Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So This Is It...

Who knew finishing school would be so anticlimactic? I thought it would be more like when you walk into your house, throw your keys down on the table, and go through the roof because there's a room full of your closest family and friends waiting to surprise you.

There was no surprise party when I got home today.

I just finished my last final exam of my most recent academic experience. Two diplomas in two years. Crazy.

I picked up the dog who happened to have a more exciting day than I did while at puppy day care. We pulled up and sauntered in through the front door--both of us exhausted. I sat down in the living room and turned on the TV and these strange pangs started in my stomach. I recognized this feeling… it was guilt!!

What the heck was guilt doing in my stomach? It was like an automatic response to sitting down and turning on the television. I felt guilty that I wasn’t working on school stuff!

Newsflash to my brain… I am done… D-O-N-E… like dinner. No more school, no more assignments, no more studying, no more finals, and no more guilt. Maybe. I haven’t been out of the workforce that long, but I seem to remember before I had mounds of homework I still felt guilty about needing to do stuff when I could barely muster enough energy to click “power” on the remote.

So maybe the guilt was always there, it just got worse with school.

Feeling guilty about stuff on the to-do list is so anti-productive. It slows you down kind of like how multi-tasking brings efficient processes down to a common denominator called “wading through molasses.” And really what it’s doing is reducing your capabilities to nothing.

The best way I’ve found to get rid of these guilty feelings… is to eat.. : ) NO, just kidding. That’s the last thing you want to do. You’ll have gained 100lbs. before you don’t feel guilty anymore. It’s really to realize that you made a mistake by procrastinating and move on!

Take in the lesson and do it differently next time, and if there’s no lesson to be learned than just stop beating up on yourself.

Speaking of procrastination, I better get back to… huh… nothing I guess!

**This post is in honour of me because I made it, I am a graduate, and I’m done.**   : )

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's an INFJ?

INFJ.  It sounds like jargon.  Like an acronym for something with a long confusing title.  I suppose that's true because it stands for Inutition, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging.

So what does it all mean?  Well, one day last spring I decided to take the Myers-Briggs Personality test in my quest to understand my personality better.  We'd done the Keirsey Temperment Sorter in school which is quite similar.

I took the test... and it was long!  I was dying to see the answers--my assessment.  I have a sort of obsessive desire to know things, especially know more about myself and how I interact with others.  I wanted to bite my fingernails while I waited in suspense.

I sorted out all my answers and came up with an acronym.  INFJ.  I read the assessment and went cold as statement after statement hit my personality on the nose.  I had never encountered a "quiz" like this to be so revealing.  I really didn't want to share my findings with anyone at the time because it felt like I was naked in front of the world.

But now I'm proud of who I am.  Here are a few of the characteristics that dropped me to my knees:

Excerpts taken from Portrait of an INFJ

"Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types."

"They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand."
"They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions."

"INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get "feelings" about things and intuitively understand them."

"Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it."

"INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring."

"They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress."

"On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves - there's always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them."

"They believe in constant growth, and don't often take time to revel in their accomplishments."

"In the workplace, the INFJ usually shows up in areas where they can be creative and somewhat independent."

"The INFJ individual is gifted in ways that other types are not. Life is not necessarily easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement."

Anyone who read my "You As A Brand" post will likely recognize some similarities between what I wrote then with the characteristics listed above.

Take a moment to reflect on your own personality.  If you're as curious as I am I bet you're half way to the website already.  It's amazing how much better you can perform at work, school, or home when you have some idea why you do the things you do.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Added subscription & forwarding options

Google is my friend, Google is my friend!  Knowing nothing about blogging, but knowing something about reading others blogs told me I needed a way to let other share information.

I know when I come across a good blog post I think of who might benefit from reading it in my circle and I send it on by email, or Facebook, and sometimes Twitter.

So low and behold I Googled how I could let other people do that on my blog and they gave me the answer.  : )  I added an RSS subscription option and the option to forward via email, twitter, Facebook, and that ambiguous Share This button which I see everywhere.  I am so going to offend any and all techies.  Sorry.

Also added Blogger's option to check a reaction box.  Looked neat to me, but I'm probably the worst person to decide what other people's reactions are to my writing.  I'm a little biased I think.

Anyways, enjoy and thanks to all who have visited my site in these early days.  Gotta love Feedjit!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Really Tiny Baby Steps

I'm trying to make some changes in my life these days.  There's a lot of change on the horizon for me with my graduation around the corner, and starting a family is lurking within the next year. 

I've recruited the help of a change specialist because change doesn't come easy, even when you're motivated to do so.  I talked with Deborah on the phone today and we went over my goals from last week, which I was disappointed to report I didn't meet them all.  She reminded me that setting goals isn't supposed to be a reason to beat up on myself when I don't reach my high standards.

We talked about my baby step of packing a gym bag.  You're probably thinking how significant is packing a gym bag?  It doesn't sound like much.  It's a really tiny baby step. 

I want to exercise.  I hear it's fabulous for stress release and these days that's what I need right now as the assignments and exams pile up.  But something has been holding me back and I can't quite put my finger on it.  Actually, I do know what it is... I don't tend to put myself first.  I know everyone says that.  It's become kind of en vogue to be uber modest but it's a very real problem in my life.

Putting myself first... it kind of sounds selfish which is exactly why I need help to change.  Imagine a world where without even thinking about it you take on extra group work because your team member stayed out late partying and decided not to do his share, or when you drive a half hour out of your way to pick something up that was supposed to be delievered to you. 

I accept these responsibilities at the drop of a hat, and why?  To be kind, thoughtful, or nice?  Maybe.  Probably the real answer is because I am a people person (aka: closet people pleaser).  I dismiss promises to myself to go extra lengths to make another person happy.  It makes me happy to do things for others, except for when they don't notice or expect me to be that accomodating all the time.  Talk about classic Gen Y.  The weird thing is, is that I'm still new at taking compliments gracefully so praise can be a challenge.

This week I'm putting myself first.  I've promised myself that I want to enjoy my commitments to go to drop-in yoga twice this week, and take the next really tiny baby step into the gym and exercise for 20 minutes.  Just enough to get the blood flowing.  And hey, it'll definintely be an improvement over just packing my gym bag.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You As A Brand

During my last semester in marketing I took a class that made me look at a SWOT analysis in a whole new way.  For SWOT neophytes, it's an analysis of internal (strengths & weaknesses) and external (opportunities & threats) characteristics of a company and its relation to the outside world.

I did a SWOT analysis on myself.

I want to set the stage, so let's go back in time a bit to November 5th.  I go into my teacher's office to lightly chat about this "You As A Brand" assignment 30 minutes before class starts.

Me: So, I'm having some trouble pin pointing what you want us to do for the "you as a brand" assignment.

Teresa: Ahhh, really?  Because it's due in a half an hour.

Me: What! omg, I didn't realize it was due today!  (Earlier that week I was panicking about the prospect of me quitting school to go work only 1.25 months from graduating with a marketing diploma.)  I start to cry.  I didn't want to cry, in fact it was the last thing I wanted to do in front of my teacher but I broke down and told her everything about our sudden crisis.  Teresa was incredibly supportive of my situation, and to this day I thank her for that.

Teresa: Alison, hand it in to me tomorrow.  I'm going to have to penalize you for being late, but bring it and I'll mark it.

I hadn't even started the assignment and I was still having troubles figuring out what my "brand" was.  I just started writing.  Here is the SWOT analysis I wrote about myself in reference to my "goal position" as a producer in a creative services department.  (I was short on time so I went with something I was familiar with).

Internal Strengths:
  • Ability to facilitate groups of people to get things done.  I can enable teams to work together. I love to encourage team members to connect on multiple levels to increase commitment to the project at hand.
  • Seeing the big picture.  I can wrap my head around a project and look to the final product to understand what to do.
  • Innate understanding of what motivates people.  I am able to see why people are achieving success or why they are stuck spinning their wheels.
  • Relating to people.  I am able to create a positive rapport with anyone.
  • Driven by honesty and ethics.  I am strongly motivated and directed by my personal ethics and values.  I do what is right.
Internal Weaknesses:
  • Difficulties working for dictators.  I get along with 99.9% of the population but I have a very hard time working for people who think there is only one way to do a job.
  • Working with people who don't like other people.  I am a social person who respects everyone.  I find it challenging to work with people who don't like the social nature of working with others.
  • Procrastination.  I am included in the group along with 95% of the population* that are prone to procrastination from time to time.  *Data taken from http://www.ezinearticles.com/

External Opportunities:
  • Social media as a viable, personal way to communicate.  Respect is building for how effective social media vehicles are reaching a younger, technically savvy demographic.  A producer is in the business of communicating a message via television and video.  The ability to create an in-demand video using methods like YouTube to communicate a client's message is invaluable.
  • Success of person to person, word-of-mouth advertising.  Communicating through word-of-mouth over the internet is a huge opportunity for clients wanting to produce television commercials.  If a producer can concoct a video that goes viral a client can achieve product awareness en-masse and have a better chance of establishing a personal connection with customers.
External Threats:
  • Over-segmentation and dilution of TV audiences decreases advertising dollars.  The lure of revenue generation through starting up niche specific television channels has resulted in a reduction in large-scale TV advertising campaigns.  Clients are trending towards targeting views by spending advertising money with channels that can virutally guarantee the type of viewers being impacted by their commercial.
  • Smaller, more customer savvy advertising firms expand into television.  Through economizing the client process, small advertising firms are able to understand client needs intimately and quickly.  Being closer to the customer combined with highly specified TV campaigns allow firms to come up with specialized spots faster and more efficiently than larger firms.
This exercise really piqued my interest in the area of personal branding.  I challenge every job seeker to do a SWOT analysis before an interview because it summarizes exactly what the employer wants to hear: why you're fantastic, how you deal with common weaknesses, how you can bring value to their company, and how connected you are to their industry and competition.  You just might learn something about yourself in the process.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Passion is Paramount

I am one of the lucky few who doesn't run short of passions in life. My mom couldn't afford to sign me up for dance or music lessons like a lot of little girls, but I found passion in school.  I was a reader who loved books more than playing on the playground.  I still get butterflies in my stomach once a year when I have free reign in the bookstore to choose every book under the sun I want for Christmas.

By the time I turned 13, I'd really missed the boat on friends.  I'd gone through some rough experiences like getting beat up a few times, and definitely being ostracized by the "cool kids."  I felt like a reject, doomed to be on the outside forever.  I joined Sea Cadets to relieve pressure from home to get involved it in.  My grandpa had worked within the organization for years.  He was a sailor and fully expected me to take up the sport when I joined.  I guess my stubborn sentiments were present even then because all I wanted to do was dig my heels in and hate the weekly parade nights, hate the people I met there, and hate going away to summer camp.

Somehow, sometime during my second year I started to look forward to those weekly meetings, and got excited when I thought about going away to my first sailing camp.  I didn't know it at the time, but this was the start of defining my biggest passion.

Three and four years passed and I realized that I loved being a part of Sea Cadets not because it was a para-military organization at all, but because people liked me in that world.  I wasn't an outcast--I was on the inside, in fact I was at the centre of my own circle of sailing friends.  We went to summer camp together for only two summers but that time forged some wonderful, critical friendships.

Sailing and my lake friends became my life.  I loved how it felt to arrive at the lake (fashionably late) and have Jessie or Heather run up and give me a big hug.  It was the first time anyone showed their appreciation of me and their excitement about me even being there.  So often I clinged to the edge of social circles, frequently (or conveniently) left off the guest list for sleep overs or parties only to hear all about it on Monday as everyone else excitedly chirped about what happened or how exiciting it was.

The lake weekends would always end and I had to return to the fringes of friends I stuck with so I wouldn't be entirely alone at lunch.

In school these days I'm taught about how important it is that you love your business idea so much that you will still love it when you have no money, and when times are hard.  I think that the ability to be passionate in what you do with your time makes your experience at work.  Passionate people care about what they do and seem obligated internally to seek out work that makes them happy, no matter the cost.  That's why I'm here, back at post-secondary and taking business.  I'm trying to find a new passion within business so I can be as happy at work as I am to be sailing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Being Open to Improvement

In my short life I have done a lot of things, learned a bunch about myself, and been the first female in my family to admit I needed guidance. I come from a family with strong, matronly figures. Ones that don't cry (except during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics) and especially don't admit things like being wrong, or express regret.

The idea of a strong woman has been with me my whole life. And at times, would I ever like to be strong. Unfortunately I must have got my dad's emotions. I cry at lots of things, for seemingly small reasons. I become passionate about the things I believe in. I admit when I'm not strong.

The first time I realized I needed outside advice came when my dreams for my first career started to crumble around me. I don't think I can even take credit for admitting I needed another perspective as it was my boyfriend (now husband) who told me I should talk to someone.

So I did. I took the first scary steps to seek help and advice to fix me. I learned a lot about myself, but most importantly I learned that other people have great insight into my issues and can push me to look at things in a different light.

I am at a crossroads again in my life as I prepare to exit the safe incubator called post-secondary school and forge into the real world... again. I learned a lot in school, especially from the critical thinking courses I took that focus on self-examination which led me to the notion that maybe I need to work on my thinking. Building on that, recently I found a fabulous coach: Deborah from Inspiritu Life Coaching & Professional Counselling. She mainly deals with changing your thinking centred around weight loss & body image, but I learned today that my thinking goes far deeper than image.

We talked about negative projections. I do this when I say things like "I'm definitely going to be at a disadvantage compared to my classmates when I'm looking for a job because I'm going on vacation in May." I don't actually know if I will or will not be disadvantaged, but I saw how saying that put a limitation on my ability for success. I now had an excuse if I didn't get the dream job over someone else.

It's important to combat these projections by just being open to the possibilities around us. Instead of being so unsure & negative when I talk with people about what I will be "doing" after school is over, I'm going to be more open by engaging & seeing if there are any networking possibilites available just through speaking to that person.

It's a whole new way of doing things and I think my accountability level is going to be way higher now than it has ever been!

I'll keep all my loyal followers posted as I work through this. : )