Psychology Today: 5 Steps to Happiness

Heather Edwards Happiness

Psychology Today – Mark Banschick, MD. Article By Guest Blogger, Heather Edwards Reclaiming Happiness

Guest blogger Heather Edwards has a five important tips that’ll help you align with your heart’s desires.

The quest for health and happiness today seems like an uphill battle. Each day, the  issues gracing our headlines challenge the equilibrium of our hearts and soul. The politicsof the moment burdens our psyche. Many worry about jobs, paying for college or for rent; and the world continues to show its openness to violence, depressing our sense of peace, love, and hope for a better tomorrow.

We’re further misaligned by our own personal demons. Whether it’s illness, relationships, or finances, each of us has a complexity of individual struggles.

At times, it’s overwhelming.

Reclaiming Happiness:

Let’s go back to base camp. Hit the reset button.

Clear your mind of the negativity that surrounds you. Refocus. Try these five basic acts of goodness for your body and mind to revisit the quest for health and happiness in the short and long term…

  1. Honor your body. When you need rest, rest. When you need hydration, hydrate. When you need movement, move. Ignoring your basic physical needs leads to illness overtime. Sleep cleanses the neural pathways in your brain. Water cleanses your blood stream of toxins. Healthy meals provide essential nutrients to your organs, muscles, and bones that keep them strong. Don’t skip meals because you’re too busy.
  2. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Healthy relationships support healthy lives. You need to feel supported, loved, and connected to those around you. Get inspired. People who dream, aspire, and grow help you do the same. Shed the toxic relationships in your life. They will inadvertently kill you through negativity and stress.
  3. Focus on gratitude. Noticing what you already have creates a sense of peace in your life. When you stay focused on the positive, you naturally shape your entire outlook toward the good around you. The way you think affects the way you feel. The way you feel affects the way to behave. The way you behave affects your character. So who and how do you want to be?
  4. Get out into nature. There is evidence that staring at a tree reduces anxiety. It takes you out of your head and into the moment. Nature is awe inspiring. That’s an expansive, open, gracious experience. Go to the beach, look at a flower, google pictures of a mountain. It’s calming and can reset your mindset.
  5. Mindfulness = Heartfulness. Be truly present. In Chinese, heart and mind are the same word – xin. It is believed that if we are functioning with an open mind, we are also functioning from the heart. When you let go of opinions, wants, and judgments you experience freedom. Approach each moment with curiosity, openness, and generosity. Accept the reality of what is, instead of fighting against what you already know to be true. Just be.

These actions won’t directly change the circumstances of your life, but they will change your relationship to them. Just a moment of peace, love, and joy each day cumulatively strengthens your body and psyche. In the end, it makes a healthy heart and mind. And that makes the world a better place for everyone.

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Heather Edwards, MA, LMHC, is a therapist and life coach located in New York City. She can be reached for consultation at: 347-515-3966

www.NewYorkPsychotherapyandLifeCoaching.com

Follow me on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/nyctherapy

Psychology Today: 5 Ways to Happiness

Heather Edwards Happiness Psychotherapist CoachTime to get inspired. 5 Ways to Happiness.

This Psychology Today piece is by guest blogger: Heather Edwards. It is meant as wind behind your sails. It’s poetry, an action plan and modeling.

And, yes, it’s time to get going.

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Throughout the years, people have asked me how I do the intensive work that I do. This question perplexes me. I wonder the opposite.

How could I not do what I do?

Power Of Inspiration:

I am inspired by the healing, wanting, dreaming, changing, and transforming that happens in the therapy and coaching room everyday.

The person who leaves my office is not the same person who entered it 45 minutes earlier. They have a new insight, idea, peace, or focus to carry with them into the world.

Yes, it is sometimes difficult work. And it is always challenging. It ebbs and flows. But when you meet someone where they are — whether it’s a high point or low one — it validates them. It invites them to go somewhere else – somewhere better with you.

The Art Of Listening:

Non-judgment. Open awareness. Empathy. Compassion. Belief. That’s what I bring to the room.

Sure, I have a toolkit of therapy and coaching techniques, but those are rendered useless without the former as a foundation. With Carl Rogers as my teacher, I learned how to listen. When you truly hear someone, you can help someone.

Manifest Positive Intentions:

My mother is a birdwatcher, wildlife painter, and lover of life, family, and friends. I consider myself to be very similar in my passions. I’m not in the woods with binoculars, or in my artist studio with a paintbrush, but I’m in my office with eager people ready to stretch their wings and fly. They want to create. They want freedom. They want joy, purpose, and relevance. So do I.

It’s exhilarating, unpredictable, and yet, grounding.

Stay Grounded:

Trust. Authenticity. Courage. Hope. Intention. Abundance. Expansion. That’s what happens in the therapy and coaching room. It’s moving. It’s life changing. It’s what keeps me there and invites me back.

Balance:

Two sides of the same coin… Frustration/Hope…  Sorrow/Love…  Fear/Safety… And so on…  Spin it however you want. Whichever side of that coin faces up when the spinning stops, remember its source. A positive place, a wanting of light.

Embrace what you want.

Go deep down inside your gut.

Live. Love. Glow. Give.

Gratitude. Abundance. Positivity.

Believe in it. Embody it. Make it your truth.

 

Photo Source: iStock

Psychology Today – The Narcissistic Injury

This is a re-post of my article published in Psychology Today on December 7, 2015.

Heather Edwards Psychology Today

You Feel Stung, and Badly:

Someone says or does something that hurts deeply. You feel unseen, betrayed, invalidated, or simply criticized. You may feel it’s unfair or that you deserve it. Either way, you are having a tough time recovering.

It eats at you. The hurt somehow sticks. You feel ashamed that you can’t just let it go. Or respond in a healthy way. So you either nurse the wound privately, or you lash back in an over-reaction.

  • This is the Narcissistic Injury.
  • It’s common – and you need not be a Narcissist to feel its sting.

In this post, Heather Edwards(link is external) gives us ways to recover.

OUCH! It hurts!  Like a psychological punch in the gut.

It can feel like an existential crisis, an emotional assault, or a plain and simple embarrassment. You approached a situation or a person with an, “I got this” attitude and then Whamo!, it took a hard right south. You feel stupid, ill prepared, and less than worthy.

Your best friend calls and you are happy to help with whatever she needs. After all, you’re a good listener. You pick up the call, and instead of a warm hello…you get a nasty critique about your personality. “It’s always about you.” Or, “I just can’t believe what you did to me yesterday.”

Hi…You Suck.

It hurts.

You would have been fine if you knew a criticism was coming…but you didn’t, and it hurts because its partially true, and you weren’t ready. A psychological punch in the stomach.

The wound cuts deep. You feel deflated. It’s painful, because you trusted. The flip side for some of us who feel good about ourselves is the tendency to take criticism too hard.

The response is either self questioning or pointed rage.

  • Both are over-reactions.

You are studying for an important exam.

You put in days upon days and you are prepared. You walk into the exam…”let’s slay that beast.” A week later you find out that you did miserably. Your confidence drops into the toilet, feeling depressed.

You wonder if you even have what it takes to succeed.

  • Sometimes egos take a beating when they are too expansive.

It is okay to flub an exam. It is not a sign of moral weakness or even ineptitude. You are narcissistically wounded, and feel hurt to the core. It is as if your confidence was your enemy, like your trust was in the previous example.

It’s empowering to feel strong and confident:

It’s what you want, but how do you temper it so that it’s balanced, wise, and not overbearing? After all, you don’t want to be perceived as cocky, self-absorbed, or the “n” word – narcissistic! Ugh!

This is a conversation that comes up in the therapy and coaching room. Most want to know where to draw the line between self-care and self-ishness – and between pride and a braggardly pretention.

All emotions serve a purpose:

While ego keeps you moving forward, it can also defeat you. So be strong and self-assured, but season it with genuine regard for others and an open flexibility. If ego lies on a continuum of possibility, with extreme humility at one end and extreme pride on the other, then there’s a healthy amount in the middle that establishes balance.

It’s good to experience a sense of accomplishment, worthiness, comfort, and pleasure in who you are and how you indulge yourself:

Extreme pride, however, can lead to uncaring behaviors, or a bulldozer syndrome. Extreme humility can lead to victimization – or a doormat syndrome. Neither are attractive, healthy, nor desired. And both are destructive to relationships.

Here are a few tips for finding the sweet spot in your ego…

  1. Practice empathy – Take a walk in someone else’s shoes. Imagine what their experience of this moment is like. Consider the impact of your words and actions on them. If you’re unsure, ask them how they feel. Really listen.
  2. Get crystal clear on boundaries – Know what’s okay and not okay with you. Get comfortable with saying, “No”, “Yes”, and “Let me think about that”. Be assertive, not passive nor aggressive.
  3. Hit the reset button – Start an “Improve & Remove” list. Notice what you want more of, and what you want less of in your life. Be proactive. Develop a plan. Take action.
  4. Be open. Be aware. Stop judging. – Just be present. Drop into the now. With a mindful awareness of your values, intentions, and goals and an unconditional acceptance of others, you can stay grounded and keep your ego in check.
  5. Focus on the good – When you’re feeling the metaphorical smack down, get up &brush yourself off.  Remind yourself of your worth and lessons learned. Discover thewisdom in the experience and vow to do better next time. Don’t fall prey to fear, judgment, and self doubt. Those too need to be acknowledged, measured, and balanced.
  6. Know your truth – The more internalized your values have become, the easier it is to confront, deal with or simply walk away from something that is truly wrong.

In a 2011 Study by Ronningstam E. cited by NIH, there are “two sides of character functioning [in NPD], which include both self-serving and self-enhancing manifestations as well as hypersensitivity, fluctuations in self-esteem, and internal pain and fragility… they co-occur with depressivity and perfectionism.” This demonstrates there is a painful internal experience of NPD, not just the outward observable traits by which it is typically known.

Finally, as evidence of the universal struggle with managing ego, hear from the celebrated and wise among us:

“Because of its phantom nature, and despite elaborate defense mechanisms, the ego is very vulnerable and insecure, and it sees itself as constantly under threat. This, by the way, is the case even if the ego is outwardly very confident.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.” – Colin Powell

“All bad qualities centre round the ego. When the ego is gone, Realization results by itself. There are neither good nor bad qualities in the Self. The Self is free from all qualities. Qualities pertain to the mind only.” – Ramana Maharshi

“Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.” – Sigmund Freud

“Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog called ‘Ego’.” – Friederich Nietzsche

Heather Edwards Psychotherapy and Coaching at Oasis

Heather Edwards Counseling and CoachingHeather Edwards, LMHC, NCC, BCC is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and Board Certified Coach. She is a frequent contributor to Psychology Today writing on topics of wellness, clarity, and being the best version of yourself. She provides individual and couples therapy, and life coaching for career, relationships, and wellness.

Located at Oasis Day Spa, One Park Avenue, New York, NY she offers the following services:

The Couples Reconnection Session:

Validate and leverage your strengths as a couple. Rekindle the aspects of your relationship that drew you together and keep your bond strong. Together, shift your attention to the love, desire, and soulful foundation of your connection. Constructively, develop skills to work through conflict productively.

The Individual Reconnection Session:

Take a moment to reflect on your hectic pace and discover a mindful flow. Practice mindfulness through a personal exploration of your mind-body experience. Validate and acknowledge your experience without judgement. Leverage your strengths as an individual, clarify your purpose, and soothe your inner emotional responses to the many challenges of NYC life.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapy and Coaching at Oasis Day Spa

The Personal Transformation and Fulfillment Session:

Get crystal clear on your desires. Develop a step by step action plan to actualize the best version of yourself. Celebrate victories. Troubleshoot obstacles. Empower yourself to stretch to new heights and achieve the life you want.

Call Heather Edwards for an appointment: 347-515-3966

Psychology Today: 4 Ways to Clear Your Mind

By Heather Edwards – Guest Blogger

As I sit down to write this blog, I’m struck by three common themes in conversations with clients, family, and friends. Most of us have clarity about how we want to feel – happy, free, grounded. But instead, we end up frustrated, overwhelmed, and burdened. We get stuck and confused about how to internalize fleeting positivity in an enduring way.

In the quest for the seemingly elusive states of calm and life satisfaction, several common toxins manifest. But you can change them! Or better, clear them out.

Take stock of your life and notice which ones prevent you from living fully. Here are thetop four culprits. It may be time for a cleanse.

Toxic Relationships:

Let’s face it: Relationships of all sorts – friendships, family, and colleagues – can become toxic. Judgments, opinions, and expectations can kill camaraderie. Is there someone in your life who limits you? Do you feel boxed in when you’re with them?

Mind you, this is their box, not yours. When you notice a constriction rather than expansion of your ideas and actions, you’re probably in a toxic relationship. Your gut feeling can be the purest read of your interactions.

Replace Negative With Positive:

Consider ways to shift the negative energy of unhealthy relationships by setting boundaries, saying what you want, or even cutting ties.

Be with the people who support you, believe in you, accept, and encourage you. Imagine what life would be like if nobody stood in your way.

Toxic Beliefs:

How are you getting in your own way? When you listen closely to your internal monologue you might hear, “I can’t do it. I might fail. It’s too hard. I’m not strong enough, smart enough, or pretty enough.” Move toward your power, not away from it.

Say hello to fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Challenge it.

Replace it with power thoughts. Be a bitch (or the equivalent) and kick it to the curb! You don’t deserve to fall prey to the negative thinking. You can do anything you want to do. It begins with believing you are capable, worthy, and enough.

Toxic Over-Commitment:

Guilty as charged!

I’ve experienced all four of these toxins in my life, but this is the one I struggle with most. We all complain that there’s too much on our plate. We’re over obligated and sometimes over responsible.

C’mon! When you already have a meat, grain, vegetable, fruit, and dash of dairy on your plate, you don’t need more potatoes!

So take a breath. Step back. Evaluate the big picture. Even at the risk of letting someone down, start removing the extra beans. Prioritize. When you’re overextended, you won’t be successful in any of your commitments. Instead, you’ll be bloated and tired.

How many of these four toxins exist in your life? When you mindfully notice the myriad of distractions, limitations, and influences in your life that get in your way, you can honestlyevaluate what serves you well and what doesn’t.

Give yourself permission to say “no”, set boundaries, and make room for change.

You’ll be happy you did.

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This piece was a contribution by guest blogger, Heather Edwards(link is external), MA, LMHC, who is a therapist and life coach located in New York City. She can be reached for consultation at: 347-515-3966

www.NewYorkPsychotherapyandLifeCoaching.com(link is external)

Follow me on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/nyctherapy(link is external)

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For more on The Intelligent Divorce & Further Unorthodox Advice on Marriage, Relationships and Parenting:

Books on Kindle: The Intelligent Divorce (I & II)(link is external)

Books on Amazon: The Intelligent Divorce (I & II)(link is external)

Twitter: twitter.com/MarkBanschickMD

Website: www.TheIntelligentDivorce.com(link is external)

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Psychology Today – Saying Goodbye to Hurt

Hurt

Lingering resentment from things that have gone wrong is hard to shake. Whether it’s the result of a bad break up or a job loss, it’s best to find some resolution.

It would be wonderful if we all got exactly what we wanted, and when we wanted it.  But, the hard truth is that good things often take a lot of time and usually a few set backs along the way.

Once you’ve made a strong commitment and things still don’t work out, how do you pick up the pieces and carry on?  To find your center again, you’ll have to muster the strength to let go of negative feelings and shift your attention to a world that is more positive.

So, how do you get that betrayal or toxic boss out of your head?

Here are seven useful steps.

Start by noticing your experience of the situation:

How does it affect you? What are your thoughts? What are your feelings?

What’s happening in your body? Instead of looking outward for a quick fix look inward. Pay attention. Care for yourself. By watching your body and internal dialogue you can become aware; and its useful. If you start spinning out, you can notice it and reach out for some help. If you are down, you can talk about it. And, if you follow your breathing and slow down, you may just start to feel more grounded.

Catch your internal monologue in action:

The way we think affects the way we feel. Are those self-statements blaming, judgmental, or critical? Practice slowing those thoughts down by saying them out loud at an awkwardly slow pace. Breathe. Notice how they lose power when stifled in speed. Choose one statement and change a word or two in it to shift its meaning to a positive or neutral one. Say that statement slowly five times. Breathe. Notice the sense of relief this creates.

Acknowledge and validate your feelings:

Are you feeling angry, betrayed, or unappreciated? Those feelings are real!  They are a natural result of the events that occurred and how you thought about the situation. Even when events take an unfortunate turn, it is possible to find a nugget of wisdom, positivity, or self-growth in that experience. First, accept how you feel. Say, “I feel hurt!” Own it. Don’t fight it. Through a process of self-acceptance, a letting-go of those difficult feelings can occur. The more you deny them and “should” yourself, the more energy you give to the self-defeating thoughts and feelings.

Drop the word “should” from your vocabulary!

It implies guilt or wrongdoing. It may be true that you made a mistake. We all do, from time to time. It’s a fact of the human condition. Nobody’s perfect. Instead of blaming yourself, ask yourself what you could have done better. Your self talk would sound like this,  “It would be better if I had…” instead of “I shouldn’t have done or said this or that!” This new self statement acknowledges the blunder and turns it into a motivating statement for improvement rather than blame.

Notice your body:

Take a few moments to be still. Take three deep grounding breaths into the bottom of your belly and exhale completely. Do a body scan, beginning at the top of your head and working down through your torso, through your arms and legs and to the tips of your fingers and toes. Is there tension or discomfort anywhere? Some people feel a tightening in their shoulders and neck, others feel a knot in their stomach, and sometimes a clenching of fists or jaw occurs. This is where we store anxiety and stress. Practice simple breathing exercises for 5 minutes each day with special attention to relaxing and releasing those tense places.

Grieve Your Loss:

If you have been hurt or rejected there will be grief going forward. You lost a job, or a good friend, or the stability that you craved. Maybe you lost hope…for now.

Grief involves denial, anger, depression and then acceptance. Sometimes it involves forgiving, either yourself or someone else. It may shift over time from one feeling state to another. It’s grief and its normal. Over time grief allows our souls to heal. When done right, grief provides us the healing to move on. You will find your strength again.

Finding a Spiritual Way Through the Hurt:

Now, back to the terrible ex or the mean boss… well, trust that Karma is real and give that resentment up to the universe. It’s not benefitting you to hold it. It may, in fact be damaging you. The more time and energy you spend on negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences, the more ingrained they become in your DNA and brain structure. Let it go, like water under the bridge.

There is something bigger than our hurt, than our grief. This insight does not come quickly. And, it may be fleeting. But, over time, the hurt will diminish and you will become yourself again.

In the words of Buddha, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

 

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This piece was a contribution to Psychology Today by guest blogger, Heather Edwards, MA, LMHC, who is a therapist and life coach located in New York City. She can be reached for consultation at:

www.NewYorkPsychotherapyandLifeCoaching.com

Follow me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/nyctherapy

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Photo courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

Psychology Today – The Fire of Love

143932-145410Do You Want A Better Love Life?  This article was published on February 12, 2014 in Psychology Today.  It was coauthored by  Mark Banschick, M.D.

We all want love.

We want to be seen, validated, treasured and wanted. And we want to give. We want the freshness of love to invigorate our lives and put the whole world into perspective.

Love is more than sex…more than adoration…more than warm memories. It is alive and vibrant, like a warm fire on a cold winter’s day. Keep it stoked and it stays alive. Let it lie fallow, and don’t expect it to last.

With winter upon us, we’ve teamed up with guest blogger Heather Edwards about kindling more love in your life. Good things need attention – it’s a lesson about happiness.

A Day of Love 

Consider our communal celebration of love: Valentine’s Day. For a moment we are aware again of  love notes, red roses, and heart shaped chocolates. Romance is awakened and we feel reconnected. 

Or, consider your anniversary… the moment when you both commited to each other. Or, a birthday, a time to openly value him or her. They all work, but what about the next day?

Isn’t love more than a two or three day holiday?

Imagine removing the pressure. What if instead, we mindfully loved more generously and openly in our everyday lives and relationships? Everyday. Stop wasting your time and energy searching for differences, problems, and sources of anxiety—they’re way too easy to find and obsess about! Shift your focus to what is positive, good, and loving.

Yes a birthday, an anniversary and even, Valentine’s Day, all count. But, the fire of love is found in smaller, less significant moments as well.

Love is a way of feeling. It’s a way of thinking. And, it’s a way of behaving.

Let’s take a moment to consider the ways we celebrate our relationships. Not for just for two or three special moments, but 365 days per year.

Acts of Kindness

Whether you’re the gift giving type or the favor offering kind, remember the ways you reached out to your partner when your relationship was new. What were you eager to do for that person, simply for the sake of making him/her feel good? How did you express tenderness, infatuation, and desire? Rekindle those moments. Take time to plan a meal, give a massage, or connect through sharing ideas, dreams, and plans.

Listen carefully to her. Let him know how special he is. Love can spiral up.

“I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame.” —W.B. Yeats

Seek Adventure

When your relationship was new, everything you did together was adventurous simply because YOU were new to each other. Some of those activities may have gotten lost in the shuffle of responsibility, boredom, or routine. Keep novelty alive! If you are not new to each other anymore, find activities that are unique. Get outside your comfort zone, together. After all, getting to know each other was exciting and challenging when there was uncertainty. The world is fresh for discovery. There are new places to visit, new nuances of sex, a special date to break the routine, a project you both share. Recreate that excitement.

“What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame but something wild to run with.”  —Robert Brault

Adults Can Play Too

Whatever your age, playfulness is inside of you. Watch lovers as they hold hands or prance through the snow. They are awakening an inner child. Allow yourself a careless laugh or a fun, awkward moment. Kids make life special all the time (and unfortunately, we often want to silence all the action), and grownups can as well. Love brings out playfulness.

Do something ridiculous together. Go on a walk for half a day without a goal in sight. Wear something kooky because its fun. Make sex an adenture. Or, perhaps, just sneak away from the kids for a romantic moment, like two jailbirds on the run. (Of course you love your children. But there’s time for grownups as well.)

Let go a little. There’s fire in there.

Give Space for Love

One of the lest understood dynamics in passionate love is a passionate commitment to letting your lover have some space when he or she needs it. You undoubtably know that it’s natural to take time, like its natural to bond. In fact, they are both active ingredients in a healthy relationship.

Ask any man or woman who feels crowded in by their partner.

It’s not pleasant and will not promote love.

A good fire, like a relationship, needs spaces to breathe. Otherwise, it’ll choke itself out.

Sometimes love is kindled in the rawness of great sex. Sometimes, it’s getting away together. And, sometimes it’s being apart. Sorry, there is no easy formula here. Just know that love is best when it comes freely.

Greater Intimacy

Some confuse intimacy with sex. Although they can be mutually exclusive, they are far better when shaken and stirred together in a loving cocktail of sensuality. Touch frequently. Express gratitude. Speak warm sentiments. Be vulnerable. Ask for what you need. Confide your fears and exert your power (in a loving way, not threatening). Don’t assume. Generously give space. And passionately enjoy closeness. Take risks. Share your innermost self.

“Warm me like sunlight and soothe me like rain. Burn me with passion and steal away the pain.” —Tyler Knott Gregson

If you’re lucky enough to be in a loving relationship, nurture it every day. Keep your feet on the ground, your head on your shoulders, and notice how your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife shares this journey. It can be a slow burn or a hot one, but love can be had.

Is there a special day of love? Yes, everyday.

 

Psychology Today Article… Getting Unstuck: Revitalize Your Professional Self… Six Ways to a Better Job.

132320-131936

This article is published in Psychology Today by Heather Edwards and Mark Banschick.  It is entitled, “

Getting Unstuck: Revitalizing Your Work Life

Five Ways to a Better Job”.

 

Let’s face it.  We’ve all been there, running full speed

in the hamster wheel of work-exhaustion and

discontent. Job dissatisfaction can bring you down

and effect all areas of your life, if it is not addressed.

People often feel burned out and under-appreciated

at work.   “I feel so disrespected.”, “I’m bored with my

job and I deserve a promotion.”, “I’m overwhelmed, I

don’t enjoy my work anymore.”, are pretty common

expressions of burn out.  These are obvious

indicators that it’s time for a career make-over.  If you

put in the time, effort, and soul searching required,

you can create the career you want!  It seems like a

daunting task, but the alternative is not an option.

How does one turn that formidable rodent wheel of

work exhaustion into the grand Ferris Wheel of job

and life fulfillment?  Here are a few tips for re-defining

your professional self and getting on your way to a

purposeful and inspiring career.

Name Your Talents:

What are your special skills and strengths?  Everyone

has strengths!  What are yours?  Notice the

challenges and tasks that you enjoy.  Identify the

activities that give you energy, and a sense of

satisfaction.  Shift your focus to the responsibilities

you savor.  What are the small success within each of

those that you’ve mastered? Use this information to

develop the job description you want.  Consider

industries in which those assets are valued and

sought out.  “Hide not your talents. They for use were

made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” – Benjamin

Franklin.

Brainstorm:

Identify a few options.   Based on your answers to the

previous questions, what can you do differently

today?  Leverage your successes to ask for what you

want.  Here are a few ideas for how to do so.  Talk to

your boss about gaining more responsibility, or

peruse the internal job postings in other departments.

Consider starting your own business, or begin the

task of updating your resume and exploring external

options.  Perhaps your interests lie in a different

industry altogether.  Whatever your direction, stay

true to yourself.  The more you enjoy your job, the

less it will feel like work!  “Use what talents you

possess, the woods will be very silent if no birds sang

there except those that sang best.” – Henry van Dyke.

Gather Information:

What do you need to know?  You’ve completed the

first steps of career exploration.  Now that you’ve

identified what’s important to you, search out

industries and companies that match those

preferences.  Make a list of your top five target

organizations.  Begin researching their history,

mission, and products.  Go to networking activities,

such as industry conferences or business networking

groups.  Speak with people in those businesses.  Do

your homework to avoid jumping from the frying pan

into the fire!

Training and Education:

Is there a certification or license that would push you

over the next hurdle in your career?  Find out what is

required to achieve it.  If you’re planning to pursue a

different field, explore the education and credentialing

requirements for those jobs.  Collect informational

packets from professional schools and universities

with programs in your area of interest.

Remember, “The journey of a thousand miles begins

with one step.”, Lao Tzu.

Choose a Deadline:

This is a crucial factor in the process of self discovery

and change.  Creating a deadline helps you stay on

track in defining and aligning your path in career

development.  It keeps the journey time limited,

focused, and easier to manage by breaking down the

steps into weekly, monthly, and/or annual goals.

What do you want to accomplish by the end of this

week, this month, or this year?  Write it down.  Share

your intentions with others.  Accountability to yourself

and those you love will provide the structure and

support necessary to follow through on your plans.

Self Care:

Throughout the process, be good to yourself.  Job

hunting and career development can be

overwhelming!  Maintain life balance.  Establish

healthy boundaries.  Spend time with friends, family,

exercise, and have fun.  Be patient.  In the words of

Buddha, “There is no path to happiness: happiness is

the path.” So continue to embrace and be grateful for

the things you cherish.