability and effectiveness in our current roles makes everyone more valuable as employees.

Add in the flexibility that new perspectives bring and we have an all around winning proposition.

One message to consider out of the findings is the pain companies cause themselves. As cuts have taken away in-house training options, companies need to keep their workforces flexible and up to date. Non-traditional training options like mentoring can provide growth opportunities that also strengthen engagement within the company. Plus with the right frame of reference the learning can be far deeper and more effective.

I’ll leave off with a quote from a former boss who described his approach to training like this:

My job is to make you the best you can be, and then make an environment where you don’t want to leave.

Maybe each of us can take someone under our wing and help them be their best while making them want to stick around.

Internet Self Image

A little while back I was asked whether the handsome gent in the heading image of this site was me by a contact I have not had the pleasure of meeting in person.

For the record, it isn’t. I can’t claim to be that good looking.

The question led me to an interesting thought about online personas. For better or worse, our online footprints present a particular image to the world which may or may not be putting our best foot forward. But beyond the horror stories of the drunken photos and off-color perspectives reaching the ears of current or potential employers, there’s another presentation type that might be hurting you.

One of the realities of the internet is that a person can present themselves however they like. That presentation might be honest and realistic, or it could be an illusion that came about intentionally or unintentionally. The fact is, however you appear someone will accept it at face value.

Something worth trying is googling yourself. Enter your name and your current home city or suburb into the magic box and see what comes back. As you eyeball the results, consider the following points.

  • Is everything you have posted about yourself true? Intentional trickery doesn’t do anyone much good in the long run. Sooner or later the truth will beam through whether we want it to or not. Proving to be less capable, skilled or knowledgeable than you present yourself to be is a very fast way to develop a bad reputation. Look at the message you are sending out and ask yourself if you’re being honest with everyone.
  • Has anyone else posted something that isn’t true? You may not be able to control this, but if someone is posting overly positive or negative messages that you can’t live up to or would hate to have spread, it’s worth encouraging a realistic picture.
  • Could you be confused with someone else? Yes, this happens. I regularly get email for roughly half a dozen people around the globe named ‘Peter Fitzgerald’. My name is so common, and I get such interesting people emailing me by accident, that I felt the need to search out other people with the same name to see what they did and where they were. The counterpoint is that there may be some less-than-pleasant people whose information might appear in search results for you.
  • Do the messages that you want to share show up? If you’re engaged and succeeding with what you do, that’s a message that should be shared! Find ways to have your successes communicated out. If you’ve spoken at a conference, user group or committee meeting, get it in the speaker lists and meeting minutes posted online. If a high-profile project launched, share it in your LinkedIn profile. Get the good word out!

We all like to put our best foot forward and the internet provides a wonderful platform to do just that. Use it! Know what you look like to potential employers and clients and make it the best, honest message it can be!

And if you need help figuring out where to go next, try contacting me.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.