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How to gauge if it’s a good company culture

A job interview is as much you deciding if you want to work somewhere as the company deciding if they want you to work there. A bad company culture can mean you will be back looking for a job sooner rather than later. But how can you gauge if it is a good company culture?

Why is this position vacant?

One of the best questions to ask is “Why is this position vacant” or “What happened to the person who previously held this job?” How they respond gives you a good idea of the company culture.

Positive answers.

“They were promoted internally.”

“The company is growing and this is a new opening.”

“They retired.” 

“They left for life reasons.”
All these answers indicate a healthy company that people want to stay at.

Neutral answers.

“They were let go due to job performance.”

“They gave two weeks but didn’t indicate future plans.”

“They left for an outside opportunity.”

These answers aren’t “bad” but you might want to probe a little further in to the culture if you hear these.

Bad answers.

“They were fired.”

“I don’t know.”

“They quit unexpectedly.”

Any response wherein the previous office holder is bad mouthed.
These answers all may suggest that its somewhere people don’t want to work.

Conclusion.

Listen to your gut when you are interviewing. If something doesn’t “feel right” probe further. It might be disappointing to decline a job but in the long term it means you will find a better company and be happy. 

The importance of positive instructions

 

“Don’t touch the stove, it’s hot.”
“Don’t run in to the road, there are cars.”
“Don’t mess this up.”
“Don’t trip as you walk down the aisle with everyone watching.”
We have a bias for the negative. Partly it is your brain trying to keep you alive. The amygdala has two thirds of its neurons wired for negative inputs. Studies have found that people are more likely to make a decision based on avoiding something bad than to get something good. It is also partly social conditioning too. All our lives we hear negatives. Our parents tell us not to touch the stove. Our teachers tell us not to talk in class. Our bosses tell us not to be late.
Here is the problem – after being told “don’t do that” people don’t actually know what they should do. You can’t do a “don’t.” Telling someone “don’t” isn’t actually helpful. It is actually unclear. So what can you do?
My first suggestion would be to start a gratitude journal. This will help train your brain to start looking for the positive around you. Not only will this help you give better instructions, there are actually numerous studies that have shown people who practice gratitude are measurably happier.
The second suggestion would be to start noticing how you are stating instructions. If you are about to tell someone “don’t”, pause, and then tell them what you do want them to do. If a “don’t” accidentally slips out then simply follow up with the “do.”
For example.

“Keep away from the stove, it’s hot.”
“Stay on the sidewalk, there are cars in the road.”
“Do your best.”
“Walk carefully one step at a time down the aisle.”
It will take time to change your default language from “don’t” to “do” because you have been doing it for so long. It is worth the effort to make the change however because your instructions will be much easier to follow. 

How to create a brilliant resume

According to a study in 2018, the average job posting gets over 250 applications. There is evidence to suggest that during the current period of high unemployment caused by the pandemic that that number is closer to 600 now. Whilst some applications will get weeded out by Application Tracking System software, at some point a human is going to have to look at all those resumes. Believe it or not a recruiter or hiring manager will look at your resume for an average of 7 seconds before deciding whether or not you are worth considering for the job. That means you have to create a resume that clearly communicates the most important information required to get an interview. You need to create a resume that will help you stand out. You need to create a brilliant resume.

Think of your resume is a marketing tool. An average candidate with an exceptional resume will get an interview over an exceptional candidate with an average resume. It may not be fair but it is true. Candidates who submit resumes that “sell” them are far more likely to be invited to an interview. So, how can you craft a resume that will get you an interview?

Types of resume

There are 3 standard types of resume. It is important to pick the right one for your situation to give you the best chance of being invited in for an interview. The 3 types are: Chronological, Functional and Hybrid.

Chronological.

This is the traditional resume. It lists your work experience in order, starting with the most recent. It is best when your work history is closely related to the job you are applying for. This type of resume is generally preferred by recruiters because it requires less guess work for them. It also shows your skills in context so they can see your career progression. Some online job applications will ask you to enter your experience in this order so no matter what kind of resume is better for your situation it is a good idea to have a chronological version.

Functional.

This type of resume emphasizes qualifications and accomplishments in place of specific jobs. It is best at highlighting skills. Functional resumes can be used to minimize career gaps or to show experience from several different industries. Generally computerized Applicant Tracking Systems don’t handle functional resumes well. Recruiters can also be wary of candidates using functional resumes because they think they are trying to hide something. (Which can be true.)

Hybrid.

This type of resume puts skills first before your work history. It is best at highlighting a mix of relevant skills and experience. This is the best resume format for most people because you get the benefits of a chronological and functional resume. For most people this is the best resume format to use. It combines the benefits of both the chronological and hybrid resumes.

A good layout for a hybrid resume is:

  • Name + Profession.
  • Summary.
  • Skills.
  • Experience.
  • Education.
  • Interests.

Name + Profession

Start with your name, profession and contact details at the very top of the page. Use your precious 7 seconds of the readers attention very carefully. Put your address and phone number at the bottom of the resume. They only need that information if they are really interested in you so don’t waste some of those seconds on information that isn’t going to get you an interview.

Your “profession” should be the type of job you want rather than what you actually do now. For example if you are a supervisor now but want to be a manager list your profession as “Customer Service Manager.” Putting your profession at the top subconsciously plants the seed with the person reading the resume that that’s what you are. It also reassures them that you are not applying for a job you have no experience in.

Make sure you use a professional sounding email address. Recruiters will discard resumes with “funny” email addresses such as fluffybunny@aol.com. Even if your email address doesn’t reflect who you really are, recruiters will often use the smallest excuse to discount a candidate and move on to the next resume. If your email address isn’t just your name, it’s worth signing up for a new account for your job search. “Janesmith331@gmail.com is more likely to get an interview than fluffybunny@aol.com.

Example:

Jane Smith | Head Chef | janesmith331@gmail.com

Summary:

Use the summary in your resume to convince the recruiter you can do the job. Often people use the summary to list traits like “team player” or “results driven.” You may exemplify these things however you haven’t given any proof. Everyone uses these words so they don’t mean much to the person reading the resume. Instead tailor your summary to each job you apply for and included specifics.

Start with a sentence giving some context as to who you are. For example “I am a seasoned technology leader with 10 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies.” Again, you want to adapt this for each position you apply for to highlight why you are a good fit for this specific job.

Then list two quantifiable accomplishments that prove you are capable of doing the job you are applying for. Rather than just saying “skilled project manager” say “skilled project manager who managed $4 million software implementation 2 months ahead of schedule and under 5% under budget.” Prove to them that you can do what you are saying.

Here are some suggestions of good phrases to use in your summary.

Communication skills:

“Writes clearly and concisely.”
“Speaks effectively.”
“Openly expresses ideas.”
“Speaks confidently in public.”

Interpersonal skills:

“Works well with others.”
“Supportive.”
“Cooperates.”
“Delegates effectively.”

Management skills:

“Leads groups.”
“Counsels and coaches.”
“Manages conflict.”
“Directs others.”
“Takes charge.”

Organization skills:

“Detail oriented.”
“Manages projects effectively.”
“Sets goals.”
“Meets deadlines.”

Action words:

“Advises.”
“Directs.”
“Generates.”
“Improves.”
“Influences.”
“Motivates.”
“Resolves.”

Example:

“Experienced Finance Director with 12 years of experience in a Big 4 company. Talented people leader who has supervised teams of 50 people in 4 states. Accomplished at budget management and reduced operating costs by 5% for 3 years in a row.”

Skills:

The skills section should take up no more than 3 lines on your resume. In it list key words to articulate your skills across the page. Use the same terms as the job description. (Obviously only list skills you actually have.) This will help your resume get through the filter of an Applicant Tracking System. Also, if you are applying for a technical position, there is a good chance the HR person or recruiter looking at your resume may not know the nitty gritty details like C++ is an object oriented programming language.

Example:

PMI Certified Project Manager – Microsoft Project – Asana – Budget Management – Servant Leadership – Internal Communication.

Experience:

The experience section is your last opportunity to prove you can do the job. Start by putting the company name, job title and dates on one line. Use bold formatting to make it stand out. Make sure to include the month and year of employment. Include an explanation for any gaps in your employment history to remove possible question marks from your application.

Example:

Amazon.com : Project Manager : September 2010 – May 2015

Then put 3 bullets that quantifiably explain what you did in the role. List your top, relevant, achievements while you were in the position. You should only include accomplishments that apply to the job you are after. Remember you have precious seconds to convince the reader to bring you in for an interview. Make sure you include numbers to back up what you are saying.

Example:

Deployed Google Apps software to 5000 users across 7 geographical locations.

Lastly, include 2 bullet points that cover any parts of your job description not mentioned in the first 3 bullets. The further down your work experience you get the less information you should include. Use your precious seconds sparingly.

Education:

Unless you are applying to academia, or you are applying for your very first job, limit your education to listing your place of study, your qualifications and maybe one major accomplishment.

Example:

King’s College London : 2005 – 2009
Bachelor’s Degree in Economics
Dean’s List 3 semesters

Cambridge High School 2000 – 2005
High School Diploma

Interests:

Finally, put down what you do outside of work. Your interests may not be directly applicable to the work, but people like people like themselves – and people hire people they like. In fact studies suggest that 60% of the hiring decision is based on “likability.” List your hobbies and interests as a way to build common ground. It also shows you are a well rounded human. Keep it short though.

Example:

Skiing. Baking. Volunteering at Abandoned Orchid Farm.

Formatting.

A note about formatting your resume – unless you are a graphic designer, don’t be a graphic designer! Keep your formatting simple. Use the same font throughout your resume. Use bold and larger fonts for headings and use bullets and lines to break up the information. Avoid columns and graphics (unless you are a graphic designer) as these will get mangled by an Applicant Tracking System.

Proof reading.

Last, but not least, get someone else to proof read your resume. 63% of employers in a survey said they would reject a resume with a spelling mistake in it! It is impossible to correct your own work because your brain tells you what it knows should be there instead of what actually is there. A candidate with a resume with a mistake in will be discarded from consideration before a candidate with no mistakes in their resume. Again it might not be fair but a recruiter who has to go through 250 or even 600 resumes is looking for any reason to ditch a resume.

Example resume:

TAYLOR FAST : BAKER : TAYLOR@FAST.COM

SUMMARY: An experienced pastry chef with a track record of reducing waste by 10% and increasing profitability by 20%. Graduate of Cordon Bleu Paris and studied under Chef Tresbien at Perfect Pastry.

SKILLS: Baking. Icing. Estimating baking jobs. Pastry Project Management. Portion control. Budgeting. Hiring. Lean 6 Sigma.

EXPERIENCE:

Perfect Pastry (June 2014 – present)
Head Chef
+ Baked for party with Queen of England.
+ Managed team of 10 kitchen staff.
+ Improved profitability by 20%.

Common Cooking Cafe (October 2010 – May 2014)
Sous Chef
+ Supervised entire kitchen on Chefs day off.
+ Implemented portion control and reduced waste by 10%.
+ Created choux pastry team.

McDonalds (July 2006 – September 2010)
Burger Cook
+ Cooked 200 burgers an hour.
+ Kept ice cream machine running for 2 months straight

EDUCATION:

Cordon Bleu Paris (2006 – 2010)
Degree in French Bakery
+ Graduated at top of class.
+ Won cookie decorating competition.

Safe Baking Certified

INTERESTS: Karate. Musical theatre.

Tailoring your resume.

The number one piece of advice people hear about resumes is “tailor your resume to each job.” But how exactly do you “tailor” a resume? What exactly do you need to change? A good resume is about you. A great resume is about them. Alter your resume so it aligns with each position you are applying for. I firmly believe that a professionally written resume can increase the chances of getting an interview. However I consider them to only be the starting point. You should tailor your resume for every single position you apply for.

Match wording.

First go through and match the wording in your resume to the job description. This will increase the chances of your resume getting through an Applicant Tracking System filter. Also the Recruiter screening applications may not necessarily know the technical nuances of the position. If the job description says “finance” instead of “accounting” then put that in your resume. If the job description says “cloud” instead of “Saas” then put that in your resume. If the job description says “biscuits” instead of “cookies” then put that in your resume. Make it easy for the person (or computer system) reviewing your resume to see that you have relevant skills or experience.

Make the first bullet point relevant.

Change the order of the bullet points for each position so the first one is immediately relevant to the position you are applying for. Hook them in so they keep reading the rest of your accomplishments for that job before they skim to the next job you have listed.

Remove irrelevant information.

Remember a recruiter is going to look at your resume for 7 seconds. Remove information that isn’t applicable to the position you are applying for. Don’t make them have to read through information that doesn’t help your application to find the information that is relevant.

Put skills in context.

Recruiters prefer to see skills in context. Show them how and why you have used a skills. This helps prove that you really do possess the skill. Make sure to include quantifiable accomplishments to further convince them.

Cover letters.

Should you write a cover letter? Imagine you are a recruiter trying to fill a new position. You have a stack of 250 (or even 600) resumes to wade through to try and decide who is worth bringing in for an interview. It’s hard work! You have to analyze the resume to see if the person has the relevant experience and skills. Then you come across a application that also has a letter summarizing why the person meets the requirements of the job posting. That person just made the recruiters life easier and is more likely to be picked for an interview. In fact only 18% of candidates include a cover letter with their application. Those candidates are more likely to be invited for an interview because (a) they stand out because they put in a little more effort and (b) they made it easier for the recruiter to find the relevant information. That’s why you should include a cover letter in your application!

Begin with a generic greeting like “to whom it may concern.” Avoid upsetting the recruiter by making any gender assumptions.

Next, start your cover letter by letting the reader know that you are experienced in the job area you are applying for. This plants the seed that you are a whatever they are looking for.

Then tell them you would be great for the job because you can help solve whatever problem the business has in the job description. For example managing projects in time and under budget. Be sure to include the actual job title you are applying for. It is important to customize your cover letter for every single job you apply for. Never send a generic cover letter, it won’t help your application at all and it may even count against you (recruiters can spot a generic cover letter a mile away!)

After that tell them that you really like specific roles in the job. For example budgeting, managing people, producing metrics. This tells them that you want this job not just any job.

Then call their attention to relevant skills you have listed in your resume. For example GAAP accounting or SQL server administration. This will make sure they go look for those details in your resume.

Finish off by mentioning something you like about the companies culture. Go to the “about us” page on their website and find a part of the culture or values they mention. If the company thinks its important enough to mention on the website then it is something they will look for in new hires.

Lastly sign off letting them know you can’t wait to talk with them more about the position.

Sample cover letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a seasoned professional with a background in (AREA.)

I would be a great fit for the (JOB) position because my experience will enable me to help you start (REQUIREMENT) quickly. I have a passion for (ROLE), (ROLE) and (ROLE.) You will also see from my resume I have a history of (SKILL) and (SKILL). Lastly, I am a big proponent (CULTURE.)

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

NAME

Conclusion

You resume really is the most important document in your job search. It is what is going to determine whether or not you are asked for an interview. The majority of resumes are lackluster. If you can create a brilliant resume you will stand out above the others. It takes some effort but it makes a difference.

Good Walk

“BE HAPPY. GO FOR A GOOD WALK.”

“Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.” – Stephen Covey.

Why are some people happier than others? Research has found that 40% of a person’s happiness comes from their choice to be happy, 50% comes from their actions and 10% is unaccounted for. The happiest people make the choice to be happy and they also proactively take steps to be happy.

Several studies have shown that happy people exercise regularly, they get fresh air and sunshine often, they cultivate good relationships daily, they smile and they express gratitude frequently.

A Good Walk is a simple idea that anyone can use to help cultivate their own happiness. It doesn’t require any special equipment, it doesn’t cost anything to do, and it is based on scientific research. This site explains everything you need to know about a Good Walk and how you can start going for a Good Walk yourself.

STEP 1: GO FOR A GOOD WALK

The first component of a Good Walk is going outside and taking a walk. Walking outside provides fresh air, sunshine and exercise – all proven to make people happier. Walking is an activity that almost anyone can do without having to buy any equipment or take any classes.

The University of Sussex conducted research with 20,000 people in England and discovered that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather contributes the most to a person’s good mood. Exposure to sunlight releases a hormone called serotonin, which has been associated with boosting mood, as well as helping a person feel calm and focused.

Research published in the Journal of Health Psychology showed that in a study of 400 people, exercising for just 7 minutes a day made them more relaxed, improved their brainpower, and made them feel better about themselves.

A study at Scripps College in California found that a 10 minute walk outside can boost a persons mood for 2 hours. The same study found that people who fit 10 minutes of activity in to their day think better, remember better and have better reactions times.

Studies from both the University of Colorado and the University of Utah found that a 30 minute walk a day can reduce the symptoms of depression by 36%.

Scientists also know that exercising releases a chemical called endorphins. This reduces the perception of pain and triggers a positive feeling in the body similar to morphine.

In summary, the combination of sunlight and exercise when going for a walk outside will make you feel happier.

STEP 2: WITH GOOD PEOPLE

The next part of a Good Walk is to have a companion when you go for your walk. Spending time with other people and maintaining good relationships has been shown by research at Harvard University to make people happier, feel more cared for, and live longer. This is backed up by several other studies that all found experiencing positive emotions with someone else, giving and receiving support, and having shared experiences all contribute to a person’s happiness.

You become more like the people you spend the most time with. If you find positive, optimistic, happy, people to take a ‘good walk’ with, they will rub off on you and you will become more positive, more optimistic and happier yourself. Positive people are more likely to accept your invitation for a Good Walk as well!

A Good Walk is also a perfect activity to do as a family. Not only can a Good Walk make you personally happier but also it can help with the well being of the whole family. Walking is an activity that people of all ages can do. Research has shown that children in families that spend time together get better grades in school, have fewer behavioral issues and are at a lower risk for substance abuse.

A 20 minute walk is enough to give the benefits of a Good Walk and should be short enough for most children to be able to do. To make your Good Walk more appealing to kids you could have a scavenger hunt along the way or plan your route so you end up somewhere fun at the end like a play park, a sports field, or even a snack place.

In short, the benefits of a Good Walk are amplified by taking it with someone else.

STEP 3: TALK ABOUT GOOD THINGS

The final element of a Good Walk is to talk about “good things” as you walk. Make a point to only discuss about good, positive, topics on your Good Walk. Talk about something that made you smile. Talk about something you are grateful for. Talk about something you are excited about. Save moaning, complaining, whining or anything negative for another time.Talk about something that made you smile. Talk about something you are grateful for. Talk about something you are excited about.

Talking about good things has been linked with a person’s increased happiness. Researchers at Michigan State University found that people who cultivated positive thoughts by focusing on good things were more engaged in their work and had better moods.

Studies have found that people who express gratitude on a regular basis have increased happiness, improved life satisfaction and decreased depressive symptoms.

The following questions should help stimulate “good talk” on your good walk.

• “What is something that made you smile?”

• “What are you grateful for?”

• “What are you excited about?”

If you have kids on your Good Walk get them to tell you:

• I had fun when…

• I am glad that…

• I am excited about…

Remember, only talk about good things on your Good Walk. Keep the conversation positive.

In conclusion, talking about “good things” will help make you happier.

CONCLUSION

A Good Walk is a simple idea that really can help you cultivate happiness in your life. It’s as easy as going for a good walk, with good people and discussing good things.

In addition to cultivating happiness, walking has many health benefits as well:

• Walking 2 hours a week can reduce the chance of a stroke by 30%.

• A 40 minute walk 3 times a week protects the area of the brain associated with memory.

• Walking 3500 steps a day reduces your chances of diabetes by 29%.

• A 1-hour daily walk can cut your risk of obesity in half.

• Walking 30 minutes most days drastically reduces the chance of heart disease.

Try and take a Good Walk every day. If the weather isn’t conducive to walking outside, then walk inside with someone and talk about good things. If your schedule doesn’t align with a companion then go for a walk by yourself and think good thoughts to yourself. If you have a dog, take it for a Good Walk, research shows people with pets are generally happier. The benefits of a Good Walk can be felt in just 10 minutes, so lack of time should never be an excuse. A good walk is good for building team cohesiveness, it’s a good way to spend quality family time, it’s a good activity to do with your partner and it’s a really good way to turn a bad day around.

Make your Good Walk a habit. Put it on the calendar. Invite a friend. Set a reminder on your phone. Post an open invite on social media for your friends. Do it at lunchtime or after dinner every day. It’s worth the effort, a Good Walk really will make you happier.

Disclaimer. The organizers of Good Walk are not trained guides or therapists. Participants assume all responsibility for their own safety and happiness while on a good walk.

25 things to be grateful for

 

Numerous studies have shown that expressing gratitude on a regular basis will measurably improve happiness. When you start a practice of gratitude it can be hard to think of things to be grateful for. As with everything in life, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Here is a list of things you can be grateful for to help you get started. 

1. Health. If you are healthy, be grateful for that. If your health isn’t perfect, be grateful for the ailments you don’t have.

2. Hearing. Be grateful you still have your hearing.

3. Sight. Be grateful you can see.

4. Waking up. Be grateful you woke up today.

5. Healthcare. Be grateful you live somewhere with access to healthcare.

6. Children. Be grateful for your children.

7. Friends. Be grateful you have friends.

8. Parents. If your parents are still alive, be grateful for them.

9. Pets. If you have a pet, be grateful for the unconditional love they give you.

10. Weekends. If you get the weekend off, be grateful for that.

11. Money. If you can pay your bills, be grateful for that. If you are able to save money each month be grateful for that.

12. House. If you have a roof over your head be grateful for that.

13. Plumbing. Be grateful you have indoor plumbing.

14. Electricity. Be grateful you have power to your home.

15. Air conditioning. If you live somewhere hot be grateful you have air conditioning.

16. Heat. If you live somewhere cold be grateful you have heating.

17. Car. If you have a car, be grateful for having a means of transport.

18. Food. Be grateful you live somewhere with a plentiful supply of food.

19. Job. Even if you don’t always love your job, be grateful you have one.

20. Clothes. Be grateful for the clothes on your back.

21. Internet. Be grateful you have an internet connection.

22. Fresh air. Be grateful you live somewhere with no pollution.

23. Art. Be grateful for art and artists who enrich the world.

24. Holidays. Be grateful for extended time off.

25. Freedom of speech. Be grateful that you live somewhere that has freedom of speech.

There you go, 25 things to be grateful for. You will find that once you start expressing gratitude on a regular basis it will become easier and easier to find things to be grateful for. You will go from struggling to find one thing to be grateful for to having to pick from three or four. It’s a beautiful thing!

What is the Scandi Sense Diet?

 

What is a good weight loss diet

First of all, I don’t like the idea of “going on a diet” because (lots of) studies show that people who “go on a diet” eventually “go off a diet” and end up weighing more. If you want to lose weight for the long term you need to make lifestyle changes. You guessed it – you have to change your eating habits. There are many, many, weight loss diets out there but the good ones, the ones recommended by medical professionals help you eat healthy food in reasonable amounts.

There are many ways to make sure you eat healthy food in reasonable amounts. Weight Watchers uses a point system and Noom uses food colors and densities. The Scandi Sense Diet uses your hands. Incidentally, the best diet is the one you can stick to. 

Scandi Sense Diet

The Scandi Sense Diet is the simplest approach I have heard of. The one line summary is you eat three meals a day, each consisting of two handfuls of veggies, one handful of protein and one handful of fruit or starch. You literally use the size of your hand to measure how much food to put on your plate. The beauty of this is bigger people tend to have bigger hands and subsequently eat more and small people have smaller hands and subsequently eat less. No calorie counting required! How simple is that?

There are a couple of other guidelines. First, you only eat three meals a day – no snacking. There is no proof that six small meals are better than three big meals. Second, at least two of the meals must contain all the handfuls. Thirdly, if you over eat at one meal, simply start again at the next meal – no skipping meals, just restart. I love this, its so realistic.

Of course there is a little more to it. The Scandi Sense website has more information. There is also a longer book that I highly recommend. Lastly you can learn about Scandi Sense in 5 minutes from this video on Youtube:

The Scandi Sense Diet is very popular in Scandinavia but even though its been around for several years isnt very well known in the US. If you are looking for a simple way to eat healthier and lose weight, I highly recommend giving Scandi Sense a go to see if its the right approach for you.

The Big Why of all goals

 

Goals

Goalbits are GOAL-based habits. The goal part is as important as the habit. Your goal should give you a “why” or a reason to persevere with your habit. Your goal should be something YOU want to change not something someone else thinks you should change.

Your goal could be to lose weight, or get fit, or save money. But why do you want to do these things? Because you think you are too heavy, too unfit or dont save enough. I would say these are the little “whys.” They are certainly objectives you want to meet but weight, fitness or money are not the real “Big Why.”

Bigs Whys

Believe it or not, behind every goal is the same Big Why. That Big Why is to be happier. You think you will be happier then you are thinner. You think you will be happier when you are fitter. You think you will be happier when you have more savings. The truth is this may or may not be true. If you lose your goal weight and say, well I if I could just lose a little more weight then I will be even happier. If I could just be a little fitter I will be even more happy. If I could save a little more I would be even happier.

You can always do a little more, and its good to keep growing (or shrinking) but if you never take the time to appreciate achieving each goal along the way you will never achieve the Big Why of being happier.

Be grateful for what you have while striving for more

Be grateful for what you have while striving for more. This is how you can achieve your Big Why. Celebrate milestones, appreciate how far you have come. Focus on your successess no matter how small while all the time trying to get a little bit better.

Goals can be a good thing if you take the time to appreciate achieving them instead of being unhappy that you didnt just do a little bit more.

How to be BOLD

I was at my daughters state spelling championships a few years ago. Some of the smartest kids in the whole state were competing. Watching them, what struck me was that many of the students seemed to lack of confidence. They shouldn’t have. Every one there had won numerous competitions to get to the championships. They had spent hour practicing and they had proven themselves by progressing through many rounds of competition to get to the championships. Yet they didn’t make eye contact, they were hunched forward and they gave their answers tentatively. They didn’t seem to have confidence in themselves.

Unfortunately I see this in adults in the workplace too. This lack of confidence holds people back. It stops them from doing things they are actually capable of. It stops people from applying for jobs they are actually capable of. It stops them from giving presentations on topics they actually know a lot about. It stops them from confronting inappropriate behavior from others. Sadly, this lack of confidence becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. They doubt they are capable, so they don’t even try.

I get it, its hard to do something new, its hard to get our of your comfort zone. You can’t just tell someone to be “more confident” however. So what can you do to actually boost someones confidence? Well in my quest to answer this question I went off and did a lot of research on proven ways to be more confident. Each part of BOLD has been created and tested by actual scientists. I have just combined these proven techniques in to one tool I have called “BOLD.” “BOLD” is both the components and the end result. As a disclaimer, doing BOLD once will not magically turn you in to the worlds most confident person. It will however give you a little boost to do the thing that scares you. As you practice the technique more and more your confidence will grow too.

Lets start with what “bold” means. This is how the dictionary defines “bold.”
Bold
/bōld/
adjective: (of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous or (of a color or design) having a strong or vivid appearance.
noun: a bold typeface or letter

Being “confident” and “courageous” sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Here are the four steps to being BOLD.

B – Breath

Imagine you are in the heat of a literal battle. You are hiding behind a small wall while people are trying to shoot and kill you. Your stress rate is high, your muscles are tense, your heart is beating fast and you are breathing quickly. Navy SEALS face this exact situation and are taught a technique called “Box Breathing” to help them stay calm. This technique helps them calm down, it relaxes the body, it slows their heart rate and breathing to a normal speed. your thoughts, slows your heart rate, and regulates your autonomic nervous system. If it works in life or death situations it will certainly work in normal life situations to calm you down. The first step in BOLD is to start by doing 3 cycles of “Box Breathing.” 

How to box breath:

  • Inhale for the count of four.
  • Hold for the count of four.
  • Exhale for the count of four.
  • Hold for the count of four.

Repeat three times.

Practicing box breathing will calm you down. Its much easier to be confident and courageous when you are calm!

O – Open

Now you are calm, stand in an open body position. People who are nervous or unsure have a closed body position. They look down, they are hunched over and they cross their arms and legs. Stand (or sit) up tall. Straighten your spine. Look forward and slightly up with your head. Put your chest out and your shoulders back. Keep your hands at your sides.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that sitting or standing up straight in an open body position actually gives people more confidence. A study at San Francisco State University also found people with good posture were more confident and actually performed better at math problems. Adopting an open body position will actually make you feel more confident – and BOLDer.

L – List.

We often know what we don’t want to do – “I hope I don’t forget my words,” “I hope I don’t mess up this interview,” “I hope my boss doesn’t say no to my request.” However, to be BOLD, you need to know what you WANT to do. You can’t do a negative. You need to list positives.

Now you are calm and have adopted an open body posture the next step is to list what you want to do. For example:

“I will give the answers I have prepared confidently.”

D – Decide.

Several years ago researchers conducted an experiment on two groups of students. The first group had to specify when and where they would work on a homework assignment. The second group did not. They found 71% of the first group completed the assignment compared to 32% of the other group. The idea of committing to something is called “implementation intentions” and over 100 different studies has found that people people who state when they will do something are two to three times more likely to follow through.  

The final step in B.O.L.D. is to decide when you will do your list. Use a “when… then…” statement. For example:

“When I walk in to my bosses office then I will sit down and calmly state my case.”

Be BOLD!

There you go. Everything you need to be BOLD. Practice the BOLD technique before you need it. The more you do it the easier it will become for you to be BOLD when you need to. If you don’t have a specific situation you need to prepare for then replace the list with a mantra or affirmation for example “I can do anything I set my mind to” and decide “I can and on 3 I will.” You can start a habit of practicing BOLD every time you wash your hands after you have gone to the bathroom. The more you practice the better you will get and the BOLDer you will become! You can use BOLD to give yourself whenever you need a confidence boost whether it be a state spelling championship, a speech at work or a job interview.

Barney Matthews
© 2021

The importance of rewards in habit formation.

Every habit has 3 parts. The Reminder. The Routine. The Reward. The reminder is what triggers you to do the habit. The routine is the actual habit you want to do. The reward is what makes you want to do the routine again in the future. When designing a new habit it is important to include a good reward at the end.

A good reward is something that makes you feel good. It’s the immediate payoff for completing your habit. Psychologists talk about instant and delayed gratification. Instant gratification is wanting immediate results. Delayed gratification is being able to wait for the results. Generally the results of delayed gratification are bigger. The results of your habit, for example doing pushups, usually wont be immediate. To help build your habit it is important to build in some form of instant gratification.

The type of reward that will be most effective will depend from person to person. For some people the satisfaction of putting an “X” in a chart showing you have done your habit for the day is a reward. For other people, some positive self talk like telling yourself you are proud of you because you did your reward will be a good reward. For other people allowing themselves a guilty pleasure like watching an episode of their favorite reality TV show will be a good reward. It should be noted that rewards should not undo the benefit of your habit, for example rewarding yourself with eating a bowl of candy is not a good reward for eating salad for dinner!